Chemo brain has thoroughly set in, so if this post is a bit stream of conscious, bear with me! My second round of chemo worked the opposite of my first. My first round, I felt off for the first 4-5 days, had some isolated nausea and other problems the first couple days, and then felt pretty much great until my next session after the fifth day or so (with the exception of a migraine that may not have even been related to chemo). This session, I started off feeling fairly well for the first 4-5 days and then things went down hill after that. I went back to work on Tuesday morning feeling fine, and was there for about an hour and then immediately got sick and stayed sick until this morning. My nausea went from being nonexistent prior to Tuesday, to being pretty steady until today. I’m really over having to discuss my nausea and bowel movement appearance at length, so I’ll spare the blog community from this.
Prior to my battle with nausea, I did have several really good days which I’m very thankful for. Rene and I did quite a few errands over the weekend and had a board game night with some other Army couples that live in the area and also commute to Fort Hood. My sister, Marisa, came to stay with me for my second chemo so it’s been extremely nice having her around to help out with things. We also went to church and took my in-laws out for a late Father’s Day meal on Sunday. They also gave us and set up a new grill for our 2 year anniversary (which was Monday!) Overall a great weekend, but I think I overdid it which lead to my rough week.
Adding to the problem is that a couple days after my second chemo, my less than 2 year old scottish terrier (Frasier) was diagnosed with mange. If anyone has never dealt with this (and I hope you don’t), it. is. awful. The poor thing is on more medications than I am. The vet put him on an anti-anxiety (3x/day), anti-itch (3x/day) and anti-biotic (1x/day). We also have to treat him with advantage multi once a week for two weeks, and also give him baths with a medicated shampoo 2x a week until it clears up. I’m not supposed to interact with the animals much at all due to risk of infection, so Rene & my sister have been bearing the brunt of it. I really sympathize since prior to chemo I itched all over for about 2 months. I’m really worried his immune system is suffering because he’s picked up on the cancer stress in the house, and it really makes me feel awful. It’s taken about a week, but luckily Frasier’s skin has cleared up quite a bit. The poor thing has several bald spots though, which brings me to the next topic: hair loss.
A few weeks ago I started my journey trying to find a wig and get TRICARE to pay for it. Luckily, due to the amazing ladies at P&H Services in Cedar Park, I was able to get TRICARE to pay for one wig. As I’ve mentioned on here before, TRICARE was a bit difficult. On their website it was pretty easy to figure out that they were supposed to pay for a one wig, one time for a cancer patient. When I called to ask about this, they said my primary care manager (PCM) needed to make the referral. They did not explain to who the referral needed to be made or where to go to find participating vendors. When my PCM called them to ask how to do that, they told her that she just needed to write me a prescription and I could take it into a medical supply shop. However, they did not give her a list of any participating medical supply shops. Through some lucky Googling, I found P&H Services and left a message on their online form basically saying, “Do you know how I can get TRICARE to cover a wig? Please help!” Luckily, they were able to liaise between TRICARE and my PCM and get the proper paperwork taken care of without my further involvement (Praise the lord!) Long story short, is that yes, to get TRICARE to pay for the wig your PCM does need to make a referral to the medical supply shop but it seems like you’re able to choose which one you go to. I’m just glad that I found one that knew what to do and could handle it without needing me to do anything else.
So I approached Operation Find a Wig very much like Operation Find a Wedding Dress. A couple of weeks ago I started my wig journey with my friend Megan. Megan is a friend of mine from Lafayette who also ended up in the Austin area around the same time I did. She’s also an aesthiology (skin care professional) and the first person I thought of to come with me to look for a wig. We tried on pretty much every wig at P&H and took pictures. I then sent the pics out to my close friends and family, but I really wasn’t ready to make a purchase until I had my mom with me. I also requested a few more wigs in different colors closer to my natural hair color as well. P&H offered to order these for me without charging me since they needed some new ones for inventory. Luckily my mom came into town on Sunday and we went wig shopping on Monday. I slept on it a night and ended up purchasing this one on Tuesday:
This wig worked well for me because its easy to part and my mom and husband were both comfortable with it because its similar to how I wore my hair in college. I had considered going curly or with a drastically different hair color, but in the end it was really important to me and my family that I looked like me. It came in at the perfect time, because my hair started falling out last weekend. Luckily, I was blessed with a head of thick hair, so it wasn’t immediately apparent. But I personally hated the constant falling out. And because my hair is so thick, it was pretty much constant and had the potential to drag out for a very long time. When I came home from work sick on Tuesday, I was ready to shave it. My mom and Rene took an extra day to be convinced, but on Wednesday evening we all agreed it was time.
(Pastor) Amy recommended I go see her friend Bethany at Super Cuts. This was even more perfect than Amy realized because Bethany told me that she shaved her head when her mom went through chemo 5 years ago. She really empathized with us and kept telling me how brave I was the whole time and that it was okay to cry if I needed to. Marisa took a video of the shaving process, but since I don’t want to pay WordPress to post it you can see it on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheLymphomaLetters.
As we headed out from Super Cuts Bethany told us that one of her other clients has paid for my hair cut and not to worry about it. One thing about cancer that I’ve noticed is that every time I’ve reached a really low moment, people always find a way to show me how wonderful they are. And God shows me that he’s still with me no matter what.