Friday, 31 July 2009

Fri 31st July 2009

Nothing major to report this week, which is good I suppose. I've visited two sites and worked at home the other three days. Work wise I'm getting back on top of things, at least I'm having to as there's no one else in my area and new referrals and problems come in every day. I have always really enjoyed the 'case management' side of my job, yet this is the part I find most difficult at the moment.

Lack of stamina and a tendency to experience a sudden drop in energy levels can be frustrating, sometimes I can't even be bothered to think, I just want to sleep. I'm trying to increase my exercises as the scar lines are still quite lumpy and uncomfortable. I can now get my left arm up to the 'ten to' position and hopefully in another couple of months I'll have full movement.

Bruises are fading, I haven't spoken to anyone yet about the Herceptin. I've done plenty of reading and it doesn't really help. I don't really want to ring the cancer support nurses as it would seem as though I'm whining and feeling sorry for myself. On the other hand, there are some questions relating to my cancer and the need for Herceptin which I would like to know. I will give it further thought!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Fri 24th July 2009 'Herceptin No2'

(X marks the spot, or should I say one of five)
Just returned from a day at Brinsworth, well, half a day as I ran out of steam just after lunch which is probably due to the Herceptin treatment yesterday. Not an experience I'm keen to repeat, in fact if it had been my first 'Homecare Herceptin' treatment, I doubt if I would have continued.

All the anxieties and reservations I had about 'Homecare' became reality yesterday. The male nurse turned up as planned and I have to say was very pleasant and chatty. It was apparrant to me from the outset though that he was quite young and lacked the years of experience my previous nurse had under her belt. However, I initially didn't let this worry me unduly as we all have to start somewhere.

Unfortunately his first attempt I knew would fail as the vein he chose is one of the smallest and the pain was excruciating, which is a sure sign the cannula is not in the vein. That one removed, he then tried another three in the back of my hand, all of which were just as painful and despite a small 'flashback' (small amount of blood) in the chamber, once the cap was removed to attach the IV fluid, nothing came out. From past experience, I know that if this happens you're not in the vein. So attempt number four was on the underside of my arm and again this was unsuccessful. At this point he was talking about calling for backup. I tried not to make him feel uncomfortable and assured him it was my crappy veins (which does have something to do with it), but I was beginning to feel tattered and stressed.

I suggested that soaking my arm in hot water again might just encourage a useable vein. Fortunately I was right and on the fifth attempt the cannula went in and was patent. So one hour later we finally started the saline flush, followed by the Herceptin.

For the rest of the day I was pretty wiped out, I think I'd used up so much adrenalin. Today, my arm has been aching and the scar line feels uncomfortable, which I'm sure is also due to the Herceptin. I have gritty eyes and feel as though I'm suffering from a hangover, so thank goodness it's the weekend.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Fri 17th July 2009 - 'Back in the saddle'

The end of my first week back in the saddle. It felt strange going into Rotherham on Tuesday and the further from home I got, the more anxious I felt. However, I soon settled in and spent most of the day 'spring cleaning' so I could have a fresh start. It was great to see everyone and I was pleasantly surprised at how many people have been following my blog.

I also made a trip to Scunthorpe, which felt very comfortable. It's a small site, but I enjoy going because it's friendly and not too far to travel. Also I look forward to a coffee and a catch up with my friend Bernie.

Today I found a little stressful. Work is beginning to come in and much of it is hard to defer, plus I don't like letting people down. I've got two site visits a week planned, two days of First Aid & Cryogenic Burns training, plus I'm hoping to drive to Guildford for our Team Meeting in a few weeks. My tinnitus is louder, which is probably due to some anxiety and I do worry about having another vertigo attack, but I'm sure I will settle into it all in a few weeks.

Physically things are looking good. My weight is stable, even though my appetite isn't quite what it was. Range of movement in my left arm could be better, but I keep doing the exercises at least twice a day. By evening it is a bit uncomfortable, but a decent nights sleep seems to settle things down again. I'm beginning to think I may need some 'tweeking' by the end of the year (Consultants word, not mine) as the reconstruction is going to end up slightly smaller. I go back on Dec. 11th to discuss this and my progress.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sun 12th July 2009 - Just for Fun

Raspberry 'Reconstruction' Muffins - Sorry, that was Graham's name for them. I made them last night to take to my brother Alan's, but when they came out I took one look at them knew immediately the reaction I would get. I wasn't disappointed, they did cause a laugh and now they all think I'm suffering from 'boob envy' or something like that.

Anyway, we had a beautiful meal, Chinese style and I even managed the chopsticks. I'm so pleased that we're all so much closer these days and it's always a laugh when we get together.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Frid. 10th July 2009 - Hi Ho, Hi Ho........

It's off to work we go...... picture - me setting off in my new suit (many of my old clothes don't fit now). Not that I'm complaining, I needed to lose little.

A full on day with very mixed emotions. At times I was excited and enthusiastic, but once or twice I just wanted to come home and have a good cry. It was physically and mentally draining, so I was relieved to be able to get away for 3p.m. It's going to be difficult trying not to get too bogged down with ongoing case management and prioritising my gradual build up, but I'm determined to stay in control.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Thurs 9th July 2009

This is my third week back at work and I feel it hasn't been too difficult. I decided right from the start to log on early, do a couple of hours, have a break, do a bit more etc. There has been the odd day when I've failed to do much at all, especially Mon, Tues this week, mostly due to the fact that I've had a mind numbing fatigue and stomach problems. I'm wondering if this is due to the Herceptin, so I'll have to keep a note.

Sleep is very poor at the moment too as the muscles in my side and back are really tight and at times painful. I still can't sleep on my left for more than five minutes and in any other position my shoulder and arms go dead. I still think I'm getting enough sleep in relation to the exercise I'm doing during the day.

Appetite fluctuates from day to day, but is definitely not the same as it used to be, maybe that's a good thing! Looking back at the amount I ate towards the end of my chemotherapy, it's a wonder I didn't put weight on.

Well, tomorrow is the day I get my office/keys/equipment back and Margaret is coming up from Guildford to go through a few bits. I am sort of excited about getting the reins back, but I'm also terrified that I won't cope if work builds up too quickly. It's hard trying to go back to normal when you feel anything but normal. I'm still really conscious of my changed body and worry that it shows or that people notice how strange my back feels when they greet me. Sounds silly, but it's very real for me and a constant reminder. I'm hoping I will get some feeling and flexibility back in those muscles as they're very hard and numb still - early days I suppose.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Thur 2nd July 2009 - Homecare No1. The Verdict!

Had my first Herceptin at home today, which went well, considering I was ready to kick it in to touch yesterday. The trouble is I still feel it's very disruptive and I sort of resent the fact that I can't put treatment behind me, so the fact that no one had contacted me at 5 o'clock yesterday, despite two phone calls this week, left me feeling very annoyed and ready to tell them not to bother!!!

I did finally get a call last night to confirm, but by then I'd lost confidence in the service and began to wonder if it was like many of the other home care businesses - useless. So I didn't sleep and was very anxious and close to tears this morning. However, when the nurse turned up my anxieties were quickly dispelled, she was very professional, friendly and a marvellous aim with the cannula!

We did note that my BP is very low 90/60 which is bordering on hypotensive. My BP has always been just right around 120/80, but went low following my first surgery and doesn't seem to have picked up since then. It isn't a problem at the moment, providing I don't stand up too quickly, but I think it needs monitoring in relation to the Herceptin and it's possible side effects on the heart.

The treatment took 90 minutes and the whole visit approx two hours. It did appear that I should have had some other documentation however and she hadn't been told this was my first home treatment, so some of my worries weren't unfounded. Everything went fine and I haven't suffered any side effects.