Lots of great updates today!
Withdrawal and Recovery
It has been about 3 weeks since my last interferon treatment, and I feel AMAZING. For the last year, I got so used to being tired and achey that I didn’t realize how bad I felt every day, even on my non-treatment days. Now that the chemicals are out of my body, it’s hard to describe how incredible I feel. More about that later.
Back up about a week, and I did not feel this way. The day before Thanksgiving, I suddenly had a horrible headache, plus my joints began to ache. By the afternoon, my right wrist hurt so badly that I thought I had a pinched nerve. I couldn’t grasp anything without shooting pain.
At first I didn’t make any connection between my symptoms and withdrawal from interferon. However, after taking a nap and trying to get the headache under control, I realized it had been two full weeks since my last treatment. I wondered if this could possibly be related.
To be honest, I couldn’t find any reliable medical websites that listed withdrawal symptoms of interferon. However, several message boards for cancer patients had posts from fellow melanoma survivors that have experienced the exact same thing as me. Horrible headaches and arthritis-like pain. The good news: for most of them, it went away in a couple of days.
My headache lasted about a day, and the wrist pain and general body aches lasted only a couple of days. So, I was able to thoroughly enjoy my time with the most precious little girls on the planet!!
Now, with another week under my belt since those withdrawal symptoms, I am feeling about 500% better. I’m actually having trouble sleeping through the night, because I’m waking up extremely early feeling totally rested. It’s like my body knows that it doesn’t have to work so hard to recover anymore.
I am so grateful to be done, and I never want to do this again. Thank you to all of you who helped me through the last year!!
Surgery #5: Port Removal
My port was removed today! If each month of the last year was a chapter of a book, today was a short epilogue. After getting my IV inserted (my veins did not cooperate, and it took multiple failed attempts in my hand before finally getting it to work near my elbow), I had short meetings with the anesthesiologist and the surgeon before being wheeled to the operating room. The best surprise of the day? One of the nurses in the OR was a sweet friend from my student days at AU (It was SO good to see you, Abby!). I knew I was in great hands as the drugs made me fuzzy and eventually knocked me out.
Before the surgery, my doctor noted that he was not pleased with how my port scar had healed. It is puffy and wide, likely because I began treatment just two days after getting the port. Rather than giving the incision a couple of weeks to heal, the steri-strips were pulled off just two days later and large needles were inserted. It makes sense that the incision did not heal well.
So, after removing the port, he also cut away all of the visible scar and “started over” as he put it. I haven’t seen the new scar yet, as it will be bandaged until Sunday. He expects the steri-strips to stay on for 2-3 weeks. After that, I should have a much thinner scar. (My original scar didn’t bother me at all, but it was nice of the surgeon to want to make it better).
The port removal and scar restructuring only took about 10 minutes. I woke up as they were finishing, but I didn’t feel any pain. The whole gang in the room was so fun, and we were laughing right up until the surgery started and laughing again soon after I woke up. I know I have said this a million times, but the folks at Community Hospital Anderson (and Community North) are just the absolute best.
Dec. 9 – Last monthly oncology appointment. If all goes well, I get to move to meeting with Dr. Reddy once every 3 months. We are in the home stretch, people!