Saturday, August 31, 2013

Being Human

The past few days I have been neutropenic, which means I have very little white blood cells.  White blood cells fight disease and keep us healthy.  I have none, so I can't leave the house.  In fact, I have been a bit low on everything...platelets, hemoglobin, and white blood cells.  How does this affect my body?  I feel very tired, a bit weak, and shaky in my legs if I am standing too long.  I can't really walk or even go outside.  I wear a mask when anyone comes over to let my dog out potty.  It sucks.

Well, since I have been neutropenic, I started watching Being Human, a BBC show.  I am lying on the bed watching tv in a marathon style fashion.  I have gotten through the first two seasons and am in the middle of the third season right now.  This show is about a ghost, werewolf, and a vampire all living together, trying to be "human".  They yearn for normality.  I can relate.  I haven't felt normal since February, the day everything happened.

Actually, I almost feel like the girl I was died that day.  I feel like I am not the same person, not the same me I was.  I wish I could say this was a good thing, and I'm stronger and yada yada yada, but I can't.  Sure, I feel stronger, but I feel like I don't know myself that much anymore.  I feel out of sorts.  Can anyone with a life changing illness relate?  Have you had cancer of any type and felt just not the same afterwords?  Please, please share.  I want so much to return to normal, but  I don't know if my brain will work the same anymore.  I don't know if I will be the same anymore.  Part of me fears taking any vitamin, getting even a papercut, going somewhere alone.  Part of me can't wait to get back to work, buy my own groceries again, bake some bread, go through my things and get rid of the clutter in my life I held onto for no reason at all.  Things that were important before cancer just aren't anything to think about now.  Priorities changed in an instant.

Poor Frank

Todays the kinda day I feel guilty for being sick.  My poor dog Frank, as seen in my google profile, is sick of staying home.  When I was healthy, pre-cancer, we would walk daily.  I would take him to our county fairgrounds and just walk and walk, letting him sniff, mark, do his thing.  He loves it there.  Being neutropenic, its best to stay inside, besides, I don't have the energy to walk him anyways.

I love Frank bunches.  It hurts me to see him sad and mopey around the house.  He has spent the last week just laying by my feet, following me wherever I go in the house.  He knows.  He knows, but I keep telling him I am on my way to getting better.  Soon, we will be back at life, walking, taking him for car rides, back to normal,  I hope.

Frank is very picky.  He doesn't like strangers, and especially dislikes men.  He was a shelter dog, and he has the attitude of a grumpy old man.  He's very loving to people he knows, but very protective of me.  Right now, he is sitting on the bed next to my desk, looking out the window, barking at the people walking by.  He is small, but a total thug.  He acts so tough, but gets away with it, because of his big, pug-like eyes.  I can't say no when he is staring me down.  Oh, poor boy, I promise to get better as soon as possible so we can go walking and visiting mom and dad again!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The nightmares

Back in February, when I was rushed to the hospital and told that I had leukemia, the nightmares began.  Very detailed, vampire nightmares that were so scary.  Sometimes, I would wake up in the hospital, middle of the night, drenched in sweat.  Was it from the nightmare or the cancer?  I don't know, maybe a bit of both.

These nightmares were detailed.  They were scary. I couldn't fall back asleep and then would think about them the next day.  I can see the correlation, though.  Nurses were taking my blood and testing it multiple times every day, I was getting blood products, I was just diagnosed with a blood cancer.  All makes sense in hindsight.  In the dreams I was running, hiding from the vampires.  They wanted my blood and wanted to destroy me and everything I love.  It was very dark and dreary and run-down, everywhere.  Life wasn't the same.

But, the fear I had about vampires seems to be gone now.  I just think if they were around, I wouldn't be scared.  The same goes for any bad guy-- like an attacker or robber.  I wouldn't be scared.  I would fight and kick butt.  That's right, like a warrior.  I feel like cancer has been my personal warrior training.  My dear friend told me that daily when I was in the hospital for my induction chemo.  "Lisa, this is your warrior princess training."  He told me I could do this, and he was right.  Here I am, almost September, and I just finished my last round of chemo.  I am ready for my 4th bone marrow biopsy coming up in a couple weeks and then maintenance therapy for a year.  I can do this.  I am in the home stretch.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last round of chemo done!

I just finished up my last round of chemo last week.  Today, I am neutropenic, which is what the doctors want.  I am tired, weak, and my legs are all shaky.  I can't wait, though.  I know this will be the last time I go through neutropenia!
I have made myself a goal to really try to expand this diary to include more, not just cancer.  I read up on other blogs about cancer and am so touched by everyone's stories.  Its comforting and sad at the same time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

numbers are up!

Yesterday, I went in for my weekly check up and blood work.  My ANC (neutrophil count) has gone up to 1.3!  This is great, it was so low for over a week.  I will be happier when I reach 1.7 (or hopefully 2.0), but its still a reason to celebrate. 
I slept most of the day yesterday and was up and down all night, as usual.  I still get night sweats and hot flashes which makes it hard to get any measurable amount of sleep.  I feel like I have more energy today, but I am still a bit shaky when I am standing.  I think this will go away as my numbers increase and normalize like last time I was neutropenic. 

In other cancer related news, my hair is falling out at a rapid pace.  I am doing some laundry today just because I can't stand seeing all that hair on my pillow case.  I've been wearing a scarf to collect the falling hairs, but it comes off at night while I'm sleeping.  Besides, my towels the past few days have taken a furry hit and look so gross, covered in tiny, 2 inch ringlets.  I expect all my hair to be gone by Saturday at this rate. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Good Morning World! Ugh, I mean Good Afternoon World!

I didn't feel so good this morning, but now I am up and ready to face the day.  Too bad its almost noon, and half the day is gone.
Today was dressing change day.  Once a week, your dressing covering up the central line (in my case a hickman catheter) needs to be cleaned and changed.  The caps at the end of any ports (lumens) also need to be changed.  I flush all my lines daily with a special medicine, Heparin.  I do my dressing change and flush by myself, and I take my time.  I have to prep the area, sanitize and get my shower done first before changing my dressing.  That part of my skin will now be itchy all day, from the adhesive in the dressing and the alcohol cleaning solution to make sure its germ free.

Otherwise, I get more blood work done on Monday.  I am really hoping my ANC is up, at least 1.0.  I feel really good right now, so I'm thinking if I have more energy, hopefully my blood is getting back to normal.  Makes sense, right?

I've been knitting a sweater, and I started right before I went in for this last round of chemo.  Its been a couple weeks, and I am about half done.  Its my first hand knit sweater.  I have made scarves and hats before, but this is a first.  I'm really excited, but trying to take my time to not make any mistakes.

Friday, August 2, 2013


I've been neutropenic for over a week now.  What is neutropenia?  Its when you have little to none white blood cells, which are your fighters.  Without them, your bodys immune system is suppressed.  For me, this happened as a result of my last round of chemo.  Monday's blood work showed my lowest ANC (absolute neutrophil count) yet, 0.15.  Yesterday, I was up to 0.42.  

This past week, I've been very tired.  I haven't left the house with the exception of blood work/ doctor visits.  I've worn a mask every time I did go out.  My legs get all shaky if I stand for more than ten minutes.  My mind is awake, but my body thinks I'm sleeping, its very weird and hard to explain the feeling.  
When you are neutropenic, you can't eat anything raw.  No fresh fruits (and it's summertime!), all meats and veg need to be thoroughly cooked.  Because of the cancer and chemo, I've been eating mostly soft foods, so I dont scrape up the inside of my mouth too much.  Too much risk of infection.  I also have to watch my temperature and need to get to the ER if I run a fever.
I am hoping and praying my count is at least 1.0 on Monday.  I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.