Back to work tomorrow. Taking stock, setting goals

IMG_20140831_160736One body just over half a century old, most parts present apart from the appendix, a lymph node and a fair few marbles. Body work shows signs of wear and tear with laughter lines, wrinkles, stretch marks and scars, various. No tattoos, no piercings and not a lot of body hair at present.

Just over 2 weeks since I had my last of 6 cycles of CHOP chemotherapy to treat a type of ┬ánon Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I feel it is time to step back into my life. The majority of my pre chemo minor aches, pains, health niggles and itchy rash have gone. Not sure if that is due to 4 months of rest, huge doses of steroids or if they were symptoms of the cancer.

One of the lasting effects of the chemotherapy is some peripheral neuropathy, mainly in my finger tips. My sense of touch is reduced and it makes some fiddly jobs, like doing up little buttons even more awkward. I discovered I can’t pick up even quite big twigs with gardening gloves on and I find washing up tricky as things just slip from my grasp with or without gloves. Hopefully barbells won’t be a problem! Apparently the chemotherapy damages/destroys the body’s melanin so my skin will always be sensitive to skin cancer caused by exposure to sun. Cultivating the pale and interesting look will also help prevent my skin ageing any more than necessary.

Not too shabby, all things considered but needs work!

My consultant has warned me that I will not be back to full fitness for at least 4 months but will be 90% fit in 3 months, although I am not sure what the baseline is so with that in mind here are my health goals:

Long Term Goals – Health and Fitness

  • Great South Run 2015
  • Crossfit – Rx a WOD

Short Term Progression by December

  • Working out 4 to 5 times a week
  • Double Unders at least one
  • Singles unbroken for 100 reps
  • Box Jump
  • Start Interval Training
  • Assisted Pull Up
  • Keep a Training Log for Crossfit and running
  • Learn about pose running
  • Read Paleo Athlete
  • Whole30 in September
  • Maintain a paleo diet with an emphasis on not eating any added sugar

Baseline measurements 31 August 2014:

  • Height: 5′ 6″/168cm
  • Weight: 11st 10lb/74.4kg
  • BMI: 26.4 (overweight!)
  • Chest: 39 inches
  • Waist: 31 inches
  • Hips: 41 inches
  • Thighs: 24 inches
  • Biceps: 12.5 inches

I went to Boots and used the scales there and will have a weigh in again at the end of my September Whole30 although weight loss is not my reason for doing it. I am too vain or just not brave enough to post the before picture ………… yet.

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Day 10, 6 of 6. Feeling really well.

Woke up to brilliant sunshine after a great night’s sleep. Last injection yesterday, no more chemotherapy on the horizon and back to work in 10 days. It feels like the sky is the limit on how well I can feel as my health will not be knocked back by chemotherapy this time. Looking forward to cleaning up my diet by doing a Whole30 in September and returning to Crossfit. I only just got started with Crossfit and at the back of mind I knew that some time off for treatment would be required. At the time I didn’t expect the treatment to be so intense or for so long.

I think I will be having CT scans every 3 months for the next couple of years before my consultant will say I am in remission.

My next scan is scheduled for 12 September and I will get results when I see my consultant next on 24 September. This will be 6 weeks after my last chemo and I can come of the neutropenic diet. Bring on the homemade mayonnaise. I am going to make and eat a whole batch from the jar!

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6 of 6 last chemo today! Feeling really well.

I know it is the last one but can’t quite bring myself to celebrate just yet as I am dreading it. Not the procedure but the 10 days of feeling grim afterwards but it is the LAST one! Woo hoo!

It is strange to think that I will be back at work in three weeks. Saw the consultant yesterday and I can return to Crossfit when I feel I have the energy but need to avoid anything that could cause bruising for 6 weeks or so and build up slowly. Oh dear no box jumps for me then! I should be back to 90% fitness in 3 months and 100% in 4 months. I can stop the neutropenic diet 6 weeks today and I am looking forward to blue cheese, rare steak, runny yolks and most of all homemade mayonnaise. Maybe we should have a bbq to celebrate.

In other news the kittens had their pom poms removed and barely seem to have noticed. They weren’t even a little groggy afterwards and now that they can go outside again my plants may be spared.

My hair is noticeably growing back and so far the colour looks much the same but whiter I think. I know my father will be disappointed that it hasn’t grown back ginger and curly but in this case I am not ashamed to have let him down!

Day 10 cycle 5. Starting to feel better. Hair growing back!

No medication now for the next 11 days so will continue to feel better until the next and last (woop, woop!) chemo on 14 August. Part of me thinks ‘brilliant only one more to go’ whilst at the same time thinking ‘not another one surely this is enough’.

I am fairly sure my hair is starting to grow back! This has been confirmed by both my honest, sceptical friend and my husband. Slowly and if you haven’t seen me recently you probably won’t be able to tell.

Now for gratuitous pussy shot – Gilbert joining me for post breakfast nap yesterday.

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Day 2 Cycle 5 of 6. Apart from feeling wired from post breakfast steroids feel quite well.

Not necessarily in this order but good news on the CT scan results, weekend camping with beautiful people, being spoilt rotten by Pipp, having Si home, kittens and all the love and support from friends and family have made me feel truly blessed and very positive. I am sure that all these factors directly impact on my physical sense of well being.

A picture of Soxs enjoying a spot of camping as I realised I have not posted any dog pictures as she really doesn’t do anything.

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I have started to make serious plans for returning to work, getting back to Crossfit and have even felt it was worth while to buy new shoes. There was a period of time when I wondered if I would get the wear out of them. Not entirely in a morbid way but not knowing how long the treatment would take as obviously I am a lot less active at the moment than I am usually.

Beginning to refine my long term goals into some smaller bite size ones and I have realised most of them are Crossfit related! For those outside the community the Crossfit games are on at the moment and I have been watching some of the Masters, over 50s, events and feel inspired! If you haven’t watched any of the Crossfit games give it a try as it isn’t like any sport you have seen before. For one thing they have the fittest spectators ever! A clever techy type should put together some pictures comparing rugby and Crossfit crowds.

I want to record some thoughts of things that have helped me through chemo and set some goals down too. I will put these on my about pages though as I think that will be easier to edit with updates and will spare blog readers paleo/Crossfit induced narcolepsy.

My first goal is to actually do this! Maybe in a couple of days when my chemo brain is better. You have no idea how hard I have found it to order a pair of curtains for my bedroom. I have found a pair but I have little confidence in my ability to work out the mysterious secrets of measuring curtains and how these measurements are expressed. Why are the units still in inches? Why do some sellers give the width of one curtain and others for the pair? Why are some listed with a range of measurements for width and length for the same pair of curtains? Are these margins of error? What colour is Shiraz or Cyan? I have Googled these and many other questions and I am now so confused I will have to ask Pipp to check before I order.

CT Scan results – good news.

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Apparently lymph nodes under 10mm are acceptable so this is brilliant news! Will make the last couple of cycles much more bearable.

Consultant today. Chemo 5 of 6 tomorrow.

10487327_10152366582835528_8393497486170007786_n_kindlephoto-4874132 After ignoring the weather forecast we had a great weekend camping and apart from a bit of rain the weather was gorgeous. Feel fine so not looking forward to chemotherapy tomorrow and 10 days of feeling rubbish but the end is in sight now. I will get the results of my CT scan today and that should tell us how well the treatment is working. Everything crossed. I am confident the tumours have reduced as I can’t feel the lump in my throat at all but I am still a little nervous. Had a blood test yesterday in preparation for the chemo and ended up having blood taken from both arms as the nurse missed filling one of the tubes. Mainly my fault as we were chatting. She liked my hat and that got us started on charity shop bargains. Apparently Portsmouth charity shops are vastly superior to those in Kent.

Had a haircut last week! The little I had left looked wispy and patchy as if I was aiming for a comb over so Nick used the clippers to trim it to an eighth of an inch all over. In other hair news I still have some eyelashes although down to about 3 on my lower lids, my eyebrows are fading fast but I am optimistic they will stay, however faintly. Apart from that I am hairless from the knees up! It does feel a little unreasonable that I still have hair on my lower legs even if it does grow very slowly. I don’t even have nasal hair which feels weird and I apologise if this is too much information, when your nose runs there is nothing to slow the flow.

Kittens are growing at an incredible rate and George has started popping next door to see the neighbours. We still have a guest tortoise, Mojo, who has taken to wandering around the house. It takes him ages to haul himself over the step and into the kitchen but he does it most days. He likes to do a couple of circuits of the downstairs before settling down under the bureau. The kittens normally shadow him and seem totally aghast that he is in the house. They are both a little scared of the tortoises. We had to rescue Mojo when he got wedged between two of the sofas and another time he got stuck down the side of the fridge. Nick has built the pergola and we now have a shady space in the garden so I will be able to sit outside all day now.

Tired but OK. Halfway CT Scan.

It has been a while since my last blog as there doesn’t seem to be anything new to report. We, there are many people involved, have settled into the chemotherapy cycle routine and now we are just over halfway through the treatment.

The first 4 to 5 days involve huge amounts of drugs, anti nausea and steroids and I feel wired, nauseous and generally unwell. It is always a relief when this phase passes as it can feel endless at times and it is hard to stay positive as you know you will have to endure it all over again in a few weeks. The following 5 days the drug regime is limited to daily injections to boost my immune system, now that I no longer need to take daily anti gout medication. My immune system is at its lowest ebb from days 7 to 14 and I need to be extremely careful not to get an infection at this time. It normally coincides with wanting to sleep 19 hours a day. I have to eat a neutropenic diet during treatment similar to being pregnant so no rare steaks, soft or blue cheeses, eggs with runny yokes and worst of all no homemade mayonnaise as it contains raw eggs. Whimper! By day 12 or so I am almost normal with naps.

I had the midpoint CT Scan on Wednesday and will find out how successful the treatment has been in two weeks when I see my consultant next. It’s a bit like waiting for exam results but you can’t revise for it and however much work you put in you can’t affect the results! I feel that the chemo is working as I can no longer feel the lump in my throat and my lung capacity seems to have increased noticeably.

I have spoken to my consultant and Occupational Health and I am all set to return to work on 01 September! Seems strange to be even think about it with 2 cycles left but I need to get back work not just for the money but for my sanity too. After talking to Occ Health I feel really positive and I am looking forward to getting back to a normal routine. The plan is for a phased return over 8 weeks and will only be working a couple of days a week initially. I am hoping I will be able to use my annual leave to work a 4 day week after this time as apparently the fatigue could last for some time. I do appreciate how incredibly fortunate I am to have the support and benefits from my employment. Special thanks to my team leader for all his support and help.

In other news the kittens are growing really fast and are as entertaining and gorgeous as ever. Simon is home for the summer on Saturday and I am really looking forward to having him around.

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Chemotherapy 4 of 6 today. Sun is out and feeling well.

Feel back to my usual well self today but chemo later will put a stop to that for a week or two. Saw my consultant yesterday and my blood results were good, neuts 1.1 so fine for chemo to go ahead today. We also discussed returning to work and if treatment goes to plan I will be back on 01 September. I am really looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ and can’t wait to return to Crossfit. I have a CT scan next week and that will show how well the chemo has worked but won’t get the results until my next appointment in three weeks time.

 

Chemo week. Still tired.

As I have chemo on Thursday I will be going for a blood test today to ensure my blood counts are high enough for the treatment to proceed. It has been a bit touch and go previously but the series of injections I had a couple of weeks ago should prevent it being an issue this time. Tomorrow I see my consultant and then chemo on Thursday afternoon.

This week I will also change the sheets, stock up on food, do the laundry, vacuum and clean in preparation for being unfit post chemo. My wonderful and beautiful daughter is coming over to nurse me through the first couple of days and I am looking forward to being spoilt and spending time with Pipp.