Monday, May 31, 2010

What a wonderful weekend we had! Caitlin and her friend Valerie were here from Boise so I was spoiled. Caitlin and John made a delicious dinner on Saturday, marinated flank steak, Indian-spiced cucumber salad and German potato salad. I'm beginning to feel a bit like "Julie and Julia" but I am starving all of the time so I have to mention the food.

Next we went to Cabaret at the Civic Theatre. Both John and Caitlin are former performers so they had a lot to catch up on with the cast members after the marvelous show.

Sunday, Missy and Steve Garrett visited for brunch. Missy was Caitlin's nanny for 5 years. John made crepes which we stuffed with ham and cheese or cream cheese and huckleberry sauce. We chatted all afternoon until it was time for them to leave.

Much to my relief I do feel good this week and was able to enjoy all of the festivities. My scalp is sore as a boil though. John assures me there is no redness, and I understand this can precede hair loss. There were a few more long hairs on the pillow...

Thanks to all who commented. Congratulations to Kathy who finished her last Taxol. And Heidi, I'll remember the bananas next week.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Never would I have believed that I would feel so much better the day after chemotherapy than the day before. It all started Monday after some diarrhea, minimal, really. I became progressively weaker and unwilling to move around. There was no pain, no nausea, no fever, so what was going on? Then I had several bad nights of sleep. By yesterday morning I was pretty discouraged, especially since there was more chemotherapy due. But, a little lab work revealed that my potassium was low and I hadn't been drinking enough fluids. So They gave me what is called a potassium rider, then went ahead and put 2 liters (over 2 quarts) of salt water into my abdomen. This included the Taxol. Once again it was "turn, turn, turn." By the time the potassium was in I felt great. After leaving the hospital I tooled around town with John thoroughly enjoying myself.

Overall the treatment has gone so well that I will be able to eliminate at least one day of hospital stay during the next cycle.

Being at St. Joe's has allowed me to stay close to home and have nurses I have worked with for years take care of me. It is comfortable to see familiar faces every where. I am in good hands.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another posting by surrogate. Kay is lying in bed awaiting another intraperitoneal chemo infusion (into her abdomen). Then back on the rotisserie, turning every 15 minutes for two hours to distribute the medication throughout the abdomen. If things go well, back home tomorrow.

So far, we have been pleased by how well Kay is tolerating the procedures and drugs. But she gets really snockered from antinauseants, pain and sedative medication. And in spite of the excellent cooking (from friends and her "resident chef") she is loosing more weight than she expected. Fatigue is /was expected, but likely was worse due to low serum potassium noted this morning with her pre-infusion blood draw.

This will be the final dose for this cycle, then a week to rest. Caitlin (our daughter) is coming home this weekend which should be nice. Well, we should have a week to try to fatten Kay up some.....

Monday, May 24, 2010

I was hungry today!! My excellent chef made me French toast for breakfast, steak and sprout sandwich for lunch and wonderful asparagus risotto for dinner. It was nice to enjoy food again.

I had a followup x-ray today to make sure the air leak is gone. It is no longer causing symptoms so I assume it is. In fact, everything seems to be working well today, though I remain weak.

After dinner we walked around the block, then discovered some weed pulling that needed to be done. The exercise felt good on this beautiful spring evening.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Got out to do a little gardening and raking though I must admit that I did not last long. I'm pretty tired and my face is hot and red, probably from the decadron. That med ends tomorrow. I haven't needed pain meds today, nor anything for queasiness but my baseline nausea meds.

Great news! Caitlin and her friend Valerie will be driving up to visit on Memorial day. It will be great to see them. We hope to return the visit the next week, my "week off."

John made pea soup that was great and perfect for the state of my stomach. Much to my surprise, coffee hasn't appealed much yet. Sleep is good, except for heartburn last night. I look forward to feeling better day by day, with the support of family and friends. Then back for more chemo on Wednesday.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today has been a pretty good day. I threw the ball for Lola and did some watering. Then I took a short walk while John was biking. The two dogs are very calm and attentive, but, not surprisingly, still demanding at meal time.

Wednesday I remained comfortable until about 10 PM when I developed abdominal pain and nausea. Luckily the meds worked well and I did a lot of sleeping. The pain was pretty well gone in the morning but the nausea still nagging. No problem really with the huge number of treatments available. And NO VOMITING!!!

Frances and Jess visited last evening bearing some of Jess's great banana bread. I'm afraid I was still pretty groggy but overall feeling better. It was good to see them.

As the sun sets I am looking forward to an even better day tomorrow.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have had no apparent side effects from yesterday's taxol infusion. Right now I am lying on my right side, distributing today's chemotherapy to the right side of my abdomen. 45 minutes ago, 1 liter of warmed (body temperature) saline containing cis-platin was instilled into my abdomen through the IP (intra-peritoneal) port. Now I am turning every 15 minutes, like a pig on a spit, to help distribute the fluid throughout my abdomen.

Luckily, I have had no pain or nausea. We'll see how I do after I get off "the rotisserie".

Alarm just went off--turn again, only 1:15 more....

Home tomorrow, I hope.

Kay (transcribed by John)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


John and I drove to Spokane yesterday and arrived at Deaconess Hospital for placement of the intraperitoneal port. The anesthesiologist wasn't sure he wanted the procedure done under local anesthetic because it might cause too much pain to control. However, if I had general anesthetic there was a risk the air leak would return. He said he had no interest in "torturing" me so we agreed on local with sedation with the option to go general if I appeared to be uncomfortable. After discussing the maxim, "If a patient is in the medical profession she is bound to have a complication," I was taken to the operating room where the IP port was placed without a problem. So much for the maxim.

It IS true that the lining of the abdomen is more sensitive than the lining of the lungs. Thank goodness for hydrocodone.

The Saylers from Coeur d'Alene sent me a card about fighting "the bear." The black bear on the front is much cuter than a crab would be. I enjoyed the image of wrestling with cancer, so I was using it for a book mark. As I scooted from the gurney to the OR table the bear card fell from my bed clothes. So it remained with me during the procedure, safely placed in a baggie.

Off to St. Joe's today with a bag of books and magazines.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The pneumothorax is half the size it was on Friday and I feel correspondingly better. The PowerPort feels more like a part of me so I am ready for the next device. Tomorrow, John and I will head for Spokane where I will have an intraperitoneal port placed as an outpatient. If all goes well, we will return to Lewiston, John to home and I to St. Joe's to start the chemotherapy. I'll be there for 2 days, then home.

Still feeling a bit like I am playing hooky. I was treated to lunch today with Missy and had a great time. Still anxious to get started; I guess the time is finally here.


Friday, May 14, 2010

It's been quite a week. My Purple Power Port (it really is purple) went in Wednesday. This is a catheter that goes into a large vein in my chest and allows medications and IV fluids to go in without my having to have the veins in my hands and arms repeatedly poked. Definitely a blessing. However, I did have a small complication. Air leaked from my lung into the space around my lung causing chest pain. This is called a pneumothorax and sometimes requires a chest tube to clear. Luckily the amount of air was relatively small and seems to be clearing on its own. I'll know more after I get the results of today's chest x-ray. Of note, the BLUE color of the antiseptic painted on my chest.

So, instead of driving to Spokane on Thursday morning for another port placement, I visited the emergency department. Luckily it was an air leak and not a blood clot. On that positive note, I went to coffee with John and friends at the Sage Bakery, a luxury for me, and one that makes me feel like I am on vacation.

Placement of the port that will allow chemotherapeutic meds to be put in my abdomen has been rescheduled for next Tuesday in Spokane. That evening I'll enter St. Joe's Hospital for the first chemotherapy. If there are no more unscheduled events!

Friends and family have been so supportive; I am overwhelmed. Thank you to everyone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One week in early April I considered myself healthy and happy, a busy Family physician with a legislator husband and an adult daughter working in Boise. After 5 days of leg swelling followed by a doctor's visit and several tests I became a patient with advanced ovarian cancer. Within another week I was in Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane having a 17 cm mass removed from my pelvis. Now I am recovering from the operation and anxious to move on to the next step.

There is an advantage to being both a physician and a patient. I understand the process, the expected order of events. Furthermore, I know and am friends with the doctors who will be taking care of me. Most of my patients faced with a similar diagnosis are not so lucky, the process is confusing and frightening, the physicians unfamiliar.

So my biggest adjustment has been becoming a cancer patient, being the one in the ultrasound or CT scan, the one in the waiting room and the one waiting for the doctor in the exam room. Or waiting for the nurse to call back with a response to my question.

And for the first time in 33 years I am not practicing medicine.