"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."


Finally coming out of the fog...

Wow, so this last treatment really did a number on me. I think the first time around I was preoccupied with my collapsed lung, and now that it was all better there was only the chemo to think about. I did alright in the hospital. We started late Monday night, after waiting a few hours just to get a room. Seemed they were booked that night. Got my room and finally got started at 9pm! Ugh, nothing like being up all night hooked up to chemo. Saturday night was interesting. I got my bags as usual and when I went to stand up I couldn't breathe. I had to struggle to ask the nurse what she gave me. Luckily, she stopped the IV and within a matter of minutes I was back to breathing normal again. Apparently, this can happen with the Etoposide chemo I was given. I wish someone would have told me. After that, I made sure to tell the nurse Sunday night to start me off at half the dose because I didn't want a repeat performance. Monday night comes around and I finally get my Velcade at 10pm! So, add on 2 hours to wait and see for any reactions and I am looking at getting discharged at around midnight. Well, I was ready to go home and sleep in my own bed, even if it meant leaving the hospital in the middle of the night. The nurse talked me into staying, after all the room was already paid for. I did make sure all connections were taken off, I was not hooked up and would not not be poked or prodded during the middle of the night. If they promised to leave me alone, I would stay. So, I get to sleep and of course I have to tell a few shift nurses throughout the night "No Vitals!". My sister said I sounded like our mean, old grandmother but I was tired and I earned the right to be left alone, right??? :) It worked out in the end. I was able to get my Neulasta shot that morning rather than going home to come right back to the hospital to get it and we got breakfast out of it. The food isn't that bad.

I was just really tired up until yesterday. I would sleep, wake up and eat or drink and then go back to sleep. Thankfully, my mother-in-law stayed with us all week and she helped out tremendously! The worst day for me was Wednesday, I woke up feeling groggy and had the worst headache....sort of like a really, really, really nasty hangover, now who can't relate to that? ;-P After that, I felt better and more energized with every hour. I had my CBC today and the nurse practioner gave me an A+! I get to even take Olivia and Seth to school on Monday for their first day!! So, everything on that side is going great. Then, I met with the sct department today to get the ball rolling on their end. Ugh, what an overwhelming and scary appt. that was. First, I didn't realize I would need a caretaker to be with me 24/7 for 30 days after the sct. Then, in my sweet blissfully ignorant state I didn't realize I would be getting more chemo. Arrgghh!!! I thought I was so close to be doing with that poison. Nope. The sct is done is two parts. The first part is harvesting your cells, then the second part is the actual transplant of your cells.

Part 1 - Inpatient chemo for 5 days, inject self with shots, go back every day for a week to MDACC to harvest cells and freeze them.

Part 2 - Inpatient high dosage chemo for 5 days, thaw my cells and give them back to me. Stay in the hospital another 2 weeks to recover and then go home.

But, before I can start this process my insurance has to ok it. Seems they have a separate contract with the hospital just for sct's. I got an estimate of charges....OMG....over $200K for the sct process. If I haven't said it before, let me say it again...I LOVE MY COMPANY AND I LOVE MY INSURANCE!! MDACC said United is one of the best ones they deal with, as they tend to pay for the entire process and don't tie up their time over red-tape stuff. My sister will also be getting typed, as will my kids - I think. Even though I'm doing an Auto (my own stem cells), they want to see if my sister or my kids match me 100% should I need it in the future. This testing of my sister and kids is another thing my insurance will cover that some others don't. I LOVE MY INSURANCE!! Can't forget about the dentist either - seems like everyone has to have their hand in the cookie jar, eh? I must get clearance from my dentist before I can proceed, so off to see him and fix some stuff so that I can save my life! :)

So, next weekend is my final treatment of VICE. After that, I should be in remission and I will be having all those wonderful tests done...CT, PET and Bone Marrow (boo!). I'm looking at starting the sct process maybe in a few weeks? I don't really know for sure, yet. I am trying to gather all the people I know who want to help out and be part of my caretaker team aka Team Brandy. Watch out, I may come knocking on your door! :)

As a person who hates asking for help, I have to say I have been sent angels this past week. Between the moms at school, who upon immediately finding out my situation took action and gathered other moms to help, to my dear co-workers and vendors who have been providing dinners for us this week, to the wonderful vendors and customers who have sent me the best cards and balloons to cheer me on - I can't begin to thank you enough. The dinners have been a hit, each and every one. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! It's been such a blessing to know that for a week we don't have to worry about having the energy, time, or ingredients, etc.. to make dinner. You are all angels and I thank God for blessing me with such beautiful friends and family.


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