Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm DONE!!!

I have officially completed my treatment for Hodgkins!!!

Both techs gave me a big hug this morning before I left, which was sweet :)

I cried tears of joy and relief on the way out.

It's funny - in some ways, I'm feeling like it will be nice to have my life back. In other ways, I feel like I've mostly had my life back since chemo ended, and the rest of what's been going on has just been sewn into my days. Getting up so early was certainly not fun, but there are WAY worse things that could have been necessary.

In any case, all I have now are follow-up appointments and periodic scans. I have an appointment with the oncologist in two weeks, one with the radiologist in a month, then I'll only see one of them on a monthly basis (probably the oncologist, or rotating).

Life is good.

And with that, there is much more to be done today. Hooray for 3-day weekends :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

side effects

Well, I was told that the two most likely short-term side effects from the radiation would be fatigue and a sore throat. I haven't had any fatigue yet (yaye!), but about a week ago, swallowing food started to become uncomfortable, kind of like how it feels when you swallow something too big and it's kind of stuck. But I learned quickly that if I took small bites, chewed a lot, and stayed relaxed, most of the time, it wasn't too bad.

I saw the radiologist on Monday after my treatment. He asked how swallowing was. I told him it was a little uncomfortable but not too bad. He said it would get worse as treatment progressed, which makes sense. Here's the kicker:

It's getting better. In the last few days, I have had almost no discomfort in swallowing at all :) I suppose it is something that I could be adapting to, but I don't see that as a likely answer. Of course, the radiation not having the same effect is not a likely answer, either, so I don't know. Regardless of why, I've enjoyed feeling normal :)

And aside from being sleepy from getting up an hour and a half earlier than I'm used to every day, fatigue hasn't been an issue. I've been able to do all the things I normally do, except that my evenings are cut short so I can try to go to sleep early so as not to be tired.

There it is :) I don't suspect one more treatment is going to produce a landslide of side effects, so I think I'm pretty much in the clear :) :)

With the way things have gone in the past, I kind of am nervous about what's going on that I can't feel, but I'm not going to worry about it. There's not anything I can do about it anyway — just stay in touch with what things feel like and report them as needed.

Monday is my last radiation :) :)

I got my appointment moved to 7 a.m. (from 5:50), so I can sleep in (haha). Be on the lookout for one happy post on Monday...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's been 8 months...

...since the last time I worked out at a gym. Almost to the day. (Last gym visit was May 14 - I had a session with my trainer.)

I went this afternoon :)

Of course, I can't lift anything close to what I used to. Except for dips, I didn't do any upper body on more than 20 pounds. I can still leg press more than my weight, which pleased me, even though it's over 100 pounds less than where I left off. I also was able to do leg lefts with my legs straight (bent knees is much easier) for a set and a half, which made me happy; I was mentally prepared not to be able to lift those straight legs even once.

Now, I didn't do many exercises to failure, so I might have been able to lift more, but at this point, I just want to start to get back into a routine and get my muscles used to doing some work ... without being sore for 3 days.

I also did some elliptical, which completely kicked my ass. I was a little surprised about that, since I have been running some, but it is what it is. I haven't done any running since last weekend, which would contribute, too.

In any case, I worked out for about an hour (maybe a little less) and was exhausted and happy at the end. :)

Related: I don't actually have a gym membership now. I used a "try our gym free for a few days" pass at LA Fitness. It's good through Tuesday. Then I'll do the same at 24Hour Fitness. Then at another gym. Until I've tried out all the ones in the area that I'd like to try. Then I'll join one. If you have a recommendation (for or against) any gyms in the east Valley, lay 'em out there!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"you're looking better"

It's amazing what 1/4" of hair will do.

That's probably the amount that my hair has grown since the last band concert we had before Christmas. It's the only thing about me (as far as I can tell) that looks different than it did a month ago. Yet five people came up to me before yesterday's rehearsal and during break to say how good I was looking and they were glad to see/hear that I was feeling well.

It was nice, but it was kinda weird...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

over the hump!

Quick radiation update:

9 treatments done
8 to go
no noticeable side effects so far!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

new radiation tmt

I went for radiation this morning. It was the first day of the second leg of treatment. The first treatments were really short: a little shot to the front, a little shot to the back, and I was done. I was laying on the table for maybe 2 minutes, plus another 2-3 to get set up.

The rest of these are much longer. Including the time it took to get set up, I was there for about 25 minutes. The machine moved all around and zapped me at different angles. The tech explained that I would hear some clicking, and not to be alarmed about it.

Basically, the machine is a big circle on an arm. The arm enables it to rotate around the table. in the middle of the circle, there is a rectangle. Inside the rectangle, there are lots and lots of little tiny grey pieces (of what?). It kinda looks like one of those novelty toys with all the pins, where people tend to stick their face or hands in and it maintains the shape.

The little grey pieces move to make holes to let the radiation out. The clicking is the pieces moving. When the machine was in my field of vision, I was watching it — it was pretty neat, and it changed every few seconds. The tech said it would change about 200 times during my treatment.

I decided earlier that while I was laying there, I would visualize myself running a 5K. This would help time go faster, give my mind something to do, put positive things in my head, and maybe help me run ;-) It's the first time I've ever run a 5K in 20 minutes :-D

Eight down, nine to go...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

misc goings-on

I've been having some chest pain for a while now, similar to that which was previously associated with the shots I got after chemo to keep my white blood cell counts up.

It has persisted though the shots have not. Last time I saw the doc, he said to call if it got worse. Over the weekend, it got worse. It was almost constant (as opposed to very intermittent) and was more intense. Now, don't get me wrong — it has never been excessively painful, even at its increased intensity (I've never taken even an Advil for it, much less anything stronger) — but it's not supposed to be there at all. If I knew it was nothing serious and would go away eventually, I wouldn't think about it at all. But I don't know that yet.

So I went in to see him yesterday. He asked a bunch of questions (same ones he's asked before) and basically ruled out a cardiac problem. It doesn't bother me any more or less when I exercise, and I'm not short of breath or anything like that. I'm set up for a bunch of tests to guess-and-check, starting with a bone scan tomorrow. I don't know what they entail or how long they are, but I'll know soon...

Of course, it hasn't bothered me at all for the last three days. If it stays away, I'm going to see about maybe cancelling the second and third tests — they're not until the 21st. I see the doc again next week on Wednesday, so I'll perhaps have more info then.

In other health news, all bodily systems are up and running as they should be (or at least close to normal) as of about a week and a half ago. Body is healing from the chemo and isn't failing yet from radiation.

Five radiation treatments done, twelve to go.

They're changing my treatments on Tuesday. My time changes Monday and Tuesday (to accommodate my work schedule). I've been going at 8 a.m. Monday I go at 6:20 (!!). Tuesday onward I go at 5:50. Yes, a.m. Pretty heinous. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to leave there (well before 6:15) and go to work, go home and take a nap, or go to the gym. They all have perks and drawbacks that I am too lazy to type right now.

Oh, and there's a possible kink in the hair project: I am going to a wedding in the end of March. Depending on what it looks like by then, I may be wanting a trim. We'll see.

Earlier this week, I was able to jog two miles without walking. This is the first time since May that I've been able to do that. I'm looking forward to being back up to 5K stamina and am hoping/planning to run a 5K in March or April. I think that's a reasonable goal...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

the hair project 1-1-08


I am growing my hair out in 08 - see what it looks like without being cut. (How will I know if it has the "chemo curl" if I keep it at #2 all the way around?)

(Anyone who knows me well or remembers the last time I grew out my hair knows that this might not actually happen...)

I will post a pic on or near the first of every month, for anyone who would like to watch my hair grow :-P

Here is the first: