Drips

drip

You will be pleased to know I have been very diligent in the back exercise department.  Very diligent indeed.  I still cannot pick things up from floor easily but I am moving with far less discomfort and am no longer confined to the house.  Hurrah!

My first trip out was, of course, to the hospital.  It has been an age since last I was there.  This time, it was to yet another department.  I was in search of the Infusion Suite, for I had a date with Zolendronic Acid.  You are jealous.  I can tell.  I have concluded that this is the worst signposted hospital in the history of badly signposted hospitals.  As yet again, I had to resort to asking for help.  I did get there and it was eerily like being in the chemo unit: comfy chairs, pillows to support arms, lots of drip stands, lots of IV pumps, lots of off colour people sitting around.  But it was ok.

My biggest concern was my veins.  Blood needed to be taken as well as a cannula sited and it became a two stage procedure as while my veins will put out, they are stingy and delicate in the extreme.  However, a cannula was sited in the crook of my elbow and provided I barely breathed, it worked.  Two hours later, I was good to go.  When I saw Bones at the Osteoporosis Clinic on my last visit, she had warned me that I could expect up to a week of ‘flu like symptoms.  I have experienced nothing as severe as this.  So far, I have been a bit achey and a bit muzzy headed but that is all.  And the joy of not having awful stomach pains related to taking bisphosphonates means I will take this anytime.

I already have my next annual appointment, 12th February 2018 – nothing like being prepared 🙂

Osteoporosis Clinic

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Following my diagnosis of osteoporosis back in October, I started taking oral Bisphosphonates immediately.  This was a jolly good thing.  For two reasons: good for my bones; good for secondary cancer prevention.  Unfortunately it turned out to be a disaster for my gut.  I could not tolerate it at all.  First dose led to me crying ‘Huey’ and ‘Ralph’ into the giant white telephone for a fair part of the day.  Subsequent doses were not quite so catastrophic but pretty nasty gut rot followed so this line of administration was declared A Failure.  I had similar problems with the administration of Vitamin D and Calcium for I am indeed a Delicate Little Flower.  However, there at least, my GP has come up with a combo that works.  I take an effervescent calcium twice daily and some vitamin D once a month.  Marvellous.

Back to the Bisphosphonates.  I need them.  So in a bid to find an alternative way of administration, I was referred to the Osteoporosis Clinic where I found myself today.  It was actually a small miracle that I found myself there at all as the appointment letter failed to specify where the clinic was being held.  Funnily enough, I did not consider the Maternity Block a likely venue so it was last on my search list.  But we all know I am over efficient in the being early department, therefore I had time to scour the entire hospital and there it was.  I liked my consultant.  We shall call her Bones.  She did not look much like her Star Trek counterpart but wearing that uniform might have made her feel a little silly.

Bones has decided I am to have annual transfusions of Zoledronic acid which is the IV version of bisphosphonates.  It involves being hospital for a few hours and then the likelihood of a few days of flu like symptoms.  But once a year.  I can live with that.  Before I left I had to have blood taken to check my vitamin D levels are high enough, if not, extra treatment will be given.  When I waved my chemo burned veins at the child-phlebotomist (I swear she was not out of primary school), her eyes nearly filled with tears which did not make me feel hugely confident.  However, there was extremely good news on that front.  Whether it was a fluke, a one off, extreme skill or signs of recovery, blood was let at the first attempt with no difficulty whatsoever.  I rather wished I had had a lollipop in my handbag or a gold star with which to reward my young friend, who was giddy with her triumph.

All that remains is to wait for a transfusion date to arrive through the post.

Unexpected Joys

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Today I saw The Doc again.  This was a surprise.  I was not anticipating the pleasure of his company until October next year.  However, I have been having one or two issues … plain sailing was never going to be on the cards, was it?

Yesterday I rang the Breast Care Nurses as I wanted to check the procedure for changing the osteoporosis meds I am on.  Since taking them, I have been experiencing fairly constant indigestion and on one occasion, spent the day throwing up.  I am such a class act.  My GP is already on the case but I wanted to be certain that I would be referred to the same hospital.  In passing, I mentioned the pretty much constant back ache I have had since my diagnosis back in February when I slipped a couple of discs.

BC nurse: ‘I’m sorry?’

Me: ‘Erm, I’ve had backache since February …?’

BC nurse: ‘And you’ve not been scanned, have you?’

Me: ‘I had a DEXA scan.  But that’s not what you mean, is it?’

BC nurse: ‘No.  I think an appointment with The Doc would be wise.  Tomorrow?’

Me: ‘Wow.  Er, yes, fine.’

It is not exactly something you refuse, is it?  So today, I was back in clinic, sitting opposite the chemo unit, watching the time tick by, waiting once again.

As always, The Doc was lovely.  He has instructed my GP to refer me to the Osteoporosis clinic for six monthly injections (sub-cutaneous or IV, the jury seems to be out on that) and prescribed me variations on the vitamin D and calcium supplements I have to take.  I am being sent for an urgent MRI and bone scan.  Which means sometime in the next four weeks.  We will then reconvene to discuss the results.  He was alarmed by my backache which was disturbing.  ‘I’m 99% certain it’s my discs & osteoporosis,’ I said.  ‘Yes, yes,’ he mumbled in reply.

Neither of us mentioned the other possibility because no one wants to think about that.  So it sat there in the middle of the room, drawing attention to itself, like the embarrassing drunk at the party that no one wants to acknowledge.  Hopefully, by my next appointment, it will have sobered up and in the cold light of results, will have vanished like a distant hangover.

Lacy bones and new poisons

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My ‘Thank You for Poisoning Me’ card

This visit to The Doc I remembered to bring the card.  He roared with laughter.  Always good to start with belly laughs, I feel.

On the whole, the visit was not the best.  It is always lovely seeing The Doc but the news from my DEXA scan was not good.  I had suspected it might not be but it exceeded my expectations.  I have osteoporosis.  Oh goody.  I come from a long line of women with osteoporosis so it really should not have come as a surprise.  Quite why it did I am unsure.  Perhaps surprise is the wrong word.  It is too gentle.  Those of a delicate disposition may wish to close their eyes for a minute.  Basically, this news fucking floored me.  I fell apart.  Not on The Doc, you understand.  Oh no.  I was absolutely the perfectly poised patient capable of competently coping with even the most devastating news.  And let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, lacy bones are not the end of the world.  Driving home it was another matter.  I had not had a particularly good day up to that point already.  So driving home with tears coursing down my cheeks seemed like a good idea.  Not sure the other drivers agreed but what care I for that?!

To look at this in a Pollyanna-ish way, without breast cancer I would not have discovered this for some years, possibly until I fractured my spine or something equally unpleasant.  Also, it is treatable.  It means the bone sucking Letrozole will be administered alongside vitamin D and calcium supplements and I will be started on bisphosphonates.  This is good news in many ways.  Bisphophonates were recently linked to preventing secondary breast cancer in oestrogen receptor positive post menopausal women so obviously being automatically prescribed them is excellent.  They are the routine treatment for osteoporosis and both my mother and an aunt have been taking them for years.  Of course there is a downside.  They are notorious for causing gut irritation which should be interesting with my gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder but can be given IV if necessary.  What larks!

All of this is going to be administered and overseen by my GP rather than The Doc and to that end he has given me a handwritten letter for her and I am dismissed until October 2017 when I will be re-scanned and reviewed by him afterwards.  I shall miss our three weekly chats but it is progress.  And to that I cling.