Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Personal EMT - Jon

I never do 2 posts in one day but I had the early one scheduled and it went out before I could change it. I wanted to get this one out so bear with me....OK?
Today I am going to introduce you to Jon, he's my very own, personal EMT who could save my life. Scary, eh??? If I stop to think about it it is.
I heard about Jon on Wednesday and he came over that evening.....and we've been together ever since. We are very close, I keep him next to my heart, he's a cuddler and hugged me all night long. He's not allowed to shower with me though!!! Kevin is very understanding and doesn't even mind. Jon's been very quiet and I hope he stays that way! Wanna see a picture of us? Sorry, I can't show you one of us, but I can show you what he looks like:
front view


Below is the back. There are 3, cell phone size, pieces in it. Two are in the back (the silver parts) and one horizontally in the front. It goes on under my bra......now you know why you don't WANT to see a photo of us!!!! I can wear the 'brains' (square battery pack) clipped onto my pants or around my neck like a small purse. 
Guess I won't be wearing my body hugging, sexy, little black dress tonight.......especially since I don't own one. 
This is a life vest. It's a wearable defibrillator is a treatment option for sudden cardiac arrest. Yup, it's what the doctor recommended I wear for at least a month, the Holter monitor showed that I had 'quite a few irregular heartbeats'. 
I slept OK with it on last night and it's not too cumbersome, although I'm glad not to be wearing it during the hot, sticky summer. You do what you gotta do, right???
I actually feel quite good and have been told I look great.....so how can I be in such bad shape?
Now I have to find out how this affects my surgery....... oy vey.

Thoughts On Thursday

Don't send your husband to the grocery store with a list written specifically for YOURSELF.....especially if you use 'shorthand' because you know what you want or he may bring home:
*the heaviest olive oil on the market
*shredded Swiss cheese instead of sliced. How is that going to work on a sandwich?
*margarine instead of butter
*low fat sour cream.....although you need low sodium foods
*fruit roll ups instead of fruit snacks (which is what was clearly written down, roll ups have more sodium)

If he does bring those items home just say "That's fine, it'll work.".....that is if you want to save your marriage and will ever ask him to go to the grocery store again. Just rewrite your list and save it for the next time YOU go shopping!!!

I wanted to share this advice from something that might have happened to me this past week.
Do you have any advice to share?

Remember that I said I wore a Holter heart monitor last week? Well, they called me yesterday and said I have "quite a few irregular heartbeats" that is what causes me to be dizzy/light headed sometimes. So......I need to see that specialist soon!
It's always something. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

School Concert

Yesterday I attended my grandsons concert......finally got to one. Two of the other grands have theirs at night and I don't care to drive for 1-1/2 hours in the evening....probably alone.....so I missed those. 
I love these concerts!
The pics below of are the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade choir. 



Choir is an extracurricular activity so these children WANT to sing. Grandson J is in the front row - Santa hat and red striped tie. He LOVES to sing and is so serious about it, and does constantly, drives me nuts.....but I can take it b/c he is only here on the weekend. He was heartbroken when he didn't get a solo part. He is not into sports so I really encourage his singing.
His brother is on the left in the blue shirt and b/w striped tie.



Our surprise, at the end of the concert, was the teachers and staff singing "the 12 days of school".
It was sooooo cute.........
"on the 1st day of school a student said to me 'I lost my mittens', on the 2nd day of school a student said to me 'I'm gonna tell', ......'is the test today?', 'we did that last year', 'he was talking too'."..... and so forth.  We all loved it. 

Friday I have to get up EARLY to get to my granddaughter's concert......nearly a 2 hour drive....oh, why did I say I'd attend the morning program???? Afterward I'm having lunch with my daughter and the other grandma. I can't wait and I think the weather will cooperate too.

Last night was our book club's Christmas party at one of the gal's home. Everyone brings something. Oooooh, such good (and salty) appetizers. Yes, I had a little of everything. (There were no veggies or fruit and woman can not live on sweets alone.) We talked about a lot of stuff, even the book. Before we left our hostess pulled out a paper grocery bag and started filling it up.....with boxes of cookies....everyone who was there baked cookies for me.
Thanks so much ladies!!!!!
Merry Christmas!
God Bless!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Test Results And My Dilema

It was brought to my attention that some of you are waiting to hear the results of my MRIs. I wasn't worried and didn't hear for 2 days so didn't even think about it. Thankfully I was right this time, both were negative :-). All is good. No more explanation will be given.
On the way home from the cardiologist last week my surgeon called me and he had 3 options (for surgery) for me.
1. Wait 3 months to see what another ECHO says about my heart. Will the tumor grow? spread?
2. Have the tumor and one lymph node removed under a local anesthetic with light sedation, at the hospital 40 minutes away. It's a good hospital, just not as big and specialized as St Luke's. If the node is positive I will have to have surgery later (under general anesthesia) to remove more lymph nodes.
3. Have the whole surgery done under general anesthesia, at St Lukes. Because of my heart I am at a higher risk and that hospital has specialists there and I'd be in good hands.
The oncologist and surgeon don't want to wait. 
Hubby says "It's your body."
My friends have given me their opinions. A blogger friend, Lois, has given me hers (from past experience).

Pray I make the right decision.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Doctors, Tests, Food, and Friends

It seems like I can't get through a week without a doctor appointment or a test. ***sigh*** 
I'm thankful that medicine has advanced so much that I am able to take advantage of the many tests available to help figure out my condition and therefore get me back on the road to recovery. Sometimes it's something as simple as a finger stick to check my blood for clotting time and then just 'visiting' with my oncologist. We've become friends.
Earlier this week I had 2 MRIs, one on my lower back and one on my brain. I am not claustrophobic but I still don't care for it. I was able to listen to music while the test was in progress and that helped GREATLY. Every now and then the techs talked to me and I like that. 
Yesterday I had an appointment with my cardiologist in Milwaukee (roughly 2 hours away). My good friend drove......I would NEVER go alone and with my drop foot I don't trust myself to drive in traffic. We left early, therefore arrived early.....no big deal. I had blood drawn (used to that) and then saw the NP and doctor. I am loosing water weight and can walk further than I did the last time I was there. We discussed my surgery........I am at a higher risk so it's something to think about. He adjusted my meds and also prescribed a Holter heart monitor for me. I have to wear it for 48 hours and then return it to the hospital. Ahhhh....  I need an hour appointment to get it......I said it has to be now b/c I can not just come back any ol' day. They got me right in. ***smile*** 
The nurse explained it to me and proceeded to stick the wires on. I'm not quite sure how/why the conversation started but I told her I had congestive heart failure from chemo. Lo and behold, so does Jill. She is a breast cancer survivor! Jill explained how her dog found it..,.,sniffed it out and pawed the exact location (it hurt like heck). She scolded the dog for hurting her and just let it go. But finally a good friend found out and made sure she got a mammogram and ultrasound. She told me her story and we exchanged our side effect stories, I cried, we hugged, and she gave me her #. We knew exactly what the other was talking about. I am so glad God put her in that hospital yesterday! I was still crying when she returned me to Carolee in the waiting room. She ALWAYS brings a project or 2 along to work on so is happy to get something accomplished.
Finally, after spending an extra hour at the hospital, we were ready to do some shopping. I think it was about 2 and we were hungry. We stopped at a restaurant that Carolee had eaten at before, it's nice and on the expensive side.....but hey, I live in a very small town so most places seem expensive to me. I found something with relatively low sodium (sauce on the side is my new catch phrase) and a high price.....but I haven't been out in a while so....... After that we stopped at Trader Joe's, I've never been there and didn't know what to expect. I guess I thought it would be more like a World Market, but it is a grocery store. The employee who helped us find low sodium foods was so sweet and helpful. Next we went to a coop and found a few things there. I was looking for low sodium snacks for myself and for food that I can cook for dinner. I have a start now. I'll try some things and if Kev likes it - great! If not he may have to add salt or I'll just eat it myself. I could have spend more time looking at everything (there is not a specific section for low sodium) and reading labels but we wanted to get back so Carolee could make it to the event she had on her calender that evening. She's a busy lady.
I was hungry when I got home so I had to try some of my new snacks.....yummy!
So today is a new day and I have things to do.
Thanks for stopping by!
Happy Weekend!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chemo Side Effect - Bad, Ugly, MIssing Fingernails

While I was on chemo this summer my fingers grew really long because I wasn't doing much. I polished them and took advantage. Then I was supposed to have surgery so I took off the nail polish. Now what do I see?
The nails are separating from the nail bed......is that the right terminology? 
The top, white part is starting to come off and I will be left with a teeny, tiny fingernail.
That thumb nail came off yesterday.



See the tiny nail on my pinky?
No, it didn't hurt.....I was afraid of that.
I also just lost the nail on my middle finger.

Did you notice the V shape on the nail below? The one next to it has a weird shape too. Oh, I can't wait to have 10 teensy, weeny little nails. NOT! Will they grow back and look normal?

BTW my toenails are the same.
***sigh***

No fancy nails for me this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I love to decorate for Christmas and have tons of decorations packed away in boxes in our basement. I have enough ornaments to decorate at least 3 trees, and alternate trees every year. I have movable figures, I have Santas (I collect them), I have about a dozen Nativity sets, you'll find 2 or 3 boxes of items for a village scene and more decorations. This year is going to be very low key for us.......Kev does not get into any holidays or decorating....I do it all. I just don't have the energy this year.......it's hard enough to dig out my boxes when I am healthy.....but now.....not going to happen.
On Sunday grandson J and I decorated this little 3' tree. Today I added some finishing touches.



Here's our little tree.
I'm happy, I still have a tree and it didn't take much effort on my part. 
the only Nativity I could easily get at is grandson J's that he received for Christmas when he was very little. He was so excited when he opened his very own "activity set" that year. He was always able to play with it it if he wanted to.
My letters keep falling down......today it says ACE.....soon I will take it all down. 


Christmas cards weren't even on my to do list but since I found so many leftover from last year I had plenty to mail out and did that yesterday. I think that is the earliest I have ever mailed my cards. 
My grands are generally getting gift cards or cash. I do need to buy a few small gifts for some of the children. Shopping is hard work so I won't be doing a lot of it. I am not exchanging gifts with my friends like I usually do. I doubt if any of my adult family members will be getting gifts from me either. I hope they will understand. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No, I Didn't Need Another Bag.....


......but it's a white leather bag by Stone Mountain and was $1.50. So how could I pass it up? It's a perfect size for me (8.5" H X 11" L).....I have a lot of important stuff I need   want to tote around. I found like it on ebay, one for $19.99 and one for $24.95, no bids on either yet. It's in good condition and I just cleaned the outside a bit. I'm ready to be stylish next summer!!!


Yesterday I had a lot of errands to run: 2 doctor appointments and an oil change, plus the thrift store and a couple of other stops. When I got home late in the afternoon I was tired, getting in and out of the car and walking tires me out. I actually used my temporary disabled parking pass once.
Today I slept in, yesterday I had to rush to get out of the house on time.....I hate that even more now that I move in slower motion than usual. I did some housework and laundry. I enjoy being a homemaker. I was even planning to make dinner..,but...Kev made ham for himself last night and has enough left for his dinner tonight....so he can take care of himself. I am so thankful he doesn't mind. What will I dig up for myself??? Certainly not the dill pickles I crave.

Hope you're having a great week.
I am having a doctor/test filled week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Their Diabolical Plan......

.......but is it the same one my body has in mind?
Have my doctors been paying attention to me? It seems like I have gotten every UNUSUAL chemo side effect. Dear Lord, when you made me did you take the parts from the seconds/extra pile????
My oncologist had the bright idea to remove my tumor with only a local anesthetic, maxidation - similar to what you get for a colonoscopy. And he even got my surgeon to agree to it. It does scare me. I am 'only' having a lumpectomy, but still.......... Even my cardiologist seems to think it might work. I will see him next week and discuss it with him. Oh dear, what did I get myself into when I agreed to take on breast cancer?????   wait.....no one ever asked me :-(
Wednesday I had a lot of errands to run and was gone for most of the day. I did feel kinda 'foggy' and weird and just tickled a car in a parking lot (should never have told Kev). Shopko was my last stop and I walked around quite a bit, very slowly, I was quite tired by the time I got home. 
Thursday I had a bad cramp in my leg so I called the nurse and she said to take an extra potassium pill. I figured that was it but it's best to talk to the experts. I also noticed more numbness on my right foot/leg and that when sitting on a kitchen chair, with my feet flat on the floor, I can not lift my right toes off the floor.....scary. I finally got a hold of my regular dr (per the cardiology nurse) and they wanted me in that afternoon (it was already 3:30pm) or to go to ER. REALLY??? Kev took me to the dr and they ruled out a stroke but said I have drop foot......which my oncologist says happens with chemo patients. Not again....... So now Kev won't let me drive :-(
Today I have to go in for an MRI on my head and lumbar spine....oh joy, I hate those darn things....but at least this time I won't have to hold my breath (like I did when they did my heart last month-that was hard for me).
Just when I thought I understood the plan it changed on me....again. 
I have to get in the shower and get dressed b/c I haven't any idea of when I need to get my MRI. Thanks Carla for the ride....
and all my other friends for chauffeuring me around.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

I Am My Mother and Other Nonsense

Actually I think my sister has more of our mothers attributes than I do, but I have some.
*I like my bread. When I was in the hospital I figured out that if I ordered a pat of butter when offered  (and stashed it) by the time I got a dinner roll I'd have 2 butters (real salted butter) for my roll. Ahhhh .....2 is much better than one.
*Sometimes I'd order an extra cookie and save it for later when a snack was needed.
*I saved the seasoning packet if not used. My first meal didn't have one....talk about bland.
*I'm fine with being by myself, spending too much time with people is stressful. Sometimes I go a whole day w/o talking to anyone.
(All things my mom would do)

I am happy to report that for 2 days I disregarded my sodium restrictions and both days my weight was good. I had to eat Thanksgiving leftovers....right? No, it doesn't mean that I'm 100% and am saying to heck with low sodium. Today I am going to get back on track, I don't wanna go backwards and end up in the hospital again.

Yesterday I ventured out on  my own, the first time in weeks. I did stop at the big thrift store in town (the only one open) and the 'manager' asked how I was. We've become friendly b/c we share the same first name. I explained everything that has been going on with me and she offered to say a prayer for me. That was really nice :-) I get tired easily and always take a shopping cart to lean on.....yeah, I look like and old lady leaning on her cart.

I'm cleaning my pantry and giving away canned goods. I am keeping a few things that I can make to share but if it's something  only I'd eat it's gone  :-(  Now I need to find low sodium products to fill it up again. :-(  Thanksgiving dinner tasted REALLY good.....but the low sodium group I joined on facebook says I will get used to it. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Cards

Thanksgiving is past. We had a very quiet day here. My friend cooked dinner and sent plenty of it over for us. I savored every bite of my tasty turkey, candied yams, and especially the stuffing. I hope your day was what you desired it to be.
I have been feeling really good the past couple of days and decided I wanted to 'play' on Wednesday. I had my container of Christmas embellishments, scraps, and even some partially finished cards. I worked most of the day just using scraps to make these cards. Some need some finishing touches and most need a greeting on the inside.



Can you tell I like paper and layering?

I have other Christmas cards that were made at Stamp a longs, so I probably have enough cards for this year. I haven't even been thinking about Christmas cards.....but if I have them already made I might as well mail them out. Do you mail out many cards?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday

Today I had a follow up visit with the cardiology department from St Luke's, actually I saw the nurse practitioner. She was happy with my blood work, it had improved since my release from the hospital. Christina explained the meds I didn't completely understand and increased one. They plan to do another ECHO in 3 months to see if my heart has improved, it does in 85%  of patients......let's hope I am in that group. If that doesn't work we'll talk about a defibrillator or pacemaker. I have an appointment in 3 weeks to see the doctor. 
She also told me it was OK to cheat and eat Thanksgiving dinner. I was soooo happy! I am not going to go overboard or add salt to anything. My appetite has been smaller the past few months, so hopefully I won't eat like a pig.
Last night we got about 3" of snow. The roads were cleared by the time we left. It was really a pretty drive, for the  most part the sun was shining. The trees were covered with a layer of snow.....so beautiful. This is not my picture, I did not have my camera.



Wanna hear somethin' funny?
Kev and I do not share the same taste in music. I would have preferred to listen to my talk show on the radio (on the way to Milwaukee) but he likes country music......in our family the diver chooses the radio station. As the station faded Kev searched for something else......we listened to Christmas songs part of the way there and all the way home. It was kinda neat.
Before we came home we stopped at my former employer to pick up a gift certificate from them for Thanksgiving. I haven't talked to them in a long time so I explained my situation to them. We came home and I found some leftovers to eat! Hash brown squares are not that good w/o salt.....not much is. 

Time for me to read YOUR blogs! Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate ALL comments.

Monday, November 24, 2014

All Caught Up

I was blessed with visitors on saturday, Sunday, and Monday. If you're feeling 1/2 decent a stay in the hospital is pretty boring. I don't watch daytime TV, the computer bored me, and I didn't feel like reading. There were no more tests, just a lot of pokes to check my blood. Once I reached my goal weight and it was deemed the water pills were working the Dr gave me the OK to go home on Wednesday afternoon. Of course, I had to prove that I could take care of myself (for the most part) at home.....including walking up and down stairs. It is wonderful to be able to walk up or down the steps and not be totally out of breath. This afternoon I went into the basement to get something and walked back up again. Yes, I walk slowly and still get tired but I am so much better. 
We're living pretty quiet here.
Kevin is taking good care of me.
Sunday my son and his family came to visit. I want to be honest about my condition but at the same time don't want people to think I am looking for sympathy. Later in the afternoon our grandson came over to see how I was doing. We took him grocery shopping with us......he's learning about serving sizes and sodium. He's 9 and was a big help to us. Walking through the store tired me out so Kev got the car and I waited there while they checked out. 
Today I just needed to have my blood checked for clotting time so my bff took me. I also talked to my oncologist, he's still trying to figure out how I can have my surgery......while awake w/o a general anesthetic????? hmmmm
This afternoon I was hungry for anything that had a lot of sodium in it. Kev ate his leftover ham steak.....I was tempted to grab it off his plate......but I knew I'd only be hurting myself and I was having such a good day. I attempted to make potato soup..........YUK!!! Low sodium broth is going on my shopping list.... I don't want to....but I have to use it.
I felt really good this afternoon: I cooked for the first time in over a month, I washed all of the dishes,  and made 3 Christmas cards. I haven't felt this good in weeks! I am almost afraid to go to bed and get up tomorrow.....how will I feel? My weight was down this morning, always a good thing.
Tomorrow afternoon I have a follow up visit at St Luke's. A snowstorm is on the way, I hope it's over and the roads are clear by the time we leave. I think that is all I have on my calender for the week.
Ooooops!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

  • take your own bathrobe and personal care items for your hospital stay
  • don't forget cell phone charger, etc

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trying to Catch Up - part 2

About 3PM I got settled into my room and was given IV lasix......it worked :-) I was hungry so they gave me a sandwich. Supper was about 6:30 so everything worked out fine. Kev stuck around so he could hear what the Dr had to say, we really didn't know what was going on with me. We found out that I have severe congestive heart failure and my heart is pumping at 19%, it had been at 33%. When an Echo was done before the Herceptin was given I was at 55%........anything over 50% is the infraction rate they want to see. Now we are trying to get it up to 35% with drugs. We are hoping to be able to strengthen the muscle and that too much hasn't died, otherwise mechanical devices will be discussed. One year ago I was stressing about Thanksgiving and today I just want to be alive. You never know what is going to come your way.
You may be wondering what caused these heart problems...........two of my chemo drugs.....
doxorubicin (Adriamycin) & trastuzumab (Herceptin)
and of course the latter one I still need to be on and that one is said to be a Godsend for my her2+ cancer. I feel like I am dammed if I do and dammed if I don't. This does happen to people but not on the scale which it has hit me.
Right now my cancer surgery is on hold.
Everything was going so smoothly.......blood work was great. Then WHAM!!! it seemed like if something unusual was going to happen it would happen to me: heart failure, pink eye, blood clots,  rashes, cyst pops up.
Friday I had a chest x-ray and MRI. The MRI was hard b/c I had to hold my breath. I was gone from my room for over 2 hours. My Dr was looking at the 'pictures' as they were being taken so he'd be sure he got what he wanted. Yes, he told me that he and my original Dr were very concerned about me. Fortunately I did not need any invasive tests done and the rest of my stay was rather boring. I will finish up tomorrow.

  • I am blessed with so many good friends and family members!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Trying To Catch Up - part 1

I am sorry I haven't posted, some of you are aware of what's been going on via Nana Diana or Deb. I was in St Lukes hospital in Milwaukee (cardiology and heart surgery) for nearly a week and came home Wednesday evening. I DID NOT HAVE SURGERY, that is just the type of hospital it is.

I had been so tired out and terribly out of breath and gained weight, even though I wasn't eating a lot. I didn't go anywhere, except for doctor appointments that friends would take me to. I was always in a wheel chair at my appointments. I could barely walk around in my own house. Getting dressed was a chore.
Nov 12 I had another ECHO.
I had been retaining water and the lasix was NOT helping. I told my cardiologist this and he doubled the dose, checked my blood-work and then changed it back. I was not feeling any better.......I know my body. I googled my situation and learned that intravenous would be the way to go. Another friend, an MA for 1 year, also mentioned IV administration of lasix. I should have asked my Dr about it. This went on for 3 weeks. I actually wanted to be admitted to the hospital. On many occasions my lips were blue and the Dr did not seem to care. 
Thursday, Nov 13, I was told to go to the hospital b/c the ECHO showed that my heart function had declined, kind of scary. I called Kev and work and he came home and we left for the nearly 2 drive to Milwaukee. I was relieved to be settled into the hospital.

  • You are your best advocate - speak up for yourself.
  • Pay attention to your body.
  • Know your numbers: BP. weight, pulse, temp, whatever they take, and note any changes.
I'll be back in a day or 2 with more.