Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rest in Peace Aunt Marybeth

Monday my Aunt passed away.  She had pancreatic and liver cancer.  The past two months she has been hospitalized and this was expected, but not expected.  She leaves behind 2 beautiful daughters in high school.

She was the youngest of my father's siblings, the baby.  Not even 50 years old.  She is also the first in this generation to succumb to Lynch's deadly reach.  It just goes to show that no matter how proactive you are, sometimes, it still gets you.  A sobering thought.

There are so many fond memories I have of her.  When I was 15 she took me to my aunt's farm to start horseback riding again.  My love of horses blossomed from then on.  I rode for 3 years before going to college and not having the time to continue.  On those weekly Saturday excursions, she would let me drive her little red car.  It was a stick shift.  So I learned to drive before I was 16 on the rocky driveway into the farm and sometimes even on the open roads up there.  She was a great rider.

I remember going away for the annual ski trip with the family and my brother and I hitching a ride up with her and my then uncle.  So many great memories on those trips.

I remember going to the baby shower for her first baby, my cousin.

I remember the pool at her house and the dogs and the parties we had there.  I had my high school graduation party at her house.  It was a blast!

As I got older, I lost contact with her in the sense that we didn't see each other as often as we had.  But just like the others, I saw her at all the family gatherings.

And just this past October I was blessed to be able to spend a few days with her and my other aunt in Maine.  It is a few days I will never forget.

When I heard the news she had cancer in April, my heart broke.  But I never gave up hope that she would survive.  We are a strong family.  But sometimes, we survive by leaving this world.  She may be gone but she will never, ever be forgotten.  She is no longer in pain, no longer suffering, no longer wondering if and when she will get better.  She always had a smile on her face and love in her heart.  And until the day I join her, I will always remember that smiling face and the games she loved to play.

Rest now Aunt Marybeth.  We will always love you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Clinic Update

I had my 3 month clinic appointment yesterday.  I can't believe I survived 3 months without a call in there somewhere.

All my numbers are the same.  I was 1.09L on October 1st and yesterday I was 1.08L.  37% and holding. I will take it.  My weight was down another 1.5lbs but I am OK with that.  I am still 116 and that isn't a bad weight to be.  I'll worry if I hit 110 or lower.

I got the all clear to star full dose Orkambi in Tuesday.  I go away this weekend so I am waiting till I get back to start.  I should be fine but hey you never know.

Still no need to start insulin.  I had a few weeks where I was running high, even my fasting numbers, but then other weeks where my fasting was normal.  One day they were 66 when I got up!  Kinda low!  So long acting is out.  And my over 200s are not consistent enough to need insulin before meals.  So its keep monitoring and see how they are in 3 months again.  Easy enough.

That is all.  Boring life here lol.  But at least there are no crazy health issues in my life right now.

Friday, January 8, 2016

I want to be a bookseller

Last weekend P and I decided to take a drive.  It was New Year’s weekend and with three days off, he was starting to get bored and I was restless having everyone at home with me.  There were a few books I wanted to pick up so we decided to take a trip to our favorite used book store up in the Ipswich area.  We meandered up and when we pulled into the parking lot we saw the building was EMPTY!  The whole thing!  No used book store and no antiques shop below.  Just a sign saying they would be back after lunch…..no forwarding address, no we moved sign.  NOTHING.  I was (still am!) devastated!!!  We loved that place.  Not to mention finding a used book store that isn’t part of the Salvation Army or in Barnes and Noble is near impossible. 

As we drove away I had the very strong desire to open my own book store.  A quaint little shop here in our town where we would sell some new, old and maybe even rare books.  We could have a small little coffee station in the store and a lounge area to read.  Free wifi of course and I could bake some bread and make some jams to sell.  During the slow hours I could relax and crochet and read.  I wouldn’t have to have the store open 10am to 9pm like retailers; a reduced hour schedule like noon to 7pm would be perfect.  Maybe only a few days a week too.  I go have book club meetings and maybe even work with the library on things. 

I thought of it all.  I got totally wrapped up in it, even telling my mom she could move up here and work it with me. 

But it isn’t possible.  At least not right now. 

But WHY?

Am I just scared and using my health as an excuse?  Or would it really be a bad idea?  I love to read.  I would love to have my own shop.  I have the perfect location in mind.  I could find funding I am sure (grants for women owners seem to be a good place to start). 

But could I do it?  And should I do?  And will I do it?


Monday, October 12, 2015

How to get your 20g of fat to take with Orkambi

Tomorrow is the big day for me.  I am scheduled to start taking Orkambi.  And it got me ransacking my home looking for things that have 20g of fat in them to eat when I take the drug.  Which then got me thinking that I should compile a list of foods and beverages that someone can take or add on to things in order to reach the 20g goal.

This list is far from complete and I will gladly add on any suggestions!!!  Some of the information is taken from my house and some are taken from this website.

Junk Foods
Entenmans powdered mini donuts – 4 donuts = 12g
Oreo double stuffed – 2 cookies = 7g
Ice cream – ½ cup = 9g (varies based on flavor)
Potato chips – 1oz = 9-10g
Original Sun chips – 1oz = 6g
Cheese and crackers – 1oz = 7g
Chocolate pudding – ½ cup = 4.5g
Cheese puffs – 1oz = 10g
Beef Jerky – 1.5oz = 11g
Chocolate bar – 1.5oz = 13.5g
Chocolate chip cookies – 4 medium sized = 11g
French Fries – medium order = 24g
Healthy(ish) Snacks
Almonds – ½ cup = 24g
Cashews – ¼ cup = 14g
Sunflower seeds – 1oz = 14g
Peanuts – 1oz = 14g
Skippy creamy Peanut butter – 3 tablespoons = 24g
Nutri-grain bar = 3g
Quaker brand Granola – 1/3 cup = 2.5g
Trail mix – 1oz = 8g
Yoplait original yogurt – 1 container = 2g (Yoplait Light has 0g)
American cheese – 1 slice = 9g
Swiss cheese – 1 slice = 8g
Provolone cheese – 1 slice = 7g
Cottage cheese – 1 cup = 10g
Cream cheese – 1oz – 5g
Colby cheese – 1.5oz = 14g
Fruits and Veggies
Avocado – 1 cup = 21g
Coconut – 1 medium = 133g

Spaghetti’os with meatballs – 1 can = 12g
Prepared Kraft Mac and Cheese – 1 cup = 16g
Ground beef 85% - 3oz = 13g
Chicken – 1 cup = 19g
Pork loin – 1 cup = 12g
Sausage – 2.7oz = 20g
Duck – 1/2cup = 20g
Lamb ¼” fat – 3oz = 18g
Bacon – 5 slices = 16g
Hot dog no bun – 1 = 13g
2% milk – 1 cup = 5g
Whole milk – 1 cup = 8g
1% milk – 1 cup = 2.4g
Add on’s
Extra virgin olive oil – 1-1/2 tablespoons = 21g
Butter – 1 tablespoon = 11g
Sour cream – ½ cup = 12g

Ranch dip – ¼ cup = 8g

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Follow Up Appointment

Today I had my follow up appointment at MGH after my 2 weeks in house for IV antibiotics.  Today's appointment was actually my 3 month from last appointment but I squeezed in a sick visit and hospital stay lol.

All looked good.  My FEV1 was up to 1.09L 37% so back to baseline.  My weight was down another few pounds but I lost 3 pounds in the hospital and 2 pounds visiting my family which will all come back on once I get back into my routine here at home.

I got to meet with the endo and I LOVE HER.  So much better than the one at Children's who was a bitch to me.  She was super sweet and sat with me for close to an hour going over things.  I had a 3 month log for her to review and she said right now I don't need insulin but to keep an eye on highs.  We may throw a short acting one in before certain meals if I know it will cause me to spike and crash.  She also wants me to get a dexascan (bone density) done before my next appointment.  I swore I had one 6 months after my hysterectomy but it is only showing one right before.  And at that time I was slightly below normal for my density.  So she is also having me start on an estrogen patch to help with some issues and to be sure that my bones don't get too weak.

I am scheduled to start Orkambi on October 13th and I am scared!  Check out my guest post on the CFF blog to see why!  That and the side effects can be brutal the first few weeks.  I am not looking forward to them and hoping I don't get them.  But the side effects are shortness of breath and chest tightness which is my thing.

I got my flu shot today as well.  Hello sore arm for a week lol!

I was also told that my sputum culture showed MAC (Mycobacterium avium complex).  Right now I am not worried.  One positive does not mean I have MAC in there.  Especially since I feel good and I responded to the IV antibiotics, which would have done nothing for a MAC flare up.  So I gave another culture today and we will see what it grows.  Most likely it is a false positive which is very common for it.  But if I grow it again then we will have to reexamine what to do.  Since I feel good it could just be a monitoring thing.  Which would be way better than 12+ months of IV antibiotics!!!

Other than that things are going well.  I see transplant clinic tomorrow and they can tell me to come back in 6 months again.  I may see if I can do yearly.  Seems silly when I feel good to be there twice a year.  But who knows.....

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hospital Time!

I had a sick visit clinic appointment today.  Recently I have been more short of breath and have been having some lung pain.  And since I am supposed to be starting the new drug Orkambi soon, I wanted to be sure I was in tip top shape.  The first few weeks on it people can be more short of breath and tight and since that is normal for me, I don't want to make it any worse.

So Wednesday I will be going inpatient at MGH for the first time, for two weeks.  Then when I get out I can start Orkambi and see if it works on me!

Also, I did a 24 hour urine collection last month to see how my kidneys are functioning.  Well the place we used screwed everything up so I need to do it again.  Clinic tried so hard to understand the results with no luck.  And for some reason the place put down I only had 500 mLs of urine which is nothing when I know I had at least 2100 mLs since I looked before I dropped it off.  So I get to do that again tomorrow so I can bring it with me when I am admitted and then MGH can handle it.  He also mentioned that I might need to see a renal doctor after we get the results.  But we are going to give Tobra another try which I like because my lungs always respond very well to it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Guest Blog on the CFF

Guest blog post up on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's new blog!!!

My Decision to Stop Working

I will be doing another one in a few weeks about Orkambi.

Check it out, I was super excited to do it :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Game Changer

I have discussed this before, but now that reality is happening.  Orkambi has been approved and is available to those with DDF508 mutations.  ME.

Vertex' drug has been approved and my life could change.  Dramatically or barely noticeably.

So as I sit here thinking about what could happen I find myself floating in a sea of endless emotions.  I am excited I may be able to go back to work.  Excited I may be able to earn money again, and not just collect SSDI.  I may get the chance to grow old with my husband.  To see my niece and nephews graduate and get married and have babies of their own.  To watch my own step kids do these things.  I may get to experience all the things that old people experience.  The good and the bad.

So why am I feeling this barrage of emotions?  And why are there some not so happy ones mixed in there?

Because I have lived almost 35 years with this disease.  I have come to know my body, my progression, my health.  I know when I am a little out of sorts or a lot.  I know what to expect of it, most of the time.  I am pretty vanilla.

I have also lived my whole life expecting to die at any point.  That my life has a early expiration date that is gaining momentum as I age.  I have put aside thoughts of ever having to bury family members and never having to bury a husband.  Never seeing anyone get old and never having to worry about it for myself.

But this medication could change all that.  I don't know what to expect.  I do know to expect the unexpected.  I know I have to think about retirement, real retirement.  I have to think about old people diseases and aging.  I have to think about watching my parents age.  All these scary things that most people don't even consider because they are a part of a long life.  But I never thought about a long life.  Hell I thought I would be dead by 26 but here I am almost 35 and alive and kicking.

So what do I do now?  The answer is complicated.  I know I have to sit back and relax and see if I even get any help from Orkambi when I can get it.  And then I can start to think about the rest.  About growing old....with my husband.

Maybe I will be able to sit on the porch on rocking chairs and watch our grand-kids play in the yard...maybe, just maybe....

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Kidneys

My Kidneys....

I am not quite sure what is up with them.  Or if it is even them causing me issues.

Back in March I had a BAD UTI.  So bad I was peeing purple....yes PURPLE.  I should have taken a picture it was so weird!!!  Even the nurse and doctor commented they had never seen pee that color.  Fabulous.  I got an Rx for Bactrim and within 36 hours my pee was normal again.  I was on a study for colon cancer and contacted my study coordinator to let her know.  I thought this was my first UTI.  Turns out it was my NINTH.  I never knew about the other ones because they were discovered when I was inpatient and they cleared up with the IV antibiotics I was given for my lung infections.

So no one ever told me about them.  I had a feeling something was going on because each admission I would have to do 2-3 collections since the first and sometimes second would have microscopic blood in it.  But no one ever told me they were UTIs.  For 3 freaking years I have been having them!!!

Fast forward to my MGH appointment in June.  We had discussed doing a 24 hour urine collection to get an idea of how my kidneys are functioning especially since I am no longer taking IV Tobra.  So Monday I start the collection.  I had been feeling like I was getting a UTI since it felt a little funny to pee but I just ignored it.  Monday night, more blood in my urine.  So I am freaking out that I will have to re-do the dam collection again (I had done it on Thursday not realizing the place I had to drop it off was closed Friday!).  I called my CF clinic Tuesday and she said not a big deal it actually helps because then they can see what is going on better.  And then I called my PCP to go in and give a sample and get more Bactrim.

Now this is 2 UTIs in 5 months that have visible blood in them.  My thinking is that I am usually getting them but I go inpatient for IVs before the visible blood starts.  But now I am going on 6 months without an admission so my body isn't getting the drugs to combat them.  So I pee blood.  March's I have no idea what that was all about.

Hopefully the 24 hour collection will reveal something about what is up with these infections.  They are not fun at all.  And I cannot figure out a cause for them.  I just hope it isn't anything serious.  My mind is obviously thinking my kidneys are failing or I have UT cancer since that is part of Lynch.  But my fingers are crossed its something silly that can be fixed easily.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

One Year Post- Whipple

Today marks my one year since having the whipple done on my pancreas.

Last night I re-read all my previous blog posts prior to surgery.  I re-read how scared I was of not bouncing back.  How worried I was that it was cancer.  How necessary the surgery was if I were to ever have a transplant. I re-lived all those emotions last night.  It was quite the roller coaster even on this side of the ending.

Not much has changed in a year, besides my weight and the long scar I now have on my torso.  I am at my ideal weight (Mine not anyone else's) at 116 lbs.  But I had put on quite a few pounds before surgery to be sure I wouldn't fall too low.  I was 132 lbs going into the operating room.  Way more than I ever wanted to be or want to be again.

My health is doing great.  I still do not require insulin although my OGTT I had done recently still put me in the abnormal range.  So I am monitoring sugars for my appointment in October.  But I am not diabetic like we thought might happen.

I did not have any serious complications after surgery which to me is a miracle in itself! The stats for complications were ridiculous!  Besides some lingering nausea into the new year, I was complication and side effect free.  I have my appetite back and I can eat large meals again, which only took about 9 months to sort out.  My bowels have returned to normal too.

It is almost like surgery didn't happen.

Here are some photos to prove that it in fact did happen:

Getting changed into my gowns.  

Putting the IV in.  I can't look when it is inserted or I pass out!  

after the epidural.  Those things are awful but man do they take the pain away after!

post surgery when I was still out cold.  You can see my collection tubes on the left with liquid in them.  They were more annoying than anything.  I had to carry them every time I got up after I was mobile.  And they were sore.  And pulling them so I could go home was HORRIBLE.  I almost broke my mom's hand when they pulled them.  Fuckers were like 4 feet long (I have no idea how long they actually were but let me tell you they felt like they were a mile long)!  

1 week after surgery.  Scar looks pretty good here!  I was still bloated from everything.  You can see the vampire bite on the side of my abdomen.  That is where the two tubes were.  

You can really see the difference in my face with the weight I lost.  This was 11 days post surgery.  I had a really good day and felt great this day!  I remember it well.  It was a rare feeling those first few weeks.

This is my 6 weeks comparison photo I posted on Facebook.  

And this is me today.  My scar looks awesome. I am not embarrassed by it at all.  In fact I love showing it off.  Its something to be proud of.  I can say I survived the whipple.  Not that I wear skimpy clothes but I have a bikini I bought that I love to wear!!!  

Some previous Whipple posts: