Saturday, 25 January 2014

Glorious Antibiotics - and Ode to the Spleen

This is cold and flu season. As one of the things taken out during my surgery was my spleen, every year my family and I get the flu shots. I had a round of different vaccines before my surgery, but unfortunately the lack of spleen will always make me susceptible to infections, and increases the likelihood that they can become serious. As you can imagine, I also try to stay away from particularly nasty plagues that are going around.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago my son came back from a sleepover not feeling well. I didn't think much of it until two days later, when I started feeling like crud. For me, things happen quickly. By the third day  I was starting to cough a bit, I felt congested and had overall malaise.  Normally these are the kind of things that most people will  ignore, thinking they are just getting a cold.

If you don't have a spleen however, you NEED to pay attention to your body and get checked out. So, feeling slightly sheepish I went off to see my GP.  She listened to my lungs -- and there was the beggining of bronchitis. I came home with a nose spray, an asthma inhaler ( !) and a prescription  for antibiotics. Her advice was to give the inhaler and nose spray 72 hours, and if I wasn't feeling better I should take the antibiotics, as I couldn't really take chances.

I got all three together and began using the first two. A day later I had a full blown cough and was wheezing like crazy. Although the inhaler helped a bit, I kept feeling worse and worse... so on the third day I started on the antibiotics. 

If there was ever a RAMBO equivalent in antibiotics, I have to say these are probably it. By the 2nd day of taking them I was feeling GREAT. I still  had to finish the 10 day dose, which meant I couldn't drive- you have to always check interaction with other medications- but by the time I saw my GP the following week I was doing just fine. If I hadn't taken them and the other medication when I did, I could've likely ended up with pneumonia.

Not everything needs antibiotics. Not everything needs a visit to your doctor. But -if you have a compromised immune system, listen to your body. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

And Love Remains the Same

Happy New Year!

When we first found out I had PMP back in March 2012, searching for blogs was a disheartening, heart-breaking experience. My husband made me promise that even after treatment finished I would continue to update the blog at least once a month - so people would know if I was doing well, or any other issues that came up.  

Where an Apis bellyaches

I'm feeling under the weather.  I'm writing about feeling under the weather because I hadn't really felt sick since the end of chemotherapy in late 2012. It strikes me now that all the different plagues I caught in the year leading up to my cancer diagnosis were probably due to my body fighting the cancer as it spread. No wonder it was spread thin.

This current crud is probably only a flu. I get the flu shot every year, but since I no longer have a spleen since the MOAS my body seems to have remained immuno-compromised. Feeling inordinately crappy I went in to see my GP -- who put me on an asthma like inhaler, a nose spray and antibiotics I should start in 48 hours if the first two haven't cleared things up, as apparently there's inflammation in my lungs. Wee. I also have to go back in a week to get checked AND also discuss the results of my latest bloodwork as apparently the liver enzymes continue to prop up.

TMI, and a lot of whining - I know. I am happy that I can whine about it. I have learned the hard way that ignoring your body, discounting symptoms and simply gritting your teeth and carrying on is not necessarily the best course of action. You are the best judge of when your body feels off; you know when something is up, and should listen to that gut feeling.

Two years ago ( two years ago!) I was feeling really sick.  I was coming off a nasty bronchitis, and absolutely drained... most of the day ( while my son was in school) I was sleeping as my body marshaled what strength it had to fight. I didn't know it yet. By Valentine's I would know that something was definitely WRONG -- and by early March the enemy had a name, cancer. Pseudomyxoma Peritonei... what a mouthful. By April I had been referred to a specialist, the wonderful Dr. Temple in Calgary. By mid June I had undergone the cytoreductive surgery, by  November finished the additional chemotherapy  ( I stopped after 4 cycles of the suggested 12).

Suddenly its January 2014 and HERE I AM. I didn't think I was going to make it to my 37th birthday, and I've just turned 39.  I'd do it all over again if I had to, but I really, really hope that I never do. There are organs that I missed more than others ( we had always hoped to give our son a sibling, and now we know why we were unable to), I count my blessing each and every day.


2013 was a rough year, as several fellow pmp friends passed away. 2014 starts with similar heartbreak.

The last couple have been particularly rough - young fathers, amazing people. When I was diagnosed, I thought that I was too young to get this type of cancer... and then met and interacted with people much younger than me. They will be missed. How can then not be? When they were kind, and funny, strong and brave. They leaves children behind that are much too young.  I hope that those they live behind  know how they were loved. That love is not destroyed but transformed, and may the memories of that love wrap around them always.

I am really hopeful that Dr. McConnell being in Vancouver means that some of the families with younger kids will have a fighting chance... a way where they won't have to travel out of Province and be far away from that support and energy that your loved ones provide.

I hope there is a day where no child loses a parent like this.