Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sayonara Chemo!

Once again I’m overdue for a post here…

I finished my last round of chemo on October 20. I am, of course, thrilled to be done. What I’m not thrilled about it that I’m still feeling the side effects. I am still very fatigued. I have had a sore throat for 3 months straight that just now seems to be abating. I am getting hot flashes due to early (and probably temporary) menopause. My feet hurt from the neuropathy (nerve damage) there, so I hobble around when I walk. That’s also hopefully temporary. My oncologist thinks my continued irritability is hormonal, because the chemo makes the ovaries suddenly shut down, causing estrogen to plummet. She finally sent me to a psychiatrist for it who’s got me on Ambien for sleep and Celexa for mood adjustment and hot flashes. It seems to be starting to help. Other good news is that my hair is starting to grow back! I have about a quarter inch of peach fuzz, and it’s soft like a newborn baby. Too early to say what color and texture it will have, but it’s not unusual for people to have their hair return a different color or curly instead of straight. I have a lot of new-found sympathy for bald men because my head is cold most of the time, so I mostly wear hats.

I’ve had an end-of-chemo heart scan and hearing test, both of which I passed with flying colors. No more scans are planned as part of my treatment. From now on, I’ll get either a mammogram or a MRI every six months to keep an eye out for the cancer returning, and I’ll see my oncologist every three months for a checkup. As I don’t need any more IVs, my port was removed last week. That is really a milestone! No more foreign object in my body! Though it was yet another minor surgery and I’m left with yet another inch long scar and a prohibition against lifting things for a while, it feels great to have it out. When I got the port put in, Sarah needed to be carried around a lot and the original scar stretched way out. Now she’s much more mobile. Fingers crossed this scar will fare better.

Let’s see, what else… today’s drama. Two days ago I saw my PCP for an annual checkup, and because my natural immunity is decreased from chemo, she wanted me to have 2 vaccines in addition to the flu shot I already had a little while ago. One was a tetanus booster, one was a pneumonia vaccine. Yesterday I noticed that the pneumonia vaccine arm had a 2-3 inch red, sore, raised mark extending from where the shot went in, and I was even more exhausted than usual. Today it looked worse, so I went to the urgent care doctor. She thinks it’s infected and now I’m on antibiotics for 10 days. Just my luck that something that is meant to prevent me from getting sick does the opposite.

In my recent posts, I groused quite a bit about childcare problems. That’s now much better. The temporary nanny for afternoons in late October was a very nice help, allowing me to rest again (thanks Gwen, Ernie and Sarah). Then our new au pair, Tina, arrived on Halloween. She’s 19, from Germany and just wonderful, patient and creative with the kids, and she won’t stop cleaning up even after her working hours have ended. I still don’t get a complete break because some combination of kids are often in the house at the same time I am, and they seek me out even if I’m hiding in my bedroom, but overall things are greatly improved.

Currently Colin’s dad and his wife are visiting. Thanksgiving is 11/27 and I start radiation on December 1. I had been hoping I would no longer be so tired by the time that starts, since it is supposed to wear me out as well, but it seems I really won’t be over chemo at all by the time it arrives. I asked my oncologist when I was going to feel myself again with all my old energy, and she said it could take up to a year. Ugh!!!

The kids are doing well. Ethan is active in Cub Scouts, has just finished an enjoyable soccer season, and is now beginning skating lessons. Martha is 100% princess, wanting to wear pink frilly dresses at all times. She gets compliments from her preschool teacher on how smart she is. Sarah is a great talker for her age (2 yrs 3 mos), able to express anything she wishes and just a little sweetheart.