Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Okay. I'm back.

You guys, I am so sorry for not having posted in so long.  But DUDE.  I have never, ever been as sick as I was the past few weeks.

The thing is, it's not just the chemo side effects, which by themselves are horrific.  But now it's to the point where my immune system is so ineffective that I catch every single little bug floating around. We have been so careful.  We've kept me quarantined.  We use face masks.  We disinfect every dang thing.  We are hand sanitizer maniacs.  And yet, I keep catching these horrible bugs.

If you remember, my fourth round of chemo had me fighting bronchitis.  This fifth round involved another head cold (somehow my body fought it off before it turned into bronchitis again), which had me coughing so hard that I was vomiting.

The worst bug I caught this time, though, was The Intestinal Flu from Hell.  We're talking the violence of food poisoning.  Have any of you guys had food poisoning??  Oh my word.  It's awful.  It's nightmarish.  It has you wishing you were dead.  "Death is okay by me!" (What movie?)  And I had this flu that was just that violent, FOR SEVEN DAYS.

I went in for IV fluids and tests the first four days, and everything indicated that this was "just" a virus.  Yet it wasn't going away, and my body was expelling any form of fluid, IV or otherwise, just as quickly as they put it in me.  I was on the floor of the bathroom for four days.  Because being anywhere else was too far to travel and get there in time, if you know what I mean.  I was crying, crying, crying. But without tears.  Because I was that dehydrated.  I had to wear Depends.  Which are actually quite comfortable.  I'm a fan.  Because they kept me from soiling my pants.

When you're dehydrated, you start vomiting violently.  So that started happening, too.  I had been drinking, drinking, drinking clear fluids, but I couldn't keep anything down.

Eventually, in the worst part of it, I couldn't drink.  My body wouldn't let me drink.  I knew I had to, was weird.  My mom kept trying to get me to drink, and I just couldn't.

Of course, we were in contact with my oncologist or his PA's every day.  They sent me to the ER one night for fluids.  They sent me to a local instacare twice for fluids.  They recommended Immodium (which did NOTHING for me, which was weird).

Finally, I decided to go to the hospital in a neighboring city, because that's where these doctors are based, and they had no idea how serious this was.  All of these different places were doing tests, but they weren't sending the test results to my oncologist, and my oncologist wasn't contacting these places to get results.  Or to even see how I was doing.

I'm not going to lie, I'm still pretty miffed at my oncologist.  I know he's busy.  But I could have DIED, you guys.  My potassium levels were dangerously low.  The hospital nurses told me that's why severe dehydration kills people - low potassium levels.  I felt that my doc, and his PA's, didn't care, or didn't care to know, what I was dealing with here.

So I recruited my dad to drive me to this city - it's only half an hour away.  By darn it, I was going to see my doctor.  Not some random ER doc.  Not some random instacare doc.  HIM.  And the reason I recruited my dad is because I needed a bulldog.  Dad can get stuff done.  I'm jealous of his feistiness. For reals.  I have a hard time getting up in peoples' faces when it needs to happen.

So we got up there to the hospital, and basically, I demanded to be admitted.  And I demanded to see my oncologist.  The ER doc was all, "Oh, we'll call the PA who is on call..." and my dad was like, "Nope.  You're going to get a hold of her oncologist.  And he will come and see her.  Tonight.  Or I will find his house and knock on his door."  The ER doc was like, "Well, alrighty then."  But I am a fan of him, because he called all of these places I had been to and gathered all the test results and information to give to my oncologist.

So my oncologist showed up, saw the results of the tests, realized how truly ill I had been, and said, "I'm not letting you leave for at least three days."  And I told him, "Oh, I'm not leaving until this crap [get it?] is GONE.  If it takes 20 days."

So I stayed there for three days, and it was a nice hospital.  My nurses were attentive.  I had continuous IV drip the whole time, as well as a heart and oxygen monitor. Look - I'm that girl from The Fault in our Stars!
 See what I was doing there?
I just needed Ben to be upside-down next to me.  And we would both need hair...

And here is my glowing heart and oxygen monitor:
It was BRIGHT.  I had to tuck my hand under a pillow to sleep.  And if I moved in my sleep and my hand came popping out, LAAAAAA!  This bright, glowing fingertip woke me up.

This reminded me of the theme song from Goldfinger, one of my fave Bond movies.  I was so bored in my bed in the hospital that I changed the lyrics.  Do you want to hear them?  Of course you do!

RedddddddFINGA!  She's the woman...
The woman with the ruby touch
A cherry's touch
Such a bright FINGA!
Beckons you to enter her hospital room...
Please come on innnnnn....

Thank you very much.  I'll be here all week.

I was also on a potassium drip for the first two days.  Each little potassium IV bag was worth a box full of bananas, they told me.  They gave me some pretty powerful stuff for my...ah...dysentery, wink wink.  It would work for awhile, and then, well, the floodgates would open again.  Finally, one of the PA's (I got a daily visit from the PA's, but I didn't ever see my doctor again.  Sigh....) was like, "All of the tests show that this is a virus.  But I want to try antibiotics and just see.  Maybe you have a bacterial infection that didn't show up in our tests."  I was willing to try anything.

Whether it was the antibiotics or the virus finally running its course, I was able to leave the hospital Friday.  Though things still aren't completely back to normal, they're manageable and much better.

Except I got a UTI on Monday.  So now I'm on antibiotics for that, as well.  Three antibiotics total, currently.

I'm supposed to do chemo tomorrow, but only after I have a visit with the doctor and he feels that my body can handle it.  I feel...not strong, certainly, but not in the throes of devastating illness, either. Emotionally, I want to hit this thing hard.  Like a football player that's running with the ball and hits his helmet into the gut of a defender, which I have learned is against the rules.  (I have been watching a lot of football with my dad these past four months.  I've become quite a fan of it.  And I get it a little bit more.  And I mean just a little bit.  It's so complicated...  I am a huge fan of the Packers.  They are amazeballs!)

I just want to get the darn thing done, you guys.  But if the doc doesn't think I'm ready, they'll have to postpone it to Monday, to give me a few more days to heal.  We'll see.

There is also a lot of fear associated with this round - what will I catch next?  Bubonic plague? Cholera?  Smallpox?  You are left so defenseless.

Spiritually, round number five was tough.  It's really, really hard to continue to say, "Thy will be done," when you legitimately feel like you're dying.  When you beg for help, and the help doesn't come immediately, but you really do need immediate help, that's tough.  It's tough to say, "Heavenly Father answers us on his timetable.  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes the answer is 'wait'" when you're crying on the bathroom floor for the fourth day in a row. It's hard to wait for the blessings promised in a priesthood blessing when you're vomiting so hard that you pull your diaphragm muscle (not kidding about that).

I have to admit that I felt a Heavenly Father.  Which I'm repenting of.  I've never been mad at Him, throughout all of this cancer process.  But something about an immediate, ongoing, life-threatening illness really pushes you to very dark places.  And I also have to admit that my faith in Him faltered a little bit.  Not that He exists and knows all things, but...that he would save me.  I feel really guilty about having these feelings.

But as I think about this concept of a child being mad at her Father, I think about my own kids.  There are times when they're really mad at me.  But I know, as their mother, what is best.  No, Micah, you cannot use a knife.  You'll get hurt.  No, Dylan, you can't play iPad for 20 hours a day.  It's not healthy for you.  No, Sadie, you can't play until you clean your room.  You need to learn responsibility.  We all have to enforce things or disallow things, because we're older and we see the bigger picture and we want what's best for our kids.  And when they're mad at me for these things, I shake my head in frustration, but I don't take it personally.  I just say, "They don't get it.  Eventually, they will."  I've got to hope that Heavenly Father is that same way with us.  Being angry at Him isn't a good thing, but I'm repenting.  And He will forgive me.  Gladly.  Because He's perfect.

Another thing I've been thinking a lot about is the First Presidency Christmas devotional that aired on Sunday.  Elder Christofferson said something that really resounded with me.  Now, I know that Christ atoned for our sins so that we could repent and be forgiven and have a chance to live with He and Heavenly Father, right?  I also know that he suffered our pain, emotional and physical, so that he could know how to succor us - send us help - in the way we need.  I also know that going through trials makes us more sympathetic and kind to others, as well as helping us to grow and learn.  But that sympathy part really hit home for me when Elder Christofferson said that, like Christ, we too go through pain and suffering so that we can succor others who encounter the same difficulty.  I guess I've never thought about it in that way.  Because I've had breast cancer and have been going through chemo, I'll know how to help anyone in my neighborhood, circle of friends, acquaintanceship, or ward who goes through it.  I'll know exactly what things help and what things really don't help.  I'll know exactly what she needs.  I'll know exactly what to say.  Because I've literally been there.  So this is a chance, really, to prepare to serve others in the future.

So.  That's where things sit right now.  Physically, I'm doing...okay.  Weak, but okay.  Spiritually, I'm repenting.  And also very, very grateful that Heavenly Father helped me and spared me.  Emotionally, I'm ready to get this last round DONE.  So I don't ever, ever again have to say, "I still have such-and-such more chemo sessions to do."  I think that, once I'm done with this one, even if I get really sick again, I'll have hope.  I'll have the ability to say, "I'll get better.  I won't get knocked down ever again. From here on out is nothing but healing."

That will be a great feeling.


James Shipley said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing what you are going through. It is amazing to read. Thank you.

Mindy H. said...


You are sooooooo awesome! In the midst of all of this wretchedness that you are going through, you somehow manage to get even closer to the Spirit and have these amazing insights ... then you manage to share them in the most eloquent ways.

I am sending so many prayers your way for this last round. SO MANY!!!!!

Living and Loving Life said...

I started reading your blog for help on teaching my Sunday School class and for that I can't thank you enough. But now, I'm reading your blog to see how you're doing. You seem like such an amazing person and I want you to know that prayers are being said on your behalf in Northern Idaho. Thanks for sharing your story!

oakleyses said...
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