Saturday, October 25, 2014

Full in Body & Soul

I have finished the blood and iron IV infusions. I wish I could say the end results were miraculous, but the truth is that after the Monday treatments, the energy and overall good feelings would only last until about Thursday. After that, I'd feel the need for more and would start counting the days until the next infusion. Now they're over and I can only hope that things are working well on the inside. I'm trying to eat a little better (though bags of Halloween candy somehow find their way into my shopping cart) and last weekend, Chelsea brought me some kefir grains to grow my own kefir. The list of good benefits, especially for someone like me, is amazing; but the hard thing is getting used to the kefir. Chels suggested I start out using about 1/8 of a cup a day by mixing it into yogurt or smoothies or soups, etc. I would really like to see it improve my stomach aches and give me better digestion, but it's taking time and patience. I'd love to be full of good things - nutritious food, healthy vitamins, peace & calm, joy & hope. Some days are better than others.

During the last two treatments, I had another small worry. Apparently my port has become "wobbly" or "tipped" (according to nurses). For almost two years now, the port has been my little miracle - easily accessed for both infusions and blood draws without being poked in the arm five or six times. When it was being accessed for the fourth of the five infusions, the nurse had to try twice before the needle went in smoothly. She told me to tell the nurses the next time it was accessed that it tended to flip to one side. So the next Monday, I forgot to say anything until the nurse couldn't access the port the first time. She pushed and pressed, trying to stabilize it on her own, but she still missed the target the second time. She is one of my favorites, and she kept apologizing over & over. Finally, she called another nurse to stabilize the port while she put the needle in. The third time was the charm & it worked perfectly, but I was sore and bruised around the port for several days. I asked what caused ports to become "wobbly" and she said that after a certain amount of time, the tacking around the port might come loose. But she also said that sometimes ports will flip all the way around, but they can still be accessed okay. I also called the doctor's office to see if we needed to do anything right now, and Rebecca said we'll wait until after my scans in December. Just hope it will work okay then.

I loved having Janessa go with me for the infusions a couple of times. Even if we don't say a word, it's a comfort to have her there. She didn't go for the fourth treatment and I wish she would have because I had a great visitor. Dov Siporin is a chemo veteran who has gone through more treatments than anyone I know for Stage 4 colon cancer. In spite of this, he roams the Infusion Center & the rest of Huntsman, joking and bringing joy to other patients. He is also very sensitive to hardship and suffering, and we talked about how something as wicked as cancer can bring people together - people from all walks of life and backgrounds who share the fight against our individual Goliaths. He is wonderful. He was handing out mini candy bars and cheering us all in our battles, even as he pushed his chemo IV stand around the room. I wish my girl could have met him. He is such an inspiration to so many warriors. 

Lately, I've been thinking & praying for a couple of beautiful young mothers who are also fighting melanoma. I've mentioned Alisa before in my blogs. She was diagnosed several years ago and after treatment, went through a period of time without any new spots before the cancer hit again - hard. She's tried many of the same chemo treatments & trial meds that I have, with varied successes & failures. Her last big treatment was a powerful chemo that took her hair (for the first time) and seemed to be successful in shrinking her biggest tumor. But at her next CT scans, she found out that the tumor had started growing again. It was "back to the drawing board." I was so sad for her. This ride is a roller coaster that never lets you off. The second woman is Kathy, who was treated for melanoma on her back many years ago. She & her husband are the parents of five little children and Kathy was pregnant with her sixth. She started feeling pain and knew something was wrong, so she went to the doctor & found out the melanoma had returned. When her system started shutting down, the doctors said she would have to start treatment to save her life, which also meant she had to deliver her premature baby, who only lived a few days. Her family was prepared to tell her goodbye, but she rallied a bit & was able to go home with hospice care. That was about two or three weeks ago. Last week, she started to go downhill again, unable to keep down her chemo medication or the anti-nausea meds. Then she started to hemorrhage and was rushed to the ER. Her husband said that they decided not to have the children come back to the hospital. They wanted them to remember the better days when Kathy was able to read to them and snuggle with them at home. They had also decided to let Kathy pass without further treatments. I have checked her blog every day to keep updated & so far, she is hanging on, even eating French toast & pizza that she has not been able to eat for about seven years. I am amazed at both Alisa's and Kathy's hope and gratitude and faith in God. I am inspired by their lives, but I pray for their families and that their last hours & minutes will be peaceful and spiritual.

Last weekend, all my children & grandchildren were available for family photos. We haven't had an all-together picture in two years. I'm excited to see how they turned out. Not to be biased or anything, but I have a gorgeous family! I'm very blessed.