Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

So it's Thanksgiving and I can't eat? ... So what! I'm not hungry anyway! I'm full of IV liquid "turkey and trimmings", including liquid "cream pie" for dessert!

But I sure have MUCH to be THANKFUL for!!

I am thankful that the God of love is carrying me through this medical trial, and giving me strength, endurance, peace, even humor! If I stop wanting my desires, He will be able to complete His healing in me! I give in, go for it Great Physician!

I'll come back to medical stuff but I have to next give thanks for my family & friends.

I am so grateful for, and blessed by, my husband, Matt. He's so full of love and faithful to care for the needs of his family above self. Exhausted, but driven by love & concern for me. I can't express how much I love and admire Matt. God give him strength, endurance, and restful rest each day.

I am blessed to be the Mother of Kaeden, a sweet, and sensitive young man of undiscovered potential, trying to find his place in this world, and his identity, through imagination, music, faith activities, life-experiences, academic challenges, and the noise of life. Lord, quiet the distractions and guide his path that he might clearly be identified as a child and friend of God.

I am blessed to be the Mother of fiercely independent, self-driven, yet tender-hearted, and compassionate Tyya. She has a heart for God, a talent for swimming, and a passion for cooking and baking. She is sweeter than pie. God, grow Tyya's heart for you and grant me the wisdom to recognize and nurture her gifts, talents and passions.

I am thankful for extended family; for my parents & siblings - loving, praying for, and encouraging me from afar.

I am thankful for my mother-in-law - selflessly helping to take care of the kids and Matt in my extended absence and the love she demonstrates by doing such. For making Thanksgiving dinner and letting the kids help & learn!

I am thankful for my sibs-in-law ready to help at a moments notice, praying fervently in the meantime.

I am thankful for my friends, church families, and prayer warriors (local & world-wide) for taking time out of their already busy lives and heaping love, prayers, well wishes, gifts, encouragement, cards, letters, texts, meals, transport, care packages, play dates, cheerleading, lawn mowing ... !! Oh how you have blessed, loved, and inspired me and my family!

I am thankful for our beautiful dog Biskit who must be wondering what happened to her pack leader who vanished a month ago... aknd waits faithfully for her return.

I am thankful for a world-class hospital and for the world-class medical care it provides; for an army of angels dressed as nursing and personal care staff - filled with care & compassion; for skilled doctors and specialists, willing to admit they sometimes don't know what the problem is but are trying to figure it out!

I am thankful for alert & lucid consciousness, personal awareness, curiosity, self-education, self-advocacy, pain, comfort, rest. For medications & the knowledge of what they do, and how they work, especially in me! Yep, I'm even thankful for my uncomfortable NG tube sucking the crap from my stomach so my bowels can rest before waking and working! I am thankful for the hope of healing and wholeness.

I could go on, but you get the picture. My attitude of gratitude is as much a part of my healing process as the medical treatment I am receiving. If I dwell for so much as a moment on the negative & awful aspects of this trial I'd be consumed and without hope. I choose to remain positive, grateful, and full of hope!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

By God's grace,

Sandii :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tropical Storm ...

So, I was expecting calmer waters as my "cruise" continued... things seemed to be going along okay, but little did I know a tropical storm was brewing.

The effects of my chemo were accumulating with each subsequent treatment, but I was on a countdown; three more to go, two more to go... Fatigue was increasing, wiping me out for a week rather than a couple days. I was starting to feel a little nausea. Neuropathy (pins & needles in hands and feet, cold-sensitivity) was intensifying. Chemo brain was ruling my days making it very difficult to even get the daily basic chores achieved and needs met. It's hard to rest when things need to be done.

Praise God for Matt, his Mom, my close friends and many folks who have chipped in at a moment's notice, or by the stirring of the Spirit, to meet our needs as they were increasing.

Monday, October 24, I had chemo #6. They reduced the dose due to the increases I was experiencing in side effects. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday were surprisingly good post-chemo days for me.

Thursday, October 27, stomach pain returns, as do I to the ER. I'd had a rough night and my ostomy hadn't put out much, when usually it fills once or twice a night. They observed me all day in the ER. My ostomy wasn't flowing. I was nauseated and miserable."We'd like to keep you overnight for observation." I wasn't going to argue. So they admitted me to the hospital.

Friday, October 28: Matt brought the kids to visit in the evening. "Happy Family Day" declared my dear, yet despondent and disappointed, daughter as she reached out to hug me with a pouting face. Our plans to celebrate Family Day, the anniversary of the day we brought the kids home and became a "forever family", were thwarted. But I said to her "Any and every day is a day we can celebrate being a family!" We'll make up for it later. Thankfully our church had an alternative-to-Trick-or-Treating Halloween event so the kids had fun & treats in a safe environment. Unfortunately we also missed our "loosely" observed "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) on November 2, as part of Guatemalan All Hallowtide. I was really looking forward to eating Fiambre! Now I just look forward to eating anything.

I figured I'd be home by Saturday at the least... Sunday came and I was still here in hospital. It is a waiting game. Basically my bowels just stopped flowing altogether... totally inflamed, and inactive (suspected reaction to chemo). No signs of infection. Little did I realize that the stomach still produces digestive juices even when the rest of the system is out of whack. The volume is a couple quarts/litres a day and when it can't follow it's normal path, there is only one alternative exit. On top of my misery, Matt calls Sunday morning ... on their way to church a deer jumped onto the car from a steep roadside bank and totally smashed in the front windshield and dented to hood  Had I been in the car I would likely have been injured. No one was injured, just shocked, and overwhelmed by our seeming bad luck.

Mid-week and no sign of bowel activity, I tried a nasal-gastric (NG) tube (down into my stomach) for about 36 hrs to pump out the gastric fluids that were accumulating... it was as completely awful as you might think, and as I had anticipated. I couldn't talk or move my head without gagging, but I could breathe. I was communicating by writing on my cell phone!! And although my stomach got a break from vomiting continually, I pleaded for the removal of the tube the next day. I'd prefer to puke, thank you.

So, here I am, now day 12 in hospital, fed via IV (haven't eaten more than half a dozen bites of oatmeal or applesauce since arriving!), getting prodded, poked, and stuck multiple times daily (mostly through IV access ports), and playing the waiting game. I have seen myriad oncologists, surgeons, their associates, and the tag-along residents and students. They do not all agree on my condition, but offer their insight and treatment options and attempt to work together. I have to mention the nurses and personal care staff... and PRAISE GOD for every single one of them! I can't imagine having to constantly clean up rancid bodily fluids that are not your own!

And I'm glad to report today the first signs of bowel function returning! My ostomy bag had new fluid in it today (forgive my candor over bodily fluids and functions, but this is my life right now!) Sure it is one more rancid fluid to clean up, but a necessary and welcome one. Next step is to keep it flowing and be able to eat. I am not leaving here until I can eat properly. Wouldn't it be lovely if I could enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner?! Here's hoping!

A little bummed that I have missed the peak of our Autumn color changes during the days I have been in here, but I have been able to enjoy a brief glimpse of it from my window which looks out onto a wide meadow and surrounding woodlands. It sure has been a season of change for me this year...

  • From healthy to cancer survivor
  • From active to passive & hospitalized
  • From family caregiver to family giving care
  • From organized & alert to chemo-scrambled fuzzy-brain
  • From goal oriented to faith oriented
  • From taking things for granted to thankful for every provision
  • From unsympathetic to compassionate
  • From stagnant faith to daily grace

Update: Someone lent us a vehicle to cover transport needs, and the car windshield has now been repaired. Meals are being provided in delicious abundance. Prayers abound! Kids both made Honor Roll in first marking period!

The best news to come from this current unpleasantness is that all my doctors agree that we should end my Chemotherapy treatments. NO MORE! NADA! ZIP! ZILCH! YAY!!! Now I get to focus on getting out of hospital, healing/detoxing from Chemo, and preparing from my ostomy reversal in the New Year.

I'm kinda tuckered out folks. This blog is the longest time I've focused on anything, and achieved something, for the past 2 weeks! I'm heading for a nap and some pain meds!

Thanks One and all for your love & faith-filled prayers & support! Please keep it coming!

By God's grace,