Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Fall

After the two days of terminal nausea, I've just been tired. Flattened. Steam-rollered. Crevée. (Means flattened in French and, for some reason that I cannot fathom, is a Bad Word.) Mostly, after I've managed to get dressed, I lie on the sofa and read. And sleep.

Two days ago, I wondered why I've been using Fungizone as a mouthwash every night (and then, according to instructions, swallowing it), so I stopped. Yesterday, mouth ulcers returned.

I'm getting something for my white blood cells, maybe next month I should ask for something for my red cells.

And I asked about jogging! Ha ha ha!

At least if I'm telling you I feel rotten, you should believe me when I tell you I don't.

Apologies to all I owe e-mails.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Monday, 24 November 2008

Fourth Chemo

Dr. Litor is back. Hooray!

She agreed with my GP. I had an intestinal problem last week. Not a blockage, but not enough throughput. Or something like that.

And she told me to forget the tons of paracetamol and just take the pred for the joint pains. (Meanwhile, I had the prescription refilled and I have a lifetime supply of paracetamol. I guess the city pharmacist didn't read the "5 days" part.)

And I don't have to peel my fruit. I can eat it the way I always eat it.

And I can do anything I feel like, including jogging. I know I can no longer get around my 1.7 km "track" (just over a mile) but walk and run will do it. I have to do something before I fall apart.

And I can go to Spain as long as I have a doctor available. I figure John's, my brother-in-law's, oncologist will take me in, if necessary.

And -- ready? -- My CA-125 is down to 230!!

I'm eating today, again, too.

Two more chemo sessions, a scan, surgery a month after the last chemo, if ready, then more chemo. I have a terrible feeling this could interfere with my skiing this year.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Pride Goeth Before the Fall. . .

. . . or: Never brag about how sturdy you are.

I'm recovering from terminal nausea. I've been sipping cokes for 2 days, but I can't even swallow tea. At least I'm finally out of bed.

My three-hour drip was concluded about 40 minutes early. Could that do it? Or could it have been my roommate who says she suffers nausea and vomiting (I skipped that part) every time she has a treatment? That would make me not only not sturdy, but weak-minded, too.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Where's My Keeper?

As we were leaving the house at 7:15 this morning, I took one more look at my appointment card. After a short discussion of the date, I noticed that my chemo session is tomorrow. It doesn't bear thinking about if we'd already driven the hour and a half.



Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Party Hat

As the festive season approacheth, our friends in Spain, Sheila and Bob, have sent me a hat to wear for the celebrations. Is this a great hat or is this a great hat?
It's so great, I should have changed my clothes first.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


We hope to have the house by the end of the year. There has been a lot of legal stuff to clear because it had a lien on it. Actually, it all cleared up pretty fast. Now we have to put a rocket under the notaire and sign some papers.

We're not really sealing the attic. We're going to clean it up, with the help of Saturday Kids, and ignore it. A quick look among the filth says there will be careful triage required. I saw letters and receipts dated around 1900 and there is a pile of stuff.

I'll get the kids to do most of it, while I read and sort.

The kids, by the way, are two brother/sister pairs who lived next door to us in the old house; two 8 year olds and two 13 year olds. They still come around borrowing tools, bicycles, anything they need -- our adoptees.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Home Movies

... or their dispiriting equivalent.

We went to visit the new house yesterday. Measured up and took photographs. You can view 54 of them right here.

I forgot to photograph the Elf station. Next time.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

I've Got a Little List

I made out the meds list. It is below. In French; feel free to ask questions.

So off we went for the 3-hour round trip plus the wait plus the time of the visit. What a bloody waste of time!

The interview. "You're taking all this"?! Shocked, I say. Shocked! "Not all the time," I said, "See, this is what I take every day, this I just started taking, this I take once a month," etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile, he was copying the list. I kept repeating I'd made extra copies and he could keep one for the files. He kept copying.

The exam. "So, it hurts all over the abdomen (pressing & prodding)"? "No (teeth gritted); just this one spot. But it has begun climbing up the side." He keeps pressing abdomen.

I'll spare you the rest.

His conclusion: I should be taking what my GP had prescribed, not what the emergency doctor had prescribed. That I probably don't have an infection, but an inflammation. And the Spasfon-Lyoc is for pain and I don't need another painkiller.

My conclusion: I don't trust any of them any more and I'm not stopping antibiotics two days into treatment, just in case I do need them, so I'm going to take it ALL for another few days.

At any rate, the pain is lessening while spreading, if that makes any sense, so I'll just wait and see what Dr.Litor has to see when I see her on Thursday. If I pass my blood tests.

Where did they get this guy?

Meds List 14/11/08
En Permanence
1¾ 5 x par semaine, 1½ 2 x par semaine
40 mg le matin
50 mg si besoin
10 mg si besoin
5 mg le nuit
5 jours par mois suivant le chimio
8 mg, matin & soir
10 mg si besoin
1 jour par mois suivant le chimio
5 jours par mois env. 2 jours suivant le chimio
40 mg le matin
1 g 4 x par jour

Pour la bouche
Bicarbonate de sodium Aguettant 1,4
plusieurs x par jour
Fungizone 10%
le soir
Amoxicilline/Acide clavulanique
2 comprimés 3 x jour

En stock
Forlax 10g
Motilium 1 mg/ml
Spasfon-Lyoc, 80 mg

Friday, 14 November 2008

A goin' and a comin'

So I called my GP for a new pain killer yesterday evening and she said to call the oncologist, but, of course it was too late to call the hospital by then. For heaven's sake, I just want a pain killer!

(Du calme, Margot Carol, du calme.)

This morning I managed to get through to the hospital on the fourth try. Not bad, I think. And for those of you still worried about Dr. Litor, she'll be back on Monday.

Meanwhile, I talked to her replacement, who asked me if I'd talked to my GP. "Y-e-e-s; she said to talk to you." Asked me a couple of more questions and then said to come in. Sigh. I just want a pain killer! However, it's nice of him to squeeze me in. Let's hope he doesn't keep me there.

The meds list is a good one. We pause in this complaint to go make one.

Did I mention it's an hour and a half to Montélimar? What the hell; we're on the last tape of our Spenser novel.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Useful Information. . .

. . . as the French say.

For the dedicated readers of this blog, who do not have feed readers, you can receive the posts by email. Email me privately and let me know and I'll sign you up.

Isn't technology wonderful?


Didn't last 3 days after the visit to my GP . Didn't last 1 day.

I'd have felt worse about waking Nick up at 1 in the morning to take me to the hospital, but my screams of pain were probably going to disturb him, anyway. Eventually.

We drove to the hospital an hour and a half away and, fortunately, we were the only ones in the waiting room, so there wasn't a long wait. It just seems long when you're in pain.

I was taken to an examining room and a very nice nurse hooked me up to a pain drip. He was so interested to find I'm an American. (Quick Essay for expats and tourists: What Does Obama Mean to Me? Answer: People like me, again.)

I lay around suffering between being wheeled or walked to various labs for sonagrams and X-rays. I got a lavage (enema, yuck.) They could find neither intestinal blockage nor swollen appendix and decided to keep me at least overnight.

Les Urgences have their own rooms, comfortable enough, but tiny, without bathroom and, worse, without an extra bed. The nice nurse rustled up a padded wheelchair for Nick to sleep in and, in the morning, another brought him breakfast: hot chocolate, two croissants, "toasts" like non-sweetened zweiback and 3 packs of jam. Me, I couldn't have anything while waiting for another round of tests. The odds were 3-2 that I'd die of thirst before making it to the tests. Not even an ice cube?

We had locked the dogs in at home, in case they started seeing the spirit world or whatever it is that sets them off, and barked in the night. I suggested we call the village ambulance service and check if they were coming to Montélimar. We could give them the house keys and someone could let the dogs out. "Oh," says Nick, "I left the back door unlocked." Now he tells me. He called a neighbour who let them out.

About 5 everybody decided I was staying and Nick went home. I fell asleep about then and slept until 12:45 the next day, barring the interruptions for blood pressure every 2 hours or so.

Another lavage and a fast shot of something to keep me from throwing up. Another X-ray to make sure they couldn't find anything. The diagnosis (wild-assed-guess) is an infection in or around the ovary. I asked if my oncologist was in the hospital and could I speak to her. They checked and she's on sick leave. Sigh. So, Jerrold, if you're reading this, I still don't know what the white spots are that I have on my knees, again. Obviously they can't be from cream or the sun because it's long past shorts season.

About 3, they said I could go home and Nick showed up to wait with me until, at 5, the X-rays and prescriptions arrived: Tramadol for pain, an antibiotic (Amoxicilline for the detail-minded) and anti-constipation medicine. I now have 3 lots of constipation medicine and I am not constipated. Does everybody think I am lying about this? Why would I like about this?

A quick check of the information in the Tramadol pack and a run by the internet confirmed that Tramadol is contra-indicated when takings SSRIs. It's Wednesday and my GP is off until this evening. I left a message, but so far I seem to be doing O.K. on industrial-strengh paracetemol and the antibiotic, so I may just carry on.

I did initially think that one's appendix is lower then where the pain was, but my grasp of anatomy is only marginally better than my handle on geography. I thought my ovaries were lower down than they turn out to be, too. I consulted my friend, Google. Typing in things like "female anatomy," even if one adds "medical," leads to many interesting sites For Educational Use Only. Eventually, I found a legitimate site and darned if my ovary isn't right where it hurts. (And the appendix is lower, just like I thought.)

It was good to get home. Van-Ly was so excited, she got the zoomies. She hasn't done that in awhile. Nala, who was inside because it was raining when Nick left, managed to wake up and come to the door for a sniff. Even the cats were at the door.
Of course, it was way past their dinner time.

Monday, 10 November 2008

If It's Not One Thing. . .

Feeling fairly miserable today and I hate being sick! I may have appendicitis. Went to my GP today and have a bunch of medicine to take. If I'm not better in three days, I'll have to go to the hospital to be checked, so my oncologist can keep track. Sigh.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Pictures of the Week

O.K., Laura, not everyone would do this for you.

Ack! That's my nose?

I'm going to put on a hat now.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

It's the Big Day!

Had my MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan today. One of the tumours has reduced by 2 cm, the smaller one by a little less. The liquid is gone from the peritoneum. Other organs don't seem to be affected, except:

There is a little thickening in the pylorus, the opening between the stomach and the duodenum. There are a bunch of primitive mesenteric ganglions (none more than 10mm) in the lombo-aorta and hip region on the left. So? Someone?

The reason I don't mention my slightly tingling fingertips is it is permanent, although I am assured it will go away. Same thing for being easily fatigued and having no hair. They aren't random symptoms; they're conditions.

(Yes, Sheila, it is like getting medical training. I am more and more impressed with Lance Armstrong, who tackled all this information with more zeal than I can muster. Google is your friend.)

Had my wig trimmed, but took it off before I remembered to take a picture. Next time.

I had duck for lunch and I'm eating my vegetables. Bought crab sticks and cheese to keep me going during the night while I sit up for That Other Event.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Blood Tests Back

Mail today, so I have my own copy of the blood results. Neutrophiles actually stood at 1674 before the last session. Red counts don't look too bad: hemoglobin, hematocrite and hematies are a tad low, but not bad. Platelets were within normal range and I have no Leg Lurg this time.

I thought I had Chest Lurg. Bright red emerging on the right side of my chest Sunday evening. By midnight I could see it encircling the chamber in my chest and I thought something terrible was happening. "Look!" I said to Nick ("Oh, did I wake you up"?) "It's a circle."

"Or a square," he said. Ha, ha! Very fun. . . Ah, the bandage the nurse had put over the site after the treatment. (Big bandage.) I forgot to tell her I'm allergic to adhesives.

CA125 is now down to 571.99. That's almost a fifth of what I started with!

I've not been sleeping well for the last 10 days or 2 weeks. Maybe that's an improvement, too. I've not been sleeping well for 20 years until after my stay in hospital.

Another thing I haven't mentioned is the numbness in my fingertips. It's constant and has been so from the beginning and is normal. Well, you know: normal for chemo.

I still have some fuzz on my head and I have my eyebrows and eyelashes. I wonder why that is?

Tomorrow is the scan and then we'll know if the CA125 means anything.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Third Chemo - At Last

Thanks to my former good health and membership in a raw feeding list for dogs, I'd always thought that Prednisolone was a veterinary medicine. But, sonofagun, if I'm not on it, myself. That and industrial-strength (1000 mg) paracetamol, both for the joint and muscle pain that I experience from about the second to sixth day after chemo.

Had the session on Thursday. The neutrophilles just made it. Normal is 1500-8000. I clocked in with 1600. I am now receiving a Neulasta injection the day following chemo to stimulate production of white blood cells. I think the red ones could use some help, too, but I'll just have to keep yelling at them for the next three weeks. I haven't yet received my copy of the blood tests. No mail today. It is All Saint (Souls?) Day and a public holiday.

Dr. Litor is on vacation. Her replacement was a very nice man with the bedside manner of a born researcher. But he was pleased, not to say suprised, even, at how fast my CA125 is falling.

I asked about the flu injection that I am reminded to take each year. I never do, and I don't get the flu. It's a killed vaccine, but I thought I'd check. No, don't take it, he said. Pause, then, but your husband should, so that he doesn't give you the flu. Poor Nick.

My "roommate" this time was a confused middle-aged woman recovering from breast cancer. She had come for treatment before, but been sent home. From her conversation with the nurse, I gather it had something to do with her blood pressure, but she didn't know. She also had never seen Dr. Litor; I can't imagine how she bypassed that step. And she had no idea she'd be there for 3 hours or so, so she'd brought nothing to read and no puzzles to amuse herself. This tells me that she either didn't see the nurse for the explanatory session or just didn't understand it. I didn't get much reading done and I'm getting tired of ham for lunch.

She wondered why I hadn't lost my hair. Because I keep it next to the bed, so no one can steal it. No, I didn't say that. She couldn't get over how real the wig looks. (This is my punkierish style, but I'm still going to try to get some more cut next week.

Yesterday, I had the worst reaction since starting chemo. I was crevée - vulgar slang for feeling like you'd been run over with a steamroller. Applied to tires, it means flat. No one can tell my why this should be vulgar.

Anyhoo, I started to think that, more than being cumulative, the effects of chemo were exponential, I was so tired. We went to lunch at a friend's. I couldn't cancel because she'd already had to reorganise other people due to the treatment delay. Climbing up the old village in Nyons, I actually had to stop and rest for a minute. I felt much better about this when the other guests arrived and they were puffing harder than I. And they're supposedly healthy.

Anyway, I feel fine today, so it was temporary, whatever it was.