Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update: Professional Cancer Patient Me

I’m stuck. I’m blaming the usual suspect: prednisone. It’s got my head all messed up and I want to round up recent professional cancer patient activities, but I’m feeling really dumb and as if it isn’t worth writing about. More of the same. I’m content, I’m depressed, and I swing unpredictably between the two. So, stuck.

Guess I’ll go straight for the clinical. Can’t get too mired in straight forward facts, right? Monday’s CBC said I have 169 platelets. That, as we all better know by now, is awesome. I am scheduled for chemo next Tuesday. Please note that this makes three scheduled chemos in a row. What, a routine falling into place? Hush yourself. I don’t need you jinxing me.

Mutual Detestation Society
Based on my platelet count, New Doctor has dropped my prednisone by 10 mg. Praise be! She also said that if my counts are still looking good on Tuesday, she’ll drop me another 10 mg. You cannot imagine the sheer relief and pleasure this possibility brings me. I’m tired of feeling like a perpetually humming tuning fork. It’s exhausting. And yet, I cannot sleep. I hate my big, fat, prednisone face and belly. Then there are the cramps in my fingers and jaw. Now, if you’re tired of my relentless jabbering and writing, these little side effects may not sound like such bad things. But, they are painful and they slow my work. You know, my real work. Typing gets challenging.

The physical fatigue is maddening, too. I climb stairs like I’m trying to summit Everest with a 175 pound pack on my back. My quads burn and I have to put two feet on each step before I take on the next. I really hate physical manifestations of what I’m dealing with. F-ing annoying. I’m strong and independent. Huffing and puffing my way around does NOT jive with that view of me.

A Rising Star in the Category of Comorbidities
The radiation damage to my shoulder, which for years existed as deeply burned, reddened and hardened tissue, has now become a gaping, oozing, wound. It requires twice daily dressing changes, antibiotic ointment and over the past two weeks has continued to widen. There are (no kidding) two holes on the top of my right shoulder. I now have a wound care specialist. An x-ray shows that the bone in the area is intact and there is no infection in my bone. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have a lot of calcifications that are working their way to the surface and destroying any semi-viable tissue in their paths. Hence, the gaping wounds. I'm fighting a strong urge to post a photo of the wounds because it's just that freaky looking.

I saw the wound care specialist yesterday, and he debrided the wounds (again). He said the wounds will probably get bigger. Lovely. Right now, the plan is to get the area cleaned up and as healthy as possible before we consider our next step – how to close the wound up, if that is even possible. I see him again in a month.

But here is the best part: since this wound has opened up, I have developed lymphedema. My arm is swollen with lymphatic fluid that cannot drain properly because I had lymph nodes removed during my mastectomy and the oozy stuff in my wound is over-taxing my body’s sewer system. New Doctor is working on getting me a lymphedema pump and sleeve. I am going with notion that this is a transient thing that will subside once we get my shoulder under control. I need to go with this notion otherwise I’m going to get royally ticked off at the possibility of having to wear a sleeve for the rest of my life.

To be done this month. I need to schedule.

Donations for Andrea
Assertive Cancer Patient says she has received over $390 in donations for Andrea. That should ease her mind and grocery bill, if only for a little bit. I’ll bet it made her smile at the generosity of those unknown to us but whom we touch. Thank you so much if you contributed.


Anonymous said...

You ARE strong, caring, smart, funny, courageous, determined, and so much more. And you ARE independant. You independantly thought of those words to write - AND managed to write them. No matter what is going on right now - those are just circumstances and NOT who you are. And might I add, your writing today did much more for me than you climbing some stairs even 10x over!


I Kicked Cancer's Ass said...

I too am a cancer survivor and it has been a long and difficult journey! I just wanted to stop by and leave you a comment showing you my support.

If you have the time stop by and visit my blog I am trying to raise cervical cancer awareness!

Kelley said...

Friggin cancer. The collateral damage just sucks. Keep the faith, T.

Nic said...

You are a strong, independent, and kick ass Lobstah! One step back is not the journey...look at exactly HOW FAR you have come, my dear. I feel your frustration with the whole wound issue...same thing happened to me after my lumpectomy 2 years ago. I ended up on a wound vac to get it to close but it still took over 3 months.

Love ya, girlie!