Monday, September 29, 2008

Joy Joy it is Monday.

I went to the surgeon on Thursday and the incision was indeed infected. He put me on antibiotics, told me to use warm compresses and come back if it opened up and started to ooze. Well the warm compresses helped to reduce the redness and soreness around the incision, but it also caused it to open up and of course all this yucky puss came out. I called the doctor’s office on Friday morning and they told me to come in right away. He opened up the incision to clean it out and packed it with gauze. I have to change the gauze two to three times a day. Let me tell you this has not been fun. While the infection is getting better, the incision is raw and irritated and the gauze adheres to the flesh so every time I have to change it is starts to bleed and of course it hurts. I go back to the doctor tomorrow afternoon. I am not quite sure what he is going to do, I don’t think he will stitch it back up, so maybe I will just have a gaping wound that will eventually heal from the inside out and scar over.

The good news is the doctor said I could go back to work. I went in Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours and tired myself out. Thursday night I had chills and a fever due to the infection and Friday I felt like crap so I was only at work for all of 30 minutes before the doctor told me to come back in. I am working today for a couple of hours, but do plan a nap for the afternoon.

This weekend I took it easy lounging around like a slug and watched movies. The doc put me on estrogen and the hot flashes are slowly decreasing in frequency. Don’t get me wrong, I still wake up in the middle of the night sweating like a pig. Thursday night was the worst. I had chills from the fever and could not get warm one minute and was throwing off my covers the next with a hot flash. Menopause is not fun. I feel bad for making fun of my mom for all these years. I am too young to be experiencing this. This is definitely something I am happy putting off for several years or better yet not experiencing at all.

The nausea continues and is very frustrating. I am not eating a lot and have vomited for the last three days. I have not had much in my system but medicine so it is mostly dry heaves with some bile mixed in for effect. I could not get in with the specialist until October 17th so it looks like I will have three more weeks of nausea.

I will write an update tomorrow after visiting the surgeon and the oncologist.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot Flashes – Yeesh

It has been a little over a week since surgery. I am feeling pretty good - still a little sore, but I am off the narcotics. One of my incisions looks funny – it is red and feels hot – I am pretty sure it is infected. I called the doctor’s office today and I am going in to see him tomorrow. I think the pain that I am still having is coming from the incision. Hopefully he will put me on antibiotics and then everything will be fine. I am hoping to talk the doctor in to letting me go back to work next week. I can not imagine sitting around for 2 more weeks before given the clear to go back to work.

The one side effect that I am having that I did not expect is hot flashes. I knew they would come, but not so soon. One minute I am cold and the next I am sweating. There seems to be no happy medium. I am too young to be going through menopause. I read on the internet that surgical menopause starts right after surgery and is often worse than regular menopause. The doctor mentioned to my mom that they can start me on hormones. Since I am going back to the doctor early – lets hope that I can start the hormones early too.

I feel bad after making fun of my mom and her hot flashes for years. This is no laughing matter. My co-workers came to visit me today and I had to keep fanning myself with a magazine during the visit. I begged them to send me some work – I am so bored. At least last week I was doped up and slept all the time to be bored. The visit was fun – they had me laughing so hard I had to hold my side it hurt to laugh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stir Crazy

One week after surgery and I am resting at home. Mom and dad took good care of me last week, but it is nice to be at home in my own bed. Surgery went well. The doctor found quite a bit of scar tissue from a previous surgery that has been causing pain. Hopefully now that it has been removed and the tumors are gone the pain will subside. It is amazing to me that everything was removed through four little incisions. Even though I do not have a big incision, I am still pretty sore. It is hard to move around, but I am hanging in. I seem to nap every couple of hours, but am not taking as much of the pain medication.

Originally I was planning to only be out of work for two weeks, but my discharge papers said four weeks. Not sure what I am supposed to do for three more weeks. I am already stir crazy sitting on the couch not doing anything.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Going under the knife

Today is surgery day. I got a moderately good night sleep and I am only a little stressed. I have complete faith my doctors, I just do not know what they are going to find and I hope it all goes well. I will be staying at my parent’s house until the weekend and will not have access to email or blog. I know – it is the dark ages. I will have my cell phone with me, but will only turn it on occasionally. Thank you to all who have called and emailed good wished and thanks for you prayers. I know that this will all work out.

Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anticlimatic

I just got back from my scan. The ending is very anti climatic compared to the prep. It was entertaining though. I was taken back to a room to change into a gown. Luckily they gave me one to use as a robe so I did not get a back draft. The technician was very nice and only made me take a couple more sips of the disgusting stuff. I then went into the scan room and they hooked me up to an IV for the iodine dye. The most exciting part was when they injected the dye I felt flushed and felt like I was going to pee my pants.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes. The only thing I have to remember it by is a band aid on my arm where they put the IV and the fact that I have to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so.

Now I just have to wait for the results and hope that nothing is too bad and they can still go ahead with surgery on Monday. I am ready to get these parts removed.

Yum Yum Barium

Ok the second one is down. I think I started chugging too fast. I got a brain freeze from the coldness. And then I had a big puke. I took a brief break and slowly gulped that rest. Next time I only have to do half of the bottle. My cheerleaders were great. Tessa made posters: CHUG CHUG CHUG, Go Allison, and Yum, Yum, Barium! I think we might be having too much fun with this if that is possible. Hell at least I still have my humor. I wonder what the % of consumption vs. staying is for this stuff. They have to expect some portion of it to come back up. I thought I had finished chugging this bottle and looked down and there was still a sip left, so I like an idiot went back for more.

I had a boyfriend that called me "All or Nothing Alli". My motto is that if it is worth doing, you should do it all the way or not do it at all.

Did I mention I went to the dentist on Monday and broke out into giggles filling out the forms. the first question was Are you in good general health? Another was a list of all medications, but it only gave two slots, the next was list of surgeries. I started listing and quickly ran out of room and wanted to write "see addendum". Just wait until I have to get the actually work down. I am going to request laughing gas - that should really make the experience a riot.

I think I might have officially gone insane.

11:30 One Down 2 to go.

For those of you who have not read this mornings blog, you might want to skip down. I have successfully downed my first bottle of Barium. I had two great cheerleaders and only purged a little twice. I chose not to do it in the bathroom because I thought the toilet would be too tempting - sorta like a self full filling prophecy. It tastes like orange flavored milk. Luckily they told me to put it in the fridge. Have I told you I HATE milk? but at least it was not warm milk. The next chugs are at 12:20 (whole bottle), 12:50 (half bottle) and the remaining half when I get to my appointment. I am a little bummed I won't have my cheering squad with me for the last bit.

I still think I should have gone for the beer bong.

Just another day on the roller coaster!

I went to the doctor yesterday to find out why I am still having so much nausea and vomiting. She thinks it could be one of three things: Irritable Bowel, Gall Bladder attack or my Liver. She took some blood, a urine sample and scheduled me for a pelvic/abdominal CT scan. So today I get to drink three huge bottles of barium. Joy! Joy! As if my life is not exciting enough this morning I will be chugging what is essentially liquid chalk. The people in my office are great and they will be cheering me on with a “Chug, Chug” as I down the vile concoction.

This is just another ride on the roller coaster of medical crap. If there is a problem I might not be able to have surgery on Monday. Can’t they just go in and take out everything I don’t need….gall bladder, spleen, appendix anything that can get inflamed and is not essential to my daily life. For that matter, they should take out half my liver, one of my kidneys and go ahead take out the pancreas while they are at it. I feel like every time I see a glimmer of sunlight through the clouds the storm comes my way. UGH Just picture me as that cartoon with the storm hover over my head while the weather is perfect elsewhere. How much more am I supposed to handle? I mean – I am just as game as another to endure some hardship, but I think I am at my quota for at least this year.

The irony of today is they order the CT scan for nausea and vomiting and they give me something to drink that is sure to make me puke. What the *&^%.

She asked if I have been under any undue stress. What kind of question is that? Stress – me – no. It has been a walk in the park these past couple of weeks, getting my head around surgery and hearing the latest test results. I normally find my doctor to be bright and understanding and maybe she just had a moment of stupidity – but come on. If you looked in Wikipedia right now under stress my picture would be there.

On top of today’s adventure I am really looking forward to Sunday. I have to do bowel prep for the surgery which means a day of liquid diet, some more disgusting liquid to pour down my throat and some major time in the bathroom.

On a lighter note – my chemo ridden brain was finally able to remember that the cleaning lady comes today and I remembered to pick up the house and clean out the sink. Usually I forget and she probably rolls her eyes when she sees all the clutter on the tables and floors. One month when I had just returned from Aruba I had sorted all my laundry on the living room floor. Heaven knows what she thought when she had to pick up my underwear and put it on the couch so she could vacuum. She is a saint. She will probably faint of shock when she sees the place.

Normally I love amusement rides especially roller coasters but this one is going through the haunted house.

PS - It could be worse. I could be sitting hours of design meetings at T. Rowe.

Monday, September 8, 2008

War on Cancer Videos

Well it is 4am again and I can't sleep. I did have a deep sleep from 12-3:30, it is just not enough. Today (yesterday really) was a good day. I woke up to the beautiful weather and went to church and there was a little fair going on. It was great to see everyone even though I shared my news to a couple of people all in all the time spent talking to people was joyous.

I went for a bike ride yesterday afternoon with a new friend and co-worker. It was not much of a ride. I need a break twice and all we did was a short loop around a shopping center. It felt so good to feel the wind blow across my face and know that it was my own legs that was projecting me through. There was a couple time where my legs burned and my chest burned, which is just pathetic considering the lack of distance we rode. But the factor of the matter is that I got on my bike and rode. I had been psyching up to ride the Booty ride this weekend and even though it was cancelled due to rain I decided come hell or high water I was going to ride and that is what I did.

After the brief ride, we got smoothies and talked. It felt good to talk about everything that was going on and to get a fresh perspective on things.

Now on to the most important part of the post. Thursday morning I walked into the office and there was a new little flip video camera on my desk and an email requesting that I make a 1 minute video about the way on cancer to support the upcoming cancer bill. It just so happened that night I was going to a stupid cancer happy hour in DC so I took the camera and and asked other fighters and survivors what they thought about cancer.

Friday morning I took the camera back to work, plugged it into the computer and we had great clips. With assistance of Brian (new co-worker) we edited the video and mixed a movie. We great not just one video, but two. What a fund way to spend your Friday morning. I love this job. It was great to focus on something more important then what was going on in my life.
So here is my debut of write, director, cameraman and co-producer of the War on Cancer for the Ulman Cancer Fund. Please check them out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-L_u6dsVBQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8307O2GYf8

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not Great News

I went to the doctor yesterday to get the news about my CT scans and blood work and the news is not good. The cancer is back. The tumors in the lungs have grown in size after previously shrinking. In addition there are more tumors in the lung and the tumor in the liver has also grown in size. The blood work showed that the liver function is down.

They have moved surgery up to September 15th, a mere week away. After surgery I will have to go back on chemo.

I am having major mood swing. If I keep busy and don’t think about it I am fine even laughing, but as soon as I start to think about it I get overwhelmed with the fear and anger.

This is so not fair. I do not want to do this again. I feel like I was just getting my life back together. I knew in my heart on Tuesday went I went for the scan that the cancer was back, I am not sure how but I felt it in my gut.

How much more am I supposed to take???? What did I do to deserve this??? I was just getting used to having hair again….Why me??

I don't want to have cancer anymore. I don't want to be sick anymore. How am I supposed to work fulltime and go through treatment again. I just started this great new job.

Cancer Sucks!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hump Day

Medical Update
I went to my pre-op appointment this morning for my hysterectomy later this month. I am not sure why, but I am getting very nervous about the surgery. I know the surgery is the right thing to do and it will be a relief to get the tumors out of my body and I should be able to get some much needed pain relief. It is scheduled for September 29th. It is being done laparoscopically and is outpatient if you can believe it. I was a little worried about being sent home after surgery, but the doctor said that if I am nauseous (when am I not) or in a lot of pain they will keep me for the night.

Yesterday I had a CT scan to check on the status of the tumors. I could not get any information out of the radiologist except that there are still tumors in my lung, kidney and liver, ovaries and uterus. I feel like my body is riddled with cancer. It is not great news, but the real test will be tomorrow when I go to the oncologist to find out if they have changed size. I have been very worried about this for some reason, so please send prayers and good thoughts my way.

Love the Job!!!
Work is great. I love it here. It is a little slow right now, but I know that will change and I will be very busy. I have no doubts that it was the right thing to switch jobs. Everyone here is so nice and I have already met some great contacts and have learned about a lot of resources in just a week.

Booty Ride
This weekend is the 24 hours of Booty bike ride. Right now we are watching the weather forecast since hurricane Hanna is heading in our direction. I am hoping that the forecast is wrong or she will shift courses and we will have wonderful weather. I have not been able to get as much time on the bike preparing for the ride as I would like due to chemo. I did go for a ride the other day, but I am having so technically difficulties so I had to cut it short. Today I am going to take in the bike and get a tune up.

If it does not rain on Saturday and you have some extra time; please come out to the Gateway business park to cheer me on. My goal is 10 laps, the loop is 2.6 miles. Based on my short ride on Sunday, I may only be able to do one lap at a time, but I do have 24 hours to do it. for more information check out http://www.24hoursofbooty.org/

Screw Cancer

The Ulman Cancer Fund is having a fundraiser next month. It is called Screw Cancer and it is going to be a great night to toast life. The event is October 26th at Trapeze Restaurant in Fulton MD. Tickets are $75. I hope that you can join me and celebrate my health. I really thought that cancer was going to win the war last spring, but now I am kicking its butt and I believe I will continue to come out on top. For more information and buy tickets go to: http://www.ulmanfund.org/ScrewCancer/

New Blog
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults has a new blog and this week I wrote the posting. Check it out - http://ulmanfund.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling like crap

It is 5am I can’t sleep, in pain, vomiting and itching from a thousand mosquito bites. The pain that was a dull ache decided to come back in sharp nail biting pain yesterday and it is driving me crazy. I have tried pain pills, meditation and deep breathing and nothing is helping. On top of it all I am nauseous and vomiting. I talked to the doctor on Thursday and we thought that my morning meds were causing the nausea, so we discontinued one and switching the others to the evening. So now instead of be sick mid morning, I am sick all night.

Basically it is the middle of the night and I am miserable. There are so many good things going on, but all I can focus on is how bad I am feeling. This sucks.

I feel so alone when I feel like this. I went to church today and cried through the whole service. I am in major need of a hug.