But for now, I’ll just update you on what’s been going on the past few days. I’m surprised a bit at how hard it is to blog on a regular basis. If I had a dollar for every time this past week when I thought about writing, I’d probably be able to get a mocha. 🙂 So I’ll do my best to bring you up to speed…
The most obvious change is that I cut off my hair on Saturday. I am actually surprised at how much it affected me. I’ve never had long, beautiful tresses, but I liked my hair! I decided though, that it would probably be easier on me if I cut it short before I went bald, and now I’m really glad that I made that decision. With as difficult as it’s been to mentally adapt to short hair, I know that if I had just gone from longer hair to bald, it would have been really traumatic. Amazing how such a “little” thing can be such a big deal. 🙂 Wigs? I don’t know. I might stick with hats, but then again, Tom does seem to like blondes… 🙂
I’ve been told that when you’re going to go through chemo, it’s a good idea to get some of the other things you’ve been avoiding (like dental work) done before hand. It had been a long time – probably 4 years or so since I had been to a dentist for a check-up & cleaning. So I sucked in my courage (I think I’ll be doing a lot of that in the next few months) and made a decision to get some of that taken care of. I struggled a bit with whether I should go back to the dentist I had seen in the past (whom, I might say, has not tried to stay in touch with me…) or try and find a new one. I decided that since his customer service was lacking, I shouldn’t feel guilty not going back. You see, since getting cancer and having to start digging into my insurance coverage, I discovered that we (the kids & I) are allowed an exam & cleaning once every 6 months at no charge! They (Blaine & Sharolyn) had gone to Dr. Carl last summer for an orthodontic exam & quote, so on Thursday, I thought I’d schedule them appointments & see if there was any way that I could get in to him as a new patient. It turned out that they had had a cancellation that morning, and I was actually able to get in the same day! Of course, that did end up in another appointment to replace a filling this coming Wednesday. Excuse me if I’m not overjoyed.
On Friday, I had my EKG (Echo Cardiogram) at Samaritan Albany General Hospital. I thought I was going to be hooked up to some kind of monitoring device and have them watch my heart rate, etc. but I was wrong. I think I would describe it more as an ultrasound of my heart. It was absolutely amazing. They were able to see all the valves, and measure the different chambers. She was even able to see which direction the blood was flowing in my heart! When she first started scanning, I asked her if she would be able to see the mass. Towards the end of the scan, she said that she was now going to look at my heart through my liver (that was weird). Sure enough, we were able to see it (the mass). She said, “And there’s the little blood vessel feeding it.” I can’t explain the feeling that went through me, seeing part of my body actually helping this cancer grow. I remember thinking in my mind, “You little bastard.” (Sorry, I know that will probably offend some of you, but I can’t help it, that’s just what popped into my head at the time.) It just was creepy. Here was a parasite, feeding on my body, and it was happening in front of my eyes. I can’t put the feelings into words…it was just really weird.
After church on Sunday, we (the kids and I) went to my mom’s for lunch. Because of Monday’s PET Scan, I couldn’t eat any carbs – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes & ice cream were forbidden. 😦 Are there any other food groups??? The only time it was really painful was when mom brought out her homemade rhubarb crunch for dessert. Grandpa & Grandma Gerig came for dinner as well, so Mom had made a sugar free version with Splenda® since Grandpa is diabetic. I let myself have a little taste of that one, but not much. I wanted to be “good”. 🙂 I think the best part of yesterday though was just sitting out & enjoying the sunshine. Any exercise today was supposed to be limited because of the scan – sometimes I don’t understand how things would make a difference – but I did what I was supposed to be doing, taking it easy.
Today we had to leave the house at 7:00am, just to make sure that we had enough time. I know that there are often cops cruising the stretch of I-5 between Albany and Eugene, so I didn’t want to have to be so tight on time that I had to push the envelope of speed. 😉 We arrived in plenty of time to get to Oregon Medical Imaging – I even got called in early! Prior to the scan, I was supposed to drink 32 ounces of water and have no food. Have you ever tried to do that in the morning – or am I the only person whose stomach gets upset when it’s completely empty and gets full of water??? Not to mention the bathroom trips…
As my brother Ryan said to me today, the anticipation of what is to come is often worse than the actual event. The technician was really good when he inserted the IV – the finger prick to get my blood sugar level actually hurt worse. I didn’t even have to have a drip bag, he put in the IV and used it as a port to give the saline & radioactive tracer shots. Once I was all cozy in a recliner in my lead lined room, I was supposed to just relax (yeah right) and not make any repetitive movements. The hospital WiFi worked in there, so I was able to get my favorite radio station – KLOVE – on my iPod while I reclined. There was a lot of time to think. I tried to concentrate on the words of each song as they came. Since I knew I would have to lay there for 45 minutes to an hour, I was thinking about how many songs that would be if each song were 3-4 minutes long. I think I counted to 5, then figured I was about halfway. Not long after, my body reminded me of the 32 oz. of water I had just drank. The room was equipped with a camera and microphone, so if I needed the technician, I could call him & he would come. Well, I called. He didn’t come. I waited a little bit, and then said, “Hello?” I could hear him a couple of doors down with another patient. He still didn’t come. I tried to relax and hold still (not easy), and called again. Finally, he came & knew exactly what I needed. J
The scan itself wasn’t that difficult. Other than being cold from the fans in the machines, it was just time lying on my back with my arms up over my head. He actually had a lightweight strap that helped me keep them up there without tiring me out. The machine looked like a double CT machine – like two donuts standing on end. It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t even have to hold my breath while it was being done.
This weekend, Tom’s dad had been admitted to the Riverbend Hospital because of problems with his permanent feeding tube. We wanted to make sure that we visited him before going back to Albany, but had to make a stop at the cafeteria first – I was SO hungry. Of course, when we got there (about 10:25) they had just quit serving breakfast (10:15). I’m sorry, but a half a donut & a Vanilla Latte don’t quite cut it when you haven’t eaten anything for hours, and my body was not ready to eat lunch. As we were trying to figure out what we were going to eat, Sharon (Tom’s mom) walked in. We visited for a while and then went up to Don’s room, only to find that his two sisters, Debby & Betty had arrived. That was a fun surprise. We left there around 11:00 because I had an appointment with a social worker to find out about different resources available to us to help with co-pays and things like that.
It’s now about 9:45, and the kids aren’t in bed yet. I’m exhausted. It is so hard to do this emotionally. You never realize how much the family depends on you, and how much you contribute to the household until you don’t do it and it doesn’t get done. But how do you make the others pick up the slack? (If someone has an answer to this, I would appreciate being filled in.) I don’t have any idea how anyone gets through this without Christ. I seriously would go crazy. Sometimes, I have to sit here and almost audibly tell myself to relax, and let it go. I can’t control what other people do. I can only control my reaction to them – and sometimes that is nearly impossible. Meanwhile, I like the quote that was in our church bulletin this week (of course now that I want to write it down, I can’t find the bulletin) but anyway, it was a paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:6, so I’ll just write it here from the New Living Translation:
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.”
As I typed this, I read ahead (gasp! J) and just have to include verse 7 as well:
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
Ok, it’s time for me to tuck kids into bed – yes, I still do that. Good night.