Friday, January 29, 2016

Cancer news

Now for my cancer update. It's going great, honestly - my scans have all showed nothing new and my tumour markers have stayed pretty much steady. At my most recent oncology appointment this past Monday, my oncologist and I decided that I would see her every six months instead of every three just because everything is so stable. I'll see her next about two weeks after my scans in August, which will be around seven months or so instead of six but I think that will be fine. Of course if I notice anything unusual, I'll call for an appointment.

She said that my metastatic cancer is oligometastasis because just one organ (in this case one bone) is affected. They're starting to discover that people who have oligometastasis can receive curative treatment and live for many years after diagnosis.

I'm thrilled, of course! This is wonderful news. At the same time, I do feel sort of weird about it. I have a friend who is not doing well (they're talking about months instead of years left for her) and lots of other friends who also aren't doing well... along with a ton of other friends who have died. They're going through so much with treatments and whatnot and I'm just not going through all that. I feel like I don't fit in with people who have metastatic breast cancer because things are just going so well for me.

I've made a chart of my CA 15-3 tumour markers from the beginning; they're still oscillating in a fairly narrow range.

So there you have it; cancer-wise, things are awesome right now!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My eyes

Did I mention that I was seeing a new optometrist? My previous optometrist was fairly far away and was always, always running late. My new optometrist is much closer and is on time. Plus they do more tests there, including a visual field test and optical coherence tomography, a test that measures the retinal nerve fiber layer. I see my optometrist every six months in part because my prescription is so high.

One thing this optometrist has discovered is that my eye pressure (the technical term is intraocular pressure) is also high. On the automatic test, my eyes register a pressure of about 25 (12-22 is apparently normal), and on the manual test, my eyes register a pressure of about 22. My optometrist says that my eyes are deep-set and so they don't register properly on the automatic test, giving a higher-than-normal reading, but my eye pressure is still at the high end of normal during the manual test.

We've done the optical coherence tomography each of the three times I've been to this optometrist and the results have been unchanged in the year and a half. This is good: high eye pressure can mean glaucoma, but the retinal nerve fiber layer doesn't show any glaucoma. Therefore, my optometrist has diagnosed me with ocular hypertension (high eye pressure).

My optometrist and I talked it over and we've decided not to treat the ocular hypertension right now but to just watch it. I'll continue going in every six months and if the pressure gets any higher or the retinal nerve fiber layer shows any changes, we'll treat it then.

So that's two new things going on: my stomach issues (which flared up again last night and today) and this ocular hypertension. Lucky me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hello again

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?

I don't know why I haven't been writing here. Well, I was sick with stomach problems due to long-term Celebrex usage coupled with short-term Naproxen use. The Naproxen was a bad choice on my part but it worked so well to deal with pain and I'd been on the Celebrex for so long that I think I thought I was invulnerable to possible stomach damage. Stomach damage is, of course, a side effect of long-term Celebrex usage - it shows up in something like 25% of people who take Celebrex for a long time like I did.

So I had terrible stomach pain for quite some time. My family doctor put me on Dexilant, which helped somewhat, and later on Zantac, which helped a lot. Now my stomach feels all right most of the time - unless I eat too much or eat something too spicy.

After I went on Zantac, I somehow messed up my other medications and forgot to take my Cipralex (aka lexapro - an SSRI antidepressant). After maybe a month of not taking it, I started experiencing severe anxiety and depression. I had a hard time leaving the house because I became overwhelmed whenever there were people around. I found myself descending that spiral of depression, where I thought I was worthless and untalented and that every creative idea I had was pedestrian and uncreative and ugly.

It didn't help, either, that I was experiencing this terrible depression and anxiety just before the five-year anniversary date of my mom's suicide. I was a mess.

Fortunately, I went back on the antidepressant about a week before that anniversary date and started feeling better right away. It's taken a while to feel like myself again but I'm getting there now.

There's doctors appointments and whatnot to talk about - things are going well on that front, don't worry - but that'll be all for now.