Thursday, June 19, 2014
MY FEET IN THE SAND: Some Dark Days......
So now I've been diagnosed. What does that mean? The first thing my sister said was, stay off the internet! I will be your medical and information advocate. If you stumble upon the wrong information you may do more harm than good. Thank God I not only had a personally close family member who had gone through the exact same diagnosis a year ago (nameless to protect privacy) but I have a host of Doctors and Surgeons in my personal circle. I wasn't too dismayed by not accessing the internet. Besides with everything happening so fast, I didn't have time to scour the internet for every piece of information I could find, then analyze it. Later I would learn I wouldn't have the strength.
I was Blessed. Although diagnosed...
I had a little more than a month to get as many affairs in line that I possibly could. That's a lot of time, but still not enough, trust. I worked on the plane as a flight attendant on the last day of the month in September. Thank God I did because I didn't have to pay the $1100 dollar insurance co-pay for me and the hubby that I would have had I not worked at least one day. In October I worked 3 small trips, Lax to Denver and back. Takes about 6 or 7 hours out of my day, short, easy and doable. I was able to don my pink scarf with my uniform however I didn't tell anyone of my diagnosis. Ironically during Galley Gab, I learned that another sky sister had been suffering with stage 4 Breast Cancer for at least 8 months. I was floored but still didn't reveal my truth. I sent that friend, today one of my closest confidantes a Facebook message: You are not alone. Later, she would reveal that she didn't know what in the hell I was talking about.....
Finally, my pathology report became available, so immediately I sent it over to my sister, I sent everything to my sister--and we talked. I was very casual about what was going on, for I had no idea about what was to come. And even with their most recent experiences, several family members and friends could not come close to explaining what I was about to experience.
But my Sissy said, "You are going to have some dark days." Innocently I replied, "Really?" As if it weren't inevitable, not me....I believe in God, this thing can't possible touch me the way it's touched others. Besides I'm plugged in; Susan G. Komen, Avon Walks. I have pink lotion with the pink ribbon symbol of hope. I have a pen, a passenger gave me almost a year ago, with the same symbol and pink sticky tabs that dispense from the pen. It was only recently that I realized that's what this pen represented. Besides, nobody talks about how hard it was during. They only speak of when they were diagnosed and how survival has been.
But it was something about the way my sister made her statement that resonated with me. It scared me a little, but more than that shifted my gears into the SEVERITY of what I was about to endure.
I was quizzical after the first time I entered the "infusion room". The place where chemo takes place anywhere from two to six hours depending on type and number of chemo-threrapies. I had two. I had what is called Neoadjuvant therapy which means, chemo before surgery. The very first infusion process took a little over six hours.
For six hours a toxic substance dripped into my body along with other agents to combat nausea and allergic reaction (Benydrl, which sent me into la la land). I had my music, snacks, blanket and pillow and was set. It wasn't bad. The next day I had to go back for my Neulasta shot, an agent to promote white blood cell growth at a rapid rate. Again fine.
Well the next day began nightmares, debilitating bowel movements and limb movement was not only painful but to walk, a joke. The number of medicines I had to take daily, to combat one reaction, then more to combat that reaction to the reaction was frightening. The fatigue was so severe that after showering and lotioning, I'd have to finish dressing myself in half-hour intervals. Dressing myself became a three hour tour--Gilligan's Island style. The darkest hour came when in the middle of the night--I was having a torrid dream--and I managed to wake myself only to have forgotten every word of the Lord's prayer. Chemo takes everything. For me, it was like someone drilled a hole in my head, opened it up, poured in hot lava and it raked everything good in my life. Back to the Lord's Prayer....no matter how I tried I couldn't remember. I sat up in the middle of the bed and wept.
Injeel my husband had a late night at the library. My oldest sister was in the next room. She'd visited from New York to care for me. My husband came in, anointed my head and prayed The Lord's Prayer on my behalf. Then he prayed for me and soothed me back to sleep. I would come to know many days and nights like that and worse. Some days, when chemo would pour out of my body, I'd have to use an ice cube in a wash cloth to soothe my buttocks. Yes, it got that real.
I later developed a fistula which caused a series of abscesses on my buttocks, that had to be surgically drained with only local anesthesia that doesn't work in chemo, twice--first one eight centimeters long, five centimeters wide, five centimeters deep--and three almost successive hospital stays in two months.
The beauty of all of those dark days is that my husband, family and friends were right by my side with grace, love and wisdom. Regardless of how bad the smell got or ugly the scars, they were there and still are.
So yeah I was in for some dark real dark days.....but I remember that the darkest hour is always before dawn. Today I sit in my Dawn!