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Yesterday morning my doctor from Boffa phoned me to let me know that the cytology results had been received; that they wanted to adjust my treatment. Oh yeah, and forget about the break till 14th December: gotta go in tomorrow already. *Takes deep, deep breath*.
Pain level is as bad as ever (apparently that is due to the radiation I received to those bones last Monday). Probably it wasn’t very wise to have the bronchoscopy just 2 days after chemo either. I can’t say I’ve bounced back from that ordeal yet, mainly because I had to spend a full day without pain/anti-nausea medication. My stomach is in quite a mess… Oh well, I suppose that was enough complaining for one day!
After the phone call from my doctor, I had to have yet another blood test done to ensure I’ll be ok for chemo on Monday. We had a couple of hours before collecting the results, which hubby and I spent having coffee in Xlendi. The weather was absolutely amazing – downright wondrous considering that a lot of Europe is already covered with snow!!
By the way, I’ve had much of that hair chopped off a couple of hours later! Not sure when you’ll get to see a new pic… For now I leave you with this sunny vista and hope you all enjoy a peaceful First Advent! Talk soon…
Posted on November 28, 2010 - 12:22 pm. 3 comments
“P” as in poking, prodding and pricking procedures…
While I tried to find some sleep a couple of nights ago, a flood of words jumped into my mind totally uninvited (and actually quite a few more than those mentioned above!), all describing what I’m so fed up of having done to me lately, and all of them strangely starting with a “P” – and I wondered if “punishment” had something to do with that. Punishment for being the whiner and moaner that I am; and probably for having relied on cigarettes as crutches for far too long. Even the report that I was handed to take home after the bronchoscopy states:
“…had a bronchoscopy done in view of:
- her being a smoker;
- having vocal cord paralysis;
- on CT scan has bone mets and left LL spiculated lesion.”
So very clearly, the lesion and metastases were just serving as a smokescreen (sorry for the pun) to mask the real deal: they punished me with this despicable little procedure – for being a smoker…
I know, I know… I might be a little incoherent here, and ever so slightly over the top. So bite me!
In any case, last Wednesday will definitely not go down as one of the better days in my life. The bronchoscopy was every bit as bad as I had feared – and then some! If you’ll ever be told it would be a piece of cake to have a “very thin” tube inserted through your nose into your lungs… well, even if you’re much less hysterical than yours truly, please do take my word for it that it is not going to be pretty! First they drown your nostrils and throat with an abundance of extremely vile-tasting local anaesthetic. It is true that you’ll hardly feel that pipe going down after that – but that mainly is because you’re kept busy trying to prevent yourself from choking to death. Yeah well, I do admit that in a clinical setting and in the presence of a professor and several nurses your chances to suffocate there and then are pretty slim, but there were a couple of times when I really feared bad things might be on the verge of happening…
The actual procedure took about 20 minutes I reckon (it did feel like hours though!), but the whole experience was made that much worse by the fact that I had not been allowed to take any medication at all after midnight, and I was sorely missing my painkillers and anti-nausea tablets.
OK, so let’s leave it at that. As any of the other recent shitty stuff, this is now also in the past. And let’s face it: it needed to be done to figure out the exact nature of that damned carcinoma… (the results are still to come).
Yesterday my American friends celebrated Thanksgiving, and although it isn’t a feast on the Maltese (or German) calendar, it certainly is proper and makes sense to stop for a while – to count your blessings and give thanks where thanks are due. Although this is a rather tough time for me to do so, I think I could be worse off still than I actually am.
- There’s hubby, first and foremost… George has been so amazing and loving through all this mess, and I haven’t got a clue just where he finds all the strength and patience.
- And hot on his heels, so to speak, is his sister Antoinette, who has become a true angel in my life (as have all my other in-laws, really!). She joined us on every single trip to Malta to keep holding my hand, feeding me, comforting me… I’m so very grateful for everything my Gozitan family is constantly giving me!
- A huge number of friends who keep nudging me to remain positive… I’m always sorry I cannot manage to keep in touch “properly” with you. But if you weren’t there, believe me, all of this would be that much harder to bear!
- And last but by no means least, I’ve been very impressed with the very caring attitude of all the staff in the various hospitals I’ve seen in the past few weeks, be that Gozo General Hospital, Mater Dei in Malta, or Sir Paul Boffa Hospital – the Maltese “cancer hospital” that I only knew from hearsay before last Monday. Starting from security guards, over helpers and nurses to doctors, consultants and specialists – I have yet to meet someone who wouldn’t give you a kind word and a smile, no matter how many challenges they are facing in a sometimes less-than-perfect working environment.
Thank you all!
Posted on November 26, 2010 - 3:09 pm. 3 comments
Trying to come to terms with the next “big one” coming up. At around 11pm I’ll take the last pain medication that I’m allowed before my bronchoscopy at Mater Dei tomorrow. After midnight, no food, no water, no meds. That pretty much means a lousy night coming up, a lousy trip to Malta early in the morning – and then the lousy procedure that I’m really, really not looking forward to at all…
But hey… I’m sure this time tomorrow I’ll be laughing about it all. Well, at least I hope so. Nope, I’m really not a courageous person at all, no matter what you think!
Posted on November 23, 2010 - 10:10 pm. 3 comments
This has been a long, long day… I’ll cut it reasonably short for you, though: Ferry at 7.30am, appointment in the Oncology Day Ward of Sir Paul Boffa Hospital at 9.30am. Back to Gozo with 3pm ferry, which we managed by a hair’s breadth: the ferry was loaded, and the ramp was already going up! Then hubby waved our ‘priority boarding form’ as if his (or my) life depended on it, and lo and behold they decided to take us in!! I’m very, very grateful for that, because by that time I was very nearly out of my mind with pain. – I might add that I’m also relieved that there is such a thing as priority boarding available for medical treatment for Gozitans in Malta. Since obviously no cancer treatments are available in Gozo, the hardships reserved exclusively for cancer patients from Gozo are really more than enough!
The actual treatments weren’t too bad; chemotherapy drip, preceded by two separate anti-nausea drips, around 2 hours in total, I think. Then 5 mins radiotherapy of the lower back (because of spreading of tumour cells in the bones). By far the worst was the CT scan and the ‘simulation’ prior to radiotherapy. Lying face-down is about as painful as it gets for me, and not being allowed to move at all was truly hell.
Well. It’s all in the past now, somehow hard to believe. Now I’m sitting at home and will spend the next half hour or so studying the schedule for the shitload of medication I brought home with me. Including morphine oral solution, which will hopefully, finally bring a little relief !
Now what’s left for me to be scared of is the bronchoscopy on Wednesday, but that, too, shall pass. After that, peace (I hope!) until next chemo on 14th December…
Thank you all, once again, for your lovely messages – it really does feel so good knowing that others are thinking of me.
Well, I shall collapse on the sofa now and try to recover from the day’s ordeals. Talk soon! *Hugs*
Posted on November 22, 2010 - 5:58 pm. 6 comments
First of all, I want to thank all my friends for their lovely messages via e-mail and facebook. It is plain impossible for me to reply to each and every one. But if reading text on screen would wear off the print, they wouldn’t be legible any longer by now because I’ve been reading them again and again many, many times! You can’t begin to imagine how much your words mean to me…
It is even more difficult to keep everyone updated with what’s happening with me. And of course there’s the possibility that not everybody is really that keen on knowing all the details – which I totally understand! So using my blog to keep y’all in the loop is probably the easiest way – and if you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to! However, I can’t make promises as to how often I will post.
So here we go… I’ll leave out the events of the past weeks since my last blog post; so much has happened but none of it is really relevant now, in stark contrast to what’s been going on this week:
Monday I finally had the isotope bone scan, which had been ordered back in September by a rheumatologist, who suspected I was suffering from inflammatory polyarthritis.
On Tuesday I received word by telephone that a “problem” had shown up in my CT scan of the chest; I was immediately given an appointment to see an oncologist first thing in the morning of the very next day (nothing short of miraculous as there isn’t an oncologist available at the Gozo General Hospital every day!). The word cancer was never mentioned then, but chemo and radiotherapy were, so I guess it was just a matter of keeping things uncomplicated while they were being discussed on the telephone… For the rest of the day I cried and cried until I felt just numb.
Wednesday morning… Obviously I can’t claim to have been unprepared, but having it spelt out still didn’t fail to shock. Two tumors in the left lung, one of which is pressing on the nerve that’s responsible for my vocal cord palsy as well as the agonizing pain I have been enduring for so long. Monday’s bone scan also showed a few “dark spots”. A bronchoscopy was arranged for next Wednesday, but the oncologist doesn’t want to lose more valuable time and got me a slot for the biopsy of a 2 cm lymph node in my neck, for this morning.
That biopsy lies behind me now. If I try looking at it objectively, it was probably the easiest and most straightforward intervention that will have been thrown at me for a long, long time to come. Still, I absolutely hated it and thought it would never end. I hope I’ll gain some courage to deal better with all that’s still to come!! I’m really not keen at all on next week’s bronchoscopy…
Apart from being grateful for my many friends, both in cyber and in real life, I can’t say thank-you often enough for being blessed with such a wonderful family. The telephone hardly ever stands still; they cook for us; they care for me, cry with me… Simply thanking you for being there for me is just not enough!
So now I’m diagnosed with cancer – a fact that I’m still working hard on digesting. The sheer amount and diversity of thoughts that raid your mind after being fed such information is overwhelming, and that is actually an understatement. I reckon I’ll grow into it and be able to deal with it as time goes on, but for now it is plain scary, full-stop.
Posted on November 18, 2010 - 6:01 pm. 23 comments