Plodding Along

The title says it all. I honestly feel like I am just plodding along through life and I feel lost. Each day (during the week) feels the same. Poor Dr Hands is really struggling to cheer me up and I want to cheer up but I can’t. I just feel down. I feel nothing. I don’t feel happiness.

I thought I would feel this through the recovering from surgery phase. I didn’t.

I thought I would feel it through chemotherapy. I didn’t.

Yes, there were times that I struggled here and there through each of the above but the feelings were so far and few between.

Recovering from surgery was ok because I was inundated with such lovely visitors, love, flowers, gifts, medication etc.

Chemotherapy I had Sam feeding, drugging and watering me. People (my mum) visiting and the neighbours caring for me. Medication to make me feel better and there seemed like a kind of purpose to it all.

Now, I am having radiotherapy and I am all twisted in the head. Is it possible that radiation brings you down? I have struggled with anxiety disorder for many years and I wonder if the radiotherapy has cancelled my medication out?

Or, is it the drive to and from the city each day, sitting in a waiting room that is depressing and full of very old people that brings me down?

Maybe it is the Radiotherapy clinic I attend that brings me down.

The oncology unit I went to for chemo was always upbeat and all of the staff knew me and smiled and hello’d me. Some would ask me about my blog and if Sam wasn’t with me they would ask about him by name.

The radiotherapy unit is different. The receptionists (except one) are grumpy and not at all friendly. The patients in the waiting room are all elderly and so frail looking. I want to feed these people and make them smile but they wont look at me let alone talk to me.

There is a big difference between oncology and radiation.

And another thing. Have I told you that I have lymphodema? Well, I had my first lymphodema massage two weeks ago and oh wow, it was amazing. I loved it. One hour of left arm and left side massage was incredible.

Well, I had another of these appointments today and it was shit. There was no lovely massage but it was some kind of laser therapy. I dont want that. This laser thing just flashed and beeped for an hour as the lady ran from room to room changing all the laser thingies on each of us but it sucked. I wanted my massage. Where was my massage?

The massage/laser lady said that there had been a slight improvement in my elbow crease but the rest of my arm had remained the same. All of my own personal massage and squeezing of the memory foam thingy had done nothing. I want my massage back.

This laser therapy was so much like having my car tuned. I pay a fortune but can’t see or feel any difference.

Then, I had my radiation appointment which was 2 hours and 20 minutes after my crap laser therapy so I took myself out for lunch which was amazing. I went to a city cafe and they made me a gorgeous, gluten free and tender chicken tenderloin salad with a hint of sweet chili and balsamic salad. Amazing!

I had been told that the whole of South Terrace (where my clinic for radiotherapy is) would be closed off today so I made sure I had at least an hour and a half to find some where to park (imagining a two block walk) only to find that the entire of South Terrace was not blocked off at all. The work men had resurfaced the road on the weekend instead so, I ended up parking right in front of my clinic in a two hour spot and at my appointment one hour and twenty minutes early! FFS.

Blow me down with a feather but they had a free spot that someone had cancelled (it was hot today so the patient couldn’t come in) and I went in and was zapped in no time. Quick hello to Professor Borg (he is monitoring my treatment and wont let me lose any weight until after radiotherapy) and I was on my way.

Driving home I said to me,

“Me, I think you should have an alcohol free day today”

I was home for 10 minutes before getting back into the car to drive to the local bottle shop to get some bubbles. No, I do not think I am an alcoholic. Yes, I love the bubbles fizzing on my tongue hehe. AND it is nice on my sore radiation infected throat. It is medicinal!!!

As anyone knows, I do not like the words side effects but use the word ‘feelings’ when it comes to something that has occurred during treatment.

Here are my feelings with radiotherapy.

  1. Burnt throat. It feels like tonsillitis. When I eat or drink it hurts and feels like the liquid or food has to go through a big lump in my throat to get down. The Professor has recommended taking two pandadol before each meal. This is silly because apparently you are only supposed to take a maximum of 8 panadol a day. Has he seen the size of me? Obviously I eat more than three times a day!! Not anymore.
  2. Redness on my shoulder, front and back. So, I am being zapped not only on the ‘bomb site’ but also my collar bone and shoulder because of being HER2 positive and the cancer being known to pop into these areas. The bomb site, where my lovely leftie boobie was taken from, is slightly itchy but nothing too bad.
  3. Depression. I’ll work out why that is occurring and will get back to you.

As usual, Dr Hands is on call for cuddles, kisses and love. He is worried about me, I can see this and I am trying so very hard to make this easier for him but it is hard. He has known me too long and can see straight through me.

If you are new to this blog, Dr Hands is my fiancee Sam and he doesn’t read this blog (Phew).

The recent highlights are

  1. My gorgeous and amazing daughter, Accalia-Jayne, came with me to my herceptin appointment and radiotherapy appointment last Thursday. We had coffee between appointments and after appointments. This girl of mine (22 years old) is an amazing person and can make me laugh, can hold a conversation and has amazing social skills and manners.
  2. My team from work’s Christmas Lunch. I haven’t seen these people since April 7 2015. I love that I was invited to the Christmas Lunch and they all had a hug for me, made me laugh and feel a part of the team again. AND, they want me back hehe. I’ll be back at work soon and I can’t wait!
  3. A trip to the beach with my long time friend Tracey, her son Ben and my gorgeous boy (groodle dog) Brady. We started with a drive to Willunga for lunch and then proceeded to Aldinga Beach where I watched Ben (who is aged 4 foot?? I think about 6 or 7 years old??) encourage Brady into the water with no effort at all. I have never seen Brady in the beach water or, so bloody clean after being in the water! Check out the photo below, Ben took Brady much further into the water but I like to live my life through my eyes and not a camera.
  4. A lovely and gentle visit from my Mum on Saturday. She always makes me feel calm and relaxed
  5. Sam bought me a Santa to go with the Reindeer! He is getting into the Christmas spirit (or just suffering for the cause).
  6. I made a new friend today. Leslie has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has MY surgeon and MY hospital. She seems amazing (we are communicating via facebook) but I must remember, these early times of being told of having breast cancer are frightening and I must be sensitive. (I am quite blase about it all at the moment and do not want to be like that with a new cancer patient).
  7. I am still alive.

I shall leave you with a giggle, if you have the giggleness of my neighbour Clare who thought these two photos were hilarious!

Photo 1. Dogs plus reindeer, all happy and awake. Kelly (red staffy x) and Brady Bailey-Wilkinson (white groodle) are kissing in front of Smiley (reindeer)

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This is after all the fun and games

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Ben and Brady

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I Made It

My top stayed on through my work Christmas Lunch #1 so put away your bail money ๐Ÿ™‚

It was so lovely to go to my work teams Christmas lunch even though I haven’t been at work since April. All of the team members gave me a hug (no valium needed) and I actually felt good. I felt a part of the team and I am happy to say that they agree, (well the mangers agree) to have me back earlier than previously expected.

There is no way, in my opinion, that I need until May 2016, off to recover. I miss my work so much and can’t wait to get back into it.

Here is the look I went for today. Yes, I know I know, I have bragged all about going nude nut (bald head) but I just couldn’t do it to my team mates and I think I did OK with the scarf thing (with help from my neighbours).

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Christmas Lunch with my Team

Sorry for being MIA lately but have been a bit down, nothing much to say, too lazy etc.

It seems all I do lately is do my 45 minute to an hour drive to the Radiotherapy clinic, take off my top, get radiated, get dressed and drive the 45 minutes to an hour home.

Now I can add physio to my schedule for Lymphodema and again, drive an hour to that clinic, take my top off, get massaged for an hour, get dressed and drive an hour to get home.

A visit to my surgeon, you guessed it, 45 minutes to an hours drive (this is all dependent on traffic conditions), take my top off, get fondled and drive that distance again, home.

So today, I have NO radiation, physio or surgery visits but I have something so much more exciting and that is my teams Christmas Lunch!

What I am frightened about is driving 45 minutes to an hour to the hotel, walk in, take my top off, eat lunch and leave!

I’ll let you know how that pans out, do they have Wi-Fi in prison? I might get arrested for flashing but should only have to do ‘half the time’ in prison because I’ll only be flashing the one boob that I have left.

Wish me luck ๐Ÿ™‚

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Knuckleless

So, it wasn’t enough to be left side boobless, hairless, eyebrowless & eyelashless that I now have to be knuckleless.

I know I know, there are a few of you out there that have told me to go to the ladies who can assist withย lymphedema but I just couldn’t do it through chemotherapy. I was simply too sick to make appointments and keep to them.

Now, I am paying the price with my balloon hand and no knuckles on my left hand.

Thankfully I get my ‘roster’ for the next seven radiation visits because no, they are not at the same time each day. Once I get the roster I can then make an appointment with the special people who will fix me right up.

It is really bizarre though because my hand only swelled up a day, oh no hang on, three days ago. I noticed while I was driving that there were no knuckles on my left hand. Where the bloody hell are my knuckles I was thinking and then it hit me. The lymphy thingy.

It could be a heat thing. It is almost 40 degrees in South Australia today and was really hot yesterday too. Ok fine, it isn’t the heat but it could be ok! And, can you believe, my appointment for radiation today is at 4pm. I have an hour and a half of driving there and back in 40 degree temperatures. Thank goodness for airconditioning.

On a good, or even amazing note, I am loving life right now. Yes, I have radiation each and every day except weekends but I have energy, I am happy, I am motivated (sometimes) and it is almost the Christmas season.

My house has the beautiful Christmas tree up with decorations galore, tinsel in the windows, reindeer and Santa and other figurines around the house.

Ok, thats about me for today. The dogs and I are sitting in a dark house to keep it cool and to save on electricity by not putting the air conditioner on until absolutely necessary. I will cross my fingers there are no bushfires today because yesterdays bushfire at Kuipto was a little too close for comfort.

Stay cool Adelaidians ๐Ÿ™‚

 

The Professor Said – Stay Fat!

Yep, you read it right here, I am to stay fat!

My surgeon wants me to lose weight, my oncologist just wants me to go for some gentle walks three times a week and my professor, the one who is sorting out my radiation stuff says no, dont lose weight yet.

This would be the reason I ate half a tub of Ben and Jerrys triple caramel ice cream after dinner tonight.

It is really hard to keep all of them happy so I have to choose the doctor, or professor in this case, that sounds right. He said something about if I lost a lot of weight, all of the settings for my radiation would need to be done again. Well, we cant have THAT now, can we?

Something else that happened recently was a lovely group of girls came over to visit me and drink and eat with me and laugh with me. Well, one of the girls we’ll call TK for the purpose of this blog, thought my teary eyes when they arrived was because I was so happy to see them. She is one who will get a bit teary in some situations. Like, you know, when you meet up with someone at the airport, you might get a bit weepy in the eyes etc.

After an hour, my eyes were still weeping and she realised that no, it was not because I was STILL emotional from their visit but was chemo related hehe. How cute is that?

Hmmmm what else can I tell you? Oh, today was the 3rd radiation visit so that leaves only 30 visits to go. I finish up on Christmas Eve.

I am going to shave my head again. It is growing but only on the sides still and nothing in the middle. So, I look like a bald fat old man which is not the look I am going for. And the hair on the sides is almost fluffy. It isn’t even real hair so I can’t even get excited about it. There is no use having it there. It is even long enough not for me to get ‘bed hair’. Usually, the side hair sticks out, like, straight out. When I get up, one side will be flat and the other sticky out. Off it is going to come.

Oh thats right, I meant to tell you this ages ago. Well, last week anyway. I went to the chemist (no, not the local one with Mary but a city one) and the young girl says to me, would you like to enter our raffle. I said ‘yeah sure, whats the prize?’ and she points to a basket at the end of the counter. The basket was full of hair care products. I am standing at the counter, bald except for my sticky out side hair and no hair in the middle and she is offering me to enter a competition to win hair spray and mousse and shampoos and conditioners. I said, oh thats nice, I guess I’ll have hair one day and she looked at ME with a confused look!! At least the ladies to the side of me thought it was funny.

Alright, thats about it for me for the moment. I am on a massive sugar high which is not good at this time of night 7:20pm, I could be bouncing off the walls all night.

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Radiation Day 1

A Breeze!

I thought it would hurt. I expected to feel something but I felt nothing. Not even a tingle.

That snorkel and nose clip still gave me a bit of anxiety but they had music blaring in the room and they were all songs I love but other than that, was easy peasy. AND, I have my own ‘locker’ where my gown is kept. I love this idea because I am astonished at how much gets thrown away in medical land. So, I wear the same gown everyday.

The staff were really nice, personal and professional.

This can not be said for Dr Hands.

When we were leaving the radiotherapy unit, I complained to him that I must have put my bra on wrong because my boob was under my arm and very uncomfortable.

He asked “which boob”.

Oh he thought he was so funny. Of course it was Dolly (the prosthetic one) but he does love to entertain himself.

So, thats that for today.

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My Introduction to Radiation Therapy

Today was induction day. I met the machine I will be spending the next six and a half weeks with. Thankfully, I get weekends off from having to visit the St Andrews Radiation Unit.

What I didn’t know would be happening is that I would be learning to ‘snorkel’. Yep, snorkel. I have never snorkeled before but the lovely guy who ran me through the procedure showed me the ‘thing’ that would be put into my mouth and said it was much like a snorkel. That’s great if you have done that before.

Now, try to bite your tongues but, I dont really like things in my mouth for an extended period of time. STOP THINKING RUDE THOUGHTS! And this snorkel thing PLUS a nose clip was waaaaaay out of my comfort zone.

The snorkel cuts your air off after you are told to take a big breath and this can last from 10 seconds until 30 seconds. It is the weirdest and uncomfortable thing but the staff were amazing.

My Professor Borg, the radiation specialist, came in to draw all over me and then I got some pictures taken of my scar followed by four dot tattoos.

The real thing starts Thursday. Today was just getting everything prepared. I might just get over my ‘something in my mouth’ thing after 33 sessions.

Oh hey, did you know that when you have no nose hairs, your nostrils stick together when pushed together. Does that make sense? When the nose clip was taken off, I had to unstick my nostrils so I could breath out of my nose hehe.

snorkeling

Welcome to my Cervix – All invited

Well, let me tell you about yesterday because OMG, even I was shocked and I am never shocked.

I went to my old GP who is young and amazing but is an hour and a half drive from where I live. This is why I dont visit her often but seeing as though she had called my mum (I am 43 years old and can take calls myself), I felt the reason for her wanting to see me was important.

Seeing as though I was seeing my surgeon for a follow up yesterday, I figured it was best to make an appointment on the same day because I hate driving down the freeway and best to do it as little as possible.

So, I get to see my wonderful ‘old’ but young doctor who tells me my Marina needs to come out NOW. She has tried to contact my surgeon and oncologist regarding my IUD and how it could impede in my cancer treatment but neither have responded to her repeated calls.

Before I know it, I have no pants on and my legs are spread for her to try and get this IUD, my chosen contraceptive (encouraged by my doctor mind you) and she tugged and yanked and apologised and did what she needed to do to no avail. This thing was not coming out easily and OMGย  (that means Oh My Gosh to those who are not internet savvy) I was in agony. I can’t decide if I was making sex noises or birth noises but either way, they were not good noises.

My doctor had to get me an ASAP appointment to a gynecologist to try and get this thing out. So, my IUD was half way in and half way out. For men, you will have no idea what this feeling is like but geez, I could tell you every swear word under the sun that I uttered on the drive from Mawson Lakes to North Adelaide with this thing in my Cervix and not wanting to stay or go.

The Gyno was summoned from his hospital to come and see me and seriously, this man was as old as the hills. I was frightened but he seemed to know what he was doing. He said he would try and do this without stirrups but would use them if he ran into strife. I didn’t even know they still existed! Just get this bloody thing out of me FFS (that means for fuck sake for those not internet savvy).

Yank he did. Is it possible to faint while laying down? I dont know the answer to this but that is what I felt like doing when he pulled it out. He asked about what contraception I was going to be using now I didn’t have an IUD and I mentioned to him that Sam will never be heading down there anytime soon so there will be no issue.

Man, that was as painful as childbirth. Ok, so apparently the IUD had nestled into my muscle (I didn’t know there was a muscle in my cervix) and that is why it was difficult to remove but I dont give a shit. Nothing is going near that area anytime soon. That was waaaaaay too painful.

So, that was my cervix adventure yesterday.

Maybe tomorrow, I might feel stronger and feel like discussing my ten years of tamoxofen as advised by my surgeon but today is not the day for that discussion.

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Today’s photo is when we moved into our new home almost a year ago, and that big fluffy dog was riding in the back of the ute. Looking at the photo makes me happier that any cervix or marina photo ๐Ÿ™‚