Monday, September 3, 2012

I Hope He Hears Me

I apologize for not checking in, a lot has been going on the past few weeks.  I had all the time in the world to blog but my brain just didn't have the strength...seriously!!!!  Sometimes, I'll remember that there's something I forgot but don't remember what it is.  Half the time when I'm in mid sentence I forget my point.  There will be times when I'll be driving and for a split of a second I forget where I'm at or where I'm going.  Most of the time it's humorous but sometimes it's frustrating, especially for Chris.  He has a hard time keeping up with my conversations.  The doctor says it's because I have "chemo brain" which a very common side effect. It's similar to "pregnancy brain".

Well, my last chemo went smoothly.  No complications.  My good friend, Julie, joined us so that was a bonus. Also, my sister came down from Northern VA to help out and keep the kids occupied while I rest. That was nice too because the boys were able to spend time with their cousin, Noah.

Soon after chemo I developed this pain in my groin/pelvic area.  The area where my inner thigh and groin meet.  It was so painful that it hurt when I walk.  Every time I took a step, my right leg would shoot with pain. One night I think I had developed a fever.  I say, "I think" because one of the side effects of chemo is elevated temperature so I didn't know if my temperature increased due to the chemo or if it was related to the pain I was having.  I scheduled an appointment with my oncologist in which she checked "down there" and didn't feel anything abnormal...wheww!!!  She said it could be nerve damage from chemo and suggested that I rest.  "Rest?!  I didn't want to rest!"  We were leaving for the Outer Banks the same day, and I wasn't going to let this keep me from doing the things I wanted to do!!!!!!!!  By the time we got arrived at OBX I was miserable!!!!  I'm not a complainer but I was really feeling like shit! We were staying with friends of ours and I wasn't going to let this ruin my weekend.  My summer was already kaput and all I wanted was one weekend...just one!!! So, I popped some Aleve in my mouth and I was good to go. Rest, I did not!  I did the complete opposite of rest and I have no regrets!!!  We spent the weekend paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, and just hanging on the beach with some good friends.  I was still feeling pretty bad but still managed to do the things that I love!!!  

By the end of the weekend Bitch said, "I told you so!"  I was in so much pain that I thought I could very well be, "fading".  Chris called the on call doctor but because it was the weekend, they really couldn't do anything for me. He suggested to keep up with the Aleve and my doctor will call the next day.  The Aleve relieved some of the pain the didn't put my mind at ease.  After she referred me to a gastro intestinal doctor he thought it could be a muscular.  Maybe an injury.  "Injury?  When and how could I have injured my groin area?  It's not like I'm having wild monkey sex (or just plain sex) or doing anything strenuous.  Think, Amy, think!!!!" Ding!!!!  

One night sometime after chemo I was laying in bed and one of the dogs meant to jump on the bed but instead jumped on my pelvic area. Stanley is 70 lbs. and Chloe is almost 50 lbs.  I remember screaming in pain and thinking what would happen if I was bruised or something tore.  You would think it would be something I would remember but if you combine Ambien and chemo brain, you won't remember shit unless you have some kind of clue of what you did. I know people to wake up with food in their bed and not remember eating. I still have a little discomfort but I feel so much better. I'm not relying on the Aleve anymore so that's a good sign.

A lot of people tell me that I always have a smile on my face, I'm brave and positive but I often ask myself, "Am I really?" because I feel like I'm screaming in the inside.  When everyone is sound asleep, I'm a total mess!!!!  So many things run through my head. I worry.  Not of myself but for Chris, Andrew, and Josh. "If I'm gone what will become of them? Will they be okay? What if something happens to Chris, what will happen to Andrew and Josh?"  I pray every night asking God to have mercy on me so I can grow old with Chris and I can see my boys become men.  I want to be a grandparent.  Sometimes I think, "Please God, I don't want my parents have to bury their child!!!" Does that sound sick or what?  There are things that pop into my head that I can't help. Like when it's the last episode of a show and a new season won't start until spring.  I think, "Will I be here to see it?"  I wonder if what I'm feeling is normal or am I sick for thinking that way?  Usually, I try to think of the positives but at times the negatives just take over and I end up crying myself to sleep. 

Tomorrow I have my second treatment on the new med. I know things will go smoothly but I always have this feeling of dread.  It's always the same feeling on chemo days. I wake up, and the first thing I do ask myself what day is it, I thank God I'm alive and then, it hits me...shit, I have fucking cancer and I have chemo today.  I dread that I'm going to be stabbed in the chest with a needle that's about as thick as a tack (but longer), the nasty metallic taste, and the IVs.  I dread looking at other people that are there.  I even dread the look and sound of the swivel chairs that only the nurses and doctors are allowed to sit on.  Sometimes, I feel a panic attack coming when one of those chairs are near me because it usually means I'm going to be either poked, prodded, and usually the bearer of bad news.  On a positive note, I am grateful I'm actually getting the treatment that's needed and able to travel to other doctors.  There are some that are unable to afford treatment, or even have family and friends to help care for them and I that's one of many things I thank God for every day!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Don't Know How I Do It Either

I get a lot of comments from friends asking me how do I do it?  I have no idea how I do it!!  Most of the time I'm feeling well so I just do what I would normally do if Bitch wasn't in my life.  What really helps me is my friends and family.  They have been my support.  I've never been one to call a friend up and say "Woe is me" but having my family and friend to keep me occupied makes a difference.  I'm not looking for any gifts...I'm looking for time.  I'm some one asks me about my situation (even a total stranger, I don't mind talking about it at all...ask, and I shall tell.)

I'm usually calm and collective but there was this on instance that REALLY got to me.  It was the first week of Andrew's kindergarden class.  I was in the school and the nurse stopped me.  She said, "You look exactly like this one teacher that used to teach here. I had to do a double take!!" Then, she proceeded to say, " unfortunately, we lost her due to cancer."  I said, "Oh, that's terrible."  She went on to say, "yes it is because her 2 little boys are students here". As I started to walk away, another teacher came walking by and the nurse grabbed the teacher and asked, "Doesn't she look exactly like someone we know?"  As I walked out I was a little irritated but also how could I be mad at someone that has no idea what my situation is.  As I drove off, I felt fine but when I sat at the red light, a panic came over me.  My chest stiffened and I started to hyperventilate.  I could possibly be this teacher!!!!  I needed something to calm me down.

Bitch has no mercy on anyone. Even an innocent infant.  I mean how cruel is that? The mind games are the worst because she cheats and she doesn't keep her promises. She's a "creeper".  When I was in remission I was probably the happiest I've been a long time but that Bitch had to come back and ruin everything for me and my family. When I try to do the things I want to do that Bitch always keeps me from doing it.  Even when I have good days, she always manages to follow it up with a terrible day.  She makes me paranoid and I don't trust her.  Some times I think to my self, "Why did she pick me?"  Why can't she just bully a murderer or a child molester?  I just don't get it.  They say cancer doesn't discriminate.  To me, it seems like she does.  She bullies only best of us.

What's My Poison?

Thank you, Lord!  The poison worked!  There were no traces of disease.  I can continue to live my life.  We outsmarted Bitch!! I thanked God (and still do) for sparing me.  I would take nothing for granted and relish everything that comes my way.  I will no longer complain about my husband.  I will never complain to him that we need work done to the house (although it would be nice), his hockey stuff reeks, and it takes him an eternity to finish any task when it comes to the house. I'll try to help those in need, I will appreciate every breath I take and embrace life.  I will try my best to live the life that God intended me to live and thank Him every moment I can.

I was in remission for a little over two years.  I felt awesome!!! I even got myself a little part time job working at Macy's, which I absolutely loved!!!! Even though I was in remission I still had to have a PET scan every 3-4 months.  I dreaded them but it was just something I had to do. I had my port in for about 2 years at that time so I was looking forward to having it removed. That would have been a huge turning point, having my port removed.  I was looking forward to face to face conversations when eyes didn't wander down to my chest where my port lies. Kinda like when you're having a conversation with someone who has a ginormous zit on their chin. You try your best not to notice it but it's screaming, "Look at me...don't you just want to pop me?" I knew they were wondering, "What is that thing protruding from her chest?" I had one lady comment, "You must had a good time this got a huge hickey on your chest!"  Most cancer patients have their port removed right away but in my case my onco wanted to keep it in "just in case".  

During my last follow up, my onco was very pleased with my progress. All my Pet scans came out clear so she felt we can reduce the scans from 3-4 months to 6 months.  She gave me the option of having one more scan before starting the 6 month was completely up to me. I opted to have one more scan. Normally, we get a call from the nurse to tell me that the scan came out clear.  This particular call was different.  It was the nurse asking me to come in.  I knew IMMEDIATELY something wasn't right but I had to wait 3 days to find out what it is.

It was a devastating blow.  I had traces of cancer in my spleen and liver.  She described it as rice crispies which meant surgery was not an option. She recommend another type of poison but it was back to the drawing board.  We went to MCV and Sloan, and again, both were in agreement with my onco with the type of chemo I were to receive. The chemo schedule was more grueling than my first.  I were to have chemo 3 days in a row then I would have a 3 week break.  A total of six cycles and after the 3rd cycle I would have a scan to check to see if the chemo is actually working.  The results weren't as good as we hoped for.  So, AGAIN she switched me to a different chemo but this time one treatment every 3 weeks. Hopefully, this poison will work.  So here I am today.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That Girl is Poisonnned!!!

I apologize for not updating my blog lately.  A lot has been happening and I've been having trouble getting my thoughts together.

The drugs I first received for my very first rounds of chemo were Taxotere Carboplatin.  It works by stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells.  Although it's supposed to kill cancer cells, it also kills healthy cells as well.  Basically, it's poison.  I were to receive this poison once every 3 weeks for 6 treatments.

I started chemo in February 2010.  Many of you asked me how it felt like.  It felt like shit!!!!!  Receiving of the chemo is the easy part.  It's the side effects that suck!!  The best way for me to describe it is having the flu while pregnant.  I constantly had a metallic taste in my mouth that prevented me from eating yet I was starving. It was so bad that even the thought of chocolate made my stomach turn ( and boy, do I love chocolate) and water tasted like an uncoated pill dissolving in your mouth.  I had to force myself to drink Ensure.  At the time, I thought Ensure was for senior citizens but apparently not.  One good thing was that I lost about 20 lbs.  When people asked me how I lost weight I would tell them, "It's called the Chemo Diet.  I don't recommend it."  Another good thing that came about was that it cleared my skin.  I've always suffered from adult acne and oily skin but as soon as I started chemo it cleared it right up. People would comment that my face was glowing.  Come to think of it, I actually was from the radiation of the PET scans (hardy har har!!!).  

The flu like symptoms were horrendous.  My joints and muscles were stiff and achy.  I was difficult to move my hands.  Chris and my mom would have to message my hands and legs every day.  Also the hot flashes.  One second I'm freezing then in a split of a second it's like a bolt of lighting would strike the back of my neck setting my head on fire. Sometimes I would wake up thinking that I had peed all over myself only to realize I was drenched in sweat.

Picking out a wig was no easy task either.  Man, those things are expensive!!!!  Choosing a wig was one thing I was dreading but was much needed.  We had explained to the boys that I will lose my hair but I would be wearing a wig sometimes.  I told them that I'll try not to wear it all the time because it got so hot and itchy.  At first the boys thought it was cool but at times when we would get ready to leave the house wigless, Andrew would ask me, "Mom, are you going to put you're wig on?" I think he felt a little embarrassed when I was went without my wig but he didn't want to say anything. So I didn't embarrass the boys I wore that damn rug on my head and didn't say a work. Sigh...I love my boys!!!

My last treatment was June 2010 but I still had to wait for the results of the PET scan.  The scan wasn't scheduled until another 2 weeks after my last treatment and I wouldn't get the results until another few days after that.  Talk about torture.  My emotions were running high but I was completely tuned out.  Poor Chris.  He thought heading up to DC to visit family, museums, and a baseball game would be a good distraction, which I thought was a good idea as well but walking around DC and going to a Nationals game in 110 degree heat index wasn't the distraction we were looking for.  Not once did I complain because it hurt to even talk and when I did talk I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth...I was just "there". Complaining would just make it worst.

It was any day that we would receive the results.  It was about 8 p.m. and we were in Harris Teeter when my Chris' mobile rang.  I didn't think anything of it since he get calls all the time from his work.  He disappeared for a few minutes and I continued to grocery shop with the boys.  When he reappeared he said, "That was Dr. Rogers."  Once I heard "Dr. Rogers", I panicked and I immediately started to cry.  "What was it?  What did she want?  Why was she calling this late?"  Chris said that the results came out clear!!!  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Facing Bitch for the First Time

The weeks I had before my first treatment were spent traveling to different hospitals.  We visited MCV in Richmond, John Hopkins in Baltimore, UVA in Charlottesville, VA; and Sloan Kettering in NYC.  Scheduling was extremely tight but we wanted to visit them within two weeks.  We NEEDED to visit them within two weeks.  In order for us to accomplish that we had to accept what ever appointments were available.  We ended up having to drive back and forth, back forth.  Luckily, we were able to fly to NYC though. It was extremely exhausting but I wasn't complaining.  I was so fortunate that I was able to schedule them so soon.  It can take weeks to get an appointment at UVA and Johns Hopkins and months to get into Sloan.  In the end they all had the same opinions and we opted out of clinical trials.  Our thinking was that clinical trails would be our last resort.

The chemo room.  The chemo room.  I don't know how many recliners there were in there, maybe about thirty.  All of them lined against the wall and through the room. Between each recliner is just enough space to fit the IV pole. Almost all were occupied. Most are either passed out or on the verge of falling asleep, bobbing their heads with half eyes half shut. Some have their head and neck leaning back, eyes closed, facing the ceiling with mouth wide open.  Some have their mouths open with drool lining mouth to ear.  Some are crying, some are laughing, and some are hiding under their blanket.  Some are trying to read, and some are praying. Some just have a blank stare. No one makes eye contact even those sitting directly across each other. Including me. If I made eye contact I would just look away and go into a blank stare in the opposite direction.

The first few hours of the drip, I felt okay and we thought that things were going smoothly and no complications. Since we live about 2 miles from the hospital Chris could go home for a few hours. It was sleepy time anyways so Chris took off. I was becoming drowsy but restless and uneasy. My body started itching and my stomach started to cramp. "Uh oh, I can feel something 'brewing".  "I should go to the bathroom before cramps get really bad."  As I'm trying to get the nurses attention the feeling worsened and I started to get the sweats.  "Uhh oh, not the sweats!"  I pleaded to myself, "Pleeeease, Lord, don't let me have a Jeff Daniels Dumber and Dumber moment." Then my chest was starting to feel tight; a slow, gradual squeezing feeling. Kinda like how I would imagine if one was being wrapped by boa constrictor around the chest. Then my heart's racing, and I'm having trouble breathing. "Was I having a heart attach?". Am I going to die?" The nurses immediately saw me in discomfort and the look of fear on my face so they raced over and immediately stopped the drip. I was having an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy. I thought to myself, "Are you fucking kidding me?  I'm allergic to the poison that's supposedly going help me!"  That Bitch!!!". I got up, grabbed the IV pole and headed towards the bathroom.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

IV, Chest Tube, Epidurals, and Catheters.

As I'm starting to coming out of my fuzz I realized I was connected to more tubes than I anticipated. I knew I would be hooked up to an IV but what in the heck is this "hose" sticking out of my side?  They had inserted a chest tube to drain the 5 liters of fluid from my chest cavity.  When I say, "hose" it literally was the size of a water hose.  

When I realized I couldn't feel my legs and I started to panic.  "I don't remember the doctor telling me I'll be numb from the waist down!!" I thought for sure something was wrong.  "Maybe she accidently snipped some nerves." I was convinced I was going to be paralyzed.  Chris tried to calm me but I insisted something is wrong.  I started punching my leg as hard as I could and yelled, "See!!!  I can't feel a thing!!!" and he's yelling back at me to stop punching my legs!!!  I had an epidural and the tube was still hanging from my back.  I bet the nurses thought I was out of my mind.  Since I couldn't feel anything "down there" I didn't realize I had a catheter in either. times!!!! I'm so glad I can laugh about it now. 

I was in ICU for 3 days.  I don't remember much about ICU.  One thing I do remember was waking up to some commotion.  Apparently, a patient was trying to escape and he and the nurses were screaming at each other.  

They eventually released me from ICU and transfered me to another room.  I was so happy because I thought that it meant I was going home soon.  "As soon as my doctor checks up on me, I'm outta here!!!"  That wasn't the case.  I still had my chest tube in and I were to stay for at least 2 more days.  I was devastated!!!  I just wanted to be home with my family!!!  To make matters worse, the boys were not allowed to visit me. One particular night, our parents said they were taking the boys to Chuck-E-Cheese and Chris would meet them there after visiting hours.    The nurses had urged me to try walking around after Chris left.  I was still hooked up to the catheter and IV so I slowly climbed out of bed grabbed the IV pole and started roaming the hall.  When I got to the end of the hall, I stopped and looked out the window.  This was in January so the trees were bear.  I don't recall what floor I was on but I had a pretty clear view.  When I looked out the window, I realized I could actually see Chuck-E-Cheese from a distance!!!  I sat at that window for about an hour sobbing because I wanted to see them so badly.  I felt so far, yet they were so near.

I don't know how anyone can be addicted to morphine.  It helped with the pain but it left me feeling even worst!!!  I felt like one of those drug addicts you see on that show Intervention.  I would go into this zombie like state for about 20 minutes and then with a snap of a finger I was awake.  I thought it was pretty scary because even though I was in zombie mode, I was still aware of my surroundings but I wasn't able to communicate or move.  I felt like I was just slumped over, drooling all over myself, with my eyes rolled back. 

Not only did I miss my family but was I bored out of my mind.  Really, the only channel that was worth watching was Discovery Channel but after 2 days I got over it.  I couldn't take anymore Alaska fishing shows and I was sick and tired of that Blue Moon beer commercial.  To this day whenever I see Blue Moon beer, I cringe because it just reminds me of being in the hospital.  When the commercials come on, I immediately change the channel.  It's just a painful reminder.

After being in the hospital for a week, the doctor finally gave me the okay to go home but I would have to start chemo in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The day The King of Pop died

Sorry to leave everyone everyone hanging.  I literally had to force myself to quit typing or I would have stayed up 'til 6 a.m.  I'm still having a difficult time trying to figure out how to set up the design of this blog.  I have no idea what I'm doing.

After learning about the Bitch, the first thing I thought was, "How did this happen?  I don't do drugs, drink, smoke, whore around (never did).  Hell...I rarely drink soda!!  I even worked out like 4-5 days a week!!!  What did I do to deserve this?  Was I that terrible to my parents?  I know between my brother, sister, and I, I was the one that gave them the most grief but was I REALLY that bad?  All I really wanted to do was hang out with my friends. It's not like I was out making out with boys."

I read and was told that if one were to get cancer, the "best" cancer to have is cervical because it's localized.  Whatever!!  My first surgery was a partial hysterectomy.  They removed my cervix but kept my ovaries.  Luckily, I didn't need chemo.  It took about a month for me to recover and life went on...until 9 months later.

I clearly remember, it was the day Michael Jackson died.  We were at the YMCA.  I was taking the kick boxing class.  I've taken this class numerous times so it wasn't more strenuous than normal.  It's always been a challenging class but for some reason this overwhelming feeling of fatigue came over me.  It was so sudden that the instructor even noticed.  She thought it was strange for me to take breaks.  "Yeah, you're right.  I don't know what my deal is.  My boys probably wiped me out."

The weeks following, I started feeling bloated and tightness in my belly. It never even occurred to me that it could be that Bitch.  I eventually went to my PCP and after having an x-ray it showed that I was constipated.  "Ok...I can deal with that.  Just take a laxative and I'm good to go." Nope!!!!  My stomach started to swell.  It got so bad that looked like I was 8 months pregnant.  I even had to break out my old maternity jeans!!!  It was awful!! I went back to my PCP and she immediately ordered a scan.  The scan revealed that I had a tumor on my ovary and she knew immediately that the cancer was back.

Back to my oncologist I went and scheduled for surgery.  The days waiting for surgery was agony.   My stomach was growing bigger and bigger and I was in a great deal of discomfort.  The day before I was to have surgery, I started having difficulty breathing and I almost passed out in the shower.  Luckily, at the time my parents were here and Chris was working from home.  I thought I was going to die that day. 

Chris rushed me to the hospital and they immediately admitted me.  I initially was scheduled to have surgery first thing in the morning but they ordered an xray to see if I had fluid in my lungs.  Thank GOD there was no fluid.  If there was, I would not have been able to have surgery.  So off to surgery I went and the next think I knew was waking up in ICU connected to all these tubes.  "What?  This wasn't planned!!!!"