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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Peaches and More Ponderings

I am happy to report that I have  survived   the latest CT scan, colonoscopy and chemo treatment  relatively intact.  The CT scan indicated that everything is stable and there is no evidence of new disease, so that’s good.  The colonoscopy prep was worse this time than the one two years ago, but thank goodness I was  put under for the actual procedure which shows that I now have  radiation colitis, so that probably accounts for some of the  bleeding, as well as  the scar tissue and scabs that have been sloughing off.  I haven’t seen any of the written pathology reports yet, but will probably know something in a week or so. I had another chemo treatment this week and am almost recovered, but still feeling a little fatigued. I think perhaps it was not such a good idea to schedule a scan, colonoscopy and chemo treatment within the same eight day period. The oncologist   and surgeon are supposed to get together to discuss   treatment options after they get the written report from the gastro doctor, whether to continue as we have been with the chemo or if now is the time to go ahead with surgery, etc.  I’ll hopefully know more  at my next   doctor visit next month.

The garden  is looking pretty sad and neglected.  Weeds are growing with wild abandon, plants are getting long-legged and spindly and even the bright zinnias are beginning to look a bit bedraggled. We have had a lot of heat and a lot of rain, which has resulted in sauna like conditions outside. In the few early morning and evening hours when the heat is not quite so oppressive, the gnats and mosquitoes and most active.  Those nasty gnats form clouds and hover in the air, just waiting for you to  pass through. Then they get in your eyes, ears, up your nose, even  in your mouth if you happen to  open it for a second. 

Needless to say, I haven’t been working outside much lately.  And it shows. I have rooted and potted up some cuttings and repotted  a few herbs,  and weeded one of my little square foot gardening sections, but there’s much more  that needs to be done. We don’t have much rain in the forecast for the next week or so, and there are several partly cloudy days with  temps in the 80s predicted, so maybe I’ll get out and get some work done  this coming week.

If it’s  too muggy to work outside, there’s plenty  that need to be done inside-  we need to paint walls in several rooms.  It’s been years since they had a fresh coat of paint and  dingy walls  can be depressing.  At any rate, there’s  plenty of work to be done, so  there’s not much chance  of complaining that there’s nothing to do.  But right now I’m going to make another  rustic peach and raspberry tart.  I made one  the other day with some peaches  Mr. G had bought at the farmer’s market.  Although  it was a little more “rustic” than I’d hoped it was delicious and  calls for an encore. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Post-treatment Ponderings

Today is my red face day- a combination of  steroid flush and side-effects of Erbitux that hit me the day after a chemo treatment.  This week's treatment was a day early- my oncologist is out of town this week and her partner works at another location on Wednesdays, so with no doctor in the clinic all Wednesday's patients were  scheduled for days when  a doctor would be there should any problems arise with the infusions. I'm glad I was one of the "day early" patients since I should be  more energized and able to do things on the week-end. Not that we ever do much on the week-ends, but who knows, something interesting might crop up. And if it does, I'll be all fit and ready to go.

I missed yoga this  week, which was a bit disappointing. I'd been  cleaning carpets and probably got carried away over the week-end pushing and pulling the behemoth carpet shampooer back and forth across the carpets. I thought  I'd pulled a neck muscle- every time I raised my arm above shoulder level, one of the muscles in my neck and shoulder would harden like a bone, then twitch and throb.  It wasn't terribly painful so much as being very annoying. That combined with the shin splints I've been having after walking on the treadmill made me think that I should sit this Monday's class out, especially since I'd be sitting tethered to a pole  full of infusion bags for four and a half hours  on Tuesday.  Everything seems OK today-no shin splints  or twitching muscles, but I've been pretty sedentary.  Being sedentary is not something I'd recommend as a general rule, but every now and then it's not a bad idea to let your body rest from its labours, I think.

I have a CT scan scheduled for next week, then a colonoscopy (Thrill!) the week after that, followed by another chemo treatment. I'm beginning to have symptoms indicating the rectal tumor may be growing again.  The chemo cocktail of Erbitux and Camptosar I'm currently on has been doing a good job at keeping everything in check much longer than I thought it would,  but we may be looking at the possibility of surgery now, which would result in a permanent colostomy. Not the most wonderful thing to contemplate,  but it probably wouldn't be such a bad thing either, once  I got used to it.  Having   suffered from IBS for most of my adult life going out to eat had been  a no-no, unless I could get a table  very close to the restrooms.  It was always easier to just eat at home, but it would be nice to  try out some of the eateries I've been reading about without  worrying about having an embarrassing accident. My main  concerns about surgery are that I'm  not too keen about being put under with anesthesia for a four hour operation and  since  this is a stage 4 disease, there is always the possibility that it will pop up elsewhere soon after surgery making chemo more difficult because my body  has been weakened by surgery. Anyway, we'll have to see what the scan and scope find and then  discuss the options with the surgeon and oncologist. Once again, I'm hoping for the best but preparing (mentally) for the worst.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Don't Believe Everything I Say

I was going to say that one of the most frustrating things about being on chemotherapy long-term is the chemo brain. But then I got to thinking- -  at my age,  it’s really better to be able to blame memory lapses and such on chemo brain than it is to have people shake their heads sadly and say, “Poor thing, she’s really getting old and forgetful, isn’t she?”  

But actually, I’ve had strange things going on in my brain for years- just ask Mr. G or the kids. When I was a child, I could look at a picture of a giraffe and call it a kangaroo.  And vice versa. The same thing with a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros and a sequoia tree and a sycamore.  In adulthood this  took the form of  mixing up the kids' names. Often, when I went to call one of the five, I’d sometimes have to do the whole roll call before I got the right one.  But that’s another problem entirely, and I’ve heard other mothers say they’ve  done the same thing. Other than those few examples,  I had no problem identifying objects or animals or trees or people. Until recently.  And this is why I have to tell you: if you hear me say I use a walker everyday, don’t believe me.

When I started chemo, I was told to stay out of the sun, and quite frankly, I  reached the point where I couldn’t take Alabama’s summer heat and humidity. I knew exercise was important and signed up for a yoga class and began doing yoga exercises at home. Then I  read a lot of articles on the benefits of walking. So I thought, if we get a treadmill I can walk every day no matter what the weather is doing. We bought a manual treadmill.  But once it was set up in the house I developed a mind block and couldn’t think of what it was called. I began calling it a walker.  Now   there’s a big difference between using a walker and using a  treadmill, not that there is anything wrong with  using a walker- they can be wonderful aids to mobility,  particularly for people recovering from surgery or suffering from fatigue or weakness that makes walking difficult.  And there are times when I am definitely fatigued and when  my hip still remembers that it was hurt in a car wreck years ago and  protests loudly.  But so far, I haven’t needed a walker. So if you hear me say I used the walker today please don’t think I’m a poor little elderly creature who needs to sit down and have her pillows plumped for her. Just think of me as some scatterbrained eccentric who envisions herself stalking  rhinos through the sycamores while  trotting along in relative comfort on her treadmill.😉