Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eviction notice

Yes, this round of chemo has been harder on me than some of the others.  Yes, it could be because of the cumulative effects of multiple rounds of chemo (indicating that the next round will be the worst of all--yikes!).  Or it could be because my sinuses have taken on some unwelcome microbial tenants, and fighting them off takes more energy than I have available.

I have been toying with a cold for over a week now, but on Tuesday morning I woke up with green snot blooming and booming from my nose.  So I called it in to Dr. Oncologist's office, and they in turn called me in.  One blood draw, chest x-ray, and CT scan later, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and told I was lucky.  It was of course not obvious to me how I was lucky, considering I felt like death two ways, so I asked for an explanation.  Apparently my white blood cell counts were good, but if they had been bad, I would have been admitted to the hospital.  I remind you that I'm supposed to have bad white counts 3-10 days after hard chemo (this is called nadir), and so I consider this stroke of white-cell luck to be further evidence that I have Wonder Woman-quality white blood cells.  (I really want to graph them for you, but the data from Tue. and Wed. are not available to me yet.)  My white cells and I, however, were ineffective at clearing the infection, and so Dr. O called in some troops:  cefipime (IV) and amoxicillin + clavulanic acid (pill for 21 days).  This is quite the eviction notice and then some; hopefully the pathogens get the message.  Being on antibiotics for 21 days will not be pleasant for the beneficial microbes that live in my gut, so I will try to pump them up with yogurt.  Sorry, guys, but that's the best I can do for you.
Today I am feeling markedly better.  Still some nasal discomfort, still feeling chemo-fatigued, still a bit dizzy, but the corner has been turned.  My friend Frank sent me a song to help me feel better, and I would be in trouble if this fantastic Stevie Wonder song DIDN't help me feel better.  I love music.

I am really starting to dread surgery (don't ask for details because I don't know yet and I don't like to talk about it).  To help me look past it, to see the end of all of this crud, my siblings and I are planning a Caribbean vacation for the end of cancer (and after I've accrued some vacation time at work, of course).  Well, "planning" is a bit of an overstatement, but we're going to do it and we're shopping for destinations.  I've never been to the Caribbean, but I think it will afford the perfect vacation for kids and adults alike.  Pictured above is a beach on the island of Culebra, which is momentarily at the top of our list.  Any suggestions from the audience?


  1. Heather Wonder:

    I recommend Costa Rica - it is amazingly kid-friendly, easy to navigate, and has a variety of price points and options, including your favorite and mine: cheap. Also it is a science nerd's paradise (hostels built on igneous rock! night wildlife tours in the rainforest! turtle mating!). I know it's not the Caribbean technically but I would consider it. If you are dead set on the Caribbean, I hear that Cuba is opening up for us Anglos - that would be quite the post-cancer adventure.

    Glad the corner has turned! Embrace the power of yogurt as you engage in assymetrical counter-insurgency against the invasive microbes who have embedded themselves among the populations of peace-loving microbes that make up the society of your organism. If Barack Obama were here, he would cheer you on and tell you to win the future.

  2. Heather-
    Might I recommend Kefir for re-establishing good bacteria in your gut. I know you can find it at Hy-Vee in the health food section. It's a flavored yogurt type drink that works very well for depleted gut flora. Hang in there, you're a trooper!

  3. You've got to pack me away in your luggage and take me to the warm, beautiful beaches. I've never been anywhere like that, but I've heard St. Lucia is wonderful. I have a cousin that got married on a beach there and the photos were amazing! I don't know much about it, but I just Googled it, and I wish I were there now.

    Here's to days of feeling better in some warmer weather. They're just around the corner.

  4. There are many great destinations but my primary suggestion is to go when it's cold here. That 100 degree change in temperature is something to experience :)

    I've done it many times and never tired of it....

  5. Matt's parents have been going to St. Lucia. They are able to rent a house with other couples which apparently brings the costs down considerably. Their pictures always look fabulous and it sounds like there is a lot to do but very low key.

    Glad to hear the white blood cells got the help they needed and that the side-effects aren't too ugly.

    I know its been a particularly hard couple weeks. You are doing amazing!


  6. Puerto Rico! Beautiful, friendly people, 80 degrees year round. Beaches, rain forest, the largest telescope in the world (I think) need I say more? asked! Parker did the Costa Rica trip last year and loved it, he could give you the scoop on that. Hang in there, Heather, we are thinking of you more than you can possibly imagine. Good Karma transmitting through the airwaves.....

  7. can you tell me about your caner plases and want do the docter say to you i well like that can i come over some time we can talk about it with tae or soda

  8. I read "Culebra" as "cuterebra" (see here for the uninitiated or those who like gross stuff:

    Thank you, vet school.