I told you that we moved, right? Yes. We moved.
Goodbye sunny California. We lived there for 16 years. 2000 was a big year for us. My husband graduated business school in May of 2000, we got married in June of 2000. 3 weeks after the wedding, we drove across the country to the land of my dreams. See, my family took a huge vacation to California when I was seven and it stuck with me. I wanted so badly all my life to live there and finally in 2000, my dream came true. California was my home and I loved it.
It’s beautiful. Just a beautiful place full of beautiful people…many of whom are quirkier than me…which is saying a lot.
But it’s gotten really hot there. And the drought. And the traffic is crazy. And the expense. California is expensive.
And we moved… to Minnesota. Yes. Minnesota.
And we are doing ok. Mostly.
I’m a weirdo here. I’ve found a few of my people but my weirdness sticks out like a sore thumb. But I have decided not to change.
It is beautiful here. Winter was tough at the end because of all the grey. Everything was grey, especially the sunlight and it was difficult. I got depressed and didn’t even know it…until we took a trip back to California…AAAAAHHH! The golden sunlight healed my sad brain. Good stuff.
One of the worst parts of moving was finding all new doctors. I like to stick with what I know and if you remember, I had found and oncologist in SF that I loved so much. I considered keeping her and flying to SF for appointments. But that just isn’t realistic and if I did end up having a recurrence (bite your tongue!) commuting to SF from Minnesota would just be ridiculous.
So I put on my big girl pants and found a new oncologist. And I like her. She’s pretty good. One of the first things she did was order a bone density scan. Aromasin can sap the bones of calcium so it was a necessary check.
The dexascan was a no biggie. No dyes to inject. It didn’t take long and was fairly noninvasive. I just laid there while the machine scanned me.
And guess what?! I have moderate osteopenia. Blergh.
My bones are depleted. Not as much as a person with osteoperosis but enough to be noticeable on a scan.
My oncologist recommended Zometa. It’s a bone strengthener that has also shown promise in preventing a recurrence in the bones. I am to get it once every six months for the next two years.
But I had to get it as an infusion in the chemo room. Not so fun. Going back in that infusion room can be triggering. There is some trauma around that period in my life and the infusion room is not the funnest place.
My first oncologist had told us what a happy place the infusion room is. With everyone laughing and talking and reading magazines. Yeah… She was full of shit.
It is not a party. We’re all there getting filled with medicine that might save our lives but believe me, it’s no party. We’re all just trying to get through. Everyone is tired and sick and not very talkative. Except me. I’m always talkative.
My husband is still annoyed by the party depiction. He really believed her bullshit story so he’s a little bitter about the reality of the chemo room. “Some party”.
Anyhoo, we moved into our new house in October and about three days later, I had my first infusion of Zometa.
And it sucked. So bad. So very bad.
I got the lobster pinches I associate with Taxol. It felt like a lobster was randomly pinching me all over my body. It started out slowly. A pinch here. A pinch there and then it began to speed up until I was just one big continuous pinch.
Tylenol and Advil couldn’t touch it. The pain got pretty intense. I was also feeling really weak. It was not fun and it lasted a little over a week.
Every time I get really sick, I get a bit traumatized. I mean, it takes me right back to the days of chemo. But I got through it. It helped that I wouldn’t get the next dose for 6 months. I had time to forget about it.
But six months came and went quickly and here I was due for another round of crap. I talked to my oncologist about the intense pain I experienced last time. Her eyes got really big and she seemed flustered. She assured me that the next round would not be as bad as the first one but told me to speak with the nurses about making it easier.
Ok. I planned to do that but I am nothing if not proactive so I talked to my friend who has been through many rounds of Zometa. I reached out to her on Facebook… And here is what she told me.
1.Take Benadryl before the infusion.
2. Ask for the infusion to be on super slow drip so instead of it pouring in for 15 minutes, have them draw it out to 45 minutes.
3. Ask for fluids in the iv after the Zometa is finished.
I did all of these things. The nurse was very understanding and did everything I asked. She also offered to contact my oncologist but I explained that my oncologist knew about my pain and didn’t have much to offer and told me to talk to her.
I returned home and took a Claritin and then slept for four hours. I started taking Advil right away too.
My friend then commented that she took Prednisone on the first day and hey, what do you know, I have some of that! So after calling the nurse, I took 10 milligrams of that.
And you know what? It’s 24 hours later and I feel pretty good!
Oncology is interesting. My first oncologist knew her stuff and she was tough and really good at measuring doses and doing checkups but her nurse was the one who helped us through all the crazy side effects. My second oncologist was an arrogant butt head. My third oncologist was awesome and had excellent support staff but I never had any infusions with her. My new oncologist also seems to know what she is doing but acted like a deer in headlights when I brought up side effects. I had forgotten that side effects aren’t necessarily what oncologists deal with. You think the oncologist is the expert on everything but really, they are the ones who figure out the doses and medications and their support staff are the ones who get you through it all.
My best advice is to ask people like my friend what worked for them to get them through. Crowd source cancer treatment. Who would have thought?
Of course, you should also check with the professionals and don’t do anything dangerous or stupid.
Or maybe I feel ok because my oncologist was right after all. The first time was just the worst time and now it’s going to be smooth sailing. That would be awesome.