Monday, September 30, 2013

For Post-Menopausal Women Only ...

Ha, you couldn't resist, could you? I went to the Women's Radiology Center today in Monticello for a routine mammogram and a bone density scan. I scored average on the bone test (I hate being average, but glad I don't have osteoporosis, merely osteopenia). The boob screening went okay. New technology allows you to see the images immediately, but I have to get my "priors" for comparison.

Getting my last mammogram is turning out to be tricky. I couldn't remember where I had them done, so called my internist in NYC since she had ordered them. Her receptionist said she didn't know which I thought was strange since Dr. F. had called me with the results. She'd wanted me to go to NYU but I remember going to Beth Israel Radiology because I'd been there the year before, AND I remember being super-annoyed because they made me wait for over an hour wearing a thin hospital gown. For Beth Israel, I have to fill out a form, fax it to them and then wait up to 10 days to have the results sent to my doctor here.

It's never easy. And I'm going to discuss with my oncologist whether I should be getting these exams yearly because radiology sounds like radiation and I don't need more than is medically necessary.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AARP, Medicare and Other Signs of Deterioration

When I used to receive the AARP card in the mail in the mail, I was annoyed and recycled it without opening. Everyone is eligible to join at age 50, but I hate the hounding and the assumption that I want to be included in the likes and dislikes of the boomer generation.

But I joined to see if it's cheaper to use my husband's new health plan at work, or go on Medicare for my benefits and see how it compares with his "employee + kids" plan. Can you imagine how many brain cells I used on this? How much time?

I'm happy to say that I found a clear-cut answer. Although it was exhausting, I did the math and found the "answer."

Ironically, my husband knows Excel really well, and I have only a basic knowledge. As time goes by, however, and we all get older and qualify for Medicare, we may have to learn how to do these calculations with digital apps. Who knows?

I just hope my future deterioration (and everyone elses') can be approached without fear and with adequate coverage.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Prednisone Taper Redux

I've been on prednisone for a long time. I've been on 20 mg. for about 2 years.

The first taper was successful but ultimately too low and I had to increase it again. The last attempt at a taper back in February ended in disaster, with me suffering acute withdrawal within a week. My doctor told me to go back up. See-saw Margery Daw. (I had to check the spelling of that.)

Today I began a 5-mg. taper. Within a week, I might have side effects but I hope it won't crush me. My doc has consistently said I will probably hold at 10 and continue that for life.

I went to a local salon today and got a nice haircut with some highlights. I still have small bruises under my eyes, but I think I look much-improved. Since I'm so vain, my mental state is as well.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Retrospective Part V

This is the final installment of my retrospective. Onward.

June 29, 2013: I finished my monthly injections of Vidaza yesterday. It's no big deal except my oncologist recommends I get them for life. Vidaza without parole. I take 22 pills each day. I take the morning pills after breakfast. It's like having an additional course.

And then it hits you. You survived but it never goes away.

August 22, 2013: Just like Kermit admitted it wasn't easy being green, it's not easy having a blue face. Maybe if the rest of me were blue it wouldn't be so bad. If I could put a scarf around my head and face, I would actually look pretty good since my eyes appear beautifully made up. But I'm not good would scarf-tying, and I'd hate to have it unravel while I'm driving.

Taking a Chance

This is my Vidaza week, five daily injections with a dose of Zofran to prevent nausea. The problem with Zofran is that it has side effects, like most any drug do. The most bothersome side effect for me is constipation. Who needs that? I have enough problems.

So I requested that I skip the drug and see how it goes. Guess what? No nausea.

I saw my neurologist yesterday for a follow-up and he was pleased with my "progress." My nerves are okay, but my right hand, arm and shoulder have a way to go before they return to normal. I've been doing some exercises and hope to return to yoga on Saturday, in my opinion, the best way to straighten myself out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Leukemia Hysteria

Anyone out there who's had leukemia has triggers that make you feel certain it's back. I've relapsed 3 times so I'm familiar with the anxiety that accompanies it.

Since my fall 3 weeks ago I've been struggling with a swollen arm and a craw for a hand, for which I've been taking a strong antibiotic. My shoulder pain comes and goes but who knows if it's related.

When I was first diagnosed with AML I went to the doctor for a swollen finger. Now my arm is swollen. Where would our mind jump to?

I went to my local oncologist today. Before my blood work came in, he was discussing getting a bone marrow biopsy from Dr. Giralt, my oncologist in NYC asap. My blood work took over an hour. I meditated as best I could, but I was prepared for the worst.

Dr. Sethi finally waltzed in as I was preparing my final goodbyes and said my blood work was great.

Another mental bullet dodged.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eat, Love, Massage

First, thank you for your uplifting comments. 2 might have been lost in the Cloud; all were wonderful.

Even though I'm still one-handed, I've managed to eat quite well. Marty and I went to the Cabin for delicious burgers Friday night after I picked him up from the bus station. We had some kind of comfort food Saturday night, although I can't remember what it was, perhaps a large downy quilt. Doug brought dinner to cook Sunday and Harry joined us for the meal, which included grilled steak, corn on the cob, couscous and chickpea salad, Asian coleslaw and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. That's enough about food.

Love is what I want to talk about. For most of the last 2 weeks I've been here by myself, but I was not alone. Friends called to check up on me; many offered to come over and help. I had great conversations with my kids and sister-in-law Esther. The out-pouring of support reminded me of my leukemia days.

My massage therapist, whom I've been seeing for years and knows my body better than anyone, worked on me Friday and again on Monday. Yes, she came in on Labor Day to knock some good pain into my shoulder.

I'm healing, albeit slowly. My face is still scary but the cellulitis is getting better.