Liz's colonic journey

Archive for January, 2013

Getting going again

Oy vey, this being busy with ‘old normal’ really messes with blogging. I think it might be not having so much time to think because that’s all one can do when one is feeling blech.

The news that I’ve been very tardy in sharing is that my CT scan of two weeks ago showed that there had been no further tumours and no tumour growth since July last year. This means that the chemo halted the growth. This is good news and means that I don’t have any treatment for three months.

My next appointment for a CT scan and consultation with Doc Landers is the end of April. With a bit of luck and some care I can look after my liver and stop it getting inflamed and painful. So unless something goes wrong I’ve got a free run for three months.

Last year we went to Australia, which kind of made being off chemo fairly easy because everything was different. Going back on in July discombobulated me, because I’d forgotten all the coping strategies and had to rediscover paying attention to side-effects.

I think one reason why I didn’t turn into a skeleton through this chemo, was that I remembered that eating is pretty important even when the food tastes less than tasty and the hunger pangs don’t kick in. So I lost weight during the first two cycles and then started picking up again –  now at a fair 56kgs. Doc Landers doesn’t think my proud little tummy/hip roll is a problem!

And the wheatgrass seems to still be working its magic, though I confess I’m on the pills now not the shots (yech). I’m one of the lucky ones who go through a second round of chemo cycles without having to have a blood transfusion. I had those two infections, but once we worked out how to spot them, and blast them with antibiotics quickly, it became routine.

I think what kept me going was staying connected with all of your care, via FaceBook, Skype and What’s App on the noodly days and face to face on the working/weekend days. I’ve noticed that the people from the Onco Centre, who battle the most, are those that don’t get out for a coffee, sharing a meal with friends or family, and can’t work.

I do need to say thank you again to everyone for putting up with the chemo-induced forgetfulness and noodles. I really hate those moments when I have to Google “Orson Welles” to remember “Citizen Kane”.  Then again, I’m so grateful that I can Google and not dwell on and in my fogginess.

The other thing is my gratitude for everyone accepting what I think is ‘enough’. I can’t thank each of you enough – there are too many instances of lovingkindness (such a beautiful word) to acknowledge everyone in this blog unless I blog everyday, maybe that’s what I should do. Short blogs with a list of appreciations – the value of that would be that you’d know that the things that you think are too little to mean much make a huge difference.

I do get tired and it’s bothering me that having been off chemo now for over two weeks, I still feel the need to nap after three hours of concentration. One journal article review today on top of sorting out a glitch with SAOL and various day to day things like emails, and I was ready to topple.  The difference is, I guess, that I can keep myself going, so it might be that I’ve just developed a bad, though delicious, habit of napping.  So today was the first day that I did not take a nap. It feels quite good.

I’m blessed and I really feel for people with cancer who’s work means they have to be in one place of business going to the office, or whose work is physical, like hair-dressers and those working in construction. It must be harder on the days that they are feeling and looking good and seem to be their ‘old’ selves, when the illness is invisible. The tension between wanting the ‘old normal’ back and realising that ‘new normal’ has to be the way forward – is hard to manage – enough to make anyone run away.

Not a very well thought out post. Just catching up a bit.

Word of Advice: Watch out for books – they are dangerous. Pat dropped one on her foot on Saturday – the resulting beautiful sky blue egg that blew up on her teeny foot was quite awe inspiring. A visit to the emergency room at Crompton Hospital assured us that nothing was broken and that the hematoma would go down with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). She was lame for three days but is hopping about quite nicely now, albeit with navy blue toes.
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We’re good and you are good – thank you.

2013 – Let’s see what happens next

image Mari asked me yesterday for pictures of the garden and this morning gave a brilliant opportunity to catch it. How nice to have full sun and clear skies for a change, grey skies leave me rather drab. (I wish I could send some of our rain to Australia where they are having these horrible wild fires that just love wild eucalyptus.) We are blessed with our greenery. I love the different green contrasts around this oregano plant, with the splash of colour from the garlic chives.

The garden has suffered (sort of) from the lack of Alphaeus’ attentions for nearly a month. I love our treed place. The leaf fall associated with it would drive some wild, but I’ve quite enjoyed kicking through the leaves and the peppercorn berries to get to the postbox. The yellow Mandevillea (if that’s what it is) is glorious in the sun.

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And I’m pretty chuffed with how well the egg plants are growing – I see a tasty Mousaka every time I look at them. The monkeys have steered clear of them, though they did have a couple of chomps out of the tomatoes.

imageI’m loving watching the birds from the porch. Two of our neighbours asked if they could cut back some of the trees bordering their properties and that’s opened up whole new sunny areas that we would not have been able to create. Have to say that my hammock was looking particularly attractive today.

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Since these pics this morning, Alphaeus was in and worked his magic, while Victoria got us sorted indoors. We’ve managed to stay on top of the housekeeping over the festive season, but 32 was nowhere near as pristine as usual.

Having chemo over Christmas felt very different to last year. It’s part of the new normal to go in and just do it. On the plus side, my bloods have been good all through, except for one week’s delay for that blasted infection. I haven’t had any more infections since the beginning of December. The downside is that the longer the chemo goes on, the worse one definitely feels. The yuk/weak feeling seemed to hit me earlier – the Friday of chemo week rather than the Sunday/Monday following it.

What was weird though is that I didn’t seem to have the fall-out on Monday the 24th when we went to Paul Roux to spend Christmas with Pat’s brother, Richard. It rained buckets and the top temperature for the first two days was 16C. Having packed in a 32C Durban swelter, I took all the wrong kind of clothes. Sandals, cutoffs and mud don’t go well together!  It was a beautiful time of ‘kuiering’ though, limited digital access meant talking to real, interesting people on Rich’s porch about things we wouldn’t normally discuss. It was fun – and I didn’t feel nauseous once – though I confess to two or three naps a day.

My first DRC Christmas morning service was fascinating. The dominee made us feel so at home that it was impossible not to follow the service in spite of my limited Afrikaans. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church after the last hymn (StilleNag/Silent Night) and the responses of farewell.

We spent a really quiet New Year. Actually I went to bed at 10 because I was feeling ‘lomp’ only to be wakened by a massive bomb firework going off outside the bedroom window at 12 on the dot. I worried about the dogs who were guarding, and neither seemed fazed. In fact, Rocky looked seriously interested, while Pepper continued to snooze and chase dream rabbits. I think they felt safe because Pat was sitting quietly in the lounge watching telly. I was highly stimulated to say the least – the adrenalin giving me the energy to text and call quite a few people. Maybe that’s why humans need fireworks?

I finished the last dose of chemo in this treatment round on Friday last week. The weekend was very lazy and I just couldn’t get going with anything – lots of naps. The mini-miracle was having tea with Joan C and Charl at the KZNSA gallery on Sunday, which was a happily sunny day. Beautiful. It was quite an effort to get into the car with Pat driving, and then to find Charl and Joan at the table. Yet after two hours of chatting and catching up, with a lovely feta and spinach muffin, I felt like a new woman. I came home and vacuumed the house – the dustbunnies were the size of small cats! How does that happen? How is it that being around special people is so re-energising? I’ve been feeling better every day since. I even got to do a bit of work today. My head is getting organised and I’m starting to focus. This is a very Good Thing. The list of things to do seems to grow exponentially.

I have my next CT scan on the 16th and consult with Doc Landers on the 18th to evaluate how well this round of chemo has worked, and what to do next, if anything.  I need to be on my feet for June and our trip to London and San Francisco. First things first though, we need to get our visas sorted!

It’s so nice to have everybody back in town, I missed Sharon and Dave while they were away, and Paulette and  Sioux and everybody else while we were out of circulation. Let’s go 2013!