Friday, August 28, 2009

A confession and a genius

So, I have a confession to make. It's not bad, and probably not surprising, but I thought I'd better come clean. When I was home last, and in pain from the complications with my port, I got really depressed. I didn't feel like I could exercise, and I didn't have a schedule to keep, so I just sat around at home and sunk into myself. Now, this would be understandable (in my mind) if I was depressed about having cancer. But, I wasn't depressed about that, I was depressed about not feeling productive, about feeling like I had nothing to offer.

Through my years of working, I have often daydreamed about NOT working, about being able to be at home and be really productive, spending my days doing what I love. As it turns out, I don't do that. What I do when I don't work is nap and watch TV. Not much for productivity, huh? I am lazy by nature, and when you add that to the fact that I am in pain, I do NOTHING. (This is not an exaggeration.)

When I saw my oncologist last week, I got the news that the pain at my port site should reduce over time, in addition to the fact that she was switching me over to strictly IV, outpatient chemo. The change in my mental state has been great, not to mention that the side effects after only IV chemo were much less than with the combination I was having before. Mom helped move me out of the Houston apartment on Sunday, and we were home fairly early in the afternoon. My worst day for side effects was Monday, when I felt tired during the morning. Mom ran some errands then, and I rested, and I felt better when she got home. That evening, we went to Debby's for dinner, and to find out how the kids' first day of school had gone. While we were there, I helped with homework and filling out paperwork that the school had sent home.
I know it seems minor, but doing that helped me to feel like my day had served some purpose.

Let me mention here that in addition to being the world's best Mom, my mom is also a genius. She told Debby that I'd been feeling less than productive, and that maybe I could spend a few hours each evening helping out with the kiddos. Debby and I both thought that was a good idea, so this week, that is what I did.

I spent my mornings taking care of things at my house, then spent the afternoons helping with homework and dinner at Debby's. You have no idea how it has changed my week. Instead of sitting around my house feeling sorry for myself, I have exercised, organized, and kept up with my house, not to mention what I'm doing at Debby's. In college I noticed that I used my time more effectively when I was busy, and this just proves it again. I have made a list each morning, and most days, I have crossed everything off my list.

So, thanks, Mom, for giving us the genius idea that my time and Debby's family might benefit from one another. You're the best!

Friday, August 21, 2009

To do list

Yesterday's chemo finished without a hitch.  Mom and I were back at the apartment by 9pm and we were both able to get a good night's rest.  So far today, we've had breakfast and coffee, and we're going to go out and run a few errands.

Also on the list today is to call the church I am renting the apartment from and let them know it will be free again after this weekend.  I just hope it as much a blessing to the next family that uses it as it has been for us.  Now I will have to start thinking ahead when we come down for treatments and get a hotel, plan for food, etc.  

I feel better today than I have on any other day after chemo.  It is nice to not feel like my belly is full of several gallons of liquid, and that I can walk upright.  I may get tired today, but right now I am so thankful to feel as well as I do that I can't think of anything else.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Treatment

I did see my oncologist today, and she said that I can do the remaining part of my chemo on a strictly outpatient basis!  Yay!  No more waiting for admission to the hospital, no more treatments in the middle of the night, and no more paying for an apartment...what blessings!  Thanks so much to those of you praying with me about this.

I am receiving my IV chemo now.  Though I don't have a TV on in my room, I can hear two shows.  I am also overhearing one man's conversation with someone at his work, and apparently something is not going well, because he sounds upset.  It must be difficult to try to manage your own health needs, work, and try to figure out how still to provide for your family.  I am so thankful, in this moment, for my own stresses and concerns, because I don't think I would cope well with anyone else's.

During the visit with my doctor, she told me that unless the pain in my port area gets worse, she plans to leave it in until after my treatments are over, then pull it.  I am hoping it doesn't get worse, because I am not having any fun with it right now.  I miss feeling like I can exercise and get a really good workout.  I am gaining weight, and not that that is everything, but I certainly don't like it!  I thought chemo was supposed to cause you to lose weight.  So much for that!  I am trying not to worry over little things, but often it feels like the little things are the only things I can control.  Having the discipline TO control them, now there's my problem...  

I'm off, for now.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I just got off the phone with the Nurse Practitioner in my oncologist's office. We have been talking this week about the complications with my port, and there is a possibility it may no longer be useful. If that is the case, I would no longer need to be admitted to the hospital for treatments and I could do my remaining treatments as an outpatient.

For me, that means more time at home, and potentially giving up the apartment in Houston. That would ease a great financial burden. Not that finances are a primary concern, but they are a concern nonetheless. I would appreciate prayer as this could change a lot of things for me.

My primary goal is still to rid my body of this cancer and have it never return. If that can be done with easing financial pressure, that would be ideal. Pray that the doctor is wise in her treatments, and that I would rest in what God has for me, even now.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

This week

It has been a quiet week here at home. I did go to church last Sunday, and it was refreshing to visit with friends. Throughout the week I've seen a few friends, but mostly stayed close to home. The pain around the messed-up port remains, but today, finally, it wasn't as bad. Honestly, I am looking forward to seeing the doctor on Thursday to find out what exactly this problem is and how to resolve it. The most fun part of my week was having Angie & John come over 3 nights (and Deann once) to play tennis. We would go to the local courts after the sun went down and just hit the balls around. None of us is very good, but it was still fun to get out and do something normal. I am hoping they'll come again before I go back to Houston.

For a couple of days I have had a swollen gland in my neck, and a little bit of a sore throat. I have been keeping an eye on my temperature, and I haven't run a fever, so I've been laying low at home since early Friday. I considered going to the local emergency room to have someone take a look at me, but after my last ER experience (7 hours of waiting in various rooms, then being sent home with no answer to why I'd had fever in the 1st place), I opted to self-monitor. Part of that decision was also being aware of how many "more sick" people I would encounter while waiting in an ER than just hydrating and resting at home. After ten hours of sleep last night, I have felt much better today, and even made something new for lunch and baked brownies just so I'd have something to do.

I have done a lot of reading this week, and am starting a new book tonight. I've also been watching DVDs of "Boston Legal," (thanks Dad for loaning them to me). Though I had only seen one episode of the show before this week, I see why people like it and may actually try to figure out when it's on...any ideas?

I hope you have had a good week and would love to know what fun things you have been doing while I have been laying low.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I love Sundays!

Have I ever mentioned how I love Sundays? In the 11 months since I left Starbucks, Sunday has certainly become my favorite day. It was always close to my favorite day before leaving Starbucks, but since staff liked to "be sick" on many Sundays, I would often spend the day in dread of having to do some sort of work most Sundays. Even if I didn't end up having to work, the dread of it was just as bad as actually working.

Anyway, for the last 11 months, Sunday has developed a nice, relaxing routine. It starts with going to bed on Saturday night, which can be anytime I want. If that means 9pm, so be it, but it can also mean 3am, it just depends on how I feel. You see, the routine of Sunday is that I can sleep until nearly 9am if I need to, so I can do whatever I want on Saturday is great. Sundays I set my alarm for about 845, shower, have breakfast & coffee, and drive to Waco for church, which starts at 10.

After church, I'll either have lunch with friends in Waco, or go see Debby and crew for the afternoon. Sometime in the late afternoon, I usually have a nap, then cook something fun for dinner. Since I have had so much leisurely sleeping in and napping, Sunday dinners can be quite late, which is just fine. I usually splurge and have something delicious for dessert on Sunday night, too. Just the feather in my cap I need on Sunday night.

So, you see, I love Sundays. I am in the middle of one right now and I am so content. I just thought you should know.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I am home. And it feels so good. I'm not unpacked yet, must save something for tomorrow! Sweet dreams!

Plan B

So, it's Friday.  Normally Fridays after treatments I feel pretty gross.  Not so today.  It could have something to do with the fact they could only infuse half of my chemo yesterday because again there was an issue with my port.  After sitting for 6 hours in the infusion suite, getting chemo pumped in (we thought), I asked the nurse how much longer it would take.  She took a look at the site, and saw that there was some swelling around the port and chemo was done for the day. Normally something like that would totally bum me out because it off-sets the value of the time (all this time and chemo is not done!) and affects the total number of treatments for me (I only got 17 1/2 and not 18 doses!).  Instead of being bummed about it, I've decided to look at this as something God has planned for me.  

Clearly, if this was something God was going to throw up as a roadblock, it just means I need to wait and pray and trust in Him to solve whatever this is.  I can do that.

Plus, two of my sisters and my niece are here, so we are going to go to a movie & have fun today, which doesn't leave me any time to worry or fret.  After the movie, we are going to have an apartment-cleaning extravaganza so that when I head back to my "home-home" this evening, my "home away from home" will be clean and crisp and ready to welcome back when the time comes.  


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tough Night

I had a tough night in the hospital last night.  About 1 a.m., I noticed my port was leaking where they were putting in chemo.  (Any leaking around a needle is bad news, this I have learned.)  So, I called my nurse, she shut off my chemo, and started calling other people into the room.  I think the fullest I got was 4 nurses and one doctor, conferring over what was to be done.  Did I mention this started at 1 in the morning???

By 315 or so, it was decided that no damage had been done by chemo poison leaking into tissue it didn't belong, so IV team nurses were called to re-stick me and start all over.  By 4 this morning, chemo was running again, but no one was content to let me rest while it pumped, so I was checked on every 30 minutes or so by either a doctor or a nurse.  Disastrous sleep (more like no sleep) ensued until 8 or so, when I finally gave up and decided to be awake for the day.  

I believe there were visits by 2 more teams of doctors before breakfast or coffee could be consumed.  Notice here that coffee is considered a separate meal, more by necessity than anything else.  Debby came down to the hospital (she was in town with her family to see the new baby and take her two youngest to camp) to help me understand any special instructions because I was afraid I wouldn't retain anything in my sleep-deprived mind.  What a gift!  She got me home around 230 this afternoon, and I showered and slept blissfully for 3 hours.  Mom is here now, making sure I am taken care of until Judy comes for the later part of the week and my last dose of chemo this round.  

Pray for me that I don't have any lasting side effects from the leaking port going forward.  If there are complications, it could cause infection, which could lead to needing to replace the port, which would mean another surgery.  I am hopeful that will not be the case, but I would appreciate your prayers for this as well.  Thanks!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Go out, be blessed!

"Only the mysterious is eternal.  I prefer to feel this life rather than to grow foolish enough to believe I own it. "--Marlena De Blasi

"But to the other realm, alas, what can be taken?  Not the power of seeing, learned here so slowly, and nothing that's happened here.  Nothing."--Rainer Maria Rilke

"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly." 1 Peter 2:18-19

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." 1 Peter 4:12-13

I woke early this morning, and reading seemed to be a good way to start the day.  It was a difficult decision--reading or coffee first--but reading won this morning.

One of my friends noticed the other day that though hair started falling out of my head, I still had eyebrows & eyelashes, hair on my arms, etc.  It got me to thinking about why.  That thinking got me a little anxious about the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  Maybe in some weird way, my body is resistant to chemo.  Maybe the fact that this poison is not killing hair follicles indicates that it also is not killing the cancerous cells in my body.  I bet you can see where this leads.  For a couple of days, there has been silly fear rolling around in my head, which has made me less able to focus on other things.

This morning, I woke up in my hospital room with the realization that somehow that fear was gone.  How silly of me to think my body would respond in a typical manner.  Very little about me is typical, why would I expect my reaction to chemo be "by the book"?  

So, the passages above spoke to me this morning.  I still want to live my life, to feel things, to savor and enjoy what comes my way.  I sometimes see cancer as an unjust master, a fiery ordeal, and 1 Peter was a good reminder that though we are not promised life will be easy, it can be made easier through trusting in the Lord's care for us.  Also, it reminded me that I am called to bless others, because I know God is caring for each and every situation, good or bad, and that blessing is constantly to be shared.

It's not easy, but I am so thankful I was reminded of all of this as I start my day.