Getting ready for radiation therapy

by Sunday, May 18th, 2014Breast Cancer26 comments

We were fortunate to have great weather for Easter. I loved being with both our families on that day. It’s always fun to watch the kids find the Easter eggs that the adults hide for them. This year at my mother-in-law’s house, Mark and our brother-in-law Kevin were in charge of hiding the eggs. I think I might have had more fun watching the two of them come up with tricky places to hide them.

While having a PICC line implanted in my arm, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do much, but surprisingly I was able to adjust quite well. I am glad that I was able to get out to be with family more frequently,  and also have visitors over. We had a great time with our nephew Erik, his girlfriend, and his little daughter Emma. It was a lot of fun to have her to ourselves. Sometimes at family functions, there are so many people around, and we don’t get to have the one-on-one time that I love to have with the little children in our lives. It is always nice to see each of their individual personalities, along with little traits of their parents. We spent a lot of time with Emma’s dad when he was her age, and I see some of the cute little things in her that he used to do. Times like this spent with family are, to me, truly the best part of my life.

First Communion: Carol and Amy Dibble, 1974, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha, WI
On Sunday, May 4th, we had two little girls in our family make their First Communion — our niece Katie, Mark’s sister Colette’s daughter, and our great niece Nadine, our oldest nephew Brad’s daughter. I remember when I had my First Communion and how proud my mother was. You can see it on her face in this picture. My mom is just so cute here. I love her so much and really miss her. I came across these photos just a few days before our nieces’ big day. It was fun to bring the photos along on Sunday to show the girls how excited I was on my First Communion day.
First Communion, Amy Dibble, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha, WI
First Communion: Amy Dibble, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kenosha WI
You all know I love to read, and I love my Kindle for the ease of carrying around my numerous books. I have signed up at a couple of websites that send out newsletters with offers on downloading free or very discounted books. One of them is BookBub. It was there that I found (for free!) this book, The Art of Trapeze, by Molly McCord. I have always had a love for Paris, and the cover of the book appealed to me. It’s about the author deciding to move, on her own, to Paris. How exciting, I thought! I was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with this book. It was funny, sad, and very inspiring. I had a great time reading it. I feel like it made me open up my mind a little more to what the future might hold, and to learn about my subconscious mind. I now have a few more of her books that I will be reading.

Another book that was just for fun reading was The Big, Not-So-Small, Curvy Girls Dating Agency, by Ava Catori. This one was silly and really made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

This past couple of weeks, it’s been fun to watch all of the birds migrating from the south back up north. I made sure to get our hummingbird feeder set up the last week in April, and already we have had at least two different hummingbirds (male & female), and maybe three at our feeder.

I also have been putting out oranges for the Baltimore Orioles. The only birds eating them at first were the House Finch couple making their nest in the bush outside our dining room window. That all changed last week when I came home from my walk to find a male oriole feeding at the oranges. It is so much fun having all the different birds visit our yard at this time of year.

Last week my visiting nurse phoned to say that she would be by on Sunday — Mother’s Day — to do another blood draw. The one she took the previous Tuesday showed my white blood cell count to be very low. The weeks prior showed that they had been trending low, and at this point, the doctors were starting to get concerned. So I canceled any plans we had for the weekend, and the nurse came on Sunday afternoon. She went to draw my blood, and for some reason, nothing came out. I started to worry, but she said this happens all the time. She had me do all sorts of acrobatics with my arm, hoping that something would work, but nothing did. So, as long as I had an appointment on Monday with the plastic surgeon, I decided to see if the lab at the hospital could get me in for a blood draw. We got in on Monday, they took my blood, and later I found out that my white blood cells are on their way back up. That was great news.

I am finished with my visits to my plastic surgeon for saline fills in my expanders. I am at the desired level, and won’t go back to my plastic surgeon until two months after radiation, so he can see how my skin is affected.

This past Thursday, I had my followup with the infectious disease doctor to see how my infection is healing, and if the antibiotics are working. My visiting nurse and the nurse in the infectious disease office both told me maybe I would be getting my PICC line pulled. That was news that I loved hearing. I just made sure not to get my hopes up.

When we got escorted into the exam room by two medical assistants, both of them said, “Looks like someone is having their PICC line pulled today!” Mark and I just looked at each other and I was so happy. The doctor came in and said yes, it looks like the drugs worked well and I had my choice: Did I want it removed today, or should my home nurse come by on Friday to remove it? I said, “Today, please.”

It feels so great now not having any tubes coming out of me and to finally have my freedom back. Now I don’t have to depend on Mark for changing my medicine, wrapping my arm with plastic wrap before I shower, or driving me around everywhere. I sort of feel like my old self again.

On Friday, we finally had my appointment with my radiologist to get me mapped for radiation. It was nice to be able to move to this point after it being put off for a while due to my second surgery.

The mapping procedure consists of getting my arms in the correct position over my head and fitting me into a type of beanbag mold. Then they mark my body with ink and tattoo various parts with little dots. The tattoo part wasn’t too bad until she had to do one right in the middle of my chest on the breastbone. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin! I don’t know if I could handle getting a tattoo on purpose.

The other difficult part was after having my arms over my head for 30 to 40 minutes. It was really hard to get them back down. I couldn’t do it. The two technicians had to help me with each arm. The good thing is, when I go back to actually have my sessions, I will only have to have my arms overhead for maybe 15 minutes at the most. I will begin my treatments right after Memorial Day and go for six weeks until just after the Fourth of July.

Thanks, everyone, for continuing to follow along with us.

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