Saturday, 23 September 2017

Day 18 and Day 19 Second Chemo Round

Day 18 - Friday, September 22, 2017

I again had a disrupted night due to worries about the upcoming chemo, tests and costs of medications. However, I was still up around 6:45 a.m. and able to follow hubby on his motorcycle while he delivered it to his mechanic. When we had been on the bike on Sunday, we both heard and felt a "thwap, thwap, thwap" as we drove on a rural road close to home. We thought it was coming from the front tire. However, today, Friday, when hubby was backing the bike out of the garage to take it to his mechanic, he heard the sound coming from the rear tire. As I followed him down the road, I could visually see a bulge on the left side of the rear tire. I flipped on my hazard lights as I realized hubby was only going 25 km/hr down the road. I move the car to "block" the lane and make it more safe for hubby going at such as slow speed. I felt great relief when he finally pulled into the parking lot of the mechanic's shop. Hubby then dropped me off at home and continued on his way to work with our car.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but we have always ever had one car. Today was a sunny, warm day and I did not mind that I would walk to the local CBI Health Clinic to have my picc line cleaned. I made the walk in about 15 minutes. I tried to walk briskly both to and from the clinic in an attempt to get my lungs working and heart working well.

After I had returned home from the clinic, the doorbell rang and a local florist was delivering a lovely collection of various pink and purple flowers. What a beautiful and cheerful vase it is. I always forget how much fresh flowers lift my spirits.

After dinner, a good friend from Cornwall dropped by for a visit. She's in town with some friends and they will do a wine tour tomorrow. I really enjoyed our visit and she brought a beautiful bouquet of Fall coloured flowers from a florist in Cornwall. They really helped to brighten up my living room. After my friend left to return to her hotel, I realized I was very tired and I was in bed early.

Day 19 - Saturday, September 23

I again had a disrupted night's sleep. This time it was due to some muscle spasms that were bothering my back. I got up around 4:00 a.m. for about an hour and completed some more knitting on my afghan project. I returned to my bed and some much needed sleep around 5:30 a.m. I slept through until 7:15 when my cat woke me up by walking up and down my legs. I got up and fed hime and changed his water. I then made lots of coffee as I was still feeling sluggish.

A friend from Ajax came to visit today. What a nice visit we had! She brought many books for me to read and help pass the time. Last year I had mentioned a title of a book that I had regretted giving away. Didn't my friend find the book on a table in a garage sale which were labelled "free"! She brought it along with her today. We enjoyed a delicious lunch along with my hubby and then we went to Baskin & Robbins to buy my favourite ice cream. I was able to get "Baseball Nut" in two 1 litre containers. They'll stay in my freezer and be used sparingly to help soothe my tongue when it gets canker sores. By late afternoon, my friend was on her way to visit another girl (her friend) I knew from university days.

I'm tired tonight and will head to bed shortly. Tomorrow is another busy day. The weather is supposed to be fantastic....hot and sunny. Hubby and I have been invited to a cottage for the afternoon. We'll take advantage of that. I won't be able to go swimming in the lake due to my picc line but perhaps I'll be able to dangle my feet in the water while sitting on the dock. I'll have to remember to bring a floppy hat and my sunscreen.

My string of days where I'm feeling great is continuing.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Day 17 Second Chemo Round - General Anxiety and My Allergy Test

I didn't sleep well last night. I awoke at 1:00 with some anxiety. I was worrying about the upcoming chemo round which will take place next Friday, September 29. I was also worrying about the neupogen that will stimulate the release of the stem cells into my blood stream to help the doctor successfully collect 2.5 million stems cells from me for transplant. However, neupogen has side effects that don't look like very much fun. I handle and soothe my anxiety by reading, knitting and doing Sudokus and Crosswords. So there I was at 3:00-4:30 this morning knitting away on my afghan. The rhythmic act of knitting and following the pattern keep my mind occupied and soothed. I went back to bed at 4:30 because I was cold and tired. I never did go back to sleep and found that I was dragging and tired by late afternoon today. Thank goodness I didn't have much to do today.

I had my Penicillin allergy test this morning at 9:30. The various tests went until 11:30. I passed them all. They all showed negative to be me being allergic to penicillin. So this meant I had to return to the Allergy Clinic at 1:30 this afternoon to continue the test. I was there from 1:30-3:30 this afternoon. The final verdict is that I am not allergic to penicillin. This is good news as it give Dr. Bhella (my stem cell doctor) another tool to help fight infections if I have any in the stem cell process.

Between 11:30 this morning and 1:30 this afternoon, I walked down to our Farmer's Market and bought some fresh vegetables. On my walk back to hubby's office, I ran into a friend and it was good to briefly catch up with each other. It was getting hot out and I continued on my way to hubby's office. I left the fresh produce in his office while we then walked to a local restaurant for lunch.

After I was finished at the Allergy Clinic this afternoon, hubby came and picked me up. I dropped him off at work and continued on my way home to put the fresh produce away. Then I drove back to his work to pick him up. Our plan was to go grocery shopping together tonight. After dinner, I realized that I have run out of energy and so I sent hubby on his way with the grocery list. It will be an early night for me as I need to catch up on my sleep. When I'm overtired, I start to feel nauseous again. It's important for me to feel rested and not over do things. Hence, hubby is on his own with the groceries tonight.

I must say that I ran into a volunteer at the Hotel Dieu that used to work with me in the Tuck Shop at KGH. She still volunteers there but I don't see her very often since I'm on sick leave. It was nice to see her this morning.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Day 16 Second Round Chemo - Stem Cell Transplant Experience

I had trouble sleeping last night because I started thinking about the drug, neupogen, that will help to stimulate my stem cells. I was wondering what kind of side effects it will cause and also if it is covered by OHIP. So this morning I started searching the internet for answers. Then I remembered that the stem cell website at our hospital had links to peer and mentor resources. Here is the link to one of those first hand stories that I found very helpful.
https://www.kgh.on.ca/sites/default/files/files/subsite-basic-page/final_version_mlb_stem_cell_essay.pdf

I spent my morning looking for answers and also dealing with some other scheduling questions regarding some upcoming tests. Tomorrow, I will be going to have an allergy test to confirm or refute whether I am allergic to penicillin. 27 years ago, I had a reaction to a drug called "pondocillin" which included a rash. In order to treat any upcoming infections, we need to know if I'm allergic to all penicillin. So I have the test in the morning.

Today, I decided to make a roast chicken using my homemade rub. It was a late decision and I knew the chicken wouldn't be thawed fully in time. I was correct. By mid afternoon, it was partially thawed enough that I could rub the chicken and loosen the skin to slip some rub directly on the meat of the breast and the legs. I was also able to shake some rub into the cavity. I then decided to make dirty mashed potatoes (with skin on), my favourite turnip casserole and some green beans for hubby who doesn't like turnip. While the chicken was cooking, I was looking forward to deglazing the pan and making gravy that would have the flavour of the rub. I also had a really nice visit on the phone this afternoon with my cousin while my chicken was cooking.

I spent the rest of my time, today, working on my afghan. I'm hoping it can be finished by the time I am admitted into hospital for the stem cell transplant. My hope is that during the hospitalization, I will be able to make multiple pairs of socks for the homeless in Kingston. There is a group called "Kingston Street Mission" which runs a drop-in for people 16 years and older. They provide free clothes, hot beverages and have volunteers on site 7 nights a week from 8:00 p.m. to Midnight. They are open from the end of October through to the end of April every year. I will be able to drop off the completed knitted socks to them for distribution. My hope is that the knitted socks will help keep the homeless people a little warmer during these cold months.

Anyway, by the time I had supper on the table tonight, it was 5:30 p.m. I have to admit that I was very, very pleased with the meal. The gravy was so tasty. When hubby came home from work, his comment was "It smells like Texas in here."  Hubby decided to do the clean up from supper while I continued to knit my afghan.

After it was all cleaned up, we went for a brisk walk. I'm trying to make sure that my heart, lungs and kidneys are all good and healthy so that I can pass the upcoming tests. On Monday, I have a MUGA test which is a test using a radioactive tracer (called a radionuclide) and a special camera to take pictures of your heart as it pumps blood. The test measures how well your heart pumps with every heartbeat. Our walk was brisk enough that I was a little out of breath and my heart was definitely pumping hard. I think everything is healthy because it doesn't take long for my heart to return to normal.

Today was another great day. I love feeling normal and I'm enjoying being able to create in the kitchen. Life is good!

Day 15 Second Chemo Round - Feeling Normal

This morning I had a dentist appointment in order to get x-rays done. This was my first appointment in a long list of appointments in preparation for the stem cell transplant. So I can now I have my first "test" checked off the list. Everything is healthy in my mouth and I'm ready for the next test which will be on Thursday.

After the dentist appointment, hubby had an appointment set up for the lawyer. In preparation for "just in case", we are updating our wills. Just in case, we are on The Goldwing and something happens. Or just in case....

As hubby was driving me home around 11 a.m., I started feeling a little nauseous. I wondered about that and realized that I had missed my breakfast. So when I got home, I had a very early lunch of Mr. Noodles. I love Mr. Noodles and I don't have them very often. I figured this would hold me over with a small snack in the afternoon until dinner time. I was looking forward to our planned steak dinner.

Early afternoon, a good friend came over to visit. She and her husband had actually delivered frozen meals to hubby's office several weeks ago and I still had her cooler and ice packs. So it gave us a reason to visit so that I could return her cooler. Of course, she blessed me with some fresh zucchini, green beans, turnip and garlic from her garden! She also included some mini baked chocolate zucchini loaves. So I shared a couple of my favourite recipes with her. We enjoyed a lovely visit with some Masala Chai tea from Multituli Coffee (aka North Roast Coffee). What a great visit we had! It went by much too quickly as time always does when I'm with her.

For dinner, hubby barbecued some steaks and baked potatoes. I made broccoli and green beans with garlic butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese as our side. I also did up some sauteed onion rings to go with the steak. It was soooooooo goooooood!!!! I convinced hubby to go for a brisk walk to help my lungs and heart get in shape for the stem cell transplant tests that I have to do.

Once we got home, I called my aunt and uncle to chat. I'm hoping that they will come for a visit with my cousin at some point in October when I hope I'm feeling good. I watched a part of the Blue Jays game but then quickly tired and went off to bed. It was a great day and I was feeling "normal" with good energy.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Day 14 Second Chemo Round - Another Good Day

I must start off with a huge apology to a local coffee company that we support. Last week, my hubby went into North Roast Coffee to buy our freshly roasted coffee beans. We have been supporting this local wholesale/retail operation since they first started out in a small location well over 10 years ago. The staff have seen my children grow up. They have been there and supportive as I went through my lymphoma diagnosis and treatment five years ago. So last week, when hubby went in to buy our coffee beans, he mentioned my relapsed lymphoma. I immediately received an email from the employee he talked to. There was something there for either us to pick up or they could deliver it. I got hubby to drop by and pick it up. He brought home a lovely gift basket with a beautiful origami swan included inside it. I love using local, unique businesses because we do get to know them as individual people as well.

Today was another good day. I had my annual ophthalmologist appointment today. I started seeing this doctor about 5 years ago. The suspicion has always been that the issue that was noticed on my eyeball could have been the lymphoma from 5 years ago. I was very curious to know whether there was any change to that spot this year. Or was there another new spot that had developed. The only thing about this appointment that I don't like each year is that the doctor needs to put dilating drops in my eyes which makes me useless for most of the day. I was pleased to hear that there were no changes. The spot on my eyeball has actually aged and has pigment growing into it. There were no new spots. This was wonderful news to me.

So the rest of the day was spent enjoying the current Nora Roberts book that I'm reading. I had a lovely visit on the phone with a good friend who is going to come around and visit me tomorrow afternoon. Overall, today was a good day spent relaxing and resting. I have a couple of appointments tomorrow morning, so sometimes it is good to have a quiet day.

Day 13 Second Chemo Round - Another Great Sunday....Until 8 p.m.

I awoke this morning refreshed and ready for a great day. My knee is a little stiff but much better. The first thing I did was launder a  load of towels and sheets. I have always derived great pleasure from my laundry flapping on the laundry line. I like the orderly look of them neatly hung and the warm sun and breeze making them flap and remove all the wrinkles. So after enjoying this task, hubby and I went out for breakfast. We decided to spend the rest of the day out on the Honda Goldwing. It was supposed to be a hot one but our jackets have lots of air flow panels which keeps us cool as we fly along the highway. Today we decided to take Highway 2 East until......This means until we decided to turn around and head back home.  Or until we stop for a snack. Or until we find a geocache. Basically, it means until we tire and need to come home.

We packed a small lunch bag with water for hubby, Raspberry Iced Tea for me and 2 apples and 2 oranges. We intended to be home in time for dinner and this was packed to keep us hydrated and our bellies from being knawingly empty. Off we went on the bike for a very enjoyable ride. Dowtown Kingston was busy with tourists. Gananoque was also surprisingly busy with tourists and cottgers. Being this was the third Sunday in September, I thought that the "summer trade" would have slowed down. As we continued out of Gananoque along Highway 2 East, I thoroughly enjoyed riding through the countryside. I truly believe I am a country girl at heart. I have always lived in the city except for a 9 year stint where hubby and I had our first house located in the country. I loved it there. As a little girl, my grandparents had a small dairy farm in the Owen Sound area. I loved visiting the farm and spending a week every summer there. Many a long weekend was also spent visiting with my grandparents and my cousins. Many, many fond memories are associated with that farm and being in a country community. So as we sped long Highway 2, I was thoroughly enjoying not just the scenery but also the smells. The smell of a dairy farm is associated with really good, warm memories. When I visit my broyther's dairy farm, I always love the smell of cattle, fresh hay, straw and even the milking parlour smell.

Today as we rode, I also was enjoying looking at the various flower gardens and getting creative ideas for my own yard. These will be ideas that will have to be implemented next year in 2018. I came up with ideas for unique bird houses and a unique new flowerbed that I may plant next Spring. I am a musical person and so some of these ideas include reusing old instruments, old bicycles and raised flowerbeds. As our ride continued, I realized that we had already arrived on the outskirts of Brockville. I was completely invigorated by the ride and couldn't stop smiling.

As we came around a curve and down a hill, there were two very old cemeteries on either side of the road. Hubby slowed the bike down, put on his left signal and pulled into one of the cemeteries. As a passenger, I've learned to just go where the bike takes me. I've learned to sit on the back and wait for hubby to say "OK, you can get off now." So that's what he said and off I hopped. He decided it was time for a break and a snack as we had been riding for 2 hours already. We found some rocks under the shady trees and settled down with our drinks and apples.

Due to the chemotherapy, I have to stay out of the sun. I realized that I forgot my ball cap that says "Life is good". I forgot to put it in the bike. My hair is thin enough on top that I was concerned my scalp may burn. Then I realized that I had one of my head coverings that doubles as a neck protector from the velcro of my jacket. So I pulled it up and voila....my head was covered and wouldn't get sunburned.  We were enjoying our snacks, when I asked hubby if he had his cell phone. Was there any geocaches in this cemetery? He went to the bike and checked. Yes! There are three geocaches in this area. One in this particular cemetery and two located in the cemetery across the road.

After our thirst was quenched and our apples were finished, we put the lunch bag back in the bike, locked it up and went hunting for geocaches. What a nice walk it was! The geocaches were all found in nice shady areas but the mosquitoes were voracious! I love finding geocaches in the cemeteries because I always take time to check out the various headstones and get a sense of peace, serenity and history. I have to say that trying to cross Highway 2 to get to the other cemetery was a gamble. These cemeteries were located in a valley and at this area, Highway 2 was a 4 lane throughway. Hubby and I had to run across the four lanes to make it safely to the other side. My left knee was not a happy camper when I forced it to run. But again, the cemetery was so old and peaceful. Our snack/geocaching break was very enjoyable.

Once we returned to The Goldwing, we decided it was time to head back home. I still had to get laundry off the line and it was going to be supper time by the time we got back home. Again, I totally enjoyed the return ride. This time as we drove through Gananoque, you could see the cottagers and made an exodus. Now it was just the locals out and about finishing up the last of their errands. Gananoque reminds me of Meaford, Ontario and Sauble Beach, Ontario as well as any other summer tourist destination. These little towns seem to just empty out during the Fall and Winter. Many businesses rely on the Spring and Summer influx of cottagers and tourists to fill their businesses and provide enough income to carry them through the lean off season.

On the outskirts of Kingston, I heard the thwap and felt the uneveness of a flat tire. Hubby pulled into a service station with an air compressor and sure enough, our front tire was very low. We filled it with air and made our way home. Hubby will have to get "The Wing" into the mechanic sometime this week to get this looked at. I would like to hope today was not my last ride for the season. Once we got home, I took the laundry off the line and then sat with hubby on the patio and enjoyed a cold Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle. Nothing tastes as good as that! Then while hubby cut the grass in the backyard, I reheated some leftovers for supper.

After supper was cleared up, I asked hubby if he would like to go out for an ice cream cone. I have a new side effect of the chemo that is showing up. Every time I have seen any nurses or doctors, they always ask me if I have any mouth sores. Well, for the last few days, I've had a tender tongue back near my lower right molars. There appears to be the beginnings of a canker sore. Of course, ice cream will halp to soothe it. I have discovered Baskin Robbins seasonal flavour called "Baseball Nut". It is vanilla with black raspberry ribbon and pecans in it. I love it!! Of course, as soon as I mention going for ice cream, hubby is very willing to go. Just before we left, my mom called and I enjoyed a nice conversation with her. When I mentioned we were going to go for ice cream, she was in a hurry to get off the phone. I guess it was already 7:00 and she thought the store might close. So off hubby and I went to enjoy our ice cream. I was not disappointed. I will be disappointed when that flavour is discontinued for the season.

Hubby and I were looking forward to ending this wonderful day by watching my favourite series "Outlander". We arrived home and it was about 8 p.m. My brother called and it was perfect timing as I had time to talk to him and then it would be time for my show. While sitting in "The Man Cave" and talking to my brother, I saw a mouse drop from the ceiling and hit the floor with a thump. It was across the room from me but I guess I screamed into the phone. I don't remember doing that. I do remember running out the door and upstairs. Hubby was left to look after the mouse that was in our house!!!! My brother, meanwhile, was true to form and was killing himself laughing on the other end of the phone.I guess even my sister-in-law who was not sitting beside me brother could hear my screech through the phone. My brother and I chatted a little longer but then he let me go. Hubby caught and dispatched the mouse. I took off to a friend's house around the corner. No way was I staying in the house with mice!!!! Hubby set up traps and assured me it was safe to come home. We did enjoy "Outlander" but I was jumpy and nervous. I did not sleep well. More traps are going to bought and set up. Our house is NOT going to be a mouse hotel. Our cat is going to be given rations until he catches these things and gets them out of our house. Time for Frodo (our cat) to earn his meals.

The saga continues.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Day 12 Second Chemo Round - A Great, Full Day

I'm posting this late because I had such a great day in the land of the living yesterday. I went from morning right through to bedtime and fell asleep immediately.  After my fall on Friday, I was afraid my weekend hopes and activities were going to be curtailed due to a bad left knee. However, on Friday, I iced the knee as much as possible in the late afternoon and evening. Friday evening (Day 11) when I hobbled off to bed, I could hardly put weight on the left knee. I was convinced that yesterday, I would be using one crutch to hobble around. However, a good night's sleep was the miracle cure-all. During the middle of the night, I got up to make a washroom run and the knee was able to take 80% of my weight. Woo Hoo!  Hope abounds.

So our plan for yesterday was to run some errands, visit the "Shop Local Showcase", visit with some friends and then have another couple over in the late afternoon. Hubby and I have always tried to use/shop local business establishments. Franchise chains will pretty much always have business. Before it was trendy to do so, we have always in our married life tried to support local entrepreneurs through their services and/or products. We always find that the customer service is much higher and we have always liked the uniqueness of a local business. So when we saw an advertisement earlier this week at the side of the road informing us of the "Shop Local Showcase", we decided that it would be one of the things we really wanted to do yesterday. I was afraid that my knee wouldn't hold up as it was in a local hotel conference room and also in the parking lot. This meant a lot of walking on floors that have concrete underneath the carpet. Not good cushioning for a bad knee. However, my knee held up but was very tired and starting to ache when we were finished the rounds of the showcase. I purchased a couple of items which included a lavender/oatmeal bath balm from a company called "Farmacy" where the lady makes her own bath/body ointments from her garden. The smell of the lavender bath balm is to die for. I will save it to use when I'm having a kind of day that needs a real pick me up and relaxation time. Perhaps after all this current health crisis is finished and I can enjoy a leisurely soak with a nice glass of cold, white wine and a good book. My reward to myself for enduring this current ordeal.

The other item I bought was from a business called "Caju Winds". They use imported cashews (only because in our climate, we can't grow them) to make organic, vegan and gluten free cashew spreads. At their booth, we sampled their Dill Flavoured Spread and their Garlic Flavoured Spread. The Dill spread was very good. I opted to try the Garlic spread afterwards and it was to die for!! So I bought a jar. I'll be definitely keeping their business card and using their business again.

As hubby and I were finishing up our visit to the showcase, I was starting to feel faint and a little nauseous. This concerned me because at this point in the cycle, I normally am feeling better. After checking the time, I realized that we had "missed" lunch and it was already heading into the early afternoon. We were running late as we had planned to visit our friends and their son in the early afternoon. We were also planning on taking the motorcycle out to go visit them. I mentioned to hubby, "I really need to get some lunch now."  So off we went to A&W for a teenburger and a small root beer for me. It was so good! We quickly dropped off our showcase "stuff" (business cards, brochures, purchased items) at home and then back into the car we went to visit our friends.

What a lovely visit we had. We had seen these friends in the summer when hubby and I knew that the cancer had returned but we couldn't say anything because we needed to know what kind of lymphoma it was and the treatment options. This was my first time seeing them together as a couple since the diagnosis. It was a lovely summer afternoon spent by the pool (in the shade for me) enjoying drinks (pop for me because alcohol hurts my mouth) and snack foods. The afternoon sped away and I realized that although I didn't know what time it was, I was starting to really tire. I had also hoped to have another couple of friends over in the late afternoon. I mentioned to hubby that I was quickly tiring and so we wrapped up our lovely visit and headed home.

As soon as I got home, I headed for bed and a quick nap. It was already 5:00 in the afternoon/evening. We made plans to have our other friends drop by about 7:00. This would give me time to rest and recharge my batteries. It helped and we again enjoyed a great visit and shared some of the cashew spread on crackers. My friend is willing to help me shave my head when that time comes that my head is really patchy. I trust her to be honest, as I know she will be, and help me decide it's time. The time is not right just yet. My hair has thinned a lot to what I'm used to as my normal hair, but my friend said it just looks "normal" to other people. So I still have my red hair although it is thinner and looks like it is layered and a little "flatter" than it used to be. I'm glad I changed my hairstyle to a shorter cut way back in March or April. Perhaps I did that subconsciously at the time. Perhaps I knew deep inside that the lymphoma had returned but I wasn't consciously acknowledging it yet.

So yesterday, Day 12, was a fantastic but tiring day. Life is worth living. As I once told a complete stranger back in June, "Don't let the cancer steal one more day than it needs to. Live life to the absolute fullest!"