Sunday, May 31, 2009
I take a seat in Chairs and am immediately hit with really, really strong emotions.
First of all, the area is really brightly lit, harsh lights, and every chair was filled. Also imagine the constant "dinging" of the chemo bags/IV's. Anyway, directly across from me, a man is in a reclining wheelchair, getting his Chemo infusion. He seemed like he was a large man- tall, bald of course, but he had lots of dark spots and bruising on his arms and hands. His son was with him.
I couldn't look at him. He looked like death.
Directly to the left of this gentleman, a drape was 3/4 of the way closed, hiding what appeared to be a small elderly woman in the chair. All I saw was her hand, stuck with the IV, so small and old and it looked like it held all the sadness of her condition, just in that image.
I looked at Lee, started crying. It was just a startling, raw sensory experience in the Chemo Hospital - it felt like the "worst of the worst" were plopped together that day. It made me sooo sad.
As I sat on the bench outside waiting for our car, Mary, one of the check-in clerks at Chemo, was sitting there also.
"Hey, Mary, TGIF, girl. "
"Yes, I start at 6:30 am, so I am ready for the weekend"
"Mary, can I ask you something? Was it a particularly sad day today in Chemo? I was just in there for 5 minutes, but I am feeling something so acutely sad right now"
"Yes Mrs. Luckey, I have the same feeling. It was a rough day today"
Turns out Miss Mary has worked at Loyola in Cancer Ward for 22 years. She lost her Mom to cancer when she was a child. Had no resources, no one to help her & siblings understand. She also does Hospice Volunteering.
Don't worry about me when I write about some of the darker, or sadder experiences in my journey. My MO is to keep my spirit and humor at the forefront as it is sooo healing. But sometimes I have to put it out there - the raw feelings and images.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Saw Dan Roan and his wife in church - he's a WGN Sportscaster in Chicago, lives in Elmhurst, kids at York HS.
Got Fab gifts from my awesome family: Started a Pandora bracelet for me, a memory card for my camcorder (which was actually a service award gift for my 20 years at C&W), and some Gift Cards to Ann Taylor and Anthropologie for some much-needed clothes.
Then tonight, dinner at Robertos with the family and Mom & Dad. Yummy!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
- Blood work (wait an hour for results)
- Oncologist (goes over blood work and answers my questions)
I had a list of random questions for Dr. Lo, and one of them was clarification on the "plan" for me. My recollection (which is very very iffy) was I was to be on Chemo probably a year or so, get the liver tumors shrunk and cut those bad boys out. The way I understood, or interpreted her answer was, "yeah that's the goal, but who knows if we'll ever be able to operate, nothing is for certain"
Well, for some reason I just lost it and was sobbing. I felt like she was telling me, by NOT telling me - " Girl, you are so advanced, let's just work the program and see what happens"
The even sadder part, was my Dad was with me for chemo that day. It was his first time, and he wanted to meet the Oncologist, and here I am, sobbing in my Daddy's arms. It was the FIRST time I really thought bad thoughts thru this Cancer Crap.
Now for the Yippee-Yahoo Yay:
Lee called Dr.Lo to get a re-cap and more lucid recollection of our conversation. She said that my Cancer Marker taken in the blood work every 2 weeks had gone from an initial HIGH of 1400 to it's current 68. She told lee "that is marvelous, she's doing great and responding so well to the chemo."
I'm going to ask the Dr. to start using fricking-fracking ADJECTIVES with me. I need adjectives, I need her to match my energy and linguistic needs. Granted, she didn't have the results in when I spoke with her, but I went from 1400 to 200 (2 weeks ago) to 68.
Dr. Lo told Lee that it's very typical for patients, when they start feeling BETTER, they start THINKING worse. So maybe I should go "talk" to a Shrink. I'll think about it.
Katie is having me commit to a guided imagery course, to get the tools to turn my brain off, positive images and energy etc.....Sleeping is some what elusive as well. I get 5-6 hours on a sleeping pill, but I need waaaay more.
My progress has to MEAN something, doesn't it? Damn It if I'm going thru this shit for nothing.
To quote a line from a Desperate Housewives Episode : Screw Cancer, I'm Peggy Luckey, damn it!!"
So, I went from sad, to mad to back on track in 24 hours.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
- Had a WONDERFUL visist with my brother Kevin, last night. Not sure why it was "different" but he just started out with an hilarious story and it flowed from there.
- My Continued, nearly miraculous healing- the strength and stamina and ability to participate in the most simplest of daily life is a TRUE blessing.
- Lee was in Akron, OH yesterday- fly in & out. Of course the weather played it's evil tricks and he got home at 10:30mpm instead of 6PM. But so thankful he's home safe & sound.
The phone call from Father Tony, my pastor at Mary Queen, wanting to have another visit. A month or so ago, he came to my home and did the Prayer of the Sick. It was BEAUTIFUL. This man is a treasure. When I was attending church, I actually sat straight and listened and really thought about his sermons.
No floody-floody from the rain last night!
I'm off to get a full day of Shrinky Juice. My prayer for today:
Please let all the DRs and Nurses that work with me today use their knowledge and other gifts to help me and my cancer colleagues heal .
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Today I went to Francesca Amici's and got : A Caprese Salad with cucumbers instead of tomatoes and their olive oil/basil and parmesean to dunk a 1/2 loaf of bread in. Yummy.
My mom came over just as I was sitting down to enjoy and she got a fork and DUG in. No lefteovers for me. She ate the crusts of the bread and I ate the insides. (Too hard for my canky chemo-mouth)
I re-discovered spanish rice...ate mostof the package yesterday, and bought out Dominick's today.
My Mom: she came over and took me for errands. Barbara continues to be an incredible source of goodness and light in me and my family's life.
Just got home from Michaela's ortho appt. 2 more visits and she'll be railroad-track free!
Sorry if a boring post. I very very tired
Monday, May 25, 2009
I had a Filet O Fish and a Chocoloate Shake (only a few sips) for Breakfast, that is GROSS and wrong on so many levels.
- Food on My Terms
- The way food USED to taste.
- Wiping My Ass
- My "Before" Clothes
- Wearing MakeUp/Clear Skin
- Q-Tip Satisfaction: I no longer produce ear wax, no need to Q-tip. Freaky, I know.
- Fitting into my Bras- I used to somewhat dislike my large Marges, now I miss them
- Diet Pepsi: The bubbly, crisp, sweet drink in the middle of the work day. I drank mayb 3 per week, not a soda-aholic by any means. Any carbonated drink tastes like acid.
- Ketchup: How can I eat my diet of hamburgers without it? i need a condiment, damn it. The acidity of the tomato is not a pretty thing for my tongue, throat, tummy. On the same vein, I miss MY homemade Spaghetti Sauce.(gravy, for my Italian friends). My red sauce was soooo my comfort food.
Pity Party Over. Pessemistic Peggy Has Left The Building.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
- Before I knew
- Before Surgery
- Lots of wine (too bad it tastes like battery acid and burns my mouth - God, I Miss you, wine)
- Lots of laughs, re-hashing of high-school things better left un-hashed!
- A confession or two
- The open, honest curious and questioning conversations that come so easily to a group of female friends- wives, mothers, career-women.
And, as Penny eloquently said- "Why were we so bad at getting together once or twice a year? How pathetic" So we have a pact/goal to get together monthly. I'm ready to venture, so we'll go to Penny's next. Can't wait.
My Girls also adopted my neighbor Gail Buckley, the Angel of all Angels in my journey. Thanks ladies!
The only bummer of the night was the fact that Peggy McBean Tomasoni, was unable to break away from work. I suggest we bring the party to her store, so we can bring the love her way! We missed you Peggy!!!!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
From Left to Right: Laila Hermiz, Juliana Felz, Penny Riggio, Me, Karen LaPato (maiden names used!)
Friday, May 22, 2009
- Lee has Tendonitis in his knee- swollen like a grapefruit last night. As he told he folks on the phone last night: "My b-day consisted of Tendonitis, changing my wife's poo-bag twice, and a customer stiffing me for $25,000."
- I'm going to http://www.wellnesshouse.org/ in Hinsdale, IL, a place for Cancer Patients and families to connect, learn cooking for health, exercise etc. I'm going to try a Yoga class. I did enjoy Yoga when I took classes a couple years ago.
- My gal pals are coming over this afternoon to drink, laugh and be merry.
- Plumber is arriving to fix the nasty drip in my bathroom tub- Cross your Fingers it's not a $$$$$ repair, although we should probably re do the entire plumbing in our little abode at some point.
Oh, something I've noticed:
While I'm not losing my hair, thus far, from Chemo, it is thinning on my head and I've notice my ARMPITS are not their typical ape-like status. No shaving every day. Same on my legs - so that's a feel good, in terms of girlie maintenance.
Although I must admit, now that I' venturing out in public, I AM wishing I could put on some make up and look a bit more "Before-Peg". My chemo zits are so abundant, not sure worth trying to mask it, let alone aggravate it. I'll look inot it though.
I'll be sure to let you know if my Yoga experience yields any injuries, poo-bag leaks or other Peggy-esque events!
XOXOXO to all
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Dear Stoma: I'm starting to resent your existence. I know my plumbing had to be re-wired, and I'm thankful my colon tumor is gone. But, right now, you are itching and gurgling and I need to wait a few hours for you to slow down so I can change this poo bag. I am also hoping I'm not getting some infection around Ole' Stumpy. So $@%$ You and the Horse You Rode In on.
thanks for letting me vent
p.s. translations for Peggy-isms: Poo-Bag - Ileostomy Pouch; Stumpy= Stoma
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So, I started Cetux at 12 pm and got sprung at about 2:30, Mom took me to Whole Foods to get some goodies. I'm still struggling with weight gain- I went from a high about 3-4 weeks ago of 116 (I was living on carnation instant breakfast/whole milk) to 109 lbs. I did eat some of my Prairie Cafe Chicken Noodle soop and THREE mini croissants. I need to slam some other calories in tonight.
Don't be jealous of all the crap food and milkshakes I'm consuming - I relish the day my tastebuds return to normal and I can actually enjoy food, especially raw veggies etc.. (Yeah, right - big fat liar, LOL) I shudder to think what my cholesterol is, given all the carbs and fat I'm eating.
What do you think of me bringing my camera to chemo? this Blog is a great outlet for me to voice my thoughts in writing, but part of me (the scrapbooker who hasn't scrapped in a looong time) wants to get the visual images.
One photo I want: a photo of all of us chemo commrades in various stages of looking all Cancer-y, interspersed with a bunch of us sleeping- sitting upright of course, - in the waiting room. We waiters will catch a snooze any time, anywhere. I'll name it "Waiting Game" - we're all "waiting" for something on this journey, right? ....We wait for our name to be called so we can go back to "the chairs";(ooh, that's another photo to get - "The Chairs") we wait for test results, we wait for prayers to be answered, we wait for it all to frickin' go away and never come back.
At chemo today, there was a woman I've noticed since I've been going, Eastern European looking, wearing a scarf/bubushka. I thought she was a patient. She was with her son and husband, turns out, the husband is the patient. Any hoo, she was one of the waiting room people I talked about in an older post, that would really "stare at me" or look at me. Today in the waiting room, I noticed and was touched by how the son, probably my age or so, sitting and holding his father's hand, so easily and sweetly.
Her husband was in the chemo chair next to me today, and when I got up to take care of some "bidness", the woman looked at me at told me how much better I am looking - that she's noticed me all these weeks (see my older posts on how pathetic and nasty I was the first 4-5 weeks!) and she was so glad to see me better.
So THAT's why she was staring, and probably the rest of the Loyola world. I was one scary hot mess at the beginning of this cancer crap. Rachel, my nurse today, even admitted that 6 weeks ago, she was very nervous about my condition and how I'd handle it.
I HAVE come along way since March 23rd, surgery day. Remember when one of my prayers was "please let me string together more than 2 good days, THEN I can handle this" Talk about ANSWERED PRAYER, so incredibly wonderfully mysterioulsy AWESOME.
Again, Woo-Hoo and THANKS to all my praying, loving, wonderful squad. I am one greatful bony-assed, zit-faced chemo girl.
I went to the regular Doc yesterday due to swollen glands/tonsils. Waiting for culture to if if Strep. We kind of doubt it, as the "quick" culture was negative, but Dr. Rose put me on amox. to stave off any viruses. It's double-edged- as antibiotics aren't really a great idea while on chemo, but per last week's blood work, my White Blood Cell Counts were good.
Desi crashing at 188 Evergreen tonight and then she goes to California to see her family. Lee will be home from Ohio tonight. This was the first work trip he's gone on and I was solo! (no babysitter).
I'm so thankful I'm getting to the point of taking care of myself, the basics. It's given my parents a much needed break! God Bless their endless giving hearts, but I can only imagine how draining it is to be a care-giver, or just the worriede parent of a sick child. They spent the past weekend downtown at the Condo, and had a good break from the grind, and Me.
I ask for another prayer request for yet another dear friend of my parents - Nancy Jennings, who fell very ill this weekend due to complications of heart and lung issues she's dealt with for a long time.
Chicago folks- enjoy the heatwave today!!!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Asked & answered. Felt a bit raw, the exchange. I suppose I need to get used to answering questions or explaining why I can or can't do something etc. Part of the process. Besides my family and circle of friends/caregivers and my peers at Loyola Cancer Center- there's no need to ask me why I look like Shit, ?Nes Pas?
I must say, that I didn't feel bad or sad when I told Tracey my illness, or Kristen, who I saw at the Spirito Concert on Sunday. I was thrilled to see my Colleen's concert, to do the Mom thing I always used to do - BE THERE for my child and RELISH in her accomplishements. I was OUT, I was dressed in a cute outfit, and I felt so good to be doing what I was doing at the moment.
I picked up Colleen after school and proceeded to get somewhat lost on the way home! Chemo Brain, so they say!
Lee is out of town until Wed- I miss his presence. If he reads this blog, he probably is saying "Yeah, right Peg". He's been home since this whole cancer-thing started. Working from home, taking care of me, the house and the girls. It's not like we sit and gab all day long - but we are in each other's presence most of the day, so I know he's HERE, if I need him. That is slowly changing though...I am getting stronger, I don't need a babysitter to stay with my 24/7. So my emerging independence gives Lee his as well.
I need to go to my Primary Doc today - I have a nasty sore throat- enlarged tonsil and I want to take care of it so I can go to Chemo tomorrow. Cross your fingers this is an easy fix and not a stupid-ass "complication".
Please lift a Prayer for Nancy Jennings - a dear friend of my Parents. She's struggled with lung issues for a long time..she needs some of God's heaing. thanks
My Stoma Stump Hurts - I may have to actually change my bag SOLO, Lee's been my "Baggage Handler"
My ugly, icky, chemo-acne is bothering the snot out of me..it's soooo UGLY and ICKY.
OK, bitchin' done for the moment.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Ok, Ok, lest I get too cocky, I am having that nasty rash painting me Fugly, but, hey, that I can do. I guess the only thing I'll need to get used to on that front, is people staring at me in public, wondering what kind of skin affliction I have. Yes, people STARE.
So, my wonderful angel-Sister Katie and her daughter Julia, arrived at 10:30 a.m., ready to take me and Michaela to Oak Brook Mall, so I can get some clothes to fit my bony-ass. We got home at 3:30pm! Yes, 3:30, I LASTED, walking and shopping for 5 HOURS.
We had a wonderful "ladies who lunch" lunch, at Antico Posto - I ate 2 pieces of bread soaked in olive oil, and had some broccoli shrimp pasta. So some good fat and carbs.
This was a real milestone for me - not only having the stamina to walk the mall that long, but just being out in public, being in a restaurant and having to manage my "personal hygiene" issues (aka the Poo-Pouch).
At about 3:00 PM, I sat in a chair in Nordstrom's shoe department, waiting for Kate & Julia. My eyes were at half-mast, but I opened one eye, spotted a pair of Orange sandals across the aisle and high-tailed it to the shoe department. Two pair of shoes later, I finished my fabulous, wonderful day.
Tomorrow, I will go out in public yet again, to attend Colleen's concert for Spirito! www.spiritosingers.org. I'm not supposed to be in enclosed crowded spaces, so I'll sit off-side, with a pretty yellow face mask, and enjoy the gorgeous music.
I continue to be so greatful for my Abundant Blessings on this Cancer journey, which include all of you, my "God Squad". I would not be progressing as well as I am if it were'nt for all of you!
XOXO , Peggy
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Colleen broke out in some nasty rash on her face- turns out it is Impetigo- very contagious. She also has PINKEYE. My girl just can't catch a break. Between managing her blood clot and cumadin levels and just getting her complexion back so pretty, now this. We'll need to do some major disinfecting at the Luckey house today. Hope I don't get it!!!
Pretty Ironic when I'm the one person in the house feeling really GOOD today!
Lee & I had an outing today-we went and got our haircut. It felt so good to have a fresh cut and style after 2 months. And the girls at the Shear Encounter Salon just Love my Lee- and helped him move on from the Hughy Lewis style he's been sporting since we started dating!
I asked my Oncologist about my current mix of drugs, and is this considered standard protocol or aggressive or outside the norm for someone in my condition. She said it was the standard protocol. I asked what lab work would indicated improvement, or need for change etc..Now I don't have this completely straight, but one of the "markers" they look at in my bi-weekly blood work is CA/CEA and according to Dr. Lo, my level went from 14 to 7- which is good, whatever it means i'm not sure, but Yay me, my evil liver tumors are responding!
Another Yay - since I no longer have pain in my ribs and organs, it is another good indication the the axis of evil is shrinking and responding. Yay!
An unfortunate Boo- I stinkin' lost like 6-7 lbs. Soooo not good. I need to pork up people. Since my mouth sores subsided for now (& cross your fingers they don't return with this chemo cycle)
I can eat more substantial foods. As a matter of fact, I ate a WHOLE deli sandwich at chemo yesterday, a bag of chips, then for dinner I ate some goulash and a chocolate shake. Oinky, Oinky
I used to have a flat wide butt and with this weight loss I have a seriously diminished, flatter than a pancake, saggy old-lady bottom. I need some serious squats, but I'm afraid, in my current state, I'd take one dip down and never get off the floor without assistance! any suggestions, bring 'em on.
My Daily Gratitudes: Uneventful chemo cycle; tolerating chemo Well; NO nausea; my family's unending love, cooking and errand runs; Mia McPherson's Bruce Springsteen Concert gifts-Whoo-Hoo!
Looking forward to a few visitors this weekend - Julie & Karen - can't wait to see you!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Whenever a disease or some type of health concern strikes you or a family member, the patient and the caregivers are thrown into sea of information, data, statistics, etc applicable to that disease. Words that you never heard or read now have meaning, and they roll off your tongue so easily.
So here are the words I NEVER heard of before my diagnosis:
Stoma: an artificial opening between two hollow organs or between one hollow organ and the outside of the body, constructed to permit the passage of body fluids or waste products.
Ileostomy:the construction of an artificial opening from the ileum through the abdominal wall, permitting drainage of the contents of the small intestine.
Ostomate: That's ME. A person who has undergone an ostomy.
The other flurry of new words that becomes part of your world has to do with Drugs. For a person who has been healthy all her life, aspirin and the occasional antibiotic was about as sophisticated as I got in terms of prescription drugs. That of course has changed. As part of my post-op recovery and pain and sleep management, I've been prescribed: 2 different pain relievers, 2 anti nausea pills, 1 sleep aid, 1 antacid, 2 different anxiety pills. I still can't remember or pronounce the names, Lee & I just write on the bottle the Purpose of the pill, which helps keep it straight. Just so you know, I am only taking the nausea pills (for chemo) and a sleep aid. Man, I wish I held stock in CVS Pharmacy!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The past 2 weeks I've made significant progress in terms of getting around, and just feeling stronger and lucid.
The nasty break out on my face,neck and chest is just now subsiding - I have no idea if it will return with each dose of my chemo coctail. My mouth sores are much better as well - i hope they stay away.
I had a special treat today - April & Barb, friends from C&W, came to visit on their lunch hour. They brought me a Portillo's burger and a shake to fatten me up, along with some Tulips and other munchies for my fatten-up plan! It was sooo great to see them, feel normal, and have some laughs. As always, I'm so greatful and blessed to have such wonderful people in my life!
All in all, it's been an uneventful week- no crazy mishaps to report. I do have an observation to note:
I've noticed that every time I go to Chemo, all the people in the waiting room directly stare at each new person that joins the waiting room. It's a direct, in your eyes type of staring, no averting the eyes as you get near. I feel like everyone is assessing their peers - "at least i have my hair", "Oh, that person has it worse than me". It's very blatant, but not necessarily offensive.
Fashion has taken a definite holiday in my situation- I basically wear some type of pajama bottom or yoga pants, haven't put a stitch of make up on in 2 months, and I have major bed-head hair. Oh, my chest has shrunk to pre-teen proportions, so my current bras don't work at all. My sister Kate was disgusted by my braless state of dressing, that she bought some for me and insists on their use in her presence! So maybe the other people are just staring at ME, and thanking their lucky stars they don't look like a bag-lady!
So tomorrow is the full Chemo Cocktail - a long day starting at 8:30 am (blood work) 9:30 am see Dr.Lo, my oncologist follwed by 4.5 hours if infusion.
It seems that I'm tolerating the Chemo pretty well, but I'm unsure if the more chemo drugs I get, will it bring on the side effects (nausea, rash, fatigue, mouth sores) more strongly with each infusion? I sure hope not, because if I've already experienced the worst of it, I can handle this with no problem!
So, my prayer for this week is: that the side effects are at a minimum which will mentally and physically help me to get stronger each day.
Also, if you have any prayers to spare, I ask that you pray for a dear friend of mine that was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Luckily, it was caught very early, so a minimally invasive surgery - tumor removal, not breast removal.
thanks, and have a great week!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I do need to return to eating calorie-heavy food- I lost some weight and need to put it back on.
When I wasn't eating much food-wise, I drank a lot of Carnation Essentials with Whole Milk, which helped me calorie load. Then I started eating real food, but obviously not enough to maintain the weight...Darn, I have to have chocoloate milkshakes every day!
In other news, the day my In-Laws and Lee left town, my sister-in-law Ruth flew in. She's been wonderful! She's cooked dinner for the girls, baked treats, having great conversations with Colleen and Michaela, not to mention taking great care of me! She helped me purge the linen closet and most important- she is giving Lucy, our deaf, 13-year old cocker spaniel - much needed attention!
Update: Ruth gave me 3 goals today: shower, get a pedicure and eat solid food, despite my mouth sores. I'm happy to report I accomplished all 3!!!! It was soooo nice to go somewhere OTHER than the Hospital! To feel "normal" Lots of visitors today: Mom and Dad, Katie, John and Kevin.
Am I LUCKY or what?????
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I'm so glad Lee was able to have some time with his parents. Mrs. Luckey cooked, made cream puffs, did every stitch of laundry and de-loused Colleen's and Michaela's rooms! We had a birthday dinner for Desi, Lee's sister, and grilled shrimp and scallops and veggies, topped off by Portillo's Famous Chocolate Cake. Yum.
Tomorrow I go for the Single Chemo treatment. This is the drug that has beat me with an Ugly Stick. I look like a model for ProActive Acne commercial. I'm getting some mouth sores as well, which is another common side effect of chemo, so I need to get back on the Swish & Spit regiment, and get it under control if at all possible.
On the Positive Side - No Nausea side effects with the last 2 rounds! Yay!
I'm really looking forward to spending time with Ruth this week. She's an amazing person with a great energy, focus and spirit.
I continue to be greatful to everyone who is supporting me and my family in so many wonderful ways. "Thanks" doesn't seem grand enough to convey my gratitude to all of you.