Monday, October 24, 2011

NeuropathyšŸš©

Just when I thought I was done with  neuropathy.... surprise it's back.  My legs feel like the nerves have been exposed to the air again, the pain is sometimes excruciating.  I am learning that a small percentage of people who get neuropathy from the effects of chemo have to deal with it off and on for life--yes, I am one of those people--no big deal I can handle it--
What IS difficult for me to handle is when I talk to women who have stage 1 or 2 breast cancer and now they have recurrence--today when I was at work one of my friends who I have not seen for awhile came over to talk to me, she was wearing a pink beanie to cover her bald head--she went through a double mastectomy a year and a half before I did, (stage 2) now it has metastasized to her lungs--she showed me the xrays --I can not stop thinking about her today.  Cancer really is this ugly VILLAIN, it invades lives, and just when you think you've turned a corner looking to a bright future BOOM it's back to haunt and taunt you, whether a recurrence or side effects it never goes away.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This is a life long JourneyšŸš©

Yesterday Blake spoke in church, he did a beautiful job speaking about the experiences he has had the last 2 years while serving the people in the Dominican Republic.  I was touched listening to him talk about the power of the Atonement in his life-it seems the best conversion story was his own.  His Spanish is flawless, I love to listen to him.  Someone said to me very non-chalantly "so glad you could be here today" at 1st I thought "what are they talking about? I'm here, every week, what does that mean?" then my thoughts immediately went to "you have no idea how glad I am to be here"  HERE as in here on earth, still alive able to see the success of my son, to hear him speak in Spanish so fluently, to see his passion and love for what he believes in,  "Oh yes, I am so glad I'm here too!"
This morning I woke up, knowing I was going to spend the day at Mayo Clinic, I have this love/hate relationship with that place.  I love it for obvious reasons,  and I hate it for more obvious reasons.  The drive to Mayo was much shorter than I expected, my thoughts were wondering--kinda scary for anyone driving down the beeline highway today--some of the things I was thinking about -- the mountains are beautiful, the dessert is dry and I am wondering who I will meet today.
 The 3rd floor smells like always--of sickness and chemo,  there is a stench difficult for me to stomach, especially when I am so nauseated anyway--as I sit in the waiting area I see, like always sick people, some look really, really sick I wish I could hug them and tell them everything will be OK, but I know just as well as they do there are no guarantees with the VILLAIN.  I'm not there for long, my name was called within a few minutes as I walk into the infusion lab and see it loaded with people today, it made my heart sad for each of them--my nurse today is Allison, she is pregnant--seriously? can she smell what I smell?   I wonder how does that work for her?  So... I asked her "do these smells bother you?" her response "what smells?" WOW what just happened?  it's hard to believe she can't smell the same things I smell.

Linda-Stage 4 Colon Cancer-What a blessing she is to
her family--so happy and positive

Jenny-- stage 1 Breast Cancer--her husband shaved
his head to match hers--they have a 17 month old baby

Dan-stage 4 colon cancer-metastisized to his lung--
so happy and full of life

Sandy--stage 4 extremely rare cancer--going in tomorrow
to have his bladder removed--will have to wear a colostomy
bag for the rest of his life-yet he made me laugh--
 I loved visiting with him
The girls helped me put some treat bags together (and when I say "girls" I mean Kaitlyn and Haleigh Brownlee)  for all the patients in chemo today, after Allison accessed my port and took all the viles of blood she needed I went around to all the patients and visited with those who wanted to talk, gave them a snack bag and was inspired by each and everyone of them.  This is my favorite part of coming to Mayo--these people are facing life threatening diseases yet they smile and are so positive about life--perspectives change, and I loved all the perspectives today.  Jenny is also a patient of Dr. Kreymerman, she and I high fived each other--then talked a little about him--all good of course.  In case you didn't know I love Dr. Kreymerman-- ha ha.
After spending more than an hour and half in the infusion lab, I was off to get my bone mineral analysis, and X-Rays.  I have always wondered why they make me undress and put on the hospital gown, I thought those machines could see through clothes--they can see through clothes at the airport.
By now I have a splitting head ache--I think trying NOT to be effected by everything going on at Mayo, I get the opposite effect--every little thing I see, hear and smell drains me.  I started early this morning, looking at my watch as I wait for Maryann I can see the time is now 2:30, I won't be out of here for a couple more hours.  These are questions I have for Maryann:

1.  Can I see Dr. Northfelt at least once a year
2.  Why am I so nauseated
3.  Why am I in so much pain, legs and hip
4.  Why does everything taste like metal
5.  Why am I having headaches and insomnia

These are the answers I got from her:

✓1.  Yes, I need to see Dr. Northfelt, its not too much to ask, especially since I will be seeing him for years to come, its important for me to have the reassurance from my oncologist once a year.
✓2.  The pain my body is in is causing the nausea
✓3.  The Xray is showing a spot on my hip bone and lower back caused from the osteoperosis,  neuropathy is still in my legs  caused from the chemo--
✓4.  Forgot to get answer about that one--
✓5.  Not sure about the headaches, she wants me to stop taking the Arimidex for 2 weeks and see if they go away, insomnia is part of the process--its not going away.

Maryann is going to call me in 2 weeks to check on me, and get an update about some of the conditions.
I'm also being referred to the Physical Medicine unit at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Maryann told me they will be able to get to the bottom of the spots on my hip and back.   Leaving Mayo today I'm satisfied that all my questions were answered.  I loved meeting all the wonderful patients in the infusion lab, I realized for the 1st time today that this journey is life long--sad but true.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Insomnia freaks me outšŸš©

As grateful and elated as I am to have my son home with me, if I am totally honest I will say I'm scared to death right now.  I am having a lot of really irregular symptoms,  nausea, INSOMNIA night after night even when I've taken my medicine I still cannot sleep, sort of reminds me of the days I was dealing with chemo and radiation--SORT OF-- headaches, my heart is making extra beats or stopping all together, it's hard to tell sometimes,  the pain in my legs has returned in full bloom, feels just like the neuropathy and last but not least my hip pain has gotten a whole lot worse--these type of conditions make me crazy in the head.   I have this feeling I'm about to be taught a lesson.  Today I went to Mayo for some blood draw, the girl taking my blood could not of been more than 18 years old, she apologized before she stuck me, I guess that should of been my first clue that this was not going to go over very well for me--she stuck my arm and it pinched and burned like no other--I looked down and to my surprise there was no blood coming out into the vile--she said "Is that hurting you?"  My reply was very nicely "uh y y yes darlin' it hurts real bad take the needle out and start over please" by this time my rear end was raised up out of the seat, and I'm pretty sure she could tell by the look on my face I was in some pain, then the cute little nurse said "Oh no, I have a one stick policy, I will get someone else to try"  Thank Heaven for that, I was not willing to go through that ordeal again.  I ended up with 3 sticks to the arms (yes that would be plural) not complaining but the reason why I have a port sticking out of my chest is for this exact reason--NOT TO BE STUCK A MILLION TIMES--even if the needle is the size of a nail head I would rather be accessed and stuck with that then be stuck 3 times by a nurse who looked like she was still in daycare.
I fear that my body is giving in, giving in to the VILLAIN--or am I just getting old and this is what happens?  What ever it is--I say NO, I don't like it it feels weird to be up at 2 am writing about stuff I know nothing about, except that I do know the pain I am in is real,  Next week I will go see Dr. Northfelt well more like Maryann Forrett for my oncology visit--I have a few things we need to talk about, 1st off I want to ask if I could at least see Dr. N once a year I need the reassurance from him.  Marayann is wonderful and I love her but for me at least I need to see my oncologists face once in awhile.   Dr. N is so busy, he is a big part of the administrative end of oncology  at Mayo Clinic but I need a dr who wants to grace me with his or her presence once in a while.  My list of stuff to ask about is getting longer an longer, Maryann is in for a treat when I go to Mayo on Monday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

✔ I'm AlivešŸš©

Eric and I are in Mexico with Blake, it's been so nice to have him back.  I have asked him a zillion questions about his mission, the people, spiritual experiences and how he feels being home.  Tonight I went for a run on the beach,  I was listening to music and trying to concentrate on getting my speed up, my mind kept wondering off and I found myself thinking about how much I have been blessed.  I kinda have check marks in my head everyday of things that need to get done or I check off the things I am grateful for.  Just as I was thinking about how much the Lord has blessed me,
 I checked off in my head
*BE ALIVE WHEN BLAKE COMES HOME ✔
*BE HAPPY ✔
I looked up in the sky and in perfect formation were birds forming a check mark, I smiled really big and stared at them until they passed, still not believing what I had just seen I turned around looked up and saw nothing but blue skies...where were the birds?  They were no where to be found, within seconds they were gone, at that very moment I knew that Heavenly Father was giving me a sign, HE was confirming to me that HE lives, that HE hears me and answers my prayers.  My ultimate goal and prayer has always been to be alive and be happy when Blake got home, I can honestly say I can check those 2 off my list.  It's so surreal to have him home, so much has happened in 2 years not only in my life but especially in Blake's.  I can see the tenderness in his eyes, he is so compassionate and sincere, having a new missionary home is like bringing home a new baby--so much to learn, and I want to soak it all up while I can.

Monday, October 3, 2011

BLAKE HOMECOMINGšŸš©




I want to explain to some of my friends who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints, exactly what a mission is so you can understand the emotion behind why I was acting like a weirdo mother at the sight of my son after 2 years of service.  When a young man chooses to serve a mission (usually at the age of 19) they have usually prepared for this their entire life.  While these boys serve the Lord they are given strict rules to show their obedience  and devotion to the work they are doing.  The are given the opportunity to call their families on Christmas and Mothers Day, other than those days they do not speak to family or friends while they are gone, they are also given the opportunity once a week to email family.  Just like anything in life when we are able to devote our time or talents without distractions of girlfriends, boyfriends or life  we are able to accomplish so much more.  These young men cannot have physical contact with females while they serve, again that could and would be another distraction and they are on their mission to do the Lords work and spread the word of the gospel and what we believe in.
When Blake left, I felt so lost as a mother, knowing I could not be the one to answer his questions, or comfort him when he needed it, I guess we both learned over the past 2 years to do the best we can then turn the rest over to the Lord--HE will help us find our way, HE will reach down and lift us up when we trust in HIM. I'm looking forward to sharing the spiritual experiences we both have had with eachother.
Having him home and making our family complete again has been so sweet.  The last couple of days I have felt like the most blessed mama on the earth.  It's a difficult emotion to explain, almost like trying to explain what it's like to give birth and hold your baby for the 1st time.  I can see the sadness in him, he is happy to be with his family however, he misses the Dominican people so badly and is having a difficult time transitioning back into life, a missionaries life is very structured, they know from hour to hour everyday what they are doing and where they are supposed to be.   When he was released from his mission and reported to President Merrill I was so touched by his testimony, he sobbed as he explained the journey he has been on.  The sacrifice these boys make is unbelievable, they leave family, friends, school and life as they know it to go out and serve for 2 years.  Blake has served and learned so much from these 2 years of sacrifice, the experiences he has had will bless his life forever, the people he has touched will be changed forever, I would give anything to somehow be that type of example to people.
We have had so many people here at the house visiting with him, I have not really had a chance to sit down and talk with him, tomorrow Eric and I are taking him to Mexico for some much needed alone time.... I want to hear about his wonderful and maybe not so wonderful experiences. For now all I can say is I am overwhelmed with the Love our Heavenly Father has for us, I am grateful HE has brought my son home safely and I look forward to our future.