Tuesday, November 25, 2014

End of an era


As of December 1, I am officially "retired". 'Course, I haven't been back to work since August 6. Off on medical leave.

This breast cancer has turned into a huuuuge pain in my ass, as well as my boob. Early August the breast started turning red, swelling. I was visiting my daughter (out of state) and it started bothering me worse...and worse. Then I started having chest....not pain, exactly.....squeezing is how I described it. Went to the ER, wound up going into a deadly heart rhythm, was admitted to ICU for 4 days. Finally made it home and two days later, the incision in my breast broke open and drained a ton of crap. And this was five months after the surgery. And the wound has been open...ever since. We're now talking about hyperbaric treatments. It's not healing because the tissue was irradiated. Oh...and we still don't know what the heart thing was about....still working on it. Haven't had the "squeezies" or gone into the scary rhythm again...thankfully.

I damn near lost my sense of humor. Unfortunately, I never did lose my appetite. 

Aaaanywho, I (and any other county employee who was vested) was offered an early retirement package. It was so good, I couldn't turn it down. And the timing was perfect. I just don't know if I'd ever have been able to go back, health-wise.

So does this mean I'll blog more. Probably not. I just feel like....I don't have anything relevant to say. I may pop in...now and then...for a rant. heh Or, who knows? I might just start posting like crazy. Never can tell.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blah, blah.....blah

On the last day of radiation, I saw the doc. At that time, the nurse said, "I bet you'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel in two weeks."

It's been a week today. I'm still waiting to start feeling better.

The worst of the burn is starting to heal. I still have some incredibly tender spots where the skin is peeling away. But I do see progress there. The fatigue, though....well that's another story. There are days that I feel...as good as I did on my worst day BC (before cancer). That's not saying much. Then there are days like yesterday. I got up. I laid on the sofa. I went back to bed and took a nap. I laid on the sofa. I scrounged something to eat. I laid on the sofa. In other words, I did nothing.  And I was still exhausted. I hate that. 
 
There are those very rare days that I feel nearly....normal, though. Can't wait til I string a couple-three of those together.
 
 


Saturday, May 31, 2014

A bad day

Just two more treatments. Just two more treatments. Just two more treatments....

I keep telling myself that. It's not helping.

Woke up to a blood-spotted nightgown. The area under my arm that was badly blistered broke open in the middle of the night and started bleeding. The area under my breast/on my chest wall is open, bleeding, seeping, oozing and is so painful I can hardly stand it. The doc said I can take a Norco every two hours....I'm eating them like jellybeans and it barely keeps the pain to a dull roar.

I'm gonna say something shocking. If I EVER get breast cancer again, I believe I'd have to think long and hard about doing radiation. It's been that bad. Yea, I know I'm a big pussy when it comes to pain, anyway. And I know that this may be saving my life. But this....nobody prepared me for this
 
I've tried every lotion and potion that the docs recommended. I've stalked out the breast cancer discussion boards to see what other women have had success with. I've tried skin-protecting sprays and gel pads. I've used lidocaine cream, aloe, silvadene. I lay in a dark bedroom, flat on my back, holding my breast up to keep skin from touching skin because it feels like I'm laying a flat iron on my skin when it does touch. Some things help...for a couple minutes.
 
I have to drug myself with a pain pill and a couple of Advil PM to get even a few hours of sleep. Even then, if I try to roll over in my sleep, my boob screams at me, "Nuh UH! If you can't sleep the whole night without moving, in one position, then you're not gonna sleep at ALL, sister!" It's really kinda bizarre. With the killer fatigue, you'd think I'd be able to sleep easily. Nope.
 
If I knew then what I know now, I would have found a doc that would have done a total mastectomy and just gotten it over with. I'd have been healed and on my way by now.
 
My surgeon, brilliant she may be....but she does not believe in excising any more normal breast tissue than absolutely necessary. She would not have done a mastectomy, even if that's what I wanted.

And I suppose I understand that. I'd understand it more if I was 30 years old and had a great body to begin with. But the thing is, I'm damn near 60 years old. My breast will never be "normal" again. It will always look dark and scarred from both the surgery and the radiation burns.  It will probably become hard and may become slightly deformed from the radiation. And it's not like my breast defines "me", anyway. I don't need to have breasts to make me....me.
 
I really thought that the last four or five weeks would have gone by fast. They haven't. I honestly feel like I've been doing this for months. I'm just so thankful that I was able to go to my granddaughter's graduation before it got really bad. If the graduation would have been this week, there's no way I could have made the trip. 

Two more treatments....just two more....and then three or four more weeks of healing. I hope.
 
 
 
 


Monday, May 26, 2014

This girl is on FI-YAHHHH

Yeaaaaa. As in 2rd degree rad burns. Under my double-d. It ain't pretty. And it hurts like a biotch. But I have a giant-sized tub of silvadene and a bottle of Norco and I know how to use 'em. Thankfully, the Zigster is on vacation this week, so I can remain in a pleasant, codeine-induced stupor most of the time. Which is what I intend to do. Got 6 more treatments and I'm DONE. The doc said that I probably haven't seen the worst of the burn yet....it accumulates slowly. Goody. He also said that the fatigue will take several weeks to wear off. Swell. So between the fatigue and the pain pills, I'll be pretty much....a slug. LOL

But enough about that. This is Memorial Day....and as such, it would be just....wrong...if we didn't cook out. So da Zigster's gonna fix some killer burgers on the grill. For the last couple of months, we've been buying all our meat at

  • Alwan's
  • ....and I can't believe the difference! I'd noticed that the meat...and the ground beef, in particular, that I'd been buying at the grocery store, was not tasting quite....right. And the texture was...funky. Not like I remembered a good hamburger tasting....or a steak, for that matter. So I got some at Alwan's and we did a taste test. Oh. My. Gawd. There's NO comparison. The plain old ground chuck from Alwan's kicked the ass of the grocery store's ground round AND sirloin. I dunno what crap they're putting in grocery store burger....and I don't wanna know. I just hate it that we're been putting that crap in our bodies all this time.

    AAaaaanywho...(I went off on a tangent...it's the Norco...LOL) he's gonna fix burgers and I fixed some pasta salad and will fix some roasted, rosemary/olive oil french fries....and I got to use some of my fresh rosemary from my herb pot on the deck.

    And we'll take a minute to remember those that served our country....like the Zigster's dad. He's no longer with us, but he was in the thick of WWII....landed at Normandy, etc. I can't even imagine what he and the young men...and women... like him went thorough. He and millions like him who served in Europe, the Pacific, Africa, Korea, Viet Nam, The Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan ( I know I'm forgetting some) are why we have the freedoms that we do today.

    So, all you veterans and families of veterans out there.....THANK YOU!

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    I'm too tired to think of a title

    I think my brain has been irradiated, too.

    Today was Canadian protocol number 16. That's the end of the "regular" radiation treatments. Can't celebrate yet, though...still have six more "boosts" to go....and the boosts just focus on the tumor site, not the whole breast. Thank gawd. I honestly don't think I could take anymore regular treatments. My poor boob....it's red, swollen and the skin has started to break down underneath and a little under my arm. Think of a really bad sunburn....with blistering. Yea. It's like that. Oh, and let's throw some intense itching in there...just to make it really interesting.

    I did find some great cream for the tender skin, though. I'd been using 99% pure aloe vera gel and I do think it helped until this point. It doesn't do much for the skin breakdown, though. I went online (how on earth did we manage to research anything before the internet?) and found
  • My Girls' Cream
  • . It's all-natural (so the radiation docs approve of it) and it's comparable to MiaDerm, which is also great, but it's over 30 bucks a tube. The My Girls is less expensive and you get a nice, big jar of it. And I found it...where else?....on Amazon. So there's your recommendation for the day. I hope you don't ever have to use it.

    The fatigue. Ohhhh, my. How can I explain it? Imagine the tiredest you've ever been. Now multiply that by about 10. Then, ya know how you feel after you've been in a pool for a couple of hours and then you get out? Like you weigh at least 500 pounds? And you can barely drag yourself around? Yea. Add that to the tiredness. And I do think it affects your brain, too. It's like I'm....foggy. All the time. Not nearly as sharp as I'm capable of being.

    But, drag myself, I will. My gorgeous granddaughter graduates from Junior High tomorrow night. And I will be there. My best friend and I are going and we'll be gone 3 days. It'll be a nice break from all the medical crap. And it's always great to see my kids, not to mention that Jill, my bestie always makes me feel better. Even on my worst days, she can make me laugh...I really don't know how I'd have gotten though all this without her love and support, our lunches every week and our chats back and forth on Facebook.

    So, there we are. Damn near done. When this is all over, maybe I can blog about fun stuff again.

    Yea. Lookin forward to that......


    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Why, yes....I'll have a little cheese with my whine

     I thought I was doing 15 "regular" radiation treatments. I'm doing 16, with 6 "boosts". I know...that's only one more. But I thought I'd be done with everything but the boosts this Friday. Whiiiinnnneeee

    For another thing, I feel really, really crappy. The fatigue is just sucking the life outa me. I normally see the radiation oncologist once a week on Thursdays, but felt so bad today that the rad tech wanted me to see one today. Told the doc that I feel like my hemoglobin is down in the toilet somewhere. Extremely tired, palpitations and slightly short of breath. So they drew blood and I'll find out tomorrow. I normally run just a tad on the low side, anyway, so I won't be surprised if it's scary-low. Whhhiinnnneee

    And I thought the mastitis was getting better, but now I'm not so sure. The old boob (no, I'm not referring to Ziggy here) is exquisitely tender....red, swollen and just not pretty. Now I know how a cow feels when she hasn't been milked for a while. Whhiiinnnneee

    And another thing...what the hell's up with this f*$kin weather?? It was ninety-one here yesterday. I'm looking at the thermometer and it's fifty-six right now! I had the friggin air on yesterday and wouldn't mind a little heat today. WTF? Whhiiinnnneeee
     
    Awww....screw the cheese. I don't want any f*%king cheese, anyway.


    Monday, May 12, 2014

    And so it goes....

    Just got home from my 11th radiation treatment. It's going....fair. Thankfully, haven't really had much "burning" and no blistering....but I do slather on the 99% pure aloe vera gel as soon as I get home and a couple times before bed. I have developed mastitis, though, which is quite painful. Got and antibiotic and a pain med for that, so hopefully, it'll keep it from getting worse.

    I'm doing a "Canadian protocol" of radiation. It's shorter in duration, but at a higher dose. The studies show that there's very little difference in side effects or efficacy, so I opted for the shorter regimen. I believe I have just four more treatments at this level, which radiates the whole breast, then six "boosts", which pinpoint the tumor location and just radiate that small area. I'm starting my third week today. Everyone said that it would go fast....it might feel like it did when I'm all done...but it sure doesn't right now. It feels like I've been doing this for months.
     
    The fatigue....that's something else. Some days I feel pretty good, though nowhere near "normal". Others, it's all I can do to drag my carcass around the house and drive myself to and from the treatments.

    I do think the depression might be a bit better. Again, not anywhere back to my old self, but at least I can talk about having cancer without bursting into tears. Usually. I didn't ask for an antidepressant. I decided I would if I thought it was getting any worse...but it didn't. So I'm holding off, for now. I'm sick of taking medicine and don't want another damn pill if I can help it. 

    Phhhhffffffttttt...............I'm just sick of the whole thing.