Saturday, February 6, 2010

Two Weeks of Teaching

I find that when things get a little crazy, I hunker down and avoid the outside world. Silly, I know, because these are the times I need my friends the most. At my job, I am working with a very supportive group of educators. I’m working on learning the school attendance and grading programs. Junior High kids are a lot of fun. They are at a unique time in their lives.
Regarding the radiation – it must have done it’s job, because the pain in my tail bone has gone away. I still experience weakness in my legs, however. I’m only 4 weeks out in a 6-8 week recovery period. This Monday, I have an MRI that will give us more information. My February visit with Dr. Wolf in San Francisco was pushed back to March. I hope we know more about this leg strength thing. I’m still going off the steroids very gradually.
My main issue these days is energy. I need a great deal of energy to teach. I covet your prayers for strength. I’m pretty focused on teaching and grading papers!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fun Friday 1-15-10

What a great day! I spent the full school day at my new assignment, Kastner Intermediate School. We started at a staff meeting where I saw many friends. I was introduced by the principal to all the teachers. During the course of the day, I was able to observe each of my classes with their American History teacher and in their English class. I will be teaching the English/Language Arts curriculum. The students know their current teacher is retiring and that I will be starting at the semester break. I’ve spent several days on campus, so the students are becoming familiar with me being around. This time before I start is so cool because I can visit the other teachers’ classroom and observe their teaching and management styles. Once I start full-time in my own classroom, I won’t have that opportunity.

The eighth grade teachers I work with are a great team. They have been very welcoming. We all went to Rubio’s for lunch. One of the teachers has a cabin at Huntington Lake, just across from our “resort,” Lakeview Cottages! She asked if I had seen the article in the LA Times, I said yes that’s us! I felt famous!
Link Here

In between visiting the classrooms I was able to meet with my Learning Director (my direct boss), photo copy some information, work in the cluster office, get Friday Spirit shirts, and become familiar with the campus. Everyone has been very kind and helpful.

At the end of the school day I waited in the office for Jessica to pick me up. I’m carpooling with Jessica because she is substitute teaching and is on the same schedule as me. While in the office, the principal loaned me the books for our discipline policy, and I got to visit with the office workers. I am so excited to be at Kastner. I had plenty of energy, and even though I have some mobility issues, I know I’m ready for the job. I believe that God dropped a huge blessing in my lap, and I couldn’t be happier!

San Francisco Tuesday, January 12

Monday evening, George and I packed up Jessie’s VW and headed off to San Francisco. I felt so much better than I did the last time we made the trip. That was the trip when I was admitted to the hospital for 3 nights. We met with Dr. Wolf and one of his practicing doctors. So here’s the scoop.

Dr. Wolf doesn’t really like the terms remission (no indication of cancer cells) and relapse (cancer cells detected). Remember that with Multiple Myeloma a patient is not cured, but rather you manage the cancer for the rest of your life – which for me could be 20 more years. After the Stem Cell Transplant, Dr. Wolf indicated I still had active cells in the thecal sac (tail bone area). Since that is a major nerve site, I developed severe pain and lost strength in my legs. Over the holidays I had 12 sessions of radiation aimed at the tailbone area. Now it takes 6-8 weeks to heal from the radiation and to see if we got the bad little buggers. I’m at 2 ½ weeks in that healing process now. I have an appointment with Dr. Wolf next month at 5 weeks. He wants to see an MRI then, so hopefully we can see if there is any or no growth. Sometime soon I will start the management chemo which is a low dose chemo tablet taken regularly. The chemo pill has few side effects and shouldn’t disrupt my teaching or other activities.

My Fresno health team is great. I have an oncologist, a radiologist, and a clinic full of happy, professional nurses and workers. Dr. Wolf, at UCSF, is the leader in knowledge and new treatments for Multiple Myeloma. I am so blessed that I get to be part of his patient load. It was so good I was referred to him. We will see him present at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Conference in San Francisco next weekend. We will be visiting both a friend we met by blog and with Susan’s cousin. We should have a good time. I feel well taken care of!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coming up….

My original Fresno Oncologist is leaving the St. Agnes Cancer Center, so I have chosen to stay with the group. I love the staff there – everyone is so nice and professional. I chose a new doctor - Dr. Hackett. He has experience with Multiple Myeloma – a real plus. I meet with Dr. Hackett on Monday, Jan 11, then we drive to San Francisco to See Dr. Wolf on Tuesday.
George and I have learned a lot since May! We are much more active about my care. I have learned that I need to keep copies of all documents and tests. I carry everything in a binder and sometimes my copy of things is the one readily available. I’ve also learned to get all the doctor’s e-mails so we can keep everybody in the loop. When I was in UCSF Med Center for the weekend, I started taking Dexamethazone 16 mg per day. My Fresno Doctors noticed that was a large amount to still be on and I needed to cut the dose back. So there was a plan for getting on the drug, but not one for getting off of it! You should see my face, it is so puffy from the steroid!
So please think of us as we drive to San Francisco next week. George is a trooper about driving me there – I’m glad he likes San Francisco because we’re spending a lot of time there!

Radiation by Sue

George did a really good job of explaining the whole radiation program. I met with the Fresno Radiologist the next day after we returned home. I had 12 sessions aimed at my tail bone. I went in on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Everyone at the St. Agnes Cancer Center was so nice – I really felt cared for. It was also neat to network with the other women patients. Most of the patients had breast cancer, I was the only one I met with Multiple Myeloma. Yesterday, Thursday, Jan 7 was my final day. What I didn’t realize about radiation is how much it takes out of me. I have NO strength! I cannot step up a curb unassisted. I cannot step my leg into the passenger seat of a car. I can’t see or feel the connection between radiation and strength loss, but it is clearly there. The radiation folks say it will take 6-8 weeks to regain my strength. I am starting back teaching full time in two weeks! Yikes! Calling all prayer warriors!