The Situation.

This post comes with a few disclaimers. If you are easily offended, if you do not like potty humor, if you are my mother, do not read the text below. I am mildly embarrassed that this is  on the internet but…to not share is to leave out a huge part of my cancer experience. So, to heck with it!

I need to start by finishing the story from last Thursday. As if the day wasn’t going badly enough, I started throwing up late in the afternoon. I then found myself at the cancer center hooked up to an IV getting fluids and pain medication and nausea meds. I got three doses of morphine and was still in so much pain that my teeth were chattering and tears were rolling down my cheeks. Not one of my best moments. My favorite nurse, Nancy, came to see me and told me not to be brave. To ask for help sooner. To take more medicine than I have been and that is ok. They ended up writing me a higher dose of narcotics and that did the trick. I was feeling a great deal better. I actually got sleep that night.

All of this has a purpose I promise.

Pain medicine works by doing something to your nerves so you don’t feel the pain. Even the nerves you want to feel- like the ones in your intestines. Nausea medicine works by not letting anything come up and out of your stomach but it also stops things from coming out of the other end. ( Do not take my word for any of that, I could have totally made it up. I am not a doctor.) Having said that, I found myself in quite the situation on Saturday…if you know what I mean.

After having so much medicine on Thursday and Friday, I woke up Saturday with a very sad stomach. That annoying and unwelcome bloaty, crampy feeling. I tried it all. Apples, hot coffee, apple juice, prunes, prune juice, gatorade, drinking lots of water, actual stool softener, a heating pad. Nothing was working. I.Could.Not.Go.

The time came. The final destination, last resort, plan Z. Imagine the big red button under the glass box that Mr. President presses when aliens have invaded and the whole world is exploding.

 

 

If you don’t know what these are…ask your mom. Why are they shaped like bullets?! (No one answer that) It went 0 to 60 very quickly. Funny story actually. Later than night I went out with some friends for a birthday party and I brought a spare change of clothes with me because I was almost guaranteed to need them.

Every thing all worked out in the end. Just FYI.

It is one of the worst side effects of cancer I have experienced. It’s something I didn’t really ever think about being an issue. There are actually a great number of things I didn’t think about. Every ones sees cancer as throwing up and losing your hair. But what about my inability to fight infections if I got a sinus infection? Bad tastes in my mouth? Mouth sores from chemo? My worsening allergies? Acid reflux? Constipation? I have my normal prescriptions that I call my “pharmacy”. Pain medications, nausea medications, and steroids.

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But then there is my supplemental pharmacy to fill in the gaps that my body can’t handle on it’s own right now or to combat the negative side effects from chemo or related medication.

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I am someone who barely ever even took Tylenol for a headache before all this. I am also someone who will barely ever even take Tylenol for a headache after all this.

Neulasta Thoughts

Today is not a good day.

It started last night. A deep, throbbing, shooting pain in my lower back. The Neulasta has finally shown its ugly face. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I laid in my bed and my body shook from the pain. It was unlike anything I have ever felt. The doctor told me that the symptoms I am having and the pain I am feeling are very typical for people who show reactions to the Neulasta (not every one has a reaction. I’m just lucky). I am now on Percocet and ibuprofen and confined to my bed watching Tiny House Hunters while falling in and out of sleep.

Being stuck in bed and feeling like heck, you have plenty of time to think. Here is what I have come up with. Before I got sick I never really took great care of myself. I wasn’t overweight or anything but I ate whatever fried, greasy food I wanted. I stayed out late. I drank semi- regularly. Sometimes I even had a cigarette with my friends *gasp*. I rarely went to the gym or did anything active (I did run three half marathons but that is a different story). WHY? This all goes back to my previous theory of feeling invincible. No one thinks they are going to be the one to have cancer until they actually do have cancer. Myself included. My joints hurt most days, I’m nauseous and my energy is on the ground. I would give anything to feel like going for a run or to be up to having an intense workout at the gym.

Your health is a precious, precious gift. There are no excuses for abusing it. So instead of waiting until some specified time to get yourself in check, do it now. Now is the perfect time to quit smoking and develop better eating habits. Now is the perfect time to train for a princess themed half marathon. I’m not saying that doing these things will keep you from ever getting sick or being diagnosed with cancer. I am saying why not feel the absolute best you can while you can? You never know when your whole life is going to change.

Your body is important. Treat it that way.

Chemo #2

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. I already knew what to expect. The only new bit of info was my white blood cell count. It tanked after my first treatment. A normal level is 1000, mine was 90. Due to this, I got sent home with an alien on my arm. It is a little device that injects Neulasta into my arm 27 hours after my chemo treatment. Neulasta is the drug that stimulates your bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. It is also going to cause a lot of bone pain in the coming week. I can’t wait. When they put it on, it beeped for three minutes then sounded like a toy gun when it stabbed me. I made Thomas hold my hand and it make me jump but it didn’t really hurt.

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My port also wasn’t working very well yesterday again. Finally the nurse discovered that if I was laying flat on my back they could get a good blood return. Who would have know? Thomas had the week off because of our Seattle trip so he got to come to this one. His first experience at a chemo and I also had a surprise visitor. My oldest brother, Christian.

I felt pretty good when I got home until a few hours later when I was leaned over a trash can ready to throw up. Never did though. Sleep is my best friend in these situations. If I can sleep through the yucky stuff I will be ok.

Wig Shopping.

My mom got us an appointment at the American Cancer Society to look at and try on wigs this past Wednesday. It was a bitter sweet experience. Some of the wigs are just TERRIBLE, some were really cute. A lovely lady, Mrs. Vera, was there to help me out and to help me find something that would help me feel most like myself. The American Cancer Society provides these wigs to patients at no cost. I didn’t have to provide a doctor’s note or proof of insurance. What a wonderful gift that is? Of all of the hoops I have to jump through and the sucky stuff I have to deal with, this organization takes the pain out of one experience of having cancer. Anyway, what everyone has been wanting to see. Wig pics.

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This one reminds me a great deal of Michael Cera.

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I really liked this one but I couldn’t wrap my head around being this blonde all of the time. It was very cute though. I felt like Taylor Swift.

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This one made me feel ready for a Mayday Parade concert.

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The Little Mermaid.

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Last but not least, this is the one I decided on and took home with me.

Georgia.

So much has happened since my last chemo treatment so I am going to take this quiet Saturday morning to catch up my blog.

The week after my first chemo was rough. Not going to lie. Saturday and Sunday were GREAT but then Monday- Thursday were just really rough. I didn’t work anywhere near thirty hours at my job because I literally couldn’t. I didn’t make it through a day without a nap. I went to bed one night at 7:30pm and woke up for work the next morning at 7:00. I was in pain. I cried a lot. There was one night at dinner with my family where I felt like I couldn’t even hold my head up. It was the first time in this whole thing where I told myself, I really don’t want to do this.

Friday was a new day. My very close friend from St. Pete, Courtney, was in town. She came and picked me up and we had a day of great food, shopping, laughs and quality time. She is one of the best people I know. It made me feel normal. We also went and saw Bad Moms at AMC. I cried from laughter.

Sunday I left for vacation with my boo. This week we should have been in Seattle but since that plan got ruined we had to settle on somewhere much closer. We chose to go explore Atlanta and Savannah. Sunday was spent at the Georgia Aquarium (after a hot dog at the Varsity). I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the different exhibits and different kinds of creatures. My favorite thing was the dolphin show. It is so amazing to me all the things they can teach animals to do. After we has done and see it all, we went across the street to Olympic Park. We caught lots of Pokemon and tried to stay out of the heat. Lucky for us, there was a Ruth’s Chris right at the park and I don’t turn down steak so that is where we decided on for dinner. I love eating at fancy restaurants every once in a while. It makes me feel…fancy. We split a giant ribeye that comes out on a 500 degree plate with sizzling hot butter. No lie. I highly recommend. After dinner I was on the hunt for peach cobbler so after some research on our phones we found a place close by that was highly praised for their peach cobbler. Sweet Georgia’a Juke Joint. We ordered our desserts to go but the venue was very cool. They had live jazz music and everyone was dressed in their absolute best.

Monday we did even more touristy things. We went to the Dwarf House. For those of you who don’t know- I went to the OG Chick-fil-a. The place life began. After lunch we went to Ikea. I’m a sucker for a good Ikea trip. This Ikea was in a super cool neighborhood called Atlantic Station. Its a newly developed shopping, office and residential area. I bought a new bathrobe and some silverware for my brother who recently moved into his own place. LOVE Ikea. After Ikea we loaded up back into the car and jetted off to Savannah ( I wore my robe in the car). The thing I like about Savannah is how yo can walk to wherever you need to go. It’s a beautiful, historic town. It reminds me of a mix of St. Augustine minus the ocean and a cleaner New Orleans ( don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Orleans). We walked around River Street going in and out of little shops. One was a candy store. They made homemade pralines and chocolate covered strawberries. Naturally, we got some of each. DELICIOUS. But afterwards we were in need of some air conditioning and something salty so we found our way into Barracuda Bob’s. Let me just tell you, some of the best crab cakes I have ever had in my life. Two words: Old Bay. After a little more walking around it was dinner time. We decided on River House Seafood. I can’t turn down fresh seafood. Another plus, one of my best friends recently moved to Statesboro which is just a short drive away from Savannah so he met us for dinner that night.

Tuesday we started the day with a nice brunch in Savannah at B. Matthews Eatery. It was exactly my kind of brunch. A pancake, sausage patties and biscuits and gravy. After brunch we headed to Forsyth park. A beautiful park in historic Savannah with nature trails and canopy walk ways, lined with some of Savannah’s most beautiful homes.

We decided to head back to Tallahassee after that but not without stopping in Jacksonville first. We ate a Angie’s subs and went and put out feet in the Atlantic.

Traveling has become our “thing”. Some couples have a TV show that they watch together and talk about or collect something together. Ours is going places. It is what gives me something to look forward to. It is what  enjoy spending my money on. It makes me feel thrilled and excited and most of all, through all of this, it makes me feel normal.

1000 Words

I asked my big brother a couple days ago if we could take some pictures before my hair fell out, before I actually looked sick. I wanted something that could serve as a reminder on my worst and dark days that the sun still shines. Here is what we were able to come up with. Just a little silliness and fun in our backyard.

 

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Chemo No. 1

Trying to sleep Thursday night was near impossible. Dr. Russell warned me about that and luckily prescribed me a really good sedative. It took a while to hit but once it did I was like “alright time to sleep”.

We showed up at the cancer center around 7:45am for my 8:00am appointment. In the waiting room, there was a door that would open and a nurse would call a name to come back and begin their treatment. Every time the door open my stomach would flip. It was a big mix of emotions. I was scared and uncertain because this was the first one. I had no idea what to expect. I was sad that I had to be there in the first place.

My name was finally called and the lady took me back to my specific chair for the day. I got a blanket that came out of the warmer and a pillow. My chair was a recliner so that was a plus. Once I got seated and settled, it was game on. Three nurses seemed to just magically materialize in front of me. They started talking to me about the drugs I would be receiving that day and how they would be accessing my port and a long string of other information I didn’t catch because I was hella overwhelmed. I did get a surprise FaceTime from my babe. That was a sure way to cheer me up. Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 9.19.27 AM

The most interesting part was when they accessed my port. They take this little device that looks like a bottle cap, kind of, but it has a needle out of it at a perpendicular angle and the other end was the IV tube. Once hooked up they check the blood return to make sure it works and then hang fluids plus the pre-medicines.

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Side note: I’ve been asking for  a puppy so this is what my parents gave me the morning of my treatment. They’re hilarious.

The pre- medicines are called Aloxi and Emend. They are log acting anti nausea medicines that can stay in your system for almost five days. They also hung steroids which help ward off any reactions to the chemo drugs and make me strong like Arnold. This took a couple of hours. They also pushed Ativan in my IV to keep me calm. It was my dad’s turn to come back and see me and as soon as they pushed it my eye lids got really heavy and I went to sleep. Ativan nap. I woke up to the  lady coming around handing out lunch which was good because I was suddenly starving. Steroids.

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After all of the pre-meds had finished, time for the real stuff. The first drug they were going to give me was the Adriamycin which is commonly referred to as the “Red Devil”. Reassuring, huh? Before they start they have to check the blood return on my port. No blood return. So they tried again. Nothing. They explained that sometimes the needle tip gets clogged with blood and fibers so they pushed some medicine to unclog it. That has to sit and soak for a while. Then they tried again. Nothing. So another round of the medicine and more waiting. It delayed my treatment for a couple hours but it was for my own safety. FINALLY it got to working. So the nurse got all geared up and started pushing the Red Devil into me (that sounds funny) . The drugs are so toxic that they can’t touch skin. I’m not even supposed to let anyone drink after me or kiss anybody right now. Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 9.18.21 AM

Ater the Adriamycin came the Vinblastine. It was also administered in a syringe. I forgot to mention, I have been constantly getting IV fluids through the whole day so I got up to pee A.LOT. As soon as the Adriamycin was done the nurse took a small break to go help someone else. I took it as a opportunity to go pee. If you can believe it, in that short amount of time my pee was already red! They had warned me that would happen. The last two drugs I got, Belomycin and Dacarbazine, are hung as normal bags. It was really surreal seeing all of the packages and labels because they all said “Toxic”. The medicine going into my body had actual warning labels.

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Another pee break. After all chemo drugs had been administered they gave me more fluids to help push it through my body. I also got a dose of blood thinners so the blood couldn’t hang out and congeal in my port reservoir. I was free to leave. We stopped by Chickfila on the way home because I was dying for some nuggets.

It wasn’t until I got home that I felt sick to my stomach. I went and laid down in my bed just knowing I was going to throw up every where. I actually had my dad put a trash can in my bed with me. As quickly as they could, they gave me my at home anti-nausea medicine and it made me pass out into a deep sleep. It was great. I slept through the nausea and never once threw up. It’s not at all like how they portray it in the movies.