All systems go

Just pausing to note that I saw my oncologist a few days ago for my once-every-4-months checkup. Got some reassurance on a few things:

As I’d read in many places, occasional twinges or stabs in my left breast are normal healing and could continue for some time. If cancer were to recur, it would be elsewhere, outside the area that was treated (ie, somewhere other than the left side of my chest).

My occasional cough, along with shortness of breath with even mild exertion, is the result of weakened chest muscles and general deconditioning. The doctor had no concern that anything is still amiss with my lungs.

Overall weakness, as I’d finally concluded, is not the result of medication but simply deconditioning. I need to exercise more to get back to what was normal before my surgery. Or preferably somewhat better. It was also suggested that I try to lose some weight (sure wish that 20 lbs I lost last summer had stayed off!), although I’m no heavier than I was before my surgery. (Come on, doc, it’s called weight training …)

While I’ve never thought of myself as “perky,” that was the word that came to mind when I tried to describe how I’ve felt since I switched from Aromasin (exemestane) to Femara (letrozole). I don’t feel as hopelessly fatigued, when just getting off the couch seemed impossible. It’s not that I’m now bouncing around the house, but I no longer think long and hard about whether doing something is worth the effort required just to get up. It hasn’t been a dramatic change. It’s more like I just realized one day that I’d been doing more everyday things than I had before. That alone should help strengthen muscles grown weak from inactivity. Plus I feel a bit more mentally alert.

A few weeks ago, I got the lab work done to check my thyroid function (thyroid gland possibly caught some radiation last year and my primary care doctor had said I should check it three times a year). While my levels are still in the low-normal range where they’ve always been, she said there was room for a bit of improvement and increased my thyroid med from 50 mcg a day to 50 mcg three days a week and 75 mcg four days a week.

And a few other notes … I quit taking the grape seed extract for hot flashes. It seemed ineffective and the hot flashes are to be expected in the absence of all estrogen. Also, I quit taking the diuretic. Getting up 3-4 times a night was not acceptable and I’ve never had high blood pressure, so I opted for improved sleep and less overall dehydration (particularly my eyes). And I saw the dentist. Teeth are still happy.

As for the aching fingers, I’ve concluded they are simply the result of overuse and repetitive motion — the result of too much video gaming (oh yes, I do love my games). I should probably switch to Pokémon Go to exercise some larger muscles.



7 thoughts on “All systems go

  1. Jim Wheeler Saturday, August 20, 2016 / 8:14 am MDT

    Well done, PT! Many would have given up during your ordeal. But now that you’re back in regular living mode, here is a transcript of medical advice from my Asian doctor, Wun Hung Low:

    Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
    A: Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it… Don’t waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

    Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
    A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

    Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
    A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one, etc..

    Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
    A: Can’t think of single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain…good!

    Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?
    A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food are fried these day in vegetable oil. In fact, they permeated by it. How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!?

    Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
    A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

    Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
    A: Are you crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

    Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
    A: If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

    Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
    A: Hey! ‘Round’ is shape!

    Well… I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

    And remember:

    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO, what a ride!!”


    For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

    1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans..

    5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

    • PiedType Saturday, August 20, 2016 / 12:57 pm MDT

      I know I replied to this … somewhere. Oh dear. Apparently I’ve been speaking too much English and my mind is going …
      Anyway, thanks for starting my day with a good laugh (yes, I was just starting my day when I replied to this the first time).

  2. philosophermouseofthehedge Wednesday, August 24, 2016 / 7:35 am MDT

    CHEERS! And a little perky is just enough. (Also interested in varying the amt of daily thyroid dose. You must have a knowledgable doc who really looks at things) Sleep is alway the best medicine…oh, ok, a little walking keeps things moving along, too. (But we did have a friend who insisted on running everyday even during the summers heat and humidity.Back when we were all young. We used to tell him, “Ya, know, you only have so many heartbeats and you’re really pushing our daily quota.” As a joke, but ya’ know he did flat drop dead one day running…could have been the 100 degrees not the beats, but you have to wonder…. 🙂

    • PiedType Wednesday, August 24, 2016 / 9:42 am MDT

      I used to jog in the Okla. summer heat and humidity, but that was 50 years and 60 lbs ago. These days a short walk (if it’s less than 80 degrees) is the best I can do. But every little bit helps. And sleep is high on my list. Always has been.
      Yes, I really love my primary care doc. She’s really sharp, and she jumped on the thyroid checks as soon as I told her about my radiation treatment. She’s being very cautious about increasing the thyroid med bacause too much can cause loss of bone density, something I need to be especially careful about now.

      The varied dosage scehdule is just a way to raise 350 mcg a week to 450 mg a week, using only 50 mcg tablets.

        • PiedType Wednesday, August 24, 2016 / 10:21 am MDT

          Thank you. The future looks bright.

"You don’t have to say everything to say something." ~Beth Moore

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