Archive | May, 2010

Good News . . . “beautiful echo” . . .

12 May

Okay, I have good news – my heart is functioning just fine. Today’s EKG was normal AND, the EKG I had last week was ALSO normal. Even though the report stated: “Significant rhythm and ECG contour changes” . . . apparently this was just some computer gliche? That is what the nurse practitioner told me. She said that sometimes the computer reads the data incorrectly and generates false information. Great.

So all that worry, over nothing, thankfully.

The nurse practitioner also went over my echocardiogram results with me – these were all normal, she said, “you have a beautiful echo”.

So, I am cleared for surgery. I feel good about meeting with the nurse practitioner. She was very good and seemed to know what she was doing. So, I am comfortable with her decision to clear me for surgery.

As for my right “boob-like-structure” (the expander under muscle and skin), I don’t know what is going on. Except that it does seem to have ruptured.

It is quite painful. The fluid in the expander is saline. So, it is not dangerous really. But, it burns and stings and my arm and side are all numb. It is as much a creepy feeling as painful . . . okay, it is pretty darn creepy.

My surgeon is supposed to call me this evening (her nurse has been in touch with me). The nurse told me that the expander will have to come out and “isn’t it great that you are having surgery on Monday”. The only problem is that the surgery on Monday is supposed to be just the left side, not the right yet (as I have to wait until I am further out from radiation before having surgery on the right side). But, I am not sure what will happen now as they will have to take it out and put a new one in? Not even sure about that. I can’t have reconstructive surgery on the right until it is re-expanded. My surgeon was going to start re-expanding the right side after surgery on the left side. But, now I am not sure what she will need to do.

All in all though, I think it is very good that I have a surgery date for this Monday.

Oh, they just told me I have to be there at 5:00 am, surgery is scheduled for 7:30. I was originally told to check in at 9:00 am for an 11:00 am surgery time. But, I am glad that the time has changed and that it is earlier.

I am happy about this. Although, I am sure whomever it is that is going to drive me is probably not going to be happy about it. That is awful early.

Well, I am relieved about my heart, so relieved. If I had to choose between having a problem with one of my expanders or with my heart, well, you certainly know which I would pick. Of course, I would rather not have a problem with either. πŸ™‚

Thank you for your prayers. And, Sandy, thank you for calling me to offer me a lift today, that was so sweet! My folks appreciate your offer too!

Much love and gratitude,

Lisa

Oh Brother . . .

12 May

Well, just when I thought I had enough on my plate (okay, more than enough, thank you. I have all the helpings of “enough” that I can tolerate) I just discovered another little gem.

I was getting ready to go into my cardiologist’s office to have another EKG and I discovered something that is not right. I have expanders that were place when I had the mastectomy last year. These are to remain until I have breast reconstruction. Well, it appears that one has ruptured or broken inside. I don’t know what the technical term would be, but, it isn’t so good.

I called my surgeon’s office to let them know that something isn’t right. It is on the radiated side. I hope I am wrong, but, it doesn’t seem good.

I have been having pain and swelling down my right side and under my right arm. I think it is fluid that has escaped from the expander. Ugh. I have heard this can happen, although it is not supposed to.

I don’t know what is done if the expander ruptures. I presume they have to go in and replace it, but, can they? Crap.

Well, please say some prayers for me, I really need it.

Much love,

Lisa

Dance, baby, dance . . .

12 May

It is now almost 3:30 in the morning, haven’t slept yet . . . unfortunately, sleepless nights have been a pretty standard occurrence for the past year and few months. I am tired of being tired.

But, perhaps the most tiresome is the constant dance that this disease makes you do . . . cancer is that cruel cowboy that fires a gun at your feet and says, “Dance”!

I have clear scans, something I am so grateful for, so grateful. And now I am supposed to have reconstructive surgery next Monday. However, I am not cleared for surgery yet – my pre-admission screening included an EKG, chest X-ray and bloodwork. The chest X-ray and bloodwork came back fine. The EKG did not. Scary. I also had an echocardiogram. I do not know the results of that test yet. Hopefully the echocardiogram is fine.

I am very worried about the abnormal EKG because herceptin has the potential to damage the heart. I recall not feeling well the day of the EKG. I was definitely feeling some distress. But, I did not expect what I felt to show up on an EKG. And, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it anyway.

I am just worried. Anyone who has to undergo chemotherapy worries about simply surviving the treatment. I am hoping, of course, that all is well. I have just never had an abnormal EKG before.

Tomorrow I will see my cardiologist’s nurse practitioner. She will conduct another EKG and she should be able to tell me the results of the echocardiogram. I just hope that the results are good. My appointment is at 4:00 pm. So, I guess I will know more soon.

Please say some prayers, I greatly appreciate it.

Love and Peace,

Lisa

Make juice, not war, unless it is a war on cancer cells . . .

11 May

Nowadays I eat to keep cancer away. Some of the very basics of doing that (keeping cancer away and preventing cancer – listen up everyone – this is for you) are: avoiding sugar – in particular refined sugar and processed foods that quickly turn to sugar in your body (like white flour, pasta that is not whole grain, etc.), andΒ eating a diet that is rich in fresh, RAW fruits and vegetables (especially the vegetable part).

Also, to help keep your blood sugar low (this is important to maintain a healthy, low inflammatory diet – helps prevent diabetes, heart disease, and, yes, cancer) include cinnamon and green tea in your diet. Cinnamon and green tea naturally lower your blood sugar (so too do foods that are rich in magnesium, yes, I have been reading a lot this past year plus, you would too if you felt like your life depended on it).

Here is what I fed my juicer this morning . . .

I apple, 1 orange, celery, carrots, broccoli (all organic)

And, here is what my juicer fed me πŸ™‚ This is one of my favorite drinks, super food, super delicious!

Same glass, different view. I mix it up before I drink it.

This is me off of herceptin . . .

11 May

Hello all,

I was going through some pictures and realizing that I really did look sick a while back . . . which means that by comparison, I really don’t look sick (at least I don’t think I do) now.

So, I thought I would share a few then and now pictures . . .

THEN:

Herceptin Treatment (unlike the 8 hour chemo/herceptin days, the herceptin-only treatments took just a couple of hours, still, I do not miss these days).

In between treatments, waiting to see my oncologist. This was about 8 months into treatment, post surgery and radiation. These were the days when I couldn't even stay awake in a waiting room. I was so tired and weak back then, phew.

NOW:

This is me with my friend Amber at my first baseball game in over a year. (Go Angels!) Now off of herceptin . . . and sporting an actual haircut, sort of . . .

Surgery scheduled . . . abnormal EKG . . .

11 May

I have a new surgery date – May 17th. I haven’t written because I have been trying to get everything done in time for the new date – take care of pending things, arrange for caretakers post surgery (I will need to have a person stay with me for a week after surgery), dog care, cleaning, and soon – some cooking (probably this weekend – I eat organic food as much as possible – so I plan on preparing some meals ahead and freezing these so as to make everything easier post-op).

Yesterday was taken up with phone calls – literally 6 hours of my day yesterday was spent on the phone with medical providers. At one time, in an effort to speed things up – I was on two phones – on hold with UCLA Oncology and on hold with Hoag. It proved to save me a few minutes, I guess. Although, I am not sure that the in-stereo-hold-music was worth it.

So now I have new surgery date, but, it may not go . . . my pre-op EKG came back abnormal. So, now it is off to see a cardiologist – only my cardiologist is not available until . . . yep, you guessed it . . . May 17th. Charming.

Instead, I have an appointment with a nurse practitioner who is board certified to do pre-op clearances in cardiology. I am not too keen on this option. But, it is what it is.

The drug herceptin has cardiopathic potential – meaning that it can cause damage to the heart. I was on herceptin infusions for over a year. It was something I was worried about before I embarked on my treatment plan last year. But, while there is a risk that herceptin will damage the heart – the risk of not taking herceptin is certain – without herceptin the cancer would go unchecked, unstopped by even the most drastic of chemotherapy protocols. So, really, there was no choice.

While on herceptin a patient is monitored by a cardiologist. I have echocardiograms about every three months. So far these have all come back normal. I am waiting on the results from the most recent echo (I had this test last week). So, hopefully everything will turn out fine.

When I had the EKG last week, it was on the same day the I got lost trying to park, ugh. I was very distressed by the time I found my way to the pre-admission screening at Hoag, so maybe that is why the EKG was abnormal? I don’t know much about this stuff. And, I am hoping that I do not have to learn much about it either! πŸ™‚

So, maybe I will have surgery on the 17th and maybe it will be postponed.

Hopefully everything will be fine.

Please say some prayers, I really appreciate it.

Love and peace,

Lisa

Harnessing my inner bitch . . .

6 May

I have no idea if bitchy Lisa will have more success, but, I thought I would give it a try.

Yesterday I got a phone call from my surgeon’s office canceling my upcoming surgery. They explained that my surgeon has a conflict with another patient’s surgery date and as a result, they had to give my surgery date away to the other patient.

What?!!!

So, let me get this straight . . . instead of postponing the other patient’s date out later, they are giving the patient my date and then postponing my surgery out for a later date.

I do not understand why their conflict has to affect my surgery date. But, I do think I completely understand why it is me that is being asked (okay, not asked, told) to change my surgery date.

Because I am nice.

My surgeon, as I am sure most surgeons do, has emergencies that come up and as a result my appointments get cancelled quite a bit. At first it was just a few times, then it became almost the norm, that my appointment would be postponed to another day . . . “Thank you Lisa, you are always so nice and so understanding . . . thank you for being so easy to deal with . . . ” Blah, blah, blah, blah . . .

I understand emergencies. But, this isn’t an emergency – this is scheduling.

The new date they want me to go with conflicts with a very busy time of year for me work wise. If I am out and unable to work at this time, then I basically will not have any paying work (as in NO income) until November. I really can’t have that.

On top of the change costing me a lot financially, I have already made arrangements (caretakers to stay with me after surgery, groceries for myself and care takers, food prep, dog care and all of the stuff you have to cover when you know you are going to be out of commission for a few weeks). This was all arranged a long time ago. I have already done my pre-op hop.

So, after being my initial nice self, I called my surgeon’s office back – not two minutes after hanging up with them – and now suddenly they were unavailable. Why? Because they were calling the other patient and telling her she could have my surgery date.

So . . . I called upon my inner bitch, and . . . she came out and did a little dance.

We’ll see if this works. I have always subscribed to the adage that it pays to be nice (not that I think I should be paid for being nice. I just think it is better to be nice). But, maybe nice gals finish last, I don’t know.

Wish me luck. Hopefully the bitchy dance will work. (Oh, and I wasn’t rude or anything, just wasn’t the pushover they are used to . . . )

Love and peace,

Lisa

Surgery date postponed . . . aaargh

5 May

Almost forgot . . . I got a call at 5:00 pm today from my surgeon’s office telling me that my surgery had to be rescheduled.

I have many reasons why I would not want to postpone my surgery. But, it is too much to get into right now. I am too tired to write about it.

I may still get in for surgery next weekend, just not on Tuesday. I am on a waiting list to get into surgery next week.

Well, it is time to go to bed. I am very tired.

Much love and peace,

Lisa

Dancing in the grocery store aisle . . . why not?

5 May

Tonight my Mom and I danced to “Electric Avenue” in the grocery aisle. Why not. The music was playing, so I started be-bopping down the aisle, my Mom joined in behind me and the Store manager had a good laugh . . . or was that just an audible smile?

It had been quite a day. My Mom came along for the ride (I feel badly about that . . . not that I didn’t really enjoy having her company, but, it was a lot to ask anyone to sit through and go through). If I had known the day was going to run so long, I would not have let her, let me drag her through it. But, she wanted to come to my surgical consult. And, I am guessing that based upon my inability to successfully navigate a parking lot yesterday, she probably figured I needed the company. She was probably right.

Still a very long day.

I am glad that I saw the surgeon today. He was very informative and I learned a lot. I now have some things to think about.

This is my brain on chemo . . .

5 May

Yesterday was a pretty tough day. Somehow I thought that getting clear scans would sort of make all of the stress of things go away. But, I feel like I am hit by a train everyday right now. I spent yesterday mired in medical junk – pre-op tests mostly and then dealing with the city (trying to get copies of documents relating to my landlord’s failure to repair and comply with bringing my apartment up to code so that I can defend myself in this nonsense eviction situation). Between the two things, my head is spinning.

I got up yesterday morning and sent an email to my attorney about how the city denied my records request (earlier yesterday morning I spent a very frustrating 20 minutes on the phone with the city clerk wherein she “explained” how the city had “complied with the law” and could not release the documents to me that I was requesting. I asked which law, what law and she never could tell me. So much for public records and the right to information . . . but, I digress).

It took me forever to write a simple email to my lawyer about the latest with the city. Then it was off to Hoag Hospital for pre-op tests.

I had forgotten that last year a friend came with me for the pre-op stuff. He stayed with me for the half day of paperwork, walking from radiology to cardiology to where ever they sent me. And, he drove me there, parked the car, walked me in, etc.

So this time I went alone. No big deal, right? My parents offered to meet me there, but, I told them that was silly. Well . . . silly for a normal, well, non-chemo-brained, non-cancer-patient person, maybe. I ended up unable to find a parking place – took me 30 minutes to find a place to park – I literally (and this is hard to admit) got confused, lost. Lost in a parking lot – how is that possible? My head is/was scrambled.

I finally found parking at the Cancer Center – the only place that rang a bell, looked familiar to me – probably because I spent 6 weeks getting radiation there every day. So, that is where I parked.

The next challenge in my maze was to get from there back to the Woman’s Pavilion to check in for my pre-op tests. Well, that was a whole other problem. Someone walked me from the entrance to the Cancer Center to the “Cancer Tunnel” (seriously – that is what is is called – a “cancer tunnel” – it is a tunnel from the cancer center to the main hospital and it is ominous. I felt like I was entering a science fiction movie, something out of 2010 Space Odyssey, I kept waiting for Hal to start speaking . . . it was a creepy walk through a deserted, very wide, no windows, creepily lit hallway, ick, so creepy).

When I got to the end of the hallway, there was an elevator to take down to the hospital level, but, it opened up on a maintenance side of the hospital – like I was entering the bottom of a ship – noises equipment etc.

It took me a while to figure out that there were two sides to exit the elevator from. At this point, I was very confused, tired, simply could not think. And so I just stood there and cried. I cried because I was lost, I cried because I could not figure out how to get out of this dungeon that I had walked into, I cried because I was confused.

It was like my brains were made out of scrambled eggs. My appointment was for 11:30, I arrived in the first of several parking lots I toured yesterday, by 11:20 (arguably plenty of time to get parked and into the check in place at the hospital. But, instead, I did not arrive until 12:15 – it took me almost an hour.

So back to the exit from the “cancer tunnel” – I finally figured out that the elevator had tow sets of doors. Got back on the elevator and got the other doors open and wallah! I was now in the main hospital. Still, could not figure out how to get to where I needed to be, asked for help, directions went in one ear and out the other. I ended up walking for a very long time. Until I finally saw something that looked familiar to me.

Then an elderly woman volunteer (who had by now noticed that I was lost and had seen me walk past her several times) walked me to the main entrance. It was crazy. I felt like I was going crazy.

The rest of the day, not even going to detail. It was more of the same nutty-ness – my brain that is. For example, went to provide the nurse with a urine sample (took the cup in with me, but forgot to fill it – sorry for giving too much information). My point is just that I could not take care of the simplest things, could not follow instructions or directions.

I finally got done with the exams and made my way home. Got back to my car via the “cancer tunnel” (who names a creepy, dimly lit corridor – with absolutely no natural lighting the “cancer tunnel”? I feel like I have been in my own cancer tunnel for the past year or more. I want out, I want out desperately).

On the way home I went back to the city to make a second written request for documents associated with my complaint to the city against my landlord (as my lawyer needs these to show that I was evicted due to retaliation – for calling the city on my landlord).

The city offices are about 1 mile from my home. I was just there on Monday . . . but, I got confused again, drove three times as long to get there, parked in the wrong lot, it is like someone is moving buildings on me, moving landmarks, messing with my brain.

I think it is stress. I am so overloaded – especially by the threat of having to move right now – by the threat of my landlord trying to evict me right in the middle of recovering from surgery. It is just too much.

I hesitate to even publish this post. It is embarrassing to admit how scrambled my head was yesterday. And, I surely hope that it is past tense.

I have a couple of appointments to get to today. One is back at Hoag – hopefully the parking situation will be better today. I will get their early and use the valet this time.

I have an appointment this am in Long Beach for a second opinion – surgical consult. I have never been to this doctor before, so I don’t know how to get there – I mean, I do have directions, but, I have a hard time following directions sometimes. I will get there and I will leave extra early I guess to allow for my scrambled brain to work.