Wrecking ball

Mar 31

Have you ever seen a wrecking ball hit a brick wall?  Yesterday, when the chemo started dripping in, it started the rise, the lift, of the crane.  Last night I started to feel the impact coming, and this morning I was hit.  I dragged myself through a shower, popped my anti-nausea meds and sat on the sideline of the field across the street with Greta’s baby monitor in hand while Maren participated in our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  I watched and I quietly cheered.  Brad hunted with her, and our neighbors gathered and took pictures.  It was a lovely, if chilly, event. I went back to sleep until it was time to get my injection.  The day after every chemotherapy session, I will go back to the office to get an injection that will boost my body’s ability to make white blood cells.  This will allow my blood and my body to recover faster, so that my chemotherapy drips can be closer together and more effective at killing the cancer.  It is another tool in the arsenal.  Brad, Maren, Greta and I drove back to the office for the injection. I popped another anti-nausea pill and a painkiller so that I could put my best Mommy face on.  Maren and I went into the doctor’s office alone: she happily pushed all the elevator buttons and all of the handicap door accesses.  The nurse, the only one on duty this Saturday morning, greeted us warmly and immediately set Maren up with juice and cookies.  Maren explored the chemo room as I filled the nurse in on my symptoms and side effects. Maren covered her eyes when it was time for me to get the shot, but I had her peek out at my smiling face while it was happening.  She seemed comfortable and cheerful.  For her, my doctor’s office is the cookie stop, the place with elevator buttons to push, the place with lots of comfy chairs just like the chairs at her grandparents house.  For me, this room, this office, it is where medical miracles happen.  My Maren and I both like this place, and can’t wait to come back. I have always been a gifted sleeper.  I can...

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Thoughts From Chair 15

Mar 30

Maren and I have a little ritual: whenever we see an ambulance or hear a siren, we say a little prayer for whomever is in that particular ambulance at that particular time.  “Dear God, please help the people in the ambulance to be strong and healthy.”  To be honest, I totally stole the practice from a friend of mine; it was not my idea, but I thought it was a sweet principle to teach my children.  Always wish others well and be kind.  I expanded upon it for myself: I try to pray for road rage drivers on the highway, I pray when I see toddlers drinking a bottle of juice at Target at 10pm, and I pray in front ominous doctor’s office signage (oncology has always felt ominous to me).  So, apparently, I pray when I feel frustrated or stressed, and yet have no control to do anything about the situation. Today, I like to think that some stranger on the busy street below was praying my doctor’s office, in my once ominous, now comfortable, oncologist’s office.  No two chemo rooms are the same (I assume).  My Chemo Room has 18 very comfy faux leather reclining chairs.  Each has a green and white number plate hanging overhead, an IV pole to the left, and small tables to the right.  The chairs are far enough apart that they neither encourage nor dissuade conversation.  There were 6 other chemo patients during my 3 hour stay (Friday is a slow day).  One snored in his recliner.  An 85?ish woman sat by the window in a turban and read magazines.  A forty-something woman in a wig-so-real-looking-I-first-thought-this-might-be-her-first-treatment-too sat and read a novel.  Another complained about the dosage and the side effects of her cocktail to the nurses constantly.  People came and went with the same pace and purpose I had two weeks ago as I went to the grocery story, the pharmacy, the dry cleaner, the bank. The Chemo Room is a quiet place.  The whole time I was there no one talked on their phone, and I didn’t even hear anyone’s phone ring. Visitors are simply not welcome.   Brad came with me initially, and sat with me as we got started, but then...

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In the morning

Mar 30

Brad and I will wake in the dark, peek in on our babies, and tiptoe out the door.  We will listen to something peaceful on the way to the hospital.  We will hold hands.   We will talk, or not.  It doesn’t matter; we enjoy each other’s presence  equally in the best and in the worst of times. At 6 am, we will find the right waiting room and wait.  I figured out a WordPress feature to publish this blog entry at 5 am tomorrow morning because I want people to continue to pray and pray in real time as I move about this process.  I will be prepped for surgery, I will (hopefully) joke with my pre-op nurse.  The medical team will use my new port for the first time.  I will delve into my abundant bag of hospital goodies that lovely people have sent me during the week. At 8 am, the surgery is scheduled.  The surgeon, Dr. Chief, will use his formidable skills to get a sample of the spots on my liver that were seen in the PET scan and follow-up MRI.  This past week, today, tonight, tomorrow morning: I ask God to make those spots benign, that they would slough off, fade away, and be gone like water down the drain.  In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. –Psalm 5:3 After surgery, I will move through recovery and work with my post-op nurse.  Dr. Wonderful and Nurse Practitioner Rockstar will check on me.  They will answer questions and issue directions.  I will be discharged, leave the hospital, get some lunch, and then go to chemotherapy.  (That is so strange to write, as if these are my normal Friday plans.)  I literally tingle in excitement when I think about the fact that in the afternoon, powerful chemo drugs will begin to wreak havok with the cancer cells and tumors that do not belong. I believe in modern medicine and science.  I believe in a God who heals.  Pray with me this morning. Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me. –Psalm 40:13 Now to him who is...

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That Pile Of Papers On My Counter

Mar 29

I am sifting through the stack of papers on our counter that materializes out of thin air by the hour.  Seriously, where does it come from?  There is mail, Maren art, catalogues, to do lists, receipts, grocery lists, coupons, and more Maren art.  I sort, toss, file.  I move through the pile and I find that I have a coupon for “$10.00 Off: All styles of bangs to wear under hats.”  I freeze as I read that again to make sure I understand, then continue reading.  Another coupon on the sheet reads: “Free Turban.”  There are coupons for Custom Chemothrapy Wigs and coupons for Fashion Wigs.  What pile does this fall into?  Trash?  To do?  Coupons? I will be bald two weeks from today and I have no idea how to handle this.   I am generally a great source of information about random things.  People call me about baby products and household items.  First time moms want my list of must-haves when they go to do their registries.  I am frugal and I enjoy high-quality products, so I do a lot of research and leg work before I commit to purchases.  This cancer pile on my counter: it is new.  It is 11 days old.  I tried on hats for Brad yesterday, and he was totally worthless.  We have finally found my man’s weakness.  It’s okay, though, because I have some great girlfriends.  I am pretty sure they will make sure that I am sporting the most stylish headwear of any bald 32-year-old mom in the state.  Oh, and girls, an extra challenge: this summer I’m going to be extra sun-sensitive (as if my normal 55 spf isn’t bad enough).  But, I will not hibernate, I will not go quietly into the night.  I’m going to be out there, living my good days up.  If you see me at the pool, at church, at the restaurant, at the zoo, don’t try to stop your kid from staring at me.  Walk up, smile and introduce yourself.  Ask about my beautiful children; let me compliment yours.  Let me be something other than That Cancer Mom to you.  I like friends.  Even if I am bald. The next stack of papers...

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The Wait

Mar 28

These three days are a mixed blessing.  I have three days of no appointments, reverting me back to my very normal, very everyday routine with my girls and our little schedule that we run on.  Baby Sister is here and we have a comfort and an ease as we move about the house, trading off kids and duties and car keys.  She’s picking up all of the mundane: laundry, sheets, dishes, cooking.  I focus on Maren and Greta and am laying foundations, new foundations, for the road that all of us will start traveling on Friday.  My friend came with me to watch Maren’s soccer practice so that  I could be normal Soccer Mom for Maren, and also connect with my friend and make use of every moment.  Brad and I stayed up late last night talking and connecting.  I can forget, for minutes at a time, about the battle. A dear friend has set up a system to organize all of the help and advice that is being offered to us.  All of the contacts will go to them, as administrators, so that the help can be real help and not another logistical challenge for me to conquer.  Thank you.  A friend also sent me words yesterday morning that summarize these three days, this wait, perfectly.  It is what I have been thinking about whenever cancer does come into my mind. So, I got this picture of the fight. It’s like a boxing match. You and cancer have been announced, and you are standing in the center of the ring while the referee is explaining the match to you. You are staring down cancer, and studying that sneaky little bitch. You are learning the weaknesses of your opponent, you are gaining confidence, getting ready for the fight. Then, just as you are about to go back to your corners for the bell to ring, cancer sneaks in an upper cut to your face.  (Like I said, she’s sneaky).  You’re walking back to your corner dazed and dizzy.  That punch hurt.  This fight is going to be harder than you thought it might be.  You lose a little bit of confidence.  You’re stunned.  Your trainers in your corner grab you buy...

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