Monday, March 29, 2010

Would you believe it was only an allergy???

So, just to update you all from my last post, where my primary doctor left me with Scarlet Fever and two ENT doctors to follow up with...well, here's how the story ended:

I went to an ENT on Friday, full itch and now feeling awful joint pain.  The doctor looked at my throat and my rash and told me that I did not have Scarlet Fever, but he did want to run bloodwork to ensure there was no strep in my bloodstream.  Apparently, there are a lot of false positive instant strep tests (did you know that?) but this doctor couldn't conclude that I didn't have strep anymore...he just thought I probably did not.

So, full of rash, I call my reconstruction surgeon's office to tell them I still have a rash and it is spreading to my reconstructed boobs and newly reconstructed nipples.  Thank goodness my mom was with me because they sent me immediately to their office...two more doctors looked at me and determined my surgery was not compromised from the rash, but they wanted me to see a dermatologist in the hospital on the spot. 

This cancer dermatologist who kindly agreed to fit me in, looked at me for 30 seconds (after hearing all of my symptoms) and said I was allergic to Penicillin and if I stopped taking the medicine, he was sure I didn't have strep and would feel all better in two to three weeks.

So, I got the results from my long strep test, and wouldn't ya know it?  Negative!!!  So, I have been having a bad allergic reaction and am finally starting to feel better after 3 days without antibiotics!  Yay!

However, my 4 1/2 year old daughter just got strep again tonight.  I do have someone help me clean the house, but I just spent the last hour disinfecting every doorknob and commonly touched items in the house (light switches, toilet flushers, etc) to make sure it isn't something that easy to fix...I guess I won't be hosting my Passover Seder tomorrow night that I've been preparing for the past few days...who wants to be with a kid recently diagnosed with strep?  I left the decision up to the other families, but who would want to risk getting strep? 

Oh, and my mother-in-law shared a spoon with this child yesterday.  No good!

On the positive side, I am THRILLED with the level of care and attention I receive from my cancer center, Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.  Everyone from the people who greet you at the doors to the nurses to the doctors to the fact that it is a one-stop shop makes it so wonderful.  If you ever know anyone who wants to talk to a patient about Sloane Kettering vs. other hospitals, I'd love to share my story!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Okay, I can feel a little bit sorry for myself...

On Saturday, I developed a little legs were itching, but I thought maybe I got a little sunburn or something from being at the beach (though I was wearing capri pants and very little leg was showing...) By Monday, it wasn't really any better so I called my doctor and told her about the rash.  I DID NOT want to go see her because I've been to too many doctors appointments in the past month (between strep and nipple reconstruction and Herceptin treatments and seeing my cancer surgeon) and I just wanted her to tell me something over the phone.  She thought that I was having an allergic reaction to an inhaler I was given; so she told me to stop using the inhaler and just use some Benadryl at night to sleep.

By Wednesday (today), the rash was really getting after my Herceptin treatment, I went to the doctor.  Found out I not only have strep throat AGAIN, but I have Scarlet Fever (yay, rash!)  I was totally freaking out that I was immuno-compromised from my chemo treatments in the past.  Well, I spoke to my oncology nurse and she assured me that my white-blood count was totally normal as of the end of February and that I just might be run down from the surgery two weeks ago and trying to recover from that and the strep.

I am just done with being sick and all this other garbage.  Sorry, I am feeling sorry for myself today.  I just want to play with my kids but since my doctor cannot assure me that I will not be contagious after 24 hours of antibiotics (because 2 rounds of it, though different kinds, have not yet cured it) she thinks I need to be careful around kids...ugh!

Tomorrow will be a better day, I am sure of it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Things Aren't Always So Bad...

You can sit and feel sorry for yourself and your current situation...before I found out I had breast cancer, I would have said the worst thing was that my husband took a package and was not working (but he made enough money to last us through our year plus with cancer without having to THINK about spending), before that, it was my one year old daughter's tip of her finger that had been cut off when another sibling slammed a door with her finger caught inside it (but after a trip to the emergency room and some plastic surgeon visits, you would barely know anything had happened)...I can go on with little things that I used to consider "problems" before the whole cancer thing (oh, and I can say that wasn't so was caught so early, the size of a grain of rice, that it had not grown big enough to feel or to travel to my lymph nodes so a blessing that it was found so early)...

But last night, I realized how lucky I am!  Last night, I was at the diner with my two girls and I saw this boy who seemed to be autistic, though I would never know for sure so I would never say turns out I know the mom.  I had met her 4 years ago, after my middle daughter was born, and we were in a playgroup together.  They were all first time moms and having 2 kids 17 months apart was too much for me to deal with mom's with only ONE kid.  I had juggling to do!  In any event, it turns out this boy who I knew as a baby, and who seemed further along than my daughter, ended up with alot of developmental issues.

Now, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, not even my worst enemy, but when I left there, I really thanked god for three beautiful and healthy children.  Okay, they drive me nuts sometimes, but let me have problems and let my kids grow to be very old and happy and healthy.  I don't care what life holds for me, though I do hope to live a long and healthy life, and I will always be grateful for my three silly, happy, intelligent, beautiful, kind, caring and loving kiddos!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Does it get any better than this?

I live in Northern New Jersey. We just had one helluva storm this past weekend! I'm not trying to compare it to places who get hit with natural disasters all the time, but we had such a huge wind and rain storm after one of the heaviest snowstorms two weeks prior...all I can say is it looks like Armageddon around here. You cannot go down two blocks without seeing at least one one-hundred-year-old tree in the middle of a street (sometimes with a car underneath) and power lines mangled underneath as well.
I guess the trees were so water-logged from the heavy wet snow (where we lost almost an entire Magnolia tree) that the heavy winds were just too much for the trees so they are EVERYWHERE!

Both of my kids' schools have been out the past two days due to lack of power.  Most of our neighbors are still without power.  Or water.  Or cable (god forbid!!!)  We lost power for 24 hours, but we now have everything back.  We did go an hour south of here for the second night (just before our power came back) to stay at my in-laws.  It's nice to have someplace to go...but I'm sure we won't be welcome back anytime soon!  Why, do you ask?

Yesterday my husband and I both woke up with sore throats.  I thought it might be allergies, but wasn't sure, especially since I just finished having strep throat two weeks ago.  Our 4 year old daughter started acting really funny complaining about her stomach in the afternoon and our almost 6 year old son has been very weepy for the past week and has had a very sensitive stomach as well.  Again, I could have attributed these stomach ailments to my mother-in-laws cooking.  They ate it, I didn't.  But last night the 4 year old kept sitting up in her sleep crying out loud.  We knew something was wrong.

This morning, we woke up and our throats still hurt.  So, my husband went to work and made a doc appointment for him and me and I took our 3 kids to the pediatrician's office.  I told them they were all getting strep tests whether they liked it or not...then the doc gave one to me (and my son held my hand so I wouldn't cry).  Fifteen minutes later, we ALL had tested positive for strep.  I kid you not!  Then, I got a call from my husband that he, too, has strep.  Is this a joke????  And this is why I wonder if we'll ever be invited back to my in-laws house!

I guess I was never fully cured from my original strep and then kindly gave it to the rest of my family, but hopefully we will all get better at the same time.  I guess it was good that I was proactive this time and took everyone to the doc together!

I had to postpone my Herceptin treatment, which was scheduled for tomorrow, not because the Herceptin will hurt me with strep, but I could infect patients with compromised immune systems waiting for their chemo treatments.  I just feel badly that I was sick the past week, and didn't realize it, and I was at different doctor's appointments for the nipple reconstruction surgery I had a week ago.  I may have been sick around those same people with compromised immune systems...well, I hope not!

Honestly, as long as I can still go to my follow-up plastic surgeon's appointment in two days, I will be fine.  I just need to know that my nipples really are healing well, 'cause everytime I look at them, I want to barf (but the nurses have insisted that everything looks great).

So, this has not been a great couple of weeks.  I couldn't get out of bed on Saturday because I was so depressed over all of the recovery, having my period, not being able to shower, still feeling sick and not knowing why...but now I know why - I still had strep!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Final Installment - Nipples!

On Saturday, I had my (hopefully) last surgery for this "episode" in my life: I had my nipple & areola reconstruction surgery. I have been looking forward to having my breasts look somewhat "normal" again and not "frankenboobs" as my husband likes to refer to them!

Surgery was easy and very fast! Less than 2 hours! The doctor took my skin graft from my upper inner thigh...the place where your underwear hits the crease in your leg. I was so worried about having yet ANOTHER scar on my body, 3 c-sections and bilateral mastectomy scars were quite enough, thank you! I kept talking to my plastic surgeon and asking him if we could use my c-section scar tissue for the areola reconstruction, but he kept telling me that it would look better with the inner thigh tissue and, since my breasts already looked so good, why wouldn't I just use the tissue that would make my breasts look their best? The doc won.

Well, we will see how good they look! Right now I still have some bandages on my breasts, which will come off on Friday, but I've also been told that they will still not look great until all the swelling and bruising goes down, in about 6 weeks. Since my breasts are mostly numb, they really don't have any discomfort. However, I am STILL walking funny from the stitches and I guess the glue coating to protect the incision (although it is getting better) and I am still going commando (hurts to wear underwear) but this too shall pass! So will the lack of a full shower for another 9 days...

I want to say more, but I don't know when I am saying too much. Oh well, I am good at babbling anyway. I am totally grossed out today because I just got my period. While that, in and of itself, isn't usually an issue, the first two days of my period are like a flood...I go through a SuperPlus tampon in about an hour...and I usually wear a pad to protect myself, but since I cannot even wear underwear, a pad is totally out of the question. So, I feel even MORE uncomfortable today, so much so that I don't want to leave the house for an extended period of time...oh well, I know this too shall pass, but I just wish that it was possible to take a pass on getting your period every once in a while, like right now, after having surgery.

Oh, and last week, before I had my surgery, I got strep throat and was out of commission for the week. I swear, I am pushing my husband to the limit. He is so awesome and is totally picking up the slack for me, and while I am helping out where I can, he is still schleping the kids to school and after school activities and giving them their bath. I know, I know, it is getting better every day and next year, I'll be able to do this on my own again, but I just want him to go out and work, not have to take care of me and the kids all day. Okay, that's my complaining. Thanks for listening.

It is a beautiful day and I plan to go outside and enjoy some of it, but I just wish I was feeling 100% and not less than that!