Sorry for the MIA status. I have no excuse, other than summer is the “Peer Pressure” King of all seasons. Am I the only one who feels guilt if not sitting by the pool on a warm, sunny day? Anyways.
Tomorrow, I head in for infusion #10. Monday, I have the CT scan to measure where we are with pulmonary and tracheal disease. On October 3rd, I will visit the oncologist to learn what our next step is based upon those CT results. The hope is that things have continued to resolve and that would allow us to try infusions at six week intervals, instead of three week intervals. I spoke to a fellow warrior a few weeks back, at another clinic, and she was at twelve week intervals. How awesome would that be? No visits to the OR, and besides flushing the port every four weeks, infusion visits spacing out to twelve weeks….awesomesauce. While the days of post-infusion nausea appear to be over, the Avastin headache is real and I’m hopeful that if we can space things out more, I can stop that nightly dose of Tramadol. (Although, that dose of Tramadol at night does have the pleasant “unexpected” plus of reducing my night-time coughing.)
My last OR trip was December 2017. I’ve been scoped in office twice since then, with no disease present above or on “my larynx.” (I use air quotes as a reminder that my larynx looks more like an alien from a far away planet than an actual larynx.)
I get asked frequently how I am feeling. Most days, good. Some days, incredibly tired. I’ve always said that if I take a nap during the day, it must be the return of the plague. So many causes of fatigue, especially if a female in her early 50’s…..so it could just be the Armageddon raging between hormones a and b and c and d and e and f and so on….younger gals…get ready….it knocks you on your backside. That’s all the encouragement I have to offer.
Something I’ve noticed since I began going to the infusion clinic (head/neck oncology cases are infused on Wednesday and Friday), is that I’ve seen many come and go. I find myself desperately wanting to ask where they are now….did they complete their treatment cycle, did they end treatment, did they die? I especially want to ask about the grumpy former Marine guy. Some days, I cringed at some of the things he would say, but I find myself looking for him at each check-in. I see the same nurses each visit, the same front desk workers…..we’ve reached the point where we don’t even talk about medical things…it’s about summer trips, favorite foods, etc. I’m normally on campus about five hours total. A good bit of that is sit and wait. Some are there twice that amount of time. Some even go home on treatment.
I’ve tried to learn things while on this journey. Or at the very least, see things from a new perspective. I keep coming back to the fact disease, illness doesn’t care about your socio-economic status, what title you hold at work, your good deeds, your mistakes….every single person that I have met in the journey could be anyone of us. Just as I cannot make sense as to why I have this disease, I cannot make sense as to why those I have met have their disease. I hear the phrase, “I have been blessed with good health,” a lot. I’m not sure we can really say that. That implies that God favors one of us over the other, and that’s not His character. That phrase implies that I, at the age of five, did something that had God remove a blessing of good health from my life. It reminds me of the prosperity gospel, but used in health conversations. I digress.
So, back to infusions and paps. I haven’t had a papilloma dislodge in months now. I can still smell more than I have been able to smell in years. (This is a mixed praise….the mixed smells of a food court make me want to turn green and run to the nearest trash can.) I have never regained that amazing voice that I had for that period during the NIH trial. Just as we have no idea what brought it back, we have no answer as to why it hasn’t returned. Side effects, gosh I can sometimes be so tired. The Zofran and I have cooled our relationship, and that’s a good thing. The blood pressure settled into its new norm. Still high, but not let’s get this girl on medication serious. We all know the cause of the rise, and that allows some “leeway” in whether to treat it or not. As I said above, the Avastin headache is for real. It’s always in one spot. Thankfully, the nightly dose of Tramadol has brought the headache count way down. The port is still the best decision I have made this entire journey. The placement was awful, and I’m not sure I could do that again without being under general anesthesia. For any of you that receive regular infusions, I strongly encourage a port. For now, the insurance approvals for the drug are rolling in without an hiccups. I know how fortunate I am to have insurance that approves an off-label treatment. I do not take that lightly.
Now, I assume you are still wondering why I typed “Fuzzy Faces” in the title? Well, here’s the little “oops” we have been dealing with the past few weeks. Seems highly likely that I experienced TIA’s. One in Austin, one upon return from Austin. We are still in the “testing” phase, and I have two more weeks of the thirty day heart monitor, but so far nothing is jumping out. Neuro is leaning heart, so we shall see soon. You want to see an ER move…walk in and say your face feels numb on one side and that earlier in the week you lost your words and couldn’t recall words…and that your right hand went numb. Seriously, if you ever experience anything that could be a stroke, run to your closest “Stroke Certified” center. I was impressed and I don’t impress easily when it comes to medical anything. PS-Also, don’t be me and ignore the Austin symptoms. So, I’m a semi-robot walking around with this patch and hi-tech bluetooth talking thingy. I have trouble keeping up with my actual phone, so adding another “phone” into my daily life has been fun. Yes, it does give you little annoying messages if you go out of range from it. It also beeps very loudly at 1AM when the patch monitor dies and needs recharged.
Well, there ya go. The update. Exciting things in October though…some of us RRP folks are gathering in Atlanta, then there’s the AAO conference, then Kimmie will be traveling to DC to rep the RRP warriors at the 2018 NORD summit, followed by a trek west to celebrate the best Birdie in the entire universe. So, here’s to better treatments, a cure, discoveries to restore voices, and dismissal of resentment of being sick. (Yes, I’m human…some days I resent this disease like I resent frogs.)
#raredisease #NORD #NORDSUMMIT2018 #recurrentrespiratorypapilloma #avastin #health #laryngealpapilloma #HPV #gardasil #merck #genentech