Saturday, April 17, 2010

Well, let's see. Lots of things have been going on and I have been doing a terrible about updates. Oh well some things don't change, ha.

I really didn't bounce after my second chemo. I knew it it was bad when my visit from Stacey and Addison didn't pep me up. I will say I have The world's sweetest grandaughter. She kept asking if she could help me, bring me things, even wet wash rags. I remember her looking at me once and asking me why God was making me so sick. With my seeming never ending wealth of words, do you think I could could up with anytthing? Oh, I said something but I have no idea what.

I am having so much difficulty letting people help. I think this is God's way of teaching me this leason. This cancer is opening my eyes to so many things. You just "have' to accept help. I am exctremely happy to say that God is giving me a 10 day reprieve. Joyce you told me this but I didn't really underdstand what you meant. The Radiation - no prob - compared to the chemo. I did 10 treatments primarily to treat the extreme pain in my left shoulder. The treatment has responded wonderfully already. My cancer responds very well to radiation. The reason I am on break for now is that It contontinues to work for a while after. We are going to rescan the whole mess next week to see if we can finish the chemo. I have mixed emotions about that, for sure but I know that it's gotta be done eventually so I'll suck it up. They say the pain was causing the nausea which sas giving me such trouble. We'll seelllllllllll

I want to thank you once more for all the love, friendship and support you continue to give me. You will never possibly understand how much that means. may God continue to bless each and every one of you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's start cooking!

Well today's post most probably will not be too eloquent. I have always tried to be brave, or at lease not let the fear show but I am not doing such a good job right now. For some unknown, unexplainable reason I am terrified today. Needless to say I will be spending most all of today talking with God. You know, I have the praying down pat, I even manage to successfully turn it over and leave it in his hands. Then that's when the trouble starts. I take it back and start worrying again. I am sure I am not unique so if anyone has any solutions, feel free to share!

Here is what I can't seem to leave alone. After the 2nd chemo and pneumonia business I was left with pretty severe left shoulder and arm pain. I of course discounted it thinking it was due to coughing, but after 3 weeks and the pain becomming so bad I couldn't move my arm I began having second thoughts. My wonderful doctors promptly gave me enought pain medicine to put down a horse and it just made mine bearable. I can hearby swear that I have now found pain worse that childbirth! After a few doses we got a handle on it. They rescanned me and the results were a mixture of news, mostly good. The lymph nodes that spread the cancer were DEAD. The bone tumors in the hip and scapula and the tumors in the liver and lung had not grown at all. The pneumonia had cleared well. They believe the inflammation from the lung and scapula are causing this left arm pain. I got yet another lecture on keeping myself well medicated. I tell you I find this all quite ironic. There was a time in my life I would have begged for someone to tell me this, now I have them offering more every time I speak to them. lol. Don't get me wrong, I have resigned the victim role. I am taking the meds like a good girl.

The suggestion now is to postpone the chemo and radiate the lung and scapula to reduce the size and help the pain. Have no idea why this scares me, but it does. The facility and physician are wonderful, they couldn't have made me more comfortable. I have read all the literature and it makes perfect sense. Millions of people go through this everyday with wonderful results, etc. No logical reason for my fear except that it is there! My first treatment is this afternoon at 2:45 so I will be turning this over again and again today. I will check in later and let you know how things went. Maybe I will even be able to muster up being poignant or funny again.

Thanks for listening to my rantings and ravings this morning. Hope you all know I couldn't keep all this inside my head and stay sane. Some would question my sanity anyway, lol. Luv each and every one of you guys!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No Coincidences

I know it has been quite some time since I last blogged anything. My journey has taken me down quite a few unpleasant roads of late and I am just now feeling like sitting at the computer. You know, when they say chemo is poison, they are not kidding. I don't think it is something one can adequately describe. My second chemo treatment actually went well. No worshipping of the porcelain god (better known as the toilet) this time. I did get to battle a heck of a case of pneumonia for 8 days following though. Had enough IV fluids to fill a lake, enough antibiotics to kill any germ and coughed enough to really wrench my back. Sound like fun yet??? I was all set to go home when they told me my blood counts had dropped and needed 2 units of blood. At this point we struck a deal, give me the blood but let me go home. They did and I got to go home at 10:00pm on Friday. I was a vampire loving person to start with, Twighligt, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries, etc. but now I am even more so. If anyone offers me blood, I'm taking it. Talk about boost of energy! Felt almost normal again. That about catches you up on the medical part. Having 8 days to do nothing but lay around, cough and think could usually be a very dangerous thing for me. My mind in an unfocused/undirected state can be a scary and dangerous place, lol. As a result of much praying here are some of the things that were revealed to me.

I need to start by letting you know that I have a tendency to feel alone in a room of people. I have been this way since Junior High. As a result, I constantly isolated myself to protect myself from being left. In short, I put up some very thick walls. This got a little better as I got older, but I still tend to do it even though I try not to. High school brought back particularly painful memories, ones it took me 34 years to let go of. (Must of liked that misery, lol). There is absolutely no foundation for these feelings, they are just what they are. Anyway, for some UNKNOWN reason one day my co-worker and I decided to join FaceBook. I think our daughters suggested it, well maybe mine, not sure Trini was initially on board with Kay and I joining, haha. As I was playing with this new "toy" I came across my high school group. In a moment of weakness I let down the wall and joined. As you all responded, I wrote back, laughed and had the best time I had had in a long time. This dark cloud lifted and I was suddenly healed and wanted to re-connect.

And then there are my cousins. We grew up more like brothers and sisters than 1st cousins. The feelings have always been there, but what with the fast pace of life we sort of let that get in the way. I now speak to them everyday, share life stories and laughter and most of all love. I didn't realize what a huge hole that I had carried around for so long and am so greatful to have that filled. This also includes my more immediate family and their extended families as well. The little only child from Arlington, Texas has more family now than ever in my life.

Last but not least are my work "sisters" and patients. Even though I work in the same suite as these ladies, Facebook has helped us learn about and laugh with each other. How my life has been blessed with these new and wonderful friendships.

Now I have to ask you, is it not absolutely amazing that all of a sudden I have the strongest, most caring and supportive group of people surrounding me at the time in my life when I need it the most? You see, there really are no coincidences...... only miracles that God chooses to remain anonymous in. My heart is so full and I am so blessed to have you all at my back. Heck even the hospital nurses want to be honorary "Sam Sisters". Let's never take a day or each other for granted. Each one is truly a gift from God.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chemo 1

Well, it has been a few days. Not because I ran out of things to say, but because God and I have been battling fever all week. I had forgotten how weak that makes one. But much better today so I thought I would catch you guys up.

Seven days after my diagnosis I had my first Chemo treatment. This may have set a record for rapid treatment initiation. It pays to know the right people at times like this. I was, mentally and spiritually ready for my first "battle". I did everything I was instructed to (now no comments from the peanut gallery here). You see I am not exactly good at taking instructions. This however was different. I woke up, prayed and asked God to be with me as we set about curing this cancer thing.

My chemo is given at the hospital, but in a very nice infusion center. The nurses there are phenomenal and they will do anything to make this process as comfortable as possible. The most wonderful invention I have seen so far is my IV port. This is a little device they implant just under the skin that gives them direct access for IV's. No sticking, yeah!!!!! They have wonderfully comfortable recliner chairs, each with a t.v. and best of all, they give you warm blankets.

I was worried about getting bored so I brought some busy work with me to occupy my time. Well, that was a joke! As soon as they gave me medication for nausea and started the Chemo, I was out. Put me right to sleep. I have no idea what happened the rest of the day, but sometime they put me in a wheelchair and had Ronny bring me home. It is interesting being on this side of medicine. They gave me enough paper instructions to fill a 2" binder. I signed something that said I understood my discharge instructions but I have no idea what they said. Now I ask you...... it seems to me that doing all this "teaching" and reading BEFORE the actual infusion would be a much smarter thing. I can't remember squat anyway, add some drugs and it is a given I won't remember. Obviously everyone is worried about global warming and the cost of healthcare. My next suggestion.... copy this on a CD and let people take that home. THEY MOST LIKELY will not read the Encyclopedia Britanica anytime soon but even if one fell asleep, there would be a chance of some subliminal retention.

Anyway, long story short I went home feeling wonderful. My parents, both my kids, my husband and my sweet precious Addie were there with open arms. Felt great, ate a wonderful steak my husband grilled, salad and a whole bunch of other food I probably should not have. No, not going to "should" on myself. I ate it because I wanted to be normal, like everyone else and also because it was darn good. After dinner, we all went for a walk with the dogs, Addie just loves to walk Stuart Little and he is a pretty good sport most of the time, lol. Sat around, then went to bed. To say that "all hell broke loose" at about 4:30 am seems a little mild. Anyway, I had my first session of "worship" at the porcelain God whilst praying, oh God, oh god, oh god! Now I have worshipped at this alter before, mostly in much younger days, but never like this. It was a 3 day revival. The locations changed from my bathroom, to my bed hugging a trash can to the hospital. They admitted me gave me wonderful IV anti nausea medication and kept me for 3 nights. By the time I was discharged I was eating a regular diet, so I thought no problem.

Got home, got settled in then ate dinner with Ronny and my parents. Big, mistake, big, big mistake. Now I am a reasonably intelligent woman and when I read this myself my first thoughts were "what were you thinking??????". I don't even have the excuse of never being exposed to medicine. It has literally been my livelihood for the last 35 years. I would never advise any of my patients to do this, it is stupid. However, I have read some of the Encyclopedia Britanica and there is a documented condition called "Chemo Brain". Something about it causing memory loss. I tell you what, I grabbed hold of that and I plan on using it a lot. Get used to the term. I have never had a legitimate excuse before and I intend to take full advantage!

Well needless to say, I didn't make it through the night, went back to the Infusion center for medication and fluids. Again, hooked me up and I fell asleep immediately. Unfortunately, that was during my conversation with the dietician. Again I ponder.....I sat in the lobby with my trusty trash can for over and hour to get admitted. Believe me I was awake that whole time. Perhaps that would have been a better instructional time. Anyway, Ronny spoke with her and came to pick me up loaded for bear. I was low on protein and various assundry other things and they decided a Protein drink would be good for me. I am not sure but I seriously doubt they could make these things taste any worse. Putting them in cute containers with built in straws like a kids juice box does not fool anyone. I swear I may write my own set of nausea and vomiting instructions for healthcare professionals.

Now for a happy ending to Chemo 1. Although possibly contributory, my stupid meal choices were probably not the main reason for my reactions. The first day after my first treatment, the palpable node in my neck had decreased in size from 5 cm to 1 cm. My oncologist put it wonderfully. Mass tumor cell kill! I just love that sentence.... The body has to rid itself of all those dead tumor cells. This has given a new twist to my services at the toilet/trash can. I can now pray Oh Thank You God, Oh Thank You God! All of you are responsible for this by praying for me everyday. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Have my next Chemo party scheduled for next Thursday. They are going to admit me this time and keep me overnight even though they think I might not have as bad a response. I would willingly go through this if it means "mass tumor kill" again!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Simplifier

My life was simplified, redirected and refocused in the matter of a few minutes. All of a sudden priorities became crystal clear. God, your family and loved ones, friends, relationships, it seems so simple yet not so, historically for me. Gone were worries of who was prettier, thinner, smarter. What job, what rung of the ole ladder I had gotten to, how much money am I making - just not an issue. How many years has it really been since I looked in the mirror first thing in the morning and not been trying to measure up to some type of standard? I have no idea, but if I am honest I would have to say I can never remember not doing this. Throughout life I have described this as drive and ambition and worn them like a badge. I think it has been all too easy for me to continually get caught up in that vortex. I got so used to spinning around in circles it seemed like the normal thing to do.

When I looked in the mirror this morning, all I saw was a woman who with God's help is a Cancer Survivor for today. I am in a daily war with cancer and that is now just the only battle I am willing to participate in. So, for those of you that may have been afraid to say something to me is your "get out of jail free" card. No negative energy from me. God and I are focused and busy.

Now, since I am committed to true honesty here, I will admit that when I looked in the mirror today, I am still greatful for my hair so I guess God is not done with me yet,lol.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ok, well here goes. I am almost afraid to start this thing there has been so much hype. I would like to say that there are many defining moments in life, none quite so resonating as being smacked straight up side the head with your own mortality. My defining moment started around noon on January 28, 2010. I got up, went to work in clinic and was generally very busy. I got a phone call at noon that my doctor wanted to speak with me right away. Not giving it much of a second thought, I phoned him. He told me that my routine chest xray had shown something and I needed to get a CT scan. First sucker punch to the gut! What did I do you say? Well, I checked in the next patient and scheduled someone else's test! Being the patient sort, I decided to have the doctor I work for (he should remain nameless to protect the innocent, lol) to tell me what level of panic I should be allowing myself. He did and told me to get the CT scheduled that afternoon.

Some of the major benefits in working in healthcare for 35 years are the people you meet and work with on a daily basis and the favors you can call in when needed. Within the hour I was having my CT scan. I got dressed and went back to relieve my work sister in clinic. I do so much better when I can focus on someone else's problems. In a couple of hours, Kay came over to tell me Dr. B (protecting his innocence, remember?) needed to speak with me in his office. Well let me tell you, one does not need to be a brain surgeon to know this is not going to be good! I will say that the sweetness and caring that he delivered the news with has been one of the most touching things to come out of this experience so far. I will always be greatful for the way you handled that Dr. B.

At this point, I did decide that maybe I should just let Kay go ahead and finish clinic. I thought, WTH, why not even allow yourself a good cry? Then I called Ronny. I have absolutely no idea what I told him except I knew he was on his way. As a matter of fact, I am not sure that I even remember what happened for the next few days. All I know is that it was like a whirlwind. First came the PET scan, then the pulomonary doctor then the bronchoscopy. All this was done by the next day, Friday. Then came the joy of waiting for the biopsy results. Second sucker punch to the gut, but who's counting right? Stage 4 lung cancer with nodes in the bone and liver. or something like that. I mean really wasn't the first part bad enough?

The next joyous step in this process was getting an IV port implanted. Now to date, this has got to rank #1 in my procedures to date. I think that had more to do with the Versed than anything else. That will have it's own individual blog devoted to it, I promise. Let's just liken it for now to giving someone that has not had a drink for 25 years a pitcher of margaritas. This gets us up to 2/11/10. That date marks my first chemo treatment, another whole story in itself.

I have a lot more, but I will need to start slowly! Award winning masterpieces cannot be expected to occur overnight anyway. Who knows, maybe I will be the next John Grogan (Marley and Me).