Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clear reports!!! Another Lymphedema and Life in general

My 'mhow time flies when I'm feeling good!!! I am staying so busy having fun that I forgot to update the blog to tell you I was feeling good and staying busy!!!

Let's get the medical updates out of the way first. I'm with a different physical therapist for the lymphedema and using entirely different techniques which are working ever so well. Wrapping the arm from fingers to arm pit is uncomfortable as the bandages [think Ace bandages] tend to wad up in the elbow pit and wrist. However it does keep the swelling down much better that the compression sleeve. So I'm back to doing that drill. PT is doing considerable cranial work to clear the chemo toxins. I have NO IDEA how or why this works but it does. Finally my ears are draining, sinuses draining, headaches almost gone.., is quite a trip!!! Since all this was working well I was interested and listening when she suggested [strongly] that I start using compression garments from bust to crotch. I'm old so I immediately thought "girdle" and tried to ignore her. However all of her other suggestions worked so I made a trip to Nordstrom's Rack to check out Spanx and anything else that wasn't a girdle. Pricey stuff!!! But I got some and darned if I didn't feel better. Apparently all the belly surgeries have compromised my trunk lymph system so the fluid that was going away from the arm was getting stuck in my belly. So I decided to be compressed daily and feel better. Off to Target and found a whole wall of "new and improved" compression wear, some even on SALE. And after 2 weeks I can really tell a difference in the belly. And fluids are definitely moving out. 

After much deliberation I decided to add Effexor XR to my drug diet. The melt downs were just getting to be too much. I hate being hot and I hate being sweaty and I hate feeling "almost" sick. Darned if the Effexor isn't helping by cutting down on the frequency and intensity of the melt downs. I probably will continue to have a love/hate relationship with Effexor. I didn't want to add another drug to my life.

OK>>>>>>>>>now for the good stuff. Geneva is doing great at taking over the household. She is tail up and smiling most of the time. I told you I got Domino a fire hydrant and we had it installed by the landscapers for a small fortune. He has yet to use it!!!! We even had Beau come over for an afternoon and together they ignored it!!! The problem seems to be the landscaping. We have stones around the old flower bed and I think he doesn't want to walk on the rocks!!! So we will move the stones to another bed and give the hydrant a mulch surrounding. He never misses an opportunity to water a hydrant on our walks............what's the deal!!!!!!!!

Thank you kind friends for caring to read this blog. And caring enough to remind me when I've neglected to update. I'll try to do better!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Post chemo hair is DIFFERENT! + dog updates

I had no idea how much time being bald was saving me!!! Now I have enough hair to require "fixing" in some way, no more "wash and wear" for me. So I have been asking around as to products various women use to keep their short hair "spikey" or at least not flat on their heads. I have about an inch of hair all over, no area shorter or longer. And this hair is a as soft and fine as bunny fur. I wish I could say that it is thicker and darker than my pre-chemo hair............but that is not the case.

One friend who always looks so good with her hair spiked told me she uses a product called "Hard Up" and purchases it at the beauty salon. I can deal with a product called Hard Up. Another recommended product is "Gorilla Snot"............ I don't know about this........... Can you see me trying to explain a liquid product called Gorilla Snot to the German version of TSA? How is Gorilla Snot translated in German? Or in Spanish, for that matter? How long would it take to get through the airport!!!! I think I need to find a more conventionally named product for travel.

Dog Update: First, Geneva finally got a clean report on her ear infections. She has had am & pm pills that had to be taken with a meal, not just snack. So I was making kibble omelets for both of them every morning. What happy doggies!!! That is history now!!! We still give them some leftovers with kibble after dinner but nothing special like their own omelets

Second, we have a fire hydrant being "set" in a former flower bed in the back yard. I have always wanted a fire hydrant for my boy dogs and finally found one at a TV production  moving sale. What fun.....sort of. The thing weighs 300# so it isn't just a simple project. 1st I had to play the old lady card to get the seller to have his staff to hoist it into the Jeep. Then I worried about having such a weight vaulting back there........What if I had to do a nose-dive sudden stop? The hydrant would be a missile headed for our backs! And a jack-rabbit start could have the hydrant out the tail gate and rolling under the pickup truck behind me! Would USAA understand that I had to haul this hydrant around for a week until the landscape crew came to start the Dog Bano project??? O, dear. Well, I drove VERY safely until the crew relieved me of the hydrant passenger. The young men in the lawn crew were really laughing about all the work, sweat and $$$ going into a Dog Bano!!! Old people are so weird!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arimidex and Effexor XL - to combine or not combine - that is the ???

I passed my blood tests!!!! YEA, YEA and more YEA. Otherwise I would be on even more meds. So I did report that the Arimidex is causing not just HOT FLASHES but more like MELT DOWNS complete with drips and blushes. I'm not a happy camper when I melt. Now the fact that it is 105+ outside on any given day is just a marginal problem. I only go out if absolutely necessary or if there is a good estate sale. Whatever....... the problem is the melt downs. I don't like dripping on my sewing projects or messing up a perfectly good outfit. Now let me say a "good" thing about oncologists: Oncologists are very skilled at finding a drug for the side effects of the first drug s/he gave me. So of course Dr. had a drug to counter- act the melt downs caused by the Arimidex. The offering is Effexor XL at 37.5 mgs. I filled the RX with fear and trepidations. When I got home I read up on Effexor XL and now I have more fear and trepidation.

Have you noticed how the TV ads for the latest and greatest drug offering has 10 seconds on how this drug will fix whatever and then 50 seconds of disclaimers and warnings that it could kill you? Well, so goes Effexor for hot flashes. It works HOWEVER it will cause weight gain and a few other horrors. Then when it comes time to get get off of Effexor..........well, that is worse than getting off heroin. I need both of these situations like I need another breast lump!!!!

So I'm just going to set here in a puddle of sweat for the next 4 1/2 years!!!!!!!!!!! That is the pits. O, maybe it will get better as the body gets adjusted to Arimidex. I'm the optimistic type!!! There is always the home remedy of cold packs. This is cheap and effective. And no side effects!!!

ChemoBrain Update: I may be getting a tad of acuity back. I took another Bernina digitizing class in CorelDraw 4 this week and managed to keep up with the class and re-create the embroidery when I got home!!!! Granted the instructor is excellent, but I think my brain was working better also.

Geneva Update: Definitely a poodle!!!! She has been to the groomer and looks great now. She is still pushing Domino around!!! Poor guy, she is more pushy than Gigi ever was! Her ears are still showing some infection so more drugs. She has gained a full pound but is not overweight. Maybe she is just shaping up from the last litter. Geneva is almost ready for obedience classes. I'm NOT going out until this heat wave clears so it will be a few weeks before she gets some formal training.

BUYER BEWARE NOTICE: I've had to replace my kitchen chairs after only 2-3 yrs. The problem is that the wood was not dried properly before the furniture was made....IN CHINA. The first break was easily repaired. The 2nd break isn't fixable. So I  found some nice OLDER leather chairs at an estate sale and will put the China chairs on Craigslist. I'm keeping the table only because it is covered with a glass top and not so easily abused. I think I'm staying with estate sale finds for future furniture.

That's it from the old folks home for tonight. The dogs are asleep and the Rangers are not winning. I think I'll just go to bed!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life is good in the slow lane. Kinesiology tape is working!!!

I'm all taped up on the left arm and the fluid accumulation is down considerably after 24 hours. And I did get a better night's sleep with less shoulder joint pain. I am definitely going to get more lessons on proper taping. The tape is more comfortable and not HOT like the ace bandages or the elastic sleeve. Katherine's friend Pat told me about the Oliver pillow which can prop up the arm more comfortably for sleeping. First, I'll have to learn to sleep on my back. Second, I'll have to learn to NOT snore beyond my room mateS tolerance level.

Joan and I went to the Quilt Show on Saturday and got really inspired to get back to our sewing rooms. We saw quilts that would take me YEARS to finish.,...maybe....maybe I would just QUIT and wonder what it might have looked like if I hadn't overshot my target!!!! I'm definitely sticking with small art quilts, kids size quilts, and maybe a few throws!!! If I EVER even think about starting a king size quilt I hope I have sense enough to fix a bourbon and/or take a nap until I get my senses back!!!

The stock market was crazy last week. I don't know if I'm solvent or illusioned. I do know that I will be more conservative in spending until there is some resolution to the insanity. And from what I observed at the quilt show my non-spending is definitely a "trend." I saw far more people with NO purchases than with purchases. And didn't see anyone carrying a huge stash. That is not normal for a quilt show where the vendors have the latest and greatest fabrics and toys on display.

Dog update: Poor Domino.....we thought we got him a buddy and playmate. What he got is a micro-supervisor. He gets no privacy and has to plan ahead to get the best toy, bone, window. Geneva is no longer the shy, quiet wall flower. She is Queen of the Backyard and has to be reminded that she now lives in the city so no more barking just to announce her presence in the yard. She doesn't have an OFF button yet. Does she ever look shaggy!!! 1 more week of ear medication then she can go to the groomer. I can hardly wait!!!!! Now that she is proud and happy, strutting around with tail straight up and wagging, she will look fantastic with a proper grooming.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kinesiology taping for lymphedema giving some relief

Thirty five days of 100+ degrees daytime and 85+ at night is TOO MUCH!!!  The heat is giving me fits with the lymphedema. The swelling is bad enough; the pain in the elbow and shoulder is even worse. The standard treatment for lymphedema is ace bandages to encourage the lymph fluid to move toward the trunk for elimination. Winding yards of ace bandages from fingers to arm pit is not fun and once the job is done the arm begins to get hotter and hotter. I have an elastic sleeve to wear during the day [easier and cooler than bandages] but the sleeve works its way down the arm and can bind at the elbow. I use the Jobi sleeve to wear at night and that seems to keep swelling from increasing overnight.

My friend Joan learned about kinesiology tape from her massage therapist. The tape was placed in a deep V-shape from the back of her neck down to her shoulder blades. The tape gave her some really surprising relief for muscle pain. So I was hoping to learn more about kinesiology for lymphedema and for sore knees. At my last physical therapy session I got a lesson on how to position kinesiology tape to encourage lymph fluid drainage in my arm. How interesting!! The K-tape is used by sports people to reduce swelling.

The trick is to stretch the tape a little. This gives an elastic feel and massages the taped area with any movement. Well, check out the various web sites and see if K-tape will help your aches and pains. I am finding some relief for my super sore shoulder and elbow - where the lymph fluid seems to get stuck. But I can't seem to get the tape placed correctly to reduce the fluid in my upper arm. I think this is something I can learn with a few more lessons. Taping the elbow and shoulder is a not complicated.

I found a site on the internet on how to tape knees and will start trying this soon. I'm about to give up on finding relief for knee pain. In desperation I made an appointment with the orthopedic who has used cortisone shots in my joints. I generally get a shot before going on a trip. This time I'll ask for a review of both knees and am prepared for him to say NO MORE minimal invasive surgery will work. Bummer. I'm not looking forward to replacing joints yet. And the idea of replacing one knee, going through weeks of rehab, then replacing the other knee and going to rehab a 2nd time seems inefficient at best. Just what is the problem with doing both knees and getting on with life after just 1 rehab??? I've been through chemo...I know that there are some super good drugs out there to manage the pain. Bring 'em on and let's get this knee situation fixed all at once!!!

OK....of to play with my K-tape.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where can I move TODAY to get cool???

So let the heat win already!!! I give up!!! I'm not a fan of cold weather...well, I wasn't until this past month....and now I've decided I'm not a fan of hot weather. So I need to move where it is moderate weather all the time. Hawaii would work.... It does get hot there in August. So hot that the sand burns your feet and you wish you had air conditioning. And it does get cold in the you wish you had a fire place (as if we could have afforded wood!!! HA..)
North Texas is really HOT, even for Texans. And it is NOT A DRY HEAT. There is just enough humidity to choke off any breath you might dare to take!! O, how I dread the arrival of the electric bill... it will probably push close to the house payment.  Even knowing how big the bill will be DOES NOT mean that I want to turn up the thermostat from 78 degrees. That just isn't going to happen!!! Once I get hot I can't get cooled down without ice packs. This just isn't my year!!!

Being stuck in the house is not all bad. I did get the mending done and a few Christmas presents made. That is progress!! And staying indoors with my lymphedema arm bandaged is working ... the swelling is way down and the lymphedema arm is almost the same size as the right arm. If bandage wraps happen to shrink my bat-wings, I'll let you know!!!

Geneva is making progress too. She is walking tall, tail is straight up most of the time now, and she is beginning to demand what she wants. She is acting like a poodle. And she has claimed a corner of our bed as her spot for the night. Her life is good. She is clocking about 3 hours of lap time a day during the baseball games.

There are a couple of estates sales with potential coming up this weekend. What a dilemma. I don't like to get "up and out" early in the morning; however I like getting out in the heat even less. So I'll try to hit a sale and get home before 10 am. I scored big time on Craigslist this week. Sister's grandaughter is coming for 2 weeks and we needed somthing to entertain a 12 yr old. She can watch old people pet the cat only so long. Scrapbooking seemed like a good option. I found a listing for a huge suitcase full of NEW scrapbooking stuff plus a big tote bag of paper(s) and a carton of stickers/buttons/etc enhancements PLUS a sewing machine for $100. I had the Jeep full of stuff. How great is that!!!

Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Misc grooming, health, sewing etc.

The dark colored eyebrow pluckings have been spoken for so no more requests please. Many of my friends are also "of a certain age" and apparently need some dark eyebrow hairs to use as "low lights" in their eyebrows. Well, why not? One can buy false eyelashes to glue on; why not enhance eyebrows the same way? I have such smart friends!!!

My mustache needs attention. It is too dark, I think. Maybe if I just thin out the dark hairs [Any one need dark mustache hairs?] the grey ones won't be so noticeable. Of course I can only see the hairs in the make up mirror. Many of my fiends are close to my age so they won't be able to see the hairs just through their bifocals. Maybe I could "Drink More Milk" and leave a white stain on my upper lip and then the dark hairs wouldn't show. "For a price" a day spa salon would bleach my mustache, pluck my eyebrows, and dye my eyelashes. I'll have to think about this option. Generally I'd rather pass on the spa and save the money for a fabric store or travel. Or a dog.

The HOT HOT HOT weather continues and is certainly affecting my lymphedema. Over the weekend I was out to run errands and we went out for dinner. Between the heat and the salt in restaurant foods I had an extra 6# of lymph fluid, most in the arm. Back to keeping the arm wrapped during the day regardless of how hot and itchy it feels. And I still keep the Jobi pressure sleeve on at night. After four days/nights of constant wrapping plus drinking MUCH water,  I have the swelling down to  a tolerable level. It isn't worth the risk of swelling to take the sleeve off during the day regardless of discomfort level.

Speaking of fabric [and I generally am speaking or at least thinking about fabric] I am finally working on Katherine's 2009 Christmas present. I got some beautiful fabric when I was in Basel with her in '09. There was Swiss + in bright red with white +'s about 6" sized. And another piece of Swiss +'s only this piece has tiny +'s. The city of Basel has a flag pattern that is black and white and the symbol is like a piece from a chess set. [I can't play chess so don't know which piece it is.] So I got 3 different pieces of Basel fabric. Then I had this great idea; well, I thought it was great. My Sister-In-Law is a fantastic quilter...great designs and even better execution. So I sent her half the fabric to make anything she wanted to for Katherine. My idea was for each of us to give Katherine a "mystery quilt" from the Basel and Swiss fabric motifs. Fabric needs to "cure" just like meat. You should not cut it for the first year of ownership. However by 2010 when it was ready to cut, S-I-L was the one who got her quilt designed and made. I was late starting my project and then did the cancer ordeal last Fall. So I'm just now getting to the design and execution of the child's VERY LATE Christmas present. I finished the prototype this afternoon and was pleased enough to move forward on the remaining blocks.

Today was cleaning lady day. This is a wonderful thing for all of us as I'm much easier to live with when the house is clean. Her 9 or 10 y.o. daughter has been along the past 2 weeks. Last week she gave Geneva a good brushing. Today we painted Geneva's toe nails. A good time was had by all. Geneva had to sleep all afternoon due to all the attention and excitement!!! She is such a calm dog!!! What a change from Domino!!!

A couple of people asked if I would write about dog rescue and how we picked this particular dog. I'll get to that soon. This is it for tonight!!!