I am way overdue on this post! You may scroll to the *** for the juicy, medical bits or keep reading about me talking to strangers, like Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his new book, Talking to Strangers.
The CoVID-19 pandemic got serious in Denver, and I started working from home on March 13th. I have to admit to feeling somewhat screened-out since then. I am not looking up at customers or co-workers throughout the day and getting a rest for my eyes. On top of that, having the virus on my mind and not being able to be at work to help my team was really stressful, especially the first week. I haven’t even been going to physical therapy for the last 2 weeks. I am maybe going to start again this week. My back is not happy with skipping sessions!
My leg/glute has gotten so much stronger! I’ve been going for challenging walks in the neighborhood and crushing it! Also, the dog LOVES having everyone home all day every day and getting daily walks, which we normally don’t do. We don’t normally have the time or energy to walk him after I’ve spent up to an hour commuting home, then we make dinner, clean up, and we’re both done for the day! Husband is really good about taking the dog to the park to play. Also, with the boy home doing remote learning, it’s easy to ask him to walk the dog when he’s done with school work.
Ok, ok, so back to medical stuff. I had CT and MRI scans done on Wednesday, March 4th. I leave my phone in the locker room when I go in for scans. It was the end of the day, and I met a couple other cancer patients in the waiting area. One of them really made me laugh! She has some obscure endocrine cancer, had smoked her whole life, and thought it ironic that I have lung cancer and didn’t smoke. She was like, “Of all the things!” She said she still smokes, just the wacky tabacky now. Lots of it! So funny. She swears that it kills cancer. She got a kick out of my hospital gown and giant hospital pants that fall off if I’m not careful. I had forgotten to bring non-metal clothing and had come straight from work. This funny patient said I was lucky to be able to keep working. She was right, and I sent out some gratitude for my health and wonderful employer. After seeing my IV, she and another patient recommended getting a port. My veins had NOT cooperated that day. They saw the nurse and hid! I also ran into one of my former workout buddies from the HIIT gym! She’s a PET Scan tech at the hospital, and we got to catch up. ❤
Scans were easy, as always. I had taken half a painkiller when I got to the hospital because my back can get pretty uncomfortable during the brain MRI. The tech brought me a fresh, warm blanket, then sealed in the warmth with my body temp blanket. Best MRI I’ve ever had. I was so comfortable!!!
Last time I had scans in December, I had a terrible reaction to the contrast and thought it was because I didn’t drink enough water. It wasn’t. I learned from my doctor on Friday at my check up that you can develop a sensitivity to the contrast, so he noted it in my chart and said that I’d get something to offset that next time (June). After my CT scan this time, I drank a bottle of water. I had another bottle of water in the car and a sparkling water. I drank them both on my drive home. Unfortunately, the muscle cramps in my back and chest that I experience from the contrast had already started in by the time I got to my car. Drinking more water helped me feel less yucky the next day. I still felt yucky that Thursday, made an appointment for PT at 1, and left work early.
I had some anxiety about scan results this time because one of my inflammation markers crept up in my blood levels on my February visit. My doctor said not to worry about it and we’d see what the scans showed. He sent me the results on Thursday morning around 10:45. I looked at them immediately and saw his comments on both that results were “Amazing!” I held back my happy tears. I was so relieved! I shared the news immediately with Husband and at PT later that afternoon. So happy!
On Friday, I had my monthly check up. Veins hid from the nurse again, so I got poked on the outside of my forearm by my wrist. Some months are better than others. Blood levels had normalized even more. I expected my iron to be low for two reasons: I had just had a period (yay for the quarterly period) and I switched to a mostly vegan diet in January. C went mostly vegetarian a week before me in January. He still eats dairy. My stomach seems much happier without it. We both still eat everything, on occasion, more as a treat than a regular staple. Bad cholesterol went down for both of us at our annual blood draw in February! Also, iron has stayed normal, not even low. 😀
Back to the doctor’s appointment! I had forgotten my phone at home that day and again went straight to the hospital from work. The Cancer Center was busy that day! Three Jennifers in the waiting room! I stood up multiple times and got, “No, not you yet,” from the nurses. Haha. Anyway, with no phone, I had brought my book, but I ended up talking to strangers that day. I met a woman who was kicking ass at colon cancer. I got some tips from another lady who had oxygen and recommended some nasal products. My nose is still crazy dry and had been bleeding A LOT that week. And then, I struck up a conversation with another young person in the room whose name is also Jennifer.
I had seen her there before. It’s easy to notice the young people in the room, since we’re not common. She goes by Jenny, and we talked the whole time between blood draw and doctor’s appointment, so not quite an hour. She also wasn’t on her phone and had a notebook out on her lap. Turns out she’s a teacher, was working on lesson plans, and has been living with cancer for 11 years! She had sought less traditional routes for treatment, so I picked her brain on acupuncture (she hadn’t tried it). She told me about some outdoorsy groups for cancer patients that she’s enjoyed, some through the hospital. I had told her how much I’m looking forward to hiking this summer and working really hard in PT. She told me about a cold laser treatment for nerve pain that she gets through her osteopath. My ears perked way up at something else I could try for my back. She experienced nerve damage in her neck as a result from radiation. I filed that information for later, too.
I got called back for my appointment and exchanged niceties with Jenny. I had just run to the bathroom and back when I heard footsteps approaching the room I was in. In walked C!!! ❤ 😀
He surprised me by coming to all of my appointments that afternoon. He said he hadn’t been in a while and thought it was time. Aww, it was a great surprise.
The doctor came in, and we went over my scan results. No changes in the bone tumors. The main tumor in my lung shrank more!!! Did you hear that??? I KNOW! Also, my fractured rib from Christmas Day 2018 has healed! It was still fractured when I had scans in December. I had a feeling it had healed because I hadn’t had any pain there during February. 😀 The doctor said that in the future, if my treatment pill is still keeping all other symptoms at bay, and the tumor starts growing, we can do a special kind of radiation to the tumor that has been proven to keep it shrinking, or at least not growing more. I am all for it! Love radiation! That stuff works!
I told my doctor that I had switched up my diet, and he was fully supportive! C and I asked about Coronavirus exposure and how much I should worry about it. The doc said not to worry too much. Wash my hands a lot. I told him that I do, and it’s dang near a problem sometimes. Haha. I’ve struggled with OCD since high school and obsess over everything my hands have touched before washing them, and when it’s really intense and things feel super out of control, I keep track of things everyone else has touched.
C came with me to get my bone shot and go to palliative care, which is always fun and a great way to end the day. We laughed a lot, and it was great for him to be there. My palliative care team asked how they could support him. He talked about how he struggles with hope and reality. They assured him that he’s looking at things the right way, and that we can hold hope together and keep it real. It was pretty cool!
I texted my doc today, and my next appointment will be via telephone this coming Friday. Told you I’m behind on posting.
Until then, wash your hands with soap often, disinfect your phone daily, and don’t touch your face!