Ugh! What a week! I’ve been up since 4 am going over the dozens of ways I could write this post. SO many thoughts, emotions, tests, news, procedures..etc in the last two weeks that it’s hard to know where to start and what to share.
So I decided to spare you all the horrible things that goes thru a cancer patient’s mind when given the news that you are now stage 4. I’m sure you can imagine. Suffice it to say that all my affairs are in order and I’ve done everything I can think of to make the worst case scenario easier on my family. That’s not being morbid or giving up. It’s being a smart, caring adult so stop your “oh no! Don’t think like that…” objections. Being prepared is something every wise adult should do NOW. You never know when that anvil will fall from the sky or that Mac Truck finds you. I’ve seen the pain and problems that an unexpected death can cause a family. Please think of them!
I was a master at faking out the parents at being sick as kid. Sure, I was a decent actress in my day, but any decent actress will tell you that you have BE the part, FEEL the part. Even as a kid I knew that if I focused on a symptom (sore throat, sweaty head, cough, even fever) I could MAKE it happen. My body would listen to my mind and I would actually begin to really FEEL sick which made it easy to fool the ‘rents.
Well, nothing has changed. My mind still has the power to control how I feel. No, it’s not a super power that I can use to instantly heal myself but I CAN control the extent of how a symptom affects me. But I’m here to tell you that using this ‘power’ is hard as hell when you are FOR REAL sick! The last few weeks have been rough on me. I haven’t been sleeping and being exhausted on top of being sick on top of getting bad news…well, it got the best of me for a while. But I got sleep last night and news that helped. So here is a recap of this week:
TUESDAY: I was at the hospital at 6:30 am to get a new port put in. I was NOT happy about this but once I got over the pissiness of it’s necessity, I knew to be happy that I will not have a pin cushion arm anymore. Too bad they had to stick me the conventional way for the surgery. This time, the port was put in using a topical anesthetic and twilight sedation -which meant that I was “awake” for the whole thing.
Speaking of mind over matter, it took some serious talking myself down at the beginning of this surgery. As soon as they laid me flat on the table, I felt like I was having trouble breathing. I’ve been sleeping with several pillows under me for the last few weeks so I was concerned that my lungs would be unhappy with me and sure enough, as soon as they laid me back I started having trouble. It took every effort not cough -especially when they stretched me back even farther to open up my neck/chest area.
I told myself over and over again that I am in a hospital hooked up to tons of machines that are monitoring me and oxygen levels. I was ok. Luckily, they gave me the sedation meds fairly soon and I cared not after that.
I could hear the surgeon tell me what he was doing and I know I asked him a couple of questions during the surgery but I no longer remember. All I really remember is that everyone in the room looked to about 12-14 years old and they played cool music.
Because this was general surgery, I was given no pain meds and the recovery time was minimal. But no pain meds meant that as soon as the local wore off and I started coughing it cause great strain and pain on the surgical site. Thank goodness I had some pain meds leftover from my other surgeries.
WEDNESDAY: After another night of minimal sleep I was up again for another CT scan. This time on my abdomen. Doc wanted to be sure Larry didn’t spread his spawn anywhere else. I was told that I could use the port right away for the contrast to be injected, but I was still so sore that I asked her to just stick me the old fashioned way. Yup -it took two sticks. OW. The scan was quick and I was given a CD of it. Again, my untrained eye couldn’t see anything unusual on it but I figured I would find out the next day when I went in to see the onco again for chemo.
I took one more pain pill in the morning. The surgical site is still a little sore, but it was manageable. I also took great pains to control my cough.
THURSDAY: My onco gave me a bunch of good news yesterday. First -that he saw nothing new on the CT scan in my abdomen. The other was that he DID see I have pneumonia. I see this as good news as it explains how crappy I’ve been feeling (as opposed to my problems being a result of the cancer) and its something that is fixable. He gave me a stronger antibiotic which seems to be helping already. I took a pill last night and got some decent sleep too which also helps. Thank you Jesus!
The third bit of good news is that not only was the Keytruda approved, but my clinic requested they overnight it so I could get my first infusion yesterday. So I got an immune killer and an immune booster at the same time. Go figure.
I asked the doc about how well it will boost my immune system – like will it help me kick the pneumonia too? He said no. What the Keytruda does is kill off the PD-1 pathway that cancer cells use to hide from your immune system. With this pathway gone, my immune system should recognize that the cancer is not supposed to be there and will do it’s thing to kill it off.
Hmm. My natural immune system that has been suppressed for months by taking damn chemo pills and now a new chemo infusion. So what I’m hearing is that I need to do everything I can to boost my system despite the chemo. I’m back to taking astragalus and echinacea, vitamin C and all the other stuff I do to help my system. As soon as I can take more than a few steps without getting winded I will go back to walking every day.
So far, I don’t seem to suffering any side effects from either drug. I’m expecting some fatigue but its hard to judge when it happens cuz I’ve been so sick and tired anyway. It’s 2 pm now and I’m still feeling fairly decent despite the cough that is giving me sexy voice.
It is AMAZING how feeling physically better also improves your mental attitude. I am back to feeling hopeful for this new treatment and back to feeling a little more like the strong warrior you all seem to think I am instead of this sick wimpy slug I’ve actually been lately.
Thank you again for all your prayers and good thoughts. ❤