Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

It’s been an interesting week. But it has ended relatively well.

My dear sweet beagle Zoe has not been feeling well. We took her in to get her teeth cleaned and to have a cyst removed from her eye a few weeks ago, and while she was there we mentioned that she has been a bit slow moving and achy. They did an X-ray of her hips and spine while she was there, but they couldn’t find any problems.

The vet thought it could be a type of soft-tissue arthritis and prescribed some medication. The day after we brought her home she seemed energetic and we assumed it was the pills that were prescribed. But as the days went by, she started to feel bad again. In fact, it appeared to be getting worse.

In addition to her achiness, she also had a red spot develop on her chest. It looked like a rash or a burn about the size of a fist. So I called the vet’s office and Robbie took in her in for a visit about the chest wound as well as the continued achiness. They ran a bunch of urine and bloodwork while she was at the office. Her blood glucose was around 600 which is REALLY high, but they felt like that was a mistake and sent it out to a lab to have them check it as well. They called a few days later and confirmed that her blood sugar was indeed high, and that she was definitely diabetic. She probably felt better after the first visit because we had fasted her before the surgery and her blood sugar dropped. The chest wound ended up being some sort of bizarre burn. We are assuming she laid on something hot in the yard.

So Friday we dropped her off so they could do a “curve”. They kept her all day and monitored her glucose throughout the day after giving her an initial dose on insulin. Unfortunately her curve didn’t really curve much. Her glucose stayed above five hundred. At the end of the day we were trained on how to inject insulin and were given instructions on what to do over the weekend. Tuesday they are hoping that her blood sugar has dropped enough so that they can do a proper curve.

She has been feeling somewhat better over the weekend. She is still lethargic at times, but now has bursts of energy that she wasn’t exhibiting before. She ran around the yard quite a bit, and has been playing both in the yard and in the house. It is nice to have hope that she can be like this all the time in the future once we get this regulated a bit. Dogs are so full of unconditional love, and it breaks my heart when one of my girls isn't feeling well. They can't say "I feel like crap! Help me!" So you have to try to sense how they feel. It can be difficult, especially when they are good-natured and try to hide their pain.

As far as I go, I’ve been feeling good. Most days I am completely back to normal. I notice if I don’t get enough sleep over several days that I start to feel run down, but I think everybody feels that way. I am also able to fully taste fruit again and that has been wonderful – that was really my last taste sensation to return. I am still a little sensitive to super-tangy things and have to be a bit careful or I get a little bit of a gag reflex.

July will bring my next PET Scan and a follow-up with my oncologist. I’m anxious to get an “all-clear”. As I’ve said before, every day that passes lessens my chances of recurrence.

Hope your summer is going well. Be sure to hug your pets!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Gift

Tonight I was driving home from my Mom’s house right at dusk after a lovely dinner. I had wore my wig all day today and had finally had enough of it. I pulled it off and threw it on the passenger’s seat. I ran my fingers across the top of my head to feel the baby soft fuzz that adorns the top of my head. Not long now until I can be done with the wig. The fireflies were just coming out and they were sparkling all along the winding highway as I drove along. I turned on the radio and U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was playing. I saw a bunny dart into the weeds as I drove by.

The cancer experience gives you one gift. And that gift is to appreciate the moments. It is those few minutes in your day where the world comes together in a perfect way. It is about remembering to smile and take it in while driving along a winding road lined with fireflies.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Better Days

It’s been over two weeks since my last radiation treatment. Life has improved ten-fold. I can finally eat and drink pretty much normally. The only remaining side effect is a little dryness in the throat – mostly in the evenings. I am also drug free! No more drugs needed to combat the many side effects of cancer treatment.

I don’t see another Doctor until the very end of June, and that is just a follow-up with the radiation oncologist. In July, I will be scheduled for another PET Scan, bloodwork, and a follow-up appointment with my main oncologist. Every day that goes by and every scan that comes back clean lessens my chance for recurrence. So for once, time is on my side.

This is the best I’ve felt since October of last year. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. Feeling unwell is a gradual thing, and you don’t really realize how bad you really felt until you start to feel better. The same with the chemo “fog”. I thought I was firing on all cylinders during my treatment, but as my ability to concentrate and general well-being improves I am starting to realize that maybe I was a bit off.

A couple of co-workers approached me about a 5K/10K trail challenge in August to raise money for the leukemia and lymphoma society. They propose that for our office summer picnic that employees who want to can participate in the race and that we could then have our picnic immediately following the event. I was humbled that they wanted to do it, and am very excited about participating. I want to get in better shape and this is a good short-term goal to kick-start my effort. This weekend I need to unbury the treadmill!

I did lose a little weight during radiation, and actually because I was eating such small meals during radiation I think it’s helped my stomach to shrink a little. I’m eating enough, but I’m not overeating like I was before. I hope to continue this trend.

I have found that some of my taste/food preferences have changed during this whole thing. I’m not sure if that is a temporary or permanent thing. For example, I can barely drink a soda. I don’t like the taste or the carbonation. I think I want fried food, but when I eat it I don’t like the mouth feel at all and usually end up just picking at it. Multi-texture foods are a real treat! For example, I want Subway all the time. It’s the coolness and all the various textures. At work last week, for a catered lunch there was meatloaf and mashed potatoes. It just seemed too heavy and rich. I would have rather had a sandwich. I do have a serious soft spot for ice cream though – I think because I still have some dryness. That and because it’s been in the 90s for the last two weeks. Seriously, it’s barely June!

So all and all, life is pretty darn good. If I could just get my hair to grow faster! But that’s such a little thing in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully I’ll have enough hair by my Birthday (August) to be able to go out without headgear. If not, I’ll just put on a big tiara.