Wow, this time around was really different than my previous treatments. They did chemo at higher dosages non-stop for 3 days. Coming home I thought I felt fine, albeit attached via a backpack to fluids and zofran for 24 hours, but I was alert and hungry. So, my sister and I stopped to get a bite to eat which turned into a hair raising experience for her! Midway through lunch I excused myself for the little ladies room only to find that I had neither the energy nor the ability to carry what seemed like 50 tons of iv fluids. Somehow, I made it back to the dining area but beelined straight to a bench. A floor would have sufficed, but since we were in public I didn't want to embarrass my sis. The only thing keeping me from unconsciousness was the fact that I would be going back to a hospital. Seeing that I just left a 5 day stay, that was not happening. So, I kept my focus on the bowl of mints on the coffee table next to me and thankfully, within minutes of a fan being turned on above me, I was coming around. The only other time I've felt like that was when I got overheated at an amusement park. But even then I didn't feel as weak as I felt right then when lifting my arm took all the strength it had in me. That was scary. And that is why you don't do chemo and drive. Poor Adrienne, I bet it will be a long time before we do lunch again.
So, the first few days were slower recovering for me too. My mind was racing and alert but my body just couldn't keep up. I tried updating this blog sooner, but after a few keystrokes it felt like I had just done a thousand push ups. So, I rested and gave my body what it needed. Thankfully, yesterday and today I am feeling more like myself and am able to do my normal activities without the need for pillows or a mattress.
Second winds come right when you need them most. You can't make them happen any faster or any slower. I was feeling pretty wiped out emotionally earlier this week on top of being physically exhausted. It had been a lonely stay in the hospital and it felt like I used up all my reserved strength getting through it. My skin looks patchy - that's the chemo burning it and now it's scaling off bit by bit (ewww, sorry if it's tmi). I've gained 10lbs (that was hard earned weight that I had lost after gaining weight during the first treatment). I feel like I'm 50 going through menopause, these hot flashes are really starting to annoy me. And the list could go on and on....So when Gabriel was dropping me off at the hospital Tuesday morning to remove the back pack of fluids and check my counts, I lost it. I just felt so tired and I wanted this process just be over with. Poor Gabriel. He seems to get the brunt of it just because he's there. He was kind enough to surprise me this last visit and redo our room so that it was more relaxing for me to recover in. He painted everything, got new fixtures, mirrors, lamps, etc...And here I am getting angry that he's dropping me off when I knew that was the only way we could do it that morning. But I knew I wasn't angry at him. I was angry at this entire process and what I thought it has taken from me. I was angry that I had to go back to the hospital after I had just spent the last 5 days there. I was angry that I am still not finished with treatment. I was angry at cancer. So, I gathered up my big girl panties and sucked it in. God has a funny way of sending you angels just when you need them most. That happened to me twice Tuesday. Once was the sct clinic nurse, Jill. She is one of those people that light up a room with their energy and charisma. She immediately brightened up my day, not to mention saying bye bye to the bag of fluids was refreshing as well. So, then I got to ride home in style. Dad picked me up in the Hummer. Ahh, that's a nice ride. A little luxury never hurt anyone, right? Ok, so my day isn't as bad as it was starting out to be. Then, I get this lovely package from my dear friend Melinda. Well, it turns out it was from many more dear friends.
Inside was a beautiful quilt made by my wonderful Illinois Alpha Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters. Words can't begin to describe how I felt unwrapping something so beautiful and yet so personal. Reading the letter from Melinda, knowing you all took the time to lift my spirits meant so much to me. It really touched my heart and I can't thank each of you enough. My spirit thanks you. I swear, I called Melinda the first time bawling and I hadn't even opened up all the cards yet! So, you can imagine my surprise when I get through all the wonderful and funny cards and I find three American Express Gift Card envelopes. So I called her a second time, bawling again. Speechless. Just speechless. I hate the fact that cancer brought us together, but I love the fact that cancer brought us together. The quilt is beautiful and when I slept with it Tuesday night I could really feel the warmth and love that is in each of your squares. I like to think of it as one big group hug!! :) It is going to become a family heirloom and I am so proud to call all of you not only my friends but my sisters. What's funny is some of the stories you remember I had 'somehow' forgotten! So, it was a very nice trip down memory lane to one of my favorites destinations - Monmouth College! The cards, awesome personalized CD and quilt will be making a trip with me to MD Anderson on my last inpatient visit ever!! I also have to thank Mrs. Colleen Cudney and Emily for putting it all together for me (cuz we know Mel doesn't sew! haha!) . Amy B., Deb, Alicia, Tibbie, Vicki, Amy C., Beth, Colleen, Lindholm, Lisa, Melissa, Jill, Sharon, Kara, Westby, Jenny, Mary Beth, Crisco, Molly and Mel - I love you all for it and know that I am forever indebted to each of you.
Here are some photos of me, the kids and the beautiful quilt:
Ok, so back to reality....Off to the hospital I go tomorrow just for routine blood work and to see how the neupogen shots are doing. (I have to give myself two injections per day so my white cell count can skyrocket!) Then we're looking at collecting my stem cells next Tuesday or Wednesday and then I get a week off to recover and ensure my body is healthy prior to the sct BEAM chemo. I'm looking at admission the week of October 22nd and getting released the week of Thanksgiving. It will definitely be a special holiday this year with much thanks to be given.
I am so almost there, but my body and mind have felt weakened through this entire process. Must push on!! LIVE STRONG!! (I'm currently reading Lance's second book - Every Second Counts)
So, here's to my second wind, my special angels and God's love. All that I need to face this last hurdle of the process.
With much, much love,
p.s. Thank you tia Mary Jane for the cards, the kids love getting them. :)
p.p.s. or p.s.s.?! Since this was a monster of a blog, it took me a few days to get it all down on paper - so to speak. I hope you have enjoyed the photos of baldylocks!!
"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."