#168–Good news & other stuff . . .

 

When I saw my oncologist, Dr. Buchanan, on Dec 22, I received only good news. The CT scan showed that all the enlarged lympth glands from my chest area are no longer enlarged and the ones in the abdomen are greatly reduced. Whew! That means the chemo is working and I’ll continue with the protocol on schedule. What a relief!

This is what I was wearing the day I received good news from my oncologist.

This is what I was wearing the day I received good news from my oncologist–both the hat and the smile.

And, what’s more, my heart is functioning better than it was on the first MUGA heart scan. Then it was at the “lower end of normal” and now it is up into the normal range. The doctor seemed puzzled by that until I reminded him that I was under serious pain and heavy duty pain meds and totally stressed for that first test. Doctors just love it when you explain things to them. But Dr. B was very gracious and simply said,”Hmm! Perhaps!” Not that I was expecting, “Wow! What a great insight, Judy!”

This time around was much like the third time. I had a slow bounce back, which made it truly wonderful that my sister was here 24/7 for 10 days to be my energy when mine was nearly gone. I had four really weak days and then two semi-weak and then I was able since this past Monday to get by without sleeping away most of the afternoons. She left Wednesday, and I missed her as soon as she was gone.

Here I am standing while I am resting my head on the kitchen counter. It is not me being in a state of despair. It's more like, it's just too tiring to hold my head up.

Here I am standing while resting my head on the kitchen counter. It’s not me in a state of despair. It’s me resting my head because it’s just too tiring to hold it up.

During my low days, happiness is putting my head down and closing my eyes. I just want to rest or even go back to bed and sleep. So I would have rest periods or at least rest-my-head periods in the mornings and be back in bed for long naps in the afternoons. During those days, I mostly just slept and ate.

Nausea has not been a problem at all since the first go round and then only mildly. Thank goodness! So with my love of eating and no nausea, we had some terrific meals while my sis was here. She’s a great cook, and it seemed like we were going grocery shopping every few days. I lost 20 pounds prior to chemo and haven’t gained any of it back. So when the doctor says to eat “calorie rich foods,” I try to follow his orders every day. I consider this a major perk of chemo.

This following topic is definitely not a major perk. I wasn’t going to mention temporary incontinence until it happened a second time around and realized that it really is a chemo side effect. And since I’m trying to really tell it like it is, I decided to include it. And perhaps help someone avoid the embarrassment I endured.

On chemo day of the third go-round, I got up to go the restroom after being hooked up for a couple of hours. As soon as I stood, I had “an accident.” Not totally, but enough to make a stain on my pants and make me totally mortified. Unbelievably, no one noticed. My friend Jan, who was staying with me that day, didn’t even notice. She was busy unplugging and reattaching the cord and plug on the IV stand so I wouldn’t trip over it as I maneuvered it to the restroom. All the nurses were too busy with patients to notice and the other patients hooked up were either sleeping or on their laptops or iPads or smart phones.

It’s kind of a nightmare situation, and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Just try soaking up moisture soaked fabric with paper towels. Better than nothing, but it doesn’t work so good. And of course, I had no Depends or extra pants with me. So the rest of the day was most uncomfortable. Fortunately, I had a blanket to keep from getting chilled during the next few hours of chemo, and my driver that day, Connie, had heated seats in her car for the hour-and-a-half drive home. It could’ve been worse.

Since temporary incontinence is a side effect of chemo, for a few days, a box of Depends  becomes my best friend. Who knew!

Since temporary incontinence is a side effect of chemo, at least for a few days, a box of Depends becomes my best friend. Who knew!

On the fourth time around, I was prepared––even though I wasn’t sure it would happen again. I was wearing my Depends.( God! I never thought I’d be saying that!) Good thing too because the same thing did happen. It’s not total loss of control. It’s more like an unstoppable slow leak whenever you have to go and stand up. Yuck! The good news is that it only lasts for a few days. At least, that’s been my experience on both of the last two cycles. So I’ll be prepared this coming week when I start my fifth cycle.

I can’t believe that my fifth cycle is already about to begin. I’ll have the same chemo week routine: give blood on Monday, see Dr. Buchanan here in Florence on Tuesday, go to Eugene for chemo on Wednesday, and receive my shot of Neulasta at the hospital on Thursday. At least this time around, it’s not Christmas week. And I ‘ve lined up the same wonderful gal I had before to help me on my low days. She’ll be with me for three hours a day for six days starting January 20. That will be a tremendous help.

Before those low days hit, I have some finish up stuff to do for my new book, Devil Cat & other colorful animals I have known. I need to write the blurb for the back cover and line up some endorsements to also have on the back cover.

Bob Serra, my publisher, is about half way through laying it out. Now that the holidays are over, he is back to working on it. When he gets it all laid out, I’ll be able to see it and go over it and over it checking every little detail. We’ll go back and forth until there are no more changes to make.  I’m getting anxious to see how it will look with the photos and illustrations all laid out with the text. It’s something to look forward to when my low days are over this next time around.

Here’s wishing each of you a wonderful New Year ahead!

 

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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10 Responses to #168–Good news & other stuff . . .

  1. Evelyn says:

    Soooo delighted to hear your good news! Well, except for the Depends part, but they seem to be a great solution for a tricky problem (only YOU would post pictures of the box!). 🙂

    I know things will continue to go in a positive direction for you. Hearing you talk about your upcoming book means you have the right attitude & definitely something to look forward to. Can’t wait to see it!

    Take care, I’m thinking of you every day. 🙂 🙂

    • Well, I’m always trying to think of photos to go with my blog posts and I just didn’t have anything else. Since Depends was my topic . . . And using the self timer on the camera is always fun. I used that to get the head down on the counter. I have to do about 10 shots to get one that is actually workable. The photos sometimes take more thought than the posts!

      On Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 10:23 PM, Crossings Author wrote:

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  2. Theresa Hart says:

    Happy New Year to you. Judy! I’m glad to know the chemo is working and that you are doing better. You have amazing strength some really good support to help you get through this.
    You have some fine looking hats. I especially love the burgundy colored one.

    • Good to hear from you Theresa. I love my hats too–great conversation starters.

      This has certainly been an adventure, but the best part is reconnecting with nearly everyone I know and care about.

      Stay in touch and Happy New Year to you too.

      On Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 6:14 AM, Crossings Author wrote:

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  3. Hope says:

    Good blog, Judy. I enjoyed it. Guess what: I’m a leaker too! In spite of all my yoga kegels known in yoga language as mulabunda. I might need to share your depends–so to speak. Ha ha!

    • Judy Fleagle says:

      Hi Phyl, Yes, my mom knows. Otherwise I’d be on her short list cause I didn’t come down in October or at Christmas. Even so, she’s not happy about my long absence. She is very concerned about me and has wanted to come up with Edna. But because she has trouble just going over thresholds with her walker, it is not possible for her to travel up here. And that is good. I have a house full of stairs and she could not function here. Love ya too!

    • Judy Fleagle says:

      They were on sale, so I stocked up. So I can share! Glad to hear I’m not alone!

  4. Brenda Howe says:

    I’m looking forward to another book purchase! I suspect it might make a great gift book, too. I’m so happy for your good news.

    • Judy Fleagle says:

      I’m not prejudiced or anything, but it would make a great gift book if only for the photos and illustrations. They are terrific! Thanks, Brenda, both for supporting my books and me.

  5. Phyllis Bright says:

    Hi Judy. Was thinking of calling you today and then received this just now. Sounds like things are going for the most part very well – at least you have had improvement in certain areas. I love it when the docs don’t give a person credit for their insight on things. Not. I have had some times when I should have had depends on so don’t feel alone in that area. Glad you had a good visit with your sister and that she was such a help for you. I’m curious, does your mother know what’s going on? Was thinking about that the other day.

    I’m happy to hear you’re still working on your book and imagine it takes your mind off other things. I remember you letting me read about that cat – devil cat? Anyhow, nice to hear from you. Love ya, Phyl

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