Saturday, July 16, 2005

July 16 - BLAST OFF!

It’s Saturday morning, the day after my last interferon injection. Happy treatment end, happy birthday, happy on with life! Am SOOO pleased to be finished with interferon. Had the usual headaches, myalgia, fever and weepiness last night, all somewhat alleviated by acetaminophen every four hours, all less important knowing that this was it. Although I am tired this morning, now it ends. Have my grande bold starbucks coffee, with a very berry scone (and butter). Listening to The Tragically Hip singing “Bobcaygeon”. I may keep up this pleasing little Saturday morning ritual developed during treatment.

It’s been an interesting week, with the vertigo. As always, there are things to be gained from new experiences. Sitting for ten minutes in the morning prior to standing up helps. Peppermint aromatherapy assists with the morning nausea. Have been shuttling into work and home on the hospital shuttle bus – Phil walks me to the shuttle stop in the morning on his way to the day camp where he is a counselor – we used to walk the same path when he was a small child and I took him to school. As I look up at the fifteen year old six foot three inch man beside me, sometimes I still see the little boy as we walk. As a large portion of my work involves fine motor, as opposed to gross motor, skills, the actual working is not too bad and I can find a comfortable position and get lots done. While I’m not able to do my much loved walks to and from work, after dinner Ron and I go for a little community walk instead, giving us special time together to walk and talk, time we so often skip for other things. Yoga has moved from the morning before work on the deck, to evening before sleep on the deck. Some of the postures have been necessarily deleted, or modified. Although I miss the morning sun salutation, lying in corpse pose after stretching, looking up at the stars in the night sky, has been one of the more calming, meditative experiences I’ve ever had.

There are some things that I’ve found extremely helpful for getting through the treatment. These things may not work for everyone:

Skin:
Face wash – Lush “Angels on Bare Skin”. Since my daughter-in-law Annikka gave me some Angels a couple of months ago, I have used it religiously and ALL of the rash has cleared. Thus, I use it on any rash that comes up, on face, or elsewhere.
Body wash – Lush “The Olive Branch”, or “Skinny Dip”. The smell of Skinny Dip makes me happy.
Body Lotion – mostly Lush “Dream Cream”, but also Aveeno “Stress Relief Moisturizing Lotion” and “Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion”.
Shaving – Aveeno “Therapeutic Shave Gel”
Sun Block – everyday, applied after shower, all over, minimum 30 SPF. Reapplied to sun-exposed areas later. Wearing a hat while out in the sun.

Mouth:
Brushing teeth at least three times daily with a “sensitive” toothpaste (I use “Sensodyne”). Flossing daily. Rinsing mouth with salt and warm water. I have developed thrush twice on treatment and was prescribed “Nystatin” antifungal oral drops, which worked.

Sleep:
Aromatherapy, utilizing lavender and vetiver essential oils sprinkled on my pillowcase, rotating the two oils every few days.

Nausea:
Peppermint aromatherapy. Eating small, frequent meals.

Pain (i.e. headache, myalgia, neuropathy):
Acetaminophen.

Infection:
During treatment, I developed a sinus infection requiring antibiotics for two weeks. As well, I snorted warm water and salt. If you think you may have any type of infection, please go and see your physician – at best, it will be nothing. However, if it needs treatment, one doesn’t want to leave an infection to go wild when one’s white cell count is compromised!

Hair:
I definitely use the Nioxin products, but found when used alone, they gave my hair the consistency of straw. So, I mix them with my regular hair products.
Shampoo – Nioxin “Bionutrient Cleanser” shampoo mixed with Lush “Big” shampoo.
Conditioner – Nioxin “Scalp Therapy” hair conditioner mixed with Lush “Veganese” conditioner.
Leave in treatment – Nioxin “Bionutrient Treatment” mixed with “Implexx 33” hair repair treatment.
Other hair care suggestions – cut it – my hair looks and is way healthier since cutting to chin level. Use a wide toothed comb to comb it out when wet, do not blow dry, or use heated styling products. I wear my husband’s, or son’s, nylon dew rag head wraps at night to stop my hair from rubbing on the pillowcase and coming out. An interesting look…

Brain:
Combo treatment makes me feel like someone has taken my brain and done some new and exciting research experiments with it. Have zero idea what the ultimate purpose of such experimentation is; haven’t had much choice but to endure it. Some things have helped (not necessarily in the order listed):
Yoga
Work, work and more work
Walking
Shiatsu massage
B-complex vitamins
Avoiding high stress emotionally charged situations (whenever possible)
Blogging
Personal mantras, for me: “Let it go”, and “I yam what I yam”.
Most importantly: a strong support system. Have no idea how this would have gone without the incredible support of my family and friends. It is because of them that this has been doable.

Interestingly, I had thought that I would be so excited to get back to “how I used to be”, after treatment. The truth is, I am not the same person any more. This experience has changed me. Not a bad thing. I am looking forward to getting on with “the person I have become”, hopefully wiser (hopefully virus-free!).

Sue

30 Comments:

Blogger peter said...

Congratulations on the last injection. The support system has been important to me, as well, in and post-treatment. So many of us seem to come out of this changed -- enjoy the time with your "new self."

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Surf said...

Sue

Congratulations on finishing your tx.

This Tuesday I will be doing injection #24, for me though, it is the halfway point with all remaining injection numbers going down from here. In one week I will be getting my 24 week PCR blood work done to see if the virus is gone.

This circle of life seems constant, one person finishes tx, another is at the halfway point and somewhere there is someone just starting either 24 or 48 weeks.

Good luck on the remainder of your journey.

Surf

6:25 PM  
Blogger Ron Metcalfe said...

Hi Sue
Last injection - can hardly believe it's that time all ready - although I have no doubt you can!

Your tenacity is an inspiration - you have gone through alot this past week, as well as in the previous weeks.

I too hope the person you have become is 'virus-free'. Convinced you are wiser, and I hope you feel that your journey with HepC has enrished your life in some way not just made you different than before.

All the best
Ron

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Eddie said...

Congratulations on finishing your tx. I truly hope you stay virus free !!
Best Regards
Eddie

5:52 AM  
Blogger SnoWav said...

Aloha Sue Your last shot must mean I am halfway cheers to us both.Now just the remaining riba for you.Looking foward to your post 2 weeks from now when you will have been free of chemicals for a week.Yes I am still on the high side of the riba road at 1400.peace out jeff

7:36 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Peter,

Thank you. I am very sure that the support of friends and family will continue to be important post tx. It is great to hear from you - I hope that you are okay, enjoying the summer with your wife (and the dog and cats!).

Sue

8:15 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Surf,

Thank you. Congratulations to you, for reaching the half-way mark.

I agree, there is an over-riding sense of a continuum, as each of us cycles through the various stages of dealing with this illness.

Having been through six months of combo, I have enormous respect for all of you who must complete a year. All best wishes for a smooth final half to your journey and for svr.

Sue

8:20 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Ron,

Thank you. Oh yes, I just can sooo believe that it is final injection time!

Ron, my life has been enriched by this process in ways that are numerous and difficult to fully articulate. Amazing how a chronic illness and having to go through chemotherapy can add new dimension and fullness to life, instead of tearing it apart.

I may be different, but am still me and, I like to think, new and improved me. Enriched, empowered and very humbled by this incredible experience.

Am thinking of you as you count down the final quarter. All best wishes,

Sue

8:26 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Eddie,

Terrific to hear from you! Thank you for your continued support through this, Eddie. All my best wishes are with you and your family, as you continue on your journey. I plan to keep blogging, at least to some extent. Please let me know how you are doing - I hope all is well.

Sue

8:35 AM  
Blogger lu said...

HI there Sue
BRILLIANTWONDERFULFANTASTICINCREDIBLEFABULOUSAWESOMEYOU'VEDONEIT!!!! Congratulations on reaching the end of this momentous journey! I am so pleased for you, you have been so brave throughout it all. I like your tips on getting through treatment. I am going to go into lush and try some products next time I'm in town as I still have a pesky rash on my arm. You can smell that shop a mile off!!

Sunny and hot here. Have planted some artichokes (my favourite) and have a flower on my aubergine plant - with any luck this will turn into a fruit! Will be continuing to garden til the end of my road in 7 more injections time, when I go on holiday hurray! You will be heading off soon too won't you?

I am sending you all of my best wishes and thoughts for the new and improved life ahead of you Sue, and thank you for always being such an inspiration.
Lu

8:51 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Aloha Jeff,

Yes, last shot for me, halfway mark for you. It has been pretty amazing to have had you going through this on the same time-line as mine. Very nice knowing that someone else is out there at the same point, doing the same week. Has given me alot of support, thank you.

Hope that you continue doing well - you are always an inspiration, Jeff, on high dose ribavirin and going strong 24/7. I believe that staying busy is one of the best ways to combat the treatment rough spots and you always set the example of how to do it well.

All my best wishes are with you as you continue through the final portion of the journey. Cheers!

Sue

8:58 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Lu,

Yes, the Lush store makes itself known for a fairly wide surrounding radius! I do love their products though and the Angels on Bare Skin wash has been seriously amazing for clearing my rash!

Thank you for your extremely sweet comments. It really does feel incredible knowing that next Friday night, there will not be an interferon shot. While I recognize that the effects of the medication will take some time to abate, they will do so starting now.

Cottaging coming up in two weeks. Spent large portion of yesterday on telephone with sister arranging how we're all getting up to the lake, whose kids are going with who, what we need to be taking. Preparation always exciting. Can't wait to get there. I know you have vacation planned for the end of your treatment too - believe it is an excellent way to celebrate!

Enjoy your time in the garden today. Sounds like its coming along very nicely! All my hopes and wishes are with you for a quick and easy final seven weeks.

Sue

9:12 AM  
Blogger MartinB said...

Hi Sue,
Congrats on making it, and thanks for all the support that you have given us all along the way!
Stay about a while and let us know how the recovery goes!
Best wishes,
Martin

12:44 PM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Martin,

Thank you so much. You are so well informed about the disease and treatment and I have learned a great deal from you! Your website is amazing and I am quick to recommend it to those seeking information on hcv and treatment.

I wish so much for you to achieve svr. Will continue to check to see how you're doing. Will update on how things go at this end. All the best,

Sue

1:36 PM  
Blogger jeremy said...

Well done - you got through to the last injection in exemplary fashion. Enjoy discovering the new and improved you. Inspirational.
Jeremy

5:10 AM  
Blogger Kerry Grace said...

Ahhhhhhh, enjoy that feeling of accomplishment! You have accomplished quite a lot with determination, honesty, grace, awareness, acceptance, kindness, compassion and hard work - just to name a few. I hope you will accept genuine thanks for how much you help and inspire others. (if you’re thinking of being modest, just look at all of your replies here - you have helped and encouraged us all!) I will imagine you at your cabin with a new enjoyment of family, nature and life through your "new and improved self". You have my best wishes for EVERYTHING (including staying virus-free!)

Kerry

10:04 AM  
Blogger ijaz ahmad said...

Hi Sue,

Congratulations on your 24th injection. thanks for you help for me. please continue bloging after the treatment.

With best wishes.

Ijaz

10:13 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you. I'm looking forward to moving on and realigning myself with "nontreatment" life, with refreshed perspective. As I mentioned to Ron, am in awe that so much that is positive can be obtained from something I had thought might be devastating.

I'll be following your blog and continue to hope that you have an easy treatment journey and svr.

Sue

7:11 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Sue,
You were there for me right from the start of my tx and it has been a privilege getting to know you.
Like you say, who would have thought being ill and on chemo could have such positive spin offs.
Glad you made it and managed to stay so positive throughout.

Paul.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Sue,
Congratulations. I estimate that you will have taken your last Ribavirin by now and this part is finally over. Now the healing can REALLY begin. I am glad to have had your company and inspiration over the past months and hope that you will continue letting us know how things are going for you.
My very best wishes for the future.
Wendy

7:36 AM  
Blogger nick said...

Think everyone's said it all already - but couldn't leave without adding congratulations - and thanks for all your comments and support so far.

Don't be a stranger!

10:00 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Kerry,

Thank you so much. I believe it is truly amazing how we all inspire and help eachother. I approached this with some wariness, warned of online negativity and bias. Instead, I've found warmth, compassion and support. Who knew that an international blogging community could be such a positive force?

You and Mike are in my thoughts and prayers.

Sue

8:12 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Ijaz,

I hope that you are feeling better and that your throat and cough are improved. Thank you for your comments. I do hope to continue blogging (although I'm taking a blog holiday this weekend - have too much planned now that I'm not stuck on the couch for the day!).

Am looking forward to following how all of the bloggers progress during and post treatment.

Sue

8:15 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Paul,

Great to hear from you! You have been there from the beginning for me, too. I truly hope that the final scope of your treatment treats you kindly. It seems as though you have amazing family support. For me, completing treatment brings with it absolutely phenomenal psychological impact - am definitely on a "high", just knowing that it's finished. Looking forward...

Sue

8:21 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Wendy,

You are so right. Took those last ribavirin capsules yesterday morning and thought "now we begin" - to heal. Seems almost unreal that it is Saturday and I am not exhausted and ill. Heading out for cafe au lait with a friend. Am reveling in it all.

Will be looking forward to soon hearing of your treatment end!

Sue

8:27 AM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Nick,

Yes, am overwhelmed here, but so very grateful for all of the support and caring offered by the blogging community. You and the others have been fundamental in allowing me to maintain a positive perspective during this process - thank you so much.

I look forward to hearing how your personal journey continues.

Sue

8:31 AM  
Blogger jane said...

Sue, I've been off-line for a bit due to computer problems, but I couldn't let your end of treatment pass by without thanking you for your support, your consistently positive outlook - and for your ability always to find the worst things uplifting rather than down-dragging. I admire and envy that gift.
So thanks for everything. I hope you keep blogging to tell us how you are, and best wishes for SVR.

11:55 AM  
Blogger misspoppy said...

Hi Sue,
I just wanted to add my good wishes and congratulations to the many lovely comments already posted.
How happy you must be now.
All the best for getting ahead with this new stage in your journey, much wiser and virus free.
Miss Poppy

7:42 PM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Dear Jane,

I so admire your stregth through adversity, as well as your great love for life and family. Thank you for your kind wishes - I hope the end of your treatment passes very quickly, with svr.

Sue

2:36 PM  
Blogger Sue, Toronto said...

Hi Miss Poppy,

Yes, am extremely happy to be finished with the pills and the injections! Hoping high energy returns soon (along with hair.... ).

Hope that you are feeling better and that you are able to start treatment August 4th feeling well and rested. All best wishes for your treatment journey.

Sue

2:41 PM  

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