Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tax #1 day by day

Tis Day 3 of Tax, and today I feel wobbly, tired and weepy. I was OK first thing - got up and tidied the kitchen (we'd left it in a shambles after yesterday's dinner!), but went back up to bed to read and snooze for a bit with G. When I finally ahd to get up - the lady who bought my exercise bike was due - I felt a lot less energetic. I have showered and spent the usual 20 minutes moisturising (you think you'd get more time in the mornings if you don't have your hair to do, but you end up slathering moisturisers all over every bit of (gradually getting more dry and old-looking) flesh instead, so that fills that time slot!)and then wobbled into the bedroom to bonk my head on the door frame. Mini tears.

Once dressed, picked up cups and plates from the bedroom and wobbled. More mini tears.

Wobbled gently downstairs to have a few more mini tears. All totally pointless!!! G laughed at me that I was clearly sad to see the exercise bike leave - the bike that I've had for a year and hasn't ever come out of its box!!

So, I have tidied a couple more things, got some washing on and have now given up and am on the sofa. My neck and glands and throat ache a little bit, so I suspect this is just due to the neulasta injection (which I gave myself yesterday with no problems at all). I was toying yesterday, with the idea of going into work tomorrow. Now, I definitely won't be. It's a 'planned' day of sick leave, so I'm not letting anyone down, so that helps.

Day 4 and I am not going to work. I had kind of planned it - Occupational Therapist had recommended having the monday after chemo off work (and possibly the Tuesday too) each time, and after yesterdays wobbliness, I knew that I would need to. G wouldn't have let me go anywhere anyway. I had a fairly disturbed nights sleep as my muscles/bones really started aching - it feels like having the flu without the fever. Your body just aches everywhere. I feel pings of pain at random places (ankles, knees, head, under my neck, fingers...) rather than one all over ache all of the time, but it does mean it is hard to get comfortable. I am propped up in bed at the moment with lots of pillows and cats!!

This feels like my first proper day off sick since my mastectomy operation. I've had lots of hospital appointment days off, but I have always got up and gone somewhere, and done some work from home on those days, and generally felt fine. Today, I am just lounging and trying to get comfortable. Ibuprofen has helped a little. I may top up with some paracetamol, once I have checked my temperature.

On the weight front, no constipation this time (I have been taking Movicol, which was recommended by the online forum co-sufferers!) and haven't piled on lots of weight. In fact, my weight has dropped a tiny bit but my body fat % has gone really high! I'm sure this is something to do with fluid retention, which I know is a side effect of the Taxotere, so I had better drink lots and keep my body flushed, methinks. Off to the kitchen for me...

Day 5 and I am feeling so much better. Was still wobbly last night when G came home, so he 'told' me I would not be going to work today, and I think he was right. I had a sleeping tablet last night, to try and ensure I got good sleep and help my body recover, and it seemed to do the trick. I woke up much more refreshed but still feeling a little bit wobbly on my feet (heels feel a bit numb, which could be very sight neutropathy). I had a fairly lazy morning, but thought it best to try and get up and do things. The filthy kitchen/hallway/conservatory floor has been seriously bugging me (there is - sorry, was - a road hump of mud making a trail from cat flap to staircase!), so very very slowly, I hoovered it, moved the furniture and mopped the lot. I didn't rush anything, didn't strain myself, and took breaks between each stage so that I didn't overdo it. And it is done. I feel so much better just for that!

I have also been out in the car to refuel it in preparation for tomorrow, and found a car wash. It looks all spanking new now. I now feel I have earned a break, so am watching "Please, Sir!" on telly until G comes home!

Have had a few painkillers today, but not many, and just to keep the aches and headaches at bay. I feel capable of so much more if my head isn't thumping!

Roll on tomorrow - I'll start thinking about work then, and not before.

More to come, depending on how I feel...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taxotere #1

Well, delivery of the taxotere went really well today.

It took a couple of attempts again to get the cannula in, so I asked at what stage they would recommend getting a line put in (a Hickman or a PICC line, which is more permanent). The nurse felt now would be good, so I am being referred to get one done. Seeing as I have a year of 3-weekly infusions to look forward to, it would probably be better than stabbing my hand numerous times every time! As Olive the cat has a penchant for chewing plastic (christmas fairy lights, electric cables etc), Greg has advised we keep it hidden from her when it is in!!!

I nodded off slightly during the delivery, as you just sit and wait for the bag to drain into you, but felt no immediate side effects - unlike the FEC which gave me a buzzy nose/head for a short while and red pee!!

I've spent the rest of the day cleaning and cooking, so the steroids are obviously doing the job of keeping me awake well!! I didn't take a sleeping tablet last night, but felt quite semi-awake through the night, so I will be taking one tonight and hope that it gives me a thorough nights sleep. I am almost more afraid of having that than any thing else - I just recall a time when I was a student and took a Nytol, which gave me really bad kidney pain!!! That kept me awake!! These ones are actually anxiety pills as well as sleeping pills, so I hope that means they are mild ones.

In other news, I had a nice night out last night with work folk. It was one of the senior management team's retirement do, combined with our christmas meal out which is traditionally done in January! Nice to catch up socially, as they are all such a good bunch. We got talking to about running, and I tell you, I can't wait until I can run again properly. I feel like I can during the week running up to the next chemo, but then it feels pointless as I know a week later I won't feel energetic enough!!

On the weight front, I feel like I have it much more under control now. I am 3lbs lighter today than I was when I had my last chemo, so even if it goes up again for this first week, I feel reassured I will be able to get it back down again to something reasonable. That said, this extra dose of steroids made me absolutely starving earlier - I just HAD to have carbs!! A sandwich, bowl of soup and some naughty soda bread and butter sorted that out!!

Right, I think that is it for now. No big plans for the weekend except a pootle out to lunch tomorrow, wash the cars, and wait in for a lady to collect the exercise bike I sold on eBay the other week! (It came free with the treadmill, so it is still in the box!!). Enjoy your weekends, folks, and I'll probably be back soon if I feel like I get any side effects.

Oh, and I'll be injecting myself with the neulasta tomorrow, but hopefully that'll be a non-event!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Steroid heaven, here we come

Sorry I haven't updated for a while - there simply hasn't been anything interesting going on, and I couldn't be bothered!!

So what has been happening? We had the snow like everyone else. It started on Tuesday 7th and the College was closed at about 1.30pm that day, so we all scooted off home. Well, I say home, but actually I got a lift into Gloucester and stayed with Greg at his office until about 4pm. The heavy snow had stopped for a while, but the roads were busy with people leaving work early, so it paid to leave it a while as there was very little traffic when we did leave. There was a bit of snow on the roads going home, but completely clear by the time we hit the M50. But it did snow overnight, so College was closed again and we all had a 'snow day' at home!!

I was cruel boss though, and asked the team to come in the next day, even though the car was telling us it was -13 degrees!! 4 of the team didn't make it in, but were happy to take it as holiday and we had enough staff to open up. There was some confusion for the following few days, as the College opened up for exams and staff, but was closed for teaching/classes for the further education students. The University's website considered this meant we were closed, so put that on its pages! We weren't! We were there!!! In fact, I worked on the sunday to keep things open for the poor students doing last minute revision!!

The excitement nearly started again the following wednesday with a further overnight flurry, but we all made it in OK - Greg and I took a detour up the M50, down the M5 and through Gloucester as the A417 through Corse and the road via Newent were blocked with cars and lorries that had slid in the snow, but we got there!

We made a start on sorting out Greg's house by ordering a new kitchen from B&Q. Should arrive in about 3 weeks time, so he can get started taking the old one out and organising central heating in the meantime.

I had my last Zoladex injection on Wednesday last week, given by the GP, and she asked me to check a couple of things with the oncologist and was very understanding. She (Dr Chen) was the GP who first took a look at my lump and referred me, and who I initially spoke to when we were thinking about starting a family. She specialises in women's health so was particularly interested to see me. Next day, I saw the nurse to have my second swine flu jab. Between the two of them, and the continuation of hot flushes (which are becoming sweatier) I didn't feel so great on Thursday evening last week, but it passed and I was well enough to go to work as usual!

This weekend just gone saw us do a marathon journey to Edinburgh and back. Why, you might ask? Why not, we would respond. I didn't want another weekend doing nothing, so wanted to go somewhere. Greg wanted to take photos of the Forth Rail Bridge, so we went there.

Booked a Travelodge on the Friday, set off at 8am on Saturday and I drove as far as Lancaster. Greg then took over. We arrived about 3pm, and then spent bluddy ages trying to find the hotel. We went past it at least twice before we spotted it - a narrow doorway between the shops! A few drinks out that evening, me passing out on the hotel bed, and then off again in the morning. Greg treated himself to a tripod for his camera, then off to the Forth, then home via Loch Lomond and Glasgow.

Greg did all the driving on the way home - his choice, he gets bored as a passenger unless he is sleeping - and after a detour to Kendal for a chinese takeaway, we arrived home at 11pm. Sorted! Found that the river Wye is probably the highest we have ever seen it, due to all the snow melting off the Welsh hills!!!

So this week, today in fact, I have been for my usual pre-chemo clinic, and my bloods are nice and high at 2.8 on the neutrophil count (that'll be the neulasta injection then!!) so we're all set for the first of the Taxoteres. I have been warned that the side effects may be worse - there is less nausea (but I didn't have any before anyway), more aches and pains (which I can take ibuprofen for), possible diahorrea (is that better than constipation, I'm not sure!), and heartburn. I have to take FOUR steroids TWICE a day from Thursday until Saturday so I have also been given sleeping tablets. It makes sense - my sleeping pattern was disturbed on TWO tablets ONCE a day, so I am not surprised to hear I may need medication to help sleep this time around. I didn't ask for it, but they give you these things just in case.

I have an additional 2 appointments to add to my diary: the first two herceptin treatments need to be given separately from chemo, which hadn't been explained before. The first will be given a couple of days before my chemo, on 10th Feb, at Velindre, as they have to give it more slowly to check your reaction to it and allow your body to get used to it. It will take 5-7 hours!!!! The second will be on 3rd March, again at Velindre, and will take 3-5 hours. The third is given at the same time as the Taxotere at Nevill Hall. I'll be all done on these by February 2011!!

Oh, and back to the questions my GP asked - I can now have a 3-monthly injection for the Zoladex, according to Dr Iqbal; I'll be on the Zoladex for another 2-3 years; and yes, my blood pressure is a bit higher than my normal, but not so high to need any treatment. It was 130/98 at the doctors last week, 141/90 today and my normal is about 110/70. The steroids can affect it apparently.

Will report back on Friday folks. Love ya xxx

Saturday, January 2, 2010

FEC #4 day by day


Thursday (day 2) - Had my neulasta jab, but will ask Dr Iqbal if I can give it to myself next time as the pre-filled syringe looks the same as one of the fertility drugs, and giving it to myself would mean I won't have to hang about for the district nurse. She was nice enough, and offered me the services of another support nurse (can't recall her proper title!) who can prescribe stuff instantly to resolve side effects etc, but I don't feel I need her help at this time. Velindre Cancer Centre is so responsive, it doesn't feel like there is any lack of support around here!

Got our fancy dress outfits sorted: mine was a blue wig, flowery top, satin trousers, and bright eye make up, while Greg was 1970's cop with leather jacket, curly wig and medallion. His wig came off during the meal (which was relatively early on): he now understands why I don't wear mine all the time!!! Having said that, I think the blue was quite fetching, and I got a few compliments about my very blue eyes!

Click on this picture to see more pics of our New Year celebrations!>>>

After only 3 hours sleep the previous night, the steroids did their job and I made it through the day and the party with no drink and plenty of energy. We even won the quiz (although, to be honest, I think that was largely down to Martin who actually answered some of the questions properly, and Julie, who then added a few when 'marking'). Mine and Greg's answers would only have won on comedy value! Still, I ended up with the box of (suitably 1970's) Milk Tray, so I'm happy!! We left at about 2am, and had a really fabulous time.

Friday (day 3) - New Years Day - did nothing! All day!! Shocking!! But if you can't have a proper day off now and then, eh? G slept on and off until probably 4pm, while I was awake from just before 11am but only got up properly at about 2. Neck started to ache a bit - probably neulasta caused - and got a numb bum from too much sitting around!! Serves me right!

Tried and failed to bake some bread in the machine, but dropped the just-filled pan on the way to the machine, then put it on anyway, and it didn't properly engage, so heated but not stirred. Disaster. Greg went out for burgers instead!!!

Saturday (day 4) - got up just before 8am to put the 3 weeks worth of bin bags out for collection! My neck still aches, including under my jaw (so yes, it is a bit flu-like) but will do a few chores today to keep moving, which will probably help. Not sure when G will awake as he was wide awake very late last night - went out at 2am to take some photos with his fancy camera (which he discovered yesterday, has only a daylight lens!). Time for the Christmas tree and decorations to come down today, methinks, so there will be some cleaning and tidying to do after that.

I was thinking of going for a walk (either on the treadmill or outside), but I have had a few 'lurches' in my chest, and I am out of inhaler (will pick a new prescription and get it filled on Monday - I ordered it last Thursday when I belatedly realised it was on its last dregs!) so I am a bit wary of over-doing anything energetic. Just putting the bins out left me a little bit breathless. I don't want you to worry overly - this is quite a normal side effect of chemo, and lots of people report it on the forum I read, but obviously, it isn't time to start trying to train for a half marathon!! I was going to go for a couple of (short, gentle) runs on the treadmill earlier last week, but felt self conscious of the noise with G's parents in the house, so I never got around to it. Maybe in a couple of weeks time, when I am past the worst of this round of chemo.... we shall see.

Sunday (day 5) - it feels like the hot flushes of my (hopefully, temporary) menopause are kicking in! Yesterday in particular, but for some weeks now, I have been overly hot and then freezing cold in quick succession and sit on the sofa in my dressing gown flipping it on and off my shoulders and legs depending on the flush! Same in bed with the covers on and off every 5 minutes! The cat (Olive) doesn't know what to do, as she usually sleeps by my feet, but I keep kicking her in the process of shuffling the covers about! I am hoping today that the constipation will finally pass. 15ml of Lactulose twice a day since Thursday, and not much is moving... sorry for too much information!! It is uncomfortable, I am now officially at my heaviest ever (and really hope I don't get to say that every time I have a chemo sesh), and I just want to flatten out and lighten up a little. Still though, if a hot flush or two, and a slightly uncomfortable (but not painful) tummy is the worst I get, I am grateful.

Tuesday (day 7) - an eventful day at work - firstly someone got stuck in our lift for about half an hour (such a shame he got out before we needed to call the Fire Brigade!) and then the snow fell. We watched it while we were having our meeting, and by the end, the College had decided to close up and send everyone home. The snow stopped shortly afterwards, so we probably could have continued on until 5pm at least, but it's so hard to know whether it will just get worse or not. It took us about an hour to get to Gloucester (4 miles!), but once there I stayed with Greg in his office and we left at 4pm when the roads were clear of traffic and passable. A smattering of snow has fallen in Monmouth now - there was none at all when we got home - so we shall see what overnight brings...

Felt a little sleepy/woozy yesterday so took it easy at work, and thankfully, my constipation passed! Sorry this is too much information, but seeing as it is the worst side effect I get, it is worth mentioning!!! I have literally lost 2lbs in weight overnight!!!

Otherwise, I now feel I am back to normal again. The neulasta flu-like pain lasted no more than 24 hours, constipation and tiredness about 6 days, but not enough to stop me functioning. Hot flushes continue, but are manageable.

I've been reading about the next treatment though - Taxotere - possible permanent hair loss? Hand and Toenails falling out? Muscle and joint pains? Fluid retention? These seem to be the worst things. I had asked the oncologist whether I should be worried about starting Taxotere, but he noted that I'd coped really well with the FEC, so thought I should be find on the Tax. I do hope he is right!!!p>