Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Day 459: Last pre-holiday lymphoedema laser treatment

Today I had my seventh lymphoedema laser treatment since the beginning of October. I was told that regular laser can help break down the fibrosis that is occurring in my forearm around my elbow. Happily neither the fibrosis nor the laser are remotely painful. Unhappily, the treatment takes time and costs money. 

Carol thinks my arm has done well not to balloon in our recent hot and humid weather, especially since I had my sleeve off for a bit at the beach on Sunday. My L-Dex was 40, so at least it's consistent with my last few measurements. It'd be great to see it decrease, but I doubt that's going to happen before summer is over. 

I might try to get back to Mt. Wilga after the holidays to access their hospital-grade laser. It's a tough call, though, as that takes 3 hours out of my day. I'll see how I go over the next few weeks and figure it out. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Day 455: Final surgeon check-up

I had my second check up with Dr. Andrew today, 3 weeks after my reconstruction. He was pleased with everything, from the way the wounds have healed to the softness and skin condition of my radiated left breast. I asked when I could resume specific activities (swimming and yoga). His reply was "You are free to do what you like (within the limitations of any pain or discomfort) and enjoy Christmas".  I'm happy with that. My next appointment us the end of February.  I'm hoping for dull and boring recovery between now and then.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Day 453: Lymphoedema update

I had my weekly lymphoedema treatment today with Carol, one of the lymphoedema physios at the hospital. Just robe clear, I have chosen to do weekly treatments in the hopes of getting this condition more under control. My treatments consist of either laser therapy to break up the fibrotic tissue that s ems to be developing just below my outer elbow or a lymphatic drainage massage. Today it was the former, which takes roughly an hour. There's no pain or discomfort; it is just time-consuming.

The good news is that my arm is slowly getting less swollen. At the moment it even looks fairly normal aside from the elbow. My L-Dex measure (a bio-impedance system that measures the amount of fluid) was down to 37 from my initial presentation of 77 and aiming for a normal range of -10 to +10 my pre-lymphoedma measure was -0.1).

The big question I am constantly asked is "how long do you have to wear the garments?"  Unfortunately, there is no answer. The advice I've been given fro all who treat me is to wear them until I've had a minimum of 6 months without swelling. Dr. Theresa said she'd like to see my L-Dex get to a maximum of 20 before we put in any criteria pertaining to swelling. Until then, I will wash and wear the fetching sleeve and glove daily and my quilted sleeve at night (to keep the fibrosis at bay).

Monday, 1 December 2014

Day 452: The Post-treatment party - finally

The day started bright and sunny - perfect for a party of over 100 kids and adults to celebrate the end of my treatment and return to a life free of appointments and trips to Medicare to submit claims.

As with any party, the prep work took time. Remie, Nick and I (Alex was cranky and stayed at home, where he made his own scrambled egg brekkie) went down to Little Manly at 7.30a to put up our marquee so we. Would have some space set aside if the beach got really busy. There were some other guys setting up as well and they came over to make sure it was going to work for all. Lovely.  Nick then did all the beverage and ice shopping (Rosalie had done the other stuff on Thursday) while Rosalie and I cut watermelon and prepped supplies.  From 2.30p Nick loaded and unloaded the car multiple times, ferrying everything the block and a half down the hill. The 2 fabulous girls we'd been recommended by one of our sitters showed up and took over all the prying and serving. 

Guests arrived throughout the afternoon. The kids played down on the beach while we were up on the grass. There was drink and food, and then about 5p the wonderful folks at the Little Manly Kiosk brought out the serious food. People who had been so actively involved in supporting us were there again, but this time to celebrate the fact the it's in the past. I gave a little "thank you" speech and Daryl took pictures. It was like having a big hug all afternoon. 

We did fall victim to our tropical weather as the lightening started and the rain came down about 6.20p. It cleared the beach so we had it to ourselves. We ended up wrapping up right when we wanted around 7p, which was probably good for everyone's heads. 

It's hard to believe that the party I first dreamed up at the start has finally happened.  It provided great closure and another opportunity to connect with our wonderful community. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Day 449: 2 weeks on

Patience has never been my forte. As my cousin recently said, I'm "not one to let time do its work when I could be actively helping it". So I went to the gym today and made a bit of a more enthusiastic effort than I did on Monday. I know this must be week # 1 in comeback mode as the workouts are slow and limited and hard. I will persevere, though, as I know from experience that it gets easier if I do.

I am sore and tired today. I feel a bit better mentally than I have since surgery, but I'm physically exhausted. I know this is normal at this point so I'm happily going to bed very early tonight. It's a big weekend coming up so hopefully I can charge my batteries.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Day 448: Healthy overall

Mel checked my fasting blood test result this morning and it  was perfectly normal at 4.1. Woohoo, no diabetes.

I had my quarterly check up with Dr. Fran this morning and all is good. Dr. Ben and I talked about lymphoedema (he mentioned that his physio is keen on laser for lymphoedema treatment and that I can purchase one myself), my recent surgery (I won't need any yearly tests going forward as I don't have anymore breast tissue; I'll only have exams), my talk with Dr. Rod about a possible oopherectomy (I said I wasn't going to do anything for about 6 months) and general treatment for oestrogen-fed cancer. There's a possibility that my ovaries are currently dormant after chemo and that my periods could return. If so, then removing my ovaries could have a greater impact on my menopause symptoms, but there's no guarantee.  There is an option to take a drug called Zoladex, which would mimic complete ovarian shut down. It costs about $330/ monthly injection.

We discussed possible metastasis (likely organs are liver, kidney and lung - and brain) and timeframe (oestogen-fed cancer like mine has a low-level recurrence rate but this stays fairly steady over time as opposed to dropping off like triple negative cancer).

When Dr. Fran came in she said that lymph node transplant and other more "progressive" treatments for lymphoedma were progressing exponentially so it'd be great to wait a few years.

I went from there to the breast care nurse to have a look at my mastectomy swelling and weeping. Michi was happy so I was happy.

I had a great catch up with Prue and missed a called from the school. Poor Alex waited in the sick bay for over an hour for me to get him. He complained of a sore head and tummy but seemed in good spirits. It was a quiet afternoon which made everyone happy.

Day 447: Fasting blood test

This morning I learned that I am definitely not at my best without my first-up coffee. I didn't miss the food as much as I missed the ritual - and likely the caffeine - of a coffee.

I got to the blood draw centre just after 8a and it was packed. Apparently it hadn't been that busy in months. It took about an hour before I was called. Then came the drama of trying to find a vein as chemo has hardened the key ones, and I am limited to only one arm. The poor woman, who did a few of my pre-chemo draws, ended up going in a vein on my hand. Yuck! I hate the hand, but she was good. I was glad to have that finished.

I had a great walk with Delia and Sonja, followed by a coffee. From there I went to see my psychologist, Jessica.  We had a good chat and she suggested a follow up in 3 months, so all is good.