Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chemo, cupcakes and friends....

June 11, 2010

Second bag of chemotherapy was hung at the break of dawn today.  So far my side effects after two infusions have been nearly non-existent.  The doctors say it is because they are giving me smaller doses that run over about 3 hours, with 12 hour breaks in between as opposed to the 24/7 flow that took place when I was diagnosed.  I, on the other hand, think that I'm not having a lot of side effects due in part to how proactive the doctors and nurses have been in regards to my concerns from the last go around.

Nausea and mouth sores were the thorn in my side when I had my induction therapy.  I was incredibly anxious about having to go through that again.  Part of it stemmed from the fact that the treating doctors at Tulane seemed to think it was close to impossible that someone could be that nauseated or in that much pain.  This time around it seems like the doctors are not only willing to listen to my fears and concerns, they are willing to act upon them.

What a friggin concept??  Actually listening to your patient.  Wow.

So about half an hour before they start running the cytarabine, which is the name of the medication used in my treatment, they hang a bag of zofran.  Then when they start the chemo they give me an IV dose of phenegran, which is another anti-nausea med.  Every 4 hours they come and give me anti-nausea medication, without me even having to ask. 

I'm so relieved that I'm not spending almost every waking hour with my head in a bucket and my hand wrapped around the nurse call button.  Another thing that is going in my favor is that I still have an appetite.  My new obsession seems to be chocolate chip muffins.  Yesterday when I was admitted my mom made a run down to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat and asked if I would like anything.

Before I could even think about it I blurted out that I'd like a chocolate chip muffin.  I didn't think I'd get one, but it sounded delicious.  For me it seems that dealing with cancer is a little bit like pregnancy in the sense that I only seem satisfied in the hunger department if I am able to eat what I am craving.  Unfortunately some of the things I crave don't settle well with my stomach and thus ends in the same way these situations did when I was pregnant.  I crave something...obsessing about it until I actually have it on a plate in front of me.  I eat, savoring every bite and then a little while later I'm heaving my guts. 

So cruel.

When my mom came back from the cafeteria carrying a chocolate chip muffin in her hands as if she had found the Holy Grail, I began to bounce up and down on the bed.  Clapping my hands like a 2yr old.  I swear that this whole experience of dealing with a life threatening illness makes me adore the little things.

This morning when my mom came back to spend some time with me she made her way back down to the cafeteria and scored me some more chocolate chip muffins.  I told her that her dedication to keeping me swimming in muffins is heart warming and will definitely affect what kind of nursing home my sister and I will select for her when she's old and decrepit. She just laughed.

I love seeing my mom laugh.  Ugh...I'm gonna miss her when she leaves in a few days.

There wasn't much time for me to wallow in thoughts of how lost I'm gonna feel with her departure because I was getting a visit from two of my childhood friends.  Allison and Tammy, whom I've known since I was 3 years old were coming from out of state to throw Olivia's 16th birthday.  Allison is Olivia's godmother and the person that knows me better than most, so it overjoyed me to have her handling this milestone in my daughters life.  Especially since I can't physically be there.  Thank God for ativan or I may have had a mini nervous breakdown over the fact that I was missing the party.

Olivia's attitude of "I'd rather you miss this one and be around for all the rest" makes my heart swell with pride.  I don't know if she is just putting on a brave face for me but I am amazed at how well she is dealing with all of this.  As I sit chatting with Tammy and Allison about the party tomorrow, their drive out here and what they have been up to I feel a strange pang of jealousy that they will be able to be with my family on such an special day.

As quickly as it came I immediately attempt to stuff that feeling away and focus on reminiscing with my friends.  I can't believe we've known one another for 30 years.  That's longer than most people stay married!!  Grant it Tammy and I haven't remained close like Allison and I have, but if you'd just been a passerby of my room as we sat and talked, you'd never think we missed a day together.

It was slowly creeping towards dinner time and the sun was starting to set when Allison announced that they were gonna head out so they could eat and get some rest for the big day tomorrow.  That pang came back full force as I wished that I could just unhook the IV, throw on my clothes and go with them.  Instead I thanked them both for coming to see me and all they are about to do tomorrow and give them the name of a few restaurants that would be a good place to have dinner.

Once they leave and my room is all quiet again I close my eyes and try to shift my focus from the things that I am missing out on to getting through this round of treatment.  A  few minutes later one of my nurses comes in and gives me my dose of pain medication and I drift off to sleep.

June 12, 2010

It looks like a beautiful day outside the window of my hospital room.  The sun is out and there seem to be very little clouds.  I am hopeful that this means Olivia's party will go off without a hitch.  I throw up a little prayer that no one gets hurt, everyone has a good time and that they don't get any bad weather.

The inflatable water slide was delivered last night and the kids wasted no time in breaking it in.  I've been getting text updates on how things are going and I will be getting a full fledged report, with pictures, later on this evening when Allison and Tammy come to visit.

After making an appearance at the party, my mom made her way over to sit with me.  I'm trying very hard not to think about the fact that in less than 24 hours she will be going back to Georgia and taking Hannah with her.  I know that Hannah is looking forward to not having everyday consumed with her mother sick with cancer.  Summers spent with my parents are one of the highlights of Hannah's year and although I'd love to have my mom stay I know that achieving some sense of normal routine for the kids, especially Hannah, is important. 

June 13, 2010

Ugh...its Sunday.  The day when both my mom and Hannah leave as well as my two friends Allison and Tammy.  Every minute since waking this morning at a little after 6am (seriously there is NO sleep in the hospital) I have felt sad at how I won't just be able to call my mom and she'll come see me in the hospital or when I am at home I will peek into Hannah's room (where my mom resided for the close to 2 months that she has been here) and just chat with her or having her come lay with me in my bed.

I've been so spoiled having her around.  I know that I don't have to worry about my kids, the dogs or my house with her here.  I've been told by the doctors that when I am discharged following this treatment that I may be weaker than I was following the last treatment.  The only scary thing about that fact is that after my treatment the first time I was in hospital for another 20 days which allowed my counts to climb to a safe level which wouldn't leave me as susceptible to getting sick and I'd have a decent amount of energy because it.  This time I will be sent home in what is called a neutropenic state and I will be momless. Jon has to keep working or else we will lose everything and while my MIL is a huge help to us in getting me to and from appointments and spending time with the kids, she doesn't live in our house (nor do I think she wants to...which is ok by me).

And today I wouldn't just be losing my mom..sob.  There would be Hannah leaving too..double sob.  The final blow would be Allison and Tammy's departure..full on body sob!

Thankfully my time to say goodbye to my mom and Hannah was really short and quick.  Kind of like pulling a bandaid off really fast to make it hurt less.  They had a flight to catch and the hospital was on the way.  I had to go down to the lobby to kiss Hannah goodbye because she is under the age limit for being able to come up to my room.  My mom and I teared up but Hannah seemed to just want to get out of there and on with the rest of her summer plans.  Dang kids!

Allison and Tammy didn't stop by before hitting the road.  I would have liked to have another opportunity to thank them both and spend a little time with them.  Probably better that they didn't since I was emotional enough already dealing with the mom and daughter leaving.

One of my favorite nurses (because there are A LOT on this stay) Nina went to a local bakery and got a bunch of cupcakes.  She brought me the most gorgeous and delicious red velvet cupcake to drown my sorrows.  She said that sometimes you just need to have a "fat girl party".  I had to know what the story to that comment was because she was no where near being fat or large in any sense of the word.  She then divulged that she used to be overweight and had gastric bypass surgery.  While she can't eat like she used to and wouldn't want to return to, she does allow herself a "fat girl party" every once in a while which means she'll eat a whole cupcake or huge piece of cake.  I didn't care what she called it...that cupcake was amazing and helped heal my sorrows.

After dropping my mom and Hannah at the airport Jon came back to spend a little time with me.  These visits are rare because he works so much and the drive to and from the hospital is a lot to take on after putting in a 10+ hour work day.  Then there is the matter of taking care of the kids and keeping up with things at the house.  By the time it is all said and done there just aren't enough hours in the day to fit in everything that either of us would like to have happen.

So getting a visit, that included ice cream and Chili's take out, was just what we both needed.  Jon stayed until the nurse came to give me my sleep medication.  Hello Ambien.  Good night Jon!

June 14, 2010

Day 5 of being in the hospital and I am still managing to be able to smile.  I'm thinking its a good sign.  Side effects have been so mild on this go around.  I hope this is how all of my remaining treatments will go.  I think a large amount of credit goes to the doctors and nurses so I may just need to kidnap all of them and take them home with me to ensure that I get the exact staff on the next stay.

Good thing my MIL cleaned up and organized our garage cause I'm pretty sure that is where I will have to stash them all. 

June 15, 2010

Rough night last night.  I couldn't sleep to save my life.  The sleep medication did nothing and the pain on my left side from my unruly spleen was breaking all sorts of pain records.  At one point today I got up to use the restroom and actually had to use the nurse call button that is located next to the toilet.  I had gone in for a routine pee session and the next thing I know I'm hunched over in excruciating pain, with the room spinning and me feeling like I was gonna pass out.

Good times. 

Nothing more embarrassing than having to be scooped up off the hospital bathroom floor with your bare ass in the air.  Lucky for me I was able to get my underwear up before I almost went ass over teacup, but still the thought was enough to make me want to limit my fluid intake, thus lessening the possibility of this situation repeating itself again.

June 16, 2010

I was supposed to get discharged yesterday afternoon when my last bag of chemo finished, but I ended up needing 2 units of blood.  The transfusion ran too late into the evening for the doctors to want me released.  I actually slept pretty good thankfully and now I'm ready to get up on out of here.  I've already packed up my stuff and changed into my clothing.  Feels nice to have something covering my ass again.

It's going to be so weird at home without my mother.  I'm a little worried about how things will go with no one to look after me during the day.  I know that I'm not a complete invalid by any standards but I still feel so weak all of the time and it makes both myself and Jon feel better when there is someone here to check to see that I am breathing, eating, sleeping (but not comatose) and generally just functioning.

I guess all this responsibility will fall onto the very capable shoulders of my sweet Penny dog.....

I TOTALLY think she can handle it.  However if you don't see a post from me in the next few weeks please send help.  Ya know...just in case she can't handle my day to day care.

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