Friday, November 20, 2015

Here are some pictures of my foot post-op:

Pretty, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Home from the hospital, and I am so, so glad.  

I remember waking up in the PACU in searing pain.  Every other time with the surgeries on my L leg, I woke up with a catheter and a PCA.  This time?  No PCA, no catheter.  By the time I got upstairs I was crying non-stop, I was in that much pain.  I kept begging them to do something about the PCA, but no one would listen to me.  Believe it or not, they wanted me to get OOB and sit on the BSC.  I refused.

That night was horrible; I couldn't rest because the pain was relentless.  The best way to describe it was non-stop pain in my heel that felt like throbbing, electric jolts;  burning as if my leg were in fire;  and, feeling as if a bunch of rats were gnawing on my heel.

The next morning was no better.  A nurse practitioner came in, and when I asked her about a PCA she said, "We don't do PCAs."  She had absolutely no compassion whatsoever.  She did end up relenting when it came to the catheter, and by mid-morning I at least had a catheter.  When it came to the PCA though, she couldn't have cared less.

The first day after surgery was even worse than when I woke up after surgery.  I am on long acting pain medications due to cancer and neuropathy.  For some reason, they chose to not restart them, so I was going into withdrawal on top of everything else.

Finally around 4:00pm, my father called the surgeon's office, and by 6:00pm I had a PCA.  I finally was able to get the pain under control and do all of the things they want you to do  post-op: cough and deep breathe, sit out of bed in a chair, eat, drink, etc.

The next morning the foley was taken out, then I got my long-acting pain medication.  Around 12:00pm the PCA was D/C, and I was comfortable from thereafter.

On Friday morning, a nurse practitioner from the palliative care and hospice dept. came in to talk to me.  She said she had heard about what happened to me, and she apologized over and over.  She said I should never have been treated that way.  I told her that I was concerned because I will be having surgery again.  She told me that if I need surgery again to give her a call, and she will make sure I am on their list of patients to follow.

This has always been a great hospital, but that nurse practitioner from the pain mgmt. dept. was ridiculous.  What I really don't get is why she wouldn't restart my home meds; if she wasn't going to manage my pain appropriately, then at least let me have what I take at home.  I'm not big on reporting people, but I am going to say something when I see my ortho.  If I were absolutely positive I had her name right, I would go to her manager, too.

I am now a firm believer in having a family member at your bedside when you are hospitalized.  My parents were there a good part of the day; if they hadn't been, I believe I wouldn't have gotten that PCA.

What happened to being an advocate for your patient?  With the exception of one nurse, most of them just shrugged their shoulders as if they were helpless.  What happened to going up the chain of command?  Certainly that NP was not at the very top of the food chain.  I know what I would have done if the situation would have been reversed.  How can I know?  Because I've done it.  How you could just stand idly by while your patient is crying in pain.  Do they just not care anymore?

What a sad state of affairs we've come to!  



Monday, November 2, 2015

It's Deja Vu All Over Again..

Well, tomorrow is it.  Another surgery.  I'm going to be having a tibiotalocalcaneal fusion of the right ankle, the same procedure I had on the left ankle.  If you want to have an idea of what the surgery looks like, here it is on youtube.  (Scroll to the three minute mark if the video starts with power point presentation.  I tried to edit that out.)

The surgery will require me to be under house arrest, I mean, total non-weight bearing status, for two months.  It's not like I haven't done this before, but I'm getting tired of hospitals, surgeries, and pain.

For everyone who has been supportive, I thank you.  This has been a long road, and there is still another surgery to go.  Bear with me...

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's about time!
Remember that fairy tale we were told about EHR allowing doctors and hospital staff to access a patient's electronic record, no matter where the patient was receiving care?

Friday, October 16, 2015

ZDoggMD recently did a video "Ain't the Way to Die," which addresses the need for us to do a better job of planning for amore dignified death than what most people in the US experience.  The video inspired a lot of comments, so I thought it would be interesting to link the video and comments here.

If you haven't talked to your family about what your wishes are regarding end-of-life treatment, do it now.  John Lennon said "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  Well, death happens to you while you're making plans too.  Make sure the people you love know your wishes.

Friday, October 9, 2015

I just got a call from the orthopedic surgeon's office.  Surgery is scheduled for 3 Nov.  Here we go again!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Monday was a busy day.  In the morning I saw my surgeon, Dr. David Pedowitz, at Rothman Institute.  The plan is to do surgery on my R ankle.  I'm hoping that with this surgery I will be able to walk again.

After that, it was on to Fox Chase Cancer Center.  Since I'm without an oncologist, I decided to go to a gyn oncologist there; I saw Dr. Christina Chu. Talk about coincidences...she said she trained my first oncologist, Dr. J. Evans.  The plan for right now is for me to see her every three months and have CA125 every three months prior to the visit.  I feel good about seeing her.  It's a long trip, but I think it will be worth it.

It was sad to lose Dr. Davis.  I wish him well, and I hope Lynette is happy in her new job.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

These are some of the wonderful nurses I worked with in outpatient oncology.  Is it really going on four years ago since I left?

A dose of "The Far Side."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Every year, approximately 15,000 women in the US will die from ovarian cancer.  That's like having a small town vanish off the map.  Here are a couple examples of US town that would cease to exist:

1. Gettysburg, PA

2. St. Augustine, FL

3. Los Alamos, NM

4. Sausalito, CA

5. Jackson, WY

And that's just 5 towns.  Think about it...poof!  A whole town...gone.

We must come up with a better way of treating ovarian cancer.  It's inexcusable that the mortality rate for ovarian cancer is essentially unchanged from when I was first diagnosed in 2011.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

At the risk of sounding petulant, I have to get something off my chest.
Anyone who has been on my timeline or my blog knows that I have been dealing with ovarian cancer for a little over four years. I have been trying to increase awareness of this disease, which is the most lethal of all gynecologic cancers, but gets little public attention. (I don't even want to get into the disparity of funding for research.)
Imagine my frustration when I opened the Sunday News of Lancaster Newspapers and saw an ad on page A12 for "Pink Messages" for next month, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
I thought about what something like that would do for women struggling with this disease. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the "Silent Killer" because its symptoms do not often become apparent until the disease is at an advanced stage. In my opinion, it's also a silent killer because it gets such little notice.
It's time for women with ovarian cancer to feel that same public support that those with breast cancer have had for so many years.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I found out yesterday that my oncologist is retiring.  What a bummer!  He is one of those rare doctors who really cares about his patients.  He took me on when my cancer recurred at the beginning of this year.  I'm sure it can be dicey to take on a patient who had been seeing another doctor, but he did it without flinching.

There's another doctor who will be taking over his practice, but I'll be going to a doctor at Fox Chase Cancer Center.  Going there will be a bit of a commute, but it will give me the opportunity to go somewhere where they have clinical trials.

I will really miss him.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Time for some ZDogg levity:

Well, here we are...another September "Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month."  The silence in the media is deafening.  When it's October, "Breast Cancer Awareness Month," you can't swing a cat without bumping into an article, news segment, or other event promoting breast cancer awareness.  I asked the American Cancer Society if they planned on doing anything for ovarian cancer awareness.  That would be a "no."  In fact, when it comes to funding, breast cancer gets the lion's share of the money they raise.  In addition, they hold a separate fundraiser annually for breast cancer.

Props go out to the Windy City, which turned the town teal.  If only we could get that kind of support everywhere!

Monday, August 31, 2015

I haven't posted anything for a while because a nasty respiratory bug got hold of me, big time.  After about two weeks of coughing like crazy, I went to the pulmonologist I've seen off and on.  Things are getting better, finally.  I don't get SOB with speech anymore; that was really frustrating.  I go back in a few weeks for pulmonary function tests.

Sometimes it is so frustrating to be chasing one problem after the other.  It's tiring, too.  The other day I was reminiscing about the stuff I used to do when I was healthy, what life was like, etc.  It's getting hard to remember what life was like B.C. (Before Cancer.)

Friday, August 7, 2015

I think it's time for another ZDoggMD video:

Please click on the "Comments" link if you would like to respond.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

This commercial irritates me to no end.  Can't you see it?  Patient goes to oncologist, who tells patient s/he has low WBCs.  Patient says "Doctor, perhaps we should consider Neulasta."  Doctor smacks forehead and says, "Wow!  That's a really good idea!  I'm so glad you mentioned it; I was wondering what I was going to do about your neutropenia."

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Monday, July 27, 2015

I got the results of my CA125 today; it's 6.

I wish that good news would make me feel better, but instead it just makes me more anxious.  After I got that call I had to take some medication for anxiety.

I know I talked about this before.  Good news should be good news, not a reason to be filled with dread.  But that's how I feel.  When will it recur?  What will I do when it does?

I scour the internet for articles that will give me information about recurrence.  Of course, none of them really go one way or the other.  How can they?  We're talking about cancer.  The only predictable thing about cancer is its lack of predictability.

So, my CA125 went from 9 to 6.  Not a big reduction, but still in the right direction.  I'm so lucky to have family that understands.

I think it's time for ice cream from my two favorite therapists: Ben and Jerry.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

I haven't posted for a while as things have been status quo.  My laptop was on the fritz for a few days too, but now that I have a new hard drive, it's as good as new.  Many thanks to James Terry, Senior Advisor at Apple, for helping me get my MacBook Pro back to good as new.

I'm still trying to decide what to do about the therapist I have been seeing.  She's a nice person, but she really isn't helping me when it comes to working on my issues.  For example, when I told her about having trouble getting my mind off my health issues and worrying about cancer recurring, her suggestion was for me to buy some adult coloring books (not that kind of adult) or signing up for free classes from a university.

Well, OK, that would temporarily take my mind off my issues, but it won't help me learn how to cope better.  I actually did try to take a free course from a university regarding people who have been incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit.  I dropped it because the workload was as heavy as if I were taking it for credits.  I'm going to give the coloring books a try, but what I really want is to learn coping techniques.

I'll continue to try this out for another couple weeks, but I may just stop the therapy.  It's so frustrating to not be able to find a therapist that accepts Medicare/new patients.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

I haven't posted for a while because there hasn't been that much to tell.  After the drama of the last few months, I am happy for the boredom.

I started seeing a therapist to try and sort out everything that has been going on.  This week I'm seeing a psychiatrist for a one-time visit to see if there are some medications that might help with my mood and anxiety.

Last Friday, I went with my parents to see Longwood Gardens,  It was a gorgeous day; the sun was shining, the air filled with birdsong, and then the many beautiful flowers.  There's something healing about being out among nature.  I was exhausted for the weekend, but it was worth it.

Instead of "The Far Side," I'll share some pictures of the flowers.  Pardon my fat finger at the orchids.

Please click on the "Comments" link if you would like to respond.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I decided to take my oncologist's advice, and will be seeing a psychologist tomorrow.  I sort of feel like a failure because I'm having trouble coping.  I saw many patients when I worked in oncology who were so positive and upbeat, and I wonder why I can't be one of those people, too.  What's wrong with me?  I want to be happy.  I want to enjoy my remission, however long it lasts.  I'm certainly not choosing to be unhappy.  I'm not choosing to stay holed up in the house.  Between fatigue and pain, it's hard to be sociable.  People don't understand this, which adds to the burden I'm already carrying.

My "Far Side" cartoon for my upcoming appt. with the psychologist:

(It says "Just plain nuts," for those of you who can't read it.)

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Please bear with me on this post.
I went to the oncologist today. Other than my platelets, which were 60K, and the WBCs, which were 3.3K, everything else was fine. 
And I am depressed.
I know what is going to happen next. Everyone who knows me will say, "That's great!" They'll think it's all better and the battle is over.
Except it isn't.
Like the doctor said, the cancer isn't there now, but it's lurking. In many ways, that is harder than hearing it's back. At least when it's back I know what's ahead of me.
Having people act like everything is fine, it's all "back to normal" is a very isolating experience. People act like, "Oh, crisis over," as if you don't need support anymore.
Except you do.
I don't want to sound as if no one supports me, because that is not the case.  I could not ask for better parents.  They have been there for me every step of the way, through all of the good and bad (and there has been plenty of bad, believe me).  I have some faithful friends who have made this burden lighter.  If you want to know who your true friends are, get cancer.  People who you thought were your friends disappear, but there are people who you never considered your friends who become faithful companions.  I would be remiss not to mention a group of nurses on the internet who have surprised me with the depth of their kindness and generosity.  Many of us have never met in person, but in my case, that didn't stop them from stepping in when I needed it most.
As far as my treatment plan, right now I'll be having my tumor markers (bloodwork that measures the activity of the ovarian cancer) drawn every three months.  I go back to the oncologist in two months just for a follow up.  If the cancer comes back, he said he would plan on putting me on an oral chemotherapy that is specific for ovarian cancer.
Deep breath.  One step at a time.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Bald Nurse is again on hiatus until she's seen by her oncologist next week and feeling better.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Well, it turned out that I had a sinus infection. Antibiotics, cough medicine, and it's much better.  I still have laryngitis, but that will resolve.

I went to the oncologist today, and despite 10 shots of Neupogen, my WBC remain low...2.1K.  The oncologist said he was not going to give me any more chemo.  He said I was too run down and looked haggard.  According to him, I wouldn't be able to tolerate more chemo at this time.  He talked about the possibility of a bone marrow transplant, but I nixed that idea.

Then he told me that since I recurred, I will likely continue to recur.  When I recur will dictate what kind of treatment I get; if it's more than a year, I can get Carbo again.  If it's sooner than a year, we'll have to look at other options.

So, as of now I am in remission, but am still pretty sick.  I'm frustrated that I couldn't finish my last three treatments.  It concerns me because I'm afraid I'll recur sooner because of that.

I saw the cardiologist yesterday, and thank goodness things are going well with that.  I don't need to see him for another six weeks.

So, that's the scoop.  Not what I was hoping for, but as the Stones sang, "You can't always get what you want."

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Bald Nurse has been on hiatus due to feeling like she was hit by a Mack truck.  Hope to be back to publishing next week.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It looks like the diuretics are helping to get rid of all the fluid that I've been holding on to.  In the last 2 1/2 weeks I've lost 23 lbs.  My knees feel so much better than they did before.  I still get SOB on exertion, but not as bad as before.  I had no idea you could hang on to so much fluid.  I still need to lose weight (hard to do when you can't really be active), but at least not all of the weight is fat, and can be corrected with medication.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Well, today was chemo day.  My oncologist got to play "nurse" because his nurse was sick; he did a pretty good job.  He said he wasn't sure if I could get my last two treatments because, in his words, my bone marrow is "fried."  He rechecked my CA125, and I think if it's good he may stop the chemo.  After that, I'll be going to Fox Chase Cancer Center to see the gynecologic oncologist.

I had bloodwork today and got a call later from the cardiology office nurse letting me know that my potassium had tanked.  For some reason, I forgot to take the potassium supplement.  It gets so hard to keep of all of this stuff, and sometimes I'm just too brain dead to think.

I belong to a group of nurses online; we've been together for about 15 years.  These wonderful men and women took up a collection about a week or two ago to help me.  I'm still so touched and thankful for their kindness and generosity.  We come from all over the US and several different countries too.  Many of us have never met, yet we feel like we know each other.

So, we'll see what happens next week.  I don't want to stop it too soon, but OTOH, I'm ready to have my hair grow back.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I just got the report from my office visit with the cardiologist, and is appears that I do have
R sided heart failure after all.

I think I need to trade my body in for a newer model.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Monday I went to the cardiologist because of my edema.  The doc said that my CT scan showed that there was some fluid in my lungs; not a large amount, but it's going to be monitored.  He said that
down the road he may have me go for a test to check out the pericardium.  For the edema, he put me on Bumex and Zaroxolyn.  I go back in 6 weeks to see how things are going.  I hope the meds get rid of all this fluid.

Today I went to the oncologist just for a check on my CBC, which was good.  I asked if I could go back to weekly treatment, because thee q 3 week treatment really knocked the stuffing out of me.  We wound up going with a treatment schedule of two weeks on then two weeks off.  I start back on chemo on April 14.  April 14 was the date the Titanic struck an iceberg.  Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14.  It's the day before federal income tax day in the US.  HIPAA went into effect on April 14.  Oh, and I turn 52 on April 14.  Not exactly a great day in history. j/k

So, that's the scoop for this week!

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

I got a letter today from HealthWell Foundation that I have been pre-approved for a grant for $4180 for the enrollment period of 032215-032216.  I have to send in some documentation to finalize my approval, but this will be a huge relief if my authorization is finalized.  All they need is copies of my MC and prescription cards, and the doctor has to fill out a form.

Hopefully this will be enough to cover all of the Neupogen I'll need.  Even if it isn't, it's a huge chunk out of what I would have had to pay, and it will give me time to find other coverage when this one runs out.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

This has been a very rough week.  We made some changes in my chemo regimen, and I'm having a rough time; I'm so wiped out.

I have to use Neupogen to keep my WBC up, but it costs $1800 after insurance pays its portion.  Who has that kind of money sitting around?  I took money out of my retirement fund, but I don't want to keep doing that; I need money for down the road.

So that's my rant.  I'm too tired to go into details. but I feel so discouraged.  Today is one of those days that I regret going through treatment...deeply regret it.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Once again, chemo this week was cancelled.  I wound up spending most of the day at the hospital getting one test after another.  The good news is that my heart is OK after all--false alarm on the R heart failure.  The CT scan picked up something in my lungs called "ground glass opacities."  The onc. said that as long as I don't have a fever I don't need to worry.  He said that they could be caused from the Gemzar, so next week we're going to try to do the treatment minus the Gemzar.

I am really tired.  That day took a lot out of me.  What was really nice was that I got a call from the oncologist checking up on me to make sure I was OK.

So, today I'm just resting up and trying not to be too frustrated over another complication with treatment.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

My best friend in nursing school used to say, "It's always darkest before it goes completely black."  She had a terrific sense of gallows humor.  I miss that humor and could really use some of it now.

Last week I had an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot.  The good news was that there was no clot.  The bad news?  It looks like I have R heart failure.  I will be seeing a cardiologist the end of this month, and from there, who knows?  In any case, this probably explains my fatigue as well as my SOB when I go up the steps.

As far as the chemotherapy goes, I couldn't have it again because my counts were still too low.  The doctor was fairly certain that next week I will be able to be treated.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Foiled again!  My counts are too low for chemotherapy.  Additionally, I have three open wounds on my abdomen that I have been trying to get to heal, with no success.  I screwed up my courage and showed them to the oncologist.  He was very worried and said the wounds alone would keep me from getting treatment, but with low counts too, it was a definite no go.  So, tomorrow I'm supposed to go to a wound specialist.  The onc. said he wouldn't be surprised if I wound up getting admitted...I. do. not. want. to. be. admitted.

After the debacle in LGH's ED, I'm not even sure where I would go, should I be admitted.  I guess if I had to choose I would go to Lancaster Regional, AKA "Ain't Joe's.

So, that's my tale of woe for today.  I think I need to end with another "Far Side" cartoon:

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Last night was exciting, and not in a good way.  I fell late (for me) last evening...around 10pm.  I couldn't get up off the floor, not even with the help of my parents.  I think part of it was due to my arms and  legs being so weak that I couldn't boost myself up; the other was that due to all the hardware in my ankles and legs, I just have no flexibility.  After multiple attempts at trying to get up, my father called EMS, and they came and got me up on the first try.

Talk about humiliation.  The medics were very nice, but I was absolutely mortified.  It makes me worry about when I get older.  It's not like I'm going to get stronger.

Oh well.  Tomorrow is another chemo day.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I was able to have chemo yesterday.  For some reason, this treatment really hit me.  I am exhausted and am having a lot of nausea.  I didn't have that to this degree before, although I don't have a headache as severe as I did the last time.

If I'm able to have chemo next week, then I will be having a scan to see what my tumors are doing; then we'll see how many additional treatments, if any, I will need.

Today is just going to be a rest and recuperate day.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Well, I just got a call from my oncologist to let me know that my CA125 (test that measures cancer proteins and shows response to treatment) is down to 17 from 69, after just two treatments.  This is good news, because it means my cancer responds to my treatment regimen.

It's about time for some good news!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Once again my WBCs have finked out on me, and I could not have chemo.  My platelets are up, but the WBCs are still way too low to be treated.

So, so frustrating.  The doctor thinks I will only be able to be treated twice a month, which is much less than originally planned.

The worst part is that I premedicated as if I were going to be treated, so I have the aftereffects of the prednisone to deal with. (Hungy, irritable, know, like I usually am.) On the way home from the doctors's office, I told my Dad I had a huge craving for a good doughnut, so he stopped at a local grocery store that has an awesome bakery, and he got 6 cream-filled powdered doughnuts.  The funny thing was, shortly after I got home and devoured one, my neighbor called and asked me if I wanted a doughnut.  Today is Fasnacht Day, so bakeries have plenty of these tempting treats.  I said "Sure!," then told her about stopping for doughnuts on the way home from the doctor.  She said, "Oh well, this one will just replace the one you already ate."

I like the way she thinks!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Now I am truly, "The Bald Nurse."

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Here’s How You Don’t Apologize

In the beginning of January, I went to the ED with symptoms that I was certain were the hallmark of my cancer recurring.   The trip to the ED was, to put it kindly, sub-par.  I decided to write to the hospital CEO after the ED nurse manager refused to return my calls.  My letter was forwarded to the medical director of the ED.  This is the point where things really went off the rails.

I received a letter from the medical director, dripping in sarcasm and personal jabs.  Apparently, even if you try to advocate for yourself in this ED, it’s not enough, because according to this doctor, he was “sorry” that I did not communicate my concerns “in a more comprehensive fashion that would have addressed the concerns I raised in my letter.”

Let’s just think about this for a minute.  Should someone who went to medical school, completed internship and residency need a patient to explain the ramifications of pain, nausea, early satiety (getting full after eating very little), and abrupt onset of edema in a patient with a history of late-stage ovarian CA?  Not in my opinion, but perhaps I ask too much.

The ED doctor refused to send me for a CT scan, according to this doctor, because there was the possibility that my gyn. oncologist (who wasn’t in the office that day) might order a PET scan.  He didn’t want me exposed to two doses of radiation.  Why?  What was he afraid would happen…that I’d get cancer?  The train already left that station.

He also said he was sorry that I “felt” like no one interacted with me during the time I was in the ED, and that I didn’t “feel” like I was checked enough.  I didn’t “feel” that way.  I lay there for 4-5 hours with no one coming in the room to see if I needed anything.  (Like, you know, something for the pain and nausea that in part drove me there to begin with.)

How should he have apologized?  For starters, not by making a patient bear the burden of making sure his/her doctor knows how to proceed when “x+y symptoms” show up in the ED.  Sending the patient a letter that is free of snide/sarcastic comments is another one.

I’ve had to apologize to patients as a nurse at times when I didn’t think I should have had to.  Too bad…it’s part of the job.  You suck it up, you try to make it right, and try to let the patient know you’ll do better next time.

As for me, looks like I will be shopping for a new hospital.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The best friends to have when you have cancer are the ones who read your text message about craving sweet and salt simultaneously, and show up unannounced with McDonalds fries and caramel nut sundae.  They let you talk about everything, or nothing at all.

Those are the friends who get you through the bad times.  Not because they bring you McDonalds, but because they get it.  They just...get it.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

OK, so I lied.  I wanted to add this the other day and forgot.  I blame chemobrain.

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One more...from The Bald Nurse's favorite video-making bald doctor!

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Getting in a plug for one of the many "forgotten" cancers.

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I posted on FB that because my platelets and WBCs don't have that "Can Do" spirit, I won't be getting chemo this week.

This reminds me of being on death row, then getting a last-minute stay-of-execution from the governor.  Sure, "Whee!  No chemo!" but, dang, I premedicated with steroids, so now I'm in that semi-roid induced level of crankiness and restlessness.  If it weren't only 1100, I'd be tempted to have a glass of wine so I could chill out.

When your treatment gets cancelled, it's not like it goes away forever; it's still out there, like a make-up day at school when there's a big snow.

I made the decision to call my stylist and buzz off the hair.  I wrote about my deciduous hair last night.  Well, this morning, more came out.  Having your hair fall out in clumps here and there is like the death of 1,000 cuts.  So, on Friday my lovely hairdresser "K" will be coming out to make me truly, "The Bald Nurse."

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Monday, February 9, 2015

And so it begins...

My oncologist told me that I wouldn't go bald; I would just have some thinning.  Well, it's really starting to...ahem, "thin.'  The last two times I brushed it there was hair throughout the brush that had to be cleaned.  Now, just running my fingers through my hair yields a small nest.

The eyelashes fell out right after the first treatment.  I'm now watching to see what happens to my brows.

The up side to this is at least I don't need to shave for a while.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Well, chemo #2 down.  My platelets are a little on the low side, so the doc said when I come in next week it's not likely that I'll get chemo because he thinks they'll be too low for me to be treated.  I'd really like to get through this without missing a treatment, but I during the last chemo rodeo I missed a week, so I wouldn't be surprised.

That's about it for today...still sleepy from the Benadryl!

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's been about 6 days since my chemo, and so far I've gotten through it with one day of nausea (Note: no frozen pizza the day after chemo) and generalized aches, which I expected.  It doesn't sound all that bad, but that achiness gets to you after a while.

I got a text from a friend whose husband recently died from cancer.  He was always checking up on me when he was sick; I told my friend (his wife) that I was so glad he didn't live to see me recur, because I know he would have taken that very hard.

On Monday, I go to the orthopedic specialist.  The plan had been for me to start physical therapy and then sometime this spring repair the R ankle.  That will be on the shelf for now, but it's not like I'm walking all about town.

The British have it right when it comes to tea.  Tea seems to cure everything.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Monday morning, I found myself sitting in the ubiquitous chemo-Barca lounger. "How did I get here?", I thought to myself.  I had sworn after my first dance with chemo that I would never do this again, yet here I was, doing this again.  The pre-treatment with steroids was giving me a serious headache; I felt like that cartoon where you see someone's head blow off the top. 

I was fortunate to be able to sleep through the majority of my treatment.  When I woke up, the nice woman sitting next to me had left, replaced by yet another unfortunate member of the "Cancer Club."

Chemotherapy defies all logic.  We try to avoid toxins in our lives, whether it's the air we breathe, the food we eat, but when cancer comes knocking, we willingly allow ourselves to be plugged into the ultimate poisonous substances--chemotherapy.  We put up with all sorts of side effects that would otherwise be considered intolerable, all in the hope to beat back the Beast.

The will to live is so strong.  It's amazing what we cancer patients will accept in an effort to grab that brass ring of health.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015


I thought I would have something profound to say on the night before I ride the chemotrain again, but all I can think about is how much I hate those stupid "Progressive" insurance commercials.

That is all.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Recurrence.  It's a word that sends a chill through every cancer patient.  It's the word that cannot be spoken.  For people who don't have cancer, it's just a word...a word devoid of emotion.  For those of us who have done battle with cancer, it's not a word; it's a punch in the gut.

About three and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer.  I went through several months of chemo, treatment that cost me my job and my ability to live independently, even walk.  The complications from the treatment were nearly as catastrophic as the diagnosis.  My doctor considered my treatment a success because according to tests there was no active disease.

So life was supposed to go on.  Life, that is, without nursing, a career I'd had for nearly thirty years.  Life without living on my own.  And life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

During my remission, I spent a lot of time trying to fix the orthopedic issues caused from my chemo treatments.  In one year, I was hospitalized four times and had three surgeries.  The hospital started to feel like home.

And always in the back of my head was this fear of the cancer recurring.  Some days it was just a fleeting thought.  Others, it was with me all day, like a bad dream you just can't shake off when you wake up.  

Then, it happened.  This past Fall, my tumor markers started to creep up.  By December, I started feeling sick, just like I did when I was first diagnosed.  The shoe had dropped.

For a lot of reasons I don't want to go into, I've chosen to go to a different oncologist.  It was a difficult decision, but I think it was the right one.

Next Monday, I get on the chemo carousel again, with a new doctor and a new drug regimen.  It's time once again to do battle with the Beast.

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