Archive | August, 2010

Very sad news . . .

24 Aug

I just learned that a good friend passed away last night. It was sudden and unexpected. He was a good friend to my parents as well and came to many family gatherings we’ve had over the years. I just spoke with him a few days ago. He told me how fond he was of my parents (he is their neighbor, he was their neighbor . . . that is how we met). He took care of my dog years ago when our family went up to Washington to celebrate my Grandma’s 100th birthday.

He was a great neighbor and friend to my parents. He helped them out when they needed things. We had many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners together. I was going to call him today to see if he could join our family in celebrating my parents upcoming 53rd wedding anniversary. (Their anniversary is actually today, but we hope to celebrate it this coming Sunday).

He was my friend. I can’t believe he is gone. He had a unique and delightful sense of humor, a dry wit and a keen mind. And, now he is gone. I am sad for me and very sad for my parents. Bill you will be missed. Rest in peace.

Lisa

Woo-hoo!

24 Aug

This morning, at 2:30 am, I didn’t think I was going to make it through the night without eating . . . I had stupidly missed dinner and then when I was really hungry it was too soon to eat as I was supposed to then be fasting for blood work to be done today.

Anyway, it worked out. I watched some tv (DVD actually, called The Wire . . . a family friend is in this series, so I am watching it and waiting for his character to appear . . . I think it isn’t for a season or two, so I have a few episodes to get through). Anyway, I was able to fall asleep eventually and avoid eating and so . . . YAY . . . I got my blood work done.

I saw my friends there . . . my friendly phlebotomists, that is. I know them all at this point. But, I have not been in there for a while and so we caught up a little bit. My veins didn’t cooperate very well, they had to go to a few different locations to get all of their little vials filled. I am always a hard stick . . . was even before chemo . . . but, now my veins are pretty fried and hard to get to. I contributed to the problem by not drinking enough water before hand. I forgot that water intake can make a big difference. Next time.

So, that got done. My next appointment with my oncologist is for September 9th, the same day that my surgery ended up getting scheduled for . . . which is now a bit up in the air. But, either way . . . whether I have surgery on the 9th as planned or have to have it earlier than planned . . . I will not be able to see my oncologist on the 9th. So, right now, I have a tentative appointment this Friday at 8:45 am in Santa Monica. It is tentative because Dr. Hurvitz has to approve it as it is not during her normal appointment hours.

That same day I have an appointment back up in Newport Beach at 2:50 pm. And, somewhere in between, I have lunch with a good friend of mine. That part I am looking forward to . . . and, all of this is of course, assuming that my surgeon doesn’t tell me on Thursday that we are going to surgery on Friday. This is all too funny to me.

I really feel in my gut that on Thursday she will say we are good for a few more days, see me in a few days and hopefully she will say the same thing and so on until the 9th. I sure hope so.

I am over the being in limbo thing though. Today I will pack a bag for the hospital to have that ready. I will pre-pay bills, just in case, to have that done and out of the way. I will get some laundry done, get linens ready for the guest room and try to tidy that room up a bit, but, that is it. Things will work out and I am simply not going to worry about it or borrow any trouble. If I have to go in early, then I have to go in early.

Friday night though is an important night because it is a very good friend of mine’s 40th birthday party and I really don’t want to miss it. I am sure, if I end up in surgery that day, that she will understand. But, what a drag, I don’t want to miss out on celebrating with her . . . she has been such an incredible help to me this past year and a half. So, I really want to make it to her party.

Oh, and look . . . here are my lovely vials of blood from today . . . πŸ™‚ Count ’em, seven!

My blood work

Took two of my pitiful veins to get these filled. They had to do it in the back of my hand, that always makes phlebotomists uncomfortable . . . or, at least very apologetic . . . as if it is their fault that they can’t get blood from somewhere else. I am what I am. The veins that pop up as use-able are in my hand, so that is where they go.

I had all of my Herceptin treatments through the veins in the back of my hand . . . weekly for the first six months and then every three weeks for the next six months.

I must have looked a little pale or squeamish at some point during the blood draw today because the gal taking my blood asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine . . . just bad memories. That pain is unique, not horrific, just unique . . . and for me it is tied to those Herceptin treatments. It is also tied to the people who drove me to those treatments and sat with me for hours during those Herceptin days. So, not all of the memories are bad ones . . . πŸ™‚

It was always such a struggle for the nurses to get a vein and to get a clear path for the drug infusions. I think it was far more stressful for them than it was for me. Most of the time it worked out. Only once did they have to send me home from treatment to come back on another day . . . that was after three different nurses tried a cumulative total of five times. SO glad THOSE days are past!

So, today’s two sticks were nothing compared to this time last year, or heck, even just last April. Things are good. But, it is amazing how close to the surface some of the past treatment and the pains remain . . . how that pain of a needle going into the same spot can take you right back to six months ago, to some far worse day. Thank goodness that is not where I am now. Still, it can just rise up and make my eyes burn and sting, fighting back tears. Tears that I didn’t even have on those toughest of days. I find that so odd, that I would feel emotional about it now . . . like some kind of delayed bereavement. And, I just want to tell myself to get over it, just #&%#ing get over it!

I find that sort of troubling, how it can just sort of well up on me. But, I think maybe it is just part of all of the nonsense of cancer and treatment. One day, maybe, I won’t have to have blood work. And, one day there will be fewer reminders of it all. Until then, I just need to navigate this next phase of things, getting ready for, getting through and recovering from the next surgery.

Love and peace,

Lisa

Still awake, what else is new :) . . .

24 Aug

It is 2:45 am and I am still awake, just can’t sleep. I hope to sleep soon, I really hope to sleep soon.

I am hungry, didn’t really have dinner tonight, I know, stupid. But, I wasn’t feeling well, didn’t feel up to making anything and didn’t feel up to going out. I’m supposed to do a fasting blood test tomorrow, along with my regular blood work that I am supposed to get done. But, I am not sure I can hold out now, from eating something that is . . . what was I thinking, skipping dinner.

I guess if I eat now, I can get the blood work done the following day, just wanted to get it done sooner.

Especially since there is a chance that my surgery could be earlier than planned. I am just in limbo about that. Hated telling my parents that I could potentially have to have surgery as soon as this weekend and that I won’t know until Thursday when I see my surgeon.

This seems nuts. I don’t know anyone else that has had things go this way, I mean other breast cancer patients that I know who have had reconstructive surgeries.

Well, it is what it is.

And, right now, I am super hungry . . . nope, I am not going to be able to wait until 9:00 am to eat. So, I guess my blood work will have to wait until Wednesday.

I am rambling . . . and really about nothing in particular. I guess i am just frustrated. I am in physical pain, I can’t sleep and I don’t know what is happening this week.

I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is wait it out.

Well, maybe I will be able to get some sleep soon.

L.

Quick update . . .

23 Aug

Today’s expansion didn’t go so well. The plan was to expand . . . but, when my surgeon took at look at how my skin was holding up/healing from the last expansion she initially decided that we should wait until next week to expand. Then, after looking at a calendar and realizing that we only had two more opportunities to expand prior to surgery, she decided to go ahead and expand, but, to just do a bit less. It was not a very comforting feeling . . . listening to her go back and forth on what she should do. She said that either way it was a gamble . . .

She put in 50 ccs of saline (usually, she does somewhere between 60 and 120, depending upon how things look). Well, my skin immediately didn’t start to look so well (I chose not to look, but, I can tell you that I could definitely feel it . . . it felt like I was going to split open . . . sorry to share that, but, that is how it felt). She stopped at the 50 ccs and then watched me for a little bit and then decided that she had to take some of it out. So, another syringe (that part is actually not that bad) and she drew out some of the saline she had put in.

The skin recovered some, but, she is still concerned and now is talking about the possibility of having to take me to surgery early, as in possibly this week . . . kind of hard to believe and definitely not something I was prepared to hear. But, what can I do? Nothing. All I can do is wait and see . . . that is all she can do.

My parents had offered/wanted to come with me to today’s appointment. I am glad that I didn’t let them. It would have been harder having them there really. Too much, just too much. I was afraid to go alone today, but, the alternative . . . having my parents, who have been through so much already, seeing what happened today . . . would have been far harder. It is so hard to see them suffer at my hands. I mean, I know it is not like I am doing this to them on purpose, but, it is hard to bear seeing them in so much pain.

Anyway, I will be seeing my surgeon again on either Wednesday or Thursday of this week. I am to see her Wednesday if anything changes and Thursday if it doesn’t get worse. Whatever that means. I am not sure what I am looking for . . . although she did say that if I see the expander come through that I need to call her immediately . . . well, duh, I guess πŸ™‚

So, there is a possibility that I might go to surgery on Friday or this weekend. I have nothing arranged, no food shopping done, the guest bedroom isn’t up to par, I need to stock up on things and now I am pretty much down for a couple of days recovering from the stupid expansion as it is. So, I don’t hope to accomplish much tomorrow or Wednesday. I am have afraid to move, thinking that I might tear the skin and then need to have surgery early.

I think if things are just allowed to settle down (my skin that is) then I will be able to keep my September 9th surgery date. My surgeon is hoping for that, but, won’t commit. She says she cannot predict what my skin will do, but, hopes that we can wait for surgery on the 9th.

I hope for that too. In the meantime, I will do my best to make the necessary arrangements . . . what I have always called my pre-op hop . . . although, not likely going to be doing much hopping in the next couple of days πŸ™‚

Please keep me in your prayers.

I greatly appreciate it.

Much love,

Lisa

Scared for today . . .

23 Aug

Today is the day I worried about yesterday . . . well, I didn’t actually think about it very much at all. But, now it is here and I am not looking forward to the pain that will begin at 2:00 pm today.

I have work to do and now I know that I will not be able to do any of it for several days. That is the best that I can hope for . . . I am most worried about some complication, skin breaking with the expansion, something like that. The pain, I can kind of deal with . . . although lately, I feel as if I have been quite a bit of a baby about it. Maybe it is the lack of sleep that goes along with it. And, the fact that so many days are hijacked by the pain and sleeplessness . . . I can’t get anything done at all it seems.

Yesterday was a great day. My brother Paul rented a boat and took us out on the harbor for the afternoon. It was to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday . . . and, some fantastic news as well. I am not sure I have permission to share it yet, so just know it is all good. It was a wonderful day with family.

Well, wish me luck today and say some prayers if you would. I need them.

Love and peace,

L.

The Week . . . End . . .

22 Aug

It is Sunday and I am getting ready to go out for a boat ride with my oldest brother Paul and his family, my parents and some friends to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday.

Yesterday I saw my brother Steve and his kids down in San Diego. We had a really great afternoon and evening.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone today and to enjoying the great weather we are having.

Tomorrow is another expansion . . . not looking forward to it. But, it is what it is. Hopefully it will go well. My skin is still pretty red and stretched looking from last week’s expansion. So, we shall see how it goes. Anyway, no need to dwell on it right now. I have a lovely afternoon ahead of me and I will focus on that. Maybe tomorrow morning I will get out to the beach again before the afternoon expansion pain begins πŸ™‚

Love and peace,

Lisa

4:00 am and no sleep . . .

20 Aug

I was able to sleep a bit on Wednesday night, well, I guess it was really Thursday morning . . . I got a few hours in. I could feel the difference Thursday, big difference. Wednesday was a very busy day. I saw a doctor (alternative medicine person, she is both an MD – with a number of specialties, including internal medicine and also integrative medicine, she was brought in by Hoag to set up their integrative medicine program). Anyway, she is excellent, but, naturally not covered by my health insurance. Still, I felt it was a good idea to see her prior to surgery to see what I could do to prepare best for surgery and for recovery.

She was a tremendous help to me during chemotherapy last year – amazing really. She encouraged me to exercise (as did my oncologist up at UCLA . . . but, my Hoag oncologists all felt that exercise was really not a good idea during chemotherapy . . . instead, they felt I should be resting all of the time . . . hmmpf)!

I followed the “get regular, daily exercise” advice and it served me quite well during chemotherapy. By the last round, I was dragging and was not able to get a lot of exercise. But, unlike many of my chemo patient peers, I never once had to interrupt chemotherapy due to low blood counts or low energy. So many of the fellow patients had such difficulties. I really credit my getting through the chemo as well as I did (and working full time during most of it) to Dr. McCann (the integrative doctor I saw yesterday). She helped me so much. So, I thought it would be good to see her again before surgery.

She gave me a pretty long list of things to start doing now and things to do after surgery to help speed up the recovery time. It was well worth it to see her.

She didn’t have a whole lot to offer me about my not getting sleep . . . since the reason is the pain I am suffering with . . . and, besides, it is temporary. So, there isn’t a lot to do there. But, something probably does need to give soon, as I really, really do need sleep.

It is after 4 am and I have not yet slept. So, that puts the grand total this week (since Monday’s expansion) to about 4 or 5 hours and I think that was all yesterday. That is not good. I need, need, need to sleep.

These expansions seem to cause more pain each time (I guess that makes sense as the muscle and skin are being stretched further and further each time). But, what it means so far is that I am losing more and more sleep each week. So, I need to figure something out since these expansions will continue right up to the week of surgery . . . I really want to be able to go into surgery rested . . . although that sounds kind of unrealistic right now πŸ™‚

Well, okay, it is 4:15 am, maybe I can get some sleep. Turning off the phones in case I am able to sleep into the morning some.

Wish me luck.

Love and peace,

Lisa

Still no sleep . . .

18 Aug

It is five thirty in the morning and it is the second straight day of no sleep. I am in less pain (as I stated in my previous post from last night/this morning) but, not enough less to get to sleep.

I mentioned that I am suffering from some pain that ibuprofen can not touch. I have lost a few people over the past couple of years due to my illness. They were not able to deal with it, I was not able to deal with them, just a combination of things I guess. Most of that happened early on in my journey. But, this time it is someone recent. Someone I came to depend upon who is now choosing, well, something easier I guess. I don’t know. I know that the medication I have been taking and trying to adjust to has had an impact on my psyche. But, I really didn’t think it would result in losing someone over it.

It has happened before, but, I didn’t expect it from this person. But, I have no control over how people react to me or to my struggles. I have to say that I expected much more empathy and understanding from this person. But, it isn’t like he doesn’t have his own problems and struggles . . . we all do. I guess I just expected more. And, I have to say, I was definitely encouraged to expect more.

So, here it is now after 5:30 in the morning and I wide awake. I am in pain . . . Β on a few levels . . . and alone. That is the hard part, being alone. I guess I made that point earlier. But, cancer is a bit isolating, you can, for good reason or not, feel like an island sometime.

Here is to feeling better tomorrow on all fronts. I will do my best to make the best of the day, and, hopefully that will include some sleep.

Goodnight/good morning,

Lisa

Physical pain is lessening . . .

17 Aug

The physical pain is more bearable this evening. Last night I didn’t sleep at all really. Tonight I’m suffering from another kind of pain, I guess. Something ibuprofen doesn’t fix.

My right side is still fairly painful. But, not as bad as last night.

This being unmarried and going through cancer and the reconstruction surgeries (even though I am almost done) is just tough. I’m not saying I want to marry tomorrow, I am just saying that it has been hard to go through this without someone in the ” . . . in sickness and health” vain. As much as I have friends and family, it is just not the same as having someone here, here when you don’t think you need someone, but, you discover that you truly do. Here with me at two in the morning when I wake up afraid. That reassurance of another human being next to you during those times . . . a hand to hold, an embrace.

People come and go in your life. Most family and friends stick by you, but, not having a partner in life, that is something that is very different. It means that you are alone in those most intimate moments . . . when you are afraid and vulnerable . . . who do you truly open up too? You don’t, at least I don’t. I tell people I am fine . . . well, okay, on the blog I don’t necessarily tell you I am fine all of the time. But, I ultimately always come to that conclusion on here, like it is necessary for me to end every post with, “Lisa is fine”, or “Lisa will be fine”

Sure, I will be, I always seem to make my way through . . . and believe me, it has been with the help of so many. But, that partner thing, that is what makes some of this so unbearable at times. And, it isn’t even that I want to talk about what I am going through with a partner, no, instead it is just wanting to not be alone in all of this. I know I have so many praying for me, so many willing to help me. But, it is different. And, I wonder if people get that.

I wrote a song some years back. The lyrics started with, “I used to sing in my sleep, but, now the trouble runs too deep”. There is more to the song . . . and there are many other songs, none of which anyone has ever heard. I wrote that one many years ago . . . after learning that I sang in my sleep. I wasn’t sad when I wrote the song, I sometimes just write sad songs intentionally, not feeling sad when I write them, but, just wanting to write a sad song. So i would imagine a situation, or a relationship, create a fictional one in my head if necessary . . . sort of a method song writing approach instead of method acting.

And then there were times I would come up with a sad song without any help . . . without having to create a fake sadness πŸ™‚

I guess this is one of those days. It is too late to sit at my piano and write . . . I have neighbors after all . . . but, it is what I would like to do.

Maybe I will just play the piano really softly . . .

Goodnight all . . .

Lisa

Not up to much . . .

17 Aug

I am in a lot of pain right now and not up to talking on the phone. I am sure that I will be fine, but, right now I need to just get through the day and however long it takes for this pain to subside. Meals brought in are accepted πŸ™‚ Although, my parents will probably help me out with that . . . I am definitely not up to making a meal for myself yet. Ugh. Soon though, soon . . . with any luck, I am hoping to be cooking over a campfire next weekend . . . maybe that is a bit too ambitious, but, I’m going to try . . .

Thank you for your calls and please understand if I don’t pick up right now.

Love,

L.