Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shoulder Massage

My shoulder has been hurting for some months now. I had several sessions with a Bowen therapist and she reduced the pain considerably. Unfortunately I had to cancel my last appointment since that was the day I went into hospital with vomiting and diarrhea.

Since then the pain has come back. It was particularly bad when I turned over in bed. Kevin has been trying to help by giving me massages around my shoulder blades and where the neck and shoulder join. These gave me some relief, but the pain was still there.

So yesterday I went back to the therapist, and in an hour and a half she managed to reduce the pain to almost nothing. I still have it, but it is much more bearable. Thanks, Gail.

I am still feeling well and eating quite well too. I can't tolerate the smell of fat in the morning though, so poor Kevin had to sacrifice his potato patties this morning when the cooking smell caused me to vomit. He did have two though, and I was able to eat my usual Weetbix and fruit for breakfast.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm on holiday

from chemo for the next couple of weeks. I am booked in for the SIRT treatment on November 11 (the tests were fine, hooray!) and have to have a short infusion of 5- fluorouracil the day before and another the day after. This apparently helps the radiation to be more effective. Then I will have another break for a month before starting another different chemo drug: Irinotecan. Unfortunately that will be about a week before our daughter's wedding, so I will keep my fingers crossed I avoid the worst of the side effects: diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and low blood cell counts.

During my present chemo holiday I have to have another CT scan. If I didn't already have cancer, I might be starting to get concerned about all the radiation from these!

I am still feeling really good. My appetite is much better and my weight has stabilised. We bought Subway rolls for our lunch today (only 6 inch ones - neither of us would be able to cope with a foot-log Sub at any time!) I had tuna and a pile of salad in mine and managed to eat more than three quarters of it. I am still unable to eat meat - even chicken is unappetising most of the time - but I seem to be able to cope with fish and seafood. Last night I made Egg Foo Yung with prawns and there was enough left over for us to finish them off tonight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Testing Day

It was a long day yesterday. I had to fast from midnight Wednesday and be at the hospital at 7 am. The hospital is in Perth City and we allowed a bit too much time to get there. Kevin dropped me off at 6.45 and I spent the next three quarters of an hour waiting. At least they had the current newspaper and I spent my time productively.

At half past seven I went into the day surgery ward and, after a toilet stop, stripped completely before donning one of those awful gowns that open down the back. Because of my clotting history a pair of TEDS (pressure stockings) were pulled over my lower legs and I was shaved in the pubic area where the catheters were to be inserted. I had a visit from a doctor to explain yet again the procedures that were to be done and that after them I was required to remain in bed under observation for four hours, so I wouldn't be leaving the hospital until 5 pm at the earliest. I rang Kevin to let him know, then read the book I had taken in with me until about 9.15 when I was wheeled off to the catheterisation lab.

The procedure involved two doctors and two nurses, an enormous quantity of dressings and other paraphenalia and three screens showing the X-rays of what was happening (thank goodness for health insurance). I had a local anesthetic injected into both sides of my groin and then a sheath was inserted into the each of the arteries, one on either side. A wire was inserted to check the direction needed and then the catheters were introduced and some contrast solution injected. One of my arteries is apparently not normal and has two branches, so they had to direct the catheter and some contrast into each in turn to find which branch fed the liver. When they were satisfied they called the nuclear physician who injected some radio-opaque inert spheres. These simulate how the actual radio active spheres will perform when injected. The main reason for this test is to check that not too many of the spheres end up in the lungs. Apparently a few are OK, too many are dangerous.

The next stop was the Radiation Laboratory for a CT scan. Moving me from one horizontal surface to another was quite a procedure, since I was not supposed to move my hips or legs at all in order not to dislodge the catheters and sheaths. I had to be rolled onto my side, a mat placed under me and I was slid from one surface to the other (three or four people required for this), then the mat removed. Before the scan more contrast was injected and I went into the scanner head first - I have always been feet first before, but I had a couple of IV bags attached to my lower parts. The catheters were removed, though the sheaths remained. Another slide from the scanner onto the trolley.

We had quite a long wait then for an orderly to come and bring a machine to help push the trolley up a long steep incline and across to the Nuclear Medicine building. Another slide and I had some more images taken. This took quite a long time - five minutes for the lungs, another five minutes for the liver and then fifteen minutes for the whole torso. Then another slide and another wait - apparently there is only one machine for this particular trolley, and it has to be used for the down incline as well. We eventually got underway and were back to Day Surgery. Final slide for the day onto a normal hospital bed.

By this time I was really in need of the toilet, so I was installed with a bed pan. I can't remember the last time I had to use one of these and it was dreadful. For a woman the position is all wrong and I really envy men their different plumbing arrangement. I finally manged to empty my bladder and the final procedure took place. The sheath into my artery was removed, a plastic disk put on top and pressure applied with a clamp for twenty minutes. After the wound site had been checked for bleeding, the procedure was repeated on the other side. A check then found that there was some seepage from the first site, so manual pressure was applied for about fifteen minutes. I was warned I would have a bruise and I have a beauty this morning.

By now it was 1.30 and time for the bed rest. I was given something to drink, and did it taste good! and some sandwiches. I managed the cheese and the egg, but couldn't eat the chicken or ham. I spent the next four hours keeping really still so the wounds weren't disturbed. I was allowed to read which made the time pass quite tolerably. I rang Kevin to pick me up at 6 and followed the discharge procedure: toilet, have wounds checked, get dressed, have wounds checked, collect discharge forms. I was downstairs by 6, but Kevin didn't get there till 6.30. He had been caught in traffic. By the time we got home I was not feeling very well and I vomited. I had a glass of Sustagen and went straight to bed, where I slept the clock around. I feel much better this morning, though I have taken a precautionary Pramin.

We will not know the test results until next week. I hope they will be sent to the oncologist by Monday afternoon when we we have an appointment, but maybe not. Apparently the meeting to discuss the previous week's tests is not till Monday. Today we are off to the Ivy Suite at noon to have the PICC line dressed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Treatment Underway

Yesterday we had a consultation with the radiotherapy specialist regarding the SIRT treatment. The doctor gave us almost too much information, especially since we had researched the treatment. However, we found this a pleasant change, since the oncologist is not terribly communicative and we have to question him closely to obtain any information at all.

In any case, I am booked in for the investigative portion of the procedure. I go into hospital as a day patient next Thursday and will have some spheres injected to check that they go where they are supposed to in the liver, and not into other organs such as the lungs which would be a bad thing. Then I have a CT scan to pinpoint the liver tumours. After a period of observation to check there are no adverse effects I can go home. If all goes well, then I will get the actual treatment the next week or the week after. Then I will have to stay in hospital overnight.

I am hoping that I will be able to have this treatment as it seems likely to give me quite a lot more time. The specialist also said that it may be possible to have a second dose if the tumours start up again in a year or two. I just hope it works and kills them to start with.

I am still feeling well, though I wasn't able to eat dinner (spaghetti bolognaise) last night. I think it was the smell of the meat. Instead I had stewed apple and icecream, with a little cream. When I weighed myself this morning I had gained another half kilogram, maybe. The scales are a bit erratic.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


As you may have noticed, I follow several other cancer blogs - see the links on the left side. For the last few days I have been unable to access Jeanne's blog. Every attempt took me to a page that had nothing to do with Jeanne. Eventually I emailed her (fortunately I had had some correspondence with her a couple of months ago) and received a reply that said yes, she had been hijhacked and that she had a new site. It is (no www). I have amended my own link and it connects OK to the new site, but I am including her URL in case any one else needs the new one.

I am still doing really well - no gastric nasties and a pretty good appetite. I went to Designing Women on Saturday and lasted till early afternoon. I was pretty tired by then and went and had a nap as soon as I got home. Today I have done the washing (Kevin hung it out for me - pity it rained most of the afternoon!) and read a book in the Belgariad series which I have decided to reread after ten years or so.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Treatment

We visited the oncologist today. He seemed pleased with the overall improvement in my health. He has made an appointment with another specialist regarding the possibility of SIRT (Selective Internal Radio Therapy) treatment. This will be next Tuesday. If I am suitable for this treatment it will happen in about three weeks and I will also have some chemotherapy with a drug I haven't had before on the day before and the day after. In the meantime I have a chemo holiday - hooray!

I am feeling well and can eat quite well. I am having Sustagen between meals to keep up the calories, even though I don't want to put on too much weight. So far I seem to have gained a kilo, though my weight fluctuates from day to day. I have reasonable energy levels too. I went to the meeting of the Contemporary Quilt Group this morning before we went to the hospital. I am rather tired now, so I will go to bed straight after "Collectors" at 8pm. I want to go to the Designing Women meeting in the morning - it is the last one before the exhibition in November.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A clean plate

I finished my entire lunch just now: a slice of toast, a poached egg and some silverbeet. This is the most I have eaten for a midday meal for ages. I usually manage OK at breakfast - cereal, fruit, yoghurt or cream and full cream milk, but my appetite vanishes for the rest of the day.

Even something I fancy generally turns out to be unmanageable, like the seafood crepes I bought yesterday for last night's dinner. I ate the salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato, but could not manage more than two mouthfuls of the crepes. I chewed the seafood, but I was unable to swallow it. Such a waste, and Kevin got a bit cross with me, but I really can't help it.

I am getting much stronger though. We went grocery shopping yesterday after I had done some sewing in the morning (ATCs for a swap) and gone down to the Post Office to send them off. I had an hour nap, then we went shopping. Today I have changed the water in the flower vases (I have been given 3 big bunches in the last few days), dug out some wadding to finish off a quilt and read the first four chapters of "Phantom of Manhattan", a sequel by Frederick Forsyth to the story of the Phantom of the Opera. Don't feel like a nap yet, so may just attempt to fix some elastic in my favourite pants. I have lost a bit more than 20 kilograms (about 50 pounds) and 9 inches off my waist, so everything just falls off. These pants have an elastic back, so I am hoping that I can make them wearable again (at least around the house) by shortening the elastic.

The oedema in my legs has gone, but I am still taking antibiotics for the painful lumpy rash on my right shin.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some improvement

The visit to the oncologist last Friday was rather inconclusive. The tumour marker had slightly diminished, but he was not happy with my general condition - the overall tiredness, lack of appetite and weakness. So no treatment and an appointment to come back this coming Friday. He prescribed an antibiotic for a painful rash on my shin and said to continue the diuretic until the leg swelling had completely gone.

Three days later I am feeling much better. Yesterday I went shopping to buy some pants - I have lost so much weight that everything just falls off me. I have 2 big bags of clothes for the Good Sammies. I would be happy if I could maintain my present weight while becoming stronger - I certainly don't want to be as heavy as I was last November. After we had been shopping I actually felt hungry so we went to the food court at Garden City. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but I ended up with a large prawn and vegetable fritter from the Japanese stall. It wasn't quite as nice as I had hoped (it was rather greasy) but I managed to eat most of it. For dinner I felt like Tom Kha soup with prawns, but after I had prepared it I watched a TV show and when that was finished my appetite had gone. I did manage an icecream though as my meal, and I had the leftover soup for lunch today. It was good - the first spicy food I have had for months.