Round #3 of Doxil in the Books!

Yesterday I was spent my morning at the Cancer Center at Bergan Mercy CHI hospital getting labs done, being interviewed and examined by a Creighton resident, talking with my primary medical oncologist, and then receiving my chemo infusion. My labs came back great, so chemo was a go. The resident was new (as they always are at this point because I only go once a month and that is their rotation time). He asked me if I knew why I was there. I just kinda stared at him for a minute or two…and explained I was getting a chemo infusion. No one had ever asked me that question before except before a procedure or surgery, when it is legally required. So I looked in his eyes (as we were both masked that was my only option really) and asked him, “Do you know why you are here?” His pause was longer than mine. Yay! Made him think! We laughed. He listened to my heart and lungs…checked the awful rash I have under my arms on on my upper sides, and the swelling in my ankles. None of which were a concern I guess. At least he was thorough. I appreciate that. The medical oncologist and my oncology surgeon never touch me at all…to check anything, which I find odd. Really odd. The rash on my upper sides are the size of my entire hand and look awful but are actually getting better. It was red and bruised (even though I didn’t scratch them) and finally kind of crusted over and peeled. I have been dealing with it for about 2 weeks now and I hope it will start to fade now. Those areas just hurt alot….didn’t itch. They felt like I had a wire dog brush tucked into the sides of my bra that dug into my skin every time I moved my arms. Yuck. The red streaking rash on the under side of my upper arms are the ones that itch and are about the size of my palms…so a bit smaller. These are also angry-looking but feeling much better. I have heard it just has to run its course and you have to grin and bear it. I wanted to keep up with my 5 mile a day walks with Tallinn and so tucked ankle socks in the sides of my bra to prevent rubbing on that big rash area. That really helped a lot. God’s grace spoke to me with that idea, because it was definitely a Godsend. Most people don’t stick socks in the armpits of their bras, but hey, whatever works. Yesterday I went sockless up top and survived. Baby steps. Today I wore the socks because I just didn’t want to chance it on a longer walk in warm weather. Anyhow, back to yesterday. My doctor told me that a patient of his had been placed in the hospital due to pneumonitis from Gemcitabine. This is what had happened to me and I was nearly hospitalized. Praying for that person. It is awful. He also asked me if I had any blisters on my feet. I do…or did…have three large blisters on the bottom of my toes on my right foot. I honestly thought it was from so much walking. Nope. Another chemo side effect. Chemo went off without a hitch. I was immediately claimed by my favorite nurse, Nora. She is the bomb. We have daughters the same age. I sat kitty-corner to a man about my age (honestly, I am horrible with guessing ages but since we all have to announce our full names and birthdates aloud to two nurses when we are getting our chemo infusions, it kinda helps. He was a couple years older but within 5 years of my age. He and I had chose to look out the windows. The sun was shining for the first time in many days, and the wind was blowing the trees. I may have mentioned before the hospital is surrounded on both sides by two of Omaha’s largest cemetaries…one for the Catholics and one for the Protestants. So the two of us sat there, the youngest in the infusion center, staring out over the tombstones, awaiting the poison to be put into our veins. I talked to him a little bit. It is hard because we were about 10 feet away, wearing masks, and I learned he was from a country in Africa, with a thick accent. It is harder to understand people when their mouths are covered. Anyhow, all went well. I came home very tired and much paler than when I left, which lasted the day. I did also make appointments for my scans. First off, no PET CT scan ordered! Yay! (I hate that one! – it is several hours and I have to drink only water for at least 36 hours prior – and then I am radio active) Instead I have a CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis (which will be done all at once. As far as I know it won’t even be the skinny CT tube…but I am mentally prepared for that. This will all be done on Thursday, June 4th, in the afternoon. I am praying that this chemo is working because it is so much easier on my body than the other mix was. I would love to be able to continue it.

I went for a long walk in the evening with Tallinn, Rich and Lily. I thought for sure that after playing a couple of rounds of a board game, which we do almost every night after dinner (Settlers of Catan), that I would just be spent. I felt pretty tired. Rich and I watched a couple of episodes of Madam Secretary (one of my favorite shows that we are re-watching in anticipation of the last season being released – which it was this week). We went to bed and I read a bit then thought I would sack right out. Rich did…snoring loudly. I woke him up twice to roll him over. No joy. I finally got out of bed and moved to the couch. Even though I was exhausted , the steroids I got in my IV late that morning were doing their thing and not letting me sleep. My mind was going a mile a minute and I couldn’t settle. Tallinn sleeps on my side of the love seat on his dog pad at night after he feels we are asleep. He stays in our room by my bed on the floor for about an hour before padding out to the family room to sleep in a more comfy spot. He hopped down and came over to me on the couch and put his paws on my chest and nuzzled his head into my neck to give me a hug (he loves to do this to his humans – give hugs) and then went back to his spot on the loveseat and sighed loudly. (he has very deep, loud, vocal sighs) It took me awhile to turn off my brain…this is when praying really helps. I had a lot to pray about. Anyhow, Tallinn was thrilled to wake me up earlier than normal this morning to let him out and feed him since I was conveniently right next to him. Still managed to get in my miles last night and this morning.

In a couple of hours we are going to drive down to Lincoln to have dinner with Tim and pick up the last of his belongings. Six years in Lincoln. I know he is going to miss it. He will then follow us up to Omaha and move into our basement apartment for the next two weeks. He will take off on June 12th to head to Ft. Collins, CO to start his new life there. I am excited for him. I am also happy I will be able to spend some time with him over the next couple of weeks before he leaves. By the grace of God (again), we were chatting with Joe and Michelle last night and they think they are going to come up here on Thursday, June 11th, and travel with Tim to Colorado. Tim can’t fit all of his belongings in his car and needed someone else to go with him to schlep his stuff there. We were trying to figure out how that would work with Lily being in summer school (albeit online) , me really not supposed to be travelling, and Rich scheduled to work during that time frame (our manager will be out of town). It was getting to be a drive 8 hours on Saturday then drive back the next day. Didn’t sound very fun. All I wanted was to be able to make sure he was settled and had what he needed. Sigh. I kinda feel like a big mom failure at this point. Anyhow, Joe and Michelle want to go and will make it a small vacation for them. I will be forever grateful. It rests my heart and mind easy. Again, a total Godsend!

Thankfulness thoughts…..I have to give a big shout out to everyone who I have been receiving cards and texts from….Wendy Masin, Michele Nagel, Erika Campbell, Lois Doyle, Emily Ryan, my doppelganger – Bridget Wilson, prayers and masses offered at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal as requested by Sue Trigg (this was so very touching), and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from a fellow stage IV cancer warrior and dear Scottish friend from our time in Norway, Fiona Macklon. We have gotten to know each other so much better since our diagnoses…and we are seeing this thing through together. We have kids about the same ages. She currently lives in Houston and we are in contact if not daily, almost daily. God definitely put her in my path to soothe my spirit and raise them up. Today is her birthday. Happy birthday Fiona! We know each others’ treatment days and she had these flowers at my house about 20 minutes after I got home from the cancer center. What a true blessing she is to me! I hate that we are travelling this road but I am so blessed to have her at my side.

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