A Roller Coaster Ride
The last three weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster. First, we got the incredible news that the Lymphoma is in remission. I continue to pinch myself, savouring the news with all my heart. I have one more chemo tomorrow (Monday) after which Dr.Tiedemann will do a bone marrow test and confirm that the Lymphoma has, in fact, completely been eradicated. We should have the final results on July 18th.
Dr. Tiedemann shared the news of the remission with us while I was in the hospital for Febrile Neutropenia, a result of chemotherapy. I ended up being in the hospital for 7 long days. This time, my veins did not stand up to the test of the IVs. After collapsing and rolling, my veins simply gave up and refused to cooperate. So I ended up getting a central line put in. A central line is a catheter inserted in a large vein in the neck and close to the heart and it is used to administer fluids and medication. Inserting the central line was easier said than done and the doctor tried 9 times before he was finally able to insert the line – my veins refused to behave. I still have the marks on my neck to show the attempted insertions. The central line was useful for one day and then removed.
The next day I was scheduled to get a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter). This line is inserted in the vein in the forearm and the line extends up to the shoulder, across the chest and the tip is positioned near the heart. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. Getting the PICC line was the best thing I did and, in retrospect, I wish I had done this earlier. The PICC line will be used to get my blood work and to administer my chemo drugs on Monday. No more painful IVs. No more pokes and prods. Yeah!
While in the hospital, my hemoglobin count went down to a low of 59 (normal hemoglobin is 120 – 160) and I required 3 blood transfusions. No wonder I was so tired! Each unit of blood takes 2 hours to enter the body and I used that entire time to pray for the people who donated the exact match of blood that is keeping me alive. Getting out of bed was tough; even going to the bathroom required effort. All I wanted to do was sleep. And sleep I did until my hemoglobin count went up and I could start functioning again. Right now tiredness has become a constant companion that I am learning to accept. I have lost strength in my legs and climbing stairs has become a real challenge. I’ve had two falls since coming home from the hospital. Thankfully, nothing’s broken. My current goal is to be able to walk for 20 minutes around the block without help and effort.
And there are always gifts to be found in the hospital: I met a vibrant woman, Wannietta Prescod, who was in hospital for reconstructive surgery after having beaten Breast Cancer. Wannietta is a school bus driver and, get this, the 3-time and reigning champion of Canada’s Search for the Fastest Knitter with a personal best of 245 stitches in 3 minutes, and 3rd fastest in the world at the ’08 Knit Out. She presented me with a beautiful scarf!
Check out her blog here: http://whatswanniettaknittingtoday.blogspot.ca/
(A word of warning: the pictures are graphic).
It is wonderful to be home again, enveloped in the love of my family. And as I reflect on the past few weeks, I give thanks that the Lymphoma is in remission. I give thanks to the incredible care I receive at the hospital that gives me a fighting chance to combat the cancers. I give thanks to all of you who have sent constant messages of support and love and prayers. Even though I haven’t been able to respond to your voice mails, emails and blog comments, I am truly humbled and grateful. As Nagib says, “your prayers are like a tide that has lifted us in these stormy seas”.