Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Night Updates - 10:54 pm-ish:

"John, do think this picture is too revealing to post on the blog? You can kind of see a smidge of my boob on right."

"Your boob is on the other side of your chest", he says as he goes back to watching the Dayton-Marquette basketball game.


So the actual procedure wasnt too horriffic. Mom, Dad & John get kicked out and Doc Razi and the rest of the nurses spill out into the room like the clown car just pulled up outside my door. They're all in great spirits which eases my anxiety quite a bit. Before these local procedures, including accessing ports, they have these anaseptic "utensils" with a flat sponge end already saturated with soap and anaseptic.

I have to flip over on my left side for the procedure. Razi starts to scrub where the tube goes in and I start laughling hysterically. (Still not "under" yet, just very ticklish) If Im going to be struggling to breathe, I might as well be laughing right? Transformed briefly into the older brother I never had, Doc Razi asks, "Oh? Is that ticklish? Im sorry!", and gives my armpit one last scrub. Picking on the weak, I see how ya'are!! ;)

Honestly I dont even remember falling under the magical spell of versed. I have a brief memory of immediately asking for more and they quickly oblige. I have a quick painful memory of briefly waking up, family walking in, Razi and the nurses walking out. My side is killing me and it still is, but my every 3 hours on Dilaudid is helping things out a bit.

I really havent been eating much lately, but every once in a while I get an urge and I feel a little guilty about it, but mom and dad will drop EVERYTHING to run out and grab it. Luckly, my cravings dont travel far from Marions pizza, and today a Arbys Chicken Cordon Bleu commercial had me on the phone calling home before mom and dad came back to the hospital. Theres one on the way, so hopefully I havent been too much of a nusiance. Also red pop & fruit punch are tasting good these days. I am BY NO MEANS WHATSOEVER the benchmark in healthy cancer surviving dieting....but when I kick this once in for all, Ill be pissing off nutritionists far and wide. Mark my word.

I found this really good link with a breif description and a good image of the chest tube insertion if you're interested in checking it out - just click here.

Jami came in from Columbus this morning for a quick visit - Thanks for the card Jami - Ive got the notes hanging up on the table.

This is the machine on the floor thats collecting the fluid from the chest tube. I think right now, at about midnight, we're at around 1200.

Stewy stopped in for a quick visit with me and my chest tube. Ive never been such a liberal flasher... both Stacy & Karen's girls Emma and Samantha are going through a flashy stage and it seems to be rubbing off on me.

Its 1215 AM and I just got my pain meds. I Can only get them every three hours so have to wait patiently throughout the day and night. I probably should get some sleep but the meds not only take the pain away (really just a little bit), but it also helps me feel a little better in general. A little more euphoric.

Its where I cuddle into this positive cocoon for a few hours, flip channels, sit and think about how grateful I am for this amazing husband, family and friends and doctors and nurses and co-workers and even friendly strangers who take me downstairs for scans and even the other patients who are sitting in the hallway waiting for their scans.

Its beyond anything Ive ever felt before. I know Im going to get better. For good. I dont know how long it will take, but I do rely on all the positivity and prayers that I can feel (In the form of Dilaudid sometimes I think!) and I cant wait to get better really try to do a better job getting involved with trying to help others get through these hard times. I feel like I let God down a little bit the last time had had these remarkable test results and I didnt hold up my end of the bargain. I believe it was a co-worker (and I think some others) who said, "Thank God for already making you better, and start letting him how you plan to return the favor."

Seems a little bit presumptuous when you're dealking with the Big Man, but he's always been pretty supportive of my self-fulfilling prophecies over the years.

Again, thanks to everyone who's emailed, called, sent cards, flowers and happy texts.

I feel like everyone in my life continues to fuel this fire. I can hardly stay awake...two hours is a long tie to work on one post but I keep falling asleep.

I love you all! Tomorrow should be primarily R&R. Just give mom or I call if you want to come out. The pain from the chest tube is about a 17 on a scale of 1-10 and Im going try hard to sleep through most of it.

Love, Hugs, Kisses, Happy Texts & Emails.

Friday, November 28, 2008

UPDATE: Doc Razi came in around 5:30 and said that after five he's on call, and there was an emergency procedure needed on at Sycamore, so Ill have it done between 10-12 tomorrow. Just heard from Krause - she and her husband Andrew and sis Julie (Shannon & Julie did the 3-Day with mom and I - Click here for a recap) are coming here TONIGHT!! They'll fly back to Beantown tomorrow. More details as they come. UPDATED - the gang just left. Thanks to Shannon, Julie & Andrew for driving all the way down from Akron for such a short visit. Love you all! Also thanks to Bill & Sue for stopping by as well, love the blow pops!
If anyone is considering visiting tomorrow, please call me first. Now that Im getting the procedure done around11-12, I dont think Ill be up for visitors in the afternoon. Ive already got a few people coming in early so please just call. Ill probably be a slug for most of the day so maybe Sunday would be better. If im asleep all day, Im sure Pam wouldnt mind some visitors, just give her a buzz.
Happy Friday!
Updates & Friday Visitors
Ang, karen & Sam stopped by to hang out. Samantha drew me a picture of she, mommy & fort playing volleyball - its hanging up behind me.

I dont have much time to update but we talked to Doc Razi and he is going to proceed with the chest tube. Its about quarter till 5 and they should be coming in to do the procedure any minute now. Right now Im stilll just feeling tired and a bit nauseous, probably because of all the pain meds Ive been taking coupled with the fact that I really cant eat anything. Thats something else that needs to be taken care of.

Anyhoo, I know Ill be pretty much knocked out on a twilight sedative for the procedure, they're doing it right here in my room, and Ill be half out of it for the rest of the night. Ill probably be on heavier pain meds for the next few days because this is not supposed to be a comfortable procedure, but I want this fluid out, and Id like to try the procedure to seal up the gap between the lungs and the chest wall. Ill have more updates tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Samantha gave me a celebrity star spa treatment today and painted my toenails - Perhaps a nail technician is in her future?

Samantha poses in front of her masterpiece.

More updates tomorrow.....time to get a big fat tube stuck in my chest. Yee haw!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blogging LIVE from KETTERING MEMORIAL HOSPITAL!!! (Special thanks to Dad's co-workers Lisa for loaning me the laptop, Ron for the wireless card and Orville & Marie for tech support - You have no idea what joy this machine has brought to my world this week!)

Well, as you may have figured out, I did not get my second Abraxane treatment on Monday. I woke up at Mom & Dad's, and was so exhausted and out of breath that taking a 5 min shower turned into a half hour event....sit up on the couch, sit for five min to catch my breath....walk upstairs to the bathroom, sit dow for 10 min to catch my breath. Take a five min shower, sit for 15 min drying off and getting dressed, breathing like I just completed the biggest endurance test of my life. But I needed to get to Romer's I needed to get that second tx of Abraxane.

My counts werent stellar, but my exhaustion was pretty evident to Joni and she didnt waste any time paging Romer, who said no chemo, and to have me admitted asap. So Joni taped up my already accessed port and mom & I headed off to Kettering. It was freezing and raining, and I felt like absolute CRAP.

We arrived at the hospital around 9am Monday, and it wasnt long before I was getting another CT scan and a chest X-Ray. Monday and the last four days have been a blur of pleasant visits, a consistently poor appetite with the exception of a Marion's pizza, a little more vomiting than Im used to, and a growing love affair with the pain killer Dilaudid.

These blood transfusions have really been the highlight of the last few months havent they? Not such a big deal anymore. Im half asleep on Monday night and they inform me Ill be getting another two units of blood that night, and platelets in the morning since Id be having another thorocentisis at noon the next day. Really? Ok, Im going to bed now. No joke. They might as well have told me they were turning the light on. I slept right through it. Mom was up for the whole 2-nurse confirmation process when they bring the blood and make damn sure the patitient is getting the right blood, but as far as my memory is concerned, it may never even happened.

So Mandi, my ya-ya who got the flowers I posted a few blogs ago stopped out Tuesday after my procedure....she's above checking out the room service menu that Ive had a really hard time picking out from since I have zero appetite (Cant WAIT to go clothes shopping when all of this gets better, PS)
So this young guy shows up to take me to some test, a CAT scan maybe? When the transporters show up, they always have to help "Undo" me....from the oxygen, from my saline IV drip, and the cardiac monitor that is one of the most annoying conraptions ever. Five sticky tabs that cover my chest that are all hooked to cords that all hooked to a monitor slightly smaller than one of those blue ice blocks you use in a small cooler.
The hospital gowns also have this "Convienient" pocket that you can drop this five pound monitor in, making a saggy gown that much worse. Add to that I havent worn a bra in like three weeks, and Kristen alerted me to my exposed nipple when she and Watts were here later that day.
So anyway, you can pop all the cords out of this monitor temporarily and the guy says, "I can just pop your box" or something to that effect....I immediately look at Mandi with this devilish grin and she doesnt waste anytime before blurting out, "OH....Melissa! He's gonna pop your box, Im telling John!" We start laughing....young guy makes no comment.
I was pleased to see that Mr. No-sense-of-humor guy took me to my scan by way of 3West, where I was two weeks ago, and I was excited to see Mary, the nurse who took care of me during my first lung tap and mixed me a fabulous cocktail at the nurses bar of warmed apple and prune juice for, well, you know.
I see her and excitedly say, "Mary!" and she says, "Hey!" and Box-popper transporter guy keeps moving right along. I think he was making me pay for our sick sense of humor.
Anyhoo, Mary swings over to my room when he shift was over and made sure she got my blog address so she could see the pictures I had posted - She came in yesterday and made me a mixed CD! As I started to write this blog, mom was reading, and I played the CD on the laptop, but it was so good I knew mom would like it too, so I just pulled the headphones and now mom and I are jamming to Mary's "Merry Mix" - GREAT STUFF!!

Ok, enough yapping....KJ & Watts pose for a picture, Watt's eyes glued firmly towards the camera.

Stacy and Luke came to visit Tuesday and about seventeen nurses fell in love with Luke. They were filing in and out of my room, and I hear he gave a rip-roaring performance of cuteness at the nurses station:

Oh yeah, did I mention I had to get ANOTHER thorocentisis on Tuesday? Yeah. Same lung. 800 ml removed two weeks ago, 1000 ml removed this time....IN. THE. SAME. LUNG. You know me, always gotta top myself.....

Not too shabby on the flowers, huh? Too bad they deemed me "Neutropenic" today and I had to get rid of all of them (dont worry, dad just took them home). I guess it just means my white cells sucks and everyone has to wear a mask when they come in.

This bed is getting too big......Ive found hospital beds are great for snuggling and watching tv.

J-Mac came and stayed with me Wednesday night and learned the finer points of an interruption-full nights sleep in the hospital. He did not sleep well.

Dad hopped in and we watched Jerry Springer, how appropriate.

While I love all my visitors equally, seeing this one unexpectedly walk though the doors most certianly tipped the scales. I havent seen Lola in probably over two years. I could seriously blow enough sunshine up Lola's you-know-what to send her back to Baltimore at no charge, but I will just say that her visit gave me an opportunity to sincerely thank her for a time when her genuine support single-handedly catapulted me on a much more positive direction during a time in my life that was drowning in fear and concern. I need a WWLD bracelet that I can look at when I need to attack situations with joy and love and enthusiasm. I love you LOLA!!! And thanks for making me look so pasty!! tee hee hee.

You didnt think you'd get to the end of this without a slide show of Drew's visit to Aunt Fort did you??

More hospital bed cuddling.....

Well, this was my first Thanksgiving in a hospital, and I could almost GUARANTEE that in all my 30 years, the Thanksgiving with the LEAST calories consumed - seriously, I bet I consumed fewer calories than I did at 11 months.
As many of you may have known, the next procedure on the block they were talking about was to insert a chest tube that would be used to A) serve as a semi-permanent drainage tube for 2-3 days and B) insert medicine that would "Seal up" the space between my lungs and my chest wall. We were pretty sure this was going to happen today or tomorrow.
Tonight I went and had another ultrasound on my lungs - just over 500 ml in EACH lung. Word from the nurse was that the doc was considering discharging me. Ill talk to him in the morning though. Im not comfortable leaving this place with another combined 1000 ml of fluid in my lungs, especially since the right lung just had a liter removed and has another 500 ml just after two days.
Im getting another chest x-ray in the morning and he's going to re-assess.
Its hard to believe Ive been here for a week now. Honestly, I cant say that Im feeling much better and the doctors arent giving me much hope that all of this is going to disappear.
The good news is that I know Ill be getting better relatively soon, whether its the chemo, or God, or all the prayers and positive energy coming my way. I cannot WAIT to get back to work, to get my lung capacity back, AND walk in the 2009 3-Day with all the ya-yas. IM SO IN!!
A few more things.....
MARY THIS CD IS AWESOME! Im on my second rotation!
Sorry to all the people calling me who Im not calling back. I havent been in a phone mood for a really long time - that also goes for all the unresponded MySpace and Facebook comments....Im reading them all & Im sorry If I dont respond!!! I love you all!!! that I have this laptop at my beckon call, things should improve communication wise.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update -
Just a quick update. I wish I could say that all the new chemos are working like a charm and Im back to normal, but things arent going so swimmingly.

My lungs have not cleared up yet, and its been very frustrating. This is the longest Ive been away from work and that in and of itself is quite stressful, but not having the lung capacity to do pretty much anything is really scary.

Im at mom and dads for the weekend to see Drew, and get my second treatment of Abraxane tomorrow. Joni said if my breathing was still difficult I may have to go back to the hospital to get another ultrasound to see if there is more fluid in my lungs. Whatever it takes, I need to get better soon because its just scary and frustrating to be so out of breath your stomach hurts just when you get up off the couch to go to the bathroom. I still look like crap, pain killers dont do much more than relax me so I can take a nap.

The good news is I was finally allowed to see Drew, which made my weekend.

In other news, mom was in another fabulous Moraine Meadows play...while it wasnt 101 Dalmations, she WAS, Cruella DeVille! Here's mom and Josh:

Thats it for now. Im anticipating things take a tremendous turn for the better in the next five days. Everyone have a great week!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Time to get excited for the 3rd annual chili cookoff!!!

They've been keeping Drew from me since he's been sick and snotty lately, even though I promised Mere Id wear a mask and tether Drew to his excersaucer, but it didnt work. Emma and Alex will be stepping in as my kiddie obession for the week....

Before I go in to Chili Cook-Off Details & pictures, Ill update you on the latest and greatest...

Came home from the home from the hospital on Friday night and got back to Cincinnati Saturday morning. John had done 100% of the work for the party so I didnt have to lift a finger. Sunday morning I woke up feeling kind of ugh...then I ate some soup, and my breathing was getting worse, and I was coughing so bad I ended up getting sick, and John winds up taking me BACK up to the, 24 hours later. So yes, I basically got discharged for the chili cook-off and went right back.

There really wasnt much they could do. Still havent gotten my PET scan at this point, and they only did an ultrasound on my legs to see if there were any blood clots. Just trying to rule everything out with the breathing. The ER doc called Romer and he said to call the office first thing Monday and get an appointment.

We go in today (Monday) and Romer doesnt waste anytime letting me know we've got to make some changes quick. He's putting me back on the same drug that cleared up my lungs last time (I was feeling better in a matter of days), and, just as I had been fantasizing, HE GOT ME STARTED ON IT TODAY!!! And since we're already moving in our new direction and with the Cat scan and the tumor markers indicating bad news, we both agreed the PET was really unnecessary.

My legs were really sore last night and I took some pain killers that helped me get to sleep, but as usual, completely RUINED my day with nausea and stomach aches, but getting my lickety-split spoiled brat treatment at Romers pretty much made my day. So, Im not healed, but things are finally heading in a much more positive direction and just that makes me feel better already.
Now onto the 3rd Annual Chili Cookoff pics!!

Look how big (and cute) Luke is getting!! I was watching a show on the Nazi regime today and how Hitler promoted the coupling of those who could spit out genetically perfect offspring.....and know who came to mind....

I promise, mom! I only got off the couch for like five minutes to take a few pictures of all the action in the garage..... Flick, Chuck, Tony, Hater....

Everyone gathered in the Living room for the big awards ceremony....

PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD: Casey's "Son of Spite" Chili

Worst Chili Award - Hula's "Overdid it on the Caribbean Jerk Paste" or "Tastes Like Soap" Chili

Pauly takes the "Hosts Choice" (Basically J-Macs Choice since I didnt particpate) and tells the crowd something to the effect of, "Piss off, J-Mac's opinion is the only one that matters..." Curt takes "Hottest Chili" for the 2nd time in three tries.
and FINALLY!!! The Ladies, the Ladies...REPRESENTIN'!!! GRAND CHAMPION, Brandi, or "B" to the girls takes the cake!! Women CAN COOK!!! The all-male chili revue is put to an end, the glass ceiling is broken. CONGRATS TO ALL!!

Emma claims, "I Hey-lped!" .....(am i too old? Does anyone get that reference?)
Kyra was digging in my scarf basket and oops! Looks like Ive got moms 3-day scarf. Vivi and I put them on for a quick picture:

AND FINALLY....Thanks Mandi for the beautiful basket! You can swim in my PJs anyday, and Ill make sure Ive got my lung capacity back for Ya-Ya weekend so I can go deep sea diving for all your lost jewelry....xoxoxo!!!

Well, thats it folks. Im heading back to the 'Nati tonight to make sure my husband hasnt forgotten about me. Im hoping to have my breathing back to kind of normal so I can make it back to work sometime this week.
Everybody keep sending the positive thoughts and prayers, and Ill keep sponging them up and getting better everyday. Also send some positive vibes Drew's way, because If i dont see him soon, its gonna get ugly.

Friday, November 14, 2008

So, this week turned into one big suckfest in more ways than one....
As many of you know, Ive been laid up in he hospital for three days now, and im exactly in a blogging mood, but Ill give you the low down with the pics...just a heads up, some of these pics might make you gag so dont say I didnt warn you!!

First of all, I go to Romer and I dont get my last treatment of Ixempra because my breathing has been so bad and the last two blood transfusions havent really made things better. He wants me to get a PET scan and revisit the situation the following week. I wasnt able to get a PET scan appt until this Friday at 2. It sucks to wait, but whatever. Gotta be patient.

So Wednesday I wake up with this excrutiating side "stich" pain, like the side cramps you get when you're running and you're dehydrated, only ten times worse. John had already left for work, so mom comes down and picks me up and takes me to Kettering's ER.

Im in he ER almost 12 hours on Wednesday. I had a few hiccups that made my side pains feel like a steak knife twisting in my side, which scared the fam, and got me hooked up with some SWEET painkillers. While I was in the ER, I got a CAT scan and a chest x-ray, and the doc said it looked liked the cancer had progressed to the liver, lungs, bones, etc....I cant say I was surprised.

What was scary, was the "Plural effusion" in my lungs. Quite a bit of fluid built up that was really causing my breathing problems.

I was admitted Wednesday night, and they brought a cot in for mom so she could stay too.

Thursday I basically laid around getting my blood pressure and temperature taken on and off all day. Doc from Romers office comes in and reccomends I get the fluid drained from my lungs - I say bring it on.

The whole day Im BEGGING to take a shower, but due to some miscommunication when I was admitted, they brought me in with "Chest Pain" which landed me on the telemetry floor, and cardiac monitors all over my chest that they would NOT take off.

So they take me down to get a ultrasound of my lungs so they can figure out how much fluid they'll need to remove. The foreigner who took me down kept asking about "the baby". Ugh. He was just trying to be nice. Not really in the mood for this discussion. I sucessfully changed the subject. The gal doing the ultrasound said I had about 750 mL of fluid in the lungs.

I come back and Tracy, Rachel, & Ang are there, and get to witness my version of a temper tantrum, which basically amounted to me getting sarcastic with the nurses. They finally realized I meant business and actually got a hold of the doctor on call to get permission for me to take a shower. WTF???

The girls leave, and I get to take off all the heart monitors, although they make me wear my oxygen tubes the entire time which was a little awkward. They tell me not to make it too hot or else I could get light headed. I get out of the shower and im really out of breath over the whole situation, and to make a long story short, I get nauseous and start yacking everything Ive eaten that day in the trash can.

Have you ever been in a hosipital bathroom and ever wondered who the sorry bastard is who has to pull the emergency cord - - -- - NOW YOU KNOW SOMEONE!!! I got sick, but it was TOTALLY worth the shower.

Friday morning, I wake up, expecting to get my PET at 2p so I dont eat any thing - Im told the procedure on my lungs will happen before the PET.

Oh yeah, and Thursday night they ended up giving me my SIXTH blood transfusion of the season, and Friday morning I had to get a dose of Platelets since they were so low, and they needed to make sure I could clot if anything went wrong. Ok, here's some pics:

Me in the hospital. So much fun!

3 daggone days and Ive got 2nd grade Get Well Art hanging in my room:
Thanks Philly & Tammy!

This was my view for three days....Pam taking meticulous notes. Im actually writing my blog off her notebook.
Look who came to visit me, all the way from Denver! (seriously, I was his first stop from the airport - thanks for driving him Jody!)

Heres the cast and crew for the "Procedure" (and nick walking through the door as they're taking the picture) Nurse Mary (awesome), Doc Razi (awesome, mom thinks is hot), and me, the patient. I have no idea what Im in for....

So I sit on the edge of the bed, and the table/tray is raised so that I can lean forward on it while Doc Razi works from behind me. He tells me he doesnt like surprises either, so he's going to be telling me whats going on each step of the way. That was really helpful because there's nothing worse than an unknown procdure that you cant see ANYTHING coming...
So he sterilizes the puncture site on my lower back, then tells me im going to feel a stick and a burn. He numbs the site. And it burns like hell! It feels like he massages the local anesthesia into the site and then asks if I feel the stick (im guessing he's got the big needle partly in at this point). I say I dont feel anything, and he tells me Ill start to feel some pressure. What I weird feeling! There was a little bit of pain, but Nurse Mary was there to hold my arms and keep me focused. Next thing I know, the procedure is done. I didnt even feel the needle come out!
Now for the good part - CHECK OUT THE NEEDLE!!!
The doc thought I was crazy for wanting a pic with the bag of fluid and the needle....kinda looks like a bag of Killians Red, huh?

Look how excited he was to get HIS picture taken with the bag!!! You're welcome doc. You're welcome.

So heres my Wed thru Friday recap:
- Side pains, visit Kettering ER early AM
- Multiple doses of painkillers - Morphine & Didualid
- CAT scan, with high resolution dye
-Lots of unknown bloodwork
- Chest X-Ray (almost throw up afterwards bc of nausea)
-On Oxygen all day
-BP & Temp checks all day
-Ultrasound on lungs to determine fluid
-Finally get a shower and I puke
-Oxygen all day
- THORACENTISIS (removing fluid from lungs) Click here for more info
-More painkillers

Here's the shitty irony. The ONE procedure that we actually DID have scheduled for this week? The PET scan? Couldnt be done because of some bs insurance was originally submitted as an outpatient procedure, but since I was now IN THE HOSPITAL, they would not cover an INPATIENT event. So basically I could have run outside in my street clothes, walked in and had my outpaitient procedure and it should have been ok right? Apparently its not that easy.
So now, Ill have to get the pet scan done sometime next week. Oh yeah, and another real crappy nugget for you. Tumor marker was up to 983. Yikes. Not good.
So if you're wondering where everything stands, you're not alone. Right now Im slowly acclimating to the improved lung capacity, HOWEVER, they still have to do tests on the fluid which we have not received yet.
We're praying for pneumonia or just a chemo-side effect, but with my tumor marker that high, its probable that they will find cancerous cells in the lungs.
And really, until I get that PET scan, we wont know anything, so I just spent three days in the hospital basically to get my lungs cleared up - which isnt a bad thing - but we really dont know much more and will have to patiently wait until next week to figure out.
Thanks to everyone who was there to support me - Dad, Nick, KJ & Watts, Jennifer, Shelley, Debbie R, Jonnie, Connie, Ang, Tracy, Rachel, Jan, Ron, Ryan, Chris, Sharon, Josh, Jody, Jean, Greg & Denise, Brownie....and of course, MOM! Thanks for being there every second. I know sometimes I get pissy and you always bear the know I love you!!