Archive for June, 2011

Unanticipated Delay

Something is wrong this morning. I feel an unbelievably heightened sense of agitation. I want to peel the skin off my arms and my legs. I can’t sit still for five minutes and focus on anything. I am not sleepy, but I want to go back to sleep. I want the day to be over.

I know this feeling. I had it once before when I was pregnant with Nathan. My nausea medication sent me into a chemical depression.

I called the doctor’s office, and they have cancelled my treatment for this afternoon, and possibly for tomorrow as well. One of the possible side effects from interferons is depression, possibly hallucinations. Seriously?!

I am not having suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to hurt myself or anyone else. They made me promise if I feel that way that I will immediately call 911. I DON’T FEEL THAT WAY!!

I just feel like a caged animal, unexplainably agitated.

So, I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be half-way through the treatments this afternoon, but am grateful that I’ve gotten someone’s attention that something isn’t right. I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow at 1pm. They will adjust the cocktail and probably give me something for depression and then we will start again. I’m not sure if it will start back up on Tuesday or Wednesday. At this point, I don’t really care. I just want my immediate world to settle down.


Needle-Out Day

Today is Friday, treatment 9 of 20. I am almost halfway through with the most intense part of my treatment. This has been a rough week, as I have added nausea to my list of symptoms. And I am a baby when it comes to being sick to my stomach. However, I’m not going to focus on that today; because today is Friday. It’s the day the needle comes out!  Ahhh, three full days without the sharp instrument nestled in my chest.

Sometimes you have to look a little deeper to find a reason to be grateful. For me, today, it’s freedom from the nasty needle!

Truthfully, I’ve got many, many reasons to be grateful:

  • I am surrounded by an unbelievable support network.
  • I am constantly being covered in prayer.
  • I get multiple notes of encouragement daily – via email, Facebook, snail mail, texts, phone, etc. – assuring me that I am never alone.
  • Friends are making sure that my family has a warm meal every night.
  • I have friends willing to sit with me during my treatments, especially on Mondays when I am afraid. And one friend even brings me Diet Coke!
  • My husband and kids are all three are very eager to help me with anything!
  • Hannah is again healthy, after a scary bladder/kidney infection.
  • I have an amazing mom who is always available – to listen, to encourage, you name it. She is a wonderful woman and friend!
  • I have a boss who insists that I put my health first. “Go home and rest,” has become his favorite instruction to me.

God is so good. He has met, and continues to meet my every need. He remains faithful and evident each and every day. He promised he would not ever leave me or forsake me. He hasn’t, and He won’t. No matter how difficult the journey, I am not ever alone.

If you are being used by God to care for me, to encourage me, and to bless me, know that I thank God for you every day.

Continuing Treatments

By the time I get this posted, I will have completed six treatments. Yippee. Six down and fourteen to go. I know that this could be so incredibly much worse, but I still don’t like it. I am trying really hard to focus on the bright side; but at 2am, when I’m dealing with a 102 fever and I feel like I’m being crushed under the weight of something extreme, my “bright side” vision gets a little blurred.

So, every day at 3:30, I check in. As if you don’t feel bad enough coming in for treatment every single day, they want you to WEIGH! Every single day. Seriously? Even in the middle of all of this, the number on that scale has an effect. Oh well, moving on…

Then I get all seated in this truly comfortable chair – every living room should have one. Personally, I like the tray that swings around in front of me. It’s strong enough for my laptop – and one ALWAYS needs a place for one’s laptop. But for those of you who are all aghast thinking “I can’t believe she’s WORKING thru her treatments,” take a deep breath. I don’t know if this place has a wireless internet connection. I’m not going to ask. I don’t want to know. I am not working. I am choosing to pass the time (today, at least) by writing.

So, for an hour, I sit here while the medicine drips into my chest, into a large vein right above my heart. It immediately gets dumped into my heart for distribution into the rest of my body. By the time I get home, I’m already starting to feel the effect. In the short term, I feel tired and have been just the slightest bit nauseous. By the time the evening rolls on, I start to have flu-like symptoms, similar to what I described from night one. I am very grateful for a four-hour block of sleep.

Coming in for treatment yesterday (Monday) was very hard mentally. They say that Mondays will be the hardest – the first treatment after the weekend. Last week was HARD; I couldn’t imagine it being any worse. Like a goob, I stewed over it all day. I was in tears by the time I got here yesterday.

I made it through the treatment. Of course I did. And I even survived the night. I don’t know if it was the extra Benadryl I took before I went to bed, or the peace granted me by a very gracious God, but I slept all night. Thank you, Father. Nights like that are priceless.

Anyway, I’ll keep doing this for three more weeks. Thanks for the continued prayers.

Day 1 is Behind Me

My first interferon treatment is behind me. I was unbelievably nervous (afraid) heading into the appointment. The lady that takes your payment actually had to write my check out for me. I did good to get my name on the piece of paper I was shaking so badly. Who knew?

The meds went in without a hitch. I did leave the office with a slight headache that got worse as the day progressed. I was honored with the company of two wonderful friends – Joyce and Carolyn. I love how God continues to bless me with like-minded sisters who want to be all-in for Christ. We had a good time visiting and sharing and challenging each other.

Last night was rough, I won’t lie. I went to bed at 10. Woke up at midnight freezing, actually shivering. I put a couple of extra quilts on me and dozed back off. Thirty minutes later, I was awake again burning up. Good grief!

I got up, took some Tylenol, and watched a little bit of TV. I went back to sleep around 2:30 and slept until 7. When I woke up, my clothes were soaked with sweat. But 4.5 hours of deep sleep; I’ll take it.

They told me I would most likely experience flu-like symptoms. I definitely am.

Blessing for this morning – I was able to take a SHOWER!!! Any morning that starts with a shower is a good morning. Ahh, the little things that make me so very happy.

Interferon Treatment for Melanoma

A lot of people have asked about Interferon treatments. My sister, Martha, found this article which very succinctly explains what I will be going through for the next year. This may be too much info for you; but if it answers questions for one person, then it’s worth the effort.

Definition: Interferon is a protein produced in your body to help fight disease. Recent studies have shown that Interferon can also help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.

People with melanoma who have one or more positive lymph nodes are at a high risk to have their melanoma recur. It is believed that 70 to 80% of these individuals will have their melanoma come back within the next three to five years.

Many drugs have been studied in clinical trials to see if this risk for recurrence could be decreased. Interferon is the only agent at this time that has shown the ability to decrease the risk of melanoma recurrence. The approval of Interferon was based on a study that showed a 10 to 15% decrease in melanoma recurrence in patients with one or more positive lymph nodes at the time of surgery. For example, if you had a 75% chance of your melanoma coming back in the next three to five years, treatment with Interferon can lower that risk to 60 to 65%.

"Adjuvant" Interferon means Interferon being given to try and prevent the melanoma from returning when there are no physical signs of disease present. It is like an insurance policy to try to eliminate any melanoma cells that may be present in your body, that we are unable to detect by physical exam or x-rays. This involves 12 months of treatment using the following schedule:

Weeks 1-4 (1st Month)
You come into the clinic daily Monday through Friday for four weeks (20 total days) to receive high dose Interferon intravenously (through the vein).

Blood work is checked every Monday to be sure that your blood counts are safe for treatment that week. We may need to wait to give the Interferon or decrease the dose if blood counts are outside of the accepted ranges.

Months 2 through 12
Interferon is given as an injection under the skin three times a week at bedtime – usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. The injection is like the type a diabetic uses to give themselves insulin. This continues for 11 months of treatment. You can give the injection to yourself or have someone do it for you.

Rough Weekend

Satan is working overtime to try and discourage me.  I was up with Hannah most of Friday night.  We spent most of Saturday in the emergency room, thinking that she was having an appendicitis.  Fortunately, it wasn’t her appendix, but a urinary tract infection that had spread to her kidneys.  Sleep evaded us on Saturday night as well, as the medicine from the ER started to wear off.  

This afternoon, the doctor called to let us know that the infection was also in her blood.  So, we added another antibiotic to her daily routine for the next ten days.

She has spent most of her waking hours weeping.  Finally, about 45 minutes ago, she finally dozed off.  I am hopeful that she will sleep the night, as I, too, need some sleep.

Tomorrow morning, I head back to the hospital to get a port put into my chest.  I’m not looking forward to being put to sleep again, but it’s necessary.

Then, Tuesday afternoon, the treatments – interferon – will start.  I don’t really know what to expect, but will update as I know more. 

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