3 Month Check-Up

In the past two weeks I’ve met with both Dr. Hong and Dr. Smith for my three month check-up.

Dr. Hong said my implants are healing nicely. We talked through my concerns about shooting pain, scar tissue build up and itchiness (oh yeah, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the last one only blog yet. Yup, my implants itch from time to time — but there’s no way to scratch them and relieve the itchy sensation. Remember when you were little and got a cast on your arm or leg? — and it itched deep inside the cast, but you couldn’t reach that spot to scratch? Well that’s the sort of itching I’m talking about — but it’s my entire chest). He assured me that everything is healing fine and the pain and itching are my nerves/sensation coming back. Whoa! What?

I’ve spoken with a lot of recon survivors and most have little to no sensation. I prepared myself for that reality, and feel fortunate that I do have some feeling around the tops of my foobs. The other night I put Dr. Hong’s theory to the test. I closed my eyes and made Paul touch my foobs in different spots and I let him know when I could feel it. I got 9 out of 10!

For comparison sake, we did this same test a few months ago and I only felt about half of the time (the middle to lower part of my foobs being the trouble area).

I’m still not quite prepared to believe this yet — it’s seems a little too good to be true. But I’m keeping an open mind. When the pain or itch strike, I remind myself it’s for a greater cause and in the long run I’ll be so much happier if I can regain additional sensation — no matter how slight.

Dr. Hong also confirmed that I’m still swollen from the exchange surgery. Hopefully all that swelling will drain by December at our 6 month check-up appointment.

On to Garrett (aka Dr. Smith). My tumor marker was a 6 (yay!) and the rest of my bloodwork came back in range (although I did have a slightly elevated white blood cell count and slightly above normal temperature). I passed his physical exam as well. I was glad he really got into, and felt up, my foobs, armpits, ribs etc. I like knowing two of us are being vigilant and on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that I’m still a bit tachycardic. I have been ever since my Adria leak/port infection back in February. Right now, on a good day, my resting heart rate is in the high 70’s. More often than not, however, its in the high 80’s or 90’s. Which means when I exert myself a little (ie. go for a walk, do some squats etc) my heart rate shoots up to 120-155. That’s high people!

So, I really need to work on re-conditioning my body and getting my strength back. Nothing new about that last sentence! That’s what I work on everyday!

So, long story short. I’m still dancing with NED and will see both doctors again in December for my 6 month.

In celebration of this good news, I woke up this morning and dismantled the cancer TV in the armoire of our master bedroom and relocated it to the guest room. It’s a gigantic step for me mentally. I’m pretty damn proud of myself right now! Lol

Sayonara old pal. I hope you take as good care of our guests as you did me…

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Post Chemo Check-Up

Paul said I owe the world a blog post! I’ve just been feeling so tired and sick the past few weeks — I’m not gonna lie, it’s been pretty rough. But it has been awhile since I posted, so here goes!

I went to see Garrett on Tuesday for my first official post-chemo follow up appointment. It was so surreal to be in his office and not be receiving chemo.  The infusion room was pretty busy and I had an out of body experience looking at all the people and their loved ones sitting in there. Oddly, I have very little memory of being in the chair myself. I think back on all those months and I have no idea how I got through every week. I suppose it’s amazing what the mind and body will do to protect itself.

As for my appointment. We discussed the results of my echocardiogram, PET scan and, most importantly, my tumor marker blood work.

Echocardiogram: Results overall were normal. There was a notation that I am showing a slight regurgitation in both my mitral and tricuspid valves. G says it’s nothing to worry about.  A slight arrhythmia was also detected. Again, not to be worried about at this point.

PET Scan: Results overall were normal.  They noticed mild to moderate maxillary sinus mucosal thickening (oh shit! I better start using the neti-pot twice a day, don’t want to have to undergo a third endoscopic sinus surgery for damn nasal polyps).  They also noted a 4mm nodule in my right lung.  Garrett said it’s not mets (ie it’s not cancer) but it’s likely a prominent vessel or some scuz deposited by my infected port a few months ago. He said that lots of people have unknown spots in their lungs from traumas past that they are unaware of and that aren’t cancer.

In my pre-cancer life, I would’ve jumped all over both of these test results and demanded further testing to ensure everything was truly ok. Now, in my post-cancer world, I leave it to the experts. If G tells me not to stress and the results look good — I listen.  WOW, cancer really has been life-changing for me!

Tumor Marker Test: A bit of background on this one for ya. According to G a score less than 32 is good. Nobody is at a 0.  If you are at a 10 versus a 27 it doesn’t matter — that is just YOUR number. A high or low number is irrelevant. What matters is the deviation (plus or minus) from YOUR number.  So if somebody’s baseline number is a 12 and 3 months later they score a 13, that’s fine. 3 months after that, if they score a 16, there is cause for concern. Make sense?

So my baseline (which was taken before I started chemo therapy back in December) is an 8. Which means anything between a 5-11 is OK for me.  My follow-up score was a 9. yay.

The only thing that gave G pause, was my white blood cell count, it was pretty elevated, which led him to believe I’m fighting an infection.  Man, the numbers do not lie! I did come down with a terrible soar throat over the weekend, but I thought it had passed.  Turns out it was just sort of dormant and it actually ended up coming back with a vengeance two hours after I left G’s office.  Thankfully he prescribed me a 5-day Z-pak to kick it to the curb for good.

This is worth talking about for a brief second. Pre-cancer, if I got a soar through, I just did Nyquil and cough drops and it went away. Post cancer, I need antibiotics to help my body fight it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the cold I had in Hawaii because I have been really fatigued and dragging ever since our trip. To help you quantify what I mean by “dragging” I’ve spent the past 5 out of 6 days in bed.  On the one day I was out and about, I logged 5 miles and over 12000 steps on my pedometer.  That amount of exertion, landed me back in bed for two days.

So now I know, that even if I feel good, I really need to pace my recovery. What seems like little exertion to most, will kick me in the ass and bring down my immune system even more. Ugh.

But let me end this on a positive note — all of my baseline tests came back normal and my tumor marker is on target. I’m really grateful for that!