Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chemo and Doing Good…In So Many Ways

I had my first chemo appointment on Thursday, November 21st.  Because I tend to be sensitive to Benadryl, which they administer before every treatment, they only gave me half a dose but even that knocked me out.  I could feel that sensation of drifting off.  I remember hearing voices off and on and heard everyone laughing about me.  I heard my nurse say, "Boy she really is out for a loop," and my family saying, "See, we told you."  Needless to say, I came home and slept most of the first day only waking to do the things they asked me to do faithfully to help my body handle the chemo better and keep myself as healthy as possible.  I went in for my shot, the one that helps my bones make more white blood cells, the next day but was still very sleepy and pretty much out of it.  I wasn't too hungry but forced myself to eat protein and drink lots of fluids to flush the chemo out of my body.  Later in the evening, I was feeling better so I went to Zumba®, came home with a great appetite, and ate a good dinner.  Jim was happy.  On the third day, I woke up very tired and not feeling too good.  My temperature was 99.6 (at 100, I'm supposed to call the doctor).  I took a long nap and felt much better when I woke up.  Late in the afternoon, I felt very nauseated and threw up, or tried to, but my stomach was pretty empty.  I took a nausea pill and felt better in the evening.  My daughter, Nani, arrived from North Dakota, to spend Thanksgiving with us at 1:30 the next morning and I felt pretty good when I woke up.  I was having hot and cold flashes but was eating well.  Unfortunately, I tweaked my back in the shower before church and wasn't able to go.  On Wednesday (six days post chemo), I went into the doctor's office for my follow-up and my white blood cell count was too low so I had to follow the precautions for that.  I was expecting to feel good by now but my energy was low.  Thursday was Thanksgiving and I felt good in the morning but my energy was drained by the afternoon, which they said is normal, but I still enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family.  Friday night I started getting a cough and sniffles and, by Saturday morning, it was worse.  A family member told me to call the nurse as I was told to call as soon as I felt ANYTHING coming on.  I really didn't want to call but, when I did, the nurse told me to go to the ER.  What?!  That was the LAST thing I wanted to hear.  She said if my white blood cell count was low, they would keep me there.  I was kind of mad at this family member that made me call the nurse.  Hahaha.  They determined my white blood cell count was good, but a chest x-ray showed a touch of pneumonia.  BAM!  The ER doctor called my oncologist.  He said I could go home with meds if I would follow ALL the directions, and if anything else happened, I had to go right back.  The ER nurse told me I owed that certain family member a BIG thank you, because pneumonia is a serious illness anyways but in my situation, it's magnified.  They also gave me a lot of fluids and meds intravenously while I was there, and my energy level was way better by the time I got home.  I have another week and a half before I go for my second round of chemo.  The doctor said the week before my chemo is the week I feel the best, so it's time to party!  Party anyone?  ;)  Overall, I feel like I handled the chemo pretty well.  It was probably the pneumonia that caused the energy loss.  They said my worst day would be five days after chemo, but my worst day was three days after so I feel like I bounced back quicker than normal.  That is how I'm doing good.

Now, doing good in so many other ways…it seems like I've heard so many stories lately that help me realize I AM doing good and also stories of people doing good for others.  These stories touch my heart and help me take my eyes off myself.  I'd like to share some of them with you:

My friend who, along with many others, has been very supportive and thoughtful during this moment, has been sending me care packages, mail, and texts that are upbeat and encouraging.  After receiving one of those cute, upbeat packages earlier this week, I called her, at her suggestion, to find out exactly what some of the gifts in the package meant after several family members placed their guesses.  She sent me super glue, mounting putty, and double sided tape.  If any of you can guess what these gifts are for, you get extra credit.  Clue:  She has been keeping up with my blogs and had just read my latest blog.  We'd love to see your guesses in the comments under this blog.  :)  During that conversation, I found out she was here in Yakima, at the hospital, waiting for her son to come out of surgery.  He had a brain tumor, which we found out was benign, and he doesn't have to go through chemo or radiation.  Such wonderful news!  I asked her why she didn't tell me about her son, and she explained she didn't want to burden me with her difficulties because I was going through my own.  All this time, she's been positive, supportive, and completely unselfish in thinking of me.  I was very emotional when I realized what was happening and it made me think of this:  "We should have before us a strong desire to do good to others... Good will come to us...if we keep our minds outside of ourselves...and try to make others happier… When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself...go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it...and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light...and everything seems illuminated."  (Pres. Lorenzo Snow)  I want to say thank you my friend.

I don't even know the person in this next story I heard from one of my daughters, but I was so touched by her unselfish service and love that I wanted to share it.  She was recently diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and had surgery to remove it but decided not to go through chemo, against the doctor's recommendations, so that she can stay healthy enough to continue taking care of her husband who has six months left in his cancer treatment which he has been fighting for a few years.  My heart is touched by her compassion, love, and care.

While I was in Seattle going through tests, we heard from a friend that her mom was just diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer and was having a difficult time getting into the oncologist.  She had a transfusion and may possibly need a stem cell transplant later, but she and her family are in positive spirits and, last we heard, she was planning on having a bunch of people over for Thanksgiving dinner.

There are many people going through difficult times, trials, and challenges.  When I hear these stories, it makes me so thankful for my own challenges and for my friends, family, and others who help me get through this moment one day at a time.

One more story…it seems that, at least for me, when I go through trials and difficulties, I become more humbled and sensitive to those acts of kindness and touching stories I see and hear.  The other night, I saw on the news a story of a 17 year old girl who, for her senior project, raised money for someone in need by collecting pledges for a marathon ride in a go-kart around the state fair oval park over a 1,000 times.  It just touched my heart, because here's this 17 year old girl, a youth, who performed this unselfish act to help someone else.  Today, with all that we hear (all the negative news) here is a story of something good.  This one really struck me because it was a 17 year old.  

I am thankful for these uplifting stories and how they make me feel.  I am thankful for those who have done good to me.  In closing, I share words from a song, Have I Done Any Good?: "Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love."