March 2008

I’ve been out of touch because of pneumonia and the exhaustion that comes with it. It seems to have started with a virus in early March that worsened. The doctors think I also have damage caused by the pulmonary embolisms found at the end of February. The antibiotics weren’t making headway – actually I was getting more ill.


This has been hard on Ken’s health, too. He caught a bad cold – possibly the one I started with. He has not been getting enough rest with taking care of me. So he has been struggling as well and is still ill. Last Friday I was hospitalized so I could be on more effective IV antibiotics. On Monday afternoon I was sent home with a 5th antibiotic and other mediations for the cough and pain.


Wednesday I was feeling well enough the my doctor let me go forward with chemo. Yeah! She said she felt it was a borderline decision and deferred to me. I did not want to miss another treatment. I am glad I did. I have been feeling better today. It will be awhile before I can expect to have my full energy back. For now, I am happy to feel my head clearing and my health gradually returning. My immune system is holding up pretty well.


Well, it’s time for me to get some rest. I just to take the time to leave a brief entry for now. Thank you all for your support. It is a tremendous help to both Ken and me.


The most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind and washed by the water and polished to brilliance by life’s strongest storms.After we got the tremendous results from the CT scan, Ken gave me a card of congratulations. This sentiment is from that card and something I wanted to share. It was addressed to his “fighter.” 

I have been exhausted for the past week or so. When I’ve tried to write, I get so tired I fall asleep in front of my computer.


It started with a cold and bronchitis. I went through another bronchoscopy on Tuesday as a precaution. This one was horrible! OUCH! Before the procedure I was already dehydrated with a fever and vomiting. It went as badly as it could with me fighting the entire process once the scope went in. I was pushing and kicking at the doctors and nurses and doing all I could to get them to STOP!! They outnumbered me 4 to 1 and managed to hold me down and get through it. It was absolutley frightening. I was given an IV after it was over. But the vein was so poor that hours later half the bag of solution remained. After much begging they finally let me go.  


Before we made it home my fever increased and I got the worst case of chills I’ve ever had.  Fortunately the car was warm and that helped me to fall asleep on the way home. That night my fever went up over 103. By then I had a headache and felt completely miserable. I’d left messages with my doctor’s office not realizing they had already gone home for the day. The next morning they called and told me to be prepared to stay in the hospital for a few days. My doctor fit me in, ran blood tests, and said I was strong enough to go home on a new antibiotic. My fever had also broken – another good sign.  I would miss my chemo that day. and go back home to more rest and more pills. Except I got worse that evening. The pain in my chest made it more and more difficult to breathe. OUCH!


When it became unbearable and I was doubled over in pain, I asked Ken to take me to the nearest hospital. By that time it was after 11pm. We went to Pomerado. They put my on fluids, pain killers, anti nausea medication and did a chest CT. In addition to bronchitis and pulmonary emboli, I was told I also had pneumonia. I also had a lot of new needle pricks on my arms and hands from all the attempts to take blood and insert an iv.


They wanted to keep me for a few days at Pomerado. But we thought it best to be at UCSD where my oncologist could keep an eye on me. Only that did not go well. The on-call oncologist was not getting pages – from me or from the ER. Four hours later the ER doctor was still waiting for the oncologist for consulation. She fianally showed up aorund 8am. My blood work was lookig well enough – so I was sent home again. By then both Ken and I were extremely exhausted, thirsty and hungry. We went home and got some desparately needed rest. The pills are managing the pain. My headache has subsided…. but now Ken was sick and in pain. He had the same cold and sore throat that I had started out with the previous Friday! I am finally feeling my energy starting to come back. But, I have a long way to go.

I wrote this entry a few weeks ago and just discovered I hadn’t posted it properly at the time. So, I am doing so now….. I wish to thank you all for checking up on me. I look forward to opening my blog each day to see how many people have left a note and how many have stopped by. I appreciate all your notes. It’s a reminder that there are so many out there that care about me and Ken and are concerned about my illness. I can only imagine how difficult it may be to write someone in these circumstances and I appreciate it a great deal. I have not responded to many comments so far. I still have a lot to learn about blog mechanics and etiquette. But, I am working on it!

Since noon Friday I have been very tired and exhausted at times. It’s not just the chemo. Coughing has been waking me up around 3 am with little sleep after that. I hope this passes soon. In the meantime, I am taking naps.  


On Friday I was able to recover enough to enjoy an evening with Monica and Kathi, dear friends since our high school days. It was Monica’s idea to get matching rings – which we did. Three interlinking hearts – for each of us.


Saturday Ken and I had a visit from nieces Jackie and Lauren. They had made the drive down from Indio for part of the weekend. Later in the evening Ken and I enjoyed a lovely dinner party with some of his friends from the Citizens Review Board (CRB).  The food was wonderful – I only wish my appetite had been a bit better than it was so I could have enjoyed more of the delicious food.

The great results of the chemo make me genuinely hopeful. It was great to see the difference in printouts of the scans. I feel “normal” much of the time and am able to forget about the cancer occasionally – a very welcome break. With the CT there was some bad news, though it pales in comparison to the success. I have pulmonary emboli. It’s not uncommon with tumors. At least mine are small and in less threatening sites in my lungs. To keep this under control, I am now on medication for this. My energy is staying about the same. I get to sleep a bit earlier than I used to. I am working as much as I can with the usual ups and downs.

We got the news today the tumor shrunk by 60%. We were told that a 30% reduction would have been considered good. So this is fantastic progress.   I am scheduled to go through 4 more rounds of chemo (each round is 3 weeks). I have had 2 rounds so far. I will have another CT scan after the next 2 rounds, then a PET scan after the next (and last) 2. What comes after that will depend on the success of the chemo.  I will write more later….