Friday, April 16, 2010

Chemo for a Cranky Woman

Tuesday, I had the next phase of my chemotherapy – a drug named Taxol.  The good news is that it’s less toxic & easier on the system than the chemo cocktail I’ve been taking.   The most excellent, awesome news, though, is that I don’t have to have that dumb Neulasta shot!  

Then, we get to the bad news.  I have to go weekly instead of every other week.  AND, I have to go in the mornings.  Folks, I’ve been very honest with you & I’m not going to stop now.  I am not a morning person, which probably had a hand in my becoming a writer – I can set my own hours.  When I absolutely have to set the alarm clock, I actually dream (read “nightmares”) about having to wake up to it.  I’m a pro at the snooze button, & have slept through an hour of constant buzzing, which awoke the entire neighborhood.  So this morning stuff is not good news to me.

I went there thinking that this was going to be at least a 4 hour affair.  And believe me, my daughter, Elyse & I can prepared to move in.  We brought our laptops, books, school projects, music, & even a few DVDs.  However, I was informed that no, since it’s weekly, it should only take 2 hours.  I was soooo happy.  That, however, didn’t end up being the case.

The nurse that administered the new medicine was bound & determined to be careful, which is a good thing.  But, when what should have taken only two hours turns into four & a half, one gets a little testy. 

We started with the first hour, which for any chemo is the “pre poison” medicines they give you to prevent all manner of side effects.  The second hour was to be the administration of the Taxol.  The nurse slipped a blood pressure cuff on me (which had never happened before), & came back EVERY 15 minutes to check it.  After the first hour of supposed Taxol administration, I noticed that the bag o’ drugs was still almost full.  I then noticed that when the 15 minute blood pressure reminder went off, so did the drip.  I asked my nurse why & she said that she had the drip set to low, to be on the safe side.  Which, again, is good, except when you’re a fidget like me who’s been told that you were outta there in 2 hours.  Finally, the drip was turned up, & two hours later, I was going home – cranky.

What probably added to my state of cranky was the fact that it was HOT in there! It was a warm day, but apparently they didn’t notice, so that added to my heat flashes.  Then, I started sweating, but not due to heat flashes.  It was just plain old stuffy & warm in there!  By the end of the day that started at 10:30 & didn’t end until 3:05, I felt as if I’d been in a sauna.  When I got up from my chair, I thought for sure it was going to stay attached to my body.

A weird side effect that’s happened since beginning Taxol, though, is that my hands & feet hurt.  Or, more accurately, feel like they’re burning.  Of course, this really sucks, as I’m beginning to work again for Examiner, & am working on other things having to do with writing.  Plus, I’m still not over the bone pain.  Oh, well, at least I’m almost halfway into the treatments.  So there’s that.


This experience has proven to me that people are amazingly caring.  My homeschool group, along with family, chipped in to bring dinners to my family.  These ladies weren’t just bringing food; they brought books, cards, body lotions, tote bags, handmade pot holders & everything in between (& too many to mention here).

My friend, Debbie, & her two babies, Jessica & Jason have been too adorable.  The two cuties came along with mom one time to visit me in the hospital.  Debbie is the one who brought the bouquet of Mylar balloons that I passed out to the other patients the day I was discharged.  You can read about that at “Beading for Chemo”. 

Jessica had brought me the teddy bear that I showed in that article.  She was thrilled that I love it.   Since then, whenever Debbie brings dinner, Jessica & Jason look for a new stuffed animal for me, or try to think of something that will make me feel better.  So now I have the original Baby Jessica, Bighead Jessica, & Jason Brownie.  Here’re their pictures:
Also, Jessica gave up one of her prized bracelets to make me feel better.  These are just children!  Well, children who are a reflection of their beautiful mom.

I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have this wonderful group of women in my lives.  I can’t say thank you enough to express my gratitude to all of you.

Another friend, Kimberly Cornwell, told her church group at New Goschenhoppen about me.  I woke one morning a few weeks ago to find a beautiful knitted shawl on my doorstep.  Not just any shawl, either.  It was made out of the softest yarn you can imagine.  I’ve worn that shawl often since then, & have used the fringes as “worry beads”.  I play with them when I’m having chemo.  This group of women are part of what’s called the “Prayer Shawl Ministry”.  As they knit these beautiful shawls, they pray over the person who’ll receive it, even though they don’t know who will. 

Another group of women, who call themselves “Comfort Crafters”, donate hand sewn scarves to the chemo center.  These women are from St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.  These scarves are coming in sooo handy as the weather is getting warmer.  I have several pashminas that I use when I don’t want to wear my wig, but they’re very warm.  These new light weight scarves are such a treat.

Of course, there was Dorothy Brandes who sent me a mastectomy bra.  You can read about her generosity in “Communication Stories”.  Again, never met me, just read about my story.

What blows me away about these women is that they do this for people they’ve never met.  They don’t do it for thanks or even recognition.  They do it out of the goodness of their heart.  They may never hear the words thank you; they probably will never see the face of the women whose lives they’ve touched.  Still, they do it.

There have been other acts of kindness that have been extended to me.  Some may have seemed small to that person, but made a huge impact upon me.  To all of you, thank you so much.

This journey hasn’t been easy, either on me or my family.  There have been a lot of uphill battles, & way too many trips to the hospital for surgery.  I’m lucky to have a wonderful, caring & supportive family.  But I’ve also been blessed to have had all manner of gifts, tangible & otherwise, big or small, delivered to me from the hands of earthly angels. 

And those are the times when you know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God in Heaven & that He sends comfort in many shapes & forms.  Like I always say, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.  You’ve just got to feel the breeze.”  In my case, I’ve been sent a hurricane.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You write so beautifully! I don't think the hurricane knew what it was dealing with when it headed your way, my friend. Just caught up on your postings. Thank you for your honesty in your writing and for sharing your journey.

May you have a very good day, today!

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