Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's been a "weak" two weeks...

5:30am: Awakened by the Phlebotomist to have two tubes of blood pulled from my arm (not my IV or port because that would be too simple)

5:45am: Take my sponge bath and Mom washes and gels my hair...gotta look good for the docs!

6:00am: RN comes in to give me a Lovenox (blood thinner) shot in my tummy, alternating each day between the left side and the right side because it causes severe bruising.

6:45am: I start to doze off until........

7:00-7:30am: The first of 2-3 doctors comes by for rounds. Dr. Pippas zooms in like a character from a Harry Potter movie. Dr. Jain flashes a caring grin and inspects the surgical site. Dr. Scarborough comes by for comfort and some laughs.

9:00-11:00am: Nap time (in between RN coming in to check vitals)

12:00-6:00pm: Sweet nurses coming in to chat and check my pain level (typically between 8-10)

6:30pm: Fever started....and climbed all night.

This was my routine for the past two weeks. The last time I wrote I was about to be released. That occurred on Saturday. I had a follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon on Monday...after taking one look at me, and hearing my fever remained, he sent me straight to my oncologist. My oncologist took one look at me and my chart (he had been out of the office during my first hospital stay) and sent me STRAIGHT back to the hospital for readmission. Mom and I did not even get to go home first. I am not sure if the SFH staff was more shocked to see me again, or if I was more shocked I was back so soon.  Either way, we got down to business.  Dr. Pippas ordered a CT scan of my chest and thorax to check for an abscess...negative. Then he ordered an ECHO of my arm and neck to check for a blood clot...negative.  We took about a thousand cultures from every part of my body that could be cultured...negative.  Dr. Pippas decided to remove my chemo portacath, speculating that it had somehow become infected, and hoping its removal would provide some relief.  

Now, here's the kicker...the surgery was not exactly pre-meditated. We found out at 8:00am they would be taking me down around 11:00am. I was going on three days with a massive migraine and had forced down some yogurt around 7:00am to try and absorb some of the medications (did I mention I was on three antibiotics??) know when they say "Nothing to eat after midnight the day before surgery"? Well, I learned the hard way that is what dictates the amount of medication/sedation they can give you for your procedure. The small amount of undesired yogurt I digested prevented my sedation. I received local anesthetic and lidocaine to the surgical area but was frighteningly awake through the whole event.  I am sure it would not have been half as traumatic, were it not for the four drains sticking out of my side and the sickening throbbing pain of my migraine.  I cried through the entire procedure...I never cry.
I came home last Friday and the fevers seemed to have vacated the premises.  On Monday I went for my first expansion with Dr. Jain (100 CCs) and every staff member commented on how I looked like myself for the first time in a month. I felt more like myself too. Real clothes instead of a hospital gown...not having to view the world through the slits between my fingers due to my migraine, hearing sounds instead of muffled noises through earplugs, and breathing fresh air instead of hospital air. The expansion caused a bit of burning due to the stretching aspect, but I have done this before so I am familiar with this situation. That does not make it any less painful, but at least I do not have the anxiety of the unknown.

We met some true angels at SFH this time, just as we did during the first stay. On my first day back, I was escorted to my scan by a caring but quiet nurse who was initially just interested in getting me where I needed to go. Something touched her though because she came back to give me her Jesus fish pin, which I immediately added to my already stylishly adorned allergy bracelet. :) The next angel I met was named Harriett. She was tasked with figuring out how to run an ECHO scan wand across my tattered body, minimizing my pain. She was amazing. She kept the room dark since my head was aching and I was nauseated. She was so gentle, and worked so hard to keep me comfortable that it was almost a peaceful experience. She held my hand and prayed for me. Needless to say it brought me, Mom, and Harriett to tears!

DRUMROLL PLEASE........................................................................................................................
I FINISHED CHEMO ON AUGUST 9TH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
I was treated for the past 14 months, at first weekly then from January till now every three weeks. Even though this journey is still far from over, I am relieved to turn the page on this particular chapter of the story. I cannot brag enough about the wonderful nurses at JBACC. As you can see from the photo, they have been so supportive from the beginning and have remained some of my greatest cheerleaders.

I will close with mention of my precious puppy. My sweet Tatum has been the most loving caring soul and does not let many minutes pass without reminding me how grateful he is to have his mama home. I don't know what I would do without my sweet little Tot!
Thanks to all of you who have been SO supportive during these trying times. I am still in recovery and appreciate the balance of quiet time with visits, meals, etc.

Until next time,
Carly XO