Friday, March 12, 2010
Movin' Right Along
I finished radiation last week. I was originally told that I would have 25 regular treatments and 8 "boosts", but my radiation oncologist decided against the boosts, therefore shortening my treatment by a week and a half. I was pretty ecstatic about that because I was starting to get uncomfortable towards the end of my treatment. I have also had lots of fatigue in the past month. Luckily, it has been on and off and not really very constant. As far as the other effects of radiation, I look like I have a really bad sunburn. The blistering has healed, but I am tan and burned and itchy in spots. I have a patch of skin in my armpit that looks like it belongs on an elephant. I still don't have a lot of feeling, but I have had pain as a result of radiation. Mostly under my arm and my chest muscles. My skin feels sort of brittle and so do my muscles. Yesterday I described it sort of like Play Doh. When you first get a can and open it, it is pliable and adheres to itself really well. When it dries out, it gets sort of cracked around the edges and doesn't stick together as well and has a tendency to crumble. I am not sure whether a doctor would agree with my comparison, but that is sort of what it looks like and feels like. I am trying to keep it moisturized to help it heal and am using both aloe and Aquaphor. The Aquaphor is like Vaseline, so it is sticky and gross. I only use that before bed. I have heard that some people have serious burns from radiation, so I guess my reaction is normal and maybe on the good side since I haven't had too many problems, mostly just discomfort and fatigue. I am certainly glad to put that phase of treatment behind me! It also marks the end of active treatment for me, so it is a pretty big milestone.
I am still seeing my plastic surgeon weekly so that he can keep an eye on whatever is going on with my right side. It still has a red patch, but he doesn't necessarily think that I have an infection because the fluid that he removes every week is coming out clear, which is apparently a good thing. We have just decided to say that something isn't right and I am continuing to take antibiotics (going on two months now). The plan is to continue follow up visits until he feels that my skin has healed well enough for exchange surgery. The typical time frame for exchange is no sooner than 6 months after radiation, but that is not a good plan for me because of the irritation on the right side. My doctor feels that it would be safer to go ahead and take the expanders out and blast everything with antibiotics before putting implants in and glueing/stitching me back up. I thought that I would get my surgery date today based on our conversation last week, but it hasn't been scheduled yet. He is aiming for early April, but we are going to make it tentative to allow me to continue to heal from radiation.
As my treatment is winding down, I am finding lots of joy in trying to get back to normal. We have had some warm weather here and there and that just does wonders to lighten my mood and make me feel better. There is nothing like Vitamin Sunshine! We have lots of fun stuff coming up in the next few months to look forward to. We have a long weekend trip planned for the end of this month to Savannah. Scott bought me tickets to see my favorite band for my birthday, so we have been planning this for months now and it's finally right around the corner! We are meeting our friends Lennie and Courtney there and plan to celebrate both Court's birthday and the end of treatment. I have had a craving for shellfish since my weekend trip to Charleston last month, so I'm planning to eat fresh seafood and will hopefully be able to convince everyone to take a ghosty pub crawl.
Annabel is, as always, growing up faster than I can comprehend. On Monday, she is going to start going to a Mother's Day Out program twice a week. This has happened rather quickly, so I am doing my best to talk about school and get her revved up about it. I am sure it will be harder for me than it will be for her next week! Scott and I have been talking about finding a program for her so that she can socialize with other kids, but hadn't really done anything about it until this week. I am sure that she will enjoy it and it will give me time to get some things done around the house and run errands. I also plan to schedule doctor's appointments and such while she's at school, too. The hours are 9 to 2, so she will eat lunch there. It is downtown, so when it gets a little nicer outside, I can walk her to school or pick her up on foot. It isn't exactly up the street, but it is not too far. Before cancer, we took lots of long walks around town. I am hoping that I will have the stamina to start up again very soon.
Annabel's favorite things to do at the moment are playing hide and seek and pretending with her Yo Gabba Gabba figurines. It is sort of difficult to play hide and seek with a 2 year old, but we play a few times a day usually. I am never sure if I should be hiding or if I am "It". It is hard not to laugh when I'm hiding because she wanders around calling my name. She can count to five now, but her favorite number is still two. She also (finally) said her own name yesterday. So freaking cute! Scott was coaching her on what she might say at school. "My name is Annabel. I am 2. I love to jump!". Ha, ha. She doesn't like to watch Yo Gabba Gabba on tv, but she has been playing with the YGG figurines nonstop for a few days now. She lets them take turns driving her dump truck around the room and they often stop at the Little People house to go potty and "go seep". Sometimes they cry and sometimes they are hungry. I love to watch and listen to her play. She makes me laugh all the time! I love being her Mommy!
Next week is going to be my first visit to my oncologist in three months. It has been a busy three months, but I think it has gone by pretty fast. I have lots of questions for her and will probably spend the days up until my appointment composing a list. I am not sure what (if any) screenings she will schedule. I guess I am a little nervous about it because of the length of time between visits now. I feel like I have less anxiety than I did in the beginning, but that is because after a while, I took comfort in knowing that I was actively doing everything that I could to get rid of cancer. Now I feel like I don't have that safety net....I put it out of my mind as much as possible, but a visit to the oncologist brings it all back. I hope it will be an encouraging visit. And I also hope that she will give me the go ahead to have my port removed.
My hair is growing and growing. It's still very short, obviously, but I had my first haircut two weeks ago! It was only a trim around my ears and my neck, but still a haircut. I can't complain much about it. I'm glad to have it and it is an added bonus that it is so low maintenance. I think it is almost long enough that it might look it's short on purpose instead of like a former chemo patient. It makes me feel a little more "normal".
Well, that's the update! I never mean to go so long between updates, but time has a way of getting away from me lately! Here is a not so good picture of Scott and I from a few weeks ago...so you can see that my hair is, in fact, growing....