Here Come The Penguins


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Mucositis-5-150x150Still having some trouble with my throat this week (because of my neck radiation treatment from 2 weeks ago…the gift that keeps on giving).  Developed mucositis (mucous lining stripped because of radiation + infection) and was prescribed Codeine for the pain and Lidocaine mouthwash to sooth my poor throat).  At first the back of my mouth looked like this picture which I got from the internet (white patches) and then the next day it looked angry red.  I thought I had strep throat.  Now I seem to be spitting up blood every morning from the area from my nose to my throat.   I’ve been spraying with saline to get that under control.


IMG_9582IMG_9577Went to lunch with my buddies from high school at the Old Mill on Tuesday.  Decided that “All You Can Eat Buffet” was going down, regardless if my throat hurt.  We had a nice time. I can’t believe we have been friends for 36 years.  I got everyone lost the first day of high school!  And guess what, they still are my friends!

Our Intermediate Girls volleyball team (co-coaching) won their games on Wednesday…but it was a nail-biter!  Could have gone either way.  Gotta practice some more.

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I got Bobo to start giving me my injections from Germany on Wednesday night.  I haven’t been taking them while undergoing radiation treatment.  Made me a bit uneasy thinking the cancer may be having a field day for 3 weeks.  Bobo forgot the exact location/target area on my derriere as to where to insert the needle and I was a howling a way.  “It’s not my fault”, he cried.  “All the old puncture marks have disappeared!).  That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.  That night I woke up with a fever and my P.J’s were soaking wet.  “Thank heaven’s”, I thought, “The injection is causing my immune system to kick in.  Fight away!  I’m going back to sleep!”

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Visited my heart doctor on Thursday because I was worried that my blood pressure was a lot higher than normal.

He asked me what was happening.  I told him that I was undergoing radiation treatment to take care of 2 spots on my neck, one on my back and a couple on my pelvis.  After one of my radiation sessions when they bolted me to the table with my face mask, my heart rate was 165/105.  He said that was situational and if that was happening on a regular basis then 20 years from now, I’d have a problem.  So not to worry about it.

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I also told him that I noticed there was a blood pressure increase for several days in mid-cycle (after I got the shot in the stomach to put me into menopause) when I had a whole lot of pain in my spine.  It was so bad, I almost checked myself into the hospital.  He told me that my heart is going to react to pain and that was normal.

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“Good”, I said.   “Glad to hear it”.  I’m still doing the treatment from Germany because it worked for me for a good 10 months and it’s better then what they were giving me from here that made my feet burn.  Besides, when that didn’t work, they were planning on giving me Taxol again which was the drug that heart stop dead.  So I’m passing on the conventional treatment right.  However I opted for radiation because I figured it was better to zap them now before they got too big and caused me to get a screw in my neck like Frankenstein or more metal rods in my back.

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He shook his head at me in awe and said I can’t believe all the stuff you have been through.   Your EEG looks a lot better than most of my cancer patients, so don’t worry about your heart.  I’m not going to give you another appointment.  Just call me when you need me.

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You know you are all right when the doctor says he doesn’t need to see you!  Hurray.  One less appt/doc. to worry about for a while.  Cancer often feels a full time job, you know.

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My house-keeper came to clean my house today, so I decided I’d better disappear.  Went to my friend’s grade 1 class (6 year olds) and made some really cute penguins…again I know I’m biased…but what can I say.  Here they are!  I love them!

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Thinking about putting it on pinterest, but I don’t know how.  I got the idea from someone’s “pin” and tweaked the art lesson my way.

(Next weeks art project is a Winter Birch Tree Scene….stay tuned)

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It’s Not Over

IMG_9529IMG_9527Thought I’d show you some of the “Ted Harrison” style acrylic paintings some of our Gr. 6’s did with me a week ago.  I like ’em….but I’m a bit biased.

 

 

Wednesday, Jan. 21

So my radiation treatment is almost done.  I had two zaps in the back (T6), four in the neck (C2, C3) and this week it was 5 days on my right pelvis.  ‘Cept I told them I was not showing up for tomorrows appt.  Tomorrows a P.A. Day and I have a lunch date with some friends.  They can zap me on Monday if they really need to.

IMG_9542IMG_9540I went to Michaels and parked in the handicapped parking.  A woman limping with a cane and her husband gave me the good ‘ol evil eye and I almost lost it.  “Really,” I thought.  “You think you’re in pain and you need that spot more than me?”.  Well, I feel like I have a bullet in my back and my neck isn’t much better.  And you’d better not be behind me when I reverse out of that spot because I can’t twist around to see you and I will run you over!

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The hardest part about this treatment was managing the pain (I try not to use drugs) and I really hated not having any saliva in my mouth once the neck radiation started.  I didn’t even have enough saliva to chew up my food and I would wake up at 4:00 in the morning with no moisture whatsoever in my mouth.  I drank water like a fiend.  I just could not get enough.  Cathy came with me for one of my appointments.  She thought my doctor was young and really cute.  I told her that he was one of my top picks to set one of my teacher friends at school with, until I found out he was married.  Then I thought of his associate who came to Canada from another country to learn new radiation techniques.  Unfortunately he left before I could set him up!

My radiation doctor said it was strange that I was so thirsty.  I am a rare breed, that’s for sure.  Cathy said it figures, it can only happen to me.  What can I say?

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Monday, Jan.26

Just got back from my last radiation appointment.  I am not really doing so well.  Yesterday my throat was white and goopy and it hurt like hell.  Started salt watering it.  Feels like strep throat.

Went to see my radiation guy who told me it was mucositis.  Apparently radiation treatment on your neck strips the lining and then you are prone to infections.  It’s like thrush.  So now I’m on a mouthwash that numbs everything, including my tongue and liquid codeine for pain.

Just when I thought it was over….It’s NOT Over!  Aughhh……

 

This week I’m going to make Penguins with the Grade 1’s.  So check back next week to see what they come up with!  They are going to be so cute, I know it!  Me thinks, I gotta start my own pinterest art account!









 

 

My Big “50” Birthday Bash in Niagara Falls

IMG_9500IMG_9419Decided to go to Niagara Falls for my 50th birthday and really had a great time with hubby and the kids.  We started out at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark.  I went water tubing down the slides too.  My back is still good, really, despite the radiation treatments. Ha ha ha!

IMG_9246IMG_9252My cousin Boo from Australia knew I was staying at this hotel and on arrival surprised us with a huge tray of chocolate strawberries and other chocolate delights to gorge on.  It was so yummy and just hit the spot after over 2 hours on the road.  I was a little disappointed at the hotel room we got.  It was suppose to be with a “Fallsview” and all we really got was a good view of the U.S. Canada Border Crossing!   It was a bit of a stretch to the left to see Niagara Falls.

IMG_9261 IMG_9262Had a fabulous meal in the Rainbow Room at the Crowne Plaza hotel.  I remember seeing the chef, Massimo Capra on T.V. making all these delicious looking dishes and now I can say I actually tried some.  Really good food.  Lobster bruschetta, the best calamari ever and yukon gold/sweet potatoe cannelloni with lots of different veggies.  Delicious.  Had a glass of wine with my dinner so I couldn’t take any pain meds for a while…but that was okay ’cause I felt fine.

We went out for a bit of night life and this is what we did….

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High five with the Hersheys Kisses Guy!

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Met a Dinosaur and rode the Giant Ferris Wheel (climate controlled).

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Spent some time mini-golfing at “Wizard Golf”.  That was so cool.  The artwork in that place was gorgeous!  I love “Black Light” glow in the dark “magic”.

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IMG_9373Sat for a minute and chatted with the Obama’s and Forest Gump.

A birthday well-spent.

 

On Sunday I decided to treat myself to a facial and massage.  My skin has been really terribly dry and I’ve been drinking water like there is no tomorrow.  I have never experienced such thirst before in my life.  I was downing about a litre of water every hour.  So I told Bobo and the kids to go to the water park while I went to the Christianne Spa at the Sheraton next door.  My appointment was for 10:00, but when I got there I found out that there really was no room for me.  You don’t know how disappointed I was.  I finally was able to do something for myself without thinking about the children and what they wanted to do and now when I thought I was going to get some peace and quiet and time for me.  Wham.  No can do.

“Sorry we tried to phone you at your room after you called.  We only have a spot available at 1:00 if you’d like”.  “That’s it”, I thought.  They are getting the “Cancer Card”.   What?  This is my 50th birthday.  My kids are at the water park this morning so I could have this time to myself.  “I’ll let you speak to the manager.”  This is going to be good, I thought.  She got an earful…including how my face is all dried out from my radiation treatments etc. etc. “I’m really sorry, there is nothing we can do for you until 1:00”, I heard.  Can’t you phone someone and make them switch because my husband is stuck with my kids even longer if my treatment doesn’t finish until 2:30.  And my room is only available until 1:00 (for them to shower/change).  She promised I would get a really good room at the spa if I waited until 1:00.

Went to tell Bobo the news.  He was good about it and told me to keep the new appointments and he would entertain the crew.  I didn’t feel like going to the water park so I went to our room and went through my emails.  Terri-Lynn told me to go to the casino and bet on #5.  So I thought, “This is my chance.”  Go to the casino and find yourself a roulette wheel.  Off I went.

I bet $5 on #5 and #19 (my friend Liz’s birthday number) and $10 on red.  Lost on 5 and 19 but won on red.  Tried those numbers again and lost.  Decided to call it quits and check out the slots.  Cased out both floors and came to a machine where I got that “happy go lucky” feeling.  I don’t get that often, but when I do, I act.  Sat down and 3 spins later…Cha Ching….ding ding ding.

IMG_9427Holy shit!  Lucky 7’s.  I wonder how much I won!  Well, it turned out to be around $100 bucks.  Just enough for the cost of my facial (and my benefits would pay the cost of my massage!)

Run while you have money in your pockets”, I thought.  And that is exactly what I did!

When I went to the spa at 1:00, they apologized for the inconvenience and I said, “Oh no, that earlier appointment…it was not meant to be.  I’m glad you sent me away because I went over to the casino and won $100 bucks!” They all laughed and said that was great.

I had a wonderful gooey facial with lots of essential oils, but I swear my face still dried out by the time I got home. I’m seriously not kidding when I say there is no water in me and I’m drinking constantly.  Frack got mad at me because we had to stop a couple of times on the way home to buy more water and for me to get to a washroom.  I told Bobo I needed those adult diapers “Depends” because this has been happening to me all week. What can you do?

By the way, the manager at the spa gave me a complimentary body cream as a gift for my birthday.  And I also got a free keychain.  But that’s another story.  I’ll write about it now, but if you don’t have time to read this much, I understand.

This story has to do with my cheeky husband who doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s a hum-dinger.  I saw this neat booth that sold crystal blocks with your photos engraved on them.  I thought that it would be a nice momento of our trip to Niagara Falls.  So me and the kids got a 3D photo made (minus the husband who made me swear that after our Wedding photos, he was never, ever, going to have to pose for pictures again (because your spirit is taken from you… blah, blah, blah).  I’ve upheld my end of the bargain…well…most of the time…occasionally I get a picture of his hand when I try.  Anyway, while I was contemplating what to write on this block of crystal (ie:  Happy 50th Birthday or something like that), that ding dong husband of mine pipes in with something like, why don’t you write “Remember Me” since you are going to croak tomorrow anyway.  He had that cheshire cat look on his face like he just got a mouse. The man at the shop looked horrified and thus I felt obligated to explain…yeah I have cancer blah, blah, blah.  Now tell me what I should write on this thing without being morbid.

The funny thing is that not only did this guy want to know what kind of cancer I had, but he really believed what my husband said about dying tomorrow.  He even pretty much said, ” Please don’t die here right now”.  I’m looking at him thinking, “Are you kidding me?  You actually believe my stupid husband?”  I’m telling you, there is a whole lot of weird in-breeding going on in Niagara Falls.  I honestly wanted tell him not to worry about me because I wasn’t going to go anywhere right now, but I was going to kill my husband very soon and that was going to be the body he’d have to worry about.

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We came up with “Love You Forever” and the date.  When we went to pick up the item, he gave us a free LED crystal keychain with our photo too.  Now we have one key chain each….minus the husband.  He was not included.

“Wasn’t that nice of the man to give us a free key chain” I told my husband.  “Yeah”, he said, “What did you expect?” and he grinned with that cheshire look in his eyes once again.

Extra Dose of Radiation

aches:painsBefore I had another MRI done in late December, I knew that my C2 and T6 were starting to give me problems (and so was my pelvis).  So I decided to have some of my tumours radiated before they grew back or did any more damage.  If the tumours continue to grow (and cancer likes to do that), I can have another bone fracture.  I really and truly do not want another surgery to implant screws or metal rods in either my back again (or my neck).   Unfortunately, if any of these tumours get close to the spinal cord, I can become a paraplegic.  So I’m not taking any chances and I’m zapping them before they get too big to do any harm.  They make my bones weak too.  If I zap them, the bones will regenerate with healthy cells.

IMG_5153When I left Germany in December, the doctor told me that my cancer was dormant and has prescribed me daily injections to take.  He told me not to worry, that he had intravenous curcumin to give me if/when this stuff he now has me on stops working so I’m feeling better about staying away from the Chemo. they are offering me here that burns my feet.  Don’t want to be doing this again any time soon.

Even if the tumours are dormant, I can still feel them occupying space where they shouldn’t be.  The pain is hard to describe.  Not like a muscle pain.  It’s a deep ache in the center of your core and it’s hard waking up in pain every morning.  And when it’s in the bone, the doctors can’t tell you on an MRI if it’s dormant or shrinking because there is always stain on the MRI where the tumour was and the only thing you can determine is if it’s growing….if that makes any sense.  When you have tumours in your organs, you can see it shrinking, but in the bones you can’t because the tumour mark is permanently there.

Enough said.  Last week I spent two days zapping my T6.  I didn’t take any pain medications other than Tylenol.  It felt like I had a bullet in my back.  This week, I had 4 days of radiation on my neck vertebraes (C2, C3).  An hour after my first dose, I had 2 painful huge golf balls under my neck.  The next day when I saw my radiation doctor, he sent me to the pharmacist to get some steroids.  That was a real treat.  The steroid Dexamethsone will reduce the swelling in my neck, but it causes stomach irritation so I have to take Ranitidine for that which may cause Nausea, so I will have to take Ondansetron which will most likely give me Constipation so I will need to take Senokot and/or Colace if that happens.  Lucky for me, I’m didn’t have nausea so far.  I find it interesting that one medicine can cause you to take 4 more because of side effects.  So this week, I’m a bit wired.  Went to bed at 11:30 and got up at 5:00 the first night.  I figure after I get off 7 days worth of steroids, I’m going to crash for a couple of days.  I also gained 10 pounds since I came back from Germany.  Hmmmm.

IMG_9234My radiation day today did not go well.  The machine broke half-way through my treatment.  They asked me if I would wait 10 minutes with that horrible thing on my face while the service man tried to fix the problem.  I said, “Forget it”.  I knew they were having problems with that machine all day yesterday because I had to go to another unit.  I’m glad I got out of there because they never did get it fixed and they had to send me to Unit 2 again.  I was dying to go to the washroom anyway and wouldn’t have made it 10 more minutes to fix the problem, and 20 more minutes for my second treatment session because the steroid is making me so thirsty I don’t even have enough saliva to eat food.  My mouth is a desert.  I’m drinking water by the gallon.  The bad thing about getting me off the table was that they would have to restart the whole procedure again with a CT Scan (more radiation) so that the other machine would know which my bones were being targeted.

I was suppose to start radiation on my pelvis in that same unit (11) again tomorrow, but I told them it was birthday on Saturday and I was going to go to Niagara Falls and I needed a break.  I sure hope they fix that machine before Monday.  If it breaks again on me, I’m not going to that unit anymore.  You gotta do what you gotta do.  Kind of like last week when I went to see my family doctor for an appointment.  I waited for 2 hours and then I left.   Forget it.  I’m not doing this anymore.  What a waste of my time.  The secretary phoned me the next day and asked me if I wanted to reschedule.  I said not if I have to wait 2 hours in the waiting room.  So I’m getting the first appt in the day in two weeks.  Like I said, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

All the radiation technicians I had liked my CD…. Music to Encourage Stress Relief (scientifically designed by Dr. Lee R. Bartel).  It changes you alpha and beta brain waves to calm you down and it really works.  The one day I put on another CD, my heart was racing when my treatment was over and when I went to see a nurse about it, my blood pressure was 163/107 (normal is less than 120/80).  That CD would be a good present for anyone having radiation treatments, believe me.  Even people in the hallway went up the technicians outside and asked them what they were playing.

My tech. team today told me I was done with my mask and I could have it after I asked them if they would mind taking a pic. of me for my blog.  I was thinking about plaster bandaging the thing and making a bust out of it, but where would I put it?  The nutcrackers have taken over all available space in this house.

The techs told me I have until Monday to make up my mind about the mask.  Hey, maybe I can use it for that wig I bought 4 years ago for $700 and only wore 3 times because it itched like crazy.  I could paint a Picasso on my busts face….  this is what happens to you when you are on chemo. Ha ha ha.  Eye on the side, green face.  I could donate it to Princess Margaret Hospital or Sunnybrook if I don’t have room at home to store it.  Can you imagine their faces when I walked through with that?  It’s okay.  Really.  I’m sure they already think I’m nuts.  Not sure why, but I amuse them.

fatTomorrow I go in to see my oncologist for my two shots in the stomach. My nurse, Nancy will be happy that I now have much more fat around my middle now that I’m on this steroid. I, however, am not happy with the bulge. I felt and looked so good when I got back from Germany after getting a good cleaning and a immune system boost.  Back to square one now, I’m afraid. Gotta eat a lot seaweed to get rid of some of this radiation and soak in himalayan seaweed bath salts too.

This week, I went in to school and did some acrylic paintings with the grade 6’s.  They turned out really beautiful.  I’ll have to update this blog with some of their work when I have a chance to take pictures of them with my ipad.


I’ll also try to write about my adventures in Germany soon, but I’m not promising anything right now.  It was a lot of fun traveling around.  Glad I did it.  You can’t let cancer take over your life.  You have to have fun times and appreciate it while you can.

enjoy life