Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Slice, Slice Baby...

Let me tell ya... retail therapy RULES!

(if you don't want to read my drama, skip down to the fun part... if not, carry on...)

As you may know, I have breast cancer, and I'm currently receiving chemotherapy treatments. I had to have 4 of what they call AC, then 4 of this new one called Taxotere. I have had 6 so far, only 2 more to go. AC makes your hair fall out, so just call me Kojak... anyone gotta a lollipop? (now that would be a funny scrapbook page!) Now, with AC I had hair loss and nausea and some large muscle fatigue, sort of like doing 1000 squats really, really fast, then feeling it for 3 days. I thought, this isn't so bad.... I can do it....

Then came the switch! The dreaded Taxotere.

My Dr. was just raving about how with Taxotere I won't be nauseous any more. Cool, I thought, this is great... but really, with the anit-nausea meds, it wasn't too bad. I could take a pill and feel better in 5 minutes. Wonderdrug it was.

However, Dr. Rystogi failed to tell me that it could cause some other fun side effects... like not being able to stand, extreme fatigue, large muscle fatigue, horrible joint and bone pain, nail changes, hands and feet tingly, mouth sores... there are a few more, but I'll spare you the details. These are the ones that I personally experienced. Only 10-24% chemo patients experience this... lucky me.

Let's just say the last 6 weeks have been quite taxing on me. I consider myself a pretty tough cookie. It takes a lot to make this cookie crumble, but, crumble I did.

Crumble number one happened after my first taxtotere chemo, treatment 5. Wednesday, Dec. 30 I received my first taxotere chemo. They gave me tons of steroids, which caused me to stay awake for 22 hours... I did some online shopping that day, too... by Friday, I was starting to feel the large muscle fatigue, and my upper arms were falling asleep and my calves were falling asleep... I tried to drink gallons of water. By Saturday, I couldn't move. Seriously... have you ever been immobile? I felt like I had been stretched on the mid-evil rack for hours. My spine hurt, my knees, and hips, neck... no matter which way I would lay it hurt. I slept most of the day. I crawled down the stairs to eat... I remember standing in the kitchen grabbing the island because I was about to topple over. I crumbled a lot that day.

By Sunday, it didn't hurt quite as bad. I managed to come downstairs and see my family. I felt bad for my kids for having to see me this way. My son came up to me, sat by me on the sofa, with a sadness in his eyes that should not be there, and in this tiny voice he asked, "Mom, are you going to make it?" This just ripped my heart out.

I said, emphatically, YES, I plan on it!! (but, inside, I crumbled again)

For lunch that day, Matt had gotten us burgers from a fast food place. Now besides all the pain and fatigue, my mouth was literally fried. It was as if I had sucked down a scalding hot cappuccino in one fail swoop and burnt the roof of my mouth and my tongue. On Saturday, my tongue felt 3 times it's normal size... Sunday it was a bit better. However, my hamburger tasted like a bland meat patty between 2 donuts. Anything bready tastes super sweet. It was kinda gross.

By Monday/Tuesday I felt a ton better... it took my tongue a bit longer to recover. Ahh, it was sooo nice to have taste buds again.

By Wednesday, my fingers had felt like they had been smashed into a car door. All ten of them. It was very painful to type or even click a mouse. When I tried to open something or something slipped thru my fingers and caught on the nail, it was agony. I think I know how bamboo feels under the nails. My nails now look like they have been chewed to the quick. They have lifted up, and are generally a mess. I just hope that they don't fall off.... cause I think I had enough suckage.

Let's fast forward to my second Taxotere treatment.

(again, if you're bored, just skip to the fun stuff.... if you're still with me, God bless you, and may you never, ever experience this.)

Last Wednesday was my second Taxtotere treatment. Last Wednesday was my second crumble.

On Tuesday night I prepared for my chemo. Knowing that I'd be out of commission for 7 days or so, I shopped, got blood work and bought some Haagen Daz raspberry sorbet. You see, they say that if you have ice in your mouth while you get the first 20 minutes of chemo then you won't get the mouth sores. OK, cool, I will do that. Also works for the fingers... so I made some ice to take with me to dip my sore fingers in while getting chemo. I also bought a pair of "chemo" booties, they're pink and everything. They have lavendar in them. I put them in the freezer to save my toe nails.

Wednesday we had to leave early to go to Pittsburgh. We took my son to a neighbors house so that he wouldn't be alone before his bus came and left for the trip. I had everything with me, I was SO prepared. I had my Haagen Daz, the ice in a ziploc, the booties, my iPod, the laptop....

On this particular day, after I checked in I was to meet with a genetics counselor to discuss the possibility of being BRAC. Barb, my nurse hooked me up to the first IV, she also took some blood for the gene testing. The first bag was Benydrl to help counteract any allergic reactions to Taxotere. Benydrl makes me super loopy.

In comes the genetics lady, talking and talking, have no clue what she said... drew pictures of family tree, who had died, who lived, who had cancer... Barb came by and switched my IV bag.

I panic... I interrupt the poor genetics lady and say "what does that bag say?" she says Saline.

I am not convinced... a few seconds later, I ask Matt the same thing... he leans over and conquers, it is saline.

By now, I'm really goofy with the Bene... so I just say I gotta pee.... while in the bathroom, I peer at the label... imagine being drunk and trying to read a beer bottle... it was kinda like that... but I made out that it did say saline... 9% saline!! ACK... what did that sticker say?? What did that damn sticker say... I peered and looked and it said docetaxel. I knew this wasn't just saline.

I wheel my IV back, sit down, genetics lady asks 2 more things then leaves. I ask Matt to please look up docetaxel. He starts reading and says, "it's a generic name for Taxotere."

This is when I lost it.

Have you ever lost it in public? I mean really lost it? Not went into the car after a horrid shopping trip with your toddler and lost it, but lost it in public?

I didn't even care. It just came, the wails and sobs, I couldn't stop it if I had tried... I literally wailed "Nooooooo." I knew what this meant. It meant that I missed the 20 minute window of opportunity to try not to have smashed car door fingers and burnt mouth. It meant I was going to feel exactly the same this time as I had last time. It meant that all that hard prep work was for not. I was devastated.

I crumbled.

Poor Matt, sat helpless, fumbling with our cooler, trying to quickly get the ice bags and sorbet out.

I calmed down enough to eat the sorbet, tears streaming down all the while. It wasn't pretty. I kicked my shoes off and put the slippers on and dipped my fingers in the icy bag.

Did it work?

A little bit. I have to say, my mouth is burnt, but not as bad. I'm hoping instead of 7 bad days, maybe I'll get away with 5. So far, (dare I type this), my nails don't hurt as bad.. my toes do a bit tho.

AND, for the extreme bone/joint pain my doctor gave me lots of steroids, which seem to work. I was able to at least function.

Phew, that was long. Are you still with me?

Now the fun part.

Well, after all that... yesterday, I felt kinda sorry for myself. And you know what? It's OK. It's OK to feel... let yourself feel bad... you can't pretend everything is OK when it isn't.... after feeling bad, finally verbalizing the "why me".... I'm ok again. I will be OK. I only have 2 more, I can do this.... and a little retail therapy doesn't hurt.

So, to make a LONG story longer... hee hee... I got obsessed yesterday with wanting a Making Memories Slice machine. I have a Silhouette, but my computer is downstairs and my scraproom is upstairs (that's why there isn't a computer in my scraproom) and my legs hurt and when I'm upstairs and feeling pain, I don't want to walk down stairs to cut out a cute butterfly... so, late last night, while the steroids kept me awake, I bought this....


Yeah, call me crazy!! But, I SO deserve this. I'm not rationalizing, I do deserve it.

Retail therapy rules.

Thanks my friends, for sticking with me... I can't wait to play with my slice and I'll give you a review. I know my knees with thank me.

Now I will leave you with a photo of my dear, sweet boy. He got a hair cut yesterday, really short, so this shaggy look is gone. Love his Elvis Costello glasses.


Take care. God bless.


Debbie Gaydos said...

Not fair... you made me laugh and cry all in the same paragraph. Several times! :) You DO so deserve it! I am so saddened by all that you are going through and can't wait until the day that you can say "I had cancer but I kicked it's ass!" Part of your strength is in knowing when you need to allow yourself a moment of weakness. (((HUGS))) I am praying for you, always, my friend.

Andrea Amu said...

You are amazing, Chris! You are handling this stupid disease with such grace... I don't know how you do it?! I'm sitting here crying just reading of what you are going through, and wishing that you and nobody else would ever have to crumble like that. Just not fair. And like Debbie above, I can't wait to witness that day when you kick this all to the curb once and for all ;)

Enjoy that Slice! I'm anxious to hear your reviews in the coming posts!


Vanessa (aka V, Nessa, oldschool) said...

I'm still with you...always...hugs my girl

Tara said...

Just stumbled across your blog and am dumbfounded by what women have to endure. My mom had a breast removed in 2001 but was able to forego any chemotherapy or radiation. You must be beyond frustrated that even though you came so thoroughly prepared, you are still suffering so much.
Wishing you much strength as you finish out your treatments.

Erica Hettwer said...

Oh, Chris! How could they do that? :(

You are going to love your Slice! Did you get the pink one or the blue/green one? Any fun cards to go with it? I'm going to CKC-Portland in two weeks and I'm taking two classes on the Slice so I'll share any tips I learn, okay?


ReNi said...

I wish you all the best, from the bottom of my heart. You will conquer that mean disease!
Hugs from Germany

Christie said...

Oh Chris! I am so sorry you are going through all of this. And I thank you. Thank you for being so brave to let everyone know exactly how sucky this is! (Is sucky a word? If not, it sure needs to be!) And you so deserve that Slice! And I know you are going to come up with some awesome ways to rock it!

joscelyne cutchens said...

Girl. tears are running down my face as I read. I love you and wish I lived closer. I pray you will be completely healed and it will be soon. You're a champ.

scrapbookobsession said...

Wow, you are one amazing woman. And this all just bites. I totally understand your frustration when you'd come so prepared, and then had the rug pulled out. Anyone would've lost it, LOL! Glad you got a Slice ... yes, retail therapy is healing. Love the photo of your boy :)
{Hugs} and prayers,

Jocelyn said...

Oh awwet friend...I sit here with tears running down my cheeks...I KNOW what you are going through and I KNOW how much it hurts!!!! You are a strong women and I must admit...today I am overwhelmed with such admiration for you.....I have kept you in my prayers and you astound me!!!

Good for you for losing it...maybe someone will listen next time....Good for for shouting.....and by the way Benadrayl does the same thing to me...better than a bottle of wine!!! :-)

YAY for retail therapy....I have the slice and I love it.....Have fun playing and please take good care of yourself!!!! Man are husbands not the best....yours sounds just like my Joe...we have been there!!!

Smiles to you today!!! :-)

Jocelyn said...

Oh my excuse my spelling...SWEET FRIEND!!!! I am loopy myself today!!! :-)

Jody said...

Hi Chris,
I wanted to check in and see how you were doing...
Strong as ever, you are!
I know just how bad these chemos are and like you said....two more...just keep repeating that when you think you cannot bear it for another minute.
And you know what?
You never forget what you went through...but the memory lessens.
You're in my prayers that this round isn't as bad as the last time.

Leslie Gilbert said...

Dear Chris....I so admire your strength! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Been there myself. Keep up the positive attitude..... you are going to get through this with flying colors because you are going to kick this ugly disease in the butt! You are in my prayers everyday.....like Jody said, you never forget what you went through....but the memory lessens.

Michelle said...

You, my friend, are one of the strongest, bravest people I know. And I am sooooo PROUD of you! Good for you for releasing those pent up feelings & allowing yourself to crumble & cry. You are just an amazing, amazing person. I love you!!

okanogangirl said...

You definitely earned that Slice!! :D

Amy said...

your post had me in tears and laughter. you are an amazing woman! praying that you are healed quickly and completely very soon :) sending you {HUGS} and a smile :)

gilroy gal said...

What you are going through NO ONE should have to endure. That you still have your sense of humor in the face of it is truly amazing.
I am keeping you in my prayers that your pain and suffering are less each time and you come out the other side Cancer free!


Sarah Lou said...

Oh that comment from your son, followed by the hanging bag just broke me! You definitely deserved some retail therapy, and I think you choose teh perfect thing!!!

Heather Prins said...

i am so sad that you have to endure this! Hang in there!

Kelli said...

You are so brave! I think in your situation it's okay to lose it in public.
Love the photo of your son!

Jingle said...

Chris, I am just crying for you right now. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I wish I could help make it better! I am super excited for you to be getting the Slice, though! You will have a blast with that! I am curious to see what you think of it!

PattiM said...

Another one with tears running down her face. But your humor of your situation has brought a smile to my face and laughter into my heart. I agree, no woman should have to endure this. No person should ever have to endure this. No, I don't know exactly what your going through but I'm learning and am astonished by your strength, your get back up and deal with it all and to continue on knowing what is to come during each treatment. And to document it all for everyone to read, don't know if I could do that. But I thank you for letting us know how your feeling in every way. You my friend are amazing. Sending {{{{{{HUGS}}}}}} and saying {{{{{{PRAYER'S}}}}}}!!!!!!


(Pattie's passion)

I Scrap So All Moments Are Remembered!

Anonymous said...

I've visited your blog from time to time but had no idea what you were going through. Read about it on Joscie's blog. Keep your chin up.

Virtual hugs go out to you.

Northern VA

vtpuggirl said...

You can feel sorry for yourself and if the slice helps that totally works. But don't you dare give up! Your little boy is too precious, you hang in there. Get mad if you have to. But hang in there.:)

Pattie said...

Yes, sometimes you just need to crumble. I'm so sorry you're going through this! Yes, you deserve your Slice! :) Know that you have a lot of people cheering you on - hang in there.

Angie... by the said...

Oh sweet girl. I'm so, so sorry you've been having such a hard time. I'm so glad you posted details so we can know what you're going thru. You're so brave and stoic that it's good to get it out. You have a world of support from all of us. I can't believe the nurse didn't tell you what she was doing. That's just cruel. I'm glad you learned some tricks to lesson the misery. I'll be doing the happy dance for you when all the treatments are over. You're amazing.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

i loveeeeeeeeeeee u for your bravery ... and i loveeeeeeeeeeee that u gave yourself some retail therapy!!! that is the best! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

sssalad said...

Chris, I know we don't talk often, but I always think of you! You are such a brave person. When I was reading this post I felt like I was right there - feeling what you were feeling. You totally deserved to have the meltdown that day - chemo is so hard on a person! You deserve much more than a Slice but if that is what makes you happy then I am glad you got one! I think you will really like it - I love mine! I am hoping to get my hands on the Pink cartridge that was designed for breast cancer. It really has some great designs on it. Take care and I hope you get to feeling better REALLY soon!

Shelley Haganman said...

Wow Chris! I just found this post! You are one tough woman! I am so sorry to hear what a tough time this has been for you and your family! Please know you are in my prayers! I wish only the very best for you! I can't wait until this is over for you! Hang is there girl!