Shrink shrank shrunk

As expected, the CT scan I had last week showed that all the tumors in my lungs are much smaller. My doctor asked all sorts of questions to determine if I've been experiencing any neuropathy, did a manual and visual exam to make sure I don't have any lumps or swelling where I shouldn't and carefully inspecting my fingernails (which aren't particularly more brittle than usual) and finally we spoke of future plans. Other than a few creepy crawly feelings across the top of my feet once in a while, which could be short hairs landing after a gentle descent from my still thinning breeze-catching coiffure and blowing away before I actually see them or could be the beginning of temporary nerve damage, I haven't noticed any nerve troubles so far. No palpable or visual troubles were found. Next week is Herceptin only and then the following three weeks will be more Herceptin and Taxol, another Herceptin-only week and then three more Herceptin-Taxol weeks before returning to the weekly Herceptin maintenance regime. He asked about my summer plans to see if any rearranging in the treatment plan might be needed and also let me know that he'll be away on the 23rd of August but that another competent oncologist would look at my pre-IV blood work and authorize the treatment for me.

I slept through the entire I.V. and had to splash my face with a little water to perk myself up for the train rides home. I was back before 3:00 and off to school to pick up some forms from City Hall for L's upcoming dental appointments. He had a few cavities according to the school dental exam so we'll take care of that over the summer.

J arrived home from Canton last night so we made pizza tonight to celebrate and let her have something that wasn't Asian for a change. The three of them are watching a DVD from a set of three that she bought for about 300 yen in Canton which has 140 Tom and Jerry cartoons in it. The disks have Chinese and English soundtracks and subtitles which can be selected accordingly. She had a great time with her classmate's relatives. Now she has to settle into the rhythm of summer in Tokyo, which is cooler than Canton but still hotter and more humid than I prefer.

J says that this was a royal bed...

Lion? Bulldog?


Summer is Here!

N and L have been falling asleep very early this week because of their strenuous playing and swimming every day. We spent a few hours at the elementary school summer festival to cool down yesterday evening but decided to skip the second evening there and relax at the city pool in the afternoon instead. I was careful to wear a swim tee-shirt and lots of sunscreen. We enjoyed cool and colorful shaved ice at a stand after our swim. L is getting a little heavy for the back of my bike, especially back up the big hill on our way home from the pool, but he's still not quite ready to ride his own bike outside of the local park just yet. N and L are looking forward to J's return on Monday, expecting souvenirs of course.


L's Day Out

With N busy all morning with softball and swimming, J and M away and S off teaching all morning, L decided he'd rather go with me to Tsukiji than sit around home alone until his afternoon swimming so he took the 6 a.m. train with me to Tsukiji. We had seats on both trains all the way and had a little time to go up to the 19th floor of NCC to enjoy the view before I started on my round of blood draws, a consultation, a CT scan, pre-payment of today's bill, shopping for more tea to go with our onigiri (rice balls) and the weekly Herceptin-Taxol IV. He was very curious about all the needles and got to watch all six stabs I got today.

It should have been 3 stabs; one for the blood draw, another for the CT scan contrast and then a final one for the IV. My veins were not cooperative today and the CT scan tech needed 2 tries and and so did the chemo room doctor and then we had to switch the treatment IV after the first Herceptin part as it was leaking outside of the vein which would have been a big problem if it had been the more caustic Taxol. I ended up letting the CT scan tech and the chemo room guy use my surgery side arm to save a few veins in the usual IV arm. This is a no-no in terms of lymphedema (swollen arm) prevention but I figure that the arm has survived without much lymphedema for two years and eight months my arms were covered with tufts of sterile cotton and clear tape by the time we finished.

L borrowed a DVD player and some DVDs from the reception desk and sat at the end of my bed to enjoy "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life" while I relaxed with my drip. He managed to eat his lunch and snacks without mashing too many crumbs into the sheets and only spent the final ten minutes spinning around and around on a nearby stool out of boredom.

We stopped by at a friend's house on the way back for coffee, conversation, creme brulee, and a book exchange. L was very glad to play with a friend and shyly impressed by the friend's pretty three year old sister. I was glad for a chance to do something social to break up the day. Very refreshing!

On the train on our way home, I heard someone call my name and looked up to see a former colleague sitting across the aisle from us. It was a pleasant surprise to see her after 14 years. She's still working at Sogo (my old company) and had heard of my ongoing treatments from Mrs. K., the boss' wife who came to Chofu for coffee and catching up last month. We re-exchanged phone numbers and said good-bye at Chofu Station where L and I got off to rush home to N.

N did a good job of holding the fort down this afternoon and was rewarded by the arrival of a child sized softball mitt from a kind and generous foreign wife friend in one of my Yahoo Groups (Thank you R). She did take a three hour nap after her morning exertions but it looks like she'll be ready for bed by 8:30 tonight, as will L.


Tsukiji Update

As I only had Herceptin last week, there was no need for a blood test this week to monitor my white blood cell content so instead of seeing my doctor for a pre-chemo check-up, I was supposed to just ask the nurse at the examination room reception area for my file and continue on up to the chemo room for my treatment. It always takes five to ten minutes for my file to be produced and the nurse to confirm that "yes I feel fine" and there have been no problems over the past week.

I was lightly snoozing in my chair near the reception desk when I heard a man's voice call my name. My doctor had brought the file out himself to tell me that he'd scheduled me for a CT scan at 10 a.m. next Tuesday and warn me to skip breakfast until after the scan. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Taxol is working. If the results are good, I won't hear about them until the next week's consultation but I expect he'll call if there is any bad news so we can re-group and plan the next strategy quickly. This is a month earlier than I expected to get a peek at my lungs.

I have energy today so I finished up some translating work, went swimming and did some shopping before logging in and frittering the afternoon away on the Internet. Class as usual tonight and then tomorrow I take M to Narita on the early morning bus for her flight to the States. Her suitcase is ready to go and we just need to find something appropriate to wear on the journey.


Precursor to Summer Vacation

We're in the middle of a very wet three day weekend before the last four days of school and then summer vacation. A friend is here and they're all playing well together.

I would enjoy summer vacation a little more if it were indeed a vacation. The kids are expected to go to school every day for the first two weeks for swimming lessons and the junior high schoolers are expected to go to club or team practice every day. They'll all have loads of homework to be turned in on the first day of school in September. N has signed up for the summer softball team at the elementary school and practice is every day from 6 to 8 a.m., before swimming. The tournament is on August 19th so she won't have practice the last two weeks of summer vacation.

M and J will have a few points taken off of their gym marks for not showing up for summer swimming as they will be making the most of some multi-cultural opportunities and won't be around at the required time. I hope black marks of non-participation won't affect their future prospects. (eyes rolling)

I'm wondering when we can fit in some quality summer fun. I'm sure we'll manage somehow and that I'll be glad when school starts again (mainly that I won't have to think about what to feed everybody for lunch everyday, even noodle lovers can tire of cold noodles).


Taxol Break

In order for me to continue to tolerate Taxol for as long as possible, I'll be taking a break after every three treatments. This week was my first break and I went in on Tuesday for Herceptin only instead of Herceptin and Taxol. I started early and finished early and was home again by lunchtime. I feel much more energy this week so I guess the Taxol was a little more taxing than I'd thought it would be, but tolerable. Last week and the week before I had to drag myself out to walk or get errands done but I could get out and around.

I felt great today so I went to the gym to swim a little. After I showered and stretched I noticed that the water level in the pool was down about a foot from the usual level. The usual little old ladies walking and swimming their laps splashed away as usual but all had to stop and laugh when big old Kathy stepped in and the water only came up to my hips (I was laughing too, thinking that my very presence raised the level a little for the rest of them). I managed to swim for forty minutes before heading off to the showers and bath. It looks like there will be some maintenance in August so I hope they fix whatever the problem is.

Then I tackled the huge pile of laundry and sorted out clothes for M to pack for her upcoming trip next week. I accomplished quite a lot and actually found the floor in the back room. Now I'd better stop writing and get some dinner on the table before going out for my Wednesday evening classes.


Hot and Humid

I appreciate the nice air conditioning all morning on Tuesdays these days. This morning I had an X-ray scheduled for 8:30 a.m. so I took the 6:30 train (before it got hot) and arrived at 7:30 to avoid the crowds and register for my pre-consultation blood tests and get the x-ray over with ASAP. I finished all the consultations and treatments by 1 p.m. and was home a little after 2. The x-ray showed that the Taxol has been shrinking the tumors a little.

Next week is my Taxol break and I'll only get Herceptin because taking a rest after every three treatments should keep me in shape enough to continue the Taxol longer. My scalp is feeling a little tingly and there is lots of hair on my pillow in the morning but I look no different in the mirror. The white hair seems to fall out first, I guess because it grows faster than the brown hair so the Taxol attacks the fast growing cells. I wonder if they should up the dosage to accommodate for all the Taxol that goes to my overabundance of hair... :-).

I think I'll try to get early appointments all summer so I can be home when the kids are home in the afternoons.