So much going on so I’m going to get right into it….. Well, I will start with my first chemo check up visit, which is most encouraging. This visit was to check my blood levels and for the doctor to basically see how my body handled the chemo treatment.
Blood levels are good, which is GREAT news because I could not get the shot which the doctor described as the “antidote” for the chemo treatment, itself. This is the Neulasta shot which is given the day after the chemo treatment. It’s a $5,000 shot, and because my insurance is not covering anything related to this cancer, I could not get it. The chemo treatment, itself, is being paid out of pocket by my family and that had been drastically reduced in cost, which I am very grateful for.
Because I don’t have that miracle drug coursing through my veins, the doctor prescribed an antibiotic to help combat any infections that might pop up and I have to be really careful to keep myself away from people, crowds, and I’m thinking especially school aged kids.
It was sad for me to give up socializing, volunteering at church and school, going to mass but I accept it because it’s a sacrifice. The way I see it, I can still go out, but must take extra precautions to stay away from people I think are sick and large groups. I can’t expose myself to germs because if I do get sick, it has the very real potential to be a life threatening situation. I now wash my hands almost constantly with anti-bacterial soap or use Purell. I must wash my hands before and after preat.paring my food. I cannot defrost meat in the sink, but in the microwave. I cannot let my own son get too close to me, no kisses, but I do hugs. I don’t kiss my husband on the mouth. I banned my cat to the basement, but I’m easing up on that one. If I get even a hint of the smell of cat litter, she’s back down there.
I will try to post cancer links, as I find them and one, Mondays at Racine, is one I might be contacting. I have added the link to my sidebar, under Cancer Links. My SIL heard that I was going to have my husband shave my head once my hair started falling out and she said not to do that and sent me the above link. I still think I’m prepared, but I must concede, probably not prepared emotionally. For most of my life, I’ve been very connected to my hair and hardly ever got it cut much shorter than on-my-back length. For most of my life, my hair contained my whole feminine identity and sexiness. So, this will be rough.
Concerning hair loss because of radiation or chemo therapy, it doesn’t just fall out one day, or it may. It may not happen like that, but I think the more common way is clumps falling out a little at a time, maybe being noticed and maybe not. I was told during my visit that my hair will fall out, specifically, this week. Wow. Well today, a bit more than less came out on my brush in one stroke. While it’s not a tremendous amount, I felt it disconnect from my head… or there was a little resistance as I brushed, and then there was not.
All in all, very happy about my doctor’s visit and I know that God was watching out for me because I was informed that my body handled the first treatment very well with minimal discomfort and doctor says that the first time is always the worst as far as side effects go, and after that, it gets better. Oh, as an afterthought, he just happened to mention that I will be losing my hair in a week. Whew! So really excited, thankful and hopeful at this juncture for how it’s going so far, though I do realize that this could change at any given time, so I’ll just celebrate today, for today.
So last time in “First Chemo (and Other Things),” I said that this post will be more about positives and see, I’ve filled that requirement already. Presently, still working on this post from yesterday and another very positive thing is that my blood sugar level went from yesterday’s 178 to this morning’s 122~!!!! This is the lowest that it’s ever been, and that’s with the antibiotic which is supposed to affect my blood sugar. Oh, I just want to say that I’m not going to disclose the names my doctors, nor of the chemo drugs or medications that I’m on because everyone’s cancer requires customized treatment so I don’t want those details of my treatment to influence how you are feeling about yours. What’s good and works for one person is not the same for someone else…. that sort of thing.
So getting back on track for today: Another thing that I’m excited about is getting a visit from my Posseeeee, my crochet/knitting peeps in less than a week. I miss them and really looking forward to the love and sisterhood we experience with each other. I have been given strict orders not to do a thing and I’m not arguing! I might bake but not committing to anything as THAT has backfired so many times. We will knit, crochet, EAT, drink and be merry all. day. long.
I can never say this often enough: A good support system is critical to getting through this experience. Sometimes our close family members cannot give more than they can, but quite often, we need more than they can give. For myself, I’ve needed to reach out a lot and I am blessed with a lot of loving and caring people in my life. If you find yourself alone or maybe your loved ones are not close by or maybe working, then YOU need to be the one to step up. I find that a contradiction to say, but we must survive and that should be THE number one priority. If that means being our own primary caregiver, then so be it.
Often, it might feel like an insurmountable obstacle, but it can be done. Take this time to give yourself love. We can pick out ways here and there to make ourselves feel special. We know what we like, whether it be getting back into forgotten hobbies, shopping, or something we used to love to do before life got in the way. In this lies one of the blessings of being sick. We can spend the time doing something for US, as opposed to ruminating over our plight, feeling sorry for ourselves and letting the anxiety build up. Relax and let your mind dwell on those things you love. This is for YOU.
I have a lot of hobbies. I knit, crochet, spin fiber into yarn and that’s three different, separate hobbies in one category. I love to read, and right now, I have 3 or 4 books going. Seem crazy? Yes, I rarely read one book at a time, but these are all different topics. The one on my kindle, I take to chemo because my other books are big and heavy and so won’t bring those because I need to hold the book with one hand. Another hobby that I refuse to give up, though abandoned it years ago, is art. Drawing, painting, also just being plain creative in the realm of fine art. So, I have a LOT of time to myself and I choose to pamper myself with those things I gave up long ago…. well, except for the fiber stuff. I always found time for that…lol.
Recently, I have been making attempts to get back into my art. I joined a painter’s group and a pastel group on Facebook for inspiration, motivation and education. Before I became a grownup, I was a pretty good artist and it consumed my teenaged and high school years…. then I grew up (supposedly). For years, I held onto the supplies and my creations. Over the years, I purchased supplies, an easel, a variety of pads, a small pastel set, a wooden art supply box that was deeply discounted. (gotta love that!) I woke up one day and said to myself that if you don’t do it now, you might never get the chance. There was a challenge in the painter’s group and there was someone who urged me on. My first attempt was horrible, but I was happy with it. The success is that I picked up my pastels and made a painting. The success is that once I realized the composition was off, I resolved to move ahead and experiment. There are at least eight paintings I’d like to start and these eight pics are on my desktop, stored and all I have to do is click to the next one. THIS, I look forward to every day.
Here are a couple of pieces I’ve done to dip my toe back into those cold waters. Both done in soft pastels and as you can see, I have a LOT to learn!