Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food!!!

This is a very happy post!!

After spending the last few months being restricted to a liquid / mush diet due to not being able to eat food because it kept getting stuck in my throat I've been able to eat solid food again!
You have no idea what a blessing that is for my morale. For one reason because it's now a bit easier to keep my energy levels up by eating more calorie dense foods but it's also making a mental difference to me too, the tumour must be getting smaller if I can now swallow solids right?!
My chemo is doing it's amazing job and beating back the growth (at least) of the tumour and with my few and far between symptoms it seems my body is playing ball too by keeping as healthy as possible to allow me to have enough energy to fight this.

It's very strange having to change my mindset regarding calories and exercise having been on this weight loss journey for what seems like forever but with a little modification I have all the tools already that I need to deal with this.

Food
I've been told that I'll probably lose weight whilst on chemo and I'll lose a lot of weight after my operation (In the region of three stone or 42 pounds apparently) so at the moment I need to consume as many calories as possible in order to maintain my weight before my operation.
I still want to eat healthily as I totally believe I need as many nutrients as possible at this moment in time but it has meant that I have made a few changes to my diet, mainly to full fat options ie milk, cheese, yogurt etc
I also plan (now I can eat solids again) to make homemade pasta sauces and serve that with wholemeal pasta for long lasting energy but it's also nice being able to eat chips (fries) whenever I feel like it!!

It's quite hard doing this after being on a 'diet' for so long but I need to think about the bigger picture here and the likelihood is I'll be classed as underweight after I've been through my operation and my energy levels and my body's ability to fight both the cancer and any other diseases / infections that may appear whilst my immune system is decimated when on chemo is the more important battle at the moment. I'm expecting to have the rest of my life (a long one) to deal with any weight issues I may or may not have.

The good thing about being on a diet for so long is that food accountability / calorie counting comes very easily to me. One thing I'm very good at is keeping track of what I'm eating and how much - I just need to turn this around and make sure I'm no longer creating a deficit.

Exercise
I have sadly made the decision to cancel my gym membership for now.
I accept that in the next few months I probably won't have the energy to go to the gym and due to my low immune system I've been told that even swimming is off the cards due to the warm and wet environment poolside which also happens to be the ideal germ breeding ground.
The other thing that often occurs at the gym, especially during strength training which I was a big fan of, is micro trauma where you intentionally tear your muscles very slightly. This then encourages your muscle to rebuild and in doing so it rebuilds bigger / stronger to attempt to prevent the injury again.
Whilst on chemo the last thing I need to be doing is creating trauma in other parts of my body, I need my body's energy to be totally focussed on beating this tumour and recovering from my surgery.

So my plan is to try and get out and walk as much as possible - my main form of exercise is going to be this.
On days that I'm feeling a bit more energetic then I'll be continuing with my dance classes for both exercise and my state of mind - it's something I really enjoy doing and that will in itself make me feel better
I've also bought a ballet DVD so that if I'm house bound I could still get in a bit of gentle exercise and stretching.

Once again, I intend to have the rest of my life to get back into shape / keep fit but for now my goals are on hold.
I'm just very glad and grateful that I managed to bring fitness into my life and make it part of my routine before all of this happened because I know how much I enjoy it and I have no fear that I will get back to it in due course.

I weighed in yesterday and I have managed to maintain my weight from last week which is a good thing for me, which I probably owe in part to my bowls of porridge made with full fat milk, golden syrup and peanut butter, seriously guys it's like a big hug in a bowl!!

All in all I have no grumbles with life at the moment!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chemo Days

I've had a pretty good last few days to be honest.

My chemo session was pretty uneventful and I'm happy to say my side effects have been minimal.
The main thing that I experienced was nausea and general lack of appetite, things that I used to love to eat now seem to turn my stomach when I think of them, mainly sweet things which I suppose isn't such a bad thing!!

I'm currently laid in bed with my laptop on my knee because I'm working from home today - once again work has been amazing through all of this and have said I can work from home as much as I'd like to and it's going to be a life saver in terms of both my income and my health - I'm still feeling very tired from my chemo session last week.
So I'm all snuggled up against a lovely crisp Autumn day with my work scattered around me having just eaten lunch and taken all my magic pills and I might even have a wee afternoon nap in a bit!

I'm still not used to how much good feeling is coming my way through all of this - I'm humbled and honoured to 'know' so many well meaning people whether in real life or you guys who read this - your kind words and thoughts do not go unnoticed and I'd just like to take the time to say thank you now

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cancer fighting begins

I'm writing this post from my hospital bed surrounded by a pretty decent breakfast and the most amazing nurses you could hope for. Seriously everyone here must have angel status because they are so kind and attentive, friendly and upbeat. I try to be as kind and helpful as possible in life (I totally live by the mantra of 'nastiness is just wasted energy' and I've been on the receiving end of far too many nasty things to ever want to pass that particular present on!!)

Anyway, I was admitted yesterday morning and my day consisted of blood tests, weighings and an ECG, the chemo drugs they are putting me on can mess with my heart so they wanted to get a 'baseline' of my rhythm so that they know if anything starts going wrong.

Then, after hundreds (or so it's seemed) of people coming to talk to me about my medication, possible side effects and my chemo drug process, my magic potions arrived and the fight has begun! My first chemo drug had to be bolused (I'm sorry I have no idea how to spell that!!) into my system which means that a patient nurse had to sit with me for about forty minutes and manually inject the drug into me!! Then, because the second drug I'm being given can mess with my kidneys I have to make sure that they're well hydrated so I was given a bag of saline, a bag of potassium, a bag of magnesium and a bag of heavy duty anti sickness drugs (one of the other side effects) each of this bags takes an hour to drip through so it was another four hours down the line before I could start my second type of chemo drug. That bag takes four hours to drip through and then I was given another bag each of magnesium, potassium and saline so you can imagine what time the process finished for me when it didn't get started until about three o'clock in the afternoon!
I still have no complaints though the nurses crept in in the night made sure I was ok, changed my bag to the new one and crept out again.

My third chemo drug is up to me, tablets to take for the three weeks I'll not be in hospital.

At the moment I feel fine, as usual in hospitals I'm a bit warmer than I'd like to be but apart from that I've got no symptoms at all so I'm feeling pretty lucky - let's hope it stays that way but I'm also of the mindset that for this situation, a few months of feeling crappy in return for years of happiness with my amazing boyfriend, family and friends is a trade off I'm more than willing to endure.

Here's to the chemo drugs coursing through my body, I hope they are targeting the tumour and teaching them that they don't really want to live in Hannah's body anymore.

Here's to the nurses here who, as I've said above, are absolutely fantastic.

Here's to modern technology and science for at least allowing me to attempt to fight this.

Here's to my surgeon who, hopefully, in a couple of months will reach inside me and take away what is left of my tumour.

Here's to my friends and family who have shown me more love and support than I ever realised. Especially to friends of my parents, I know they must be feeling useless four hours away, I can't thank you enough for all your support to them, your offers of cleaning and cooking and general well wishes.

Here's to everyone who has donated to my just giving pages - I hope that the money raised can help to fund the research into new cures for cancer and also help to continue the amazing work of the Macmillan nurses.

If this all goes as I'm hoping it will and I make it through this to live to fight another day, none of the above will be forgotten.