Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Charlie - Here's Another Hurricane To Make It More Exciting!

I love storms. I love lightning and thunder and hail and everything about severe storms. I even like the threat of tornadoes. The possibility of some danger and some excitement - DRAMA. I love hurricanes, maybe because I grew up outside of New Orleans. I still to this day, when storms threaten the coast, get that excited feeling in my gut, and I find myself looking up school closures. It's that same feeling I got when I was still in school and would wake up and turn on the tv to the school board channel to see if school was closed that day. It was a big deal. And the schools where I grew up are closed until Wednesday - at least. I care, and I'm not even in school there, I haven't been in five years. Hurricane days became snow days when I went to college, except people don't freak out about snow in Arkansas like they do about hurricanes in Louisiana, and school rarely closed.

With Gustav off the coast, I find myself wanting to pick up my cell phone and call Dr. Pou and ask her a million questions - but that would totally be abusing my cell phone privileges. I want to know what she's thinking, if she's freaking out, is she on call at the hospital for this storm, is she packing up and leaving?? I want to know these things, but it's none of my business. I'll just have to wait until some newspaper interviews her since she's almost synonymous with Katrina and Gustav is being compared to Katrina.

It's my brother's birthday today, and the poor guy has to worry about another hurricane instead of enjoying his birthday! The anniversary of Katrina was yesterday, and his birthday is today - crazy. I told him he should just move his birthday to another day so he could actually go out and celebrate or do something with friends instead of packing up all his stuff and getting out of town (but I guess that could be fun depending on where you evacuate to).

We are enjoying being in Tulsa. I miss our house here and I especially miss our bed (it's pretty much amazing) - I've slept soooo good the past two nights. Warner decided to start working on our new entertainment center and we went and bought the wood and picked out the stain for it today at Lowes. This afternoon Warner stained the wood and it's sitting in our garage stinking it up right now! We figured we may have an extra day or so up here while we are waiting for Gustav to clear out, so we figured we would have some time to get a project done!

Yesterday we had a cookout with Shauna and Todd and Jackson. Todd cooked burgers on the grill and they were really good! I was quite impressed that Jackson remembered me a little bit(he's two) but the other day when we went down to visit he walked in and yelled "Girlfriend!" because they have always called me his girlfriend! He's talking like crazy and is becoming more independent - it's crazy! Tomorrow we are going to Siloam and Fayetteville for church and to see some friends. I'm excited, it's been a while since we have been up here!

Okay, that's what I've got for now. It's almost bed time because we will be up early in the morning!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hit The Road Jack

We are waking up bright and early (before the butt-crack of dawn) and heading up to Tulsa to go spend the weekend at our house and just to get away for a little bit. Six whole days without doctors and hospitals and scopes. I won't know what to do with myself! HA! I'll sleep and hopefully not have to think about cancer at all. So, here are some pictures that we took with my mac tonight (they aren't the best quality, but you know you want to see pictures of me!).

Goofing off...I need a haircut

More goofing...we don't do serious pictures very well

My beautiful smile...
if I can see what I'm doing I can make it almost normal looking
AND you can see the outline of my chin again!

Still a little popeye - ish
but definitely better than it was, 
but I have to be able to see what I'm doing or else it looks CRAZY

Yeah, I don't know

Arm Scar!!!
Unfortunately I couldn't turn my arm enough to get a good picture.

And last but not least...MY TONGUE!
haha, you know you're excited to finally see a picture of it!
I kind of have crazy eyes in this picture...HAHA

And to answer some questions, yes I have saliva still, but it's slightly different than it was and it gets slimy at night which is gross to wake up to, but I don't gag anymore. I put the marinara on the breadsticks to make them easier to swallow (being able to eat marinara is a big deal because the tomato used to burn my tongue). Just like I put lots of ketchup on my french fries now. I can taste sweet stuff somewhat now, it's a little different. I won't be going out and buying a snowball any time soon, but I do drink sweet tea or juice and I can taste the sugar in yogurt and stuff now. However, since the return of my sweet taste buds has come the weird taste of water. Almost has a sour sweet taste...and it's bottled water and tap water. I drink a lot of juice so that may have something to do with it, but who knows - it's just weird. Oh well, have a good Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tennis On TV - Not Nearly As Fun As Actually Playing

And hello! Not much is going on in the Bradley household at the moment. I am watching the US Open and waiting for my brother to show up to hang out today and the dogs are sleeping. We are going out to lunch and then to Whole Foods. After that I am going to pack for our trip to Tulsa! Not that I really need to pack much - we have a house full of stuff waiting for us to show up - but I do have to figure out what I am going to bring from the apartment to leave at the house (we have tons of stuff here at the apartment just taking up space). 

I had my last speech therapy appointment yesterday - she said I was too much of a slacker and she never wanted to see me again - no really, she said I was doing really well and basically it's up to me if I want to improve anymore because she's told me everything to do - she just wants me to check in and say hi whenever I'm down the hall with Dr. Pou. She was impressed that I'm eating pretty much everything - I had Raisin Caines last night (fried chicken fingers - I ate about three (with the sauce), some french fries - WITH ketchup! and a quarter of a piece of Texas Toast - have I mentioned how much I love bread???). I've also had Olive Garden a good bit - I can eat the salad with the salad dressing and I can eat a breadstick if it has marinara on it. Today Charlie and I are going to Qdoba - it's a burrito bar (I'll get one without the tortilla) so hopefully it isn't too spicy, but I think I'm okay with spice for the most part - I guess we will find out soon enough. Let's see, I'm also eating oatmeal, lots of fish, pasta, I bought cookies to try on our road trip, I can drink juice without watering it down now, some soup (though not as much as I was eating at first), and baked potatoes (there's more stuff, but that is all the main stuff I guess). So, basically I'm trying everything. I do get these little water blisters that show up at the back of my throat on my soft palate when I eat something that irritates my throat, but they go away after a little bit. 

I have to wait about two and a half more weeks to have my feeding tube taken out. Mell (my speech therapist) said they usually wait about a month (once you stop using it) to make sure you can keep your weight up without it. So far I've only lost 3 pounds and I think that was at the beginning when I first stopped using the tube and I wasn't able to eat that well. I'm pretty sure I'm holding steady now. We are going to ask Dr. Fields about having it taken out at my appointment next week (maybe I'll put the weight back on over the weekend in Tulsa). 

I have four more weeks of physical therapy (or maybe less if I improve too fast!). Hopefully I'll be going back to work soon - I need something to do other than watch tv all day long! It drives me crazy to just sit around (granted, I sit at a desk all day at work so I guess it's not much different). 

Okay, that's all I've got for now and Charlie should be here soon (good thing, because I'm getting hungry, that oatmeal I ate 30 minutes ago didn't last very long!). 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here's A Post So I Don't Get In Any More Trouble

I'm getting in trouble for not posting often enough!!!!! Not much has gone down this week. It was actually pretty uneventful until today. I started back to physical therapy on Tuesday and after this week I only have two more left - but never fear, I am going to get six more weeks - they just have to get Dr. Pou to write the prescription and I'm golden. I decided I needed more "sessions" because my neck muscles are super tight from the radiation and the two I have left are not going to make much of difference. 

So today I had my CT scan and I guess we'll find out the results in a few days. My stomach has really been bothering me since the end of last week where my PEG tube is, so they wanted to check it out. I had to drink the Barium stuff (but I got out of drinking as much as I was supposed to because I whined about being on a feeding pump for 3 months and how my stomach was really small). I still had to have an IV of the contrast when I got in there for the scan which was fine - I've been stuck so many times it doesn't phase me very much - plus, this girl was REALLY good at putting in IVs. I think she should be my own personal IV sticker. So, that was that - a little more radioactivity added to my body and we were done.

After my CT scan Warner and I went to lunch because I was STARVING (I hadn't eaten since 7:30 that morning, I couldn't eat after 8, and it was 2:00 when I was done!) So, we went to Jason's Deli and I got a baked potato and ate a little less than half of it, with lots of sour cream. YUM! Then we rushed back to Gonzales because I had physical therapy at 3:30.

I went to PT and it was basically like it usually was, I worked out and got my neck stretched - which kiiiiiiiills me because my muscles are so tight. After PT I decided Gap needed visiting and I picked up some clothes because they were having a decent sale (40% off). Then I headed home for dinner (leftover catfish that my mom made). Warner and I went to Best Buy with Lance and Michelle this evening to pick up a couple movies that were on sale and now we are about to crash - except the fur kids are hyped up. Ruekie is chewing on a bone and Edgar is plotting how he can get the bone away from him (except he's a little too obvious with his maneuvers so Ruekie is having none of it...Edgar lacks the brains in the family). 

I'm eating pretty good and the more I eat the better I feel but it's hard to get a lot of calories from a home cooked meal - eating out is definitely a better way to add up the calories. I have to watch what I eat though because some things still irritate my throat and I get these little blister like things that pop up - but it's manageable. 

Warner's been working a shut down this week. He's gotten up at like 5:30 every morning this week and has gotten home at midnight every night (except last night he got home at 10 and tonight he got home at his usual time). So the poor guy is absolutely exhausted. 

Oh! I didn't take a nap today, I've only done that one other day since treatment ended, so maybe if I stay active, I do better!!!! 

In other news, we are going to Tulsa for Labor Day weekend so that will be a much needed vacation! We are leaving on Thursday and we'll drive back on Tuesday. There will probably be a trip to Siloam that weekend at some point as well. 

So that's all I've got. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dr. Kaplan - My Favorite Snappy Happy Plastic Surgeon

This morning I had an appointment with Dr. Kaplan, my plastic surgeon who was in on the surgery and was in charge of my arm an the skin graft and such. And apparently he is the official photographer as well. Since my first visit before the surgery, Dr. Kaplan has always taken pictures of my tongue (to show the progression) and my arm. Well apparently he also took pictures during my surgery and....wait for it....I GOT TO SEE THEM TODAY at my appointment. That's right, I saw pictures of my neck dissection with my skin pulled up over my face - and Warner did too. Warner had been saying he was going to ask if there was a video of my surgery (which there is not) so I guess this was the second best thing. He showed us all the vessels and stuff and then he showed us a picture after they connected the flap to the vessels down in my neck. Then he showed us another picture of my tongue right as the surgery ended. I looked rough! I was super duper swollen and had some blood on me. Also, instead of a trach in my neck in the pictures it was just a tube that I'm sure was connected to a ventilator or something. I have come a LONG way since then and that's why he showed us the pictures - so we could see how much progress I've made. So, if you're wondering why my surgery took 14 1/2 hours it's probably because Dr. Kaplan stopped every 5 minutes to take pictures (HA, just kidding). He took pictures of my tongue and my arm today in his photo studio - yeah, he has a photo studio set up in his office because he takes a lot of before and after pictures of people that come through and have work done. So, that's my big news today! I don't have to go back to see Dr. Kaplan anymore, unless I want to see the pictures from my surgery again I guess!!! 

I also had Dr. Kaplan look at my PEG tube to see if I needed to have the Gastro doctor check it out. It's been kinda swollen and around it and I think it's infected or not in the right spot anymore and it's kind of oozy (it always has been but it's different now). So, he is ordering a Cat scan to check it out to make sure it's nothing serious - but he thought it looked good compared to some people and it didn't look infected to him. I think they should just pull it out. I started taking all my meds today by mouth - my vitamin is going to kill me (it's liquid and tastes like well, it tastes gross, I don't know how to describe it). So, I'm not using my feeding tube at all at the moment - as long as I keep eating as much as I can. So far today I've had peaches, yogurt, pudding, and some soup that didn't taste very good so I didn't eat much, and some juice. I might have some eggs in a little bit. I'm just eating small meals more often for now. When I first started I never got hungry because I was doing the feeding pump as well but now that I've stopped using it, I actually get hungry, but I haven't started craving any foods (except sweets which I can't taste) so it's hard to figure out what to eat. 

Okay, I think I need a short nap / a really long one. I start back to physical therapy tomorrow afternoon so I need to rest up for that! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quick Update

Well, I got scoped today...TWICE. Dr. Pou had a little bit of sympathy when I told her I was going to see Dr. Fields after my appointment with her and that he would probably scope me then, but she didn't have enough sympathy to not scope me. She's brutal. Dr. Fields asked who was better at scoping and I told him he was, Dr. Pou is just not very gentle with the scope. Either way it's not very pleasant. So, my doctors all said I looked good and my PET scan will be sometime in October. 

Today I tried drinking my formula junk instead of using the pump, but I had to start back on the pump this afternoon. My stomach is not used to having any significant amounts of food in it at one time and after drinking one can, I was full for a few hours (I still am), and the taste, OH the taste, was AWFUL! So, I'm going to have to skip this liquid stage and go straight to the solids as best I can. 

So that's all for now...maybe Warner will update at some point. I'm going to go watch the women's gymnastics that I recorded last night!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Been A Few Days

Hmm...let's see. I haven't updated in a few days and well, honestly, once again not much has happened, I'm just trying to heal. I had two doctor's appointments on Monday - Dr. Bienvenu (chemo) and Mell (speech). Both went really well. My blood counts are on their way back up which is good because I want to be able to do things if they come up without having to worry about getting sick or getting an infection from a lack of white blood cells. I missed out on the hot air balloon races this past weekend because I didn't want to risk being in a crowd. Anyway. I didn't do much at speech because of my mouth ulcers (I still have one or two of them) so Mell didn't want to push me too hard. I'm able to drink juice now without it burning my mouth, although chocolate soy milk doesn't taste so good and it kind of burned my throat. So I'm hoping soon I'll be off the feeding pump and able to just take everything by mouth. 

I have two more doctor's appointments tomorrow (Wednesday) with my wonderful high heeled ENT, Dr. Pou, and my gloom and doom radiation oncologist, Dr. Fields. I'm looking forward to them because I feel like I'm way ahead on healing but part of me also knows that I could get scoped twice in one day and I'm freaking out about that. Dr. Pou didn't scope me last time so part of me thinks she will this time - that or she'll gag me to death with the little mirrors. Dr. Fields will probably scope me because he hasn't done so in a few weeks - and the last time he did so, the scope gagged me. So, I guess I will just have to have a trash can near by. 

Today is my mom's birthday and we went and saw Mama Mia at the theater. It was really good. My brother is up here hanging out and they all ate a good dinner - at least it smelled really good and they are going to have cheesecake for dessert. I will sit here and nurse my mouth ulcers and dream about eating again soon! 

Okay, there's not much more to report for now. We've been watching a lot of the Olympics. I'm just sad the gymnastics is on so late at night - I go to bed much earlier! Oh well! Hope everyone is having a good week!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My First Full Week With No Tomo!

Today, it has officially been ONE week since treatment ended! One whole week! I've noticed a few slight changes. First off, I drank some tea today! Woohoo! It doesn't burn too bad, but I have so much mucus in my throat that when I drink the tea it makes me cough up more mucus, so I'm hoping there's an end in sight to the mucus problem. I want to drink my tea without worrying about how much mucus it's going to bring up. Also, I've only had two major loogies today. It used to be that I had one every couple of hours. I'm hoping this means my throat is healing up. My mouth sores are still there, and when my pain pills are wearing off, I definitely know they are there (especially the new one at the back of my throat) but they are not as bad as they have been. My neck has shown a lot of improvement. It is still red, but it is not as large an area as it used to be. Also, it used to all be cracked and oozing, but now it's just scabby in a few places. Here are some pictures:

I still have some swelling above my scar. 
I'm hoping I can start massaging it again when those sores go away!

 My brother was taking pictures of me 
and I can't smile very well yet so they kept turning out horrible. 
This is take three. This is my frustrated look 
because he kept snapping pictures and cracking up laughing.

So, I'm getting there. Even though I'm not coughing up huge loogies as often, I'm still coughing up a little at a time. Also, the past two nights I've slept really well so yesterday and today I managed to get out of bed and stay up all day! Oh well. I have no big plans for the weekend. I was going to go watch the hot air balloons on Saturday with my brother but with my white blood cell counts low, I think I better stay away from crowds for now. I think we're going to try and catch the ones in Natchez in October. It won't be as hot then either! My mom has the dogs until Saturday because I feel bad for them sleeping all day with me. I don't have any problems taking them out, I just can't get down and play with them very well because of my feeding pump - we almost had major drama yesterday, Edgar ran through my cord and pulled the tape off my stomach but I stopped him in time before he pulled it out of my belly. He just pulled the cord out of the pump and made it go off so crisis averted. So, she's taking them for two days so they can go insane in her backyard and come back and sleep at home. 

OH! another funny dog story. The other morning when Warner left for work, he closed off the other bedroom and bathroom because Edgar had pooped in there. While laying in bed, I counted SIX times that Edgar ran into the closed doors trying to get in to run around the circle (they run through the bed room the bathroom and the living room when they are playing). SIX TIMES!! The poor thing just didn't get it! HA!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Am Up Out Of Bed

And on the couch watching tv. After two days spent in bed sleeping (and throwing up yesterday) I decided it would be best to get up and actually do something, even if that something was just watch tv. I'm still really tired today, and could probably sleep almost all day today, but I'm not going to. I discovered when I sleep during the day (I have to sleep sitting upright because I'm still on the feeding pump - but only during the day) that it makes my mucus worse. I slept really good last night, only waking up once at 3:30am when it was time for more meds and then again when Warner was going to work and was giving me more meds! So I don't have much to report. I still have all my mouth sores and I'm hoping they are better soon. My cheeks are swollen around my bottom jaw because most of my mouth ulcers are along the outsides of my lower gums. I really want to start eating by mouth soon - I'm hoping I can still taste - I don't know since I haven't eaten anything in a little over a week but I really want some apple juice!! Maybe I'll be brave by the weekend and try something. Oh well, time for another movie, maybe I should think about taking a shower sometime today...

Monday, August 4, 2008

With Dogs Like Ours, Who Needs Kids

Our mutts are insane. I think they will probably tear up all the grass in our back yard when we get back to Tulsa and they get to run around outside. I'm surprised they haven't already worn a track in the apartment carpet. They have taken more advantage of having a two bedroom than anyone else, they spend most of their time running a circle through the living room, 2nd bedroom, and bathroom. Edgar is also big ol' clumsy gorilla. seriously he runs into everything with is tail and his hind end, and hasn't figured out he needs to start stopping BEFORE he gets to the wall/door/kennel/whatever else he's running towards. He has also started learning not to play while on the leash, so as soon as I take off both their leashes he jumps on top of Ruekie.

In other news Stephanie's white blood cell counts have been a little low the past couple of weeks, not so low that anyone is worried yet, but low enough for them to remind us to call if she has a fever. We have also had a different Medical Oncologist the past couple of weeks, she's been very nice, and like Dr. Bienvenu is ready and willing to write whatever prescription we need. It must be something the teach at that practice. Stephanie is also a little anemic which explains why she has seldom ventured from bed the past couple of days. She looks pretty pathetic most of the time, and Dr. Pou says I'm the one with puppy dog eyes!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Am Worn Out

Yesterday, my mom, my brother, and I went shopping at Best Buy, Gap, Nine West, and Cabelas. I bought Warner a couple XBox games and a movie for his anniversary present (it doesn't even begin to compare to mine, but he was excited) and I bought a mouse for my mac. Gap was having a sale so I bought a cute little black dress and a tank top. Nine West let me down and didn't have anything; Cabelas however, delivered. I went to look at their selection of Keens (shoes) and they were running a sale on them! So, these shoes are usually 90 bucks and they were on sale for 60 and then they were on sale on top of that for an additional 25% off. ALSO, I did not have to pay state taxes on any of my purchases (just local). So, it was a successful shopping day!

Today, these crazy people showed up:

They are my first cousins once removed / Todd is my mom's cousin. Todd and Julie flew in from Dallas and are spending the night at my parents house. They came and spent the afternoon with Warner and I and we all went to Cabelas. We did a little bit of shopping  but mostly we walked around looking at the animals for this kiddo: 

When we got back Todd and Julie played some Guitar Hero with us and we all took some pictures together:

My smile still has not figured itself out. It's pretty pathetic looking. And here's a picture of my parents with Todd and Julie:

And just because she's so cute, here's another picture of Christina:

THEN, as they were leaving, my parents told me to go into the guest bedroom because they got me something. Here's the something they got me:

A sweet action telescope for finishing treatment!!!! I'm super excited about it and I'm racking my brain for the first place I want to use it! 

In other news, my mouth sores are multiplying (I woke up with two more this morning) and the mucus is still being produced at full capacity. I've started taking morphine for the ulcers and I'm hoping they go away soon because they are killing me ad I really want to eat and drink through my mouth again! I guess that's all I got! I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!!