Friday, January 23, 2009

Disaster Averted . . .


It's me, The Mom, hacking into Gretchen's blog again.

I'm (almost) incensed! My kid had an incident this ayem that could've proven tragic.

From the beginning she's had a surgery -- well not "complication" exactly -- more like a "result." She suffers from numbness and tingling down her left arm, from shoulder to fingertips. It's her left arm, mind you, not the right side where the cancer was discovered. This numbness is of great annoyance and pain to her. More pronounced when she wakes up in the morning then lessens throughout the day. Keeps her from gripping the phone and eating utensils sometimes.

She finally mentioned it to Dr. Buys, the oncologist, a very thorough woman, during our last visit. Dr. B ordered an MRI of the nerve bundle near the left scapula, which is where arm nerves originate. The MRI appt was this ayem.

Gretchen got in there, undressed, and waited and waited and waited in the cubicle. Finally the MRI tech came in and asked her at which hospital she had her expanders inserted, Huntsman or UofU or elsewhere? Gretchen told her Huntsman. She apologized and said that the kind of expanders used at those two hospitals were not MRI-compatible. (Too much metal.) Expanders used elsewhere were okay. Exam cancelled.

How awful! Don't know who caught that, the tech or the radiologist, but aren't we happy the question was asked??? Can you imagine the damage to her chest that would have been done if it hadn't?

In Dr. B's defense, she's probably never ordered an MRI near a patient's chest wall before. Or know what materials the expanders are made of. That's the plastic surgeon's area. These specialists are so highly, well, specialized, that they can't be expected to know the details of each others' specialities.

But oh, my, aren't we happy it was caught?

As for the numbness, so annoying -- and Gretchen's fear is that it will be permanent -- it will remain undiagnosed until reconstruction, hopefully, when the expanders will be removed and silicone injected. She's hoping it's just caused by the pressure from the left expander which, upon close inspection, lies a little lower than the right. (to Gretchen's buddies -- try to take a peek without being too obvious!)

That's my latest from Cedar Hills,
Have a great TGIF!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Milestone Reached!

Great news...I have just passed the half-way point of Chemo, and from what I hear, the hardest part. I have finished with the A/C treatment, which included the dreaded "Red Devil" (Adriamycin) and Cytoxin combination. The red devil is what makes you loose your hair, and the Cytoxin is no fun either. However, those four doses are now over, and I am on my way to four more treatments with Taxol, which I understand are much easier to tolerate, though some people experience neuropathy (tingling or loss of sensation in fingers, toes, etc.)

Getting the last dose of the Red Devil:

How I really feel about it:

The drug requires the whole HAZMAT getup:

I am thrilled that I have been so blessed with a fairly smooth journey through chemo thus far...though I can definitly tell I am getting poisoned, and there are days which are worse than others, I really believe that the sustained faith and prayers and good thoughts of all of you are uplifting and healing and helping me through this process so well. I can't utter enough thanks for that lovely, on-going support.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

As the Gut Churns . . .

. . . my, what an awful title for a blog entry!

Yet, it's very descriptive. This is The Mom, BTW, hacking in, once again, to her daughter's blog.

This is my first update for 2009. I'll try not to get too graphic just in case you're sitting there with your caffeine 'n' cruller this ayem while you catch up on your necessary blog-reading before getting down to the work you're getting PAID to do!

Gosh, SOOO many changes and things to learn about this chemo-stuff!

Gretchen came to our house NY day for dinner with us and our Idaho daughter's fam. 'Twas fun, but I could tell she was having a lot of chest pain. The pump-up she gets just prior to every chemo treatment is improving her curves, but the skin-streching sure causes discomfort. This last inflation was tough.

And the chemo itself. Wierd. She doesn't get sick right away. The illness comes at a different day's distance each time. This time it was four days later. She couldn't come to play games with us Friday -- she was having trouble swallowing and started feeling "fuzzy headed" as she put it. Saturday was not good. The bi-weekly gut pain had started. She made it to church Sunday but that was all. And it was barely.

By Monday morning she was a mess.

I went over Monday around noon and I was shocked. Gretchie-Poo looked so shrunken and white lying there in her bed. If it weren't for the bright blue turban she wore for warmth, I couldn't have seen her in her all-white bedding.

Her cute little house was strewn with dirty dishes and laundry. She'd tried to cook herself some cream of mushroom soup (her staple on yukky days) Sunday nite but she didn't have the strength to stir it so it burned in the pan. Brought me to tears. She'd been running (crawling?) to the bathroom with diarhhea for two days and was as weak as a kitten. I brought our puppy, Polly, along for company because they love each other, but Polly was too much. I had to crate her to keep her from tearing her "big sister" to pieces. She lacked the strength fend off Polly's enthusiastic "kisses."

So I hung around and picked up, cooked anything that sounded good to her, and spent the nite. She insisted on going to work yesterday ayem, but I drove her in. She still had the fuzzy head and the roads were getting bad with our latest snow storm.

By lunch-time yesterday she reported she was still feeling yukky, but that awful gut pain started easing up in the afternoon. Lisa, a kind work buddy, brought her home. I'd made some soup (Pennsylvania Dutch chicken-corn -- yummy!) and that terrible tummy/gut was finally ready for "real" food.

Alan came over to pick me up, joined us for soup, and we drove home in what by then had become a really heavy storm. By then our patient was feeling much better.

This chemo-stuff is interesting to say the least. The anti-nausea drugs work well. But the gut-wrenching begins about four days later and seems to last about that long until the poison finally leaves her body. Then she's okay until the next round. (Next Tuesday.) And of course, the ever-persistent chest pain is there.

I keep thinking that this process would be better if she could just stay home and pamper herself. But you know what? Not only does she love her job and especially her wonderful work buddies, but like all of us, if we don't have our work and purposes cut out for us and beckoning us, we'd be sitting around doing, well, who knows what? Wasting time -- that's for sure. So 'tis with Gretchen, too. Knowing she needs and wants to get up and go to work every day really energizes her. Unfortunately, some days she just can't get there. Her wonderful Navitaire folks know that these challenging weeks will be behind her as spring pops into bloom. The healthy Gretchen and the new season will be a welcome relief to all!

Thank you, Navitaire folks who are reading this. YOU give Gretchen purpose and motivation! I love and appreciate you all so much!

Lindy-Lou the Mom

(Nice to see you last eve, Lisa. Hope you made it home okay in the storm)