Saturday, August 22, 2009

Third Super Chemo Day Report

I was pretty motivated to get to Duke and get my chemo and kill some cancer, because this was my last chance to make some progress before Scan Day on September 3.

So I hit the road right on time armed with my LIST OF QUESTIONS and handheld Tetris game and novel and small bag of used books to abandon there for other patients. Oh, and wearing a awesome pink Boston Red Sox baseball cap from Patsy and Omer (instead of my wig) because if I cannot show up all bald at the clinic then that is just wrong.

But the traffic! 40 was a mess and I eventually had to call over to Duke to let them know I would be 30 minutes late. They were very nice about it on the phone.

My list of questions:

  • Report that I had completely forgotten to tell them that the tumor in my psoas muscle had started sending out twinges in the last week of July. (There had been no feeling at all from that tumor since the second day of fabulous Cyber Knife raditiation surgery at the start of June.) The twinges were mild but frequent for a few days and now are extremely infrequent but do occur. Nothing so bad that requires an Advil, just a reminder that it exists.

  • Wonder if it is reasonable to think that the twinges are a sign that the chemo is messing with that tumor and making it unhappy. That theory fills me with joy.

  • Report that I have had mild headaches almost every day right behind my eyes for the last two weeks (separate from the migraines). The underlying question here is of course, do I now have a brain tumor?!

Dr Reidel smiled and said that it is totally okay to have my theory that the twinges mean the tumor is shrinking, but that we will find out on Scan Day what is going on. He did explain that there is a phenomenon called Radiation Recall, where a patient who has had radiation followed by chemotherapy experiences a sort of "repeat" of the radiation-induced inflammation and side effects in the irradiated area. Interesting.

We talked about my mild headaches for quite awhile. They sit right behind my eyes, which reminded me that a month ago my software at work was "upgraded" and is now in a smaller font and very hard for me to read and cannot be adjusted, gosh darn it. I now have to tilt my head to read the screen using the lowest band in my fancy progressive eyeglasses. That sounds like a recipe for eye strain, eh? So Dr Reidel suggested that I go to the eye doctor first to rule that out before we start worrying that the cancer has moved into my head.

The rest of my Super Chemo Day was pleasant and uneventful, so I want to jump right ahead to Friday and my visit to the eye doctor! There was a flyer on the bulletin board at work for a specialists in dealing with computer vision trouble. Plus they offer big discounts to SAS employees! So I called at lunchtime and they got me right in. I had a pretty thorough eye exam.

It turns out I have a perfect storm of eye trouble going on that is probably causing the headaches:

  • My eyes are extremely dry! I have already talked about how my mouth is really dry from the Tax chemo. So it makes sense that my eyes are dry too. The doctor gave me a couple of boxes of preservative free single usage moisture drops and told me to use them often. Already my eyes feel much better, and I did not wake up with a mild headache like I have every morning.

  • My sinuses are still percolating with something, and that always gives me a headache too.

  • I am 44 which is a time when my prescription is potentially changing for the worst. I definitely could use a special pair of glasses that will give me the perfect focus for looking at my two computer monitors (which sit 24 inches from my eyes).

  • The software upgrade has probably been causing eye strain for the entire month and having a cumulative effect. For the last two weeks, it has been just ridiculous squinting at the text on the screen.

So I ordered a new pair of glasses just to wear at the computer, and they'll be in next Friday. I was shameless in searching for a cheap frame! Why spend $275 for this lovely Coach frame with PINK accents for a pair of glasses I am supposed to wear only while sitting in front of my computer! I actually found a nice looking, sturdy frame for $120.

It will be strange to have two pairs of glasses to swap back and forth between. Since like the first grade when I got my first glasses that showed me the miracle of what you all could see, I basically put them on in the morning and take them off at night. Although, once I hit 40, I had to spend a lot of time lifting them out of the way to read any small print (till I got the progressive lenses).

Okay, Lou needs breakfast!


omerandpat said...

You are soooo eloquent. It is easy for us to share your journey.
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

So glad you got all your questions answered and that your docs are so wonderful. You, as always, are most inpiring. Love, CQ

Truett said...

Thanks for the updates.

Your decriptive writing is excellent. Maybe you need to write a book.

You are in our thoughts and prayers every day.

Look at www.Gorham' for a neat place we just visited for 52nd Anniv. Also went to Pigeon Forge,Tn.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

You write so beautifully and your entries are so enjoyable to read sometimes I forget the whole reason you are doing it is because you are sick and want all of us to be able to love and support you. And like the others who posted today everyone, including me from the start, thinks you could turn this into a really really great book. I am so glad your migraines are disappearing again!!! I hope you have a great day tomorrow and get everything accomplished that you want to. OK time to go to bed. Much love and hugs long distance from me and Jim. Debbie P.