Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ebb and Flow

My husband and I have had miserable colds.  I get this dry cough that has just been driving me nuts...and making me wonder if I was going to be able to get chemo today.  I wasn't sure yet what constitutes the borderline for "chemo" or "no chemo" (I feel like I'm talking about a game show).  My oncologist is away in Florida seeing her in-laws, so I saw another doctor today.  And my husband is right...she looked even younger than my oncologist!  It's funny how doctors are getting younger and younger (could it be I'm getting older...nah..)

But I was given the stamp of approval and permission to get my 3rd round of Taxol chemo.  YEA!!  I even told her the whole story of my cold and just how horrible my cough sounds at night.  And still, it was OK!  My anemia is improving also.  I am now at 10.2, up from 9.5 last time (11 is "normal).  So I was a "happy camper".

The place was hopping today!  With the snowstorm that rocked the east coast Sunday through Monday, the cancer center was closed yesterday.  That meant the patients there today were the ones scheduled for yesterday AND today!  They needed every seat in the place and a lot of the "guests" of patients were told to go to the waiting room so they could use the guest chairs for patients who needed them.  People were coming and going all day long, and the nurses were just running around getting everyone their meds as quickly as they could.  It reminded me of the ocean and how it can be fierce and then calm; high tide and then low tide; the ebb and flow of a day at the beach.  

It was a quiet group at first.  I think everyone was just tired from the holiday and the snow day.  There was a nice woman next to me, who was accompanied by her daughter-in-law, who was getting a treatment for the first time at the cancer center (she had already received one treatment from a hospital).  I heard her asking the nurse about her port and could tell she was nervous about it.  Knowing how it felt to go through the unknown, I was able to lean over and let her know just what would happen and how it would feel and that it would be OK.  I know I wish someone could have done this for me.  It felt good to be able to calm her a little.  I also talked with a woman across from me who was diagnosed about the same time I was (during the summer),  She is already done with surgery (and had the double mastectomy), had been through the "red devil" (and had a hell of a time like I did), and was now also getting the Taxol.  Only her regimen had her on the higher dosage, which is once every three weeks, for four treatments.   She is having a lot of problems with "restless leg syndrome" and with her feet.  I was secretly glad to be on the lower dosage since I have not yet had too many problems.  In fact, whatever little problems I have (dry mouth, sensitive teeth, still no hair and losing some eyelashes, tiredness, heavy legs, and "chemo brain") seem so small in comparison to what I went through on Ms. Devil herself.  I still am not sure if there will be any symptoms that will pop up as I go along, but for now, everything is "not bad".   Quite the ebb and flow from one treatment to another. 

Once again I slept through the treatment once I got the Benedryl.  I usually get  a saline drip; a "flush"; my pre-meds of a steroid, an anti-nausea drug, Prevacid, the benedryl; flush; Taxol; Herceptin (which also has its own side effects); another flush; an injection of Heparin into the port to ensure there are no clots; then the port needle is taken out and I am ready to go home.  I might have forgotten something (or actually, have slept through something), but you get the idea.  Each of these meds just drips into your line at a rate that is determined to be best for you.  That is why some drips take an hour, some can take three or four hours.  And when it is backed up like today, it can take even more time.  We were there at 10, and left today at 4....a long day.

I am now down to 9 remaining treatments!  As my husband said, "We're now in the single digits!"  And even though some days it seems I just can't do this one more week, I know it will be OK.

I read somewhere that a survivor said just walking into the elevator of her cancer center makes her feel nauseous even years later.  I know what she means since walking across the street and into the building has me feeling tired and weary before I even begin.  It's just the nature of the treatment...the ups and downs of your emotions and your health...a rollar coaster ride you seem to keep riding without knowing where or how  to get off.

I leave you today with a familiar quote that may seem out of place at first....from Sir Isaac Newton who said, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction"....thus the good and the bad; the ebb and the flow.  This quote reminds me we'll all come out on the other side of this at some point and will be better patients, better people and survivors of this crazy journey.


  1. Hi Sharon. It's Bernadette. I feel honored that you mentioned my mother-in-law and I in your blog. You were definitely instumental in helping her to relax. Thank you! Meeting you, talking to you and reading your blog is inspirational, motivational and educational to me and I will continue to follow all that you write. And it is so well written! I pray for blessings for you and your family. Happy New Year!!!! May 2011 bring good things to you! I hope to be able to sit and chat with you in the New Year! Take care!

  2. are you getting better now? Pei Pa Koa (http://www.geocities.jp/ninjiom_hong_kong/index_e.htm ) is one of the few Chinese natural cough remedies that have been scientifically studied. it's something like herb plus honey, and it's sweet, thick and black in color. If you have a cough, look for it! It used to be one of my favourite natural cough remedies.

    if your cough persists, seek professional help such as traditional Chinese medicine physicians - I have had very good experiences with them.