The good news - November 1st the health insurance finally kicked in. The bad news – there is a pre-condition clause so anything associated with my breast cancer is not covered. That was a heck of a blow. We were really counting on it. So far we have over $15K in medical debt and 60 more weeks of chemo treatments to go – not to mention surgery and radiation. Well like everything else we’ll figure it out. I’m not going to let it get me down.
Its been 3 weeks since I finished the first course of my chemo treatments. The fatigue from the last Adryamycin/Cytoxin treatment stayed with me through about 2 ½ weeks. I also ended up with a case of shingles. If you’ve never had them – they hurt! Looked like hives, so treated them with a course of prednisone. It almost felt like someone had punched me in the ribs and it had bruised through to my back. Everything was located on one side of the body right along the bra line, started at the mid rib line and wrapped around to the right side of the spine. Within a week I had developed a very deep burning and stingy pain – hurt to touch, have clothing touch it and hard to sleep. I managed it with Tylenol, and after researching on the internet discovered that it was related to chicken pox and herpes zoster. Well since the Lysine seemed to help with my cold sores I decided there might be a connection so started taking it. Within 3 days the burning and stinging had stopped. The rash also began to fade and now looks like little red bumps.
Yesterday I went for my 2nd course of chemo. This time I’m getting just one drug called Taxol. Didn’t really feel anything – no headache, no numbing of the face and jaw, and no real fatigue other than from the 50mg of Benadryl they gave me. It seems that Taxol is derived from the Yew tree found out west and since it is tree based it can cause an allergic reaction, hence the heavy dose of Benadryl for the first treatment. Took a few hours for it to wear off and then I felt fine. The best part is I don’t feel like I’ve got this cloud of medication covering me. I feel like me!
As a side note I had the nurse look at my rash. She called my Dr. because she thought it looked like shingles. I learned yesterday that it can be highly contagious and saying the word shingles in a hospital is like saying there is a bomb in the airport – panic everywhere! Can even prevent me being treated until it clears up – but the Dr. told them to give me the treatment and have me stop by her office after. She confirmed the shingles diagnoses and gave me a prescription to clear it up. Seems it is quite common for chemo patients as it lies dormant if you’ve had chicken pox and comes out when your immune system is compromised. Lovely - it would have been nice for someone to tell me that is something I should be aware of and what to do if I get it...
So now I’m bald, losing my eyelashes, covered in a rash….ok vanity is no longer my name. In fact I’m seeing myself instead as a survivor and doing a damn fine job at it. I wear my wig when I’m working with clients, otherwise I’ve rediscovered my old bandanas from the 70’s. Wear them like I used to – low on the forehead and tied at the nape of the neck. I just fold them so the back of my head is covered. Actually looks and feels more normal than the chemo hats I’ve been wearing. I’m going to look for a couple more colors as I only have a couple.