4/30/11

Counting Chickens Before They Are Hatched. And Beans. Especially Beans.

So the last few days have been a bit rough.

I wasn't feeling great on Easter Sunday, but I was still fairly steady on the pins, given the assistance of the Ugly Cane of Doom.**

On Monday I actually felt a little better.  I decided to spend the day working on some craft projects, in preparation for Shepherd's Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival - the plan being that I was going to have a space there and share it with friend Denise.  Awesome, got lots done - and then in the late afternoon I stood up and just about fainted.

The left hip was - and is - in agony, folks.  And will only just barely support me in a few painful hobbling steps.  Getting up and down the steps from our house to the sidewalk (in order to get to the car so that I can see my doctors, get my scans and chemo, etc) has been getting increasingly challenging and exceedingly painful.  At this pace, I may very well be wheelchair bound in a matter of a day or two.

And I'm in pretty nasty pain all the time.  It hurts when I sit, it hurts more when I stand, it hurts even more when I try to get into bed, and it hurts when I lay down.  Yesterday it was so bad getting into bed that I'm pretty sure my son and husband were watching to see if I was going to expire right there and then - I was shaking from the pain and weakness, and probably pale as a ghost.  Poor Bren announced to all of Facebook (or at least his corner of it) that I was on my way out. 

Today my feet and ankles are swollen up like balloons.  Don't know what that means, but I suspect it ain't good. 

That said, there are a number of explanations for everything that might have nothing to do with me being in imminent danger of shuffling off this mortal coil in the near future.

It is an unfortunate fact that tumors that shrink are just as dangerous to your bones as tumors that grow.  IF the chemo is working and shrinking the tumors, they are leaving airy cavities with very thin and fractured bone as structural support.  Lots of people with tumors in the bone have their bones fracture after successful chemo treatment (especially in the spine, since the vertebrae are small and already rather airy by nature.  The tumors in question here are in my hip/pelvis and femur, but although these bones are normally more structurally sound than the vertebrae, my tumors are quite large and numerous there, and they've already been fracturing for at least a year, so they are probably quite fragile, and I am no featherweight).

So this development could be caused by good response to the chemo, rather than no response to the chemo.  No way to know at this point.

I tend to be pessimistic, because it's largely been my experience that things don't work out for me medically, especially in dealing with pharmaceuticals - maximum side effects, minimal benefit.  And evidently recent studies are suggesting that Estrogen positive patients, and especially Estrogen positive/HER2 negative patients (among whom I belong) often get little to no benefit from Abraxane.

But I could very well be wrong.

The swollen appendages (hands, too) and the weakness could be due to spreading cancer, or it could be a side effect from the Abraxane - both swelling and weakness are a relatively common side effect for this particular chemo drug.

So.  Where does that leave us?

Well, my cancer could be galloping ahead - or it could be gradually receding.  We don't know yet.  I had a scan done on Friday, and I'll be seeing Dr. Bouncy to discuss the results and to plan our next step on Tuesday morning.  I will report at that point.

Things do not look good mobility-wise, either way.  I am going to have to make some fairly quick decisions, some major concessions and sacrifices to the cancer, and lots of organizing, in a very short period of time (perhaps a matter of days).  I may have to move to my parents' house so that I can have people around to fetch and carry for me during the entire day, instead of just the 2.5 hours between 7:30 and 10pm, when the dear husband is home from work.  I may have to go to a hospice or nursing home or hospital for care if the hip entirely gives way - at that point I am likely to be bed-bound and in a good deal of pain.  Or things may stabilize for a while.  Hard to know at this point.  Hard to make plans.

By the way - my insurance is happy to pay thousands and thousands per week for chemo treatment that has no proven ability to extend life for even one day, but is unwilling to pay for nursing home care (hospice coverage is limited, and they won't allow you to treat the cancer actively while there - hospices are for 'palliative care' only), either of which is considerably cheaper per week than many of the chemo treatments, certainly cheaper than the chemo treatments I've been on so far.

I'm just saying.


**I'm convinced I would have been a great swords...person.  I can pick up my shoes with my cane and put them on, I can pick up my purse with my cane, I can write in the sand with my cane, I can (gently) push The Cat's butt along with my cane,  I can push fallen objects back to the owner with my cane, I can stab or threaten or whack people with my cane.  I could also walk with my cane for a while, which it turns out was pretty cool, compared to NOT being able to walk with my cane.  The cancer, it sucketh every day.

7 comments:

Celticsprite said...

Wow, I hope the cancer is receding. I saw Bren's post but wanted to see your opinion. I'm glad you are able to get the treatments. I just wish it didn't take so much out of you. Love you

Delighted Hands said...

Well, there hasn't been any easy answers all along this path. Sorry for the present pain.

dancingsoles said...

Dear Eileen,

I think of you constantly and desperately wish I could do something, say something that could be helpful in any minuscule way. Yet, I can offer nothing. I have a few paltry words, but words at a time when some dear is enduring so much are powerless. I imagine holding your hand in mine and sending my strength through our touch.

Love and hugs,
donna peach

Polly Andersen said...

Oh Eileenie! I wish you weren't in pain, to me that is the worst part of all this. You are a talented cane wielder, and pushing the cat's butt along it's way must be quite satisfying.

krex said...

Sucketh indeed . I will be watching my email or here for Tuesdays report . The cruel irony of having the one thing that is good about chemo..."shrinking tumors" wield such devastating side effects for you sucketh also.

Laughingrat said...

Dang, Eileen, I'm really sorry you're having to go through this. And a big raspberry in the general direction of $!#*$* insurance companies, too.

The Violet Hoarder said...

En garde! I'm suspecting soon you'll be knitting with your cane. Your sense of humor seems intact, but the other stuff is hard to take. I join Laughingrat in that raspberry!