Feb 10, 2011

Eye vant to suck urr BLOOD

Each chemo session is followed by 10 days of neuprogen (spelling?) shots to boost my white blood cells. 10 days, including weekends. Everyday, I have to drive to Encinitas and Vista on the weekends, for a drive by shot. During the week, at Encinitas, I also get fluids and sometimes anti-nausea drugs to help out. Depends on how I feel. Without these shots, I would be on house arrest for the two weeks following chemo and the chemo might even have to be delayed if my body was not responsive naturally. But luckily, it is 2011 and we do have these shots. They make me feel like I have the flu most of the time…runny/drippy nose (constantly), watery eyes, extreme exhaustion, and the bone pain. Since these shots are encouraging my body to make white blood cells, my major bones ache in reaction. Doctors tell me this is a good sign, but it is really painful on day 6-8. Painful enough that I take pain meds to curb the cramping. Because of the type of cancer I have, I cannot get shots to help with my red blood cell activity. From the start, docs have said that they would be watching my red counts closely and that a blood transfusion might be necessary. I think I was in denial. Each session, I would watch my red blood counts dip close to the scary range, and then creep back up to normal. But this 3rd round was a little different.

On Monday the 31st, I went in for fluids, driving myself, but barely making it there after talking on the phone during the drive. Multitasking at this stage in the process always drains me. The nurse took my CBC (blood test) and the results were that white and red blood cells were scary borderline and they would need to check again on Wednesday to confirm if my body was bouncing back, or if I would need a transfusion. A TRANSFUSION. I was kinda starting to freak out.
Of all the side effects, the top three things I was afraid of were:
1)    mouth sores (none, yet, thank you!)
2)    blood transfusion
3)    losing my eyebrows and eyelashes (thinner, yes, but they’re still there!)
Now one of my fears was becoming my reality.
On Tuesday, I mustered the energy and the little and I drove up for my shot. Still really tired but able to make it and act normal.
On Wednesday, Beki came to watch the little so I could go get my shot and wind my way back home, stopping along the way to pick up the needed items to celebrate MIL Mary’s birthday. I had all these plans to stop by Ranch 99 to get stuff to make her stir fry for dinner, stop by Elizabethan Desserts to get mini pies, and then Party City to grab balloons. What was not in my plans was staying home and getting a blood transfusion. Obviously.
Once I got to SDCC, they took my blood again and I sat confidently awaiting the results. Then the nurse confirmed my biggest fear…that everything had dipped so low that I would need a blood transfusion and antibiotics asap. Chris (the PA) rushed to discuss what this meant and give me my prescriptions. They were concerned that my lack of red blood was making me lethargic (was I? I hadn’t noticed) and my lack of white blood cells was leaving me open to infections. If I were to catch anything, my body would not fight it and my blood could get infected- worst case senario but probable. The grave display from Chris made me nervous- not to mention that I would be getting blood from multiple strangers in less than 24 hours. So many things could go wrong, so I prayed.
At this point, Chris told me I was on house arrest, so my birthday plans were out the window. Needless to say, I was disappointed. I really wanted to celebrate Mary to show her how much she means to me!
After about two hours, the nurses had gained approval for everything from my insurance and were able to confirm an appointment time at the hospital. Then, feeling anxious, drained, and a little scared I had to drive myself up to Oceanside to Tri-City hospital to give them some of my precious blood so they could “type” me. Come to find out, I ‘m A+. Who knew?  While waiting on the flobotomist (spelling?) I watched a little Barefoot Contessa. Got a good pasta recipe out of it!
Since I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere public, Mary’s celebration was paired down. I still cooked, which just about leveled me, but made spaghetti with meat sauce, brussel sprouts (one of my specialties) and parmesean French bread. Luckily, on the way to Tri-City I did make one stop against my doctors wishes, and picked up the MINI PIES from Elizabethan Desserts. Cherry, Berry, and Apple. They were SO worth it! Check out my review on yelp for more info that…
I cooked, the kids cleaned, and after dinner, I took a nap for an hour. No kidding! I had never felt this tired before…lethargic is really more the word for it.

me, awaiting my new blood

By the next day my anxiety and fears had calmed. I came to the realization that if God brought me this far and wanted something to go wrong then that was the plan. It is amazing how relaxing it is to relinquish control and give in to the Almighty.
I arrived about 45 minutes early and hoped they would take me. They did. Good thing too since there was a number of signatures and such they needed from me before they could start. I got a free lunch too! They are really too kind.
Around 10:45 my blood arrived. The first bag is all from one person, and nurse joked that it was a big person since there was so much blood in the bag. I am hoping a big, healthy, strong, YOUNG person.
Since the blood is cold, I asked if it would make me cold, and they said maybe.
One good thing about the hospital is the heated blankets. Just as if they were fresh out of the dryer, minus the dry sheet smell, which is ok since smells are pretty intense to me these days. The blood nurse started towards me with a new contraption and I was worried that they were gonna put me on oxygen…..oh no, I said, and he said “don’t be scared, it’s not what you think”. I was skeptical at best. Then he plugged it in behind me and tucked the hose under my blanket- it was a personal HEATER! OMG, I am in love. I tried to think of ways to smuggle it out of the hospital. My head is still cold, but my body is so warm it is fantastic.
As I sit here, watching the crimson colored fluid drip slowly from the icy bag into my pre-accessed chest port, I am hoping that this person’s energy will revive me instantaneously. Surprising to me, I felt like a new woman within a few hours of the transfusion. And by the next day, all my counts were up again so I was taken off house arrest and allowed to return to life as normal. Or as normal as my life is right now!
I am so thankful for modern medicine and God’s grace to get me through it!!

my new blood, my lifeline!


Jenna Tunes said...

First off, if you keep taking photos like the one in this post, I think they'll have you be the poster child for chemo. It's amazing how you can still shine ;)
So glad you were able to conquer one of your fears and feel even better after all of it!
Your comment about 'reliquishing control' is so true.
Love you

amy said...

So glad you are feelng better and are writing again. Funny what you will accept when you are in the throes of chemo. I remember the transfuson days and had the same apprehenson. Good news is that science has come so far....stay strong and hold that knowledge in your heart. From one survivor to another survivor!

the pattern

Just as soon as you think nothing will ever be the same again...you fall back into life's steady pace. L I F E  R E M E M B E R S  T ...