Archive | September 2012

September: Sunshine & Shadows

It sounds trite & cliche, but I’m going to use it anyway.  Our lives are filled with sunshine & shadows.  It hasn’t been more evident to me than in the past month.

If I sat and blogged every time I got the idea to, you guys would get sick & tired of all the posts and ramblings I wrote. 🙂  So I guess you can consider it somewhat of a blessing that I don’t get to blogging all the time that I think about it.

September has been a really difficult month for me personally.  Starting with the fever and ending up in the hospital for a week, then having to have chemo when I still was feeling pretty rotten – that’s been a lot of my shadows.  I also lost a great little friend this month – it’s hard to see a child pass away from cancer.  All these different things really started me into a deep depression.  I share this not for pity, but maybe to explain why I have been absent from a lot of things lately.  If you have ever had a bout with depression, you can understand how it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel – or if there is, it’s because it’s an oncoming train!  I’ve personally never had it like I’ve had it recently.  I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer, and one of the biggest things I discussed with the Lord was my lack of joy.  I have never been a person that couldn’t dig down & find just a little bit of joy or happiness inside until recently.  (I’m really giving you a glimpse into my heart here – don’t misuse it! 🙂 )  Anyway, it’s been rough.  Even as recently as last Tuesday (which happened to be Brandon’s funeral) I would say it has been one of the hardest days yet of my treatment cycles.  I think the tipping point was the fact that I hadn’t been able to get the sleep I needed for multiple nights in a row.  FINALLY on Tuesday night, after calling my doctor’s office and getting some more direction on what to take, I was able to get some sleep.

Because my body was finally able to get the rest that it needed, I have gotten to see some real SUNSHINE at the end of this month.  Friday morning, I woke up and thought, “Oh my gosh, I feel FANTASTIC!”  And I did!  A friend came over & we did some digital scrapbooking lessons, and I went and got my nails done.  I was a little shaky and knew I needed to take it easy, but just couldn’t resist going to the office and seeing all my Keller Williams family while I felt good.  But this kind of good, I hadn’t felt in longer than I could remember.  I was driving down the road and out loud, I said, “I’m smiling!”  I hadn’t smiled in what seemed like forever.  Well, that’s not quite true.  Many of you saw me smile, but I’ll be honest, it was a “smile-because-you’re-supposed-to-so-they-don’t-feel-so-sorry-for-you” kind of smile.  You know the kind – fake it till you make it? 🙂  Yeah, that was me – until this weekend.

On Saturday we got to spend a fun day at Sue & Pat Long’s house for the Keller Williams company picnic, and had amazingly beautiful weather!  There was a fishing derby and delicious food and best of all people to visit with.  Then later that evening, we went to Brownsville for our nephew’s birthday – Steen is 5 now! 🙂  The kids got to play with their cousins and we got to visit with family.  I could feel the fatigue setting in, so we headed home a little earlier than we originally planned, but we had a great time.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time getting to sleep again last night – it was after 2:00am before I was able to doze off.

Today I let myself sleep and then we went to my mom & dad’s house for dinner in honor of my sister’s 37th birthday.  We relaxed in the sunshine & breezes and also got some fun photo sessions in for kicks.  Here’s a picture of my sister & I today:

 

I ended the day actually getting to PLAY on our “Grandpa’s Team” city league softball team.  It was the last regular game of the season, and I had the energy to do it so I DID!  It felt sooo good to be at least acting somewhat normal.

Life is good.  God is good.  These are things I have to remember.  Another thing to remember is that on those “down” days (and they do/will happen) it’s not going to stay that way.  You would have had a hard time convincing me of this a week ago, but I am so grateful to God for these precious 3 days that I have felt so good.  Oh by the way, you all have permission to remind me of these facts, but I will never turn down a shoulder to cry on either. 🙂

Thank you for your friendships – they mean so much to me.  I couldn’t get through this without God, my family (both blood & KW), and my friends.  I am truly, TRULY blessed.

Now tomorrow is my second to last session of chemo, so I would definitely covet some prayers that it would go well.  I know it’s gonna be rough again, and I’m not looking forward to it, but with God’s help, I will get through this victoriously!

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

A Sad Goodbye

I haven’t really known how to pen down my thoughts lately.  Then yesterday, I got a call from Sharolyn at school.  She was completely overwhelmed by tears as she told me that my little friend, Brandon Aufranc (12), had passed away that morning.  No one expected him to go so quickly.  He had osteosarcoma – a very aggressive form of bone cancer.

Life is so short.  We don’t know how many days we have.  At times it’s difficult to muster the strength to do the next thing and I certainly am guilty of hanging out in the doldrums.  Please pray for Rick, Julie & Sarah Aufranc as they deal with the passing of Brandon, but let us all be happy that he is once again whole in the arms of Jesus with no pain, and no need for medicine or oxygen tubes.

Here’s a picture that I took of Brandon in March when Sharolyn & I were able to deliver a very special gift that many many Facebook friends made possible.  According to his mom Julie, it was the happiest she had seen him since he had started chemo at that point.  He had some great fun learning how to make movies on it and because of those, they have some wonderful memories.

Guest Blogger in my Absence

This is “mom” speaking. Tuesday evening Kristin mentioned she may want me to write as a “guest author” on her blog from my perspective; but I’m not the writer she is. Yet I feel I could write a “book” about this horrific journey we are on that none of us have asked for. My mind is muddled and time is so very limited that IF I have a chance to write I may post something to my own blog (journal) for which there is a link here at the right of this page – entitled “My Mom’s Musings”. However, if you go there now you will find I haven’t posted much lately…and that’s because there’s little time or energy to do so. However, I will make some comments here. For one, Donna McDonald (above comment) “what [mom] is made of” had me asking what that erally is and thinking of the Psalm 100:3 verse which in KJV says in part “…it is He who has made us and not we ourselves…” :)

In II Corinthians 4 (NIV) the apostle Paul discusses treasures in jars of clay. In verse 6 & 7, it says “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” My favorite encouraging speech is one by Christian comedian, Patsy Clairmont, entitled “God Uses Cracked Pots” and then she adds “and I’m the visual aid”. So, Donna, that’s what I’m made of too – cracked clay. It is my desire that the light of Christ (true Treasure) shows through those cracks and gives Light into darkness. “Poor God”, that’s all He has to work with, isn’t it: cracked pots! I am so grateful He can use us if we let Him. He is, after all, the Potter referred to in Isaiah 45:9 and Romans 9:20-21, and can remake us. This entire saga of Kristin’s illness is, I believe, a remaking process for many.

I was reading in Lamentations 3 recently and came across a wonderfully familiar reassurance, but what struck me this time was the verse before it. Found in verses 21 and 23, this: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed., for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” But because I AM a “cracked pot”, I feel “consumed” (or nearly so anyway) and struggle with weakness and doubt and wonder why trusting is so hard. Maybe it’s in part because I’m a mom, and one of the greatest pains in parenting is watching your children suffer……….but through that very suffering I came to realize during another crisis in Kristin’s life that God Himself understands that pain better than any of us can. He SENT His Son to suffer…..for me….for you…..John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

So I guess I wrote a “chapter” of the book, Kristin. You are teaching courage, strength, perseverance, and so much more in this battle. In the words of a current song “don’t give up!”, Love, Mom

Home Again

I was able to go home from the hospital yesterday. My Aunt Nancy & Uncle Steve Aerni were going to come visit and they ended up taking us to dinner and then home instead.

While it’s nice to be home, I am finding that some of my biggest battles are inside me. Ever since my fever got so high, I’ve been scared. Scared of what? I don’t know, a little bit of everything I guess. Scared that the fever will come back. Scared that I won’t be able to catch my breath. Scared for my kids. Scared that I should be doing something more, but what? Scared that I’m resting too much, or maybe not enough. It’s hard to know what to do.

I’m so close to being done with my treatments and this seems like such a huge setback. In all this, I know that God is in control, it just seems so easy to forget when you’re facing scary stuff.

I keep my cell phone on my nightstand at night. This morning I woke up to a text coming in. It was from my mom. It was a verse she had found while she was reading her Bible: Psalm 71:20 –

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

Fever: Day 7; Hospital: Day 3

Well, I don’t have a lot of energy, so this entry will probably be relatively short.

Last night my fever spiked to 104, and when I got up to use the bathroom, I started coughing and could hardly stop. At this point, my oxygen saturation was 85%. They put me on oxygen right away, and then gave me some Tylenol for the fever. By this time, it was so hard to breathe that I was really scared. The thought that I could actually die from what brought me to the hospital was beginning to almost terrify me. I managed to fall asleep, but even my sleep wasn’t without “stress”. I had a dream that I pulled out my IV, but was conscious enough to realize I was dreaming, and try to wake myself.

This morning I woke up and when I went to use the bathroom, the coughing started again. I coughed so hard that it triggered my gag reflex, and you know where this went… When Dr. Sharman came in today, he told me that since things haven’t improved with antibiotics, he feels that these problems I’m having are because of the Bleomycin, so now he’s going to start me on Prednisone. I have to admit, I am really not looking forward to it because of the weight gain & puffiness it can cause. However, right now I’m beginning to look like death warmed over, so perhaps the Prednisone will be an improvement.

Thanks for all the prayers, I could really use as many as possible! One of my biggest fears was that Dr. Sharman would send me home before I was really “well”. He reassured me today that he will not send me home too early, in fact, he’s not planning for me to go home before Monday. I welcome visitors, but a lot of talking wears me out – I’m sure Tom would love to have someone to talk to! 🙂

Ok, I think it’s time to eat my lunch. Talk to you all soon! Psalm 117:18 – gotta remember this…

Sidelined for Now

Yesterday my fever hit 102.4 after I had taken Tylenol an hour prior, so I called the cancer clinic to find out what they wanted me to do. They told me to head to Eugene and to prepare to be admitted. I packed a bag of essentials, and mom came over, picked us up, and we headed to the hospital.

We checked in at the clinic first and then I was admitted to Riverbend. The nurses and staff here are great. I did have a CT scan done soon after getting here, but we didn’t hear anything back about anything until today.

The problem is definitely in my lungs, but we’re not sure whether it’s pneumonia or a complication of the chemotherapy drug, Bleomycin, that they took me off of at my last session. Other than doing some invasive tests like scoping my lungs, my understanding is that the way they can determine which one it is, will be how it responds to treatment. I got a dose of an antibiotic yesterday and another today, but even this morning I had a fever that reached 103. They gave me some Tylenol which I can tell brought my fever down. It may be that we won’t find out why I got a fever, or for sure there was pneumonia even. Because of this, the chemotherapy session that I was supposed to have today will be postponed at least a week.

I will be here again tonight for sure, and time will tell whether I get to come home tomorrow. Until then, I know I am in the place I need to be. Thanks for all your prayers!

Fever – Day 4

Have you ever let a project go for a couple days, meant to do something about it and then before you know it, it’s snowballed into an even bigger project.  So you think you don’t have time to catch up, so you put it off another day.  One day becomes two, two becomes four and suddenly you couldn’t catch up if you tried?  Well that’s where I feel I am right now, so instead of trying to catch up, I’ll just start where I am now.

This is the fourth day of a low grade fever & cough.  It started on Friday night, and by 6:30 am on Saturday morning, my fever had hit 101.4.  So Tom & I went in to the Emergency Room in Albany to see if they could find anything haywire with me.  I had a few tests and a chest x-ray while I was there.  They told me that there was no pneumonia and to call back the next day to find out about the blood cultures.  Sunday I called back & they told me that everything was fine – negative.  The weirdest thing was that my white blood cell count came in at 3.11 – WAY higher than it’s been at ANY time prior to chemotherapy.  It just makes me think that something wasn’t done correctly, and Dr. Sharman thinks it’s a little odd too.

I stayed down and tried to “be good” all day Saturday & Sunday, and most of Monday.  It is not easy.  It makes me feel like I’m being lazy, but I know that it’s the best thing for my body to get the rest it needs.  Today, my temperature has still been dancing in the high 100s, so I called the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute to speak to a nurse and see what they wanted me to do.  They have decided that I will have a CT scan of my chest done tomorrow.

So there you have it.  I’m caught up for now – or at least as caught up as I’m gonna get.  🙂