MY BLOG “HELPER”

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GETTING A LITTLE HELP (NOT) WITH MY BLOGGING

March 19, 2020 @ 2300 hours

Today is day 3 post first chemo treatment. It has gone okay. A bit more tired than yesterday in spite of a good night’s sleep. I ate a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. In spite of no fruit or sugar today, my blood sugar spiked again. I went downstairs at 2200 hours and got on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I am also for the second night in a row taking a second Metformin to try and keep my blood sugar regulated enough to hold off the vomiting that usually comes with high sugar levels for me.

It’s been a couple hours now and my sugar has come down to my normal range. I am relieved and can soon go to bed now, with less fear I will wake up sick. I don’t need my diabetes making me sick on top of anything the chemo does.

I must say I never realized how many food commercials come on late at night until I was diagnosed with diabetes. It’s like a form a slow torture sometimes. Things I never thought about now look so good, but the freedom to eat fruit is certainly the hardest!

DAY AFTER CHEMO

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March 18, 2020

The day after my first chemo treatment. Today went pretty well, all things considered. I was able to eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. I spent about 20 minutes out on the deck enjoying the fresh air. I walked over to the fence where I could stand and watch the birds at the feeder.  The dogs laid in the sun and enjoyed the beautiful day! It was so nice to get a little time outside but I was careful to stay out of the sun, having been warned to avoid it due to the chemo causing extreme sensitivity to sunlight.

CHEMO DAY 1

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835 am March 17, 2020

St. Patrick’s Day

Chemo day 1

The waiting for appointments in between in torture.  I want to get going and get through this day.

Never imagined myself sitting in a cancer center but better me than Mike or the kids.

They provide and accommodate well here. Even puzzles to do while waiting. The sun is shining through the window. Bright and happy.

My daughters have sent a card with me just for today.

I am saving the card for when I settle into chemo in a bit.

They outpouring of messages of positive thoughts and prayers has been wonderfully overwhelming.  Some of my cousins, some of who are dealing with cancer themselves, are fasting and praying for me.

Same day… 845 am

I brought some items to keep e occupied during chemo.  They are in a beautiful bag decorated by my youngest daughter.

There was a man in here who snorted when he laughed.  I am glad he could laugh during a stressful time.  A woman in here actually has an old-style flip phone like Gibbs uses on NCIS.

I can see forested mountains out the window.  We are minutes from Lake Coeur d’Alene.  I am in love with this beautiful place.  I am not ready to leave (die). I have so much to see and do with my family, and especially the love of my life!

The day started with an arm draw for labs and waiting an hour for the results to come back to my oncologist Dr. Kim.  Let me tell you about Dr. Kevin Kim.  Very nice, intelligent and informed doctor who is very up front and not much for jokes and but I am thankful for him. He showed us my PET scan. I was glowing with cancer in quite a few places but he said I am stilly highly curable. He pointed out that the cancer is in my neck, chest, abdomen, spleen, liver and colon. Possibly my bones. I stated that I had a clean colonoscopy a year ago but he said I didn’t have the cancer then.  It would have been just months since it started growing.  I can remember when I thought I was doing so well with my diabetes and then it got to where I kept getting sick from sugar. It got worse through the holidays so I guess that is when it must have started.

After our consult with Dr. Kim we went upstairs where I was asked to lay on my stomach so he could do a bone marrow biopsy. They allowed Mike to stay in the room for the procedure. He did give me a little lidocaine for the procedure but since I was tolerating it so well, he didn’t add anymore.  I could certainly feel when he was hand-drilling into my bone for the sample and Mike does a good impression of Dr. Kim’s struggle to drill in. I “tolerated the procedure” as they say in medical records.

Next, I got what they call a “chemo teach” where the nurse, Hannah, went over a binder full of information and what to expect as I go through treatment. I thought my head was going to explode.

I then got my port accessed for the first time and even though I didn’t have a chance to put the numbing cream over it, it didn’t hurt to bad. No more than when they do an a/c fossa IV. They started with some pre-chemo meds to help with tolerating the actual chemo (poisons) drugs. After that, they started the chemo. Some had to be administered in a special timely manner. One of them they had me chew on ice chips to help keep my mouth vessels shrunken while they administered it in order to help prevent mouth sores that particular drug has been known to cause. I also have already purchased some mouth rinses that will help with any mouth sores. One of the pre meds they gave me was Benadryl and it made me tired. I ended up sleeping through the last hour. Then I slept on the way home and went to bed for a few more hours when I got home. I was able to eat dinner when I got up, which was a good start.  Dinner was provided by my church family, who have been awesome in providing some meals to help us out. I crocheted while watching tv with the family.  I stayed up a little while but still was able to sleep even more! I slept with my music on and that helped. I also have a humidifier/diffuser that I use peppermint and lavender in while I sleep.

THE TESTS AND SCANS…

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The above pic is from my PET scan. It shows the cancer in my spleen and a few spots in my liver….

Life now is thought of as before cancer and after cancer diagnosis.

First found lump, doc said possibly stomach cancer, referred for ultrasound

2 Weeks later had ultrasound and tech took lots of pics.  I started getting scared.

Next day doc calls and said lymphoma and need biopsy for confirmation – sent later that day for biopsy. Doctor performing biopsy kept talking about it as lymphoma.

Took 5 days to get results of confirmation, went to oncologist the next day. He said Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma, unknown stage until PET scan. Following week – Monday – Pulmonary Function Test – difficult but doable. Tuesday – PET with IV contrast, Wednesday doc called with results – stage 4, neck, chest, abdomen, spleen and possibly bones, then CT (drank contrast plus IV contrast that was hot and weird), Thursday Port surgical Placement, okay, but sore….

Monday, echo – had to get 3rd IV in R-A/C fossa for contrast. The next day was chemo day!

MY NEW CHAPTER… I HAVE CANCER

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I have cancer. Stage 4. The words are hard to say and even harder to believe I am talking about myself. This is my journey.

If I hadn’t noticed the lump, I could have gone one to the day I finally collapsed. Due to my medical history and age they probably would have gone with a natural death, no autopsy and no one would have known that I was full of tumors. They kids would never know that I was full of cancer; or that they should keep watch for any symptoms. My husband wouldn’t understand why I was gone so early.

Looking back, I might have had some symptoms right around the time I was diagnosed with Diabetes but I was attributing them to the Diabetes as well as being in the age range for Menopause, so now I have to wonder if they were really from the growing cancer. Some night sweats and chronic fatigue. I have had chronic fatigue over many years due to various reasons.

Living and working in Southern California all my life until 2018, I wonder if even then it was in me. Growing.  The heat and my weight surely could have hidden it or made it present as other conditions.  Same with my diabetes… I think I didn’t understand the way I was feeling and blamed many symptoms on being overheated.

Now I know. First a diagnosis last spring of uncontrolled diabetes. I worked hard and got my numbers down to a good place… then I kept getting sick from any sugar I would have – such as some grapes or an orange. I love fruit so it has been hard. Then I found the lump in my neck and the new chapter began. The CANCER chapter; This is my journey…

MUSIC TO RELAX AND SLEEP BY

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I just spent a couple hours going through my itunes music library and revising playlists and updating my iPod Nano.  This may not seem like a big deal to most people but I have a very hard time sleeping and need sounds one.  It has been chilly enough that my husband nor my dogs appreciate me turning the fans on so I ahve beem sleeping with the earbuds in and my iPod on. It differs what I listen to. I also keep some writing podcasts on there and of course my all time favorite bedtime story of “The Dreamers Thread” by Starla Hutchton.  It has been a fav for years and is a “go to” when I need to escape during an anxiety episode!  You should check her out.  She has many books out now!

https://www.starlahuchton.com/

this is her webpage! She is on social media as well!!!!

DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS

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When I think about leaving our current house and moving I have several things that I hope for and dream of having… I want to live where I can sit outside and instead of hearing cars or the neighbors, I want to hear the wind blowing through the trees; I want to hear birds and other resident creatures scattering about – doing what they do, making the sounds they make… such as squirrels chattering, and birds calling to each other. I want my dogs to have lots of room to run and run, where I can throw their Frisbee and not have to worry that it will go over the fence. I want them to be safe and happy.

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I want a house that is comfortable and welcoming. A place with room for friends and family to gather and visit. A house that feels like home when we return from somewhere. I want to sit on the porch with the love of my life and breath the fresh air with scent of our trees and enjoy the rest of our lives together. We have talked and dreamed of growing old together since we were young teenagers in love and we are now, we are retired and definitely getting old, but we would love to find a small peaceful and beautiful place to finish growing old together.

#37yearsandcounting

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Saying Goodbye to a friend

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Last week I had to say goodbye to a childhood friend.  I had known her since we were 5 years old and in kindergarten.  Over the years we would lose touch, then find each other again – several times, and then the accident happened. She was under the influence. We were in our mid-twenties and just figuring our lives out. It was so hard to see her like that. In a coma, hooked up to the machines. Eventually she woke up, but her life was never the same. She spent the next 25 years in a wheelchair with extreme atrophy problems on her right side from her brain injury.  She could remember things we did in grade school, but not recent events. Over the years her body wore down, her muscles atrophied more and her organs struggled. She was put on hospice and we knew it was only a matter of time. Last week I had to say goodbye to my friend, and I am sad.

 

Having an artist date…

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My view from my hotel room desk as I work…. Because in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron she says you need to feed your artist and “artist dates” are a great way to do it.  I highly recommend this book to any artist of any medium.

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So….. I realize have been away from my website and blog for quite a while – we have been renovating and getting ready to sell… The stress has been over the top!!  When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day – which later became my birthday gift – I said I want to go on a mini artist retreat.  My bestie, (who draws and paints), and I have come to the beach. Well actually a marina with a tiny stretch of beach.  We have rooms with water view balconies so we can work with the sound and smell of the water close by, and have walked around the marina a bit. Later I hope to work on one of the benches at the water but for now it is easier here at the desk in the room. This reminds me of when we had our boat, and I know that is what I wrote about last time so I won’t dwell on that…. But it does!

Oh and about the bestie, I have asked her to create a piece for my artist retreat I will have when we move.  I want it all about creativity! I am also working on buying a commission piece from artist Jen Ramos http://www.MadeByGirl.com who is just a sweet lady I follow on instagram.

For a long time, I have wanted to be able to write near the water.  There is something so soothing to me about water.  I have spent many a time READING by the water but never writing – so now I am – I am doing it. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is another step in mentally overcoming my physical disability.  I worked very hard to get into forensics. I spent many years studying not to prepare but because I was so interested in it and had NO idea I could ever actually get into the field as an actual employee! Then to have my dream job be what messed up my back and having to medically retire I was so sad.  My body couldn’t take it anymore but my mind was ok.  I felt like I had been shorted.  Several friends told me I should write horror books because after all I had plenty of experience and knowledge about death and a sense of humor that makes people wonder if Stephen King and I are related or something.  You know, that dark and twisty part of my brain.  The question being was that always there or did the job put it there.  I have always been quirky but I have never, nor will I ever abuse an animal. I probably stole a few cats bringing them home as “strays” I found in the neighborhood. So, I don’t think I have the mind of a sociopath but I think I could fake it on paper if needed. I am just not ready to look into that dark corner.  I have many ideas about what I might write after we move and get settled.  But more on that later…. The fresh sea air has my mind swirling with so many ideas right now!

Reminiscing…

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I miss the beach. the feel of sand between my toes, the warmth of the sand, the warmth of the sun, the sound of the waves, the smell of the water, the sound of seagulls, searching for shells that I can use in crafts or display with my lighthouses, the way peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste so much better after playing in the waves and soaking up some sun…

I miss having picnics at the lake, watching the kids play while the guys fish, taking off my shoes, rolling up my jeans and sitting in my folding chair at the edge of the water squishing the wet soil between my toes, the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, having to patch up the kids after at least one, if not all, fall down running and skin their knees and the palms of their little hands, their excitement when one of the guys catches a fish! The fellowship and conversation and we enjoy the scenery, the serenity and the friendship.

I miss going to the park to do my homework or read a book. Sitting on the grass, under a tree. The breeze through my hair. The sounds of the birds in the trees. Taking a moment to make a daisy chain from the tiny little flowers and putting it around my neck or in my hair. Pretending I was sitting under a tree in a huge yard of a plantation or ranch style home in the country, far away from the city.

I enjoy sitting outside in the backyard, with the breeze blowing my hair and creating musical sounds with the wind-chimes. It feels good to laugh as I watch the puppies chase each other, and even better when they chase butterflies. Their curiosity as the watch the birds fly overhead, and the way they tilt their heads to the side when the wild parrots fly over squawking to each other.

I miss the feel of being on a waterski, jumping the wake and the spray of the water on my face. The thrill of the challenge of not falling as I cut back and forth through the wake of the boat. I do NOT miss camping on the beach, sleeping on a folding lounger and waking to see the shade tarp covered in bugs. I do not miss hiking to a port-o-potty up on a random hill and blazing hot inside.

I still remember when I was swimming and my cousins poured their cereal out into the water and I did not know it was in my hair and I was leaving a trail as I swam along which I very large fish was following me eating the cereal! I remember clearly how it felt to turn around and see the fish almost face to face with me and how I could not run out of the water fast enough!!!