Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still By My Side

Can I just say that I am a very lucky woman?

I am.

In January of 1969 at the tender age of 16 , I met my life's partner and forty years later, he's still right here by my side. Yesterday, as I spent post-treatment day six on the couch, he texted me several times. "How are you doing today?" I confessed that early in the morning I had started laundry and vacuumed cat hair off the couch, and now I was pretty much confined to the couch. He texted me, "Quit it! You push it, you pay!" We discussed plans for dinner, he texted back, "I'll cook. You relax."

And he did. He came home after a long day at work, cooked dinner, brought it to me on a tray, made me a cocktail of half a glass of fruit punch flavored Gatorade and half water with three ice cubes, cleaned up the kitchen and helped me fold the pile of laundry on the bed before we sat down to watch Dancing With the Stars on TiVo. (I really don't want to be hooked on that show this season! Please!!!)

That was just last night.

He takes care of the cat litter boxes, makes sure we get the trash out on Tuesday mornings, constantly keeps the kitchen picked up, takes my Mom grocery shopping, makes most of the meals these days, vacuums and, of course, waits on me. That's all when he's home. He leaves the house by 7:00 each morning and returns usually around 6:00 pm. Once in a while I can tell he's feeling overwhelmed because I know him so well, but he doesn't complain. He is still by my side, still doting on me, still loving me, still my rock.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's In the Silence?

I'm amazed it's been a whole week since I've felt inspired to express myself here. A number of years ago during one of my many stops to browse in Barnes & Noble, I happened on a book about harvesting journals. It has some great ideas of how to revisit old journals and find new writing projects among them. Considering I have journaled for the majority of my adult life beginning with the birth of our first child, someone someday will either be very intriqued by them as I was with my great grandmother's diaries and my grandmothers' journals, or they might make a nice bonfire!

One take-away thought from the book that stuck with me is the idea to explore areas of silence in my journals--what is not recorded and why. For instance, my progeny will find next to nothing about my marriage except what a devoted husband I have who has worked hard and supported his family without fail. My journals are full of my own musings about walking with God, learning about my own areas of growth in my life, and lots of gratitude for God's amazing provision for all aspects of my life.

So this morning after my seven days of silence on this blog, I wonder why? What have I left out? The fact is these were some of the most difficult seven days yet since I began treatment. Stuck inside this house for days on end, staring at the same walls, struggling to eat and drink, I mostly lounged on the couch in between times to nurse a bleeding hemorrhoid and make sure I was taking the right balance of laxatives and stool softeners. I had no energy for nor interest in the computer or checking email. I watched back-to-back episodes of The Peoples Court during the mid-to-late morning timeslots, only to find nothing at all I wanted to watch. So with a click on the remote, silence filled the room. No energy to get up, I continued to lay there and stare off in space, feel my frustration, wipe tears so I could check the clock and hope time was passing quickly so this day would be over and I'd be one day closer to feeling better. I spent many hours doing just that, sometimes I listened to my Ipod which blessed me by putting me to sleep.

Every night, I fall asleep as I ponder the words in The Lord's Prayer and then imagine myself as my little granddaughter, Anna Mae, snuggled up in her mother's bosom without a care in the world, her every need to sustain her life within her mother's power to provide. It's a maternal image of God that is very real to me and I know God is without gender and right now I need Mother God. I've known Father God for over 30 years and know His loving care and protection. I need Mother God's nurturing, comforting embrace right now. It sustains me. I love falling asleep in Her loving embrace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm Getting Antsy

Today is the eighth day straight confined to my home and I'm getting antsy. Although there is great improvement this morning, some of the physical side effects I've been experiencing have made it impossible for me to be too far away from home. All indications are that tomorrow will be a day to get in the car and spend a few hours at the office. I'm looking forward to it!

Treatment #4 has proven to be the most difficult yet. My clinical trial nurse told me yesterday that some cycles can be worse than others. Treatment #5 is my last one to receive the Adriamycin and Cytoxan along with the Avastin clinical trial drug. I've been told the A/C combination is the more difficult and better days are ahead as I have Treatments #6-9 of the Taxol and Avastin. It is my understanding the Taxol continues to sap energy and leaves one feeling achy all over, but it doesn't cause nausea so I won't have to have the strong nausea medications which have left me with all these unpleasant side effects related to cycles of constipation/diarrhea. That will be a welcome relief, but is a month away unfortunately.

So I brace myself once again. I anticipate feeling good, hopefully almost normal, for the next five days and then try to embrace the fact I'll have a little less than a week of suffering the A/C treatment effects and be that much closer to the end of this unexpected and more-difficult-than-I-ever-imagined bump in the road called breast cancer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wet Dishrag

I've concluded that I'm really not very good at being sick. The past few days have been really difficult. The same old complaints of being hungry but nothing sounding good, needing to drink but getting fluids down with great difficulty. My cousin Susie told me to expect to feel like a wet dishrag. That pretty much sums it up. Think about what a wet dishrag does and you get the picture of what my life has been like for the past four days. Just existing in a lump on the couch. Even the back porch on these warm, sunny afternoons doesn't beckon me right now. I just recline on the couch and mostly sleep.

The digestive tract issues prove to be the most challenging. Think Senekot, Colace and PreparationH and you get the picture! All issues one is clueless about when faced with this type of treatment.

Today is an improvement for sure. Hey, I'm on the computer again!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

7 out 10 Use Them

The signs have been numerous. Weeping in the shower at times. Sporadic periods of the blues. Actually telling Buck the other day, "If I need to, I'll get an antidepressant." And then a day later my conversation with my daughter in which she expressed her deep concern that I appeared very much down in the dumps to her. I did need an antidepressant a few years ago, a mild one that worked wonders without causing noticeable, long-lasting side effects. I took them for a couple of years and then I think the joy of family around me, and the unspeakable joy the birth of grandchildren bring, created the natural endorphins my brain had been lacking.

The heaviness in my heart drowns out that joy at times. It's obvious. In anticipation of facing my treatment, I went to bed Tuesday night fighting off tears. I recognize they are tears of fear, perhaps frustration is a better word, at feeling so lousy for so many days. As we sat in the examining room at the Dana Farber yesterday morning, I was surprised that the tears were back. The clinical trial nurse explored my history of depression and thought it made sense for me to take what helped me before. She told me on average 7 out of 10 women with breast cancer use mild antidepressants.

So we filled the prescription on our way back from Boston yesterday and I will begin today. It will be a week or more before they kick in, but if I can be more even emotionally, perhaps some of the things I miss will be interesting again, like reading, devotional time with God, prayer.