Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eight Hours and whose counting?

Today I have managed to be up for six hours.  I woke feeling a little better after taking my healing into my own hands last night.  I could do no more and took a strong anti-nausea and skipped my dose of Xeloda - don't tell my oncologist.  Result was that this morning I woke feeling partially human again.

I immediately, took another anti-nausea and my morning dose of Xeloda, so am not really messing with things too much.

I then let the dogs out and fed them and watched the morning show for a while, getting up around 7 pm.  I did three loads of washing, was sensible in that I used the tumble dryer and hangers, rather than attempting the washing line. I also packed the dishwasher.  All chores that were so easy and part of my regular day I wouldn't even have counted them a few months back.  Today they felt like great achievements.

With Sarah unwell ( a head cold) I kept her away from me, but enjoyed having the company around the house. I brushed the cats and did some computer work. It felt really good.  I managed to eat something for lunch and finally around 1 pm succumbed to a short nap. Around 3 pm I woke and found Elizabeth and Matthew returned from university.  We did a family tidy up and then they changed my bed-linen for me. So I headed for a lovely hot bath.

I have discovered another side-effect that is bugging me and that is the skin on my feet is peeling, so sleeping in a bed with more skin in than on my body is not my favourite activity.  The good news is I am clean, my bed is clean, the washing is clean and with the children's house the floors are clean.

Cleanliness is becoming an obsession to counteract the poison of the chemotherapy and today being able to participate in the cleaning myself - I feel as though I have achieved a huge step.

Joy of being out of bed for over eight hours - Pure Bliss!

Cumulative Side-effects of Chemotherapy

I didn't expect things to get to the point when I was considering whether to continue with the chemo or not, but this last treatment has put me into this place.  Luckily, it is over half-way through my treatment, but still totally sucks.

Treatment 4 - left me very tired, but number 5 - has left me nauseous, unable to drink and still suffering severe 'pins & needles' 7 days after the last dose.  The only medication that removes the nausea is one that knocks me out and makes me chemo-brain dead.  So, after 3-4 days, I really try and reduce the usage of this drug.

Last night I cheated - I took one of the strong nausea tablets and didn't take my medication.  I will take it one dose longer at the end of the week, but I knew I had to break the cycle.  Result is that I have slept and woken, less nauseous than any day since the Oxyplatin.  It seems that the combination of the Xeloda and the high dose of Oxyplatin in my system, just totally knocks me for a six.

I realise that I do need to be cured, but I also need to be able to function in a life that is worth living.  Lying in bed each day, wishing for an escape from this life - is not living.  So today - Day 7 after the last treatment, I have managed to wake up, see the sunshine and contemplate a small action plan for the day.

I am going to shower, get dressed, do a couple of loads of washing and then probably collapse back into bed, but at least I will have made it out of bed.

The research and conversations I have had with people, are helping, I am not 'making this up' - which my brain tells me I am. And, more importantly - I know that I can get through this.

So this is my story for today - hopefully tomorrow is a better today, because you can be sure it will be another day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A new beginning . . . and we are late!

Today Matthew begins his orientation week at university; with a couple of courses and tours to attend. Next week it is lectures, but today he goes to campus to find his way around.

He appeared looking so grown up and handsome - no school uniform.  Then he said something funny to Elizabeth who was taking him to the train station - "Come on Elizabeth, we are going to be late!"  Elizabeth burst out laughing, as for years, she has been nagging to get him up and ready for school and now he didn't want to be late.

 Of course I wanted a couple of photos, which made him even later . . . so he opted for a lift with Granny who was leaving a few seconds earlier.
 Wishing you an amazing year filled with learning, fun and friends and I hope you find a few special new friends to replace those you lost on that 'Death Star' - Great T-shirt Matthew.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Visit from a friend

Today my lovely friend Sandy drove over to see me.  We had hoped to catch up together over the Christmas holidays, but with her trip away, school holiday activities, her visitors, our visitors and my treatments we didn't get a chance to see each other.

But, today she took the time to drive out and spend a couple of hours being with me and supporting me.  She also bought me a beautiful bunch of Proteas (flowers from my native South Africa) and found in Australia.  Her thoughtfulness and love and offers of help, makes times like this so much easier.

My Matthew made us tea, cut up the cake and served us well.  He also spent the morning doing chores; including the washing, watering the pot-plants for his Dad and trimming Bella who was in such a need of grooming.  It took him well over 2 hours, but he patiently used the clippers and scissors on her, so she is now clean and pretty again.  He also took the time to trim Max's face hair and give Greyson his medication.

My Mom has also been here, just as she always is - she took Sarah to school, picked up morning tea from the bakery, fetched Elizabeth from the train-station because she is early and fetched Sarah.

I know that without these wonderful people in my life, the burden of these months would be impossible to cope with.

This week, I will be undergoing my chemo-treatment, despite the gout. My oncologist doesn't want to delay. So I guess, it will be another round of just tucking that chin in, holding my head high and going through the days.

Friends and family are keeping me going and internet/email/facebook friends are making it special.  Thank you all - your place in my life is what keeps me strong.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Get out - it can't be GOUT!

Of course it is GOUT!

 Monday - Wednesday I wasn't feeling my best so followed orders and rest up in bed for the three days.  I was very still, sleeping a lot. Finally, on Thursday I decided enough was enough and I got up.  The joint pain began almost immediately, first in my hip, then my knees, finally by Friday my left toe and ball of my foot were very sore.

Late Friday evening I phoned through to the oncology department, worried about a blood-clot as a side-effect from being so still and my chemo.  The doctor said the site and symptoms were atypical, but should come in on Saturday morning if it had not improved.

 Well after a sleepless night, we headed into the Wesley Emergency centre and within 20 minutes I had been seen by the doctor.  She looked at it and said "I think it is Gout!" - I almost fell off the bed.  Explaining that the chemo can make the kidney produce uric crystals, that lodge in the joints - it was likely. She ordered blood tests and an x-ray, both of which were inconclusive, but the symptoms were perfect.  All else on the blood tests were good. So within 2 hours I was on my way, with strong pain-killers to deal with the level 8/10 pain; steroids to destroy the crystals; anti-nausea drugs in case both of the above messed up my stomach and a pair of crutches.  Orders - keep the foot elevated and don't walk on it for at least 5 days.
 The jokes of course began immediately.  The doctor asked how much alcohol I drank.  Now given the fact that since July last year I have only had a single sip of wine on Christmas day and prior to that have barely drunk anything in the last 2 year - it was unbelievable.  Ivan has had a field day, teasing me that I have been into the Port. Sarah and Elizabeth, both told him they were hiding it from me and so it has gone on.  Still we have all had a good giggle.
So as I face just another little bump in the road, my treatment might have to be pushed back a week, from this Wednesday.  I will phone Dr Paul Vasey, my lovely oncologist on Monday and ask his advice, but for now I am chair-bound.

Been watching Lord of the Rings on our new TV & Blue-ray player, which is so perfect and of course updating Facebook and my blog.  Maybe, tomorrow, I will even get to work on my editing.

Friday, February 8, 2013

No News

Is it possible to write and update a blog, when one does not have much news?

I guess it is, because that is what I am currently doing.

The past few days, almost a week have been slow.  I have felt unwell - Fatigued and suffering joint pain; I think the cumulative effects of the chemo are beginning to take effect and the fact that the first week of my three-week cycle I pushed myself really hard has meant that I have spent most of the past week asleep or resting in bed.  It feels like such a waste of a life, but I know at the moment I don't have any choice.

Anyway since my last post here are some news items.

Sarah started her new class at the Ipswich Young Theatricals on Wednesday evenings.  In pursuit of her acting dream it is going to be a great experience for her as well as lots of fun. She has also settled back into school, still 'hates' it; but is enjoying being treated as more of an adult.

Oh yes, Ivan and I treated ourselves to a new TV.   Ours was 8 years old, still analog, but working fine; so we had decided that it was just fine.  The problem arose when we bought ourselves a Blu-ray player to watch some of Elizabeth's new Blue-rays. We were going to use it in our room, but it seemed such a shame so we indulged in a BIG new digital TV. And have been loving it. We are currently working our way through Lord of the Rings - each evening; it is even better than when we saw it in the movies.
 They say that size doesn't matter - but this 46" baby is beautiful.  Even Charlie Bear the children's TV show is celebrating.

Matt has had another few 'manual' driving lessons, worked a bit in the garden and is enjoying his last couple of weeks holiday. Elizabeth has been my rock and strength, picking up the slack of running and helping around the house. Next week she begins her 'professional development' week of her teacher's course at university, so is quite excited.  Ivan is busy at work, preparing for another overseas trip and we are finally over the last storm - thanks to the hard work of Mum, Dad and their wonderful friends Kevin & Kay.

So for a blog post about no news - I guess there was some.

I am also working on my digital scrap-booking again; which is fun. Re-living the chaos and hard-work of all our renovations in May/June 2011.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Birthday Girl - no make that Young Lady

Happy 23rd Birthday Elizabeth.

I cannot believe that my little girl is so grown-up.  Twenty-three years old and such a beautiful person.  Celebrating her birthday today has been a little strange - with the storm, and also Elizabeth feeling a little unwell - with a tummy bug (or was that too much lactose????).

Anyway we love you Elizabeth - celebrate in style.

Sisters - Sarah treated Elizabeth to the Blue-rays Gremlins and King Kong

Matt was sneaky and bought her the gift box set of Blade Runner - the funny part was that she was in the store when he did it and she didn't notice.

And along with books and other Blue-rays she got 'Total Recall'

Tornado at Ten PM

Last night at 10pm, we heard an almighty roaring sound, the wind began, the rain began and we were up.  Ivan went out the back to try and secure things and I opened the front curtains to reveal swirling wind and rain - it looked like a mini-tornado heading down our street.  I thought we were going to lose every tree in the front yard.  Within 20 minutes it was all over, no rain, no wind.

We went back to bed.

This morning we woke to clear blue skies, a cool breeze and a lower garden near the cottage decorated with most of the tops of our gum trees and piles of 15 -20 metre trees.  We have trees down everywhere.  Plus there was over 26mm of rain in that short space of time.

Mother Nature is in such a Huff at the moment, she is throwing temper tantrums.  We are contemplating ritual sacrifices to appease the Gods!

 Our fence skyline is normally covered with tall, majestic trees, this lone tree is all that remains and of course the 'dead' one we needed to take down - is still standing.

 Snapped like small twigs.

 A 17metre tree that we planted just a few years ago, Now gone!

 Luckily all the trees missed the house, and most of the smaller shrubs, falling in between the beds. So although we have a tree down over the back fence, and a mess the damage is minimal.

 I think my face says it all.  What more do we have to endure?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tree today - Gone tomorrow

Today the Tree-loppers arrived to remove the tree from the shed.  Within a 20 minute period they had manouvered a massive truck down the garden, cut up and mulched the tree, had a drink of water and were on their way to another job - we were number 3 in the list of 33 that they were trying to get to in the next few days.

Here are some photos of the process:

 Oops the garden is getting chewed up again. Luckily grass grows really quickly. And Dad had the rake out levelling the ground as soon as they were gone.

 Turning a full-grown Eucalyptus (Gum) tree into garden mulch.

 The roof is damaged in a couple of places the side rafter, the gutter, the top panels and above the door; but we are blessed in that the colourbond has held and there don't appear to be any holes.