Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chemo #3 Side Effects: Acupuncture Worked For Me!


I'm delighted to report that I did not suffer nausea or vomiting during my 3rd chemo treatment after having an acupuncture treatment a couple of days before.  The acupuncturist also placed a pressure point bead-like seed held by a little square of bandaid-type tape on each nausea trigger point on my body.  One inside each wrist, one on my belly, and several inside each ear.  I did have a minor tummy ache & diarrhea for several days - but I would press on my seeds until the event passed without further complications of nausea & vomiting.  I will definitely have another acupuncture treatment before my last chemo scheduled for Dec. 13!!!!!

Another successful chemo side-effect antidote I wish to continue to share is that taking Claritin one day before, the day of, and 5 days after greatly minimized my bone pain, compared to chemo #1.  I only had to take a hydrocodone 2-3 times in order to get to sleep because of annoying little bone pains in my legs & feet.

I have been very tired - but that is an easy to cope with side effect.  I just sit around and try not to let it cramp my style.  I tell myself it is a result of the chemo treatment killing any possible cancer cells lurking around & that it is well worth the side effect.  This is copied from an article on breastcancer.org: 

Fatigue is the most common side effect of breast cancer treatment. Some doctors estimate that 9 out of 10 people experience some fatigue during treatment. Fatigue from treatment can appear suddenly and can be overwhelming. Rest doesn't ease fatigue and it can last for months after treatment ends.

The big thing going on with me is a sudden realization that I should be eating healthy.  I am doing a lot of online research, ordering books from the library, may buy a book or two for future reference, and speaking with friends that are knowledgeable in healthy eating.  I have learned that sugar FEEDS cancer cells - so I am giving up my gross intake of sugar and ESPECIALLY artificial sweeteners.  I feel like a recovering alcoholic in saying that once and for all, I HAVE GIVEN UP POISIONOUS DIET COKE.  Water is my drink of choice since it doesn't need sweetener & I wasn't drinking enough water anyway.  I am also conscious that processed food are not good for you & can be harmful.  So, I am getting off processed foods.  I would love to hear healthy eating suggestions from anyone that reads this blog because I am a sponge taking in all of this.

Now, if someone will come up with how to get rid of the metallic chemo taste in your mouth I would be thrilled! Nothing tastes good or right. So, you only wind up eating for nourishment & not for comfort or pure joy - ha! Good way to lose weight - & I have, which I needed to anyway. Still need to lose some more - but I'm sure my new healthy food diet will take care of that. Giving up sugar and processed foods should make a big difference. Can't wait to be at my optimal weight - finally.
I have an MRI on my knee scheduled for this Thursday.  Rheumatologist suspects a torn meniscus or something.  I'll get the results in about a week.  Then, we'll go from there.  Right now, my knee is not acting up - knock on wood!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chemo Treatment #3

The above picture is of me and my friend, Barbara, having dinner at The Mellow Mushroom in Arlington.  We went out in the rain at night to find this place we had never been to but were told how great the pizza was - and it was!  We split a veggie pizza and it was to die for!!!!  We have been friends since first grade, went all through public schools together, went to the University of North Texas and roomed together the first semester of our freshman year, and both pledged Delta Gamma sorority - lifelong friends!  She drove into town from Granbury Monday to take me to my chemo treatment at UTSW on Tuesday.  She spent the night since we had to leave here around 7:00 a.m. to get there for my appointment.  We had a great time reminiscing and filling each other in on our personal lives and families.

The above picture is me in the infusion chair for chemo infusion #3.  I wore my prayer shawl from friend Chris and her church ladies.  Only one chemo treatment left after this one!!  Yippee!  This is when they were infusing the Benadryl which is supposed to make me sleepy - but so far every time I have not slept - just laughed and talked with whoever came with me.  This is before the chemo infusions in which I had to keep my fingertips and toes on ice to keep them from turning dark, tingling, and becoming numb.  Ice seems to prevent that side effect.  Today, my friend Carolyn and Barbara were with me. It was so much fun to laugh and visit with them and made the time go by so quickly.  We were through by 12:30 p.m. and went across the street to eat lunch at Escondido's!

The lunch girls at Escondido's.  Me, Barbara, Carolyn, and Paula, who met up with us for lunch.  We enjoyed a nice meal as we celebrated the end of chemo #3!

As I mentioned before, the side effects of vomiting and diarrhea were very severe after chemo #2.  I didn't get over it until the 8th day after chemo.  Well, my oncologist today told me NOT TO LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN!  She wants me to call and come in if it lasts more than 2 days and they will give me an infusion of anti-nausea meds to make it GO AWAY!  I wish I had of known that last week.  Some friends tried to get me to call the doctor before I dehydrated and I should have listened!  Dr. Haley said the reason I was so weak and tired for 10 days after that was because I had depleted my body of so much being sick for so long!  Well, I won't go that long again & it is good to know I can go get an IV of meds to relieve the sickness.

I have psoriasis and Dr. Haley had taken me off the Enbrel I have taken for years for that because it compromises the immune system.  However, last week I had a big psoriasis outbreak.  My dermatologist called me in some topical creams and said he wanted me to go back on the Enbrel.  I discussed it with Dr. Haley today and she agreed that is what I need to do.  HOWEVER, now I must really be careful to avoid germs, crowds, sick people, etc.  So I guess I hibernate until the first of the year - just call me Mama Bear!  I will be crocheting and reading a lot, so if you have suggestions for great books - please email me & I will check them out from my library.

Well, I'll keep you posted on how the side effects of chemo #3 go - hopefully better this time - with the acupuncture treatment last Friday, the acupressure seeds placed on trigger points on my body for me to use pressure on if I feel nausea, and the knowledge I can go back to UTSW to get an anti-nausea infusion.  It should be a piece of cake this time - make mine chocolate!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Acupuncture" AKA "I'll Try Anything!

My friend who went through her own breast cancer journey 4 years ago and is a survivor, shared with me that she went to an acupuncturist the day before her chemo treatments and she never experienced severe nausea and vomiting.  So, after 2 treatments that left me with severe nausea, I finally decided to follow her lead.  So this is story of my visit with an acupuncturist from which I was very pleased and hopeful as to the results of her treatment and the natural remedies she suggested for coping with cancer and chemotherapy.  By the way, insurance doesn't cover this, but I think it will be worth every cent of the $87 I spent on my health and comfort.

Here is a definition of acupuncture and acupressure that I got off the internet:

The comprehensive principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the ancient healing techniques of acupressure and acupuncture for relieving pain are based on energy pathways called meridians. An acupressure point in one part of the body can send a healing message to other body parts through meridian pathways. Just as blood vessels nourish the body physically, meridians circulate healing energy to all systems of the body. Applying pressure on acupressure points, triggers the flow of energy through the meridian pathway, and benefits the area at a distance from the point’s location.

As an acupressure point is held, the muscle tension yields to the finger pressure, enabling the fibers to elongate, blood to flow freely, and toxins to be released and eliminated. Increased circulation also brings more oxygen and other nutrients to affected areas. When the blood and bioelectrical energy circulate properly, the body has a greater sense of well-being.

Use prolonged finger pressure directly on the point; gradual, steady, penetrating pressure for approximately three minutes is ideal. Each point will feel somewhat different when you press it; some points feel tense, while others are often sore or ache when pressed. How much pressure to apply to any point depends on how fit you are. A general guideline to follow is that the pressure should be firm enough so that it "hurts good" - in other words, something between pleasant, firm pressure and outright pain.
The middle finger is the longest and strongest of your fingers and is best suited for applying self-acupressure.
After an hour consultation on my medical history, the acupuncturist finally got down to brass tacks - or maybe I should have said silver needles!  She had me lie down on the treatment bed/table and inserted the needles at various points all over my body as I laid there with my eyes closed.  The needles did not hurt.  After she got them all inserted, she turned out the lights in the room and I rested my eyes for about 30 minutes as relaxing music was playing in the background.  After that, she removed the needles and placed trigger point beads, which she said were really seeds, at strategic places on my body for me to apply acupressure to during my next round of chemo to relieve nausea and vomiting.  She placed 1 on the inside of each wrist, 7 in each ear, 1 on my tummy, and 1 under each knee.  Guess I'll have a lot of rubbin' to do to cover all those places!

The above picture is of one of my wrists.  The little square bandaid has the seed under it.  Well, I am so paranoid about losing these before my chemo this week, that I marked the seed location with a sharpie so if if fell off, at least I would know where to rub because you don't have to have the see - I think.  Well, I did lose one of my seed bandaids so I then proceded to secure each one with a piece of surgical tape.  Now what do you think would happen if I took a shower or hot bath?  As my friend Dennis said, I'm probably better off taking "spit baths" the next week.  Wonder what the oncologist is going to think of all this? 

And just in case I lose all my marbles, I mean seeds/beads, I was made aware of the following bracelet with a bump on it at the wrist pressure point for people to rub when suffering sea sickness, morning sickness, or chemotherapy sickness! 

Karen also gave me some other instructions.  She wants me to get off the Nexium for reflux because it robs the nutrients out of food.  Instead I am to use raw apple cider vinegar - 1 tablespoon in water before each meal to help in digestion.  I can add honey for taste.  I bought some today and it sure looks nasty!!!  She wants me to drink 3/4 gallon of water a day and get off my poisionous Diet Cokes! She wants me to reduce my carb intake to about 80 mg/day.  This will be hard for a vegetarian that lives on sandwiches and pasta!  She thinks my knee problem is a result of needing a chiropractic alignment of my hips that are throwing my knee out of place when I walk.  I told her the latest on my knee is that the rheumatologist said I do NOT have pseudogout - no crystals were found in my knee fluid and I do NOT have osteoarthritis because my xrays were normal.  He has ordered an MRI and thinks I have a torn meniscus and will need arthroscopic surgery.  I think I'd rather have a chiropractic aligment!  Anyway, I'm going to try to follow her suggestions because they cannot hurt and seem to make good sense to get healthy.  She also told me to stay off sugar and fruits because sugar feeds cancer.  That one is hard!

I AM READY CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT #3 ON TUESDAY!  BRING IT ON!  (Prayers still requested by the way!)

PS:  Special thanks to my friend since first grade, Barbara, who is coming into town to take me to chemotherapy this time.  She is spending the night with me tomorrow night since we have to get off early Tuesday morning to get to UTSW.  We're going to have fun and eat pizza at The Mellow Mushroom tomorrow night!  My last normal day for about 8 days - or maybe not with all my new miracle cures in place!

PSS:  If you read this blog update earlier, you will remember I mentioned the acupuncturist and the health food store salesman sold me some herbal remedies - mushroom capsules for immune system, charcoal tablets for diarrhea, and slippery elm for nausea and vomiting.  Well, the oncologist about had a cow when I told her today at my chemo treatment #3!  She said NOT to take them would I would put my liver into failure if I mixed those with my chemotherapy drugs!  So, buyer beware when it comes to natural remedies during chemotherapy!  DO NOT USE THEM!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"The Healing" CD

I have a friend that went through breast cancer and chemotherapy 4 years ago and is now a survivor.  She  has been a great resource for me from the beginning of my diagnosis.  She told me the right books to read for medical and spiritual guidance.  She also sent me a CD called "The Healing" that she listened to during her own healing.  I have almost worn this CD out.  "The Healing" is a musical movement created to produce life.  "It is Written," the series, is a simple yet profound musical and vocal journey woven with a recitation of the very Words of our  Creator.  It affords the opportunity to get in the presence of the One who can rescue and heal.  You listen, rest,  meditate on and enjoy the  Words of Eternal Life! 

The Healing CD: Consists of 46 minutes of professionally and beautifully produced music by Platinum and Gold Record Award winner, Tom Davis. Contemporary worship, Hymns, and 78 Healing Scriptures being read by Tom Davis will lead you to a place of peace and faith in God…and bring healing to your life!
I highly recommend this CD!  Thanks, Lynne, for giving me my treasured copy.

A friend asked me for the link to get this CD, so here it is.  This is not an advertisement, but just a word of mouth recommendation from one friend to another.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chemo #2 Side Effects

As I mentioned in the  last update, daughter Monica took me to chemo treatment #2 on Nov. 1 and all went well that day except that I did lose my baked potato dinner that night - which I thought was an earlier reaction than last time.  Anyway, I went back on Nov. 2 to get the neulasta shot - which is a 24 hours later requirement.  Meanwhile, I had put myself on the Claritin regimine to ward off bone pain.  I also had my shot given in the stomach rather than the arm, which another waiting room patient guru recommended.  I'll take all the helpful advice I can get from whomever,  whenever,  and wherever to  make this all more manageable and tolerable!  I asked the neulasta injection nurse about the Claritin rumor and she admitted that she had heard of it and that it happens to be an "incidental finding".  Well, I wish she had of told me last time!!!!  Because it worked!  No major bone pain this time.  Praise the Lord!  However, I did have lots of "tummy trouble" for several  days - not  fun!  Very indisposed and uncomfortable.  There weren't enough "throw up" buckets in the house!  However, a friend has recommended that I go to the dollar store & buy up lots of large plastic bowls for the next 2 rounds of chemo - that I can just throw out & be done with the yuk!  Great idea, huh?

Thanks to my good friends who made me homemade soups for nourishment for this round.  I know they had to modify their recipes beause of my vegetarian status.  Paula made me a delicious vegetable soup and a yummy roasted potato soup.  She added some gourmet rolls and shredded parmesan to complete those meals.  Also thanks to my Martha Stewart friend, Brenda, who made me some to-die-for potato corn chowder.  Those soups were definitely a comfort food all week!  Love you girls!

Okay, now back to the chemo  reactions this  time.  On the day after the neulasta shot I was very lethargic but only had minimal leg aches from the bone marrow making white blood cells, as the shot directs it  to do.  However, on day #3 from chemo,  it all hit.  I had to cancel dinner plans because I was so weak & felt so yucky.  Couldn't trust myself being away from the house, if you know what I mean.  TMI (too much information)?  Sorry.  I stayed in bed all day and the vomiting and diahrrea hit that evening and lasted FOUR MORE DAYS!  Five days of this was beginning to worry some of my friends that I was going to dehydrate, but finally, on Wed., Nov. 9 - I felt good!  Praise God again! 

So, while I'm feeling good I'm doing all my errands and trying to stock my everything I will be needing in the house.  Due to the tiredness, I am watching a lot of television, but crocheting at the same time - always a multi-tasker!  This is the afghan my granddaughter Caitlyn requested I make  for her (you can see I am STILL in my pajamas - ha!):

I am also doing a lot of reading.  Thanks to my son-in-law's sweet mom for sending me this wonderful, inspirational, book by Suzie Humphreys - which, by the way, is an autographed copy!!!!!
My daughter Monica helped me  figure out that it seems like 8 is my lucky number.  On the 8th day from chemo both times is when I begin to feel human again!  Also, I was born on the 8th of December, so from now on I claim 8 as my lucky number!  Let's see if it plays out again after my next chemo which is coming up next Tues., Nov.  22. 

Pic above is in case you haven't seen me in my wig that looks like my own hair.

Hugs to my sweet niece, Rachel, for sending me this hat to keep my head warm this winter - I love it!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone.  Hug those you love!  Cherish each day!  As Suzie Humphreys wrote to me, I repeat to you, "Blessings with Love and Laughter"!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chemo Treatment #2

Wearing wig this time.

I took chemo treatment #2 yesterday.  A couple of patients in the waiting room gave me some advice on the side effects of the neulasta shot I have to go get this afternoon.  This is the one that makes your bones feel like you've been run over by a Mack truck, and in which pain meds barely help.  They said to take Claritin the day before the shot, one hour before the shot, and five days after the shot to reduce the severity of the bone pain.  I know this sounds crazy but I'll try anything that might work.  I asked my chemo infusion nurse about this and she hadn't heard about it.  I'll ask my neulasta injection nurse today if she has heard about it.  I checked it out online and lots of patients swear by using Claritin so I am trying it.  And praying it works....

Side efffects so far from Chemo Treatment #2 include very upset tummy last night after I ate a baked potato.  I didn't keep it down very long.  I think the upset tummy brought on the vomiting.  Potato was determined not to remain with me.  Don't want another Colter's baked potato.....ever!