Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Update for My Sister! ;-)

Dee was asking if there is anything new since my "New Plan" update. Not much! I haven't been sleeping very well the last 2 nights, so am very lethargic during the day, and usually take an afternoon nap. Its sort of frustrating because there is a lot I should be doing, but I just don't feel like doing ANYTHING. I think I'll take one of the sleeping pills the doc gave me to see if it keeps me asleep longer tonight.
Radiation took longer today cuz I couldn't get positioned right. Each time I go in they get me lined up with the "dots" they tattooed on me, and then they leave the room to start the radiation. First the machine takes a picture (x-ray) and they compare it with the original pics they took during the planning session. For some reason my pelvis doesn't lie the same way as it did during the planning. I usually have to tilt it a little, but today they tried about 3 times and finally had me get off the table and start all over. Then we finally got it right! I always know if its right cuz the table moves a little and the machine starts buzzing. I've learned to listen to the buzzes, and I always know when its done. I lay on my stomach with my face on a donut-type "pillow" and my arms up above my head. Not very comfortable! My arms fall asleep if they stay there too long.
Tonight is Alyssa's cheerleading fundraiser at a local restaurant, so Rich and I will be having dinner out. I hope I find something good to eat and don't waste a bunch of food (and money) like I did last Friday! Now that I'm done with most of my antibiotics, maybe my appetite will come back again.
We (Rich and I) are toying with the idea of maybe going to Duluth overnight this weekend. We haven't been there since last year, and I miss it! I suppose I should check to see if there are any rooms available before we plan too much--some weekends its impossible to get a room. We could use a little "getaway"!
Well, that's about it! I can still get stomach/intestinal problems with just radiation, but hopefully things won't get too bad.
Yay, Its raining--we need it and it smells so good!
Love to all,

Monday, July 27, 2009

The New Plan

The new plan is to finish the radiation (12 more after today) which will end on Wed., Aug. 12th. The week of Aug. 10th I'll get an injection of 5FU each day, Monday-Friday. This is an alternate way to get the 5FU, and will work just as well. The Dr. was explaining to his "Fellow" (doc-in-training) how he's not worried about it affecting my blood counts because I responded so rapidly to the Neupagen shots (which raise my wbc). He told him all about how I was in so much pain within 2 hours of getting the shot, and how they hadn't seen that before--glad I could be of help in the "fellow's" training! That's me --the "oddball"! :-)

After radiation is done it sounds like they'll give me a 2 week break and then we'll start the rounds of chemo--every other week for 4 months--with the FOLFOX cocktail that I had before. This should work out perfectly for Rachel's baby shower the end of Aug. I am always amazed at how God is working in all this and making sure I'm not too sick for any family events. I can't wait to see how God works it out with Rachel's baby coming in Nov. By then I should be pretty sick, but I need to be able to hold my grandbaby as soon as I can! So, I'll trust God, and not worry about it!

I am feeling pretty good. I took my last pain pill this morning--don't need them anymore, as the intestines have calmed down. Still don't have much of an appetite. Pink Lemonade has been the drink of choice lately--I'm getting tired of plain water, but need to keep the fluids up. I need to get more protein, tho. That's a bit harder to do, as nothing tastes very good, especially meats. I also need to start taking more iron pills--my hemoglobin is still around 9.1. It never seems to go up much. My ankles are swollen, but the docs say it'll just take time to reabsorb all the fluids I got during my hospital stay, and the blood clot in my pelvic area is making the one ankle worse. I had to go to the hospital on Friday to get an ultrasound of my right leg because that ankle was really swollen, but the other one wasn't. Thought I was going to miss my birthday dinner! Dr. J. came out and said I must have missed him, and came all the way down just to see him. He's so nice, and funny. Aways happy and positive.

I feel good about getting on with my treatments. I need to keep fighting this. As sick as I get, at least I'm DOING something about it. I want to live a long life and see all my babies have babies of their own, and I hope I can find ways to help others going through this. Please pass on my blog address to anyone you know that has been recently diagnosed with cancer--often reading about what others have gone thru helps. I know it helped me, and the support of other bloggers continues to give me strength.

Love and blessings to all!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quiet Sunday

Today has been a quiet, sleepy day. Woke up not feeling well, achy, stuffed up--stayed in bed too long, didn't make it to church. I listened to 2 past sermons via the internet while Rich, Alyssa and Shonna were at church. Poor Shonna probably thought I was dying because I missed a service where she was singing! I am her biggest fan, and love to worship along with her! She didn't have a solo this time, so I didn't feel too bad missing it (just a little guilt!). I slept most of the afternoon, after taking an anti-nausea pill. I take one about every day or so; I think its the antibiotics that are making me feel sick.
Yesterday I had a great day. I felt almost "normal", and had a clear head and some of my energy back. Did some housework, a little shopping, and lots of sitting outside reading.
Friday night we went to Applebee's for my birthday dinner. I took a few bites of steak and it just didn't taste well, and I started feeling sick to my stomach. I felt bad for wasting all that food! I did have some mozzarella sticks, which I had been craving--they tasted great! Rich and I left while everyone else was eating dessert.
Well, tomorrow I start radiation and chemo again. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I know its necessary to get on with it. I'll post more tomorrow when I know what the plan is.
Take care everyone!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's Tina's Birthday!

Happy Birthday Tina !!! from Rich !!!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Well, I am 45 now--getting old! :-) I told Rich not to do anything special; we might go out Friday for steak, if I'm feeling up to it. Its ok if this birthday goes by without much fanfare--but wait til next year! I'll be cancer free and ready to celebrate another year of life!
I've had a little more pain today--so didn't cut back on those pain pills yet, and some nausea which I think is from all the meds. I'm also more tired than yesterday. But overall, not too bad!
I think I'm going to try to get to Target with Alyssa. We are seriously behind on our grocery shopping. Lys and Rich have been trying to get there for days now, but something always comes up, so maybe she and I can finally get it done.
I'm glad the docs gave me a week off before I have to start again--my body really needed this break. I think mentally I needed it too--to help me prepare for the months that lie ahead. The part of me that says "I can do it!" is becoming stronger, and the fear is starting to fade (a little!) With God ALL things are possible!
Love and blessings!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Free For a Week!

Went to see Dr. Jahagirdar (Dr. "J", my oncologist) today and got labs done. The plan is to start the 5FU and radiation next Monday. My radiation therapist (Dr. Bisignani, or Dr. "B") is on vacation until Thursday, but Dr. J. will talk to him before next Monday and work out a plan for me. They might have me get injections of 5Fu instead of infusions (the pump). Apparently the pump is harder on the digestive system, and the injections are harder on the blood counts. I would get the injections for 5 days, then take a break. Dr. J. isn't too worried about my blood counts because I respond so quickly to the shots that raise them.
The pain meds are finally doing their job and controlling my pain. I have a long-acting med, and then a shorter-acting one for "break-through pain". Yes, I am taking it all! My bowels have settled down considerably, so the pain is much less (unless, of course, the doc is pressing on my tummy-ouch!).
Umm, I think that's all. I spent the afternoon paying bills and going thru mail--tomorrow it'll take me a few hours to get the checkbook in order! I'm glad I have a few moments to take care of these things. I'll have to run up (actually have Alyssa or someone drive me) to the library to get the next few books I need in the Mitford series, altho I can't read too long when I'm on pain meds--they make my eyes goofy--hard to focus.
I'm sure I've gotten some e-mails I haven't replied to--forgive me! Its hard to keep up when I've been "out of it" for so long (no comments!!)
Love you all!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ahhh, Home....

I finally got to come home today. They've run all their tests and switched my pain meds around, and so now, basically, I can suffer just as well at home as in the hospital! I actually feel better now than I have all day, but I haven't been up too much yet either. Slept when I got home--the car ride was painful-- and am now sitting up in bed with the computer, some crackers, jello, and all my mail that I have to sort thru.
The docs think all this has been caused by the irritation to the bowels from both the 5Fu and radiation. I seem to be sensitive to the chemo drugs, which means I get the side effects worse. I think I've said before that I hope that also means the drugs are working better to kill the cancer!
I have no idea what the oncologist and radiation therapist have planned for me, but I know that they want me to continue with both treatments. I'll see the onc. for sure tomorrow, and hopefully the rad. doc too, so I don't have to make another trip down there to see him later in the week. All I know is they were going to give me a few days to rest my intestines before they attacked them again.
The colitis and uti should clear up with the antibiotics; the ct scan showed my lower bowel is very inflamed, which is why I have so much pain. I have shots to give myself for the blood clot. I may have to take shots or pills for the duration of chemo so I don't get another one. They are another side effect of chemo.
I hope everyone is praying for the families of the Nat'l Guard members that were killed a few days ago. The 3 that were killed were on Jaren's base, and in his MP unit. WAY to close!! Alyssa has been getting together with some other wives, and tonight they are at the prayer vigil in Stillwater.
Thank you all so much for the wonderful e-mails and comments!!
Love to all,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tina is still in the hospital as of tonight. Yesterday morning she was having very bad pains again so the doctors ordered a CT scan. The initial results showed colitis and a blood clot in the pelvic area. So Tina is on thinners and taking pain meds orally now to get ready to come home – hopefully !!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Quick Update From Tina

Hi All! Thanks so much for the thoughts and prayers!
I'm doing much better today, and will hopefully come home tomorrow.
I've had such severe cramping that the doc (the oncologist) thought maybe I had a serious infection in the bowels, or maybe even a perferated bowel. There is some bacteria in both the colon and bladder, so I am on 2 different antibiotics, but they haven't found the more serious infection they were looking for. I had x-rays done on Tues., and they showed some distention, but nothing more serious. They are also giving me an iv anti-diarrheal med.--and even that has taken a few days to finally slow things down. We were all beginning to wonder if anything was ever going to work! I'm getting Percoset every 4 hours for the pain, and now I've also been taking anti-nausea meds--thanks to all the other meds, I think! The antibiotics are ones that can cause an upset tummy.
So, finally, with all these drugs, things are finally starting to feel better--no more urgent runs to the bathroom!!
I got to eat regular meals at lunch and supper; my first 4 meals here were all the same, except the broth--red jello, orange sherbet, cranberry juice and apple juice. You'd think they could at least vary it a little!
Monday I will start radiation again, and the pump with 5FU. I thought they were going to take me off of it (5FU)completely, but they will just modify it somehow so I don't get as much. I'll find out more about that tomorrow. My radiation was supposed to be done on July 30th, but now it will be extended for 4 days, to make up for the ones I missed this week.
My oncologist mentioned again that I seem to be very sensitive to these chemo drugs. I just hope that means its working well and the cancer cells don't have a chance of surviving!
I'm going to go walk around a bit with Rich now--take care!!
Love, Tina

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hi all, this is Rich writing for Tina.
Tina had a very rough night (up almost every ten minutes) and today she wanted to skip the radiation treatment. We did go to the hospital to see the doctor tho, and he admitted Tina to the hospital. The cramping pain was just too much and she has not eaten in several days. The 5FU pump has been taken off for now. The radiology doctor stopped by the room and said no more treatments this week also. She is getting fluids by IV now.
Just talked to Tina on the phone – she said the pain medications are not working too well at this point. More tomorrow. All prayers welcome!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Shouldn't Complain, But...

This is really starting to suck. (sorry--I hate that word, but it fits!) I have been having lower abdominal cramps for days now. The pain keeps me awake at night. I'm not even going to try to sleep in bed tonight--I'm staying in the recliner. Its easier to get comfy here than in bed. Today was really bad. I do not like having to get up and shower and get to radiation every day--just makes everything hurt worse.
Today I had to go to the cancer center after radiation to get my labs done and new pump cartridge, etc. The nurse was having some trouble getting my port flushed, but thought everything was working ok when I left. Halfway home the pump started beeping because something was blocking the med from getting thru. I checked all the clamps and repositioned everything, but ended up having to go back down to Regions to have them take a look at it. The doc wanted me to have a dye study done (they inject dye into the pump then look at it on xray to see if there are any blockages), and they were able to get me in right away. Everything looked fine. They put a new needle in and it worked great. The doc said it was "positional" which means I have to move around a little, or take a deep breath, and it should start working.
Cramps have been really bad tonight. Took Immodium this morning, but didn't help with the cramping like it was supposed to. Filled a prescription the doc gave me awhile ago for something called Lomotil; took that tonight, hasn't helped much yet, but I can take more if I need to.
I don't feel like eating anything, so have been hungry all day. Bought a box of potato flakes, and had Alyssa make me some mashed potatoes tonight, but didn't eat much of it.
Tomorrow I see the radiation doc. If I don't feel better, I'm tempted to ask him about taking a break for awhile, or quitting altogether. Brings tears to my eyes to even say that--I'm not a quitter, and I want to kick this cancer, but days of pain makes you think some crazy thoughts. I'm sure I'll be fine--God will get me through this! (prayers are appreciated!!)
Gonna try to rest now.
Love and blessings to you all!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Halfway There!

I've had 14 radiation treatments so far--14 to go!!
Last time I wrote I had talked to the doc about my tummy cramps, and was told to try kaopectate. I found out its the same ingredient as pepto bismol, but stronger. Its been working pretty well! Thank God! Tues. night the cramps got worse and I only got 2-3 hours sleep--and had to be at radiation at 9:45 to meet with the dietician. I was not very awake! I couldn't wait to get back home, but had to stop at 2 stores to find the kaopectate. Needless to say, I slept most of the afternoon. I've been taking the med. off and on since Wed. afternoon, and my tummy is MUCH better. I am being careful about what I eat, trying not to eat too much at one sitting, and keepin' it bland!
Every week when I see the radiation doc (Dr. B.) and his nurse, Donnie, they both ask if I have any mouth sores, and they ask if I'm having trouble with my hands and feet. Well, next Tuesday when I see them I'll be able to say yes to both! The mouth sores had started a little the last time I saw them, but it wasn't bad. They are getting worse each day. It is affecting my taste too, so nothing tastes very good. There is a mouth rinse they can give me that sort of numbs the mouth and stops the pain--but doesn't get rid of the sores. The inside of my mouth is rough feeling, feels like something is coating it, and feels like I ate something really hard and scratchy that tore it up. I do rinse with baking soda/water a couple of times a day. Not sure if it really helps, but everything I read says to do it and the doc told me to also.
As for the hands and feet, the tips of my fingers hurt a bit--its really hard to flip open my shampoo and body wash-- and the soles of my feet are getting very sore and tender. Walking is getting painful. I don't know if there is any "magic pill" for this side effect--from what I've read there doesn't seem to be. I guess I'll find out Tues.!
I was happy to hear that one of my blog friend's colonoscopy came back clear! She finished her treatment in Dec. (I think). I can't wait until I get to hear "all clear"! I think every cancer survivor lives with a little bit(or a lot!) of fear when it comes time to have these tests. I'm sure I'll be nervous! I think reading the blogs of those that have gone before me will help me navigate the "post-cancer" road. Just because the doc declares you cancer-free, doesn't mean your life is instantly normal! This is something that will affect me, my hubby, and my family for the rest of our lives. I'm glad that God is walking with me, and I hope I learn whatever it is he wants me too. He has a purpose and a plan for me! "in EVERYTHING (good, bad and ugly!) give thanks"!!
Love and blessings to you all!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keepin' It Bland

Saw Dr. B (radiation doc) after my treatment today. He and his nurse, Donnie, gave me some good ideas to help with the tummy. Donnie told me to try Kaopectate (sp?) because its stronger than Pepto Bismol. I reminded both her and Dr. B that I don't want to take Immodium unless I absolutely have to(because it slows down my bladder)--if it gets to the point I'm losing too much fluid, then I'll need to take it. Apparently it would help with the cramping tho, I didn't realize that. Anyways, I'll try the Kao stuff and see if that helps. Dr. B said I should probably cut out ALL fruits and veggies--even canned, cooked, and juiced! If I could take the Immodium I could probably still eat those things. The only fruit I can have is bananas.
I'm starting to lose my appetite again too (not such a bad thing, really). Nothing is tasting good. Altho Alyssa mentioned Godfather's pizza, and that sounded good! Pizza is a favorite, because of its stronger taste I can taste it more than other things, if that makes sense. I think I'll take her there for lunch tomorrow!
I feel a little better today--still the occasional crampiness, but not all the time like the last few days. I'm generally in a better mood too, altho still pretty tired. All 3 of my girls were here at the same time (along with Dee's 2 cute puppies!), and I love visiting with them all at once. We are starting to plan Rachel's baby shower! We will be having it toward the end of Aug., because I'll probably be too sick to enjoy it if we wait until Oct.
I know a lot of you are praying for me--I ask that you also pray that God would give the docs and researchers wisdom and they find a cure for this horrible disease! Just this week I've heard of 2 more people I know who have been diagnosed with cancer--its got to stop!!
Take care everyone!
Love and blessings~

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tummy Aches

I've been feeling pretty yucky the last few days. Lots of tummy cramps. Nothing so bad that I have to take Immodium (I don't think that helps the cramping part anyways), but I have taken a Pepto Bismol now and then, and I'm trying to eat more bananas and "binding" foods. No fresh fruit or veggies. I think I should make an appt. with the dietician at Regions. I can see one while I'm down there for radiation. I was told I can eat cooked veggies, but I wasn't sure about corn on the cob. I ate 2 the other day (yum!), and my tummy started hurting after that and has been hurting since (I ate it on Sat.). So, these are things the dietician could tell me. I've been more tired too--but my hemoglobin and other red blood cells counts are low. Hemoglobin was 9.2 today--9.5 last week. I've never been this low except maybe after Shonna was born--but I don't remember how low I was then, just that I had lost a lot of blood so the doc expected it to be low. I asked the nurse today if she knew how low it has to be for them to give me blood and she said "in the eights"--so I'm pretty close to that!
I did find out that this chemo drug (5FU) does cause low white and red blood cells counts. I thought it was just white blood cells I had to worry about! My white blood cells and platelets are all just fine, thank God!
I've been having a little more nausea too. I mentioned before that I had to take one of my pills on Friday, and I took another one today. Over the weekend I just felt a little yucky at times--not bad enough to take anything.
To anyone that has a port, or central line that needs to be flushed with saline--it REALLY helps to plug your nose. You can breathe thru your mouth, but don't unplug until the nurse is completely done flushing the line. I got very little of that yucky taste today. Last week I unplugged in the middle of it and got the full hit. I felt sick the rest of the day, and couldn't get that taste out of my mouth. I don't think everyone is as affected by it as I am, but don't take the chance!
I have a nice, red, bumpy rash around my port. Its been itching a little from the dressing that covers it, but it got really bad when the nurse put extra plastic tape around it last Thursday. So today, the nurse just put a clear plastic covering over it. Its not much different than saran wrap. Hopefully this won't itch as bad!
All in all, this is still better than chemo, but I wish the cramping would stop! I wasn't prepared to be lazin' around--I thought I'd be feeling well enough to keep busy most of this summer!
Thanks for your prayers!
Love to all!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Nice Drive

Rich had the day off work, and I had the day off from radiation, so we decided to go for a drive. We miss our little summer get-a-ways--usually to Duluth--so we decided to get out for the day. We drove up to Mille Lacs Lake--about a 2 hour drive. We took the slower, 2 lane road on the way up, and the traffic wasn't bad at all and we cruised pretty fast. There are so many old, falling down barns on that road--Shonna would love it for photos! When we got to the lake we drove along the south shore over to hwy 169. That road was stop and go traffic for many miles! Lots of boat trailers and campers!. We got up to Garrison and finally found a decent place to eat, then walked over to the park that's on the lake and hung out there for awhile. We took 169 home (4 lanes and much faster going away from the lakes). Some of the clouds were starting to look a little dark up there, and looking at radar, it looks like there are some strong thunderstorm cells there now--glad we missed that! I started feeling nauseous when we were getting ready to leave Garrison, and after a while I decided to take one of my pills (never leave home without them! ), and now I feel a little better. We eat out alot so sometimes I just wonder if its the restaurant food, or the chemo. I haven't had any nausea since the first couple of days of radiation. All in all, it was a very nice day tho.

Yesterday, at radiation, they were having trouble with the machine, so I had to sit in the waiting room for awhile. I saw a woman with the same pump bag as mine and asked her about it. Turns out she has colon cancer also, and the same exact treatment as I do! She's almost done with her radiation, so she was able to give me some insight on how I might be feeling toward the end of treatment. She said fatigue kicked in about 2 weeks ago, and she hasn't had too much trouble with diarrhea, just a few days here and there. Her hair is thinning also, altho you can't tell yet. My hair has really started to thin again this last week or so. I was hoping it was the other chemo drug that caused that, but I guess the drug in my pump(5FU) causes it. It was nice to meet someone who has the same treatment as I do. Most that have radiation have tumors to shrink and often have different chemo drugs than I do. I really wanted to meet someone who has gone thru the same thing I am. Unfortunately, the nurse called her back before I could get her name! I hope I see her again.
Well, I was going to add some pics of our day trip, but something seems to be wrong with the usb connections! So I'll try again later!
Take care everyone!