Thursday, July 7, 2011

Updates on Surgery/Wounds and Anxiety/Sleeplessness

The night before last, I think I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. By the time I got up - and talked to my folks - I was weepy. Frustrated. Anxious. Uncertain. Pain in my right arm/shoulder

The anxiety was due to the fact that I was to meet with the radiation oncologist about whole brain radiation. I showed her some info I found. And while she agreed that there are docs who would argue against it until something new crops up, she's in the camp (since it seems my disease is controlled from the neck down), that would want to treat my brain more aggressively so that no more tumors crop up.

I am still on the fence with that decision. But she agreed that a follow-up MRI, to see if anything is there, is warranted. So, I have an MRI scheduled on Monday and then I will feel that I can make a more informed decision.

On the one hand, two of my right fingers and thumb are still numb and tingly. I am a bit wobbly on my feet, but there are explanations for why that is (post-surgery/medications/etc.).It could mean there is still some swelling on my brain, not necessarily tumor growth. An MRI will help us answer that.

As for the anxiety and sleep, the radiation oncologist thought I should have Ativan, but I told her that I still had a bottle of Valium (that I hardly took) from a couple of days prior to finding the brain tumors. She encouraged me to try that last night, so I did. I figured that I got maybe 7 hours of sleep last night and I must say I do feel less anxious - at least, my shoulders aren't lifting as much as they did and my right arm/shoulder are less tense and painful.

I am also taking Tylenol regularly, which also helps.

As for the surgery, about 85% of the skin graft on the chest wound succeeded. It is draining fluids, still. But no sign of infection. There is quite a depression there - about the size of an egg. On the boob side, it's maybe 3/4 of an inch deep and on the breast bone side, maybe 1/2 inch. In other words, a big crater in my chest, but preferable to a draining tumor.

The donor site is nearly healed. The surgeon said that he's never seen anyone heal that quickly. He attributed that to my immune system, but it could also be the antibiotic ointment I used on it daily.

As for the lymphedema on my left arm, the area nearest my armpit has gotten bigger. The physical therapist also noted that it was red and thought there might be an infection brewing. So, I talked the surgeon into prescribing IV antibiotics for when I get my Herceptin treatment tomorrow. IV antibiotics will be easier on my digestive system.

I also saw my acupuncturist, who saw my anxiety and also noted the fact that my digestive system is still not right or healed. So, my treatment was based around that - she said my liver is carrying a lot of heat, which means to me that it's processing a lot of the medications I had in my system. So, to keep things simple, I take the anti-nausea Chinese pills and will take that until I feel my digestive system is more healed.

So, I am better today. (I didn't post yesterday since I felt so yucky.) Still a bit wobbly on my feet, but I am taking daily walks down the hill from my appointments (about a mile). My stomach is still cramping after I eat. But I have the next couple of weeks to heal from all the meds before starting anything more aggressive (if I do).

I have Herceptin tomorrow and Zometa, plus the antibiotic.


Joanna said...

The MRI will help give you some clarity. It seems like you know your body really well. I hope for continued mending.

j said...

Dee, just popping in to let you know that I am thinking of you. I'm driving to California on Tuesday. I'm not sure what kind of internet access I'll have. But please know that during many of those thousands of miles I will be thinking healing, restorative, calming thoughts.

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