Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I am here….

It has been a long haul since August 22nd…my last chemo treatment.  I am just starting to get some energy and most of the bruises are gone (just a faint one on my wrist).  So too, are the “cold flashes” or…at least, they don’t burn my skin anymore.   My cough seems to be worse but, both doctors don’t seem concerned at all and…I guess…nothing showed up on the xrays or scans.

Not been fun emotionally for me….I lost my best friend.  To others…he may have just been a cat but, to me…he was so much more. 

I got to pick him out of the litter the night he was born…he was probably about 2” long and the only tabby.  He came home eight weeks later on my birthday.  It took a few days for his name to come to light…we had company and the door was opening and closing most of the day.  Later that night we started to look for him…we called and called…we searched and searched.  Friends searched where we had looked and we looked where friends had searched…no kitten.  I went to bed and cried myself to sleep picturing him lost and alone and an animal snack (we had coyotes, bears, raccoons and cougars where we lived).  Rick woke me up about 2:30 a.m. with this tiny kitten in his hands…he heard the meowing and…sure enough…the kitten was in a space I looked, he looked and friends looked.

A day or two later…the same thing….he was missing.  This time I didn’t panic.  I looked in the spot he was before…I looked everywhere and no kitten.  I was standing in the doorway of the living room and looked over at the couch…one tiny tuft of an ear was peaking out from behind the sofa cushion.  Sure enough…the little rotter was hiding and thinking this was so funny watching me look for him.  I sat down on the computer and googled “practical joke” and the word “hijinks” came up…it stuck…his name was now ‘Jinks.

A year later we found out he had a level 4 heart murmur and he was placed on heart meds (actually…the same ones my dad is taking).  I didn’t think we would have him long but, the years started to roll by…fifth birthday and he was still with us.  He loved to travel in the motor home…didn’t like the driving but, loved sitting in the big window spread out on the dash surveying his kingdom.  Two years ago we had an ultrasound done on his heart and he was doing great….however…he needed to lose some weight.  Man, oh man, he hated that…you would have thought we were starving him!  His energy level picked right up and for the past two years he was acting like a kitten again.

It must have taken ‘Jinks and Abby (the dog) a bit to notice something was not quite right with me.  When they started the chemo and radiation…Abby started staring at me and wouldn’t stop watching me until I would tell her I was okay and then she would go lie down.  At night she would stand by my side of the bed and not settle down until I got into bed and pulled up the blankets.  ‘Jinks started following me around from room to room and when I would settle down he would climb up and lie down beside me with his tale draped over my lap…one paw touching me….and purr.  Man, that cat liked to purr.  He started the second he woke up and didn’t stop until he was asleep.  He was there through the worst of the chemo and radiation.  I would come home and climb into bed and he was there.  I would get up to go to the bathroom…he was there.  I wandered from room to room and he was my shadow…never settling down until I did.

October 8th…normal day…Rick was cooking supper…Abby was in her bed in the living room…’Jinks was beside me on the couch and Rick dropped a pot or something.  Abby was off like a shot and so was ‘Jinks….he headed for the bedroom and under the bed.  Suppertime came and I doled out his supper…tiny voice in my head wondered why he wasn’t begging for supper.  Time for bed….noticed ‘Jinks hadn’t eaten supper…with a sinking heart I went to the bedroom and looked under the bed…he was there but, didn’t look up and I knew.  I went to the other side of the bed…lifted the cover…and saw he was gone.

It has been really rough as I see him everywhere.  I do something and he is not there.  I can still smell him on my blanket…a certain sound and it is like his meow…I have a hard time going to sleep because he is not at the foot of the bed lying on my feet.  I wake up in the morning and he is not walking on the bed around my head…back and forth…trying to get me to get up and feed him.  He gave me so much comfort when I needed it the most and I am not done yet and still need him and he is not here….okay, enough tears…suck it up!

He had such an attitude….IMG_0800I had an “in box” on my desk in the office and he decided that was  his.  So, while I was working he would climb into his basket and watch me.  If I didn’t pay him attention my papers would land on the floor.

Jinks

One day I was working on the computer and I couldn’t figure out why the typing was so nutty.  I glanced down and…sure enough…his paw was on the keyboard…not paying him attention!  I know deep down if I close my eyes he will be there…and I will argue with any theologian….he had a soul and is now in Heaven chasing butterflies!

Peace….driving to the hospital every day getting treatment…looking at the scenery go by…I would notice some trees between No. 3 Road and Whatcom Road that gave me peace…don’t know why…they are not special…just gave me a sense of calmness.  If I saw them…it was a good day…if I didn’t…I felt anxious.Trees 1

Like I said…nothing special…just some trees lining a driveway that caught my eye and meant something to me.

Tree 2

This one looks so much like a rubber stamp I have and that is why I noticed it.  Right now the leaves are changing colors and there are golds and yellows ready to turn into reds and oranges.

Saw my ex-bosses and co-workers on Friday...not a good day.  One of the guys I worked with for over 20 years was killed on a job site and Friday was the funeral.  It was great to see people I have missed...working with them for 21 years and then not seeing them anymore was a difficult adjustment.  One of my bosses gave me a hug and told me to keep in touch...excuse me...I told him I would and his finger was not broken by the way.  The guys invited me to the Christmas party so we shall see if the invite makes it my way.  I really was hurt with the way I was treated as I was going out the door to retirement....we shall see.

The waiting game is the hardest right now….December 22nd seems like such a long way away with results on January 7th.  Life on hold!  Trying to not think about it…trying to not worry…some days I seem to forget most of the time that I have cancer.  Finished the 3d advent calendars for the grandchildren…I want a piece of me to be there with them so they don’t forget me.

Nope…done with the tears…not talking about scary things right now….swim, swim, swim!

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No surgery….

We met with the radiation oncologist yesterday morning…his opinion was that as the cancer had shrunk in half he saw no benefit to surgery.  The thoracic surgeon agreed saying that she thought it would cause more harm than good but, didn’t rule it out if it became an option in the future.

So…where does that leave me?  We are in a holding pattern for the next four months.  December 22nd I have a repeat CT scan and we see where we are at.  I am going ahead positively believing that anything left over will just turn into harmless scar tissue and I am going to be just fine.

The catch word of the day is “neuropathy”…such an innocuous little word…but, such a royal pain in the ass…oh, that is right…pain in the boob!  Some people have tingling and numbness in the fingers etc….I am the opposite…I have too much feeling. 

I have gone from hot flashes to cold flashes!  However, these cold flashes run across my bust line and leave it feeling like I have the worse sunburn ever!  The rest of my body feels like someone has dumped itching powder all over me.  Rick is having a hard time because I can’t stand to be touched right now.  At lease he heard it from the doctor and doesn’t think I am making up excuses to avoid him!

This “neuropathy” can last anywhere from days to years before it gets any better…if it ever does!  Lovely side effect of Cisplatin….but, I have been told that was the best chemo to fight lung cancer.  As for my neutrophils…still tired and weak.  I have a bruise from the last chemo treatment on the 22nd of August and it is still there.  Each treatment the effects get worse and last longer…I am to give it another two weeks and if I still feel like crap with no energy etc. I am to go back to my chemo oncologist.

So…I am busy working on wedding invitations for two nephews and two nieces.  I am thinking ahead to Christmas cards.  I am working on three advent calendars for the grandchildren…I am looking forward to going to Quesnel for Thanksgiving…I am looking forward to 21-day Panama Canal cruise…camping.  As soon as I feel a little better I am going to order my craft room furniture and get this room set up.

When I have a few minutes I am going to finish my Copic lessons…I am going to start learning Pergamano…I am going to start Tim Holtz’s classes on using his products…I am going to be around a long time and I am going to do the things I want to do and play with all my toys!

Just keep swimming, swimming…what do we do…we swim, swim!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t count me out yet….

First of three doctors…this one today was the thoracic surgeon….PET scan results are in.  Cancer has not spread…it is still only affecting my one lymph node and the same spot on my lung.  The two spots discovered just before treatment started do not “ping” under the PET scan…chemo seemed to have taken care of them.

The spot on my lung has shrunken a bit…from a twoonie to a loonie…to me, not very significant…the lymph nodes by my heart had no change.  So…no new cancer spots, no growth but, not much shrinkage either.

She is going to consult with my radiation oncologist to discuss surgery.  She feels I may be a good candidate (i.e. young and healthy) for surgical removal of the cancer.  This of course, all depends on how much radiation I had and the possibility of scar tissue obstructing things.  If I received the maximum dosage of radiation…surgery is not an option.  Fingers crossed.

So where do we go from here?  I see the chemo oncologist on September 10th, the radiation oncologist on the 17th and the surgeon right after on the same day then we will know what treatment, if any, will be suggested.

Still swimming!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Better…

Today is a better day….the choking fear is gone and slowly being replaced by numbness…I will take it!

It could be that I slept for a change or…at B.C. Cancer Agency I was led to a private room, placed into a recliner, tucked under a warm blanket and listened to a Diana Krall CD with the lights down low…while the drug raced through my system turning me radioactive for six hours.  No…I didn’t glow in the dark when I turned my lights out last night!

Today was the CT scan…done with tests…my arms are black and blue and I don’t think I have a spot from fingers to shoulders that have not been poked or drained.  My bowels finally stopped bleeding…making being nauseous and tired worse…tomorrow all the chemicals should be flushed from my system and I can start the recovery process.

I want to thank my family and friends who posted words of encouragement and…even those who did not because of respect and giving me room to breathe and come back to myself…I am on my way there.  I think when the test results are in and I again know my enemy…I will be able to take charge and fight through.

Not quite swimming yet…strongly treading water…and yes, I am not alone.  I feel you all in the water with me floating, treading…some with water wings on and some on rafts…but, with me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here we go….

Chemo finished on Friday…feeling so damned crappy…tired…nauseous…done.  Side effects are kicking in and my poor bowels are fed up…tired of antibiotics…just tired.

Tomorrow I go to the BC Cancer Agency for a PET scan, Thursday I go to the hospital for a CT scan, September 3rd I go back to the thoracic surgeon, on the 10th I go back to the chemo doctor and on the 17th I go back to the radiologist.

I could lie and say I am strong and tough but, I am so “effing” scared.  I try not to think about it but….if this is life then I am done!  I am so tired of feeling like crap three weeks of every four…and then we are back at it again.  I am trying to be positive…nope…that is a lie…I feel so crappy that I am unable to feel positive.  I do not have the stamina to eat…more or less trying to be happy and upbeat. 

I get “so and so did this and was cured…so and so did that and was cured”…nice…glad for them.  I am not rich.  Am I supposed to take out a loan for a “miracle cure” and then what….if it doesn’t work…is Rick supposed to pay the loan off after I am gone?  Then I wonder…what if I don’t do that?  What if I don’t go into debt and try these so called “miracle cures”?

I got back on the computer again today looking up cancer facts…I still have the most aggressive kind…lung cancer is still the second biggest killer…that doesn’t give one much hope.  One option is to continue taking chemo treatments but, they are more toxic and more toxic and I don’t know how much more I can take.  This is not life.  Then I start thinking about quality of life versus quantity…I am done…I am tired but, I don’t want to die….God, I don’t want to die.

It’s easy to say “wait for the test results” but…you are not me…I am not you.  I have never, ever been this scared in my life.  So…no, I am not swimming right now….barely trying not to drown….maybe tomorrow.

 

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Anybody out there.....?

I see my "Total Page Views" climb like crazy (from 96,000 to 110,000) and it got me to wondering....hmmm....I know family and friends read my blog but, I can only assume that people I do not know are reading it too.  I mean, I know my family is big...but, not that big!

I guess I am wondering if I am reaching someone out there who is just as scared as I am and if I am helping in any way.  This blog is for me to vent...to think...to feel but, if I am helping someone else then I am glad.

Yesterday - the day started with labs to see if my Neutrophils were up.  Went to sit in the lounge until time for my appointment and noticed blood on my arm...not clotting.  Back to the lab for a cleanup... more pressure...another bandage....back to the lounge.  Round one of chemo yesterday...took long enough to find a vein that would work...krippeee!

While we were waiting to go in I noticed a lady with a couple of friends with her.  Not much privacy in the waiting room and I couldn't help overhearing that it was her first day of treatment and she was worrying about losing her hair.  During the number of bathroom trips (the usual..drip, drip, pee) and noticed they had her in the back corner sitting with her chemo buddies.

Treatment took so long and Rick needs to eat on time so...we decided to stop at the restaurant in the hospital.  I noticed her sitting outside of Starbuck's and...I had to stop and talk to her.  I told her going bald was no big deal (I had taken my hat off when I got into the hospital).  She said that she noticed I was rocking the bald head...she also said she bought a wig for this.  I told her I had a number of them and just couldn't be bothered wearing one.  She asked what cancer I had and I told her lung...she mentioned she had breast cancer and during a follow up CT scan they found ovarian cancer and so she had gone from being the chemo buddy for her friend to being the one who needed the chemo buddy.  We showed each other our good luck charms and then we wished each other well and went on our way. 

Today, I go back for chemo and this time I am going to ask if I can find out when her name is and when her next chemo is set up for...I would love to go visit and see if she is rocking the bald head...she could probably use some cheering up about that time too. 

So, getting ready to head back to the hospital for round 2 and I am swimming.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Charlie…

He’s always been there…from being my brother’s best friend…to seeing him while I hung out with his older brother Vic…to being the photographer at my first wedding…to being there the day we buried my brother…to the day we buried my mother…he’s always been there.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I tore through my Facebook friend list and cancelled a lot of people I had not seen since high school or rarely since…not sure why…maybe because I did not want a bunch of cyber hugs from people I barely knew anymore….and, partly because I guess I was angry at life.  Charlie was one of the names…his was cancelled by mistake.   I did not know about his illness until my sister mentioned it while she was visiting a couple of weeks ago.  He’s dying…did you know?  No, I didn’t know!

Charlie is a free-lance writer and has columns in Kelowna papers (Capital News and the Now for starters), plus he is an author.  I “Googled” him until I found the column about his illness…Charlie is dying…slowly of emphysema….his mother passed away due to the same thing.  In his column he writes about his life and his dreams and accomplishments.  He has a lot to be proud of and he says he can look back on them and feel blessed.  

It got me to thinking…in the dark…what about my hopes and dreams…have I accomplished all I set out to do…and the answer is “No…I haven’t”.  I wanted to travel and may not get a chance to do that.  My career choice was not what I originally wanted but, I did enjoy working for the 21 years at my last job.  I did not want a divorce under my belt but, who does!  What I have accomplished is a life filled with friends and family.  When I was a little girl I said I was going to marry a man named Rick (no surprise there…I married two of them!).  I was going to have four children…not quite…I ended up with five and it took Rick’s help by bringing three with him to our marriage and I have four grandsons and one granddaughter.

I may not have accomplished all I set out to do and that is okay.  A lot of my hopes and dreams may not be realized and that is okay.  I may not be rich in material things but, with all the blessings in my life with family and friends…I am rich!!!

I have not been crafting and I finally admitted to myself that I have been avoiding the room.  I check my emails etc. on my tablet and not on the PC.  I admit to sitting down at my desk the other day and looking around at all my tools, stamps, dies and paper etc. that I have…and not used so far.  I look at my technique books and wonder if I will get the chance to learn them.  I have so much I wanted to do but may not have the time to do them.  I look at all my stuff and I know there is no way I can leave this for Rick to clean out and I know that I will have to do it myself.  It is just too hard some days to be in this room knowing that my outcome may not be good.  I look at my stuff and I don’t see the possibilities of what I can do with them but…who should get what…how much can I sell this for…will I have time to get rid of everything?

No chemo this week…neutrophils still too low so…next week.  What this does is makes me too ill to travel and I will miss my grandsons’ birthdays…both of them….the first time I will miss them. 

We saw the chemo doctor on Tuesday and he says the cancer is shrinking…shrinking…not gone.  Then we saw the radiation doctor yesterday and again, the cancer is shrinking…not gone….neither of them said by how much.  Lung cancer is aggressive and he said they treated me aggressively with the radiation so…no more radiation as it may cause too much tissue damage.  That leaves only chemo.  Then one has to weigh quality of life against quantity of life…do I want to spend what time I have sick and flat on my back or…do I want to enjoy the time I have.  Either way…there is no telling anything right now.  I am scheduled for a CT scan to see what stage the cancer is at.  There will be no magic operation to cut it out.  I really, really hate this waiting game.  I won’t get any results until September 17th.

So…right now I am sitting in my craft room…cuz…I had to format my stupid computer… Windows update corrupted a system file and I really, really hate installing and reinstalling stupid software and trying to force Windows 8 to accept printers that are really not compatible.

What am I doing…I am set up in the family rooom painting advent calendar kits for the grandkiddies for Christmas.  I am planning on making wedding invitations for nieces and nephews… three sets of them…going to be a busy summer next year!  Number 1 son, daughter-in-law and grandson are coming tomorrow (boy am I needing some Nolan hugs), niece and hubby are dropping by for a visit tomorrow…laundry is done…house is clean…life goes on!

I get through each day by NOT thinking about it.  I shut down all thoughts (other than the blog where I can vent).  I hear Dory telling me to “Just keep swimming”…I read the hugs from my family and friends (some are in the water with me…some are wearing water wings)and I keep going.  Not sure if I am a Timex watch or an Eveready bunny…but, I am swimming!!!