Goodbye Chemo

 

Fatigued? Yes. Happy? Very. Where am I? In cloud nine!

 

I completed my chemo rounds last Thursday. Later today, I begin my last five-day of neupogen shots, my last ten-day Levaquin antibiotics prophylaxis, and my new regimen of two-week prophylaxis of Arixtra to prevent clots or DVT. Because of very high D-dimer, my oncologist put me on it to prevent pulmonary embolism that can be very serious. I surprised myself by injecting my poor belly with it without freaking out–me who could not even stick my finger in Microbiology class for blood sample many years ago in college.

 

My aunt flew here to stay with me for a week, my third aunt who had breast cancer. We talked a lot about breast cancer, the chemo, and its side effects. She could relate. It feels good to talk to her knowing she understands me.

 

My allergy is better today. Thanks to my last dose of steroids. But after that, I’ll be sneezing again as Zyrtec does not work a hundred percent for my symptoms. Without the steroids I take for chemo, my throat usually itches a lot as I sleep and I still have post nasal drip at night.

 

Melody, my friend came over yesterday to cook Filipino food for me. Unfortunately, the metallic taste in my mouth came back, I could not taste the vegetables with okra, long beans, bittermelon, squash, and pork stir fried in shrimp paste. It should taste salty and sweet. Bummer. My son like it very much though.

 

I also feel fatigued since yesterday afternoon and that’s with skipping taking Compazine which makes me super sleepy. I remember talking to my aunt in the living room around eight o’clock last night…I just opened my eyes now and found myself still sitting in the recliner, woken up by her coughing away. The clock read one in the morning….I hope I don’t catch her bronchitis. That’s what she says she has without consulting a doctor. My aunt, a nurse, is just like me diagnosing herself.

 

Sunday is Easter. I really want to go to see the beautiful Sunday service. I will miss the cute girls wearing colorful Easter dresses. But for sure, the church will be packed. I should avoid the crowd. Oh well, I can’t have it all.

 

Cat Scan? Oh, No

Can I just lay down and rest?

Fatigued. It is one of those days that shortly after chemo, I get so tired. Trying to ignore the feeling, I took the kids out to Boulder Museum for family day yesterday. I regretted the one and a half hours drive total back and forth as I struggled keeping my eyes open but we did do a lot that we enjoyed. We got to plant onions and make recipe books with vegetable stamps for colorful cover, then we sewed out our tea bags full of rose hips, lavender, chamomile, and mint. All those I can drink at home while sitting on a cozy recliner, I thought. Then, I noticed, the volunteer used her teeth to cut the strings to finish up our bags. Forget about sipping the teas. I don’t need her bugs in my tea bags. Yuck.

I promised the kids to take them to the comedy  yesterday evening. The theater opens its doors twice a month for families for free. It is my night off so we might as well take advantage. There must be only five families there on a slow St. Patrick‘s Day. Good for me. Less crowd, less possibly infectious people for the vulnerable me after chemo… I don’t know which my kids like better–the meringue cookies and Oreo ice cream or the jokes by the comedians but they had big smiles on their faces the whole time. Their happiness made it worth my tiredness.

Then this morning I had my longest neupogen shot appointment ever. Catching my breath, the nurse took my vital signs.

“Hmm, your pulse is high, your blood pressure is low, you have no fever, but you look short of breath. I have to let the doctor know.”

I had the feeling I was not gonna get out easy. One chest x-ray and two blood tests later, I got sent home after the neupogen shot. I had been in the clinic for two hours.

I got a call from my doctor as soon as I arrived home.

“We are concerned between the on-call oncologist and I that you may have a clot in your lungs because your d-dimer is elevated. Since we don’t do Cat-scans on Sundays, you can have it done in the emergency department…”

And what, so they could find something else that might be remotely wrong with me? No way, I was staying home. I felt tired but I was just fine.

 

“…or you can wait, but if you feel worse, just go to the ED later and have a CT scan.”

“I will wait,” I said.

Hey, I can type, I can prepare my food, and I can lounge in my recliner. I just need a rest.

Think Fun

In the news...

The Los Angeles teacher scandal spoiled it for the rest of the teachers there. So the young students are affected…So many bad news plague the screen sometimes I refuse to watch what’s going on. Bad news tops good news most of the time. It gets depressing.

What am I to do? Do something stress relieving, something positive, something fun. I start planning for spring break vacation–more like weekend getaway. Since I will be working that week in the hospital, I can’t stay weeklong… Isn’t that weird? I haven’t started working yet and here I am already planning to get away? We won’t be going too far–just more than an hour drive away visiting museums, eating food not available where I live. Filipino food is what I crave lately. No restaurants here that caters authentic food from the Philippines.

We will stay in a grandma/grandpa type bed and breakfast. The place has great reviews and pictures so charmingly colorful with wooden playscape outside and homey furnishings inside. Picture this–dark red flowers in shrubs welcoming visitors by the driveway. Heading to the back of the place, beautiful brown horses stand eating hay. The patio overlooks more green shrubs under bright blue skies which also covers the distant snow peaked mountains. Inside, oversized dark leather sofas with soft, large pillows wait for us to sit on. Cool green quilts cover the king- and queen-sized beds in the spacious family guest room… I just got my email confirmation today. I am so excited. Only $55/day, that can’t be beat.

I did a thirty-minute 2-mile indoor walk. I can’t do too much outdoors although it is sixty degrees nice weather outside due to my location–more than five thousand feet elevation. I live too close to the sun for my chemo-sun-sensitive skin. For lunch, I will head north to eat out with Paul in a restaurant that is not too busy.

That is my fun for the day. Simple but it is mine. I will stay away from the news the rest of the day.

Too Busy Trying Not To Die

Darn cell phones

“I spoke to your dad on the phone the other day and he said he got laid off…”

After the cell phone drama, she managed a smile.

My daughter switched the conversation.

“If I save up enough money to buy a cell phone, can I buy one?”

“Maybe. But how can you pay for the monthly service?”

Her eyes watered. She left the dining room and returned with tissues.

“I’m sorry, my child, you don’t want to talk about your dad. Is that it?”

“No, I am sad about the cell phone.”

That reminded me that her dad mentioned about getting her and her brother, my son, cell phones. Now that he no longer works, the cell phone idea gets buried again. No way I can afford the luxury, yes, even if all her classmates have one. “All” of her classmates who goes to school whose seventy percent of the population receives free or reduced school meals has cell phones. I don’t get it. It amazes me what is important to my child, to children nowadays. I hurt that she is hurt but can’t she see? I am too financially disabled, too busy trying not to die, trying hard to take care of myself so I stay healthy–so they can have the best me.

Outside the museum after we viewed the watercolors exhibit.

I took the kids out with a pass from the library yesterday after the drama. We went to see the watercolors show at a local museum. We walked through all the nooks and corners, halls, and rooms. We checked each piece of art. We even went to the gift shop. For the first time, no one asked to buy something. Outside we took some pictures. They smiled genuinely.

On the way home, we stopped at Barnes and Noble. We each got one or more books we liked. Nursing book for me, Pretty Little Liars/Sketch/and Madlib book for my daughter, and an Airplane/Sketch books for my son. With membership discount, I spent a little over one hundred dollars for the books.

At home, my daughter volunteered to make more meringue cookies. She whipped the egg whites while I

The meringue with almond cookies we baked.

added the mix-ins. My son got busy making airplanes with colored papers before our ham sandwich and soup noodles with veggies and egg yolks. To my surprise, my daughter also offered in advance to do the walking exercise with me in front of the screen this morning. She has not said a word about cell phones. Maybe it is not that important to her after all.

I Feel Good

These past weekdays, I had trouble with everything tasting like metal.

Good bye metallic taste. Hello, sunshine! The dark clouds from the weekdays left. It looks bright yellow outside. I started the day picking up dogs’ poops in my front yard. Shh…I was told I am not supposed to do that. Germs, you know?

Bone pain, fatigue, nausea, nose bleed, and metallic taste in my mouth left me for good this second chemo round. I have felt great since yesterday. I bought a humidifier to ease the dry feeling in my nose and prevent nose bleed. I think it’s working. I awakened with no nose bleed this morning. I also tried Biotene toothpaste for dry mouth. My mouth does not feel like it’s lined with sandpaper today. Thank goodness. I hate that feeling. It might have taken away the metallic taste too because I enjoyed the meringue cookies this morning so much. It tastes like the meringue cookies I devoured as a child.

The general dryness on my fingers, nails, and feet got better too. I find that frequent “lotioning” of my hands is a must especially because I wash my hands more often now. With my severe, callous full and flaky feet, good old petroleum jelly helped. For dry scalp, although hairless, I apply conditioner religiously and that solved the patchy dry skin.

I have exercised daily, mostly Leslie Sansone’s walking exercise. I have them all–Walk 3, 4, and 5 miles, Walk Slim, The Big Burn, Walking Away Pounds…–from the local public library. I even add 3-pound hand weights to tone my flabby arms. Each exercise DVD raises my heart rate to at least one-twenties, and helps me break a sweat while I keep up with simple steps. Walk. What can be hard with that? In comparison to dancing DVDs that I found hard to follow since chemo, walking DVDs does not leave me wondering if I have a major case chemo brain.

Speaking of chemo brain, I will challenge myself by studying for CCRN (Critical Care Registered Nurse) certification examination. If I pass it, I get to have a raise at work, plus it will be an extra acronym to add to my name after my old RN (Registered Nurse). More initials means smarter. Somebody said that. I refuse to fall as a helpless victim to chemo brain or chemo fog. I can beat it. I hope. I started reviewing for the difficult test this month.

I am strong enough to go to work too, I think. I will hold off on my part-time job and keep just my full-time job for now in the critical care unit in the hospital. I want to aim high but not overachieve to the point that I almost kill myself. Wish me good luck. I need it.

I attached some pictures below to give you a glimpse of my birthday and the day-after-mini-outing and celebration. I hope this happy mood lasts.

A pterodactyl looks like it's about to pick me up with its beaks.

Beautiful outside but windy and freezing cold. That is what the ski jackets are for, right?

I swear I did not use my cellphone inside the tour bus, and I gave a dollar tip.

The rocks are changing very slowly. Somewhere, there are dinosaur footprints.

Footprint on the rock by an Iguanodon dinosaur.

I actually enjoyed ice cream marble cake with my loved ones.

Till next time. Hope you have a nice weekend yourself.