Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keeping Me a Well-Oiled Machine: It Takes a Village

So I had what was to be a routine follow-up on my mediport install yesterday. You know, tens day out of an event by where your surgeon inserts a tube directly into your jugular vein, she wants to take a looky-see and make sure everything is ok. I consider this a part of “body maintenance” at this point. I understand that at least for the next 20 weeks or so I will be poked, prodded, jabbed, x-rayed, scanned, and fed medication to keep me alive while eradicating - in the most god-awful way - what could potentially kill me. Sounds like that’s a thin line to walk, but as I mentioned before I trust my doctors implicitly in their efforts to rid me of this disease. And so I go to my follow-up.

As in turns out, the mediport is doing well. It’s still sore – my neck mostly, which was a concern of mine – but the doc said soreness was “normal” since “after all, (as fore mentioned) it’s a tube directly into your jugular”. Well, OK.

I have had a persistent cough for a couple of weeks. I caught something from the family during our most recent visit and it has lingered a bit too long. I mentioned this to my very confident, gregarious, southern, ex-Army surgeon and she immediately ordered a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, blood clot (god forbid), or whatever. And she meant IMMEDIATELY. She sent me upstairs to the nearest radiology center – unfortunately they were closed for the day.  And then sent me, via my Ford Escape, to Sibley Hospital. Now, normally, one would freak out about having to drive themselves to the emergency room given the potential severity of their condition. But as luck would have it, I’ve had previous experience driving myself to the ER under a rather urgent and life threatening situation. As you recall, if you’ve been following along with my life, my wife wished to trek to the Base Camp of Mt Everest for her 50th birthday a few years back. And as my luck would have it one result of that wonderful and life-changing “vacation” was the development of a pulmonary embolism that frankly should have done me in on the 23-hour flight back to the US. A persist cough got me in the see our general practitioner the day after arriving home and my symptoms of leg pain and swelling, coupled with difficult breathing, sent me in my Mini to Arlington Hospital where I preceded to spend the next 5 days in the hospital to regulate what would turn out to be a 6-month ordeal of being on blood thinners, two subsequent surgeries, which all led to having two blood transfusions and weekly blood count draws. So, needless to say, experience pays off!

Turns out, my lungs are clear. Nothing but a persistent cough and a sore neck. Mission Accomplished.

I’ve heard from numerous friends and family in the medical (and just caring) field since my post regarding nausea. So thankful for folks in my life. I just want you all to know I heard you. From now on, nausea medication will be my friend, not the nasty nausea. I promise to take – and take as often as needed - the meds my doctors have given me to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. And, if for some reason, they stop working I promise to let my team know so they can find another solution.

I need to consistently remind myself that even though I am the one with cancer, I am NOT alone in this battle. 

And as for proof, I’ve received a constant stream of well-wishes and care packages since my diagnosis. Each one has created a steady flow of tears and heart-felt gratitude for being thought of and cared for. I know I keep saying it, but it’s true: I am a lucky gal.

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