Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Always something new

It's been an interesting week - another one of those 'nothing's ever easy' kind of weeks.

My computer caught an infection and went to the doctor (Geek Squad), three times! Actually, I know exactly what brought it on, but was unable to fix it myself without help. I had installed ZoneAlarm's firewall a while back, because Window's firewall is next to useless. It was a pain in the fanny, slowing everything down to the point of distraction, so I decided to uninstall it. Properly, mind you!

Well, it obviously didn't want to go - it screwed up my computer registry, so that I couldn't connect to the internet. Now that's bad! No communication with the outside world? my friends?? (oh, you say there's something called a telephone? - spoil sport!) And I couldn't fix it, no matter what I tried. Best Buy, here I come.

The very nice Geek worked on my pooter for over 45 minutes before he said there was nothing he could do to fix it, that I'd have to reload Windows. I said something very politically correct like 'ah, fuck, no!', and he just laughed and said 'I see you've done that before!'

Thankfully, Windows 7 (maybe Vista too, but I don't know) has a partitioned re-build installed, so you don't need to go thru the hours of loading everything disc by disc. It even offers to save all your personal stuff! I back up everything online with Carbonite, and believe it's a godsend, but it takes days and days to restore everything (especially if you have thousands of pictures, as I do!)!

So I went thru the delightful process of reloading Windows, and then the less delightful process of trying to find everything it saved for me, and restoring it to its proper spots. And then reloading my various software packages. It took hours and hours and hours, but finally, everything is back up and running! I think! And I have internet access again!! Yeah!

Health-wise - I just get stronger and stronger! Had my Herceptin IV last Tuesday, and all is well. And I've now been taking the Femara tablets for almost a month with no major side effects, other than a bloated tummy and corresponding lack of hunger which makes absolutely no sense at all but is 'on the list.'

The little things are still irritating, but getting better all the time! My taste buds and mouth are almost completely back to normal, which is fantastic! The good ol' 'they' had said that might not happen, ever, so I couldn't be happier, since food and drink are my favorite sports!! (next to eavesdropping, but that's another story :o))

I don't think my hair has started growing back yet, because the pits and the pussy are still bald, but my head hair I had given up on shaving is approaching a half inch long. Who knows what it'll look like when the rest starts growing!

My skin is weird - well, it's not the skin so much as the tiny capillaries under the skin. All the biting stinging bugs out there think I'm dessert, so whenever Misha and I walk, I come home with another couple dozen bites. Which I scratch. Because I have no will power! (I know I could use a heavy coat of bug spray, but that would mean a couple showers a day, meaning unwrapping and re-wrapping my wonderful lymphedema compression bandage, which simply isn't worth it!) I really try not to scratch now - now that I've seen what happens when I do. One little scritch-scratch leaves bloody marks - not on the surface, not messy, but under the surface of the skin.A relatively gentle scratch is busting the little tiny blood vessels, leaving lovely red marks wherever I have an itch - ankles are the worst, but anywhere on my legs, around the knees, arms, hands - I'm a piece of artwork walking around. "It'll get better. It's just a reaction to the chemo." Glad to hear it.

My fingernails are demolished. Peeling, tearing, splitting, ugly and starting to get painful as they tear lower and closer to the nail beds. They are too much of a mess now for me to even consider putting my cheap fake nails on that I love so much. Chemo is wonderful stuff. :o( But I can see that they are starting to grow out healthy, so if I can just survive another three or four months, they should be back to normal too.

Now that I am no longer receiving the shot from hell, the Neulasta, to kick start my bone marrow and keep my immune system on over-drive, my blood test isn't as good as it could be, but 'that's to be expected' and will be watched closely as long as I'm getting the Herceptin. The white blood count is down but still in the normal range, and the red blood count is high, but all the little markers like Neutrophils and Lymphocytes and Monocytes and Eosinophils and Basophils are all too low. 'They bear watching.' OK.

Finally received the test results from my echocardiogram and the bone test. The echo came back fairly normal, with all the medicalese needing some translation
...normal left and right ventrical size and systolic function
...estimated left ventricular ejection fraction is 55-60% (which they seemed pleased about)
...E and A wave fusion present because of a first degree AV block (which reads a little scary but no one seems concerned about)
...normal trileaflet aortic valve (I remember seeing that puppy on the echo!)
...normal mitral valve with trace regurgitation
...trace tricuspid insufficiency with an estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure of 15 mmHg plus CVP (huh? I think what all that means is that my heart isn't as strong as it could be, probably since I haven't done any aerobic activity since my auto accident 36 years ago!)
...normal left and right atrial sizes
...no pericardial effusion or intracardiac masses
...sinus rhythm with a first degree AV block.
Overall, when you get past the medical jargon, it would appear that my heart is just fine, except that I haven't exercised it for decades!

Now, for more medical stuff - my bone density evaluation - the DEXA - to look at clinical risk for osteoporosis, since the for-life drug Femara is known to be hard on bones. My spine received rave reviews - T-Score and Z-Score indicate that my back is 27% stronger than 'healthy young adults'!! But the really scary number is that my right hip, my 'good' hip, shows the Femoral Neck, the skinny part of the thigh bone where it connects to the ball, with severe osteoporosis, meaning I have about 6 times the chance of breaking my hip as a normal person my age.

That's truly frightening - especially considering the drug I must take to battle the cancer beast.

The lymphedema treatment progresses. I've had my last therapy session where the gals have been doing the MLD, manual lymph drainage - the lovely gentle massage that reminds the extra fluids to get moving, and then the bulky uncomfortable compression bandages. This last session, Lori took measurements to see what progress we've made. I expected more significant numbers, but she was satisfied, reminding me that it is a work in progress. She has now ordered the glove and sleeve that I must wear every day forever. Just the thought brought tears to my eyes, then and again now.

The glove and sleeve are custom made (I am, among other things, a 'long arm'), and will take about two weeks. Then I go in again for a fitting, hopefully with the Silver Fox in tow so he can learn how to do the massage! After that, it'll be the glove and sleeve every day, and the compression wrap every night. Forever. Depressing as hell!

But Lori did show me a brochure from an outfit that makes some fun sleeves - relatively speaking of course. They do not take the place of the custom job, but can be worn for 'special occasions'. LympheDiva!! Some are really cute. I ordered the Tattoo Blossom already. But they are pricey - thankfully Sooz found the site that had some on sale!

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