Saturday, July 31, 2010

Continuation of Story Time

It's Friday, July 30th, morning and Rebecca picks me up a 6:30 for my second round of Betadine treatment. The hospital was expecting me and I was taken to a private room and prepared for the treatment. The same nurse blew out another vein trying to start the IV and this was after wrapping my arm in a hot towel. The second nurse took her time and was successful. The antibiotic was started and then I was taken down to Interventional Radiology and given some more stuff so this would be a pain free procedure. Since the cavity was so large last time they were hoping to inject a smaller amount of Betadine this time. The radiologist started the injection and no Betadine would go in. He determined that there was no blockage in the tube and he tried again. He said that it was time to take it out - so he did. They put a compression bandage on me for three days and then everything should be okay.

All of the confusion from last week still remains with me. I was getting so many different stories of how many treatments this would be. Why couldn't someone just say that it would be 1-3 treatments and maybe more. How hard is that. What little drainage is still left should be absorbed by the body.

I guess if we prepare for the worse, then it is a true blessing when it is not as bad as we expected.

"God's ears are open to the desperate in heart. His eyes are aware of their need. Ask him to visit your most hopeless situation. God is always looking for a place to put a miracle."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Warning: This is long and may be boring.

Mastectomy on June 7th. Left the hospital with 2 drains. The drains were removed on the 25th. However, that was too soon and I developed a seroma. On the 29th my surgeon drained the seroma and put a catheter in so I could continue draining. On Monday, July 19th, three weeks later, they said the catheter had to be taken out, even though I was still draining large amounts of fluid, because there was too much chance for infection, and besides I should have quit draining by now. By the end of the day a seroma was developing again. On Tuesday I contacted the surgery nurse, again, to see what can be done.

The rest of the week gets more interesting/confusing so bear with me. There are lots of phone calls going back and forth and I only learn later that most of the information was not correct. 

Tuesday - The surgery nurse calls me back and she has talked with my surgeon. Since I am still draining so much the next step would be with Interventional Radiology. They will do a sclerosing procedure. This procedure is one time only and there has been a high rate of success. She explained it to me. They will drain the cavity and then fill it with a sclerosing solution, leave it in an hour and then drain it and it will be all over with. Okay sounds simple enough so we made an appointment at St Jo Hospital at 6:30 Friday morning. I should take someone with me. (A little doubt in my mind about how simple this is going to be.)

Wednesday - A gentleman from radiology calls me to get me pre-admitted. There are a lot of questions being asked back and forth. He was surprised that I thought it was a one time procedure and tells me that it may be more than a one time. Hmmmm! The procedure could be painful but that they will make sure I do not feel the pain, I will have an IV. As soon as I told him that I had had a pulmonary embolus he wanted to know if I was on blood thinners - yes.  He almost panicked. He said my PT INR had to be 2.3 or less. I personally didn't see this as much of a problem because I still had two nights not to take my medicine but he wanted me off of it for four nights. The call almost ended immediately and he said he would call me back - he never did.

The surgery nurse called me back and wanted to cancel for Friday and Move it to Tuesday so I could be off my med. I talked her into letting me go and getting my blood tested to see where it was. If it was close to 2.3 I had no problem - it would be down by Friday morning. It was 2.5 so she decided that it was too close a call. I kept telling her it would be down by Friday and to call my anticoagulation guy and he would explain it to her. I asked her to please keep me on the schedule for Friday because this seroma was growing by the day. She said that if I was not in the correct range that they would not do the procedure so she would keep me on the schedule for Tuesday also. I would take my chances.

My anticoagulation guy called me and said to hold my meds Wednesday night and Thursday night and I would be fine. He said if you want to be sure it is down - and then gave me a little tip - which I did. Okay - now is the funny part. You know how I like humor in everything.  I put my pills in a container and just take them daily morning and night. After all this commotion all day I took my pills and did not give it another thought until about a half hour later. You know how your stomach goes into a knot when you know you have done something wrong and you cannot reverse it - well... I fretted over this for about another half hour thinking what am I going to do - I have really messed up. For some unknown reason I went out and looked in my pill container. There were three pills that did not dump into my hand when I took my pills earlier and one of them was my blood thinner. I think you all can figure out the unknown reason - all I could do was thank God over and over. When we least expect Him to be in our lives - there He is every time!

I feel like this is turning into a book so please feel free to click off at any time. I just don't want to forget any of this like I did my surgery.

Thursday - I worked at the church all day and the staff took me out to lunch for my birthday. It was so good - Applebee's.

Friday - Rebecca picked me up and we were checking into the hospital and I was getting the funny feeling that they were not really expecting me. They did finally take me up to a private room and then the staff wasn't sure what I was there for. Yes, I am still laughing. Finally this nurse -  not really sure who she was or which department she was from, started talking about the procedure and that my PT INR had to be at 2.0 or they would not do the procedure. She also started saying that they would not be injecting any sclerosing agent, they would just be draining the seroma. Rebecca and I just looked at each other. I am sure glad she was there with me or I would have been crying instead of laughing. My PT INR was at 1.47.

The nurse that was to take care of me blew out a vein trying to put in the IV so she had to call the IV therapy team to come up. After two hours they finally have me all ready for the procedure, and  radiology was ready for me. It was another hour before they come to get me. The person before me was really a problem per the radiologist. 

Okay I am down there now. Every one is so nice. The doctor came out and apologized to me for all of the confusion that has gone on. He realized that I really had no idea what was happening and that no one had explained this procedure to me properly. After he explained it to me he asked if I still wanted to go through with it - it was not too late to back out. Long story short - He put in a long catheter with a curly tail on it and he even let me see it on the screen. He drained the cavity and then injected it with Betadine. It was in for an hour and then drained. I had to turn every 15 minutes on each side, back and front, to make sure the Betadine went into all the crevasses of the  cavity. Meanwhile I do have one humongous drain hanging on me now. Nothing that can be disguised through clothing like the other ones. I will come back next Friday and have the Betadine injection again. And then again the next Friday. Surprise - again! There is only a 50 percent chance that this will work.

He said that they could do surgery again but that usually never works and only will make it worse. Some people are chronic seroma makers. 

If you have made it through all of this you probably realize that I continue to need prayer. Look what your prayer has done for me so far. Believe me - I am not complaining - this too shall pass. However, I am really glad this week is over. ~But I want a bra!!!!!

"My interpretation influences my situation -- It's not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth - a stumbling block or a stepping stone."

PET Scan results

Praise God through whom all blessings flow! 
"No Active Cancer" 

I started on Arimidex this morning - antihormonal therapy - one pill a day. No chemotherapy and no radiation therapy per my oncologist. I am not sure that my surgeon knows this yet but she is not going to be a happy camper.

Be very specific in what you ask for. "If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they're answered?"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rollin' the cat

My little girl likes to play on the bed while I am trying to make it, or I should say she used to play on the bed. I am not sure what happened but she kind of quit doing that until just recently. I purchased a new set of sheets and they were a very light color and all of the sudden I could see black cat hair all over the top sheet. Needless to say, "I can't have that." So, I got the lint roller out and was rolling over the sheet when appeared my black cat and she wanted to play. I rolled it over her once thinking that would be all it took and she would be gone. Wrong - she loved it and now it is our daily routine to get rolled when I make the bed. Sometimes I am not fast enough for her and she stands on the bed looking at the night stand where I keep the roller.

Ember is so little (10 lbs) and her hair is very fine. It does little good to comb her or brush her because I am not going to get enough hair out of her to make a difference. The lint roller works great and now my fear is that I might get too much hair out and she will be bald. Do you think that could happen? Hmmmmm!

Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday, July 18th, was my birthday. Why, you ask, is a 67 year old woman so happy about her birthday. The simple answer is - because I had one.

As many of you remember, last year at this time my cancer was spreading and my future (here on earth) looked pretty bleak. In February 2010 things changed and my terminal cancer was no longer active. They don't call it remission but I will take whatever they want to call it. I have had another PET scan on Friday and I do not have the results of it back yet.

I received so many birthday cards, birthday wishes on FaceBook and at church that I was glowing all day. I am not sure how many people actually knew what it meant to me. I plan on celebrating my birthday every day so if you want to send me birthday wishes anytime in the next year I will accept them and be grateful for each new day.

"Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:16 NLT)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Memory

Last Saturday, a week ago today, I started thinking about my surgery and my short stay in the hospital. I could not remember a thing. I tried all day and nothing was coming back to me. On Sunday morning I told Rebecca that I couldn't remember any of it. She said, "You don't remember the fire." I said, "What fire." There was a huge fire in Denver and I could see it from my window. I do remember that now.

Rebecca and Shirley started telling me different things that happened and I am starting to remember some of it but not all of it. They said that a lady was moved into the room with me and she had both legs amputated. I was very upset and said that she "was so worse of than me." Later in the day lots of people showed up including a baby. I am finally remembering a lady in the room and a baby crying but that is all.

I don't remember nurses coming into the room but they said they were in there all the time and I walked and I sat in the chair and I was constantly going to the bathroom with no results. The only thing I remember about this is that I was so thirsty and I kept drinking lots of water.

Rebecca said that she asked me if my surgeon had come in the night before - and I said yes. The next morning Rebecca asked my surgeon if she was in the night before - and she said no. I don't remember any of this. And, I have no idea what she said to me that morning. The only thing I know for sure is that I was discharged.

It is a really weird feeling not to remember. I do remember pre-op but as soon as I left that room I remember nothing else. I do not remember getting dressed to be discharged. I do remember Rebecca taking me down to get my prescription filled and then picking me up at the emergency entrance.

I think I remember Shirley asking me if I was hungry and said that I needed to eat something. I think she ordered breakfast for me - have no idea what it was or if I even ate it. In St Joseph you have to order your meals or you don't get anything.

Yes, I do remember the fall when I got home. So funny!

The only thing that I can think of is that I was really dreading this surgery and I chose to block it out. There are still so many things I don't remember - maybe with time.

"Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Good news

I received some of my blood test results via email and I was almost afraid to open them for fear that they might show my cancer was active again.

The tumor marker for the endometrial cancer is the CA 125 - it was 12 the lowest that it has ever been. The normal range is <=34- u/mL.

My oncologist ordered a new tumor marker for the breast cancer - CA 27-29 - it was 23.0. The normal range is <=38.0- u/mL. I would like to see it lower but since it is within the normal range I will take it for now.

I don't shed tears often but they were tears of joy and I started thanking God. I know the blood test are only markers and not a sure-fire thing but they are a good indicator at what the cancer is doing. I have my PET scan on July 16th.

One more note on my fall the day I came home from the hospital. It finally dawned on me, just today. that I did not have my contacts in and was wearing my progressive glasses. I don't wear them very often and I don't do well with them on steps or curbs or in general. I guess with all the drugs in me and those silly glasses - well what can I say. Gotta blame it on something.

"We are not exempt from pain in this life, but God is attentive to our heart's cry and leads us beside the still waters of healing, where hope brightly blooms."

Friday, July 2, 2010

"We need to laugh every day - and I do."

I know I put that in my posting right after I got out of the hospital. And often I have said that there is something funny in most situations if you just look for it.

Maybe this wasn't so funny at first and maybe that is why I forgot to mention it. Rebecca brought me home from the hospital. I was so doped up on Morphine, Benadryl and Percocet. I knew they were taking me off the Morphine to discharge me so I made sure I had a couple of shots of it before they disconnected it. When we got to the apartment building I was feeling no pain but I don't think Rebecca realized how far gone I was. She dropped me off at the front door so she could go park the car. When she got back I was sitting in the lobby and she took one look at me and asked what was wrong - she could tell something was not right.

As she pulled away, I turned to go into the building. The only thing that I can figure out was that I did not move my feet and I went down - both knees - both hands. I had a great audience - lots of people waiting for RTD to go someplace. Of course, everyone wanted to help me up and all I could say was don't take a hold of my right arm. Because of this it was a little hard to get up but there was a younger man there and he helped me up.

Rebecca got me settled in bed to sleep for awhile and she left. She came back later with her air mattress and stayed all night with me to make sure there were no more incidents. I don't think there were - I don't really remember.

Only my pride got hurt in the incident but I can not even be embarrassed about the fall because I have no idea who all was standing there watching me, probably a good thing.

I thank God that he truly does give us something to laugh about through all of our trials to help lighten our load.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
~Proverbs 16:9