Monday, November 23, 2009

More surgery = good riddance!

I finally have a date for the surgery during which the butcher will remove my chemo port, and the boob man will remove my tissue expander and replace it with the final silicone implant. Yay! So December 11 will be the big day that will bring me one big step closer to completing reconstruction and putting that whole cancer thing behind me. Well, as much as one can ever put that whole cancer thing behind oneself, that is...

Both the tissue expander and the chemo port have been bugging me, as they often get in the way of doing things. For instance, when DH and I work out, I can really feel both of these foreign bodies inside of me. So when I do pushups, let's say, I get quite uncomfortable after approximately ten to twelve "girly" pushups (i.e. those where you keep the knees on the floor" -- long before my pectoralis muscles actually fail as they are supposed. Back in my pre-cancer days, I used to be able to do twenty guy pushups before coming to failure...

I am hoping that with one of these foreign bodies removed from me, and the other one exchanged for a soft and pliable silicone implant, I will be a lot more comfortable in the long term. 

While I am fully aware of the fact that I'll never get my boob back, at least the silicone should provide a much more natural feel than the current saline-filled tissue expander. Plus, I am starting to feel as though I might be starting to develop another blood clot around the chemo port, as I have been feeling a strange fullness once again starting to develop in my right clavicle area. So I cannot wait to get rid of the port -- and with it hopefully all need for administration of cytotoxic agents. Good riddance!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Got my shot!

Today I finally got my H1N1 vaccine. Man are those shots hard to get -- but thankfully my employer got an allotment and distributed it to at-risk employees such as myself. So in a two weeks or so my body should have developed immunity to that particular flu strain. 

This was my first experience with "needle-less" vaccination. While the lack of a needle sounds good in principle, I cannot say that I am that excited at seeing the vaccination in practice. The difference between the needle-less and the needle-based approach is that needle-less vaccination are injected into the muscle with the help of air pressure, rather than through a needle. Don't get me wrong -- I am NOT a fan of needles and firmly believe that the human body is not meant to have sharp objects stuck into it. But the high-pressure medication stream that the vaccination gun injected into me -- courtesy of considerable pressure generated by a CO2 cartridge similar to the ones I have for my whip-it cream whipper -- was actually more painful and left a bigger wound than a traditional needle-based vaccine administration. To top it off, the surly nurse that administered the shot apparently suffered from poor eyesight, as she put the band-aid next to the actual injection site, rather than over top of it. The shot produced some bleeding, so it promptly messed up my my shirt a bit. Thankfully I wore black...

But I still consider Friday the thirteenth to be my lucky day. After all, I finally did get access to the H1N1 vaccine -- and I am grateful for that!

Other than that I am feeling much better, even if stress at work really wore me out these past two weeks. I still have a bit of tingling in my hands and feet, but it keeps getting better.

My boob man and the butcher are in the process of scheduling another surgery for me, as I want to have the tissue expander replaced with the final silicone implant, and have the butcher remove the chemo port during the same surgery. While I am under general anesthesia, they might as well take care of several things at once. You've gotta like a good old-fashioned twofer...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shooting for swine flu?

Well, actually not quite. I have been shooting for trying to avoid the swine flu that seems to be going around all over the place. DH and I already had our first cold of the season, although it came mightily early. DH picked it up at work and brought it home, and I got it a while later -- despite my efforts at handwashing etc. We were both sick for quite a while, but luckily neither of us ever developed a fever or anything.

In any case, when I last saw the poison man, my blood values still weren't back up to normal. While I did have enough infection-fighting neutrophils to not count as neutropenic, my overall white cell counts are still a bit low and I probably am more susceptible to the various bugs out there than I used to be before my biweekly poison administrations. Thus the poison man suggested that I get the swine flu shot once it becomes available. The odd thing is, however, that even though the hospital system to which my cancer center belongs has already received at least part of its allotment of H1N1 vaccine, the cancer center has yet to receive any vaccine doses!

So I have been calling them to find out when they'll get it, as there is no target date yet. My local primary care physician did not receive any vaccine yet, nor did any of the local clinics or pharmacies. But I really want the shot, partially because I'm still immunocompromised, but also because I work with a lot of young people that are at highest risk for contracting and spreading the swine flu. So this Friday, I finally found access to the vaccine, and placed my call to reserve a slot and a shot within five minutes of receiving the email. Luckily my employer has received an allotment of vaccine, and is offering it to at-risk employees. So next Friday, the thirteenth of November, I am scheduled to finally get that swine flu shot. I've always though of Friday the thirteenth as a particularly lucky day...!