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Monday, September 13, 2010

Herceptin Infusion #15

Two infusions left!!! I'm so psyched. October will be the last month of active treatments. It's about time!! I know a lot of people say herceptin is no big deal, and in comparison to active chemo, it really is a walk in the park; however, it's like a walk in a park that has fallen into ruin, where the swings are missing seats, where the grass is strewn with trash and has more bare patches than grassy patches, and where the trash cans are stinky and surrounded by flies.

Yes, it's still a park, but....

So, I'm all burbly and tired and bitchy, all of which is compounded by the lunch I ate, I'm sure, which consisted of a turkey burger with avocado, cheese, and bacon. I so rarely eat meat of any sort any more. If it wasn't the lunch that is making me feel so horrid, then the reactions I'm getting to the herceptin are getting worse each treatment. I'm going with the "it was the lunch" theory for now.

Yet, were it the herceptin, I'd only have to experience this two more times in my life. If it's the lunch, then....damn.

I also had an appointment with Dr. Mo today. I so heart spending time with her. A good doctor will keep you alive as long as possible. A great doctor enjoys living with you, you know?

Of course, she's so busy and I'm no so low priority that I first had to see her practice doctor and this physical therapist she now has on staff. In doing so, I got to share my story at least twice. And they all deemed me doing well, doing wonderfully, fine, excellent, spectacular!

I could have told them that.

The practice doctor was concerned that I'd lost 9 pounds in 9 weeks. However, since I've been working out and eating less, that's actually rather ideal and not a sign of cancer (personally, I think he was reassuring himself, not me when he said that). He was concerned that I'm still fatigued and that my last labs showed that I'm anemic and have micro-blah blah blah hemoglobin yadda yadda yadda. At that point I mentioned that I have thalassimia and that's all normal. Furthermore, I don't feel anemic fatigue...I'm well versed in that feeling having had it all my life. However, not being an MD or someone else who knows what she's talking about, he ordered more labs and had written a prescription for iron...

Gotta love Dr. Mo, she looked pointedly at him when she came in the room and asked, "Didn't Dawn tell you she has thalassimia and her numbers were, therefore, normal for her. She can get labs done in the spring when we see her again. Now, just so you know in the future, you might be tempted to prescribe iron for someone with her numbers, but that is exactly what one doesn't do for people with thalassimia."

Vindication is an awesome feeling.

She then said that she could tell I was doing well, so let's not waste time with that. What changes am I frustrated with now that it should all be over and people probably think it's all over.

God bless her.

She then validated everything I've been feeling and frustrated with. The fatigue, she says is worse for women over 40 and under 70 who go through treatment. She also said it was perfectly normal to feel 10 years older, not just in energy level, but in joints and muscles, and **20** years older mentally.

I mentioned that I'm still having problems with my feet, and she said to use this opportunity to shop for all new shoes and better quality socks. When I told her that was what I'd been doing, she asked me for brand names and stores (she, too, has foot issues and finds many shoes uncomfortable). She told the practice doctor that this was all important information and that he might need to get his female nurses to solicit such information from female patients. And then the information needed to be passed on to his nurses so they could help other women with similar problems.

I then told her that the worst problem was my diminished cognitive capacity and not only does it make me sad, but it's really affecting my mood. She said that cognitive diminishment is now "in the books" and that this area will probably get some of the most rigorous research in the future, now that they've gotten nausea and other chemo side effects controlled. She suggested giving it a full year before I really start to worry, suggested some ways to work with it--such as exercise and sleep, reading and some other forms of stimulation--but also said that the women who notice it the most are the ones who had the most to lose, which is a nice compliment, I suppose, but still really sucks.

Although the practice doctor didn't think that Ambien would help me with this issue, Dr. Mo agreed with me that if I were to be able to go to bed and immediately fall asleep, guaranteeing a little more sleep each night with less chance of awakening, I'd find that I'd function better at work and maybe not be so volatile with my children.

Validation is nice.

So, overall, everything is going well. I don't see Dr. Mo again until MARCH which is sort of scary, but also wonderful.

I have two more herceptin infusions. And my reconstruction surgery three weeks after the last one, and then, for all intents and purposes, it's all over and I can pick up the remaining bits and pieces and be the new me.

Meanwhile, I continue to prepare for running a half marathon in November as my pre-surgery psych-up.

1 comment:

Abs said...

Wow, this doctor sounds FANTASTIC. Really. Is she real? Anyone who will talk shoes with you and take information to help with other patients is right-on in my book. Just having a doctor listen to you, really hear what you're saying and focus on you, is the best when you're feeling damaged!