Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Doxil 2/6

I want to preface this post by saying that I take back everything nice I said about Doxil before.  So there.
I was originally scheduled to have my second Doxil treatment on Thursday, October 4.  The pre-treatment visit with Dr. F made it clear that the staff would be unable to administer chemo that day due to mouth sores and a crazy skin thing, both caused by the Doxil itself.  It seems a little weird to me that the drug is responsible for these outrageous side effects, but the side effects have to be completely cleared up in order for me to safely accept the drug.  Whatever.
I left the hospital more than a little discouraged, armed with instructions to come back the following Tuesday so we could "try again."
Mom and I followed directions and were there before the appointed time on Tuesday the 9th.  This time I passed inspection and we were sent down to the chemo room.  We immediately picked up on an invisible power struggle going on between the two chemo nurses.  One definitely seems much more competent and patient-friendly than the other (to me, anyway), but does it really matter whose side of the room has more heating pads?  I felt especially sorry for Keith, the new guy, whose job it is to collect patients' vital signs, document medications, and otherwise be at the nurses' beck and call while learning the ropes. 
I had some apprehension about my port.  The last time I had treatment, I had just come straight from surgery and the surgeon had just left the port accessed for chemo.  Today I would find out what "accessing the port" really means.  Bottom line:  IT HURTS.  As I write this one week later, the area around the port is still tender and sore.  I would much prefer to have IV lines started each time.  I fail to see what the big advantage is!
My pre-meds went down with no problems.  Just when I was getting comfy with my pink hoodie and my zebra blanket, the nurse had a new fun surprise.  She started the Doxil, and then she brought over two huge ice packs.  One went on the floor and I was made to rest my feet on top of it; the other was for my hands.  Additionally, I was given a cup of crushed ice.  The presumption is that ice slows the circulation of blood to the extremities during treatment, which in turn lessens the chances of sores popping up in the weeks after.  I am in favor, of course, of avoiding painful sores on my hands and feet and inside my mouth, but I was freezing.  I had to keep the ice on me the entire hour that it took for the Doxil bag to drip.  It seems hard to believe that in the year 2012, we don't have any more sophisticated method of preventing chemo-related sores!
We made it home with plenty of time to spare before the cowboys got home from school.  I went straight to bed, not feeling terrible, but not feeling great, either.  And so it has gone for most of the last week.  While I have had some bouts of nausea, I haven't felt terribly sick.  Mostly, I feel tired.  Fatigued.  Exhausted.  I can be working my way through a day, and suddenly I just have the overwhelming urge to lie down.  That usually results in a "nap" that lasts 3-4 hours!  These naps have been defined by nonsensically vivid dreams.  One day I dreamt that I lived in a 2-bedroom apartment in the ghetto.  My friend Rachel, aka Moldy, brought over a random baby boy for me to take care of, but he was dressed in girl clothes.  My neighbor loaned me her double stroller for this babysitting bout, which was chrome and outfitted in the latest "hooptie" styles.  Another neighbor insisted that I join her in a field and fly kites with her because we were running out of wind energy.  Strange.  Another dream had me dressed up in Little House on the Prairie-ish clothes, running through an old Indian village.  As I ran in and out of teepees I shouted, "Sanctuary!  Sanctuary!"  I finally found safety in a nearby saloon, only to be discovered by a little boy I used to teach who I suppose grew up to be a bad guy.  A dream over the weekend involved a wartime airplane.  I was decked out in goggles and a scarf, and I expertly landed my plane in the desert.  I had nothing to eat but cactus, which was lucky because somehow I knew how to cut a cactus just right so as to get the grape jelly out of it.  People I went to high school with were there, but their cacti did not have any grape jelly.  I guess they weren't properly trained.
So, one week in to the 2nd cycle, I am tired.  The good news is that I seem to have finally turned a corner with my new and not-so-large-intestine.  I am still very cautious with what I eat, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I am finally able to eat some meat, a few finely-chopped fruits and veggies, and even one slice of pizza the other day!  I still have not worked up the courage to test another baked potato, though.  It will be a while before I feel that brave.
I continue to ask God for protection from illness, germs, and sores.  I thank Him when I wake up and realize that I am not really Laura Ingalls or Amelia Earheart, and that I have enough sense to find those crazy sleep scenarios comical.  I am glad when I stay up later than my kids, and I am thankful when my Hubby sends me to bed, even if it is a ridiculously early time.  I plead with God that Doxil, with all of its quirks, would be THE drug that I need it to be.  I know that so many friends, family, and even strangers are pleading with me and for me.  Thank you.  He is good, and He does good. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Birthday Blessings

37 Reasons I Am Thankful On This Birthday

1.  A Little Debbie snack cake makes a beautiful birthday cake if your son sticks a candle in it.

2.  Chips and quesadillas are delicious.  Chips and quesadillas shared with great friends while the kids are at school are even better.
3.  Birthday money = retail therapy.
4.  Watching a congregation of neighborhood children playing with my cowboys out my kitchen window means smiles all around.  (Until the boys "kidnap" one of the little girls, duck tape her legs together, and tie her to a chair.  You know, to "force the criminal to talk."  Then some of us were not smiling.)
5.  New cowgirl boots.  They are sassy, they are pretty.  I stomped all around the town in them.
6.  The softest throw blanket you ever did have the pleasure of touching is now draped over my sofa.
7.  Once upon a time I made Little Middle go into Charming Charlie with me as a punishment for bad behavior.  Guess where Little Middle went shopping for Mommy's birthday present?
8.  Baby picked out a cookie recipe that he wants me to try for him from the new cookbook he gave me.  I will do it asap.
9.  Dinner at one of my fave restaurants with my four guys.  We went around the table and everyone said what was the best part of their day.  Hubby said, "right now," and I agreed.
10.  Hundreds of well wishes via text, Facebook, and email.  Literally hundreds.  Mind-blowing.
11.  Pretty jewelry from friends that care.
12.  Two different friends brought their daughters by my house to deliver notes that they had written me.  They are not birthday-related; they are of the "I care about you" variety.  Those are treasures.
13.  I have a two-year-old friend who, when asked what a walrus says, replies, "goo goo g'joob."
14.  Snail mail from my grandparents with the classic $20 bill inside.  It still gives me warm fuzzies.
15.  My Goliath took his buddy to Target to help him do "woman shopping."  Together, they picked out a dress that I adore.
16.  Both my brother and my sister called me.  I love it that we are important to each other.
17.  This is the birthday verse my mom gave me:  "She is clothed in strength and dignity.  She can smile at the days to come."  Proverbs 31:25  May it be so.
18.  Sweet knowledge that I am prayed for by so many, so often.
19.  My husband, with a little help from a knowledgeable friend, purchased the most amazing new purse for me.  What a fun surprise!
20.  I got a birthday card from Reese the Niece.
 21.  As we left the restaurant after dinner, Little Middle said, "Thanks for dinner, Mr. Dad.  And thanks for being born, Ms. Mom."
22.  My dog-nephew also called me.  Yep.
23.  I found so much to laugh about today.
24.  There is a new worship CD in my car.
25.  I felt like a normal person today.  That's huge.
26.  My man has a special group of friends who help him, love him, and partner with him.  We are both immensely blessed by them.
27.  I am looking forward to a fun outing with the Tuesday Sisters tomorrow night.
28.  Abby Dog ate a used cupcake liner this afternoon and seems to be no worse for the wear.
29.  Bedtime prayers were extra-sweet with my little cowboys tonight.
30.  Medically, this birthday is a miracle.  I just can't help but think about how blessed I am to be here.
31.  I texted with my aunt and got to say something important:  that I want to be the kind of aunt to Reese that she has been to me.
32.  I am scheduling a day away this week.  Away from the walls of the house, away from The Sickness....away.  It's a good thing.
33.  Every time the boys and I listen to the Cookie Monster "Share It Maybe" spoof, we all crack up.  Especially on the "Me look at you and me see, you like an elf in a tree" line.
34.  I consumed more food on this one day than I have in the last week put together, and my stomach seemed to be OK.  Grateful doesn't begin to describe it.
35.  My Goliath made everyone's lunches for school tomorrow.  That is one of my most hated chores.
36.  Tomorrow the cleaning lady is coming.
37.  I have hope. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NOCC 2012 5K

 September 22, 2012
The Ballpark at Arlington, Texas
Team Allyson

Ready to run!

My guys

Tuesday Sisters
Bethany and Kelly

Karen and Rachel

 Shannon and Janice
Me and my Melissas

Friday, October 5, 2012

Light in the Darkness

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
This is the verse that I posted yesterday morning on Facebook as I prepared to leave for the hospital.  I was up against Chemo #2, and I was feeling anything but strong and courageous.  I needed the reminder that Jesus was going with me.
Four hours later, I was more terrified and more discouraged than ever before.  After a lengthy wait (what is it with doctors' offices, anyway?!?), I was not able to take the chemo treatment.  Dr. F determined that I was still not recovered enough from #1 for my body to accept the Doxil.  The stubborn and horrific mouth sores and a new skin issue were enough reason for him to pause and re-think.  He decided that the dosage of chemo should be reduced, and we will try again on Tuesday.  If the reduced dosage is still problematic, I may need to make a decision about continuing treatment.
Talk about discouraged.  Discouraged barely scrapes the surface of what my heart feels.  I wrote this to a friend who is traveling her own cancer road:  "...this SUCKS. I am so sick of cancer dictating everything about my life, even down to what I write on (and cross off) my calendar. I hate it that I feel like I'm free-falling and that this old world is taking huge chunks from me....my energy, my body, my family--ugh. I want so much to be a light, but the darkness is so DARK."
She described back to me that I'm right (love you, H!), and she feels as if she is in a dark house, just looking for slits of light.  Yeah.  Just a crack here and there, Lord, would be enough to help me plant my feet.  A tiny flashlight to navigate my way out of this.  That's all I need.  And you promised to go with me.  WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?
Ding-dong.  I didn't move to answer the door because I was busy feeling sorry for myself, and I was sure it was just one of the neighborhood kids who seem to flock to my house every day after school.
"Mommy?  Somebody's here.  It's for you."
Standing in my entryway was an old teacher friend of mine (by old, you must know I mean "from way back," not "aged").  We feel tender toward each other, but we don't have much opportunity to run in the same circles much anymore.  She said, "I don't know what's going on, but I felt like I was supposed to stop at your house and bring you dinner."
Friends have faithfully been bringing food while I've been ill, but yesterday was our "off" day.  It hadn't occurred to me that I needed to conjure up a meal to feed my family.  I burst into tears.
And just like that, the light re-appeared through the crevices of my darkness.  With two carry-out pizzas and a plate of brownies, God proved--again--that He is faithful.  That he is real.  That he cares.  That he uses ordinary people to do his work.  And that I never, ever, have to feel terrified or discouraged.
I may go on Tuesday and be turned away again.  I may receive treatment and go back to being isolated with my crazy red skin and wretched mouth sores.  I may be forced to make the terrible choice of giving up the one drug that could save my life in exchange for valuable, quality time.  I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future:  Jesus, the Father of Light.
"Suddenly, God, your light floods my path; God drives out the darkness."  2 Samuel 22:29
P.S.  Because I couldn't have chemo, I could go to a high school football game with my trio of cowboys.  How 'bout this guy?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What I Want

“You may be at odds with God right now. You're not happy with the way your life is turning out. You may be praying and pleading with God. But is it possible you don't really want God? Is it possible you just want what you think God can give you? One of the things I believe God is teaching me in my life these days is that at times we want our dreams more than we want God. We want what God does for us instead of just God.” Pete Wilson, Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?

I'm not happy with the way my life is turning out.  Right now, I have cancer.  I have no job.  I have a car, but nowhere  really to go.  I have mouth sores from the chemo that have forced me to eat applesauce and oatmeal for every meal for two weeks.  I have dreams that are dashed.  I have a 5th grader who suddenly thinks I am the most uncool person on the planet and a 3rd grader with hurt feelings.  I have someone close to me who is facing a giant mountain, and we are climbing it together.  Nope, this life is not at all what I had pictured.

Yes, I pray and I plead.  Lately, my prayers go something like this:  "Lord, I am begging you for healing.  Please take this awful disease and kick it where the sun don't shine.  Please be Jehovah-Rapha, the Healer God, and prove your power through me."  OR  "God, why did you make tweenagers to be so ornery?  Why doesn't this kid remember that I went down through the valley of the shadow of death to get him into this world?  Please help him realize that I deserve his best moods and affections every day."  OR "God, I can't talk to you today because my mouth hurts TOO MUCH!!!  Please fix these sores so we can try again tomorrow."  Amen and amen.

I want things from God.  I want for God to zap the kid at school who is being unkind to my Little Middle.  I want my body to be whole and healthy.  I want a big fat bank account.  I want a long life with my husband and a house in the country with two rocking chairs on the front porch.  I want to eat hamburgers again.  I want to dance with my sons at their weddings, and then be Super-Grandma when their babies come along.  I want normal.  I want, I want, I want....

But the Christian life isn't about my plan.  It's not my way or my wants.  When I accepted Christ some 30 yeas ago, I accepted his ways.  I realized that things might not always go the way I wanted them to, and I said that as long as I had Jesus, I would be OK with that.  Have I really gotten so caught up in what's wrong that I bypass Who is right?

The truth is, I don't want to be that shallow or that selfish.  At age six, I didn't know much, but I knew that I was a sinner.  I needed a Savior, and I still need Him as much today as I did then.  It's time for a reality check.  It's time to re-read the old promises and claim them as my own.  It's time for refreshment and renewal.  It's time to be still and focus on what I need.

I need Jesus.

My new prayer might sound a little something like this:  "Less of me, more of You, no matter what may come.  I want all of You, and only You, Jesus."