Archive for November, 2008

Sexy Tubes!

Hello again! Today is Thanksgiving and I hope everyone is having a wonderful Turkey Day. I am so grateful that I am not in the hospital yet and able to enjoy this holiday with my family and friends. Here is the latest recap of this week. Monday I went to Richmond and had some blood work done. I was suppose to have surgery in the morning for placement of my apheresis catheter. My blood work came back that I had no platelets. Platelets are part of your immune system that help your blood coagulate. By having no platelets, a simple bruise could make me bleed to death internally. I need to live in padded world with no sharp edges. Because I had no platelets, my surgery was postponed until I received a platelet transfusion. So I got 2 units of platelets. Platelets look like the yellow stuff that comes out when people have lipo. It is definitely not appetizing, but neither is blood.

It took a couple of hours and then I was cleared to go into surgery. This surgery normally takes between 20 minutes to 1 hour. My surgery took 2 hours and it was one of the most awful things that I have been through. I was given conscience sedation which was supposed to relax me and put me out, but it didn’t. I was awake the whole time and felt just about everything. They gave me 9 shots of lidocaine to help numb me, but it wasn’t enough. I started crying and kept crying until they brought me back to the recovery room. The radiology staff was completely unsympathetic and not accommodating to my needs. I kept telling them that I was awake and could feel everything, but they told me because I had received chemo that my body had developed a tolerance to conscience sedation.

Sexy Tubes

Sexy Tubes

Tolerance or not, give me something to knock me the hell out! I really felt out of control and felt like I was a specimen and not a human being. If there is anything that I have learned from this experience is that I will never tolerate any additional pain. Next time I will demand that they either stop and have my surgery rescheduled until they can put me under completely. Like I said before, I felt completely out of control and it didn’t matter what my needs were at the time. Never again ladies and gentlemen. Lesson learned.

So after my butchering session, I ended up with two tubes hanging out of my chest. These tubes will be used to draw blood and take out my stems cells. I look hot! I am totally bringing sexy back! Check out the pictures of my platelets and my new look. On a more positive thought, the results of my PET scan look good and everything will proceed as planned. I have a break today and will not be going to Richmond, but I will be going on Friday. I will continue to keep everyone informed. Again, thank you for all of your comments and texts. You are all wonderful.

Love always,

Geraldine

Update: Unexpected Pain

Geraldine is doing much better as of Saturday.  Her pain is down to about a 4, but the morphine patch is causing some mild nausea. She has to stay on top of her many pills for that, but it is controllable. Speaking with her today, she seems to be in a much better place.

They gave her another PET scan today, the results of which will be read first thing Monday morning before they perform the surgery for the catheter that will be used for the stem cell transplant. If the scan is normal, everything will proceed on schedule. Someone will post an update either way at some point on Monday.

Unexpected pain

Geraldine is having a very rough time right now. Out of the blue, her pain spiked up to about a 9 on the scale of 10 yesterday. By the evening, it was a 10. She had to get a morphine patch to take the edge off. She’s also very nauseous and in so much pain she can’t really talk a lot. You might recall that she has a pretty high threshold for pain, so a 9 and 10 are seriously debilitating.

I can’t go see her at the moment because I have a cold/virus that I’m almost over. She is neutropenic, meaning that she has a low white blood cell count which results in a severely weakened immune system. Her platelets are also low, which means she will bleed and bruise easily – the blood has a hard time clotting. I’ve been trying to research some sort of therapeutic treatment for alleviation of this pain. Getting a massage is out of the question because of the bruising.

I’ve started researching acupuncture, but was worried about the bleeding from the needles. There are techniques that don’t involve needles, which I am also looking into.

I’ve checked the National Cancer Institute’s website, and they somewhat endorse or acknowledge that acupuncture and other techniques are commonly used to treat nausea, vomiting, and pain from cancer and chemotherapy. I am checking the backgrounds and availability of some reputable, certified acupuncturists in the area today.

We will likely use the money we raised from friendsofgeraldine.org for this, but may need to begin a fresh round of fundraising after this.

I’m letting you guys know this because she needs encouragement, support, and anything else that can be done, now more than ever. Stress is making this worse on her because it has a direct correlation to her pain. Anyone who has talked to her over the past week can see that.

They are worried that her cancer has come back out of remission and may delay or even cancel her stem cell transplant. There has been some surprise and concern from the medical staff at how aggressive this has suddenly become. One possibility is that the cancer has come back out of remission and is now resistant to the ICE chemo regimen. She may be going for a donor transplant instead, which is more dangerous and lengthy. There is a lot of uncertainty and we simply don’t know what the next step is at this time.

Obviously, she is very scared at the moment. We all are. I wish there were better news, but I will keep you up to date as things unfold.

60 ounces and a shot

My goodness! I survived my 4th round of ICE chemo and have started the stem cell immobilization process. This means that everyday I have to take: 1 Bactrim, 1 Levaquin, 3 antiviral, 6 Tums and 1 injection of Neupogen along with any pain or anti nausea medication. This is not much compared to some, but its still a lot of pills. This will continue until I have hit that 10 million stem cell number. Since I just finished chemo, my blood counts have to measured pretty often because chemo kills your white & red blood cells and your platelets. If your white blood cells are too low, then you are neutropenic and have to be hospitalized for isolation. If your red blood cells are too low, then you have to have a blood transfusion. If your platelets are too low, then you could potentially bleed to death and also need a platelet transfusion. None of these scenarios are fun, but are a reality when you are undergoing chemotherapy. Not all chemotherapy kills your immune system. Since I have what is considered a blood cancer, the chemotherapy that I receive will absolutely destroy my bone marrow. People that have other types of Cancer such as breast or other organs receive a different type of chemo. Chemo sucks either way, but there is a greater risk with people that have a blood cancer versus people that don’t. This means that you have to be watched closely to see what your body does.

I have been going to Richmond pretty regularly to check my blood counts. As of right now, my blood counts look okay, but my blood pressure is too low. Chemo can cause cardiac damage and I have to have some medical tests to ensure that heart can handle transplant. This is true for everyone that has to have a bone marrow transplant. My blood pressure has definitely been an area of concern since this whole thing began. It tends to be low (which is good), but when I get chemo it gets even lower and the medical staff start freaking out. In order to maintain or increase my blood pressure, I have to drink at least 60 ounces of fluid a day. 60 ounces? How in the world and I going to do that and will I be spending all my time in the bathroom? I know to some of you that may not be a problem, but to me it requires a huge effort on my part. My mom has been diligent about giving me a ton of water to drink and making sure that I drink it. She says that “its either this or the hospital.” Yes, mom good point.

My mother also has the pleasure of giving me an injection of Neupogen every single day. I prepare the needle and she stabs me with it. No problems there. I tried to give myself the injection, but could not do it. I am grateful that I have her because I am not sure how many other people could give me a shot. Wait a minute… I take that back. I am certain that there are plently of people that would love to stab me with a needle. 🙂 Well, sorry for all of you, but the job is taken. All in all, things are not that bad. I am still recovering from chemo and trying to mentally prepare for what is ahead. Thank you for your emails and comments, I love hearing from everyone.

Off to see the Chemo Wizard

Geraldine and her daughter Viviane

Geraldine and her daughter Viviane

Hello Everyone!

I know that it has been a while since I have updated everyone. There have been some things going on in my personal life that have been heartbreaking and very difficult. I am trying to keep a positive attitude, but its been hard. I really want to take the time to thank you for your emails and texts. The love and support that I have received is amazing and has really helped me through these tough times. Having Viviane in my life has been such a blessing. She keeps me busy and smiling. She has such a strong spirit which inspires me to dream my dreams and make them a reality. Her fearlessness and drive to conquer anything is contagious. She is my light and motivation to be strong and beat this disease. Its funny how motherhood makes you grow in so many ways. I recently came across a quote that really hit home with me: “Happiness is the consequence of personal growth.” I know in our everyday lives, we expect to be happy, but we don’t realize that you have to work at it by working on yourself.

Okay, enough with the emotional babble. Here is the current info. I have officially begun the transplant process. I have had ANOTHER round of ICE chemo, again. There are two reasons for this. First, is to keep my Cancer in remission and the second is to obtain the highest number of stems cells. I need to collect 10 million stem cells for my double transplant.

More to come…