Archive for July, 2005

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Friday, July 29th, 2005

Oh my God, they’ve combined two of my favorite things into a TV commerical! Dr. Pepper and Manhamanha!

Doot do do do do….

First Day Of Treatment

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Wow, there’s so much to update on. A lot of things have changed since the last entry. Right now, I’m in the hospital (Stony Brook) getting my first round of treatment. I was here since Monday, and will probably be here until Sunday.

Why am I at Stony Brook, you might ask. Wasn’t I supposed to be at Sloan-Kettering? Well, here’s the story on that: (more…)

177

Monday, July 25th, 2005

In hospital for first chemo treatment until Saturday. E-mail me or call my cell (leave message) for visiting info.

New Job And Insurance Snafus

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

Well, I’ve got myself the job with the magazine. They’re willing to work around my doctor’s appointments and have been so nice to me so far. I start Wednesday. Woohoo!

I’m set to begin chemo soon, except I’ve run into a few insurance snafus. (more…)

Woo! I’ve got a job!

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

I got the job with the magazine, and they’re working with me to give me time off for the chemotherapy.

Yee-haw! I start Wednesday!

Bring It On

Monday, July 11th, 2005

So I went to the oncologist at Sloan-Kettering yesterday. The final diagnosis was that I have Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma IIA. That means I have cancer in more than one lymph node in the chest area, and that it hasn’t spread elsewhere.

I was given two chemotherapy options: (more…)

The Tickling Curl

Monday, July 11th, 2005

As each day passes, this whole cancer thing becomes a bigger barrel of fun.

 

Although unrelated, this morning I woke up to my head going pop. Well, it wasn’t my head going pop, but rather my right ear, which had an excruciating pain ripping through it and fluid draining out of it. At first I thought it was wax, but they had flushed my ears out two weeks ago at the doctor’s office.

 

So I made an appointment with the doctor. He said there was no sign of infection or wax in my ear, so he put this strange sucking apparatus in my ear, which measures the internal pressure. He determined that the fluid was cystic drainage, and that there was a micro-perforation in my eardrum. He put me on amoxicillin to prevent infection, because my immune system is shot, some Sudafed, and another medication in case the antibiotics cause other problems. I have a follow-up appointment in two weeks.

 

My niece and nephew are down from Binghamton for the weekend, so today we planned to go the beach at Robert Moses after my testing at Good Samaritan Hospital. They haven’t been to the beach for a long time and were looking forward to it. So all of us went to the hospital, bathing suits and towels in hand.

 

My test, a MUGA, was supposed to check that my heart was strong enough for chemotherapy. When I got to the hospital, they initially said the test was going to take an hour. They had to inject me with something to make my red blood cells stand out for the camera, which looked like a closed-MRI-meets-a-space-ride-at-Epcot-Center. I had to lay down on this long board, while these cameras closed in on me and my left arm was shoved into position above my shoulder. The cameras were only two or three inches above my body and stifled me.

 

The camera has to take a series of images – first a large one, then a couple of small ones. The large one was supposed to last for about 6,000 beats. However, the computer didn’t like some of my heartbeats and rejected them. So the large image, which was supposed to take 20 minutes in total, was only halfway done at the 25-minute mark. The doctor got pissed and deleted it, telling his assistant to start all over again. They changed some settings on the computer, so it would only track 40 percent of my heartbeats instead of the 60 percent, which was giving the computer “bad” heartbeat. The “bad” heartbeat was actually arrhythmia, which was probably due to all of the medication I’ve been taking. So instead of my heart beating at a normal pace, it was jumping from 60 beats per minute to 85 to 90 to 70.

 

“Only 20 more minutes, sweetie,” said the assistant, and he left the room.

 

So I sat there for 20 minutes. And all of a sudden I felt it. A piece of hair strayed in the room’s air conditioning and laid flat down the middle of my nose. In my squashed state, I was unable to move my arm to move the hair off my nose. It was bothering me greatly. If I crossed my eyes, I could see the curly piece of hair brushing the skin.

 

So I did the only thing I could do – I stuck out my lower lip and blew upwards. However, instead of blowing the curl away from my nose, I wound up blowing the end of the hair up my nose. Now not only the outside of my nose itched, but the inside as well. I couldn’t blow out my nose, otherwise more than that piece of hair would have come out, and I had no means of cleaning up. So I shook head violently from side to side for a few minutes and finally dislodged it.

 

At this point, I was getting impatient and severely annoyed… 20 minutes has passed, and I still was under the machine. The assistant kept coming in and out of the room, adding on 20 minute increments to my time being there. My mom kept calling from the waiting room to see if I was all right, so I told the assistant to tell her to go home with the kids, who were getting antsy, and come back for me later.

 

My left arm was getting severely cramped now. I actually began to cry because it hurt so much, and I couldn’t move until the imaging was over. The assistant apologized profusely, and as soon as it was time to move to the next set of imaging, he shoved my arm down and stuck a pillow underneath it.

 

By the time the whole thing was over, the one-hour test turned into three-and-a-half-hours. I got out, just having missed my mom, who left to bring the kids home. I then realized I had no cell phone or money, so I called home collect, and no one picked up. My blood sugar had dropped because I hadn’t eaten all day, and I was just totally miserable. I walked outside, sat underneath a tree, and bawled my eyes out until my mom came and picked me up. It was the first time I had cried over the whole thing.

 

So, tomorrow is my visit to the oncologist to find out the stage of my cancer and what my treatment options are. Wish me luck; hopefully it’s nothing too serious.

 

And Good Samaritan’s reading material rating? Two out of five stars. People magazine. I’m so sick of reading about Katie and Tom and “Desperate Housewives.” Next time I’ll bring a book.

There’s nothing like waking up and looking out your window…

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

To see four Suffolk County policemen lining your front yard with yellow tape and blocking the road perpendicular to your house with two patrol cars. I get up to investigate, and notice half my block is lined with the police tape. They take out a clip board and let two long black limos through. I go out in my pajamas and ask the cops what was going on. There’s a funeral procession today at the Lutheran church two houses down for a NYS Trooper that was killed on duty. The tape is marking off the area where police cars are going to be parking pre-procession.

1) Who has funeral processions on a Sunday at 10 a.m.?
2) Who cancels regular Sunday Mass for a funeral procession?
3) Why do they begin blocking off the street at 8 p.m. when the procession is at 10?
4) Why is it such a big deal at the church if the funeral itself is supposedly at the funeral home a mile away?
5) Why isn’t this on News 12 or in Newsday?

173

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

Any suggestions for a LJ client that makes it easy to switch and update between two usernames without having to constantly log in and out?

Chalk-Flavored Apple Juice

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

It looks like the Prednisone the physician’s assistant at the Southside Hospital ER gave me to control the cough is working wonders. I have coughed maybe once – and only to clear my throat – since they’ve given me the shot. I take the supplementary pills once a day. Why didn’t any of the other doctors I saw for this cough even think of this? They all seemed so intent on making me take codeine – and I even stopped taking that since I got the Prednisone. The codeine just made me too whacky. Never again. I should just stick to my guns when I say I don’t want a medication.

Today I went to the radiologist for another CT scan, this time of my abdominal region. Apparently, it was not taken with the PET scan, and they just want to make sure that the cancer didn’t spread to the lymph nodes in my groin. Well, abdominal CT scans mean one thing – barium drinks. Oh, how I loathe thee. Just take a flavor, mix it with sidewalk chalk, and you’ve got the barium drink. Usually it is orange flavored – last time I had to drink barium, I couldn’t eat Cremesicles for years. This time they had two other flavors, banana and apple. I chose the lesser of two evils, the chalk-flavored apple juice.

I saw another woman drinking it in the office and already felt sick to my stomach. The nurse mixed the drink and handed it to me. OK, one drink, I can deal. I turned around to go back to my seat, and she said, “Wait, one more!” Two liters of “Apple Smoothie” barium with the juicy looking apple design on the front. Smoothie? Is that supposed to make the patient feel like it’s some hip yuppie-yoga drink? I don’t like smoothies very much to begin with!

So I gulped them down as fast as I could. My stomach began to cramp up – a side effect of barium, but I’m sure part of it was my disgust. After I managed to down the whole two liters, I had to wait for another 20 minutes to be called in.

Finally, I went into the scanning room and the nurse prepared the IV with the iodine solution in it. She put it in my hand and it actually hurt this time. I think that if I have to get chemo, I’m going to get a port, because I have really crappy veins. The vein in my right hand has already collapsed from all the blood work and IVs from the past month and a half.

The CT scan machine is a funny thing – it has these two little Pac-Man type faces that tell you when to breath in and hold your breath. The faces are so funny looking that it’s hard not to burst out laughing as you’re being scanned… which defeats the whole purpose of your getting the scan done.

The radiologist came to check in on me, and he asked, “So how did you know to go get tested for lymphoma? Did you have that tell-tale dry hacking cough that usually accompanies the cancer?”

I looked up at him in surprise. I replied, “The thoracic surgeon told me the cough had absolutely nothing to do with the cancer.”

He said, “I’m no thoracic surgeon; I’m just a radiologist. However, I’ve seen plenty of people with lymphoma come in here with that type of cough.”

Strike three for the thoracic surgeon at Stony Brook: first, he never called me, as promised, with the results of the biopsy; we had to call him. Second, he said he’d call me with pulminologist referrals, but never did. He claimed he called, but “I don’t leave messages.” Well, HELLO! I’ve been in and out of doctor’s appointments all week, of course I was going to miss your call! Third, he was constantly pulling information out of his behind. I swear, he was one of the most arrogant doctors that I’ve ever seen. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with him anymore.

Monday, I have a MUGA scan (a cardiac test) at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, then Tuesday it’s off to Sloan-Kettering. I then find out my treatment options and whether or not I can take the job with the magazine.

Speaking of magazine, it is now time for my Waiting Room Reading Material Ratings for all the doctors I’ve seen so far:

  • Chiropractor – great, up-to-date magazines, can’t get bored. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • My regular doctor – ditto for the great, up-to-date magazines. 5 out of 5 stars.
  • Stony Brook Hospital Lung Cancer Evaluation Center – great magazines, horribly out of date. 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Southside Hospital Emergency Room – dime store novels and a bunch of books left behind by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Amusument factor gives it 2 out of 5 stars.
  • Medical Arts RadiologyField and Stream, Sports Illustrated, and Digital Imaging (and it’s not about photography, it’s about MRIs). Hardly the feminine foray. 1 out of 5 stars