Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blood Clots #3 I feel like a pin cushion!

Dear friends,

I am grabbing a few minutes to give you an update. The short version is that there seems to be no reason for me getting blood clots in my calves that the doctors can discern. My thought that the medication I am on was causing it fell through when my oncologist told me that Femara hardly ever has that as a side effect. My naturopath said that maybe I am one of those 2 in a hundred that does get that side effect. So 8 tubes of blood were drawn and some testing is being done. I will find out the results in about 2 weeks.

I figured out that I have been poked 28 times in the last 10 days. I have been going to the anticoagulation clinic daily to have my Coumadin levels checked. Until my number was over 2.0, I had to give myself shots of Lovenox in my stomach 2 times a day. It is a faster acting anticoagulation med. That was so PAINFUL! The needle wasn’t too bad, but the medicine itself felt like a punch in the stomach. Then it hurt less after about 20 minutes. In general, my stomach is just sore with purple bruises at most of the shot sights, and I have been having flashbacks to chemo fatigue days. I am very tired

The Coumadin finally went from 1.9 to 3.7 on Wednesday night, so I was allowed to stop doing the shots. I am doing various amounts of Coumadin every night as they try to get my levels regulated. My legs are sore, but the compression stockings actually feel pretty good.

One thing that could cause all this is cancer. So they are scheduling me for an MRI and a CT to make sure things are OK in there. That should happen in the next few weeks. One other thing to pray about is that my white count went from 6.6 to 2.9 in 2 days when I began these meds. Five days later it was down to 2.5. They don’t know why this is happening either. My fertile imagination has me remembering those painful Neupogen shots I had to do during chemo for a low white count, so pray that I don’t have to do that. My oncologist is watching my levels pretty closely.

I am teaching 4 evenings this week at a Christian camp- missions to college freshmen in a leadership program. We have been preparing for months and are planning to go ahead. I also have a 3-5 minute skit for missions at VBS each morning this week and in between I plan to SLEEP! Tomorrow morning I have to be at the Anticoag. Clinic at 8:10, and then over to VBS by 8:30ish. We will drive back from camp tonight as it is only 35 minutes. We might stay there some of the other nights.

I so appreciate your love and prayers. Here we go again! Blessings on your day! Nancy

Monday, June 16, 2008

Clots are complicated!

I found out last Thursday morning that I have two DVT’s (deep vein thrombosis) – one in each calf. The one on the left, with the large bruise above it, is high in my calf and can been seen clearly on the ultrasound test. The suspected clot in my right calf is several inches above my ankle. It is hard to see clots there, but there were indications of it on the ultrasound with the various pressure tests they did. And the pain I have been having is right where they think they found the clot. So they are pretty sure I have two clots, but are sure there is at least one.

I have been to the “Anticoagulation Clinic” 3 times so far, and have to go tomorrow and Wednesday mornings also. They are carefully tracking the amount of Coumadin in my system. It takes at least 5 days to “ramp up” to a safe amount of thinner, so while that is happening, they are having me give myself 2 shots of Lovenox a day, 12 hours apart.

The shots go into my love handles. The needles themselves aren’t bad, but the medicine really hurts for about 15 minutes. Lovenox absorbs into my body more quickly than Coumadin, so they want me to do it to get my blood into that safe zone ASAP. My number needs to be at 2 or above for two days before I am allowed to stop the shots. My number was 1 when I started, was 1.1 on Saturday and was 1.6 this morning. So I am getting closer. I will have to do extra shots, but I find out tomorrow morning how many. My co-pay is $25 for all 10 shots, but I was told today that they each cost $90! My stomach is covered with bruises from the shots I have done so far.

I think going on Coumadin is almost as complicated as chemotherapy. Everything affects the level of absorption. Food with vitamin K in it has to be either eaten consistently or not at all. They went through my supplements and I can only do about 1/3 of them. I fell like my supplements help me fight cancer and having to stop doing them makes me feel vulnerable. My oncologist is on vacation and he is the one who has to decide whether I stay on the medicine that may have caused the clots. After 3-6 months of Coumadin I will stop using it and then my doctor has a test he can do to see if Femara caused the problem or if it is genetic.

So I have a list of 100 foods to remember and can take absolutely nothing medicine or supplement related without getting permission first. The doctor at the clinic this morning told me that in the 18 months he has worked there, only 1 person taking Coumadin has died from a pulmonary embolism (a clot traveling to the lungs from the leg or somewhere else). So the odds seem to be in my favor.

I am also now the proud owner of 2 pair of surgical strength compression stockings that go up to my knee. They are VERY TIGHT and hard to get on and off. I am supposed to wear them 24 hours a day- even to bed. They actually do make my legs feel better. So much to learn…

I see Dr. Valley, my integrative medicine doctor on Friday to talk about my cholesterol, which has not come down enough doing natural things. So he may put me on something for that too. Then they have to balance THAT with the Coumadin. Yikes! This is complicated! Please pray that the clots dissolve soon and stay where they are until then. Pray that if anything happens I would realize it and get to the ER in time. And pray for wisdom for my oncologist to make a good decision about what to do about the Femara which might be causing this clotting and cholesterol problem. Is it worth it? Is there something else I can take instead with less side effects?

I am tired and need to get some sleep so I can get up and go there to take my next shot at 8:30 a.m. It is about 20 minutes away from our house.

Blessings friends and thanks for reading and caring! Nancy Fritz

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blod clots in my legs

Dear friends,

After taking a shower yesterday, I checked a sore spot on the back of my right calf in the mirror because it had been hurting without any reason for a few weeks. I realized there was a big bulging bruise just below my left knee. I am on Femara, a cancer prevention drug that can cause blood clots, so that is why my antennae were up. I had been debating whether to call the doctor about my right leg, and the bruise made me stop wondering. It just happened without being traumatized it any way.

I called the doctor yesterday morning and asked if I needed to come in or if they could tell me what to watch for, and I was there within the hour. Later in the day they did ultrasound on both legs and I got a call this morning from my doctor telling me that I have a clot in my left leg by the bruise, and they strongly suspect one in my lower right leg also. Because they are both below the knee, they are much less dangerous than they would be above the knee and probably won’t break loose. The chance of that happening is low, he said.

So I am to run to the ER if I have chest pain or trouble breathing, and to greatly decrease my physical activity and maybe even use the motorized carts at the grocery store! I don’t think I could bring myself to do that, but we’ll see. He is putting me on Coumadin starting tonight, and I also need to do 5 days of 2 shots a day to carry me over until the Coumadin gets into my system. I sure do hate shots! I miss having my nurse neighbor and other friend in Denver! (Wanna come visit Janet or Lisa?)

Life is never dull! I sure would hate to die of a loose clot after fighting cancer twice! So please pray that the clots would dissolve and not cause any problems. I am not feeling worried or stressed about this, other than the time it will take to learn everything. I am supposed to go to the Coumadin Clinic today or tomorrow for orientation. I’ll know more after I have gone and will let you know.

Here is some great news! Jenni got a job yesterday at Chipotle near Thunder Ridge High School where Laura and Allison went. (They make delicious burritos like Qdoba, but better!) She decided she would go to the strip mall near where she and Allison are staying and go store to store until she got a job. When she walked into Chipotle, she addressed several men sitting at a table and asked if they had any job openings. The men looked at each other and back at her. The store manager and district manager had just finished saying as she walked into the door, that they needed to hire someone over 18, because the 17 year olds working there weren’t allowed to do the register, etc. They asked her how she had heard about the job, and were amazed that she hadn’t, but just showed up at that moment. And when she told them she is 19, their faces lit up! So she started this morning at 7:30 and works until 4. She is very excited. If you live in that part of Denver, she at Wildcat Reserve and Highlands Ranch Parkway. It is close enough to where they are living this summer for her to get a quick ride or walk. Yeah God!

I am preparing our latest prayer letter for the mail and would be happy to add you to either our email or snail mail list if you email me at God bless you! Nancy