Picking Up Germs in the ER

Trying to recuperate from yesterday, but it has been hard.  No sleep does terrible things to your psyche.

I got a phone call yesterday from the day-care at 11:15 a.m.   Frack had a fever of 104 degrees.  He has never had a fever that bad, so I figured I’d better take him to Sick Kids Hospital, again, twice in 2 weeks, because they would probably have to admit him.  The last thing I needed was a return to the waiting room at Sick Kids for 4 hours (and this is my most susceptible period to getting an infection, to boot).  So after the triage nurse asked a whole bunch of questions, he asked me to wait in the waiting room and I said, “No”.   He asked, “Why not”.  Because I already did this two weeks ago.  I waited in that waiting room for 4 hours and didn’t see a doctor and left.  I’ve just had a round of chemo and my immune system is shot and I’m not about to wait in there with a whole bunch of sick kids.  “Did you try neupragena (sp?)”, he asked.  I gave him one of my “Are you for real looks?”  Why would I want a $3,000 shot to boost my immune system – so I could hang out in a waiting room full of sick children?  Then he told me to go outside in the atrium and wait there and he would come find me when it was Frack’s turn.  I was happy with that.

While we were out there I got my lunch, Frack got some stuff to colour (Spiderman) from the gift shop and I also got a Gingerbread Decaf. Lactose Free Decaffeinated Latte.  I figured if I was going to get stuck there for several hours, I was going to treat myself to the biggest damn Grande latte there was and I didn’t care how much it was going to cost.  That’s where the nurse found me, in line getting my latte.  “Hold on,  I’ll be right there,” I yelled from Starbucks.  “Don’t worry about the whip cream”, I told the guy behind the counter, I gotta go, the doctor is ready to see us!”  And off we went…. only to be weighed, and registered, and after Frack got his vitals checked, we were back in the Atrium.  So much for that.

The nurse told me he didn’t blame me for not wanting to go into the waiting room.  I told him it was claustrophobic in there.  He said that when the big shots upstairs decided to make the new waiting room, they lost 1,000 square feet, and when people who worked there questioned that decision, they said, “Oh, but it will be so nice”.  It’s bloody claustrophobic in there and no matter where you sit you are VERY close to other sick people crying, barfing, and coughing all over the place.  Someone I know from one of my support groups said that when he was on  chemo, he went to Sick Kids Hospital because his son was ill and he ended up in the hospital with a virus within a week.  He picked it up in the waiting room and he said it was not a good experience.  I heeded his warning and didn’t go in there.

I think we did pretty good.  We were out in less than 3 hours this time.  The fever was not caused by Frack’s kidney so we could go home.  The doctor said to keep an eye on him and if he got worse by Friday to go to the family doctor because he probably picked up a virus.  I asked him if I could have some of the dipsticks so that the next time he had a fever I could test him at home for blood in the urine.  That would save me a lot of time and needless running around for nothing.  He said that was probably a good idea and gave me a prescription for them so I could send it for insurance purposes.  A bottle of 50 dipsticks cost me around $40 but I figured if that would save me one trip to Sick Kids hospital in the future, it would be worth it ($11.00 in parking, $5 cafe latte, $5 juice/water drinks, $10+ in food, and our traditional $4 Winnie the Pooh trinkets from the gum ball machine near the Tim Hortons).

I picked up Frick at the day-care at around 5:00 (traffic, of course), and made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  When Bobo arrived, Frick and I set off to the mall to get Valentine’s Day Cards and decorations.  We didn’t get home until 8:15 p.m.  What a day.  So much for resting during chemo.

This morning I went to Wellspring for the second part of that Meditation course.  The lady who is running this one is much better than the last one.  I think she actually had cancer and knows what she is talking about (and she didn’t tell us that statistically speaking, if we didn’t mediate we were all going to die).  That helps.  The meditation part was good.  Sad to say but I had an emotional breakdown during our support session after that.  That’s what happens when you are on chemo drugs, your kids are sick, and you don’t have enough sleep.  “My doctor still hasn’t signed the disability sheets and I am suppose to hand them in tomorrow,” I cried.  “LTD is going to cut me off”.  I think those old retired folks with cancer are ready to march to my doctors office to give them a piece of their minds.  “That’s ridiculous,” they ranted, “You go in there and camp out there all day and tell them you are NOT LEAVING until they do!”.  They are quite feisty, you know.   Then I found out from someone else that it was a good thing that my oncologist was on vacation because apparently he doesn’t sign Long Term Disability papers for ANYONE.  “Great”,  I thought, at least I know where I stand with him now.

I went over to my sister’s house for lunch (I had another lecture I wanted to attend downtown, so I didn’t go back home – Grandma was watching Frack since he is banned from the day-care for 24 hours because of his fever).  I phoned my family doctor.  “Has she filled in my forms?”, I asked.  “I’ll phone you back and let you know”, she answered.  Shortly thereafter, she phoned and told me they were almost done… she had to get a code for something that was on it and it would be ready for tomorrow.  Thank God.  I don’t know if the LTD Claims people will accept or reject it, but at least I tried.

I would really love to have a massage… but I’m not allowed to because I could have a blood clot.   From what I understand, that sometimes happens when you are on chemo.  A blood clot could get dislodged when someone massages your skin, it travels to your heart, and BAM you have a heart attack.  What a pleasant way to die, don’t you think?  At least you’d be relaxed.

I also would really like to take advantage of one of those great travel deals for somewhere warm and hot so I could soak up the sun.  We, as teachers, don’t ever get to ever take advantage of the good deals that come out in February.  But, since I attract UV light and radiation like a magnet, I really don’t need melanoma cancer to add to my troubles right now.

So I am stuck here… writing my woes to you, my humble audience, instead.

Aren’t you lucky?

If you don’t hear from me in a while, don’t worry.  I’ve gone to Vegas to bet everything I have on red.  On second thought, I don’t have any jewelry left to pawn, so I really don’t have very much to bet on.

Okay folks.  I’m setting up a fund.  Give me money, I’m going VEGAS.  I’d promise you a high rate of return, but quite honestly, you are taking your chances.

The good news is that it’s dark in the casinos, so I don’t have to worry about sun or sunscreen.

Someone please tell my lottery captain at school that we need to win that lottery right about now.

I want to see some shows too.

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You all know I am kidding about going to Vegas, right?  Please don’t call the LTD people on my, I’m having enough issues with them right now.

 

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Side Effects

Sore teeth. (need calcium)

Dry lips (Burt’s Bees lip balsam works great)

Blackening finger nails (Burt’s Bee’s lemon butter cuticle cream is the best)

Dry skin (moisturizers in every room)

Twitching eye (need magnesium – chocolates a good choice – making brownies now)

Knobby knees (need a knee replacement?)

Shivering (turn up the heat)

Hot flash (turn down the heat or go outside)

Florescent pee (I wonder if that’s from the lemon/lime gatorade drink I’m drinking to bring up my electrolytes?)

Yeast infection (not here yet, but I’m sure it will come – got some probiotic yogurt ready)

And finally,

NO SLEEP last night.

Why not?

Guess whose tooth was hurting him all night and couldn’t sleep?

And here’s the 5 million dollar question of the day.  

Why is it when kids get sick, they always go to mommy? 

Why don’t they interrupt daddy’s sleep  from 3:00 a.m. onward?  

Explain that one to me, please.  I need to know what I am doing wrong?

I gave Frack Tylenol, but even that didn’t help much.

So this morning I packed him up and shipped him to the dentist.  

Although it really wasn’t that loose, I was about to pay that dentist anything she wanted to pull it out so I could get some sleep tonight.  

I called at 8:15 a.m. and was there by 8:45 a.m.  How’s that for efficiency?

She said, “It really isn’t that loose, so I’m not sure that we need to pull it out”.

“Crap,” I thought, “How much sleep am I about to get now?   How long is it going to take before that damn tooth wiggles enough to pull it out?  

Frack won’t last another night because a mommy psycho combination of sleep deprivation and chemo drugs equals  I WILL PULL IT OUT MYSELF WHEN I GET HOME. 

And if that doesn’t work, I’m moving out.  Nonna’s house is looking pretty good right now.

 So she took an x-ray.  

Good news.  The new tooth was pushing against the old one, and even though it wasn’t wiggling, it was time to come out.  God Bless her soul.  She just saved Frack’s bacon (and mine).  It cost me $200 bucks but now I don’t have to move out.  Or do I?  

I asked the dentist if Frack’s cough has anything to do with teething?

She said, “No, he is probably sick”.   Bought a new bottle of Tylenol.  Guess I’ll be back at the doctor’s office for some more antibiotics before the weeks though.  

I want to feel better by tomorrow so that I can go house-hunting with Cathy; she is looking for a new place.

I just need some sleep.

Hope the tooth fairy has plenty of cash to dispense tonight.  Considering I spent $200 on the damn dentist fees (God Bless her soul for taking it out), this tooth has cost me enough!

 

Certifiably Nuts

Yesterday I should have put a big sign over my head reading, “Beware! Coming off steroids…Run for your life.  I was a ranting, raving lunatic, yesterday morning.

Unfortunately, Frack has learned a new word, I’m sad to say… the F word because I couldn’t stop repeating it a million times because the house was a mess.  This obsession had better be the drugs or I’m well on my way to the looney bin.  Stupid things like fingerprints on walls (which I’m sure have been there for ages) are driving me absolutely insane.  Clothes on the floor, toys too, paint on the table.   AHHHH!  I was ready to sell my family to whoever should come walking through the door.

Lucky for me it was my friend Punam who came to my rescue.  She offered to take the kids swimming that afternoon, Thank God.  A bit of reprieve for the afternoon from Psycho mom.  My younger sister happened to telephone me during my morning rampage… I don’t think she will be phoning me back for a LONG, LONG TIME.  I kind of bit her head off too when she said she was coming by for a visit.  There will be no visits during my rehab time, thank you very much.

My afternoon, without the kids, was much better.  I tried to chill.  I did manage to get a little bit of sleep (the night before I had no less than 4 hot flashes and was wide awake from 1:00-3:00).

And then, semi-conscious in my drug induced state, the phone rang.  Guess who?

Come on, take a big, wild guess?

Why one of my cousins of course!  Just the person I wanted to speak to.

When I heard her voice I wanted to cry,  “Why, oh why, didn’t I get call display?”.  Why am I such a glutton for punishment?  Should have just paid the extra dough for a moment of sanity.

I’m better now…. I think.

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Some time after lunch….

I just had a horrible thought.  What if it’s not the steroids that are making me nuts?  What if it’s MENOPAUSE and this is going to last?  My family had better think about moving out now while it’s not too late.  Or else somebody had better send me a ticket for a remote island until I come to my senses.

Later….

So I just put away some laundry and decided to have a rest.  Who knew putting away laundry could be so tiring?  So the phone rings.  What else is new?  “Now who is it?,” I said to myself.  No rest for the weary.  It turns out to be that freaking annoying woman who wants to “Lower your credit card interest NOW”.  Blah, blah,  limited time offering.  “That’s it”, I said to myself, I’m going to speak to someone about getting OFF THE LIST.   Ring, Ring.  “Hello”, I said politely when someone answered the phone.  I have cancer and am currently undergoing chemotherapy.  I am trying to have some rest, but every day you people phone me to annoy me and I want to be taken off your caller list.”  “So push button #2”, she says.  “I’ve tried that but it doesn’t work or you wouldn’t be phoning me today”, I answered.   She hung up on me.   If I knew a good curse, I’d be sending one to her now.  Hope I get her again tomorrow because I am already planning my revenge.

It’s funny when you have cancer, you don’t care as much about shutting up when you are pissed off about something.  Let me illustrate my point.

On Saturday I went to a Kitchen store to clear up a few things with the manager.  She phoned me up last week to tell me that I had stolen some chairs from her store…. that she had proof…. me walking out of the store with 6 chairs.  So when I got the chance to meet her, I pulled off my hat, exposing my very bald head, and told her that I was very upset with her and that I would really like to see the camera pictures of me walking out of the store with 6 chairs since I have cancer and as a result of surgery am unable to lift anything.  That shut her up dead in her tracks.  She didn’t have a leg to stand on and she knew it.  You know, I think I might miss being bald when my hair grows back.  If it wasn’t so cold, I actually think I might like it.  The shock value is well worth it when the opportunity arises.

I told the manager that when I bought the chairs which now reside at my home,  the retail clerk was asked twice by me if the tally was wrong, but he said it was right (there were 2 chairs in a box and the barcode only registered one).  I thought I was getting a great deal; two chairs for the price of one.  My sister bought 2 too.  I returned to pay the difference for the chairs I bought, but told her I was not too happy about being treated like a thief.  She apologized.  Enough said.

 

Still Stoned

I feel stoned.  I can barely think straight.  And although I was planning on having a luxurious bath tonight, I don’t think I will make it out of the tub!   This morning, I thought I took 2 steroids, but I wasn’t sure, so I took one more.  So I either have 1 steroid or 3 steroids taking effect right now.  I’m sure it’s the Benadryl from yesterday making me feel so hazy otherwise I’d be painting I’m sure.  Fell asleep all morning and will probably fall asleep this afternoon too.

The nurse gave me a new rule I must follow:  Don’t ever cross your legs or you might get a blood clot.  That’s going to be a tough one.  So if you see me doing that unconsciously in the staff room, give my head a shake so I don’t have a stroke, okay!

Gotta go lie down.

Last Chemo. Treatment!

 

I FINALLY GOT MY PICC. LINE OUT!  Time to rejoice…. tomorrow I get to take a REAL bath/shower!  Hurray!

I didn’t have a reaction today because they decided to pump me up with extra steroids and benadryl.  I am so doped up I can barely speak.  Thank heavens Anna came to my house with a soup and sandwich at 3:00 ‘cause I ate that all up and went to sleep for 4 hours.  My older sister picked up the kids as I slept.

My oncologist wasn’t there.  He is on vacation.  He is also in for a nasty treat when he gets back – his office was flooded and was a mess.  Luckily my files were in another room.  He is not going to be happy when he comes back.

I was suppose to get him to sign a whole bunch of sheets, but was told I would probably be better off going to my family doctor because I need to get them signed by next week (LTD).  ‘Cept I’m still not sure she is going to sign them.  Oh well, I’m going to give it my best shot.

I had another Indian resident today, and she was excellent.  Very informative, very kind, and didn’t roll her eyes at me when I had a question.  I liked her a lot and think she will make a great doctor.

She checked my throat to see if I had Strep Throat like Hope, but she said it looked all right, my blood work was good, and told me to have my last treatment.  If I do get Strep Throat, I need to get some antibiotics from my family doctor.  I’ve been gargling with salt water daily and Listerine (apparently it kills strep bacteria cells dead).  So far, so good.

 

 

Obsessive Clean Freak

I am on steroids and I am an obsessive clean freak.

Today I have cleaned the bathroom, kitchen, living room, Bobo’s room, my room, and Frick and Frack’s room.  I have not stopped moving all day.  I even painted more of the stairway, but my father took over and put the polyfiller and primer on while I obsessively cleaned the rest of the house. Cathy warned me about this, but I didn’t think it would apply to me.  Over the last year, I have not put a great deal of effort into cleaning anything much because I didn’t have the energy and didn’t really care.

I put some Tinkerbell decals on Hope’s new white bunk bed and she was thrilled when she came home and saw them.  Nonna called and told us all to come over for spaghetti and meatballs (my kids favourite), so we did.  And what did I do after dinner at Nonna’s house?  Dusted the piano and cleaned every single dirty piano key at her place.  Fingerprints of any kind must be dealt with NOW!  Even if I find little, tiny, pieces of paper on the carpet, I have to pick it all up and put it into the garbage.  Have I gone nuts or what?

Unfortunately, a heck of a lot of the kids extra stuff from upstairs ended up in the basement… but I will tend to that in about 2 weeks when the chemo starts wearing off.  I hope I will have the energy because before the steroids, I could feel myself sinking this time around.

Frack is going to get me into trouble tomorrow with my nurse.

He, I am convinced, is a hoarder, like my husband.

He is ALWAYs on the lookout for blue things (ie: sticker, Valentine’s day cards, marbles, feathers, markers etc.) which he “hides” (and forgets where he put them).  Lately, he has been storing everything in a brown cardboard box, his treasure box.

So where am I going with this, you might ask?

Well, while on taxotere, the oncology nurse wraps my hands and feet in these really cool black packages with velcro on them.  Inside each black wrap is a freezing cold, BLUE rapid gel pack.  The nurse lets me take it home so I can bring it back to use the next time.  Frack  found one of them in my bag, put it on because he had a boo boo, and has successfully hidden it from all of us.  “Where is it? “, I asked him in a panic.  “I don’t know”, he answered.  I don’t think it’s upstairs because I did a total search/clean up of the entire area and didn’t see it.  That means it’s downstairs somewhere, and I am not about to undertake that job.  There are toys, papers, Christmas items and boxes EVERYWHERE.  I am only obsessed about the main floor at this time.  Wait.  Wait a minute.  That is not true.  I cleaned all the counters and the washing machine and dryer a couple of days ago.  Lord help me.

I think I may have to tell my nurse that I will have to pay for it and if I ever find it, I will get my husband to bring it back (he works nearby).  She has no kids.  I hope she understands.

Today, I am thankful that my surgeon used the blue dye on me and not the radioactive one, because the dye spread everywhere and he pretty  much gutted me out.  I was not too thrilled about it to this point because I kind of thought that too many lymph nodes were taken out and it is really uncomfortable to live with an arm you can’t carry anything with, is numb, and you can’t reach up to retrieve items.  Not to mention that when you take a bath, the long suture line contracts and shrivels up and it hurts.  I don’t think I will ever be able to go in a hot tub again, which makes me sad.   Anyway, while I was on the phone taking to my LTD Oncology Nurse about the wacky Resident, she was actually surprised that I wasn’t going to see a radiologist.  She asked me pertinent details about my file (which I need to fax her – I’ll be coming to the school one day soon to do that, if you don’t mind Anna) and from what I understand from her, if they don’t find any cancer cells in the sentinel node (the main one), surgeons usually don’t go much further.  But my doctor found 2 lymph nodes with cancer in the auxiliary nodes which probably would have remained there undetected if they hadn’t turned blue.  So now, I’m glad I got gutted out like a fish because otherwise my cancer cells in the auxiliary nodes would probably have spread.  So there ya go.  All I can say is that somebody upstairs must have been watching over me.

According to my LTD nurse,  they are going to Benydryl me during this chemo treatment, hydrate me, and give me more drugs at a slower pace than last time).

 

Runaway Kid

Morning

I’m feeling very blah today…. not been myself for a couple of days actually.

Yesterday, I started getting the chest pains again.  I took a Benadryl tablet and it made me so drowsy I fell asleep at about 9:00.  Last night I woke up a couple of times and my legs felt really weird – like they were asleep and detached from my body.  It hurt when I tried moving them.

Afternoon

I know I only have one more treatment to go, but I ohhhh so don’t want to go anymore.  I am suppose to have my long term disability papers filled out by next week.  I phoned my oncologist’s office and he is on holiday for 2 weeks, so it looks like I’m out of luck.  If he is gone, I wonder who is in charge?  If I have a reaction again, I sure don’t want that crackpot resident taking care of me.  If there is no real doctor there, I am seriously considering fore-going my last treatment.  That would make me happy.  “Take out my picc. line”, I will declare,” I am going home!”

Well, the doctor’s office just phoned.  Turns out Hope really does have Strep Throat.  So now we have to put her on antibiotics too.  What else can my children bring home from school/daycare?

Evening

Just as I was relaxing, having a Eucalyptus Epson Salt bath, I realized that my cow glove was leaking.  “OH @#$#@”, I yelled.  “Bobo”, bring me some bandages, I’ve got a leak!”  “Not now”, he answered, “Frack is running away and I’m watching him from the window”.

Turns out Frack decided he wanted the lollipop Hope won at the daycare.  When he wasn’t getting it, he decided to run away.  Got his coat on and boots and away he went.  It was quite dark outside and after a few minutes, I guess he decided to return.  Hope generously gave him her lollipop.  I, on the other hand, was left to tend to my bandages on my own, which is no easy feat, let me tell you.  But all is well now.  Steroids begin tomorrow.

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I keep trying to stay away from my kids when they have been getting sick, but really, it’s next to impossible!  And I have a real reluctance in visited doctors offices and waiting hours to be seen by someone.  I have Doctorphobia!