Monday, December 29, 2008

OK, I am going to try my hand at the online blog thingy. I have read so many stories about other people's dealings with Hodgkins disease and they have been so helpful that I figure someone else may benefit from reading about my adventures. I just don't want my experiences to be only mine! I am going to copy posts from my other site, Yeah, slacker, unoriginal, call it what you want. I'm a busy gyrl and I take shortcuts!

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2008 03:25 PM, CST
Ok, first post after all the craziness has somewhat settled. This will be somewhat of a 'retro-active' post just to catch up.

I went back in to the ER on the 10th of December for more chest pain and a strange sound in my normal heart beat. Normally, your heart sounds follow a very predictable description: 'lub-dub.' That's all that should be there. I had kind of a 'squishing' sound after my 'dub.' They performed an EKG (electrocardiogram), which did show some changes. Luckily, it was a simple thing (relatively)--I was told I had pericarditis, which is inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. My poor little ticker was having a tough time keeping up. I received some anti-inflammatory medication (it is actually one that is used to control gout!), and after an overnight stay with a nitroglycerine drip, I was sent home and told to take it a little easier. On the 13th of December, I had my first of what will be a series of PET/CT scans. PET scans use a radioactively labeled sugar to see if there are any other areas of cancerous tissue. The idea is that tissue that is metabolically very active (which would be things like your heart and kidneys, healing wounds, and cancer cells) will take up more of this sugar than other cells as part of their natural processses, and will show up brighter on a PET scan. The CT scan would show any other abnormalities that may have been missed. The PET scan did not show any other areas affected by the lymphoma--which is the best news I have had--but the CT scan showed a 'spot of interest' in my heart. I had a regular echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) on the 19th, and a trans-esophogeal echocardiogram (where they sedate you, numb your throat, have you swallow an ultrasound probe so they can get a better picture of the other side of your heart) on the 22nd (which was yesterday! How about that?). Normal! Ticker is ticking! I also had a bone marrow biopsy on the 18th, which was a very interesting experience. The bone marrow is taken out of your pelvis. They take both hard marrow (the stuff you usually think of that's in the middle of bones) and liquid marrow (which actually just looks like regular blood). Hard marrow is taken out of both sides of your pelvis, and the liquid stuff just out of one side. We are still waiting on the results of that. The PET/CT scans and the bone marrow biopsy are both tools that are used to 'stage' the progress of cancer. Staging is basically figuring out if, and how far, the cancer has spread. I will post the different stages later with the results of the bone marrow biopsy.

So far, other than the one trip back to the ER, I have been recovering uneventfully at home. I, of course, had to take incompletes in my schoolwork. All of my instructors have been very accommodating, and I will slowly get everything completed along with taking the courses I registered for in the spring. I have had to take a hiatus from work due to the surgery--no driving for four weeks, and no lifting of anything heavier than a gallon of milk for three months. I have five very interesting scars that are itching like hell right now, and tightening up as they continue to heal which is painful all in itself. My oncologist, Dr. Yvonne Datta, thinks that while school may not be too difficult for me to manage during chemotherapy, working will be impossible. As most of you know, I work part-time in a boarding stable caring for horses. I can see where that may be difficult.

I will begin chemotherapy on the 30th. The type is called ABVD, which stand for Adriamycin, Bleomycin, Vinblastine, and Dacarbazine. This is a common course of drugs for Hodgkin's lymphoma. I will write more about this later...

I think I will wrap up this first post. This is a long one. I will try to make them shorter, more informative, or at least more interesting. Stay tuned!

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