Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Nightmare of the Baked Potato

Once upon a time there was a silly little woman who had some of her body parts cut out and then was sewn back together.  In spite of previous experience, the silly little woman believed that recovery should be short and easy, because, after all, she had better things to do than sit around the house and nurse her wounds.
So one day, just a few weeks after the procedure, the woman made plans to meet a favorite friend for lunch.  The woman planned carefully, because she knew that her body was not fully adjusted to her usual culinary delights.  She thought it would be smart to meet at a casual deli where she could order a simple baked potato and her friend could enjoy the best iced tea in town. 
The appointed day arrived, and the woman with the scar on her belly was excited!  Not only would she get to leave her house, but she was going to drive a car!  And have girl talk!  And wear makeup!  The birds chirped happily outside her window while she lovingly bid her three small cowboys farewell.  She felt a moment of sadness that they couldn't share in her big day, but alas, they had to go out into the world and conquer elementary school.
The woman with the scar on her belly was finally satisfied that she looked presentable.  She cheerfully drove to the restaurant and greeted her friend with a big hug.  They went inside the restaurant, and the woman marveled at how light and bright everything looked.  After weeks within the four walls of her own home, the outside world appeared bigger and more beautiful than ever!  When it was time to order, she was tempted by the best sweet tea the town had to offer, but took the high road and stuck to her plan: a baked potato and a glass of water.
Well, the two friends had a marvelous time.  They laughed and swapped stories and cried, and then laughed a whole lot more.  As the woman believed the simple baked potato was nourishing her broken body, the fellowship was also nourishing her soul.  As she talked with her friend, the woman felt satisfied--even a little proud--that she had accomplished their little luncheon.  "Take THAT, you $%&*! cancer!", she thought.
The thought had just popped into her head when it was interrupted by strange noises.  The noises started soft and slow, but they quickly grew louder and more intense.  The woman didn't even have time to look around the restaurant before she knew that those noises were coming from her.  It was her post-operative stomach, expressing its apparent distaste for the lunch the little woman had so proudly fed it.
The woman with the scar on her belly suspected that her day was about to take a downhill turn.  She quickly hugged her friend, promised a "next time", and jumped in her car.  Thankfully, she was not too far from home, but each rumble from her stomach seemed to stretch the route.  She came to a screeching halt in her driveway, and made it inside in just enough time for the baked potato to be disposed of.  More than once.  And then the toast she'd had for breakfast.  And all of the food she had consumed in the previous days and weeks.  All gone.
After more than an hour, the woman lay on her empty, scarred-up belly, spent.  Every part of her ached.  She silently cursed the humble potato for acting so innocent when really it was setting a trap for hungry people with digestive issues.  She cursed herself for foolishly believing in the potato. 
Suddenly, the woman heard a noise!  It seemed to echo throughout the too-quiet house.  Could it be...?  YES!  It was the sound of a door opening.  And footsteps.  Someone was in the house with her!  Before the woman could think what to do, a pair of shoes met her at eye-level.  The woman looked up and was relieved to see that the legs in those (cute) shoes belonged to her mother.  She was saved!  As her little mother sank to the floor next to her, the woman with the scar on her belly managed to croak, "It's not as bad as it looks."  Even though it was.
From that day on, the woman was terrified of food and only ate white rice.
The End

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Doxil 1/6

Today was my first day of Doxil chemotherapy.  All things considered, it went fairly well.  Mom and I stayed in a hotel close to the hospital last night because of the ungodly hour I had to be there this morning.  In spite of the massive construction project on 635, we got there on time.  It's funny how the surgery protocol is old hat to me.  The first time I had surgery at MCD, we got lost in the hospital and I remember well feeling like I would throw up from anxiety.  This morning, I knew exactly where to go, what to expect, and even knew a few surgery nurses by name.  My favorite nurse, Cynthia, was my pre-admit nurse when I had my major procedure 2 years ago.  She said, "It's back?  Well, CRAP."
That just about says it all.
I opted to do the surgery with minimal anesthesia.  I did not want to feel very groggy or have to spend time in the recovery room.  The anesthesiologist gave me a "margarita" of drugs and they injected numbing meds around the site.  It's a very odd feeling to be aware of someone cutting you open.  I am in more pain now than I was during the surgery, although I remember saying "ouch" a few times.
I was wheeled straight from surgery to chemo.  My chemotherapy is administered in a large room that can fit 10 patients at a time.  There are partition walls between each recliner chair, giving the false sense of privacy.  At least I don't have to look at everyone, or worse, endure them looking at me.  Pre-meds were minimal, only fluids and an anti-nausea drug.  The Doxil itself is red.  Kool-Aid red, homemade Valentines red.  The shade of red that made me think of happy celebrations instead of a wretched bag of life-saving poison.  I was wishing so much that I had a bouquet of balloons and a cake with delicious butter cream frosting instead of bruised skin and an unshakable headache!
Mom and I tried to watch a movie together on the TV screen that was provided, but a very unhappy patient across the room dragged her IV pole over and asked us to keep it down.  Humph.  The woman at the station next to me asked the nurse if her friend could grab a snack from the stash they keep for patients.  Although the nurse made it clear that the food was for chemo patients only, the friend went ahead and gave the nurse her order:  peanut butter crackers and cranberry juice.  If they didn't have cranberry, she would settle for grape juice, but was obviously displeased.  They then carried on an in-depth theological discussion for the remainder of the afternoon that was just loud enough for the rest of us to hear.
The good news is that there is a fish tank in the room.  Worst case scenario, I can watch the fish.
Even with all of that, we still made it home before the cowboys got off the school bus.  I feel...well, I don't feel crummy.  I feel very tired and sore and a little bit sad.  But my cowboys--they came in like nothing was wrong.  They talked to their Nana and hugged their mom and I knew.  I KNEW that I am doing the right thing, even though it is hard.  I would have rather been a hundred other places today than at that hospital, but at the end of the day, I am their mom.  I laughed at Goliath's story that he told about his friends, I helped Little Middle study for his spelling test tomorrow (who knew that "unusual" would give him so much trouble?!?), and I listened to Baby read Green Eggs and Ham to me.  It's his favorite.  Those three little boys are all my favorites.
As this day comes to an end, I realize that I have experienced God's mercy, grace, and kindness in a thousand different ways.  Hundreds--literally hundreds--of people prayed for me and my family today.  Knowing that simply blows my mind.  I came in contact with helpful and compassionate doctors, nurses, and staff who made a hard day easier for me.  My sons are healthy and happy. 
"He told me, 'My grace is enough; it's all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'" (2 Corinthians 12:9)
My Jesus is all I need...yesterday, today, and forever

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


--I had an echocardiogram last week to set a baseline for chemo treatments.  The tech told me that my aorta is "pretty."

--I went to a chemo teaching session.  Doxil is a strong drug, but not as toxic as the Taxol/Cisplatin regimen that I did 2 years ago.  I am on high alert for hand-foot syndrome, symptoms of anemia, fever, and mouth sores.  It is anticipated that my hair will thin, but will not all fall out as before.

--Chemo starts on  Thursday.

--Before the chemo infusion begins, I will have surgery to put a port in place.  Yes, on the same day.  I have to check in with day surgery at 5:45 a.m.

--Today is the first day of preschool.  I just can't believe I'm not there with my little friends!  In spite of my best efforts, I feel very sad that I am missing out.

--Hubby took all of the cowboys out to the lease for the opening weekend of dove season.  In their absence, I got to have a girls' weekend with my sister and Reese the Niece!
We ate warm tortillas from Rosa's, watched girl movies, stayed in our pajamas, and played with the baby.  Goodness, I love that little girl!
--With chemo starting, I have a conundrum.  I have been putting off getting my hair done because I was anticipating losing it again.  Now that I know with a fair amount of certainty that at least some  of it will stay, I need to do something about those roots.  Unfortunately, my nurse advised me to avoid hair coloring.  The reaction of the chemicals in the dye with the poisonous chemicals in the drug may exacerbate the hair thinning.  On the other hand, it's already looking pretty neglected.  I'm hoping that there may be something natural to use in the interim to give me the color that I want without burning up whatever hair I get to keep.
--Last night while he was in the shower, Little Middle said to Hubby, "Can I shave?  It's on my bucket list!"
--Baby has already had more homework than both of his brothers combined.  For one project, he had to make a paper doll of himself.  For another, he had to cut pictures out of magazines and decorate his daily journal cover with them so he can have inspiration for writing.  Um, how much inspiration does a six-year-old need?
--Goliath has an appointment with the eye doctor this afternoon.  He has been complaining about blurred vision, especially now that school has started back up.  I will not be surprised at all if he needs glasses.  He is worried, but I think he would be adorable. 

--Adorable is not cool in the 5th grade.  5th graders also do not "play," they "hang out."  Just sayin'.