Monday, August 31, 2009

I made the decision to go by myself again today, to my doctor appointment with my radiologist. Keith needed to be on the job site today, and knowing that once I get to the radiology department, and they call my name, whoever goes with me would just end up sitting alone in the waiting room, I hesitate to ask anyone to go with me. I took my book to read, and signed in, but barely got half way through a chapter when they were calling my name. I followed the male technician back through the maze of hallways, until we finally arrived at the room. It contained a huge machine that looked alot like an MRI machine or CT machine. It was a huge donut looking machine, with a bed that passed back and forth through it. He gave me my instructions, then handed me a gown, and told me to knock on the door when I was ready. Hmm, I was pondering that part of the instructions, while I got undressed. How does one get "ready" for this? I don't think I am gonna be ready for this at all, so what does that mean? Do, I just hang up the gown, and exit the building?? Don't tempt me! I scream at the voices in my head, as they begin to urge me to run. But, after all the arguments about whether or not I actually need radiation, I have given it to God. Or at least I thought I had. If I really and truly had, why do I still not want to do this? Why am I still not "ready"? Why am I still having all these anxiety attacks? Oh well, I do as I am told, and after carefully folding my clothes, removing my ear rings, necklace and glasses, I dutifully knock on the door to signal that I am indeed...ready. This time, not only it is the same male technician, he is accompanied by two female nurses or technicians, whatever their titles are. They began to position me on the table/board correctly. They quickly tell me that the chemicals they have mixed in the huge trash bag will feel "quite warm, let us know if it is too warm". OOOOOKKKKKKKK. This is to form a mold around my body, so as to insure that every time I come for radiation treatments, I am indeed laying in the exact same position each and every time. Exact same position. I feel the bag begin to swell around me, and the three people assigned to me on that day, are working quickly and diligently to push and pull the bag to make sure it goes where it is supposed to go. Once it is done doing whatever it is supposed to be doing, they begin to cut away the un-needed "foam" that has oozed out of the bag. I am holding my arms up over my head, and it is beginning to get somewhat uncomfortable. To get a feeling for what I am going through, go lay on your dining room table, pretend like something you need badly is laying behind your head, about 3 feet, and try and reach it, without moving your body in any way. You are not allowed to turn your head to see if you are getting close to reaching it. You are just supposed to reach, keep reaching until your shoulders are backwards, pretty much, and stretched as far as they will go. Now, hold that position..........for an hour. To make that easier, they gave me two wooden dowels, at least that is what they felt like. No way, could I see what they were. Anyway, now grab onto the dowel rods, and that will "help you keep your arms in that position". Ok. No pain, no gain, right? After about 30 minutes, they began to ache and after taking the pain as long as I could, I asked them if I could put my arms down for just a few minutes. They said yes, but stood there, watching me, like....ok, can we get on with our job now? Ah, to be young again and be able to put my body in whatever position I want without my body rebelling and trying to remind me that I am not 18 anymore. I can smell the paint pens they are using to mark me up. I can't feel them. They are working on the mastectomy side, and on that side I have no feeling. It is quite weird to be able to see them leaning over me, with paint pens in hand, be able to smell the paint, but yet, not be able to feel anything they are doing. They begin to inform me that when I take a shower, I am to let the water hit me on the back, not the front, and try not to wash these marks and lines off. I will not be getting the tattoos today, because first, Dr. Taylor wants to take a look at all these markings, and if it is decided these are sufficient, then I will come back and get the tattoos. And, hmm, it says here on the chart you are going on vacation. I don't know where you are going, but you need to not get in the water, except up to your waist maybe. But try and stay out of the water. Yea, ok. I am going to Florida. I am going to be there two weeks. I have been through Hell this year, starting right after Thanksgiving last year. Lots and lots of mammograms, biopsies, scans, tests, chemotherapy, lost my hair, right side mastectomy, and now preparing for six weeks of radiation. While everyone else took their vacations to the beach, I was still doing treatments. Now, it is my turn, and you are telling me I can't get in the water? Not only that, you are marking me up with paint pens and not the permanent tatts that were discussed so I could enjoy Florida. Whatever. Finally, they announce we are done, and I did great. Whatever that means. They tell me to get dressed, then knock on the door, and they will come back in to go over the instructions and my next appointment. I try and get dressed with these things hanging from my shoulders that are numb and tingling. My shoulders are sore and aching, but I manage. I look in the mirror that is hanging there, and begin to tear up. The marks are up under my chin!! Like I can hide these bright blue lines! People are going to be staring at me wondering why I let a two year old make a road map with bright blue markers on my body! I went ahead and got dressed and knocked on the door. They come back in, and give me, again, instructions on how NOT to wash these paint pen markings off of my body. I listen, on the outside, but on the inside, I just wanted them to shut up and let me leave. Finally, they say we are done, and for me to have fun on my vacation. As I follow the nurse out, again, feeling a bit like a mouse in a maze, we finally make the final turn bringing us out into the waiting room. The crowd in front of the elevators was more than normal, so I turn and go out the back of the waiting room towards the elevators that only the regular cancer patients know about. Ah, there was only a lady pushing someone in a wheel chair, and me. I hold the door for them, then stand there and watch the door close. I was kinda in a zone. As soon as I realized I was supposed to be on that elevator, I reached out and pushed the up button again, and the doors opened, and I stepped on with the lady and the person in the wheelchair. She looked at me, and with amazing insight, said to me..."it does get better honey." I just started crying. I couldn't help myself, it was so crazy. Who was this stranger in the elevator that could just look at me and know she needed to say something encouraging? Am I that transparent? Did I look that bad? Or was it the blue lines all over my neck? Thank you Lord, for putting the angel in the elevator with me today, regardless what it was. As I stepped off the elevator on the third floor, I felt like my feet wanted to run as fast as I could to the parking garage. I did not want to make eye contact with anyone, I just wanted to run to my car and have a meltdown. I seriously needed a good cry today. The cry will have to wait for a more convenient time. I forced my feet to walk, one foot in front of the other, all the way to my car. I unlocked my car, put my bags in, and slowly wound my way down to street level and out into the sunshine. I cried off and on all the way to Herky. I cleaned up my face, and ran through the drive through, grabbed a salad, and went to Sapaugh's to get my oil changed and tires rotated. After all, I am leaving on vacation in 3 days. My husband will be joining me with the rest of my family a week later, and because he is working non-stop these days, I knew he would not have time to do this. He works days pouring concrete, then comes home and goes to the room addition and works there until past dark. He then comes in, eats supper, takes a shower and falls into bed. I know he is tired and working himself way too hard, but he is a man on a mission. I love that he is so compassionate. Thank you Lord, for giving me such a wonderful husband. I am going to go home, eat the supper my daughter has prepared, go and try and help my husband. Eventually, tonight, I may take a long hot shower, maybe cry while I am in there, and maybe, just maybe, wash all these blue lines off of my body. What will that do to the schedule? I have no idea. Maybe put it off another two weeks, if we have to do all that we did today, again. But I just don't know if I am up to explaining to my mom why I have these blue lines all over my neck and chest several times over the next two weeks. I don't know if I would be able to do that without crying, and if I were to break down and cry, I am sure that would upset my mom. And if my mom gets upset, then she gets more confused and begins repeating herself worse. So, I think I will just go wash these lines off, and take the next weeks off from cancer. Can I do that? Might as well, because after all, I am "pushy, domineering and severe". I get it honest. I get it from my mom, LOL!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It seems that my time for writing is getting less. Life is busy, and although we moved to this farm of 116 acres possibly believing the old myth that "life on the farm is kinda laid back", we have been enlightened! With all that is going on in my life these days, it just seems to be busy all the time. I do cherish the days that are less busy, the days that I actually get time to sit on my deck with my morning coffee and have my quiet time with God. I do have my time with God, daily, don't get me wrong, it is just that on some days it is not as quiet as on other days. But, I could not get through any of my days without my time with my God, my Lord, my Saviour. It is what gives me the strength to get through what is on my plate. It is now count down to when I leave to take my momma to her timeshare she has on Daytona Beach. We have been to all her doctor appointments that were made after her recent stay in the hospital. All these were "follow-up" appointments so they could see her and evaluate her before we leave for Florida. She has passed all their tests, and they have given her their blessings. As we left the neurologist's office Wednesday morning, she said, "well, I am now free to roam about the country!" She commented how much she liked this doctor, how he was funny and friendly, and how some doctors were so stiff it seemed they would break. But this one, she liked, and he was very friendly and "real". And he had commented on the difference between this Mrs. Adams and the other Mrs. Adams he had met back in the hospital. He liked this Mrs. Adams better and hoped to always see her this alert and coherent. He said, "if you promise to call me if any problems arise, I will go ahead and give you all the prescription renewals now, and we will not need to see you until say, February." Mom looked at him and said, "well, if I don't, she will!" We all laughed, and he gave us the scripts and we were done. But, being it was Wednesday morning, and here we were in St. Louis, gee, what could we find to do???? LOL! Mom spotted numerous yard sales on the way up there, but I had put her off because of the doctor appointment. Now, however, we were done, and it was just now 9 o'clock! So, yea, we stopped at several yard sales on the way home! Of course, as it usually is when shopping with mom, she finds all these things that I cannot live without, and just knows I need. And when we were finished, and I was out of spending money, my car was loaded. My seats were laid down, and stuff everywhere. What did mom buy? Hmm, a picture frame, a doll and a really pretty Christmas centerpiece. Wait, maybe a pair of shoes? Anyway, it was fun, and well worth the fifty cents I paid for that ugly shirt that nobody is gonna wear, LOL. We got back to mom's by 11 o'clock or so, and I fixed us some lunch. After resting in her chair, she was ready to go to her Bible Study at FBC-Festus. So, we got up and out the door we went again. I do enjoy that as well. Bro. Vittoe always does a very thought provoking study, and this month he has been doing James. And yes, I love that book of the Bible and always enjoy a good study on James. Once the study was over, we went back to mom's and after a little rest, and putting some supper together for mom, I headed out the door for home. Thursday morning, I got the call I had been waiting for from Joanie, my Mastectomy specialist. She had been looking for some mastectomy swimsuits for me. Here in Missouri, it is way past time for those to be out, and all the suits left are the ones that are picked over and sizes no one wears, teehee. But she was calling to say she had found 5 for me to choose from!! Woot Woot!! I got in my car and headed to F'ton. I tried all of them on and then ended up deciding on the first one I tried on! It's always like that, isn't it? But hey, I am now ready, officially, for the Florida trip. I do still have 2 more doctor appointments for me. This coming Wednesday, I have my Herceptin treatment. And August 31st, I have my radiation mark-ups and tatts. That is gonna be an all day appointment. She said they will lay me down, I will raise my arms to hold onto a bar, and they will pour plaster around me (??) and make a mold, so that every time I come in for radiation, I will have to put my arms inside that mold to be sure that I am in the exact same position every single time. And once they get me in that position, they will make marks on my body at different spots, and make them semi-permanent. I questioned that, and she said they will last for a year or two before beginning to fade away. Oh well, maybe I will get some others to add to the dots and put something that resembles Orion's Belt! LOL! Or the Big Dipper?? ok, the little dipper?? Anyway, life is fun these days. My continued prayer is that the Lord will continue to give me the peace that passes all understanding, because it is that peace that allows me to drink from whatever cup He sets before me. Life is full of hard choices, but what sets us apart is how we respond to the things in our lives. My daddy used to say, "you can sit all the cups on the table, but you cannot tell what is inside them, unless you shake their foundation, what they are sitting on. That is when what is inside, comes spilling out. That is when you can really tell what is inside someone." I have had my share of melt downs lately. I do hope that no one uses that to measure what is inside of my heart. Because daddy used to tell me matter what your mouth says, the Lord knows what is truly inside your heart of hearts. And inside my heart of hearts, I want to please God in everything I say or do. So, when I fall short of that mark, the mark that everyone has for how a Christian should act, or talk, or dress, I do hope that I have not caused my Lord shame in my appearance or my actions. But when I do, and I know that I do, I apologize. I am weak. And when I let my emotions get the best of me, it is not pretty. We as adults are often confronted with hard choices. As adults, we cannot run away and hide, or say "I am not ready for this". I was not ready for my daddy to call me and tell me he was in St. Anthony's and they had diagnosed him with Leukemia. I was not ready to spend a year going back and forth to St. Louis University Hospital, or various doctor appointments associated with that diagnosis. I certainly was not ready for my daddy to leave us and go home and be with his Lord Jesus. I wasn't ready for my momma to be diagnosed with "Dementia, possibly of the Alzheimer's type". I was not ready for the diagnosis of Breast Cancer. I was not ready for chemo. I was not ready to lose my hair. I was not ready to lose my breast. This has not been an easy walk these past 3 years. But through it all, my Lord has been faithful and true. He has never failed to walk this walk with me, even when it was hard and it seemed I couldn't walk it. I have learned many things through this walk, and part of the learning has been painful. But when changes come to our life, sometimes it takes us out of our comfort zone, our "box". You never know what the Lord is trying to teach you through whatever it is He has put in your path. And, you never know who else is learning new things as well. God's ways are not our ways, and therefore, we do not always understand His methods of teaching. But if we are faithful to accept whatever He puts in our path, without grumbling and complaining, we might be surprised to find out that yes it is refining us, rubbing off the rough edges. He is indeed molding us and shaping us into what He needs us to be. We just need to allow that to happen. We can't go around blaming others. "If it weren't for this job, I could do this", "If it weren't for this spouse, I would be happy", "If it weren't for this illness, I could do this". Truth is, nothing touches us that God doesn't allow to touch us. So, if God allows it, why do we fight it so? Why do we regret it? Why do we wish it away? Gird up your loins, accept even the hard stuff, and do whatever God puts in your path, and do it in a way that would make God proud of you. He is your heavenly father. Yes, I hope I make Him smile from time to time.......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Howdy folks! Man, I will be so glad when I get my brain back in full functioning capacity. This whole "chemo brain" thing is real. Lately, it has been brought to my attention that Keith's driver's license is expired! They expired on July 20th. So we spent yesterday, trying to get them renewed. In today's world, that requires 3 forms of I.D. 1) A State Issued Birth Certificate, 2) A Social Security Card, and 3)Proof of Residence, such as a piece of mail addressed to you. The "state issued birth certificate" is what proved to be harder than you might think. Since we have never needed that for any reason, we went to the health department prepared to pay the $15 fee in order to get one. The lady asked for his identification (driver's license and social security card). "Sir, we can't give you a birth certificate. There seems to be a discrepancy. On your driver's license and your social security card, your first name is spelled K-E-I-T-H. On this birth certificate it is spelled K-I-E-T-H." So, Keith asked her what that means exactly. She explains they will have to request some forms from Jefferson City that will enable him to fill those out, and get that corrected. Are you kidding me? For a typo?? Needless to say, we left there very frustrated. He calls his mom and dad to see if they have a copy of his birth certificate. They call us back, and yes, they have the original from the hospital, dated July 20, 1958 and the state issued one dated June, 1968. Apparently they had needed a "state issued one" for little league or something. Somewhere along the line, it was spelled wrong. Because on the original one from the hospital it is spelled correctly Keith! On all the doctor receipts in their folder, it is spelled Keith. But on the one they had gotten from the state (10 years later), yes, it was spelled Kieth, and no one had ever caught it, or questioned it! But in this post 911 country, this country now has new rules dictated by the Department of Home Land Security. And because of someone's stupid mistake, we now have to fill out "papers" so that can be corrected before they can issue Keith a birth certificate so that he can get his driver's license renewed. The lady suggested we go get some lunch, while she tried to get the appropriate forms from Jeff City, and she would call us and let us know what we needed to do. We left there, and we never got a call. And of course, life took over, and we didn't think about it again....until today. This morning, we got up early because I had a doctor's appointment. Today, I met with the radiologist to go over all the details of my upcoming radiation schedule. Before we left the house, Keith had already gotten several phone calls from contractors as well as from our son, Nick, who was on the job site, to fill Keith in on the problems that had arisen with the job they were currently on. After making several calls, he said we needed to leave now, as he had a few stops to make on the way. First stop, gas. Second stop, at the job site our son, Nick was on. Third stop, at mom's. Then, finally, on the way to the appointment. However, on the way, I was being secretary, and taking dictation from Keith, putting a break down of all the charges on a bill for a contractor he was supposed to meet with later today. Apparently, we have made the trip to the hospital enough times, that it has become routine, and "mindless". We were so involved with the figures and the billing, that neither of us even remember getting off of I-55, and onto I-44 West. When I finished up the bill, I looked up and said, "Uh, where are we? Because none of this looks familiar as the route to the hospital." The next sign we saw read "I-270 - 2 miles"!! We had been so zoned that we had driven right past our exit for Kingshighway! Seriously! We went on up to Bowles, and turned around, and got back onto I-44 east. About the time Keith was saying, no big deal, we still have time to make it to the hospital on time, we noticed a police car behind us, and yes, his lights were flashing! Here we go! We pulled over to the side, and waited for the policeman to come up and asked for his driver's license (knowing full well they were expired, and we were going to have some explaining to do!) He asked, and yes, Keith handed him the license. He walked back to his car. We waited. After a few minutes, here he came. "Sir, can you explain to me what the deal is with your driver's license? Because, it says on here they are expired, yet in the computer, it shows you have an extension until 2010!" Well, how about that! They did put it into the computer, even though they never called us back! So, Keith explained to him about the typo that never mattered, for 51 years, and now all of a sudden it was a big deal that required numerous forms to correct their mistake. He believed us, and yet, still issued a speeding ticket. Apparently, the speed limit at that particular part of the interstate is not 70 mph, it is 55! Again, we did not see the posted sign, and was driving with traffic. But, oh well, ignorance of the law is no excuse. So, needless to say, I was late to my radiology appointment. We had thought it was going to be a consultation, therefore, not that big of a deal. The appointment was for 9:30. We did not leave the hospital until 1:45!! She is very thorough. And not only that, the procedures and precautions and possible complications were explained by the resident doctor, then the "real" doctor. And yes, I had a clinical examination by the Resident, and then, yes, the Radiologist. After all was said and done, I signed the consent to treatment forms, and we were out of there starving and hunting for food. After tracking down the contractor we were supposed to meet with to deliver the bill that had caused us all the distraction this morning, we were heading south towards home. To say it has been a long day just some how doesn't seem to describe it properly. But, I am very grateful they are working with me and my schedule. My next appointment is scheduled for August 31st, Monday, to get my tattoos. Yep, that's what I said, tattoos! Stay just keeps getting interesting. As it stands now, tonight, I will be starting my 6 weeks of radiation on Monday, September 23rd. And that will mean many trips to Siteman Cancer Center, Monday through Friday, daily, for 6 weeks. But never fear, they say the side effects are "cumulative", so I won't notice any until I am "well into the radiation schedule". I feel so much better just knowing that!