Monday, April 21, 2014
I meant to post a blog yesterday, but I was just too tired.
As you know if you regularly read my blogs, going to church on Easter Sunday was very important to me (and not just because of the new dress). Well, I wanted to let you know, that I made it! It was looking doubtful Saturday night; I had woken up in the middle of the night with a migraine and it took a long time to break the headache after taking my migraine meds, so I didn't get a lot of sleep. But somehow, I rallied in the morning and I was able to go.
It was the first time I had been out in weeks that wasn't for a medical appointment, or to buy groceries or pick up a prescription. It also lifted my spirits to see so many people that were glad to see me. I enjoyed the service, but when it was over, I was ready to go back home.
I did a short 20 minute workout, but I was too tired to do anything else the rest of the day. I ended up taking a nap late in the afternoon, which is something I rarely do, because it usually makes it too hard to sleep at night, but ended up going to bed at 11pm and fell asleep fairly quickly.
The issues with the diarrhea haven't improved a whole lot. I have noticed lately an increase in my joint pain, all over, in the past week. Last night, even my hands were hurting. I think whatever is causing the inflammation of my digestive tract is causing my joints to hurt as well. I have a feeling my anemia may have slightly worsened too, but I see my oncologist tomorrow, and they will be drawing blood to check my blood counts, and my potassium as well.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
"How do you do it?"; that is question I have been asked a lot over the years of being treated (and I am still in treatment) for stage IV breast cancer. This month marks 7 years since my cancer returned, this time to my bones. Next month marks the 11 year anniversary of my original diagnosis, which was stage II breast cancer. (Now my cancer is stage IV, and incurable.)
There is no simple answer to that question, "How do you do it?". I don't really know myself how, it's just something I do because I have to, I have no other choice. People often tell me that if "it happened to them" (meaning cancer), that they couldn't go through what I have and am still going through, but the truth is, they would if they had too. No one plans ahead of time having cancer; it's not something most people expect is going to happen to them. Most people, when they get that news, they are going to try out whatever treatment is offered, in hopes of a cure, or if not a cure, at least a chance of a longer life.
I have been called "brave" and "courageous", but I am neither of those things. Cancer is not something I chose to fight, it chose me. I am only doing what I have to do to slow down it's progression and live as long I can with it, at least until it gets to the point where the treatments are making my quality of life suffer too much. Having cancer does not make me any more noble than anyone else, and it does not mean that my troubles in life are any worse than anyone else's. Everyone has their burdens in life to carry; some are just not as visible on the outside.
By the way, I am NOT saying that people with cancer are not brave or courageous, I just mean that I don't feel those terms apply to me. (And I've already made it known to my family that when the time comes, I do not want those words used in my obituary.)
This disease has limited what I am able to do physically, but I refuse to let myself feel like a "victim". It's important to me to retain as much normalcy to my life as I can, and do as much for myself as I can, even though some things (such as doing housework) may take me longer than someone who is in good physical health.
It's also important for me to keep up a fitness routine, even if right now it's just my Sit and Be Fit workouts or chair aerobics. I know that at this point, diet and exercise won't add years to my life, but hopefully, those will add to the quality of what I have left. And I want to show people that having an incurable disease doesn't mean that you should just give up and wait to die. Even if you are not in perfect health, there are many good benefits to exercise to help you be as well as possible under your circumstances. In most cases, there is no excuse NOT to exercise, I am proof that there are ways to work around health issues and limitations.
I don't talk about it all the time, but I do have my days where I feel down, and wonder if it's all worth it; I think that is normal for anyone with a serious illness. I have my moments where I feel sorry for myself, or just plain depressed. It's good to vent those feelings sometimes, but on the other hand, it's not something that other people constantly want to listen to either. Sometimes, I feel like I have to hold back so I am not bringing down those around me.
I've also been living with this disease for so long, that the way I live now is "normal" to me; it's amazing what you can adjust to and get use to when you have no other choice. And as much as I hate using cliches, I really do get through most of my days just "one day at a time". There is also a quote a like, and I don't remember who said it, but it sums up how I feel; "Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day."
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I thought I was seeing my oncologist today, but my appointment was just for lab work. Because I am still having the diarrhea, they decided to give me fluids again too. From what my nurse told me, it sounds like my oncologist's suspects it's inflammatory bowel disease also. He said all the chemo I have been on over the years may have caused it, if that is what I have. However, since we still don't know for sure if the Afinitor is causing the problems or not, I am still off of that drug for now.
My potassium went up to 3.4 (3.5 is normal) but again because of the diarrhea, he wants me to continue on another week with the potassium supplements, to make sure that level does not go back down. My nurse told me today also that having too low potassium can be bad for the heart too.
Anyway, I will be seeing my oncologist next week, and I'll have more blood work again.
About our storm Saturday night; now they are saying the damage was done by straight line winds, and they reached 75-85 mph for 3-5 minutes in my area; it's amazing how much destruction those winds caused within a few minutes. They are still cleaning up debris from the trees all over town.
Last night, it turned colder and began to snow. We had about 2 inches of snow here overnight, and it's only been in the low 30's today with a bitterly cold wind.
I am looking forward to going to church Easter Sunday even though I know I probably won't be feeling my best. Lately, my "tummy troubles" have been under control during that time of the morning, so I think I will be ok if I just stick to dry toast for breakfast that morning. I ordered a new dress to wear for Easter and just picked up the order at JCPenney this afternoon. I'm glad it fits me; I wanted something new but I just didn't feel up actually looking around in the stores right now with the health issues I am having.
You can see it here. I paid less than $36 for mine; using a 15% code I found, plus I saved about another $1.30 by going through Ebates.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Last night we had our first real thunderstorms of the season here in my area. There were no watches or warnings issued, but things got scary when a brief, but powerful storm moved through around 9pm. Before that, we were having some big booms of thunder, and the wind picked up. During the worst part of the storm, the lights started to flicker, and it sounded like the rain was coming at the house sideways. I was checking both online and on different TV stations for any special weather statements, but there weren't any. I was quite nervous though, and didn't know what to think. I just sat down on the couch, holding onto my two squirming kitties, and said a little prayer. There really wasn't time to think about heading to safer room in the house.
After the worst part of the storm was through, the power went out and stayed out. I don't have wireless internet, or a smartphone, so there was no way I could check anywhere to see what was happening. Our 3 local radio stations were of no help either; on Saturday nights, they all play prerecorded programming. By 9:30pm, except for the rain, it was quiet, so I figured that the severe weather was over and done with for the night. Nothing to do really but just go to bed. I took one of my Xanax for my nerves, and got into bed and did some reading with the aid of a book light until I was tired enough to fall asleep.
I got up around 7:30am. The power was still out. I was expecting just to see some branches and maybe some tree limbs down, but when I went outside to do some looking around in my neighborhood, I was shocked to see huge trees had been uprooted. From talking to other neighbors, it sounds like most of the trees that came down did so in such a way that they did fairly minimal damage to homes and vehicles, and no one was hurt. I only had some branches and small limbs down in my yard, a few shingles torn off my shed, and a cover blown off one of my bird feeders.
I haven't heard any official reports yet on the storm, but I think we had a small tornado; the damage seemed to be so random. There were yards were kids had left their toys outside from the day before, and they were left untouched, and then the next yard would have a tree down in it. I'm sure someone from the weather service will be investing it though.
While I was out walking, I had several neighbors that don't even really know me, but they were asking if I was ok and if my house was ok; that really touched me how much people care. And soon after that, I was hearing the sounds of chainsaws cutting up trees, and seeing neighbors getting together to help each other clean up the debris.
At first, it was predicted that our power would not be restored until around 11pm tomorrow night, but thankfully, mine came back on around 10am. I am so thankful for that, especially since so many do not have power yet. After I was able to get back online, I learned that the damage was pretty widespread throughout my town and the entire county; most of the businesses in town this morning were closed because they did not have power.
So much to be thankful for today, God was really looking out for me, getting me, my kitties, and my home through the storm unscathed.
This is one of the trees in my neighborhood.
Another uprooted tree, not far from my lot. The house shown here has been empty for a few years. This tree is near the path I walk to get to the mail room.
More downed trees
Friday, April 11, 2014
It's discouraging to still not know for sure what is going on and what is causing intestinal bleeding and the diarrhea, and I am getting tired of (pardon the pun) feeling so crappy. I think that getting the IV fluids the other day helped me, and even though the potassium pills are contributing to the diarrhea, I am not feeling as light headed today, and my legs are feeling a little stronger when I am up standing and walking, so I think my potassium level is going back up.
When I had to start the potassium Tuesday evening, I was told to take 2 right away, then 2 at bedtime, then the next day just 1 pill 3 times per day, though my nurse called me Tuesday and told me to just take it twice per day instead until I see my oncologist next week and my levels will be checked again.
I was able to sleep better last night; only had to get up 3 times during the night to rush to the bathroom, which is an improvement. When it was at the worst, I was up every hour to hour and half during the night. Even though the diarrhea has slowed down a little bit, I'm still having some painful attacks.
I wish I had a definite answer as to what is causing all this, but just like with justice, the "wheels" of medicine often turn slowly. In the meantime, I am getting tired of feeling like I am just laying around the house. I will have to take it day by day, but I decided to slowly start getting back into my usual routine as much as I can, and that includes fitness. I figured that my Sit and Be Fit workouts would be safe enough for me too, and not tire me out too much. The last time I did a workout was April 2nd, and think I have taken enough time off.
I decided to do at least 10 minutes of Sit and Be Fit this afternoon, but once I got going, I was feeling good about it, and I ended up doing 27 minutes. I probably won't get my 500 Fitness Minutes trophy this month, but if I can get the 250 minutes one, I will consider that an accomplishment.
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