Monday, October 27, 2014

Ten Down

Radiation treatments started two weeks ago and so far I've had ten zaps.  

In the first few days there was some confusion about how many zaps I would get exactly.  Initially the plan was for thirty, then on day 1 the tech said it would be forty.  On Wednesdays I meet with Dr. N2 and he confirmed that there will be 36.  He didn't mind taking a moment to look at my countdown board.  At that point he confirmed the 36 and had an appreciation for all of my grilling questions.  

Here's a little visual for you

and as of Friday: 

If you are curious, this is what the machine looks like that administers the daily zaps.  
The table raises and slides so that my body is more centered over the big white circle on the floor. The big square panels rotate around the body and the circle on top has its own rotation schedule too.  The blue pad is shaped to my body so that I lay in the same spot each time.  

So far so good.  My energy level is still good despite my WBC's still being down at 3.1 (they checked them again today).  

My hair is starting to come back. 

Here is a picture that Dan took at a work meeting on September 23rd. 

Dan is a great photographer, and I really want another picture when I have a full head of hair again,
and then a selfie I took last week when Terry asked how my hair was coming along.  I think it is even better and longer since I took this on Thursday.    However, I am down to only eight eyelashes on my lower left eyelid.  I'm saving a ton on mascara right now.   

Remember that little motorcycle accident back during the summer when the ER docs said that no one had broken anything?  Well turns out they were not exactly right.  It seems that Larry's right thumb that continues to ache was actually broken in two places.  He's been going to physical therapy the last couple of weeks and the therapist finally referred him to a hand specialist.  

A sonogram/ultraound and fluoroscope showed a tear of the ligament late last week. The MRI today confirmed it and showed that two bones (now healed) had been broken.  All of this information gave the surgeon a plan of action.  The surgery will be this Thursday at 6am.  The doctor thinks that the surgery will take about two hours.  He has three different plans for repair, and it will depend on what he finds when he gets started as to how he will proceed.  He will not be re-breaking the bones to 'fix' them.

There is also a tear on the volar plate on his index finger, but he will not be repairing that.  According to the doctor, "If it is a bad problem, I can make it better, but I cant guarantee any improvement on a minor issue."  The volar plate is considered a minor issue.  

Recovery will require a hard cast for six weeks, but the cast will be changed fairly regularly and each replacement will be smaller than the one before.  

The idea is to get as much of this completed before the end of the year so we potentially avoid paying another deductible in 2015.  

J is not worried at all about the surgery because he gets another mid-week sleepover with his buddy J.   Oh and there is a chance that cadaver ligaments could be used; which for a boy (or man) is a cool thing.   

Prayer Requests: 
  • Successful surgery for Larry
  • Continued good energy level
  • Growth of white blood cells
  • That we are good witnesses of the hope and goodness of God as we go about all of our medical appointments

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Phase 3 Begins

Monday's visit to the doctor did not yield the results I was hoping for when it came to blood counts.  The WBC's were still at their lowly levels of the prior week; 3.1.  The concern is that with radiation the WBC's will drop further.

I have been feeling quite well, and I'm sure it is the answer to your sweet and precious prayers.  To God be the glory!

However, after talking with the PA she found Dr. N and had a chat with him.  They decided that I was ok to go ahead and start radiation.

This afternoon I started the radiation.  I had already been in and met with Dr.N2,  had a template made for my body to lay in every day, along with two very tiny tattoos.  I was sure thankful Tom warned me that I would be getting those.  The technicians were able to use a well placed mole for the third spot they needed.

The plan is that I will have 40 treatments.  That is different than what I was originally told.   For those of us who have had the conversations about 5, 6 and 30 this is not another iteration of that fiasco;promise.

As I was leaving today the technician asked how many treatments I thought I was signing up for? Thirty.  Oh, well Dr. N2 has ordered 40, but he usually lets us break the good news to the patients. Swell, but with one down by the time she asked, I guess I'm in this far I'll just keep going.

The forty treatments will be dished out every work day, Monday through Friday with 28 of them being what I translated as broad spectrum radiation and twelve will be more focused and intense.  About once a week I will see the doctor and one other time I will see his nurse just to check in and see how things are going.

All of the appointments are at the same time every day; 3:15 and only take about 15 minutes.  Today took longer since it was the first visit and they did extra x-rays.  I should be good to go back and forth to work since the office is about 10 minutes away.

For those of you who I have talked to about my wardrobe issues, I have a two week stay before implementation has to begin.  Whew!

For a little FUN along the way I thought I would do a countdown of treatments.  Since I'm at work more often than at home, I gathered a variety of post-it notes from my co-workers and made this little count down board.

I'll add another 10 post-its to capture all 40 of the treatments, update my spreadsheet with the days (yes, that IS necessary), and make a countdown visual at home too.  I'll have to figure out the plan around Thanksgiving of when they are open and closed.  I was sure hoping to be done before that, but oh well.

If you want to make a post-it note countdown too, jump right in!  I completely understand if you don't want the random chaotic looking thing I created (random is quite difficult for my orderly mind).  It is already a bit distracting in my cube and is no doubt one reason I'm thankful to be getting started and removing some of these.

Of course the real reason to be thankful about getting started is so that I can be DONE and declared cancer free!

Prayer Requests:

  • White blood cell production gets ramped up
  • The skin doesn't burn or blister during treatment
  • Sleep is less restless

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Next Phase--Wait

Yesterday morning I went and visited with Dr. N on Monday morning fully expecting him to release me to the radiologist because the rash was gone and hadn't come back.

Unfortunately, when the rash left it took the WBC's with it.  My count was down to 3.5 yesterday and because it was below normal Dr. N said that I would need to wait before getting started on the radiation.  Ugh.  Come back next week.

I'm just going to be real here, I was bummed.  I'm ready to get this show on the road and despite my inability to do math and figure out how many zaps I'll be receiving and when that will end, I want to get that going.  It was a comical series of miscalculations on my part.  The frustration comes with one of my mottoes (sp?): You can't get finished if you don't get started.

My friend Andrea, no not the girl in the mirror, pointed out that I haven't exactly been sitting around resting and relaxing.  This past weekend was Harvest Fest and several times as we got ready for the event on Friday and during the event on Saturday she made me sit down and rest.

I don't know the best way to grow WBC's without the fancy shot, but perhaps a little rest is in order.

I'm also reminding myself that God's timing is perfect and this whole journey is in His hands, but I also stomped my foot a few times in frustration.  God is good.  He knows.  He is not surprised by any of this.

Prayer Requests:

  • WBC production and growth
  • Patience for timing of treatments
  • Clear thinking for my teflon covered brain (little is sticking right now)