Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good Weekend

We are new to this chemotherapy process,  but it appears that we will be on a three week cycle, where Kay gets chemo every 3rd Tuesday.  (Monday this week because of a scheduling issue at the Cancer Center, but usually Tuesdays)  The first week after chemo will be spent avoiding nausea, etc.  The first weekend and the next week focus on fighting fatigue and avoiding infection as a complication of low blood counts.  The next weekend will be the weekend to see how it goes, but probably not feel to bad.  The third week, and especially the third weekend is the good week/weekend. 

We are half way through the good weekend, and it has played out as hoped, good.  Last night Kay had a movie party with her church girlfriends, where they watched Man on a Wire, a movie about a famous high wire performer.  Brett and I went to the local sports bar and watched the Mariners come from behind against my childhood favorites, the Boston Red Sox, to win 5-4 after being down 4-0.  Kay enjoyed the movie, and we enjoyed dinner and the game.

Today Kay and I joined our good friend Ken Brown and his birding class on a local birding trip in Tacoma from about 8:30 – 12:30, then went to the Tacoma Art Museum where I served ice cream as a part of an ice cream social for Sound Family Medicine staff and patients.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and both the birding trip and the Museum event were fun, and made for a really good day. 

Kay held up really well, her biggest social outing day since her surgery, and she remains in good spirits and comfortable at bedtime.   To get ready for the weekend, Kay went to my barber Thursday, and got a really cute, very short haircut, as managing the very rapid hair loss with long hair was getting to be too cumbersome.  She looks really good with the short hair, but we think by tomorrow most of that is going to be gone too, so she will then be a really cute bald woman.   Photos to be posted soon.

Tomorrow we hope to get out for more sunshine, plans to be determined in the AM when we see how we feel.

Pray for uneventful chemotherapy Monday, a fun weekend, and a safe week ahead.



Barb Hoffmann said...

Hello Ed,
As I read your blogs, somtimes questions come to mind. Is it okay to ask? I'm curious to know what "lymphedema" is and what is effect? Also, when you mention that Kay hurts part of the day, what is it that hurts? Also, we all know that chemo causes one's hair to fall out, but what is chemo REALLY? Finally, why do you think this fall will bring a lifetime influenza season? Won't usual innoculations help?

You have all have had prodigious amounts of adrenalin pumped into your systems this first month - a certain amount of ennui is desired!It's funny when our brains don't have anything immediate to focus on, we begin to chew on all those questions. "Why am I here?"
"Where am I going?" "What's my purpose in life?" I saw a quote recently: "Each person's purpose is his/her gift back to the world."
I think other people already see your gift,maybe just not you.

It must feel as though you are in the middle of a big "U-turn" in your lives. But it may turn out to be just a sharp right turn. Keep hanging on!
Love, Sis

Ed Pullen said...


Normally there is a sligh imbalance of the amount of fluid that leaks out of the capillary system and the fluid that is reabsorbed into the tissues. This excess of fluid, called lymph, is collected passivly into tiny vessels called lymphatic vessels, that bring the lymph back into the veinous system. The lymph goes through "lymph nodes" which can become enlarged sometimes when "bad stuff" like bacteria, viruses, or cancer cells are in the lymph. When the lymph nodes are removed, as in surgery like Kay had, it can block the drainage of the lymph, resulting in a backup of lymph, and swelling of tissues distal to the blockage. This is called lymphedema, which is difficult to treat. Primary treatment is elevation and compression. Difficult to do the the perinsum.

Kays pain is mostly in her lower abdomen and perineum. Some in the abdominal incision area.

Chemotherapy is the administration of drugs to attack cancer cells. The general theory is that the drugs attack rapidly dividing cells These are the cancer cells, but also bone marrow cells, hair follicle cells, intestinal lining cells, and some other areas.

I think there is a high chance that this fall will be a true pandemic. How severe, how virulent the virus will be are unknown variables.

The vaccine currently being manufactured will likely not give much immunity. Can a specific H1N1 vaccine be produced in sufficient quantity to be available to all Americans, let alone everyone in the world? This is a twofold question. First can it be developed that fast. Second will enough resources be dedicated to production to produce the vast quantities needed that fast. I am not sure re the science, and am skeptical that world leaders can cooperate in such short order to provide supplies for the world at large. Re the USA alone, I expect resources not to be the issue, rather the science, and the willingness of citizens to take the vaccine.

The rest of the questions are far beyond my pay grade.


Sara said...

Got behind on the blog. Thanks for the questions Barb, and especially the answers, Ed. One follow up, will the lymphedema ever go away?