Just paranoia? Nope. Just a ‘fluid pocket’? Nope.

More gross stuff.

I was in pain this morning, and it was very similar to when I had an abscess after my first chemo. Thinking I was just being paranoid, I called my GI surgeon. They got me right in this afternoon. The doctor thought at first it was just a little fluid and offered an aggressive option of in-office draining, or sending me home with preventative antibiotics and hoping it would resolve.

I decided to have it drained, which involved some lidocaine at first. The doctor kept exclaiming how much fluid came out (“it took an entire pack of 4×4 gauze to absorb it!”) and also declared it to be a bigger infection than initially suspected. So. It was good that we drained it. It being, apparently, another full blown abscess. Oh yeah, the lidocaine wore off partway through the procedure. Some previous genetic testing had revealed I am a fast metabolizer of pain medicine, and if there is a “next time,” I am to receive a lot more lidocaine. Great. Makes me think back to all the pain I experienced during my biopsies during my cancer diagnosis.

I can’t have this fistula repaired until I’m long done with chemo (I had my last treatment Dec. 19, but the side effects are still raging). Still, I have had considerable fatigue the last few days, and I am kind of relieved to know that this infection likely played a considerable role. Because honestly, the fatigue level was starting to make me angry and frustrated.

Best news of all this: I can still ride my horse whenever I want. Special thanks to Ms. NH for riding Lucky Alex tonight — he needs to stay fit as we get ready for the new show season! Because this evening, I’m going to pop a couple percocet and get some rest.

I’m seriously fed up with medical stuff. I need a vacation. Except I have to go to Duke like every month in 2015 for my next phase of breast cancer treatment, and I will need to have this fistula addressed (outpatient surgery), and I have to have my benign adrenal mass investigated (also at Duke). I have 3 medical appointments in the first 5 weeks of 2015. But then I think of my breast cancer sisters who are doing more chemo than me, and/or 6 weeks of daily radiation treatment. And I know I am fortunate. I have a great treatment plan, a great medical team, and I am in pretty darn good physical shape (getting ready to move up a division in jumping — aka bigger jumps! — and could return to the show ring either this month or next month). My fear was that I would be an atrophied, nearly bed-ridden exhausted and disfigured mess at this time. And I’m not even close to that.

But seriously, I am tired of all this literal pain in the ass medical BS. Given that I have relinquished every one of my vices, including wine, I think I have totally earned my oncoming opiode high. Bring on the Percocet.

Abscess paranoia continues

In the exam room at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital waiting to see my GI surgeon’s resident since I have a tiny mild fever and increasing pain symptomatic of another abscess. Or symptomatic of paranoia. I have been exhausted lately. Sure, I had my last chemo Dec. 19, but I will continue to feel sick for another couple months at least. I’m kind of fed up.

Will post updates. They told me not to eat (too late), so maybe I’ll be having some scans.

All done with chemo!

Chemo #4 is all done! So glad I only had to do 4. Now just a few weeks of awful side effects. I should be feeling much better within 2 months and most of the chemo will be out of my system in 6 months.

I’ll be back at Duke a lot in the coming months as I start my next treatment phase: hormone therapy and induced menopause for 5+ years. More on that later.

Chemo #4 Live Blog: Good Morning!

Good morning! I have my last chemo today. My friend Madelyn is taking me. AND she went shopping last night to pack our food for the day, so I could have one last jumping lesson on my horse before the major fatigue and bone pain set in.


‘Are we done yet, Mom? Can I have a cookie now? Look at me doing my neck stretch all by myself.’


The morning wake up crew. Who needs to shower when Miss Violet is on duty?


Angelic interventions

I was having a lousy day yesterday. Lots of tears. And when I got home, my mother had sent me a tower of candy and treats, like yogurt-covered pretzels, so that my wild taste buds can have their pick.

From my mom

From my mom

At work this morning, I was dreading coming in and continuing to deal with the aftermath of the mistake I made recently and discovered yesterday. I was greeted by this message:

On my screen when I arrived at work this morning

On my screen when I arrived at work this morning

But then another angel named Kay brought me a full meal, carefully planned and lovingly made to even be a hit with my step-kids. Chicken and broccoli, rice, muffins with cheese, ham and broccoli, and cranberries and apples. The containers are so nice that I was shocked when she said she got them at the dollar store, and then just so touched at all of the detailed efforts.

I received so many messages in response to my post last night. Thank you for those. And to those of you who have constantly kept me in your fold — the Ms, my family, S at Irish Oaks who seems to have to be constantly doing something for my horse these days as he tries to injure himself or get up to some kind of silliness. Thank you.

When I am done with my cancer treatment, I know I will have an entirely different approach when other families have crises. This I vow.


One touching message in response to last night’s post:

“Working with complex data is hard enough…AND you are doing it while in chemo?

Tons (Gigabytes!) of Respect!

Good luck with the last chemo… It seems like you should add one “appointment” in your calendar (was just reading your latest post), and it’d better be a long one:
“A break”.

Take care :-)

Wearing me down

I just stayed late at work to try to remedy a major mistake I made. I know that I am only human – chemo or not – and mistakes happen, but I also know I’m just not as sharp as I used to be. I work with huge amounts of complex data and I really have tried to implement a way of triple checking my work since starting chemo. But I failed miserably recently. It just makes me so much more frustrated with what seems my never-ending treatment. I’m also worn down because I have been having trouble with getting winded easily lately — even just going up the stairs. And while I do not have an abscess, the situation never fully healed and I have some bleeding from the site now on a regular basis which is just gross.

I feel tired and dull most of the time.

I’ve gained about 5-8 pounds.

I’m sick of wearing head scarves.

I’m super stressed out.

I lose my temper all too easily.

I’m afraid of transitioning back to life when chemo ends. I feel like I will have trouble getting out of battle mode. (I am so tense!! You don’t just flip a switch and turn it off!)

I’m afraid of what I will be like when we induce menopause for 5 years as my next phase of treatment. Irritable? Weight gain? Other more delicate changes?

And I’m afraid the cancer will come back and come back quickly, like it did for my grandmother.

Last chemo is on Friday.