We’ve been busy the last few days! I got the “all clear” from Dr. Cheng to travel to Minneapolis for become’s conference!!! But, he said no airplanes and best to have someone else along to drive. So, my amazing husband offered to take a vacation day to go and make it a family get-away. My mom and dad kept Eli, and the rest of us road-tripped on Friday morning and returned Sunday evening.
I had a fabulous time with all my become friends and new friends. Hanging with the girls is really one of the best parts of the weekend, so it was hard for me to set limits and say no. I left the meetings a few times to take a power nap. Didn’t go out at night. Skipped out on a dinner. But, I did these things because I promised myself, Chris, and my mom too, that I would not push the limits. I would not exhaust myself. I would not risk THIS being the thing that caused a complication. I was good. And it was a great weekend and so nice to have a change of pace!
Chris and the kids had fun exploring. They swam in the hotel pool a few times. They ate their way through the farmers market on Saturday morning. Found an awesome park recommended by my new friend. Went to the Mall of America. Had some rollercoaster “fun” (the pictures tell it all.)
Corn dogs at the Farmer’s Market. (Does that seem wrong?) And a super cool park!
Mall of America. Here they go…first roller coaster ride for Owen.
And this is how it went…
My favorite picture. So sad and so adorable at the same time!
Thanks, Daddy! Dippin Dots and all is right in the world!
This ride looks more like Owen’s style…
Sadly, meeting up with friends wasn’t in the cards. We had to cancel plans to meet our good friend and his family on Sunday before we left. And, I was not able to connect with a new friend (whom I have never met in real life but we message back and forth) and is a 30-something-mama-breast-cancer-survivor of 2 years, because she was sick. As we know, chemo patients stay away from sick people. But, besides that…awesome weekend! The kids LOVE hotels. And they LOVED their Minnesota trip.
Treatment #7 was today. OVER THE HUMP!!! My Sister-In-Law Dana, (my brother Dave’s wife – I have 2 Dana SIL’s, hence the need to clarify) pointed out that I can count remaining treatments on ONE HAND!!!!! Wahoo!!!
My excitement about this quickly dwindled at the lab this morning. Before each treatment I have my blood drawn through my port so the doctors can check my counts/levels and determine if I am strong enough for chemo. Today, my port would not return blood. My very basic understanding of what was happening is this: my port was acting like a one-way street. They could flush fluids IN, but blood would not come OUT.
So began the interesting acrobatics of the morning. They told me to lean forward and tried to draw blood. No blood. Nothing. Turn my head to the side and cough (isn’t that for men’s check-ups?) Nothing. Stand up. Lay down in the recliner chair. Lay on my side. Other side. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. I am now getting worried. This seemed bad.
They gave me a medicine (I don’t know the official name, but it was three letters like TPA or something) which was supposed to break up whatever was blocking things in there. I can’t really explain this better. I honestly don’t know what my port looks like or how it’s all connected. One time I opened the booklet I got the day of my port placement that illustrated all of this and quickly closed the book. That kind of stuff makes my stomach queezy so I prefer not to think about it.
Anyhow, the medicine needed an hour to take effect. So, they drew my blood the old fashioned way through the arm so as not to delay treatment any further. Up we went to the Day Hospital. I had a great Nurse today who was so patient and calmed me down. Assured me that this happens, it’s not unusual, don’t panic. I needed that, because I’m a panicker. The hour of waiting had passed, so she tried through the port again. Nothing. More acrobatics. Still Nothing.
Now I am trying to hold it together but quite honestly am on the verge of tears. Maybe this happens all the time, maybe it’s nothing to worry about. But, my mind wanders to worst case scenarios…which sounded like coming in for a procedure to inject a dye and do a scan so they can see what’s up with the blockage.
If Nurse can’t get blood at all, chemo today could be through an IV in my arm. Nurse doesn’t want to do that because the kind of chemo I get can be very dangerous if any escapes a vein and cause severe burning of the skin. She would also have to check blood return every couple minutes to make sure that things are working properly. It’s not an ideal situation.
Nurse calmly tells me everything is fine. She tries to get blood again and is starting to get a little “pink” fluid. Although it’s not blood, something is breaking up and must be working. Let’s wait to give the meds more time to work and try again.
Enter Sister-In-Law Dana (Chris’ sister) who just so happens to be a nurse practitioner herself, and a doctor-nurse (like the PhD kind!), has administered chemo in the past, and KNOWS THINGS!!! Through texting and later, a very reassuring phone call (that unfortunately I couldn’t take live because my phone was dying at the hospital…ugh!!!) assured me this happens, and said this was probably better described as an annoyance versus a complication. Ok, that’s good.
While we’re waiting, I got visitors!!! Auntie Karen and Auntie Patti, my mom’s two sisters had the day off after returning from their Vegas get-away. So they came with pictures and stories of their trip.
They must have been my good-luck charms, because when Nurse checked again, more pink. But still no blood, so she ordered more of the medication I received earlier. A second round could be given 2 hours after the initial dose. The third time she checked, more pink but still no blood. She was about to get the meds and decided to try one last time – BLOOD!!!!!!!!! Hallelulia! Let the chemo begin. We joked that it was all the luck of “Bibbity, Bobbity, and Boo” aka Mom, A. Karen, A. Patti.
What I got from all the people involved in my care/calming me down today is that reasons this problem could happen are: scar tissue build-up, or port getting stuck to the artery wall, or my body trying to “fix” what it perceives as a broken/foreign part of my body and creating kind of a “flap” that allows flow in and not out. Who knows what happened!
After that, chemo as usual. It was usual until about 10 minutes before the end when I started getting a “buzzing” type feeling in my hands, feet, and tongue. What? Hands and feet I was prepared for (this can be a side effect) but tongue? Nurse assured me it CAN happen in the tongue too. Ok?!?! Weird.
On the way home, hand and feet buzzing is gone, but tongue buzzing turns to numb tongue and it’s also happening in the back of my throat. Now I’m panicking. They always say watch for shortness of breath (no), tightness in chest (no) swelling/thickening of tongue…ummmm, no but it is NUMB!!! Is that swelling? I don’t know. I’m an overreacter and a panicker. So, I’m sure something is wrong.
I TRIED to hear Chris’ logical voice in my head. I prayed to be calm and have the ability to relax. I’m sure my panicking makes things worse. After an hour, I called the breast care nurse. She spoke to Dr. Cheng, who wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and thought it would self-resolve. They told me I could try an antihistamine. Again, this nurse tells me to just watch for swelling of tongue and/or throat and if that happens call 911. Fantastic.
Well, it DID finally self-resolve. By about 8:00pm, I was “normal.” Whew – what a DAY! Kids, color in another chemo-killing bullet. 5 more treatments to go.