Thursday, February 9, 2012

Post 25: Goodbye to the stomach virus!

Mommy & Elise (9 months)
Feeling well during my 'off week
We've had some major ups and downs the past two weeks! First I just want to say I feel pretty awesome today!!! I've been on my 'off week" with no chemo meds for a few days. I can REALLY tell when I am not taking it. I feel more like myself. I've been super busy enjoying my family this week. We've had some great moments, but unfortunately some really rough ones last week. I'll go ahead and fill you in on the bad stuff first, then I will get to the better news.

Last Saturday (Jan 28th) Elise caught a tummy virus. She was throwing up and having diarrhea. I knew I probably shouldn't have been cleaning it all up or snuggling her. But she is my baby! How can I not hold my sick baby?? Her virus only lasted a day, if not just 12 hours. She was happy and playing by the end of the day, so we thought we were in the clear. We clorox wiped every light switch and door knob we could find hoping we would not catch it. Well, Sunday I woke up feeling a little gross. But chemo makes me feel bad already, so I really didn't know if it was that or if I caught her virus. As the day progressed I began feeling worse and worse. By late afternoon I was losing an entire ostomy bag of pure water every hour. I took Imodium 8 times and it wasn't slowing it down at all. As soon as I would drink something, it would go straight out to my ostomy bag. I was getting scared and becoming faint feeling. Phillip and I decided it was time to take me to the ER. I was getting worse by the minute barely able to even get dressed because I was going in and out of consciousness. Then the vomiting started. It was BAD. I don't remember much after this, but somehow Phillip got me into the car and to the hospital. I remember being pushed in by a wheelchair to the front desk. I Heard Phillip talking to the front desk about how I was immune-suppressed because of chemo, so they put me in a room by myself with a mask on my face to protect me from the general waiting room. I was admitted and received 3 liters of fluids but still felt sick. They gave me some phenergan to stop vomiting & Zofran for nausea. We were lucky enough to have my mom stay at our house to take care of Elise while I was in the hospital. I missed her Elise so much and just wanted to go home. I am so tired of hospitals. I was so cold from the IV fluids, and my back was killing me from the stretcher/bed. I missed our baby. I heard a baby screaming in the ER and it sent me into a panic attack. I have not had one of those in months! It was bad, so they gave me some Ativan for anxiety through my IV. I eventually just passed out and slept from exhaustion. I guess the ER doctor thought I would be ok and they discharged me. Unfortunately, Phillip and I BOTH started vomiting once we got home. My sweet mom slept over at our house and got up with Elise so we could both sleep. It was a miserable night. I don't really remember much of it because I was so doped up from the medicine they gave me. Poor Phillip was better within 24 hours. However, it took me about 5 days to get over the dehydration. I missed 3 days of work. I had an appointment at Shands in Gainesville that following Wednesday. They thought it would be best if I got more fluids and a potassium infusion. Our appointment was at 9:30am and we finally left Shands after 4:pm. It was a long day. Then my poor mom caught it from us and she was sick for a couple of days. This virus was a rough one!! Glad it's finally gone from our family!! I really REALLY need to be more careful from now on because the chemo can cause me to be immune-suppressed. What might take a person 2-3 days to get over, has the potential to put me in the hospital. Learned that the hard way.

The good news is that at my appointment in Gainesville, they decided to give me a week off my chemo so I could fully recover and feel better. The dehydration from the stomach virus really took a toll on me. It took a few days to start feeling better and to stop losing so much fluid. They put me on a STRONG prescription anti-diarrhea medicine called Limotil. I drank A LOT of Pedialyte, and stuck to the BRAT diet for a few days (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast). After all of that slowed down I got my strength back. Since I have been off my chemo drugs for 10 days I feel pretty great now. I feel like me. Like mommy! It makes me happy to know I will feel like myself again someday, and I got a good preview of how good I can feel this week.

This week I have been able to teach all day and enjoy painting with the kids at school. I still have energy when I get home to play with Elise and cook dinner with Phillip. We've also been able to go for short walks. I'm really excited that I have been able to take a hot shower/bath. During my treatments I have to keep the water cool so it won't burn my hands and feet. It's been wonderful to take a warm bath! I'm just trying to enjoy every last minute.

The doctor also lowered my dose of Xeloda (chemotherapy drug) again. They said they start you off with the highest dose they can according to your weight. Then they adjust from there. I will start my chemo meds back tomorrow (Friday the 10th) and hopefully I will continue feeling decent. I know I won't feel 100%, but maybe some of the painful symptoms will be lessened.

My doses have been altered twice since I have had such bad hand and foot syndrome, and my weight has been dropping faster than they would like to see:
  • December: 1st round 1500mg - TOO HIGH for me. I ended up with severe hand and foot syndrome on the 9th day (out of a 14 day cycle).
  • January: Second round was altered to 1250 Still TOO HIGH - but I made it to day 12 (out of the 14 day cycle) before they pulled my meds.
  • February: Third round will be lowered to 1000mg. Hopefully I will be able to complete my full 14 day cycle of Xeloda and this will be the right dose for me. (Update 2/23/12 : This is the correct dose for me and I was able to complete all 14 days with no Hand & Foot Syndrome! My hand and feet were still very tender and I had to be careful, but they were nothing like they have been in the past. I still had other side effects I've discussed in previous posts, but at least we got this one under control.) 
Fortunately Phillip and Elise were all better by the weekend of the 4th so they could go to their first Father Daughter Dance!! It made my heart so happy to see her all dressed up and ready to go dancing with her daddy. It was such a sweet moment and I will post pictures below.

This week has been a great week and I am happy I've had a few days where I can say I've felt pretty good. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this 3rd round of chemo that I start tomorrow will go well. Hopefully we have figured out my dose and I can tolerate it a little better this time.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers.
Here are some pictures of Elise and Phillip on their way to the Father Daughter Dance!

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