Bald 'n Sassy

Life is for the living. Live simply. Expect less.

Archive for the day “January 23, 2011”

Give me a break!

Yep, I do need a break.  A break from my chemotherapy.  I have one more session to complete and that should be it.  Well I am crossing fingers that it ends here.  The finishing line is within reach.  Having to be sick every 3 weeks is not something I look forward to.  That is why I need a change of scenery.  Today, I decided to take a trip to another city over the upcoming Chinese New Year break.  My sister and her family are returning to Johor, Malaysia for their mandatory visit to the husband’s family.  I decided to be a rebel and not join her :).  I am going to Chiang Mai, Thailand instead – the land of smiles.  Flights and accommodation all booked.

I am excited to the idea of soaking up to another city’s food, people and the culture.  I have visited other parts of Thailand before.  In my younger days of travel, I am one of those that didn’t like to waste and see as much of the place.  And at the end of the trip, I feel that I need another holiday just to get over it.  Now my idea of a vacation is to take my time and see what I want to see, do what I want to do in my own time.  If one day I don’t feel like doing any sight-seeing, then I am more than happy to find a quiet cafe somewhere order a coffee or lazing by the pool reading.

Thailand is well-known for their food and markets. When I am in a new city,  I always make an effort to visit the food markets where the local go to buy their day-to-day food.  I love soaking in the colours, breathe in the aroma and feeling the textures.  Being a foodie, I am always learning what ingredients are available and discover those I have yet seen.  This my kind of sight-seeing.  I also researching on Thai culinary schools to learn a few more recipes.  Not that I am boasting about my cooking skills but I want to learn just more than the typical Tom Yum, green curry or pad Thai dishes.  I shall continue to google and see what is out there.

Oh the other “must” do when I am in Thailand is to visit a day spa.  I certainly don’t mind spending half a day pampering myself with a massage- a necessary indulgence in my opinion :).

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Counting to my getaway begins!

Chronicles of Chemotherapy – Cycle #2

Oh my!  It has been 4 days since my last post. It has been a very active 4 days.  I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon to see how my wound has been healing and any problematic symptoms since I started my chemo.  So far so good and the next follow-up will be in 4 month time.  Phew – one less doctor to see for now. Resumed my swimming exercise and squeezed in a lunch with some ex-colleagues.

I am going to reflect back on my second chemotherapy.  Initially, the scheduled date was 28 October but I didn’t want to be sick for my birthday.  It was my 40th and I had plans with family and friends.  The doctor agreed to allow me to postpone my date with the drip to 2 November 2010 🙂 . I was awake by 7am but didn’t crawl out of bed by 7.30am.  All dressed by 8.30am.  Prepared my cooler bag with ice pack to hold my 3 boxes of Neupogen injections.  Neupogen is a clear liquid prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to help stimulate white blood cells production.  It is very common for patients white blood cells to be very low when chemo drugs are administered.  Hence, our body immunity is very low in the first week post chemo session and susceptible to catching colds or fever.

Arrived at the clinic before my appointment time.  The nurse called for the external lab to send a nurse to draw blood to conduct a tumor marker/CEA test.  It was a different nurse this time.  Will she be gentle with me and not make me pull “that hurts” face.  Thinking of happy thoughts to distract me and I braced myself as soon as she straps the small belt around my arms.  She forewarned me that she is about to insert the needle.  Took a deep breath while it is being done.  I could feel the pinch into my skin and needle sliding into my veins.  It was bearable pain.  She filled 2 test tubes with my blood, applied pressure on the wound and put a band-aid.  All over in less than 10 mins.  So the waiting for the results begins.  It is supposedly take around 1.5 hours to complete the test.  Since I skipped breakfast that morning, I left to fill my tummy with some food.

My sister and I were back at the clinic waiting to see the doctor and study the results.  One of the first data the oncologist scans for are the CEA markers and any abnormality numbers in white/red blood counts or liver functions.  These abnormality would be highlighted in red.  My CEA markers has reduced by 10% from 28.4 to 26. Always happy to see the numbers reduce.  A normal persons CEA markers is between 0 to 4.7 ug/l.  As you can gather my markers are almost 6 times higher than an average non cancer patients. From my understanding at this point, the cancer cells were very active multiplying.  We have to put a stop these cells breeding!  Once the doctor checked my blood pressure, any other physical signs of side effects, I was given the nod to start the chemo.

Being the second session, I was fearing that the nurse would have a tough time with my small veins again.  It was a different nurse who attempted to poke the needle.  She tried with my left hand first.  A vein was found that could be good enough perhaps.  Sprayed the antiseptic and she attempts to poke me.  Felt the first poke but when she tried to push in a little further, I yelped! Sigh, that hurt and a failed attempt. The nurse panicked.  I should be more nervous than her.  Another nurse stepped in to help!  She had to pull out the needle and stop the bleeding. I will have a bruise from this 😦 .  Time to switch to other hand.  The second nurse attempted and tried a few minutes to find a good vein.  She felt a few and now deciding one would be the ideal one to use.  She is hopeful that it would the one.  Needle goes in.  The nurse waits a few seconds before she tries to push the needle in a little more.  No screams of pain from me means it’s good.  Alas, it was a success.  Everyone breaths a sigh of relief.

Whipped out my Kindle to read my book.  Around an hour into my treatment, I was feeling drowsy, barely keeping my eyes open.  After hearing about the vein expedition, the doctor came in to check how I was. Not long after that, I dozed off.  It was a deep 1.5 hour sleep.  The nurse had to wake me up to tell me that it was over.

When I reached home, the tiredness feeling was still lingering.  Climbed into bed and napped for a few hours.  I am happy to have cycle number 2 ticked on the calendar.  The next 7 days is when I am confined to home nursing the side effects of the chemo.

Thats it from me for tonight.

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