Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Month Later

It's been nearly one month since I finished chemo.  I saw my oncologist today for a follow-up appointment.

The appointment started, as always, with a blood draw.  No big deal with my friend, the port.  After that, I had to wait in the lobby for about 40 minutes while they checked the blood before my appointment.  I sat and read a book.  When the nurse came to call me, I was really stiff and had trouble getting up and walking.  My muscles and joints are still on strike and I have a lot of pain, especially when I get up from sitting down after an extended period.  When I first get up, I walk like I'm 90 years old.  But once I get going, I do much better - I walk like I'm only 80 then!

I'll take the Ferrari people mover - thanks!
My not so smooth moves didn't escape notice of the nurse. The nurse suggested that I might want to look into getting a cane.  A CANE!  I was horrified!  Trying to make her understand that a cane wouldn't help anyway, I told her, "Well, that won't work because it's BOTH of my hips that hurt..."  Ha!  So there!  Instead of making things better, she then said, "Oh well, you could get TWO canes...or a WALKER!"  Oh my gosh, I almost passed out from the thought.  A walker!  For me!  42 years old!  I've hit bottom.  Still trying to be helpful, she then suggested that I could start using those little motorized carts in the stores I go into.  This whole thing was going downhill fast.  We did finally agree that it'd be nice to have one of those personal motorized people movers.  Just for fun...and to run over people.

The doctor came in soon after and the appointment began with the whining session.  The whining session is something I've gotten pretty good at.  I like to include a whining session whenever I go to see my physical therapist as well.  Unfortunately, Maggie (my physical therapist) isn't as amused by the whining session as my oncologist is.  The oncologist tends to humor my whining.  I like that.

Anyway, I spent a good 5 minutes talking about all my aches and pains and the general feeling of blech that I'm experiencing.  I'm sleeping all the time and my joints and muscles are revolting against me, especially my hips, back and shoulders.  Dr. Coughenhour (my new oncologist since my other one left to go find a cure for cancer and stuff) looked at my blood work from that day and said that my blood counts are going up.  They aren't back to normal but they are moving in the right direction.  I'm still anemic, but the iron counts are also moving up.  Hopefully it will continue to move in the right direction and I won't need another iron infusion.  I'm concerned that I'm still having to take pain medication to sleep - I'm in too much pain to get comfortable in bed without them.  Dr. Coughenhour took all my whining in stride and told me to not rush things.  It's only been a month.  "Rest, take it easy and be good to yourself," was his advice.  I like him.

We talked about "maintaining" after cancer.  I'll need a chest x-ray every 6 months to check my lungs.  This is already covered under the tests that I get every 6 months to monitor the renal cancer.  However, if anything is found on my lungs, I'll have to have a lung biopsy to see which cancer it is - renal or breast.  That was kind of a terrifying realization. A lung biopsy is not on my bucket list of things I want to try.  The odds of this happening are low - I did everything right.  I didn't everything I was supposed to.  But, we'll be watching and waiting.

I'll be starting on a daily cancer drug soon.  It was something I expected to start now but since I'm still struggling with the side effects of the chemo, the oncologist thought it best that I wait.  There are some side-effects with the cancer drugs like muscle aches and joint pain so we need to be sure that I'm over the chemo side-effects before we pile anything else on top.

I have an appointment again in a month to see where I am and probably start on a cancer drug.  Dr. Coughenhour says he expects I'll be feeling much better by then.  I hope he's right!!  If this goes on for much longer, I might be looking for a nice walker.  I guess I could make it my own.  Put some diamonds and Snoopy stickers on it or something.  That would look super cool, I'm sure.

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