Friday, January 16, 2015

Chemo Round 1- He is building a palace

I have not forgotten about all of you, or this place.... I have just been taking some time. To rest. To read and to lay down on my moms lap. These past few days have met with a different reality of my cancer journey..... both humbling and beautiful.

I have so much to catch you up on, but will start with Chemo Day 1, Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, I woke up early to take a shower and get ready. Knowing that this would probably be my only chemotherapy with my hair, I decided to curl it and get ready. Figured my spirits would be lifted if I took the time to get ready.  I put on my crazy patterned yoga pants, my comfy scarf, my smart wool socks and essential oils. My mom and I packed two big bags, filled with all sorts of things I thought I might want.... magazines, my book, gum, ginger chews (for nausea), dark chocolate, all of my essential oils, lotion, my Bernese mountain dog stuffed animal (since I am allergic my mom bought me a stuffed one), four blankets (gifted by you) and my head phones.

My mom and I went to breakfast at my favorite place by my house. Our spirits were good, we even picked out a cookie to have for later. With some anticipation we drove to the hospital. I was feeling ready. The day had come to check round one off and I was ready.

Upon arrival we waited quite some time to see my oncologist. After meeting with her, discussing last minute questions, what not to do, what to do, we were instructed to go into the infusion room and pick my seat. The room, much like the day before, was very crowded. I located a chair next to an older man sitting with who I assume was his daughter and wife. The chair I chose had enough room for chairs to sit around it, knowing that I would be having visitors.

I felt others eyes watching as I took a seat. Most onlookers assumed it would be my mom taking the seat, but it was me. My best friend and old roommate Chelsea met me and my mom and they sat at my side. 

A little background on how this works..... Once every three weeks, I will be going in for infusion. Both chemotherapy's will be administered at separate times to make sure I do not have a reaction to them. The first medicine I am given is the pre-medicines (anti-nausea, antibiotics). This takes about a half hour. The nurse then flushes my IV with saline and then administers the first chemotherapy. Taxotere was the first one that took about an hour and half. The other chemotherapy, Cytoxan, came next and took about an hour. I am not getting a temporary port placed, so I will be getting an IV to my hand every time for the chemo to be administered.

Once I was in my seat we waited as the nurse came by and introduced herself. She explained that she would be placing the IV in, so I turned my head the other way. I know full well what it feels like to have an IV in and I never look. Unfortunately, the water I had been drinking for the past twenty four hours did not help the nurse finding my vein. Once she inserted the needle, she moved it around looking for my vein and I looked at my mom and Chelsea knowing it was not going well. Why was she digging and poking? It hurt I thought. Chelsea rubbed my back and talked to me to keep me distracted. My eyes began to fill with water. I tired to stay calm knowing the nurse was trying her best but was quietly getting frustrated. She removed the needle and said she would try the other side. She said she would be getting a bucket of water to soak my arm to warm up my veins so that they would show up. I took a deep breath and began to cry. This was not the part I was dreading. This was the part I had done a hundred times over by now. For goodness sakes I gave myself shots for ten days on my own. This was not supposed to be the hard part. This was supposed to be easy.

After soaking my arm for twenty minutes or so, a different nurse came and was able to get the IV in on the first try. It was around 11:00 am and we were ready to start. All in all, administering the chemo took around four hours. I watched as others came and went, got their treatment and left. I watched as an older woman across from me went to and from the bathroom for what seemed like a hundred times. I assume she was getting sick. Thank goodness I handled this first round relatively well. Below a picture of me soaking my arm:

The first chemotherapy stung while it went it. I was given a heating pad and able to relieve some of the sting. The nurse adjusted the speed at which it dripped and the faster it went the more it stung. Although, I did not want to sit there all day I was fine with it taking a bit of time to avoid the sting. I am only allowed two visitors at a time so as Rachel and my colleague Katie came, my visitors rotated chairs. It made the time pass to have others sit with me. Before I knew it Rachel was next to me, we were talking and my IV machine started beeping. I was all done.

Upon leaving I started to feel strange. My mom commented that my face was very flushed and she could tell I did not feel good. I was not nauseous but rather feeling flu like symptoms. 

That is where I find myself today. Yesterday I started to hit the bottom. The fatigue, as I had been told is like a deep bone chill ache that is unlike a tired fatigue from a long day at work. I could not agree more. I had trouble getting comfortable yesterday and suffered from the chills. Afraid that I might have had a fever my mom went to get a thermometer. Thank goodness I do not have a fever. We did manage to get the strength to walk outside yesterday. We sat on a park bench so the sun could hit my face. I closed my eyes and rested in my moms lap. I will treasure that bench, that moment so very much.

I have been encouraged to exercise to reduce the fatigue and help move the chemotherapy in my body. Despite my desire to stay in bed, every day we have done something. Wednesday, we went to my gym where I climbed on the stairmaster, yesterday we walked the park and today I walked on the treadmill at the gym. After mild exercise I find myself back home crawling in my bed. Where I am right now. I have opted to not take any of the anti-nausea medication prescriptions pro-actively. I have chosen to take them as needed and at this point I have not taken any. (fingers crossed this stays that way).

Yesterday I commented that it is the first time in this journey that I truly feel sick. My body aches, my bones chill and my muscles are sore. Not a soreness that meets you after weight lifting or a day working in the yard but a deep rooted achiness, like you have the flu. I have not yet been nauseous but food is becoming difficult. Things do not taste the same and my mouth has a filmy, strange taste in it. 

Yesterday was a hard day, I laid in bed for six hours, read a book with my mom and laid on her lap. I have been told that my hair will start thinning around day 7 and begin to fall after that. My scalp is already sore.

My spirit today is quiet. I am looking around to see what God is doing in this and finding it difficult to see. How is he working in this? How is he resting my heart to draw him near? My predictions about what the next coming months will look like, is clouding my presence right now. I am trying to sit with the right now, praying I can do that.

I read an excerpt from C.S Lewis Mere Christianity and loved it so....

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

As I am resting, trying not to fight the aches and pains, I pray I may lean to the promise that he is indeed building a palace. Taking up roots in me for good. For more. More than what my heart ever knew was possible before cancer. This palace he is building would never exist if it were not for cancer. If it were not for this story.

Hope this finds you well. I am truly humbled by all of your sweet messages regarding my goofy picture yesterday :) My mom and I are so glad to have them. I will share them soon.

Below are some pictures from this week.

Picking out our special treat before we headed to the hospital.

Our bags of things.... suitcases really.

Trying to smile before heading back to meet with my oncologist.

The view from my chair. The folks in front of me were sitting with the older gentleman to my left. A room full of IV drips.

I was one of the last few in the room towards the end of the day. I got really chilly so used all my blankets to wrap up.

You can see the Bernese Mountain Dog in my bag :)

Before Chemo selfie picture...

When I was finished with Rachel. You can tell my eyes have changed and I look tired.

Mom and I sitting on the bench yesterday in the sun. Thank goodness for warm January days.

Yesterday eating blueberries and reading the book, Love Does.

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