Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The very sad, very tense funeral for my dear cousin Marie

 My cousin Marie had passed from NON SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER.  She was my oldest female cousin, and I loved her dearly.

Yesterday, we were to celebrate her life with her funeral. Marie planned out her funeral, picked out her casket, and had arranged plans when she was diagnosed, about six years ago. At that time, she told me she would be lucky to get 2 years of life--well she crushed that goal!  Marie was a nurse (and worked oncology for a long time).  When I was sick with APL, Marie had talked to me on the phone and even sent in her best friend, Robin, to come check on me (Robin was also a nurse who worked in the same hospital I was being treated).  Marie was someone the family thought was a bit snobby at times, when really, she wasn't snobby at all.  She was caring, concerned, and she had goals and acted on her wishes and dreams.  That was something most of our family didn't have...goals that they thought they could work towards or dreams.  I was a bit like Marie in that I was also the oldest of my siblings, and if I want to do something, I go and do it.  Guess what-- it was a somber, sad, and tense funeral and I felt ridiculously uncomfortable.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Waiting for a loved one to pass

Its 11 am on a rainy, stormy, lightening filled Sunday.
My cousin, Marie, has been fighting lung cancer and now brain cancer for a few years.  She came home from the hospital on Friday night...in a hospice situation.  Her body is shutting down and she is worn.
I thought it would happen yesterday.  I read a slew of texts Saturday morning saying Marie was dying, pray for her.  It was not the news I wanted to read as I began my day of showing houses.
I cried and was very upset.  I was sad.  I still am sad.  I called Marie's cell phone and heard her voice say, "This is Marie. Leave a message."  I said I love you after that beep.  She might never hear it.
I called her sister, my other cousin.  I asked a lot of questions and tried to be brief, I can't even imagine what she is going through.
I waited.
As much as I want to see her, I feel like she is too far away and there is too much of her immediate family there, plus sounds like disagreements on how to handle this.  Marie knew she was terminal since day one.  she was a nurse, and an oncology nurse, too.  She pre-arranged her funeral.  Now its time for her family to respect her wishes, that is one of my concerns.
Again, its Sunday.  I'm waiting for my cousin to die.  I cried so much yesterday, I felt such a strong sorrow yesterday.  Today, I want her suffering over.  I want her to pass peacefully and I don't want her to be a morphine filled body for a week or two, while her kidneys are shutting down and she is yellow with black purple and blue marks all over her body.  That is not my cousin Marie.
Marie was always the styled older cousin that was super smart, driven, fashionable...someone to be mad at yet look up to.  She bossed us like a mother, she was a babysitter to us.  She was the epitome of popularity in my mind, style, and smarts.  So pretty and well spoken.  The complete opposite of me.  I loved her and hated her for it.  But, I always loved her.
I'm scared to die.  No secret there. I don't like waiting for someone to pass away,either.  I want to try to fight for her, but there is no fighting for life now.  Besides, this is what she wanted.
Her daughter, her mom and dad, and her brother and sister have to deal with so much more right now.  I am somber and anxious and hoping the call comes soon.  Once she passes, everyone can begin to heal.  They can be happy for the good times with her, and they can be thankful for all the time she had, which was so much more than what they initially thought.  She is a fighter.  The feelings right now suck, though.  The nervous weirdness in my mind and body suck.  I don't want her to suffer, but I don't want her to die or to be gone.
I pray for her and I pray for us.


Monday, December 2, 2019

My First Colonoscopy

I've been having some problems with my bowel movements.  So, I went to see a doctor, who told me I wasn't drinking enough water (which is false...I am drinking plenty of fluids).  She also referred me to a Gastroenterologist.  
After seeing the specialist,  he recommended a colonoscopy.  I'm under 45 years of age, but I have a family history of colon cancer, my cancer history of APL, my gallbladder removed, and a diagnosis of colitis when I was 18.  If you haven't had a colonoscopy yet, you have nothing to be afraid of.  Let me tell you all about my experience (the following may be graphic):
My doctor gave me a kit for what they call the "prep".  Your prep really begins about 7 days before your colonoscopy.  I was told no green tea, no vitamins, no ibuprofen 7 days before my test.  My test was on a Tuesday, so the day before I started my  "prep" kit.  On Monday (the day before), I was only allowed to consume a clear liquid diet. This meant water, clear, strained broth, 7-up, Sprite, or ginger ale, tea (not green tea) and apple or white grape juice.  There were a few other things I could have, but I had to make sure they didn't have pulp, were certain colors, or had food colorings in them.  Orange juice was not allowed, no orange gatorade, but blue jello was okay.  This seemed to complicated for me, so I stuck to ginger ale, canned chicken broth, and water on Monday.  No solid foods whatsoever.
*Note: Your experience and your doctor's instructions could vary.  This is just my experience, and I am not a licensed doctor nor am I giving any medical advice.  This is just my personal thoughts on my own experience.  Please ask your doctor and do not interpret this post as guidance or medical advice.
At 6 pm, I was to start the kit my doctor's office gave me.  It had a container that looked like a mason jar and held 16 fl oz.  There was also a box that had 3 pouches of powder in it.  At 6pm, I took one pouch of powder and mixed it with water to the fill line of the mason jar and had to drink it fully in 30 min.  It was the worst tasting liquid I have ever tasted.  It was similar to the taste I get in my mouth when someone flushed my port during chemo treatment.  Salty, sour, bitter but no flavor.  It was incredibly hard for me to drink this liquid.  After it was done, I had to drink another 16 oz of water.  
After about 1.5 hours, the fun began.  I had the urge to go potty about every 20 min for a few hours.  Its not painful, but its urgent.  After awhile, its just liquid and almost water.  As time went on, the spacing between bathroom trips began to increase, and I could fall asleep for a bit at a time.
Six hours before my test, I had to do it again.  I took the two remaining packets in my kit, mixed them with water to the 16 oz line of the mason jar and drank it all in 30 min.  This time, it tasted better, but it still was awful.  I got it down easier.  Again, I had to repeat and drink another 16 oz of water right after.  
30 min later: I had a bad feeling in my tummy.  I knew there was nothing in it except the medicine I just drank.  Before I could make it to the toilet, the vomit came out with such velocity.  I was cleaning up basically liquid (as I said before, there was nothing left in me at that point) for the next hour.  We lost an area rug, too...it soaked right in and there was 32 oz of yellow watery fluid that rushed out of me.  I drank a bit more ginger ale and had to stop drinking any fluids completely 4 hours before my test.  
When it came time for my test, we arrived at the hospital.  It was smooth sailing from there.  I put on my gown in my room, put my stuff away, and BD was able to stay in the room with my stuff.  They hooked me up to an IV and took my vitals, and off I went.  The nurse was asking me about my Thanksgiving day plans and then she said she was going to start giving me my twilight anesthesia.  I felt a warm sensation from the IV and suddenly I was out.  I woke up and I was in my room again, and BD said I was gone for about 20 minutes.  That is super quick!!!
I was not allowed to drive myself to the test.  I had to have someone there waiting with me to drive me home.  Also, I was not allowed to make legal decisions, work or drive that day, so it was an automatic day off for me.  I was allowed to eat as soon as I felt I was ready.  I did eat a small sandwich when we got home, but then I slept the rest of the day.  I was not allowed to take Ibuprofen for 3 days after the test, because they took some tissue samples to biopsy.

The actual test was fine.  Nothing spectacular to report.  It was quick, painless, and easy.  The prep day (the day before) was not fun, and puking was the worst, but I felt fine as soon as it came out of me.  I was told to repeat in 5 years, which is good.  I'm hoping the "prep" kit 5 years from now does not taste as bad as it did.  I'm also told there are other kits out there, and they are all very different.  They do have the same goal, though: to empty your system so the doctor can see everything clearly.  

If you have a story about your colonoscopy, feel free to share it here.  The nurses told me not everyone throws up, but it does happen.  They said as long as what leaves you is liquid and clear or yellowish, and nothing solid is coming out, its okay.  I was initially worried I wasn't going to be able to take the test because I threw up so soon after taking the 2nd dose of the prep kit.  It all worked out though, and that's great.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Further Testing Needed, A Constant Reminder

Its been a little over 3 weeks since Frank (my dog) passed away. I still have nightmares about it.
BD said he saw Frank snuggled up with me when I was sleeping yesterday morning, for a split second, but it was his mind wanting to see that (he says).
Last week, I went in for a yearly check-up.  No big deal, pap smear and review mammogram results, etc.  Last year at this time, I was dealing with Shingles, and it was a rough summer, so I remember the timeframes for all my summer checkups now well.
My doctor did the pelvic exam and felt something.  She took off her gloves and said she was ordering an ultrasound.  This is not good.
Of course, the fear, thoughts and memories all come rushing back into my head.  I am told it could be a cyst and to not worry, but please call to schedule my ultrasound right away.
This sucks.  So, of course, I called while in the parking lot as soon as I left her building. 
Yesterday, I had my ultrasound.  It was a very unpleasant experience, but the tech was super nice.  It wasn't fun though. 
I am hoping my doctor calls me with the test results today.  I'm worried.  I'm scared. I'm trying to hold it all in, too.  Work has become second place in my life this summer.  I'm avoiding going to my parents house because as soon as my mom sees my face, she will know I'm worried and "something's up". 
Every bit of gas pain or creek in my body...every ache...I'm wondering if I'm cancer again. 
The mind is super powerful, but its a scary place to be.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Getting Over the Loss of a Loved One

Even though Frank was a dog, he was my dog.  He was part of my life, and the last year and a half, he was a patient nonetheless.  I was his caretaker, and with that, I would structure my day around Frank and his needs.  He needed to relieve himself (go potty) about every two hours (towards the end), take pills at 6 am, 2 pm, before dinner, and 10 pm.  I made his food.  He also became so used to me being at home, that he developed a serious attachment and would cry when I left.  He still needed his "me time", when I would put him up in his favorite rooms so he could lay on the bed and sun himself.  He could walk and jump just fine, but he wasn't allowed to do stairs in the last 6 months because of his back and his new development of seizures.  I didn't allow him to do the stairs, I should clarify.

Getting over the loss of a loved one is hard.  Last night, I relived his death in my dreams while I was sleeping.  Granted, it was completely different in dream world, but it was my main dream last night.
I still cry all the time.  I tear up when its just me and BD talking about him.  There are pictures of him everywhere, and its not easy to ignore all the times I checked on him during the day, felt him lean up against me at nap time or bed time, and especially during dinner...when he would bully me to take him up to bed when HE wanted to go, just so he could bully me for more Cheerios, his nightly treat.

I think its important to cry when my mind and heart are sad.  I just miss him terribly.  Our world is so upside down right now.  We are starting to get used to the new normal, but I don't like it.  I want to go back in time and have him and hold him again.  Even though he was a dog, he was a loved creature.  He was my little guy and was a big part (the main part) of my life.
I trust something happens when we die.  I have to believe I will see him again.  If there is a heaven and a hell and something inbetween, I want to be so good God will allow me to see Frank again.
God has been good to me.  I begged him to let me live when I had cancer.  I begged him to let me live because I couldn't leave Frank.  He wouldn't understand, and I never wanted him to think I left him and I abandoned him (even if it was because I died).  In the end, I think Frank was holding on and lasted so long for the very same reason.  I don't think he would leave me.  That is true love.
God gave it to me.  I lived and came back to Frank and took care of him while he was sick.  20 months of being sick, and 20 months I might have complained, but I would do 100 more months if it meant I could have him happy and not in pain and with a good quality of life.  The medicine just couldn't keep up anymore, and no matter what I would do, he was getting worse.
God was ready for my boy.  I think he and I both needed to realize that summation.

So, what a long entry.  I'm gong to post this in my Lisa is Living Blog, because I think its an important part of life for me right now.
Be sad when your heart wants you to be sad.  Feeling uncomfortable with the new normal is okay.  Knowing the new normal will at some point be just normal....well, that sucks.  However, its going to happen and that's okay, too...it will happen at the right time.