The past month has flown by! My last entry was about a week before we left for 10 glorious days on Maui. I was seen 3 times in that week about my scars; they were no longer infected, but they were very slow to heal. In the end, I was given some tegaderm film bandages- basically really stretchy, sticky saran wrap-like bandages – to put over the parts of the scars which hadn’t healed yet. I could keep them on all the time, if I chose, but I only used the tegaderm when I was going into the ocean. One of the surgeons whom I saw in that week warned me to be careful of swimsuit straps. I have little to no feeling around the scars, and indeed, by the end of the vacation, I’d reopened a little part of my scar from wearing a bikini top too long.
Other than the minor inconvenience of making sure my scars were clean and using the tegaderm, vacation was lovely. The weather was perfect and our condo was literally on the beach. I didn’t have a ton of stamina, but how much stamina is needed to sit on a beach? 🙂
A few days after our return to the mainland I had an appointment with my radiation oncologist and for the “simulation.” During the simulation, a mold is made to help me achieve the same position every time I receive radiation. Measurements were taken and recorded; the whole process took about an hour. I got 2 tattoos, or radiation markers. I told the radiologist that I’d always wanted to get a tattoo, so now I could cross that off my bucket list. I got a chuckle out of him.
I start radiation therapy on October 12. It’ll be every weekday for at least 6 weeks, so if it’s 3 pm, you’ll find me at radiation therapy. The nurse told me that the first hour or two right after receiving treatment is when most patients report feeling tired, so I decided to get radiation later in the day and then I’ll just go home afterwards. She also told me that because I tan, I may not feel the burn that fair skinned people feel. I hope that’s the case. Currently I’m scheduled for treatment until the Friday before Thanksgiving, which is 30 treatments; my understanding was that typical treatments are 33-36 treatments, so I’ll have to ask on Monday whether I need more treatments scheduled. I hope this means that I’ll be done by the beginning of December at the latest; I still hope I can host Christmas for my family this year, but we’ll have to see how fatigued I am.
This week has been a reality check – returning to work full time after 7 weeks off. It’s not just being at work, but the commute on top of that which has put a strain on whatever energy I have. I really need to go to bed much earlier than my usual bedtime because I simply need more sleep.
I had an appointment with my oncologist yesterday. I asked her about some general soreness I have in my knees, and she said that it could take up to a year before I feel better. In the meantime she suggested that I walk more.
My magnesium was still low, and I still get diarrhea. She is also concerned because my calcium is increasing. The diarrhea is not all the time, as before, but at least a few times a week. About an hour after I left, I got a call from Dr. P’s nurse, telling me that Dr. P put in an urgent referral to the Gastroenterology (GI) department. When I asked why, Velia said that Dr. P is concerned about my diarrhea. I managed to get an appointment for today, before chemo.
After much discussion, Dr. S said that there was one thing he could test. I’ve had diarrhea since the start of chemo (late January), and since I started, I’ve been on 4 rounds of antibiotics. (port infection, tooth infection, 2 rounds post-surgery). He said it’s possible that while I was on all those antibiotics and because I’ve been hanging around medical facilities that while the good bacteria was wiped out some bad bacteria got in, albeit at a low level. My diarrhea isn’t every day now, and it’s not bloody, and I don’t have some of the other symptoms one might expect with a more serious case. But worth checking out regardless. Now I get the joy of getting a stool sample. Ugh.
He’s also puzzled by the low magnesium. He said he was going to consult some other folks because he couldn’t fathom a reason and it just bothers him that we don’t have a cause. But other than that he didn’t feel an endoscopy was necessary, and since I wasn’t really complaining, we’d forgo that procedure for now.
I got a jury summons for November 4. I am more than happy to do my civic duty, but I simply can’t while undergoing radiation therapy and chemo. I can ask for a continuance for no stated reason for 6 months, but that would only be good until May. I’ll still be undergoing chemo through May, so I asked Dr. P to write me a note to excuse me from jury duty for medical reasons. She wrote it to give me a year off. Hopefully the county will accept that.
I’m here in the infusion center, getting magnesium and Herceptin. Just another Friday in my life this year.