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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Weak, Woozy and Wet Weather

I may have overdone it by going to the market on Saturday.  I spent most of Sunday feeling weak and woozy, which was most frustrating. I did get a few things accomplished but not much. I decided on something simple for supper, so made  a chicken and avocado salad with  almond/orange dressing, using a recipe from Annabel Langbein’s cookbook.  The chicken was surprisingly tender and juicy, which was a surprise since most of the breasts we’ve cooked lately have been tough and tasteless. I’ll probably use her method of poaching chicken using mostly residual heat, from now on.

By Monday I was feeling a little more energetic and got plenty of exercise by going up and down the basement stairs to do several loads of laundry. For only two people Mr. G and I seem to have a lot of dirty laundry. Sometimes, when I view the pile of laundry that needs to be washed, I wonder if   someone isn’t sneaking in and dropping off their laundry hoping I won’t notice.  But alas, it is all ours. After getting the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, I  decided to cook some of the shiitake mushrooms we had bought on Saturday.  I chopped about half of them, along with some white mushrooms I already had, and made a  mushroom velouté. I don't know if it was the mushrooms or just time doing its thing, but I do feel more energetic today and not nearly as fatigued as I have been feeling.

I had hoped that when my energy level improved we’d be able to get some things done in the garden, but the weather hasn’t been cooperative-  it’s been rainy, windy, cloudy and  generally not good weather for being outside, and it looks like the forecast is calling for more of the same.  There’s plenty that needs to be  one inside, so I won’t be idle- but it’s more fun  to be outside playing in the dirt!  Meanwhile, I’ll  look at  pictures of past efforts in the garden and  keep hoping I’ll be able to  get out there soon to finish  weeding and bed prepping and get on to the business of planting!  Last year, not sure  how I was going to react to the chemotherapy, I pretty much   did my gardening on the deck, in containers, which worked out well,  as  you can see from these pics, 

but  I’d like to get some stuff in the ground  again this year, and  rework my  little raised beds again   These pics are from 2014, and that’s what I’m aiming for, as well as having a  nice deck garden again. Except for the Squash.  I will not grow squash.  Squash vine borers and other  critters that have attacked   my squash plants every year leaving a   limp and wilted  mess rather than the nice  healthy robust plants I began with have convinced me that I am no match for them. I have tried every non-toxic remedy I could find, to no avail.  I admit defeat. I will concentrate my efforts instead on picking off the  tobacco hornworms that  seek to destroy the tomatoes every year. Organic gardening in the Deep South is a challenge.  I love a challenge- as long as it isn't TOO challenging ;-) 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Today was the first market of the new season at Pepper Place Farmers Market, and I was determined to go because it’s become a tradition. So, heeding the warning to avoid sun exposure while on Erbitux, I slathered on the SPF 30 sunscreen, donned long sleeves and a hat and off we went.  The long sleeves, and the turtleneck I wore turned out to be a good choice because it was   a tad on the chilly side this morning.  As we neared the market, the streets were lined with cars for blocks and people were walking.  I didn’t know if I was quite up to walking a great distance since I still felt just a little weak and wonky, but sometimes the fates smile upon us, and they did today. We lucked out, and found a spot just across the street from the market on our first pass.

The market is usually crowded on opening day, but today was as crowded as I have ever seen it. 

You could barely move.  And dogs! It seemed like every other person there had brought his or her dogs.  It would be nice if they would also bring pooper-scoopers and not let their dogs on retractable leashes  tangle  themselves around folks' legs, but. . .Some dogs were very well behaved; others   seemed to be over stimulated by the sights and scents. This guy was one of the calmer ones, waiting patiently for his folks to finish making their purchase. I could never take Agatha and Victoria- the excitement would be too much for them and they'd  most likely have conniption fits and never recover!

There were vendors with all manner of food and craft items.  The fresh veggies and strawberries were in abundance and there were two mushroom vendors. We bought some spinach, strawberries and shiitake mushrooms. We decided to grab a cup of coffee and something to eat and sit at one of the tables.  Mr. G bought some boudin sausage and I grabbed a chocolate croissant. It was nice and relaxing to sit and listen to Debbie Bond and Rick Asherson play the blues and watch the little kids grooving to the music and dancing, having a grand time. 


It was a fun morning, but I was   quite tired so we decided to head for home.   
Once  home I took a nice long nap. Altogether it was a pretty good Saturday, perfect weather with blue skies, a wonderful market with fresh veggies, happy little kids, and blues music for entertainment. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Progress Report- Good News and Bad News

 Spent another long day in the oncology clinic yesterday; we got there at 8:30 AM and left just after 2 PM.  One of the oncology nurses had phoned on Monday to ask if I could get there an hour early because the doctor was changing my chemo drugs and the new combination would need to infuse at least four hours.  I figured the CT scan results from last week’s scan must not be what we had hoped for. As it turns out there was some good news and some bad news on the CT scan. The bad news is that the liver tumor has increased in size by 18%. The good news is that all the other hypodensities in the liver and pancreas have remained stable and that the stomach, small bowel, appendix and colon appear normal and the rectal mass is still unseen. Based on the growth of the liver tumor, my oncologist started me on a new chemo regimen today.  I thought at first that I would be getting FOLFIRI plus Erbitux, but I’m actually just getting the Erbitux and Camptosar (Irinotecan), both of which have some fairly nasty side effects, but have shown a lot of promise in clinical trials, especially in patients with wild type KRAS gene, which I have.  So I guess that makes me a wild child. I’m hoping I can tolerate the side effects without having to stop the treatment early. One of the side effects of the Erbitux is an acne-like rash which I hear is quite unpleasant.  The doctor said if I did get the rash to call and they would phone in a prescription for a gel to use on the rash.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  One should not have to deal with acne in one’s seventies; I am sure there are better ways to fake a youthful appearance!

Once in the infusion room I saw that someone had already taken my favorite chair so I wasn’t as close to a plug for my Kindle. It didn’t really matter as it turns out because I kept drifting off to sleep anyway and didn’t use the Kindle much.  I took the Tylenol the nurse brought, and then she hooked me up with some benadryl and  anti-nausea drugs. After that, we got the heavy stuff.  A short while after the Erbitux began flowing I began to itch.  Furiously. On my arms, legs, abdomen, buttocks. Then welts started popping up.  I looked and felt like I had been closed up in a roomful of angry, hungry, biting mosquitoes!  The nurse stopped the Erbitux and hooked up something to stop the itching.  It worked, thank goodness!  She told me my mouth would get very dry, like it had cotton stuffed in it. Sure enough it did, but she had brought me a cup of water and a peppermint candy- they helped a lot. We were able to continue the infusion of the Erbitux, then they hooked up the Camptosar and after another hour and a half, I was unhooked  and on my way.  The best part is that I’m not on the pump any more! The doctor took me off 5-FU. Hallelujah!

Much as I dislike this whole set of circumstances, I am constantly reminded that some people are a lot worse off.  One poor elderly woman who came in for her first treatment didn’t yet have a port.  It took three nurses to try to get a vein that would work.  She kept hollering in pain telling them to take it out, she’d just come back tomorrow.  They finally gave up and   took her down to radiology, so she might be getting a combination of chemo plus radiation. I hope she gets her problem sorted out, but she has a rough road ahead, for sure.
When I went back to the waiting room to find Mr.G he said I looked pale as a ghost, and after looking in the mirror I have to agree with him.  I could probably try out for a part on the Walking Dead and not even need make-up! Once we were in the car, I kept dozing off and went straight to sleep once we got home.  I slept most of the afternoon, off and on and felt completely wiped out.  This morning I still look like death warmed over, but am feeling much perkier, although my face feels hot (no fever) and has a strange mottled appearance with some red blotches, grey skin  areas. To make things worse the bags under my eyes look like I’ve been packing them for a trip. This too shall pass.  At least I hope so!