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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chemo Postponed-Echo Cardiogram on Friday

December 15, 2010. I was supposed to have Chemo #3 today but spent the morning getting another blood test and an ECG, electro cardigram over the shortness of breath I have been experiencing when I move too fast or exert myself. Monday I raced to Terrace amidst a snow storm for a CT scan which came back showing clear lungs. Yeah!
Now, we're trying to rule out any heart damage and I am still in need of an echo cardiogram with an ultrasound and a radiologist to oversee the test results. I normally would have to travel to P.G. or Terrace for this but the stars have once again aligned and a radiologist will be coming to Smithers this Friday and although way overbooked due to the Holidays, he has agreed to come in extra early and do this for us. I am already getting the recipe books out to bake something extra special for him and all the X-Ray staff. I'm thinking white chocolate cranberry muffins with some fresh oranges and bananas in a basket.
I was also given an inhaler with a steroid in it today to try and get rid of the problem. Hopefully I am declared fit to get back to the chemo at the latest Monday or Tuesday of next week. The sad news is that this will delay how good I was hoping to be by the time the kids arrive on December 22nd and 23rd. They're going to get me right through the worst days when I am at my all time lowest, which will happen on Christmas Day. Pooh and double pooh. But, I still consider myself lucky. Funny, that word has a whole new meaning these days. I was told once the chemo process starts, they don't want it to go too many days in between next treatments as the impact wanes, so short of having to switch protocols, which we don't want to do, this is the New Plan.
So that's the latest. I am feeling okay, just not able to run or swim and my big exercise for the day is lifting the fork to my mouth. In a house loaded with Christmas treats. Oh my.
Oh well, I am sure the flurry of wrapping paper in the air will get me feeling better in no time on Christmas Day. And I just know my gang will do a fine job cooking the bird. I think I should be able to run the camera throughout the entire episode. I'll keep you posted!

Once we rule out any of the or

Velcro Head

I'm having another typical steroid induced bout of insomnia. I took the pre-chemo anti-nauseate last night just in case something gets better overnight and I am declared miraculously healthy enough to withstand the chemo by 9:30 in the morning. We can proceed like none of the wheezing and shortness of breath ever happened. I know, its another rug-pulling reflection totally unbacked by anyone but myself, but if you can't believe in a few miracles now and again. I mean, hey, it's Christmas! It's not like I'm asking for two front teeth or anything hard like that.
And while lying in bed wide awake I started thinking a bald head deserved its own blog. I need to tell everyone about all the baldness because the burning question my friends want to ask but only a few manage to come out with is "exactly what hairs do you lose?"
Okay. Chemo baldness 101. Speaking only about the two meds I am taking which are docetaxel and cyclophosphomede, within two weeks, the hair on my head could be tugged out in clumps and needed to be shaved off. Either that or face looking at the trail of it piling up like dust particles behind Schultz's Pig Pen's character. The hair under my arms and on my legs seems to have disappeared without much event and yes, the hair that declares I'm about as blonde as burnt toast has thinned to almost non-existence (will it grow back white like the hair on my head might? Egad! As if there isn't already enough mental and physical scarring to deal with. White pubic hair. Hmmm. Well, I guess it would go with everything?)
And last, but by far the least burning question from everyone is about the facial hair. It seems to be growing along the chin line, which my husband chose to point out in front of friends the other night. The resounding instinctive slap he got along his own fair chin line sounded harsher than it was, but it took the attention away from something I should maybe wax but that I hope will just fall out like everything else.
My eyebrows and lashes are still there but they tell me they are the last to go, and luckily, the first things to grow back. I don't ever dare give them the "tug test" as I did my cranium curls.
It's strange that the majority of the body hair just went away while on my head there are still spots of fuzz that are trying to grow and I still need to buzz with an electric razor every two weeks. Little tufts. And these patches are like velcro. They stick to your pillow case, pick at your softer scarves and keep your hairpiece from spinning across your skull like it's greased. So, some good, some bad. I have a permanent five o'clock shadow on the pinnacle of my forehead and a patch on either side burn area that is usually visible beneath my wig when I don't check it's position in a mirror every so often. It makes me feel strangely like a phony sometimes. "Look, she's not bald. She's shaving her head voluntarily." But who will ever say that out loud?" (besides Barry in front of friends)
The answer is if I didn't shave it I would look like a nuclear fall-out victim with insane tufts sticking out helter-skelter between vast patches of smoothness. It might beat the blue-tinsel look I sported during Halloween but honestly, with this pasty white face and the growing furrows, I look scary enough even to myself who has to face the image daily. You'd think I'd quit screaming by now. I'm joking!
But I did warn our kids coming home for the holidays that I don't look quite the same. Yes, they've heard from friends here in town that I look "great": upbeat, made-up, walking with my chin held high. But, I told them, they would be privy to the private person whose wig ends up trampled on the floor mat of the car after the itchiness gets to me or a hot flash makes it impossible to leave on. They will see me so tired that I slump better than discarded tissue with a weariness that pulls my possibly unmasked facial features into all new lows. Face-lift? I need a tractor-pull all in one direction. Bet Santa would never leave a certificate for that under the tree (that was a challenge Santa). I call it my Chemo Countenance (noun: an expression of the face). It belies a lot of things. Maybe even the fact that I have to pee but it's so far to go at that moment. Hopefully these images my kids will suffer through will soon be replaced by the vibrant smiling face I like to portray because even with all of this going on, my life is pretty damned wonderful. Even if only compared to Pig Pen's.
Hopefully that is everything you always wanted to know about chemo and hair loss. If you have anything else you want to ask but are afraid to, you can leave comments at the end of these blogs. You can even do it anonymously and I won't take the time to see if I can tell who sent it. Life is a lot more precious these days then spending time with digging at things like that. Any spare computer time goes into trying to reduce the pixel size of my external camera so I can Skype with people, particularly my sister who bought me the camera! Hey, maybe I can do that right now. What else can a bald girl do at four in the morning? that the ice cream in the freezer calling my name?