Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thank you, Nurse L

Nurse L,

That first day back on March 4, I waited anxiously to find out who my nurse would be for chemotherapy.  I remember worrying about whether I would like her (knowing only her name).  This would be the person who would answer my questions, calm my fears, handle the dangerous drugs - quite literally holding my life in her hands.  She would watch me closely for signs of the allergic reactions that could kill me.  I can't imagine going through this hell relying on someone I did not trust.

Thank God they gave me you.

You have been a joy, a balm, a voice of reason during a time when it is so easy to spin out of control.  You've listened calmly to each of my questions, anxieties, oddities, and answered them all. 

Do you truly understand just how important you are to the people sitting in those pods?  Our chemo nurses are our lifelines and often the first to get our questions - our real questions.  You hold our hands through one of the most difficult times we'll ever have in our lives.  Our hopefully long long lives.

You are loved.
You are respected.
And I am so incredibly grateful to you for helping to save my life.  You realize that is what you do each day, right?
You save lives.

Thank you for making the choice to become a nurse. Each and every one of your patients is blessed to have you.  And I am proud that I have been among them.

I wrote the above in a thank you card today.  There have been so many people who have been essential to my treatment but some do stick out more - those bright lights amidst the gloom - and Nurse L was one of them.  All of the nurses I've encountered at Lemmen-Holton have been fantastic.  Our community is truly blessed to have them.

Oh ... and did I mention:  TODAY WAS MY LAST EFFIN' CHEMOTHERAPY!!

I'll write more on that later.

But now ... we dance! 


Friday, July 8, 2016

The Penultimate

Ah ... the penultimate.
"Last but one in a series of things; second to last." ~ Oxford Dictionaries
Last but one. My little sister reminded me of this word recently and I love it.  In television series, it often seems to mean the episode of the season, often better than the finale.  If you're a Game of Thrones fan, just think of the first three seasons: "Baelor," "Blackwater," and "The Rains of Castamere."  I'd explain why but ... I wouldn't want to ruin them for you. 

Plus I just like saying it.  Penultimate.

Today was my penultimate Taxol infusion. Only one remains. I mentioned last time the various side effects this drug can cause and which ones I've been "blessed" with during the past few months.  Everyone handles chemotherapy drugs differently and I seem rather susceptible to Taxol's evil nature despite doing weekly doses rather than the denser bi-weekly doses.  Despite icing my feet and hands during every infusion.  Even despite my doctor lowering my dose last Friday.

Penultimate. Just one more.

I'm so close. Getting this close to being finished while feeling the cumulative effects of the drug brings to mind a long race.  The literal uphill race.  Picture it ... you've ran long and far, you've had missteps along the way but you're still going and you can see it.  The finish line.  Your feet hurt, you're struggling for breath, but you know you can make it.  Just a bit further.  There's a ribbon to cross, cheering fans even, waiting for you. 

You keep going, step after step, and you notice that you're looking UP at the finish because the hill is getting steeper the closer you come to finally crossing that line. 
SERIOUSLY? There can't be a bit of a break in there? Some sort of relief?

Well, sometimes you make your own break, my friend, your own relief.

That's why my last chemo will not be next Friday, July 15.  It can't.  I won't be there.  I'll be "breaking" on Mackinac Island at the beautiful Lilac Tree Suites and Spa with my sisters (original and in law) and stepmom. 

Just a bit of a break.  But it's worth it. 

And then I'll be back for the finale - July 19th.  I'm pretty sure that one final side effect from Taxol is mushy emotional crap because I can't seem to think of that last infusion without leaking out of my eyes. I don't think I've ever wanted something OVER so much in my life. 

        And I include my divorce in that group.

For now though, I cheer my penultimate.  It sets up the finale, you see.  It a door finally cracking open and the light from outside just beginning to shine through.

It's the beginning of a voiced "You did ....." just waiting for the "...it!"

I'm so excited!  But first I need to hop a boat to an island and see a Pink Pony about an excellent steak while listening to music and watching boats out on beautiful blue water. 

You know .... as one does. 

2016 has been the hardest year of my life but dammit, I'm taking every bit of happy I can from it.  Cancer can suck it. 

           The "it" being big hairy donkey balls.

Ha!  Wow, that turned more violent than I intended.

Back to pretty boats floating in blue water. 

And waiting for the finale.