Friday, August 6, 2010

Nothing to It But To Do It, Eyes on the Prize

I was in bed.  Blood was gushing from my port.  I shot up in a panic, and felt the blood all over my chest.  I looked at my palms.  There was nothing there.

That's when I woke up.

That was two nights ago.  I didn't tell anyone about it.  It was the first nightmare since receiving my diagnosis.

Last night's blog I talked about going to chemo this morning; how I had a bad feeling about my port, and 7 weeks to go.

Then I'm going to swig a big fat gin martini, bite down on a serviette, and cut this port out myself with my corkscrew.

I got ready this morning.  Squeezed out a big goop of lidocaine on my port and covered it with a cotton square.  My incision was swollen and purple like a calamata olive, and protruding.

Good morning all my lovely Cancer Center peeps.  You are the whipped cream on a poison hot chocolate.

Kitty wheeled her little cart of orange paint and pain into my chemo room, and took a look at my incision.  Vonda walked in when she was about to take a look.

Kitty got a troubled look on her face.  "This is not good.  Not good at all.  This is getting worse.  Dr. needs to look at this."  Kitty asked Vonda to have Dr. come and take a look.  Vonda came back a couple minutes later.

"Come on girl, you're comin with me, let's get you in an exam room."

Oh crap.  I got out of the chair and made the short walk down the hall to the exam rooms.  Since I was not scheduled to see The Good Witch, Vonda was a human doorstop in front of the exam room I was in.  She wanted to catch her before she went into another exam room to see her next scheduled patient.

"That lady flies" Vonda said.

"That's why they call her The Good Witch" I said.

Vonda knows all my stuff, she is President of my blog Fan Club.  Love you girl.  Kiss it.

Vonda caught The Good Witch and explained.

I sat in the chair.  Good Witch sat on the exam chair next to me.  She took a look, shaking her head, and gently poking and rubbing it a bit.

Most of what she said started getting fuzzy, but here's what I heard and saw on her face.

This is not good.  I don't like this.  I don't like how this looks.  This thing has been trouble from the beginning.

I think it needs to come out.

Oh Jesus and Mary, did I just hear her say this damn thing needs to come out?  I bit my lip.  Oh geez, oh no, I don't want to hear this, now what?  Somebody tell me now what?

What happens next is why I think I have the best Lady for the job.  She scoots in close.  She is on the exam couch.  I am on the chair.  She takes my arms in her hands and looks me in the eye.

It needs to come out.  If you only had one round left, maybe I'd leave it.  You have seven left.  This is not working, this incision is not healing properly and I don't think it will as long as that port is there.  These are your options.  We can put in another port.  She saw the look of no effing way on my face.  We can install a PICC line or we can try and give you chemo through an IV each time.  I prefer a PICC line.  It's basically an IV that runs a line from your arm up into your chest.  Unfortunately, it's peripheral, or on the outside, and you can't get it wet.  Given your veins and your allergic responses to the Taxol, I don't think you are a good candidate for receiving chemo in a regular IV each time.  We need to take this port out.  This incision is never going to heal and I don't want to risk an infection that will affect your treatment, or leave you with a large ugly scar.

So what's a PICC, you ask?  Here you go, from Wiki.

PICC - Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter

A PICC is inserted in a peripheral vein, such as the cephalic vein, basilic vein, or brachial vein and then advanced through increasingly larger veins, toward the heart until the tip rests in the distal superior vena cava or cavoatrial junction.  PICCs are usually inserted by radiologists, doctors, physician assistants (in the USA), radiologist assistants (in the USA), or specially trained certified registered nurses using ultrasound, chest radiographs, and fluoroscopy to aid in their insertion and to confirm placement.

The Good Witch never let go of me while talking.  She knew this is the last thing I wanted to hear.  She knew I have been frustrated like I could spit over this whole port thing; an incision that would not heal, a port that chronically hurt, and painful every time they stick me.

It needs to come out.

In my head I did George Carlin's "7 dirty words" monologue.  A few of them I repeated for good measure, and I added an 8th word.  Cancer.

Heavy sigh.

"Ok" I said.

What else can you say?  Not a damn thing.  You just have to do what you have to do, with emphasis on HAVE TO.

I walked back to chemo as Dr. told them I needed to get a PICC line put in at the hospital, and an appointment with my surgeon.

I headed back to the chair.  Two, soon to be three surgeries and I still haven't even done the big ones.  Damn.

 I got back in the chemo chair.  Kitty came in.  I lost it.

What happened next was mostly a blur, schedule me for the PICC line, appointment with the surgeon.  Need to get blood work done today before the PICC procedure.  How will we do your chemo today?  They called the hospital, at first they said they could take me right now, but then that all changed. Kitty started rubbing my arm and looking for a vein.  I thought she was getting me ready to go over there.  I hadn't heard that they couldn't do it today, and Kitty was getting me ready to give me chemo through a regular IV.

I sat in the chair and whimpered while she talked softly and gently encouraged me, looking for a good vein on the inside of my arm or on my hand.  Vonda came in the room, and melted when she realized I was crying.  So there I sat, in my chemo chair, Kitty patting me and talking softly while looking where to stick me, and Vonda on the other side of me, holding my hand, which felt more like holding me in the palm of her hand.

I have said this many times, but let me say it again tonight.  I could not do this without these women.  I could not.

They talk softly to me when the little girl needs reassurance.  They kick my ass when the stubborn lady puts up a struggle.  They hug me and pat me and make me feel like I can do it, this one more thing, this one more brave thing, I can do it.

I could not do this without these women.  I love you Kitty.  I love you Vonda.  Really.  You have no idea.  and The Good Witch too.

Kitty found her vein, Vonda found my courage, and so my chemo was started and kept on track today despite a big setback.

Oh my job, my job, I thought and cried.  I just got my release letter yesterday.  I was supposed to be calling and finding out when I would work and put on my apron.  Oh no.  Oh no.  Say it ain't so.

I texted Husband.  He was at work.  I told him what was happening.

He called "Do you want me to come?" he asked.

I hesitated.  My brave soldier veneer still glued to all my surfaces.  I hesitated.

and then I said "yes."

"I'm on my way."

I am sorry Husband for all the times you would have rushed to me if I had only told you what I needed instead of what my pride would allow, then punished you for not coming.

I sat in the chair today, and received my chemo in my left forearm.  I got really really cold, and so they got me blankets and Vonda tucked me in.

I felt like Edith Ann.  You ever see Lily Tomlin's routine about Edith Ann?  She is a five year old girl who sits in a very big rocking chair and talks about her baby brother and her dog Buster.  She talks about ordinary things in a way that is touching and profound, and sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

My adult me got in the chair, and then my little girl me arrived.

Monday, my Mom's birthday, I will be having the PICC line put in my left arm.  The Good Witch doesn't want it on the same side as the port.  Tuesday I have an appointment with my surgeon, and hopefully he will schedule me for surgery this week to take out the port.  I don't know when I'll be returning to work.  Week after next, she hopes?

After I got home, I started thinking, and I called the chemo nurses' line.  Kitty answered.  I told her it was me.  I wanted her to review with me, why was it better to have the PICC line put in vs. inserting an IV each time?  I am not thrilled about having this external IV on my arm, not being able to swim, and I'm worried about it at work.  I didn't worry about anyone or  me bumping my port in my chest.  An IV on your forearm though?  How will I protect it?  How much will it affect my mobility in that arm?  I'm a lefty.

Kitty told me, first of all, I don't have good veins, I have little petite veins and she thought God helped her get that one in today so I could get my chemo.  Taxol is an extreme irritant and can really corrode and blow your veins.  It's better to have it go into the PICC line and then into the vena cava.  She said it was my decision, but she reassured me to just go with the flow, get that port out and the PICC would really be the best choice.  She said they would tape it down, but a bandage on it, and then a sleeve type thing.  Everything will be ok.  Get that port out.

This is how I got through this day.

Husband arrived and said "Oh honey, I'm sorry" and took the day off from work to keep me company as I absorbed this news.

Kitty patted me, got that IV in and kept me on track with chemo, and then reassured me with the phone call.

Vonda got me in to see The Good Witch right away, held my hand during the scary parts and hugged me and kissed me and kept checking on me.  She said she's coming to watch me walk the lap at the Relay for Life. 

Wandering Girl messaged she was so sorry to hear and she loves me.
 
Yulie messaged "damn that port" and reminded me this is just a setback, there is a huge stack of napkins waiting for me, and love u chicklet.  She calls me chicklet.

My brother Ronald messaged hang in there.

Midge gave me lots of poor poor baby hugs and kisses and that sucks, in a text.

My kissin cousin the Bandit messaged "Holy crap" and wish she could make it all better for me.

Mft said "That is effed up.  Lorazepam martini honey."

My Dad called and said hang in there and be a good girl.

and Batman messaged this "Well, just one more shitty ass bump in the road...  Nothing To It But To Do It, Eyes on the Prize, and remember eff cancer...  love you Mana"

I ever tell you why he calls me Mana?  On his senior year t-shirt, they listed all the graduates.  His name is Adam, but they spelled it Adan.  When he told me about it, I messaged back "I love you Adan.  Mana"  More often than not, he calls me Mana when he texts.

Robin patted me and hugs me as he always does, now smiling at me with the full set of braces he just got.  Baby got a grill.

When I went to the lab to get blood drawn, again, and told Lab Girl all about it, she pulled out every trick in the book to make sure she got a good stick on me, and the blood flowed.  When she finished, she hugged me and reminded me "God will never give you more than you can handle."

Hello God.

It's me, writergirldreams, your small child.

Am I getting close yet, to my limit?  Have I reached the top step yet, and now all I need to do is step over that threshold and slip and slide into the big easy?

I am thinking about what Anne of Green Gables said "Well, if God only gives you what you can handle, you must be his best student."

I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

Deep breath.

You ever seen a horse balk?  When they stop and refuse to go on?

Push me when I balk.
Hug me when I cry.
Pat me or squeeze my hand when I'm scared.
Talk softly to me.
Talk loudly to me.
Talk dirty to me.
Pray for me.
Send good thoughts and mo jo to me.
If you don't have the mo jo, make it a mojito.

Whatever it takes.

Help me keep my eyes on the prize.

and what is the prize?  It's not to be found on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or in a glass of wine on a patio in Positano.  It's not a published novel, or cracking lobsters in Maine.  All those things I mentioned on my "to do" list, sure I'd like to do em.

These though are not the prize.

I want to be an old lady.

See my sons grow into their manhood, dance at their wedding's, hold their babies.

I want to live to be an old lady.

That's what I really want.

Nothing to It But To Do It.

Eyes on the Prize.

Amen.

1 comment:

masonmft said...

I want to grow old with you. Hugs and kisses to you and the good husband.

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