Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sorry For The Delay

It's been a while since I posted an update about Nin's badassery.  Sorry not sorry.  We've been too busy partying hard in between chemo treatments to type words.  You're probably thinking, "How hard can you party after chemo?"  I'll let our camping/dance party in the dirt video answer that question for you.

Or as I'd say, along with everybody else, in a business email, "Sorry for the delay."

Nin has now completed 4 of her 12 rounds of chemo.  I actually don't know if the term "rounds" is correct.  As far as I know it could be called rounds, doses, acid trips, cycles, infusions, walk abouts, or gentrifications.  I don't think anybody really knows the correct term, and they probably never will. #Mysteries.

Overall, Nin has been doing pretty great.  She got a little greedy after this last dose, which was on a Wednesday, and thought she could attend a work retreat meeting/kayaking on the lake with co-workers day.  Not the best decision. She was worked the next day.

Besides exhaustion, exactly like the anti-drug commercial girl above, Nin has weathered the potential side effects very well.  We're still wrapping her wrists and ankles in ice packs during her chemo infusions of the drug "Taxol" or officially "Paclitaxel" for you medical nerds out there. 

This restricts blood flow, and thereby chemo drugs flowing through her veins, to her extremities. This will hopefully prevent neuropathy, which is the loss of feeling in the fingers and toes.

Obviously, she makes even this look glamorous. I'm afraid that people see her on social media and will think "Oh man, cancer treatment looks so fabulous, I want to try it."  We know it's tempting but don't do it.  Not worth it.

One small thing that has been bugging Nin is the tissue on her gums becoming sensitive and basically falling off.  It's not like she sheds her gum skin like a snake though.  Unless that's what you're imagining.  If you are, keep imagining that.  You do you.  Don't let anybody tell you who to be.

When Nin's gums first started to bother her, she thought it might just be a popcorn kernel stuck under her gum line.  Or "subgingivally" for you dental nerds.  Man, lots of nerds in the house tonight.  Sorry cool kids.

We all went to see "Nana", my mom who is a "gentle" hygienist (according to a little neighbor boy years ago), at work.  I'm not great with grammar or "Englishing" but I just used parentheses inside of a set of commas indicating a nonessential phrase.  Like this: "(___)".  I'm no Leo but I'm pretty sure that is the literary version of Inception.

Guys, I'm sorry. It's taken me four paragraphs to explain that Nin went to the Dentist. I'm out of control.

Make that five paragraphs. Nana didn't find any popcorn in Nin's gums but she gently scraped off some plaque while being very careful to not make Nin's gums bleed.

A lot of people don't understand why I'm so uptight about Nin doing something that could make her bleed, like cutting herself, falling down, or getting shot, as a few examples.  It's a condition called hemophilia...probably, and it is a result of the chemo drugs making some patient's bodies unable to clot blood.  Luckily that hasn't happened for Nin.  In some cases even small things could lead to Emergency Room visits like bleeding gums from brushing your teeth, nose bleeds, and even hang-nails that just can't stop, wont't stop, bleeding.

Another concern is anemia. Chemotherapy attacks and kills cancer cells but it also attacks red blood cells.  This lack of blood cells can cause fatigue and feeling cooler than normal. Nin couldn't get warm the other night and it wasn't even cold.  She bundled up like ET and I piled blankets on her until she warmed up.

Just another fun side effect.

Overall, Nin is killing it. She goes back in for another "gentrification" on Wednesday.  Keep the prayers coming that she continues to do well and doesn't feel tempted to be a bone head and go kayaking the day after.

On a final note of culinary inspiration, and in preparation for the new IT movie that we will absolutely never watch, this makes Nin laugh any time she sees it.  Because it's her.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Making Cancer Glamorous Since 2017

Look at this hot mama making cancer look glamorous!  All the cool kids are doing it.

It's been a couple weeks since I wrote an update about Nin, so learn from this guy and buckle up!

The last update post was right after Nin finished her final dose of her first heavy round of chemo.  At that point she was feeling pretty well.  She drank a ton of water before, during, and after chemo and was fortunate to forego most of the side effects that had laid her out the round before.  Those first few days after chemo were great.  She came home and slept 20 straight hours, you know, as one does.

Then she woke up feeling way better than she had after any of the previous three rounds.  It was a HUGE relief, especially compared to the round before.  I was absolutely dreading her waking up and feeling terrible but she snapped right up and got right back to it.  Like the boss she is.

A few days after her infusion a few side effects caught up to her.  Throughout the four doses there was a high chance of Nin getting bone pain from the Neulasta.  She lucked out for the most part on the first three rounds but unfortunately it caught up to her on the fourth and final dose of the first round.  She described it more as feeling as if the majority of her body was severely bruised.  This lasted a couple days and beat her down a bit but she handled like a champ, like she does.

The second weekend after that fourth dose we were able to spend some time at one of her favorite places on Earth, Bear Lake.  The weekend was filled with a lot of lake time, pool time, nap time, and game time.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Bubba dude was clearly having a good time at the pool with mommy!

We mostly stayed at the resort but we took a quick detour to Minnetonka Cave.

After Bear Lake (two weekends ago), we were dreading the next week. That's when Nin started her second cycle of chemo. We've learned that through this experience, that hardest thing to deal with is the unknown. Not knowing how Nin's body would react was a bit stressful. She received her first infusion last Thursday.  I had to go to Lake Tahoe for a work event from Tuesday to Thursday.  On Thursday morning during our final meeting, as Nin was on chemo, I was pretty anxious. I kept checking my phone, sat trying to pay attention but sat there fidgeting like I was waiting for a call from my favorite drug dealer to deliver some goods.  

One of the common side effects with her new cycle of chemo is an allergic reaction. They loaded her up with Benadryl and monitored her for rashes, hives, etc.  Nin's mom Julie kept me up to date and luckily she didn't suffer any allergic reactions. [Wipes brow]

The next, and more serious, side effect we are concerned about is neuropathy.  Neuropathy is essentially numbness of the extremities or loss of feeling in your fingers, toes, feet, and hands. You know when your hands get so cold that you can't grab or hold on to stuff? It's like that but can be permanent. For-eh-ver.

To combat the neuropathy we uses ice packs around her wrists and ankles which constricts her veins and restricts blood flow to her hands and feet. We used two ice machines that recirculate cold water around her feet, ice packs on her hands, and ice wraps around her wrists. It was a good look.


I'm happy to report that since her chemo infusion on Thursday, Nin is doing GREAT!  She is a little tired but didn't suffer the nausea, extreme exhaustion, blurry vision, or any of the other majorly crappy side effects.  If she can keep this up for the next 11 weeks, we'll all be happy campers.  It's been good to have her back with (a little) more energy.  Penny was so happy to have her mommy feeling great that she offered her a free hair styling. "But mommy doesn't have any hair.  I'll make it pretty though."

Everywhere we go, people come up to Nicole and tell her how brave she is.  Or we'll meet people in public who will recognize her from social media or the blog and introduce themselves and tell her how inspiring and brave she is.  Nin is always flattered by this but at the same time she just thinks that she isn't doing anything special.  From her point of view she just sees the day to day grind but what she doesn't see, that we all see, is that she is a beacon of inspiration, hope, and badassery.  We all see it from the outside but the amazing thing is that she doesn't realize how amazing she is because she isn't doing anything that isn't normal for her.  She's not putting on a show to be an inspiration, she just being Nin, which to me is even more inspirational.  She's not doing it to prove a point, she's not doing it for a social media appearance, she's not doing it to impress other people, she's doing it because she's a champ.  

Nin likes to end posts with inspirational quotes, so I'll leave one:

Be like Nin.