Recovery Monday

On other days, recent days, we would have pointed our faithful Jeep down the hill toward Ontario for one more radiation treatment, perhaps a short stand-in-line at the pharmacy, or a visit with one of my doctors. Not today.

Today, I recover. This morning I sat for awhile on the cement steps leading to our front deck. I watched. I looked and listened. I have blisters under my right arm, a sore, decimated chest wall beneath which is a grateful heart, and today I have a head that reels. I’m a follower of the news, one who listens much, who is interested in the election that looms before us. I’m aghast at our world. How can we humans speak as we do? How is it that we slaughter each other at such a rate? How.can.this.be.so?

The steps, though. Where I sit. I watch as two lizards dart before me. My camera is beside me, lens cover removed, and as I lift it to my eyes, the couple spatted, I guess, and in a flash one is gone. This one, though. This brave critter stopped quite near me. He posed, and held. Steady, he displayed his long “fingers.”

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Behind him stands a frog. Well, a replica of a frog, who is of green metal, and who appears to be holding a clarinet or some such instrument. I laughed when I noted these two critters in this juxtaposition.

DSC_3809-2And it was better than police shootings, or blatant lying, or coarse, vulgar language. Or the utterly ridiculous question of whose lives matter.

DSC_3788Hummingbirds rushed by Jerry’s face today as he watered plants in the front.

DSC_3795Bokeh, they call it. Light, unfocussed light shines through the scarlet bird feeder.

DSC_3782The bigger birds have scratched about and their food is scattered on the railing, and this morning there was a dead bird in our driveway.

And God knows. He is in charge. Still. Capable. Not in trouble. I rest. I recover.

 

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Emerging from Dark Days

There likely is not a mature adult alive who has not in one way or another been knocked to the ground–be it physically, spiritually, or emotionally–likely more times than once. Those people will understand how wonderful it is during these times that loving ones tend to you. They pat your face, send flowers, bring meals, send notes, make phone calls, tell you they’re praying . . .or just sit in silence while you recover.

I am one of those, having over the past few weeks been knocked about by the results of chemotherapy, to the extent that I surely am the poster-kid for side effects. Hey, but I’m still here, and today feeling well enough to communicate in this way!

A known, but rare, allergic response to the chemo drug called Taxotere is serious enough that before the drug is administered other meds, most notably in the steroid family, are prescribed, some orally, others by IV. During my second infusion, I suffered such an allergic response, becoming short of breath, with severe face flushing, and a fierce pain in my back. Immediately the nurses stopped the infusion and gave me oxygen. When the pain had subsided, and my breathing had returned to normal, they again started the infusion–very slowly. I tolerated the drug then, and was able to finish the prescribed amount. Barely into my third infusion of Taxotere, I reacted violently. My doctor had already left the building, but another oncologist was called who observed me for awhile, and subsequently ordered the medication, for the time, discontinued.

My oncologist, Dr. Chan, called me twice the next day and we discussed ways to go forward with my treatment. There were additional pre-medications that could be used, whose function is to prevent the allergic reaction. I returned to the chemo department two days later. My nurses, as always, were sweet and friendly, but were on high-alert, and since early morning had been in contact with Dr. Chan who was in his office down the hall. One of the nurses told me it would be very rare to have another such allergic reaction.

They placed me in the chemo chair closest to their stations. and carefully explained the game plan. All medications would be administered slowly, the on-site pharmacist had prepared a tiny bag of Taxotere, and if I tolerated that, the full infusion would be given. The lead nurse sat down and stared at me as the infusion began. Before a mere 5 ml had entered my body, I reacted. She noted the severe flushing of my face, jumped up and turned off the Taxotere, and began a stout infusion of Benadryl. Another nurse came over and started the oxygen. My lungs were burning, my chest tight, and I was short of breath. I was disoriented. Dr. Chan quickly came and stood by me.

I stayed in the chemo unit for probably a couple of hours, until the staff was sure I was stable, and not in immediate danger of further reaction. So. The end of my treatment with Taxotere. I agreed with Dr. Chan that we had done all we could to assist my body in tolerating that particular drug, but it just did not work out for me. On next Monday I return to the unit for my final chemo treatment, which will  consist only of the Cytoxen, which my body tolerates with only known and expected side-effects. The worst is the extreme fatigue which has plagued me over these months.

Let me add something very important here: My having cancer, my suffering through chemotherapy with dreadful side effects and a rare allergic attack have in no way changed my basic outlook on life. I’m happy to be here. God remains powerful, triumphant, faithful, and in charge–of my life, and of yours. Period. I rest sweetly in that understanding.

Please accept my thanks to you who have ministered to me during these trying weeks and months. I have responded to some of you; others I have not. Every note on paper, every card, every floral arrangement, every comment on any of my internet sites, every prayer, every meal provided,  every personal visit, every phone call . . . all of them mean so very much to me, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

 

 

 

 

Christmas and the Detour

After two nights in the hospital, being wonderfully attended, I was released. Our daughter, Rebecca, was with her dad to pick me up, and it developed that she stayed in our home for 12 days caring for me as though I were a child, tending my two drains, catering also to her dad, cooking meals, and helping out in many other ways. Michael and Melina who live in Lake Havasu stayed also for a couple of days, cooked, cleaned and stocked up our kitchen with delicious treats and delicacies. I’m not quite sure how I have been so blessed with these four exceptional children, but indeed that is the case.

On the fifth or sixth day after my surgery, after having taken nothing for pain, not even an aspirin, I awoke to severe pain in my right arm. It was so excruciating that if no medicine had been available, I would have gone to the emergency room. A colleague of Dr. Victor had released me and at that time had written a prescription for pain and nausea medication, which we had filled while at the hospital. From that bottle, I drew one pill which did little for the pain, merely made me very sleepy, but the second one four hours later significantly reduced my agony. This pain continued for several day–think it was nerve pain–and the medicine continued to make me sleepy.

Which leads me to consider a couple of vital organs. . .

Since my two kidneys and my one liver came right along with me that day when I was born, they are now of the advanced age of 77 years and a few months. A bit elderly, one might correctly assume, and I’m beginning to think they may be a tad lax in their “doings,” for I understand they are supposed to help out with clearing my body of such things as anesthetics. Hate to fink on them, but those days after my surgery, I believe they slightly fell down on their jobs. Took a little long for me to wake up, and for days, and certainly after I started taking the pain medication, I felt slightly “out of it.” Woozy.

Christmas was a few days away and I wanted everyone here. They were reluctant, especially Andrew who has five children, but I was adamant that it would not be too much, and anyway they had already planned Christmas dinner, so my plan was to lie on the couch, and if I needed to bark an order or two, I would be available. They all came, and it was glorious, though much of it is foggy in my mind, and a couple of pictures I have (which I will not post) show me in what appears to be a totally drunken state!

Over the 25th and the 26th, 24 of my family came, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, eating, opening presents, yelping, cooking, clanging pots and pans, youngsters running about, some clunking on the piano upstairs . . .and to me, it was perfect. They all brought their dogs, so counting our Winston, we had a total of six dogs bounding about in the mix. Mike cooked a fine 15 pound Prime Rib Roast on Jerry’s back deck smoker, Andrew brewed a huge pot of chicken and shrimp gumbo, Shawnna baked crab legs, Steve brought a Honey-Baked ham . . . pies, candy . . .dips . . .veggies . . .breads . . .

Next Christmas I’ll be well, so I won’t be lolling about on the couch. Sure was nice, though, to hear all that activity in the kitchen, all those people cooking and cleaning . . .and I doing nothing. Hmm…Perhaps, just maybe, next year I’ll have a bit of a tummy ache or a tiny headache . . .