Friday, February 17, 2012

Post 26: CT scans, half way through round 3 of Chemo, & products I can't live without!

I am happy to say that in a week I will be 1/2 way through my chemotherapy treatments! I will have 3 more rounds after I finish this one.  If I get sick or have hand & foot syndrome my doctors withhold my medication so my immune system can have a chance to work. Hopefully I won't have any delays so it won't take longer to finish a round. I am trying very hard to stay as healthy as I can. Sometimes it's tough staying well when you're a teacher. SO MANY germs at school! But I am just extra careful. I am also trying to learn that I don't need to be so hard on myself when I need a break. I have a hard time asking for help and sometimes I feel like I should just push through. But I am realizing this is not doing me or my family any good. Some of the side effects can get really ugly if you let them go too far. I am lucky I have such a good oncologist that takes these things very seriously and gives me time to heal if I need it.

So far with this round I have not developed any hand or foot issues. Yay! But a strange thing that has happened is my fingerprints are disappearing! I was checking my little girl out of daycare, and they have a fingerprint scanner you have to touch when you come in to pick up your child. When I tried to scan my finger it kept telling me it didn't recognize me in the system! I tried 10 times with no success so they had to check Elise out for me. I read that this could be a side effect. It's a weird one! So I guess this means I can be sneaky and not leave my fingerprints!? :) Just kidding.

To help with my hand & foot syndrome I started using a moisturizer called Udderly Smooth. I was using a different one called Bag Balm, but I felt like it wasn't really helping as much as this one. Some swear by the Bag Balm, but I guess it's just what works for some might not work for others. Udderly Smooth has been awesome for me the past few weeks. I think I will continue using it even after I am done with chemo. It really soaks in your skin and doesn't feel greasy. I don't really love how it smells, but if it helps who cares!

ReliaMed Lubricating
Deodorant. A sanity saver. 
 This is really embarrasing to write about, but I want to post it anyways because I wish I had known about this stuff earlier.(ReliaMed Lubricating Deodorant) I feel like this product is worth a little embarrasment and it is important to post. I just hope I can help even ONE person who might be in this situation. Things like this are really hard to write about because I don't want anyone thinking I am gross or unsanitary.  I hate when people look at my stomach trying to see if they can see my pouch through my clothes. I feel like people might think I am dirty. I know I shouldn't worry about what people think, but that is easier said than done. Having an ostomy bag can be very humbling sometimes. Your small intestine is constantly moving. It has a mind of it's own and you have to empty the ostomy pouch when it gets full. Since you have zero control of when the bag fills up, you end up having to empty it in public places unfortunately. It's not fun, but It's just a part of life for me right now. The problem is when you are in a public restroom.....lets just say the odor that can come out of the pouch is, well..... special. It can be absolutely humiliating and make you not want to leave the house in fear that you will have to empty it in a public restroom. There is not much more embarrasing than coming out of the bathroom stall with someone waiting in line to come in after you. Thankfully  there is a product you can put in the pouch that gets rid of all the odor. I use it every single morning. It kills bacteria and almost completely prevents any odor all day. I was about to run out of  it and I was litterally in tears because I didn't want to go anywhere without having this stuff in my pouch. We had to overnight a couple of bottles. I know this sounds like something so trivial, but when you have a situation that changes the way you live and function, the last thing you need is further embarrassment or even more damage to your self esteem. I am thankful that there are people who are thoughtful and develop products like this to help make life just a little bit easier while living with an ostomy. The weird thing is it is a blue gel. When I first used it I wondered why is it blue!!?? I quickly discovered blue color provides a visual indication of surface coverage. When I put a little bit of the gel in the pouch, I squish it around and I can see that I have the whole inside of the bag covered. Makes sense! I really can't live without this stuff.

This is what my brain felt like yesterday!

I won't lie and say things are easier. But living with an illeostomy has become a "new normal" that I am slowly getting more used to. I still have days when I look at myself and wonder how did I get here? What has happened to me? It's been extremely challenging especially with a 9 month old baby and working full time. But keeping busy keeps my head in a better place and I don't have time to sit and overthink things (which I tend to do.)

 My husband is a saint. He has been absolutely amazing. He litterally does everything at home when I have days I just can't keep going. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am to have this wonderful man in my life. I really don't know how I would make it through this without him. I have some good days and those are the days when I will dress cute and fix my hair. We get out of the house and do as much fun stuff together as a family as we can. I feel like I have to take advantage of these days, because I know they won't last long. Some days are extremely difficult and yesterday was definitely one of the more challenging ones. I have been having MAJOR insomnia for the past few weeks. Maybe getting 1-2 hours of sleep at night. I just lay there trying to keep my eyes shut hoping I will drift off to sleep eventually. I guess the lack of sleep caught up with me because I was having some memory loss and confusion. I had a very hard finding things at home, I was having a rough time explaining directions to the students at school. I just couldn't get the words out. I just felt lost in general. It really scared me because I am a very organized person. Once the kids left my classroom and I was alone, I just broke down. I don't ever cry at school. I was so upset with myself. I didn't want to be unprofessional and I didn't want the kids to see me. The last thing I wanted was for the kids to know I was upset. The teachers were so sweet and took over my classes for the day so I could go home and rest.  I went home and Phillip called my doctor to ask about the memory loss I was having. They told me to go to my primary care doctor here in town and have them evaluate me immediately. They did some blood tests and a CT scan of my head just to rule out any problems that could be causing my confusion and memory loss. Luckily all of my bloodwork and my CT scan looked good. I am so releived. I just don't know if I could handle any more bad news. Luckily, the doctor chalked all of my symptoms up to insomnia. I started on Ambien last night and I ended up getting a good 4-5 hours of sleep. I am doing a little better today. Hopefully I can get some more rest and be on my way to feeling better. I am hoping to enjoy a good weekend with my family!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure people offer all kinds of advice about this but have you tried hypnotherapy or guided relaxations? You can get them on itunes for just about anything and they really help you relax your muscles and reduce stress. As you do them more frequently your body and mind get trained and it only takes a few deep breaths to get you to that relaxed state. They are similar to Yogic meditation and you can even find them for increased healing and immun