Thursday, May 28, 2015

May brings new adventures

Oh, it's been so long since I've written, and so much has happened!  

I had a meeting with the oncologist. She ran blood work and it was fine. I'm not really sure why they run this, since the cancer wasn't advanced to where it was in my blood system.  I found out eating mac and cheese for lunch (even with half a can of tuna) 45 minutes before a blood draw probably isn't smart. Never thought of what my blood sugar would look like with the pasta carbs!  

I had to ask the oncologist. No one has ever said how advanced it was.  I had Stage 1 melanoma and it was almost to Stage 2.  It was good to catch it early. She said she normally sees people who have Stage III and IV. (EEK!).

The part I was seeing on the preliminary pathology reports was, "Clark's Level II, Breslow's Depth 0.5mm, nonulcerated.  Radial growth phase is present.  Vertical growth phase is absent. . ."

This made me think it was Stage II, but she said Stage I.  :-)  

I am SO lucky to have had that itch on my foot January 16, 2015!  It's the only reason I looked between the toes.  

It was such a great feeling to walk out of the doctor's office without the stitches!  Unfortunately, getting them removed was a different story.  It looked like I had 5 or 6 stitches. Turns out I had 8 and a couple were sunk in a little bit, one was sunk in even more.  Turns out the scab I kept having show up was where the worst offender was located.

Doc had a student/resident with him again, different one this time (third so far).  The nurse just stood to the side, as did the resident, so I held my pinkie wide open from the ring toe in order for the doc to have access---good think I wore a skort, lol.  I watched him remove most of them, but told him I was being a chicken and couldn't watch him dig for the hidden one. He finally got it and I assume I held the toe and foot steady for him.   I had bleeding afterwards from the hidden stitch and left the office looking like the above in my favorite Born sandals.  Doc commented on the "polish".  I told him I had to do something and since I couldn't use the toe spacers for polish, I opened my Jamberry stash of peel, heat and stick "wraps" for polish.  Above is Cabana.  They stayed on for about a month.

I have to go back in 3 months (not really sure why) to the surgeon.  I had to ask when I can run again and he said to wait at least another week to ensure I don't burst open my new seam.  Hmmm, I think I'll wait a few more weeks!  

Weekend breakfast:  Beelers Bacon, scrambled eggs with a bit of cheddar cheese, fruit, and UDIs whole grain with seedless blackberry jam. 
After the wound cleared up:  The toe had skin peel/exfoliate from the top and bottom.
The skin at the base of the toe is pulled tight. This is where the skin was removed on the interior of the toe webbing in the largest diameter.  
As such, the bottom is pretty painful and I'll have to work up to getting a callus or thicker layer of skin from where the outside layers came loose.  
Don't laugh:  I think my foot looks stained, but that's just how it always looks. 

TA DA!   Running shoes!  I can't get my Injinji toe socks on, so I went with my second best, Fox River no show ankle socks. Love these for under 5 mile runs.  No run today, just a nice long walk.  
May 13:  It felt SO good to get the shoes on. I was PUMPED for a walk. Figured a couple miles. Put on my sunscreen, my waist belt with a 8oz bottle of water and my cell phone and out the door I went. 

Um, yeah, so that didn't go so well. I wanted to turn around a couple blocks away. I made it half a mile away, to the trail head, and turned around to come home. Total time:  30 minutes. Yes, it took me that long because I kept stopping to adjust my left shoe.  Still too much pressure over the toe area. I think I'll sit with the foot propped up for a bit more.
Hubby and I did a new project. We had to move the grape vine fence in about a foot --something about 50 years ago they didn't really survey the property when it was created and the end post was an inch on the other property.  Hubby researched and created a nice tight fence for the vines and we strung them up properly. Then we added some pizzazz to the posts with the copper tops :-)

By "we" I really mean "him".  I should say hubby did this. I pretty much watched from the house. I think I was out on my feet for maybe an hour one night when we were stringing up the vines.

May 15: I decided to try this walking thing again!  One of the local jewelry stores has a treasure hunt contest. It takes the advertising dollars and puts them into cash or store credit and hides them around town on the trail/park system.  I went out looking today for the treasure. Pretty much a very slow walk with lots of stops. I found the following, but no real treasure. I was out longer than I expected (two hours, versus the planned one hour) and the toe was tender, but not completely angry with me. 

May 17 weekend was graduation for my hubby's oldest nephew!  Can't believe M is old enough for graduation, nor that The Mike and I have been together as long as he's been around!  
My sister and niece came to the open house and my niece--while she didn't say this to me--said that she was surprised to see me without a bandage on my foot!  I still was wearing open toed 'dressy' thong/flip flops with ankle strap, but the suture wounds had healed and I was going with no gauze.  It felt good to be that way, and I was surprised anyone noticed!  

After driving home, hubby and I went treasure hunting for a nice walk. Two hours in a car was long enough for my legs/ foot and his sore back.  
Beautiful river sunset.

May 19:  a chilly cold bicycle ride
Hubby laughed at me. . .I don't know why. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Most of my long socks are toe socks, which I still can't wear.  Thus, I wore my Susan Komen breast cancer socks my sister --fighting breast cancer--gave me.  The regular mountain bike cycling shoes are a little hard on the toe area still, so I am wearing my cycling sandals. 
Perfectly formed (okay, the roundest I have made in a long time) Chebe pizza crust with milled chia seed in the mix.  

Memorial Day weekend:  May 23 we worked on replacing our really old fence. Not sure how old it is, but we had it when we bought the house.  The nice older man-backyard neighbor said it had been there about 30 years if not longer.  I have been feeling pretty good about the foot. Friday night The Mike and I were out working on tearing the old fence out and the toe felt good for those three hours in my old ROTC boots. 

Saturday, I wore a cushy pair of my Fox River socks and we were out there for a good solid day--over twelve hours-- with breaks for lunch, dinner, and a few moments where I sat on a bucket.  For the most part the toe felt good. Mostly this was due to the whole foot hurting from being in the boots all day. The feet felt like I'd run a marathon.  The toe was red, but it didn't hurt any more than normal. [Fence is still not done]  
Sunday it rained all day and Monday morning. We spent Memorial Day watching PBS shows on those who Gave All so we can be free. Monday afternoon we went back out to do some tidying up. After about an hour my toe was getting rubbed the wrong way. It felt like a blister had formed at the knuckle/joint with the foot, but there wasn't anything there. I had on different socks I rarely wear and wonder if that played into the pain.  When I started favoring the foot, I called it a day, which was really only an hour after that. 
The toe is healing. 
This is about what the toe looks like most any day. Still red below the toe knuckle. A little weeping still occurs at the one suture site (the red dot if you can see that).  
Beautiful evening for a walk.  
[No, we did not walk along the tracks, nor did we cross the bridge. Safety First!]

This morning, Thursday, I decided to try on my other Born sandals. . .these are obviously a little more tricky to wear than my normal pair. 
First thing, I did GET my foot into the position and it felt okay. 
Second thing I noticed, when I tried to walk I knew that wasn't going to go well.  
Baby steps in the progress. I'm happy to know I can at least get the foot into the straps.  
The strap on top of the toe is going to take a bit longer before it'll be happen for an outing.
Interestingly, the strap between the toes didn't bother me. I wasn't sure since that's the suture site.

I have my dermatologist appointment this afternoon for my three month checkup. I can't believe it's been three months since I found out I had cancer and had my initial full body check for any other abnormalities.  Hopefully he'll give me something for my irritated skin from the Virginia Creeper that was growing on the north side of  the fence.  It's like poison ivy to me.  Even with full length pants, snap full length shirt, gloves and such, I still managed to get a case of the itchies.  It's actually the mildest case I've had though :-) 

Happy days. Explore new foods with the gluten free lifestyle and embrace change: it will happen whether we want it to or not. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Third and Fourth week post op

What a difference it is from week 2 to week 3!   Week 2 it still hurt to walk much and I was happy to keep the foot elevated as much as possible.  This third week post op I had more energy and I had a 'slap in the face' moment when I opened the door at 6am and thought, "Wow, it's a beautiful morning for a run. Oh, Carp, I can't run".  :-(   It was still a gorgeous day and I did some more walking that day.  Last week Tuesday (just under 3 weeks post op), I decided to try my cycling sandals. Once I remembered how to loosen the toggle (um, unclip it from the toe region!), I was able to get my foot in.  After walking around the house for a few minutes I said, "NO" and took them back off. A bit too much pressure on the toe area.
I then tried on an older pair of running shoes (three seasons back, but the back up pair I currently have).  I had to keep the toe region very loose on the left side and I thought they fit okay. However, after a few minutes I said, "not yet".  
That said, I gave it a couple days and tried on the sandals again and I thought, "well, let's try this today".  I went for a bike ride to the river park and back, going slow---I did have a treasure hunt reason for going and was keeping my eye open for some items to find along the way.  I didn't find any treasure hunt, but decided I wasn't ready to go up any hills with the pedals, so I headed back home.  I then switched to the shoes and drove to another lake in town ---for the treasure hunt :-).  The shoes just put pressure from the top down on the toe and that's something that I think will get better/go away and I just have to deal with in the meantime, if I want to wear covered shoes. 

I didn't get too far. There's a generally flat area and then the start to a hill that I love running up.  I got about a third of the way in the shoes. Sat on a bench and put the foot up and then said, 'Go home'.   Going back downhill went a little better.  I decided to try something and I ran for about a hundred yards and thought it felt weird and it's going to be a sensation I have to get use to.
What sensation is that?

It's the sensation of a drunk toe.  That's right. My toe is slightly numb. It feels like my skin does when I get drunk/inebriated. Not that I get drunk often, but I am a 'lightweight'. 

Dinner time: roasted butternut squash!  I grew up with baked squash and love it.  One of the things I tried a couple years ago was roasting it.  Fabulous!  It gets a little caramel sugar like on the outside as it bakes.  I peel it with the serrated veggie peeler from Pampered Chef, which has "teeth" that really dig into the skin of the veggie.  Then I cut and dice the neck of the squash, then cut the "bell" in half, seed it and slide and die that bit.  Place on a roasting pan, drizzle coconut or olive oil on it with salt and pepper and roast at 375 for about 30 minutes or so.   For some variety, I added a few large florets of cauliflower as well. 
Then I served it with some skillet cooked squash and zucchini and the left over Classico Roasted Red Pepper alfredo sauce.  

I also had to go to the doctor again. This time the primary care for my third antibiotic in a month!  Fabulous, I know.  I had gotten scratched by an unknown to me cat, so I did went to the doctor.  My tetanus is up to date and she said my rabies shots I had to get a couple years ago would still be good. :-)   She also looked at my toe and told me I could just put vaseline on the dry (dark spot) of the toe.  
Hanging outside on a beautiful day for lunch.  
An hour in the sun in the peak of the day will make you a little pink in the spring time.  

Friday I had some errands to do.  I included in the errands a trip to my apple tree. The blossoms were coming on and it looked fabulous!    Then I had to pack for an overnight trip.  Concentrate on packing. I found a pair of dressy sandals I had in my closet and wondered why I hadn't found them last weekend for the meeting.  I decided those would be my shoes to wear to the funeral/memorial on Saturday.  One of my mom's cousins passed away and my sister thought it would be good to go. She was awesome and went out of her way /drive to come pick me up as well. 

I made up meatloaf and manwhich for The Mike while I was gone. 

The overnight for my sister and me was at the Holiday Inn /Suites in Hannibal Missouri.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see Udis in the breakfast room.  I was sad to see that they packages were opened at the bottom right just slightly.  It was on all of them, so I think it was on purpose. 

The drive to St. Louis was uneventful and the memorial was as expected. 

We headed home shortly after, with a stop at Trader Joe's before leaving.  I had to stock up on the tuna/water Tuna Fish from there (an unnamed large tuna fish has tuna/water but their water also has vegetable broth which includes soy --WHY?) 

A few hours in the car and we were ready for a stop: 
    The shoes went well, until we stopped at a river town on the way home--Louisiana, Missouri.   Last year I was in Paris and Mexico, Missouri with my hubby, and I added Louisiana this year. Don't worry, there are a LOT of state and country names in this state!  We walked along the river stone looking at shells and the Mississippi river. I remembered fishing with my grandfather on the water of the Rock River.  And then I slipped on the stone and my right foot turned in a bit. I recovered without falling and without injuring the left foot, but decided those shoes were getting removed as soon as possible.  Sunday I was fine, but Sunday night my foot hurt. Turns out I bruised an area of the foot.  A few days recovery and it feels much better now.  
The wide Mississippi with the railroad trestle in the background. It's one of the older style where the west side swivels to allow barge.
Scenic overlook on twisty back roads to Hannibal.  The greenery in front is a steep bank down, then farm land, the Mississippi river, tree island, Mississippi river and then Illinois.  

One of the surprising things to me on this twisty and winding road was the bike signs.  There were several miles with no shoulder and huge blind curves which I would be fearful of any cyclist riding.  Then the road opened up with shoulders and eventually became a road with marked shoulders for bicyclists.  I found the MRT bike route sign to be funny. . . MR. T.  'I pity the fool' and all that. 
The apple tree in full bloom.  What a difference a day made! I took pics on Friday and it was just starting to bloom. Sunday it was gorgeous in full bloom.

Three (plus) weeks post op, I can fit into my Born sandals again.  YEAH! 
We brought in some lilacs and apple blossoms. . . . they were a hit with the Felix cat!  

This week I did more walking and stood on the foot while we were working on the grape vine.  Sunday we trimmed it and then decided this is the year we'll redo the trellis/fencing.  It has needed to be done, and the end post is on the property line (something that was done 50 years ago).  New neighbors want to put in a fence, which also motivated us to do this task.  Most of the time I just stood and put the weight on my left heel.  Sunday evening I enjoyed putting my foot up.  

Forward to today, Thursday. I went for a walk in my Born sandals. After about 30-35 minutes I was ready for a rest.  It took a few hours of elevating the foot for the foot to feel 'normal' again.  This rehab for running is going to take a while, I think.  

More yoga stretching done the past few weeks. I'm sure it'll be much easier when I'm not wearing a sock to keep the gauze around the stitches :-)  

Oh--good news. this past Monday I had my third appointment with the oncologist.  Just to go over the biopsy results which I had heard already from the surgeon's office were good.  The oncologist was glad to see the results were negative for any cancer spread, the lymph nodes were good as well.  I had to ask what the stage of cancer was and she seemed surprised I didn't know.  I had seen the original punch biopsy report that said Clarks (something) Level II, so I didn't know if that was related to cancer stage. No, it's not.  I had Stage I melanoma and it's all taken care of with this region.  Next oncology appointment in six months.  Second dermatology appointment at the end of this month.