Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chemo Plan Coming Soon!

My next appointment with the oncologist has just been made for next Wednesday, October 5th.  Dr. Haley will have her vacation to Spain behind her, and I will have my 50th high school reunion behind me - great fun for both of us!  I assume this will be the appointment to finally discuss the chemotherapy plan of action. She has been waiting for one more test result to come in - then she will be ready to select the array of chemo drugs I need and begin treatment.  I guess we'll make the first chemo infusion appointment at this next visit.  Let's get this party started!  (And over with!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Going For It"

Life Lessons Via Sheryl Crow:

Nine-time Grammy winner, Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. "I am inspired by the brave women who have faced this battle before me and grateful for the support of family and friends," she said.

Sheryl also said, "I think faith is so important. Being diagnosed with a possibly life-threatening disease is so jarring and for me to know that God had me in his hands, I never felt alone."

On going on with life, Sheryl says, "...the objective is to go for it in life....move forward with normal life and try to stop and recognize that happiness exists inside of you every really recognize it and celebrate it."

Friday, September 23, 2011

On God's Track!

On God's track!  I spent the day yesterday at UTSW having my baseline tests done prior to beginning chemotherapy.  I started out with an echocardiogram, got injected with radioactive material, drank a quart of Berry Barium Smoothie (yuk), had Ct scan of chest, abdomen, and pelvic area, and lastly, had a nuclear medicine bone scan.  Had to do all this while fasting all day - so needless to say, on the drive home I dug into all the snacks I had packed!

I'm so glad to get this behind me.  Hopefully, I'll have a week off from doctor's appointments next week unless they spring a surprise on me via my chart email.

Looking foward to my high school 50th reunion weekend after this, then the oncologist will be back from Spain and the chemotherapy will begin probably the 2nd week in October - guessing because we don't even have the appointment yet to discuss the chemotherapy cocktail plan - which is dependent on the results of all the tests which have just been completed.

I plan to go buy yarn today so I can begin crocheting again.  First project will be an afghan requested by 14 year old granddaughter, Caitlyn.  I'm sure I'll get a lot of crocheted afghan projects done this fall and winter.  Here is the pattern I'm planning on making Caitlyn:

I'll also be doing a lot of reading - so email me suggestions of good books!  I got to the hospital yesterday without my book, so I sneaked off to the gift shop and found an appealing summer romance novel which I'm enjoying - "Lakeside Cottage" by Susan Wiggs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Better Rest of Story, Part 2...

Knowing how worried I've been, Dr. Froehlich's nurse called me today and said that he looked at the knee x-ray and he does not think the possible lytic leison will be anything serious.  Wasn't that absolutely wonderful of him to go to that much trouble just to make me feel better and I am not even his personal patient?  I appreciate UTSW so much!  He said he would call me Friday or Monday after he reviews the nuclear medicine bone scan.  I feel so relieved.  There is power in prayer and I attribute this to all the people praying for me - and to the good Lord.

So, I don't need to take anymore Xanax for nerves for now.  I may even be able to have a margarita or a glass of chardonnay by the weekend!  And I'll sleep good tonight.  I went by the library and checked out some audio books and I'm taking my Bose sound system upstairs to my bedroom so I am prepared to be read to sleep with no major worries.

The Rest of the Story....

I didn't post this before because I didn't want to send out an unnecessary alarm.  But, after thinking about it for a couple of days, I'm sharing it and asking for your continued prayers.

Over the weekend UTSW posted the results of my knee x-ray on my chart.  This was the part that scares me:

Question possible lytic lesion within the anterior aspect of left
lateral femoral condyle. Further evaluation with nuclear medicine bone
scan or MRI may be beneficial as clinically indicated. Will notify
ordering physician with findings.
A lytic lesion can be nothing or it can signify that the cancer has metastisized.  I emailed my oncologist who is in Spain, and told her of my being most worried about this and that I was back to taking the Xanax for my nerves.  I asked her what it could mean.
I got a call just now from a UTSW nurse and was told that the nuclear medicine bone scan I have already scheduled for this Thursday will give more information on the possible lytic leison.  She also said that Dr. Froelich, partner of Dr. Haley, would be taking over my care while she is out of town.  She said that after the bone scan on Thursday he might request an MRI.  He also wants to see me Monday or Tuesday of next week. So I don't have a week off from doctors after all.
I through this out there because I need the prayers of all my friends and family as I await this conclusion.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Knee Diagnosis!

On September 13 I had an appointment with Dr. Kehoe, gynocologist, just to have a checkup.  Papsmear came back normal!  I also had an appointment with Dr. Barbara Haley, oncologist.  She will start chemotherapy after she returns from her vacation in Spain (I'm jealous!).  This will allow me to go to my high school 50th reunion without feelin ill, since that event is October 1.  Woohoo!

Dr. Haley was very concerned about my excruciatingly painful knee.  She left the examination room and called Dr. David Minna, a UTSW rheumatologist, and asked him to see me asap.  He told her to write me a prescription for prednisone and he would see me the next day.  Which he did.  I love how the docs at UTSW work together for the good of the patient!

I woke up the next morning and my knee was sooooo much better thanks to the prednisone!  Dr. Haley is my new hero! I saw Dr. Minna that next day.  He diagnosed me with pseudogout.  It is formed with salt crystals rather than uric acid crystals of regular gout.  He has me on a regimine of prednisone, which weans me off of it in one week. 

It is now September 19 and I must say my knee is feeling good.  No more pain!  Just a little tender and I'm still icing it and staying off of it as much as possible.  I go back to see Dr. Minna in a few weeks to evaluate for arthritis - at least in the knee.

I went to meet my new primary care physician at UTSW today - Dr. Blake Barker.  He is my new general internist - and we all know I needed one!!!  I really like him.  Young and full of pep and medical school knowledge!

Thanks for all the prayers and for all the sweet get well cards!  That means so much to me!

In the meantime, I'm working on the program for my 50th high school reunion on September 30 &  October 1.  Good times!  Where have the years gone?  I'm still young at heart!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Radiologist Consult

I had my radiation consult with Dr. Ann Spangler on September 8.  Radiation will be given 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks.  This will start 4 to 6 six weeks after chemotherapy.  It will be a grind to drive from Arlington to UTSW over 30 times, but Dr. Spangler said I would be able to drive myself so I don't have to impose on friends and family. 

Each radiation treatment only takes 15 minutes and there is no discomfort.  Side effects are minimal, just perhaps redness, tenderness, skin discoloration, muscle soreness, and tiredness.

My appointment with the oncologist is September 13.  I'm still hobbling around on my painful, swollen knee.  I've learned that a knee sprain takes a long, long time to heal and feel better.  I am forced to bear weight on it since I cannot use crutches due to the stitches from the mastectomy - 'cause, folks, you have to go to the bathroom, kitchen, and upstairs (!) bedroom.  I'm whining about my knee because I'm sick of it.  Patience is being tested and stretched to the max. 

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Sprained Knee

    I broke down and went to the ER last Friday to see what in the world was wrong with my knee.  The pain was not going away and it was time to get some answers and relief!  To make a long story short, the ER doctor diagnosed me with a knee sprain, knee infusion (fluid), and knee edema (swelling).  Since I don't remember "recently" spraining my knee, he suggested that it is a common occurence for patients under anesthesia to have a knee twisted as a result of positioning dead weight from the operating table to the hospital bed.  Common?  Lucky me!  They took x-rays and another ultrasound at the ER to rule out a blood clot from the surgery.  He says I need to follow up with a rheumatologist and an orthopedic physicial.  I guess this is the year I live in doctor's offices!!!

    The ER doctor prescribed a pain pill that actually worked and Naproxen for inflammation.  He gave me a knee brace and told me to ice the knee 3 times a day.  I spent the weekend at a daughter's home because mine is two-story.  I came home today and am so happy to be here!  I'll just be taking it easy and making minimal trips upstairs!  That will take some thought for organizing!

    When the ER doctor asked me if I remembered "twisting" my knee - I did have a flashback to August 6 when I attended a rockin' wedding reception and we were dancing the twist - all the way to the floor and back up.  HOWEVER,  I don't think that is the reason, even though it makes a spicier story.  It was at least 2 weeks before my knee started acting up, so I guess I don't have to give up my dancing days!  Right?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    UTSW Update - Knee

    Well, I am done with this subject!  UTSW nurse (not Lou) called me back and said:

    UTSW:  Call your rheumatologist.
    Me:   I don't have a rheumatologist.
    UTSW:  Who prescribed the Enbrel?
    Me:  My dermatologist.
    UTSW:  Dermatologist?!?!
    Me:  Enbrel was prescribed for scalp psorasis, but side effect was for joint pain to go away, so we put 2 and 2 together and figured the problem was solved.
    UTSW:  Well, we don't know anything about knees or legs.
    Me:  Okay. What about the internist suggesting I have a bacterial infection?
    UTSW:  Probably not in the knee from the surgery.
    Me:  Should I take this Clindamycin prescribed then?
    UTSW:  Usually if a dr. prescribes something, you take it.
    Me:  Okay.  Thanks.
    UTSW:  If you don't have a rheumatologist, you can go to Urgent Care.
    Me:  Okay.  Thanks.

    I cannot worry about this anymore.  I'm done!  Just let it resolve itself.  I'll try to improve my attitude - pain or no pain!  Don't worry, be happy!  Tomorrow is another day!

    Things Not Going So Well

    I've resisted making this post because I thought my medical problem of the past 10 days would go away, but it is only getting worse.

    About 10 days ago my left knee started swelling and it was painful and hard to bear weight on it.  I showed this to Dr. Euhus (breast surgeon) at my 2 week checkup, but we both dismissed it as a twisted knee or arthritis that would go away in a day or two.  Not.

    The pain with this knee is 100 times worse than the mastectomy was.  The pain gets more excruciating every day.  Now the pain is in the entire leg and the entire leg is swelling.  I cannot walk on it.  I cannot sleep.  I cry a lot.  Days of this has struck my last nerve.  I feel like singing the old Lesley Gore song:

    It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to
    Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
    You would cry too if it happened to you.

    After realizing it was not going away, I called Dr. E's nurse 2 days ago because I knew I needed medical intervention.  She said to call my Arlington internist (the one who said my cancer mass was just dense breast tissue) and see if he would see me or go to Urgent Care.  The internist was not able to see me, but his office set me up an appointment with his PA, Karen.  Karen looked at the knee for a few seconds, then sent me to the imaging place to get an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot from the mastectomy.  She also wrote me a prescription for hydrocodone which I am living on every 4 hours to take the edge off.  The ultrasound came back negative for a blood clot, thank God.  So, I was expecting to be given an appointment at the internist's office today to seek other causes and treatment options.  I've had a twisted knee before in my lifetime, but believe me, this pain is much worse - it hurts at rest even.  Well, the secretary of the internist called me this morning and said the PA was calling me in a prescription for an antibiotic.  End of story.  They didn't even do a blood test.  Nada.

    What they called in is called Clindamycin - for bacterial infections.  So, they must have assumed that I got a bacterial infection via the blood stream from the surgery.  I don't know because they didn't  give me a diagnosis.  A friend is wondering if they think I have a staph infection??

    If you google Clindamycin, you will see that it is a very potent med with severe intestional side effects possible now or months later because it kills the bacteria in your intestines.  I don't know if I should take something that is going to jeopardize my health status when I'm supposed to be starting chemotherapy which is going to already do that.

    I have an urgent call into UTSW to see what Dr. E thinks I should do.  I went ahead & took one Clindamycin in case it is what I do have a bacterial infection.

    On a scale of 1 - 10, I would say the pain is 9 when the pain meds wear off.  It's a 7 when on the hydrocodone.

    Please pray that I get some appropriate medical guidance and help.  I am not a happy camper.

    Girlfriends, lunch plans for the next week will have to be postponed, sad to say.

    I'll update after I speak with UTSW.

    My leg is not usually this fat looking, believe me!