Tuesday, March 9, 2010

He's there . . inside your mind

I went to the radiologist today with my chest burning from the pain. I have to keep the burns very wet slathered in cream, otherwise the skin tightens and pops and then I get rivulets of blood running down into my stomach. Verdict by my nurse practitioner, as the doc is useless. Postponement of radiation and chemo for another week. Happy, but not ecstatic about extending my treatment further into the future.

They look at my chest, gasp, say, “Oh my god,” and then they tell me that this is normal. I know it isn’t. 2 weeks of radiation postponement is NOT normal. You aren’t even supposed to miss a day. Luckily it is at the end, and I know for a fact that if I am this sore, then the radiation probably got any stray cells that were biding their time, waiting for the chemo to finish before they began multiplying again.

But on to fun things!

Carla took me out to see Phantom of the Opera. It was wonderful. We had a girl’s brunch with bottomless mimosas. I was so zonked on the vicodin that I could barely hold a conversation, and didn’t partake. Then we drove to Fair Park, where Phantom was being held and it was so magical. Carla got seats in row C. ROW C! I could see the actors so well, and it was a much different experience than seeing it from the balcony (not Box 5), where I have been every other time.

I came home and an hour later our friends popped by for the Oscars. It was a great group of moviephiles. Usually I go to an Oscar party and I can’t hear anything cause everyone is talking and no one actually cares. But this one EVERYONE cared! It was fabulous. We had a pot, filled out ballots, and Renata walked away with all our money.

I am desperately trying to catch up on homework since last week I was out because of my painkillers. But American Idol is on tonight . . . . so not sure how productive I am gonna be

Friday, March 5, 2010


It really does feel like someone has poured boiling oil all over my skin. There are several large patches, maybe the size of a deck of cards where my skin has pealed away and left very new raw skin open to the exposed air. It hurts so much I can't wear any clothes without pain, and I have to keep the blistered areas covered with burn cream.

When I took my cats to the vet today for their rabies vaccinations, Pistachio decided to climb my chest to avoid the anal thermometer (can't blame him!). It hurt, but I didn't realize how bad it was until this big blood rose bloomed on my chest from where his nails scratched my raw skin. So I got home, tried to continue functioning on 3 super Tylenol, but I had to give up and go to the big V to numb the pain. It almost makes me cry, and trust me, I haven't cried because of pain in, well, I don't know how long. Long time.

I have so much to study, but I have to be on vicodin the whole time, and I simply can't retain or memorize information on it. It is quite frustrating. It took me 3 hours just to get through 10 pages of stats. So I try to do Tylenol during the day, but the pain is unmerciful, and I just can't. So my studies are going down the toilet.

I have people here cleaning the house, because I hate doing housework when I fell perfectly well, let alone when everything burns and I want to hit people and break things to deal with this. And there is something just wonderful about having professionals clean your house. It is like getting someone who is really good at ironing to iron your shirts. They can do a better job in three minutes than you could ever do in like 20 minutes of ironing the same shirt. Luis thinks it is a waste of money, but the idea of mopping my floors, scrubbing toilets, cleaning the base boards, dusting on top of all the cabinets, fridges, sills, and everything makes my stomach turn.

Okay, I am blabbing right now. I have a million things to do on my to-do list, and no ability to concentrate on any of them, so I think I am going to work on my family tree :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Family Tree and Sucky Radiologists

I have become obsessed with my family tree. I don't know if it is the whole dying thing, but I really want to know where I fit in the the grand scheme of things. Getting down my family tree has been a really interesting and soothing way to place myself in history. I am using a great free online software called www.myheritage.com. I tried out several, and this was the most modern, most options and the easiest to use.

I have really only added my grandfather's side and I have 155 people so far going back 4 generations to Augustino Mecca, born in Italy in 1864. These Italians procreated like rabbits, which accounts for the amount of people with only four generations. And this is as far as it goes! We don't have much info passed that mid 1800's. So I think once I have everyone down, I might have to do some archive sleuthing! Fabulous excuse to go to Europe, don't you think?

Luis' family is going to be a madhouse, because even Luis mom doesn't remember birth dates for everyone because again, Catholic = lots of people and Puerto Rico = not the greatest record keeping. I guess that is what happens when you have 17 brothers and sisters;) Saving them until summer. Gonna get the American/Italians/German's down first.

Health Stuff

My blistering has caused my docs to postpone both my chemo and my radiation. ARG! But I need to heal, and trust me, it doesn't feel great, so I accept their opinion that I need to wait. I hate missing chemo when I take my pre-steroids because I just pumped by body full of really bad stuff for nothing.

I have learned a lot about radiologists during this month and I am not too impressed by my doctor so far.

Radiology is a GREAT field for doctors that suck at being people people. Their patient contact is minimal because the people that actually administer the radiation are the dosologist and the radiotherapists. I see the nurse practitioners every day, and they are wonderful, but my radiologist doesn't explain anything, and just checks my skin once a week for about 30 seconds.

So basically, since radiologists just see their patients once a week, they can make lots of money by serving patients in 3 or 4 clinics during the week, and going to one clinic each day. Most regular doctors work in 1, but radiologists can bounce from clinic to clinic, since their nurse practitioner, dosologist, and radiotherapists are doing all the work for them. Now, granted, the work is just running a computer program and the machine creates the gamma ray output, it doesn't take much skill, but radiology can be big money cause so many patients can be seen by one person. Here is a NYT article about it.

So this weekend, as most of you know from my griping, was pretty painful. I had radiotherapy on Monday, which was my last session for the entire chest area. I also had it Tuesday, which was the first of five treatments around the surgical scar. My radiologist who doesn't usually come into the radiation room, came in before my treatment on Tuesday to make sure that the radiation to the incision area was lined up. Therefore, he had to look at my chest, and he did, but only for about 15 seconds, and then he turned around and left without really saying anything (he nodded to the radiotherapist).

Tuesday is also the day that I see him at an appointment. I first see the nurse practitioner, who gasped, and said that we need to postpone treatment, that I needed to be on antibiotics until my wounds closed up, and that I needed burn cream, and needed all of this today. Then the radiologist waltzes in, she tells him my treatment plan, and he agrees. Which is fine, but HE SAW MY OOZY NASTY CHEST 15 minutes before that. Didn't that set off any alarm bells? Why did he let me get treated and then 15 minutes later say the damage was serious enough that I needed to take a week off? I don't think he looked at all, to be honest. He is just in his own world.

So lessons learned. 1) Make sure you see a radiologist that examines you BEFORE you get radiated, not after. 2) Make sure you get a radiologist that is a people person and actually enjoys patients 3) Make sure you get a radiologist that isn't jumping back and forth between 3 clinics and is super busy.

At first I though the Medicare regulation was too strict, and now I know it is necessary. The NYT article is really interesting. I hope you enjoy it.