Here we are at the end of another week. They seem to be going too quickly as we get ready for Christmas, but I also have in the back of my mind all the time that I’m getting ready to start chemo again. As much as I love the girls in the infusion center, I have to say that I am flat out dreading it. 12 more treatments – 18 weeks minimum. Plus, it will take me into April so things are not looking good for me to get to Reno to see my niece being born. Mom doesn’t want me to get too upset yet, there is a chance of working something out during my off week so we will just have to wait and see. Maybe if my counts are okay I could take an extra week off and go during that one. I guess there is a chance, just tough to think about all that chemo in general. On top of everything else, I have so little faith that it will make any difference after the other three meds didn’t work. But, at least once we do this chemo will be OVER. I need to think about it like Eric does – the sooner we start, the sooner it will be over. And I want it to be over, so let’s get a move on.
Anyway, this week I saw the therapist again which was good. I realized that she reminds me of the mother of one of my friends. In this case, that is a good thing. That might be why I feel so comfortable with her so quickly. At any rate, it is going well and I think it will be helpful.
Today I went and got another fill. The process was actually a ton better than last week, and we took pictures. Here is the setup they bring in to do the fill:
First he did an exam and noticed some problems with my skin. Clearly I need to start looking at my skin more. To be fair, I have had a lot of adhesives on my skin lately so things have been covered a good bit but my skin is not liking that and I’ve got some rashes so I’m on a “no more adhesives” diet for a while. Here’s a shot of where my tubes were with the rash from having them taped in for a couple weeks:
Also, my skin has some significant swelling which I hadn’t even realized. It is pretty much all over my chest and is in the skin rather than anything the drains would have helped. I am going to start doing massage a few times a day which the doctor said I wouldn’t have been ready for earlier than three weeks out anyway so I haven’t missed doing anything. But, if it does not resolve within the next couple weeks then we will need to start doing Kinesiology which is a type of therapy where the skin is taped with a special tape and the excess fluids will drain pretty quickly (or so the story goes). Here’s a close up of what the swelling looks like:
Then we got everything going with the fill. The saline is held up like an IV and the syringe is filled. Last week the doctor injected 3 ounces (90 cc’s). This week he did 2 ounces because I was “full” at that point. Basically, that means the skin is rock hard. When there is some give to the skin, that means there is room for the fill and he injects saline until that give is gone. He would have injected another ounce if there had been room, but I was good with two and I’m certainly sore enough to feel like he did enough. He told me he was giving me “little bumps for Christmas.” Happy holidays to me. So here they are getting ready:
The doctor finds the ports in the tissue expanders and inserts a needle. Last week the needle hurt and caused a big muscle spasm in each side, but this week I am happy to say that I didn’t feel it at all. Huge improvement. I could feel the pressure of the saline but it didn’t cause any pain. I’m posting a pic for a couple reasons. Number one, this is about the most flattering view I’ve seen post-surgery. You can tell a lot, but without the detail of a close up. The scars are really dark because they still have the glue on them from surgery. It will eventually come off. Secondly, I think the nurse is hilarious. She is holding the saline bag so nonchalantly that she almost looks like she’s talking on the phone or something. It cracks me up. So here we go:
We spoke briefly about the fill schedule once chemo starts. He wants to do it on the off Mondays so that I have the week to recover. I spoke to the nurse at my oncologist’s office and we are going to have to work around my counts to get fills since my numbers have to be good to get the needle sticks.
It took a little while for the discomfort to set in. Well, not really too long but it got progressively worse for the next few hours. I took a LONG hot shower and let the muscle really relax which seems to have helped. The pain set in over my lower ribs at first which it took me a while to realize that is most likely because I have nerves there. I also noticed when I was about to get in the shower that I had goose bumps all over my arms and upper chest but I could see exactly where the nerves were taken out because the goose bumps stopped. It was the same way after the shower where my skin was hot and red except where there were no nerves and it was completely normal color. I know I’ll get used to these little differences, but for now it’s just odd to notice the little things.
I leave you with another little thing. I noticed this week that the very last eye lashes were hanging on. They are now all gone but I snapped a pic of the last survivors: