Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life, Interrupted.

My Ugg boots completing this Pursuit the day the port came out :)
This is what the port looked like up close...

Just a neat picture of my biggest supporter and his best technique...holding my hand.

I can’t believe a month has already gone by. I was really prepared for March to go by slowly, instead, it flew! Let me catch you up on the last month-Post Pursuit… Besides working, a few double dates, a couple girls night out, a very funny church pictorial session, Cooper eating chocolate,onions, and rice and almost giving me a heart attack, a trip to Ft. Wayne to see the in-laws, and wrapping up our fire dept. bowling league…I’ve been pretty to myself at home with my brain on vacation. I don’t have a lot of pictures because I feel like I took the month of March ‘off’. I haven’t stopped learning, even though I feel like I’ve slowed down a lot to catch my breath from 8 months of illness. However, that breath only lasted one week. I shouldn’t have ended my Pursuit so fast. It's crazy to say, but I have been more frustrated in the last month than ever in the last 8 months with cancer. Here's why...

I was ready to take a break from the health professionals and start living a healthy lifestyle after I heard 'disease free'. But when the port came out on March 8, that all changed. Before I even had a chance to find out who I was without cancer, I had my port removed and was faced with yet another health issue. The port removal procedure went fine, and I was back to work the next day even. But when I started having nerve pain in my back, upper chest, and in the back of arms, I started to question if this was a side effect. I thought it may have been a nicked nerve from the removal, or just swelling from surgery. But when I felt a lump and pressure under my arm pit, I started to worry again about blood clots, lymphoma, or breast cancer...I know, call me a hypochondriac but I have my reasons! :) I called the radiologist and they said to use heat, ice, and vicodine over the weekend and to let them know how I felt on Monday. Well, the vicodine didn’t even touch the pain and I was walking around my house with caution (even to the extent that just having my shirt on bothered me) because the pain was so awful. I couldn’t be touched because my skin stung, burned, was going numb and felt sunburned! When I called the radiologist on Monday, he had me come in, yet the doctor who checked me out wasn’t my radiologist and because the port incision looked fine without swelling or redness…he said this wasn’t a port issue and he sent me on my way. With that answer not good enough because I was in PAIN, I told him I needed something to take the pain away and that I could not live like this. He told me to go back to my cancer doctor and see what he says (thinking it was a cancer issue). Shock, disappointment, and frustration are the feelings I felt all at once in that operating room. In tears, because I would have gone through a cancer treatment in a second compared to this constant pain, I went straight to my cancer doctor that day who ordered an MRI stat (Thank you, Cancer Care for listening and acting...even on a busy day:) So back to the hospital I went and to make a very long story of the past two weeks short, I also got an X-Ray which showed no fractures from the lymphoma or cancer in the bones, ruled out nerve compression in my neck from my family chiropractor who took a personal interest and checked the MRI images himself, and I was prescribed nerve pills from my family doctor. The nerve pills worked amazing. They settled down the tingling sensation in my body and let me live a ‘normal’ lifestyle. However, my MRI of the cervical spine showed fused discs, osteophyte complex, stenosis, syringomylia, and so on. But the doctors do not think that is what is causing the sensations in my back, arms, and chest. They think it is further down in the spinal cord, possibly from the port removal or still from the left over cysts from my health issue 5 years ago (not the cancer). With the muscles in my back still feeling like they are carrying 20 pound weights all the time from the cysts in the spinal cord, (remember… the cysts were the original reason I had the MRI back in June that discovered my cancer. So we treated the cancer first, knowing this issue would come up again…however its come up much sooner rather than later) my doctor ordered another MRI of my thoracic spine and has referred me back down to my neurologist in Columbus at The OSU Medical Center.

So for a good two weeks in March, I was frustrated 100% of the time because we could not find an answer for a constant pain that was unbearable. I wrote in a note one time ‘I find myself just sitting and waiting for results. I have never wanted a diagnosis so bad in my life. Cancer was easier because at least they knew what was wrong and how to fix me. I want to hear that I have something so we can start helping it. This hurts. I need relief to have quality of life again. What I really need is to stay content in all circumstances. Why is this so hard in the down times in life to stay calm? Why doesn’t it just come natural to be content? Will it ever become natural?’ The good news is that there are meds that are making me feel much better, and lets not forget that I am free of cancer! But I’m still wondering what my health life has in store for me…once again. I do give thanks to God because I realize that my health could be so much worse. Trust me, I 100% understand this. But even now, through this new (yet kinda old)health issue, my friends and family, once again, are helping me keep my sanity by calling and getting me out of the house and making me remember that life isn’t all about the stresses and frustrations...its about living the best you can though the interruptions in life too. It is SO easy to be tense during the hard times, and then feel completely relieved in the good times. So I’m working on being content in ALL my situations in life. I realize that I may still be broken, but God made me that way for His reason whether I understand it or not. Actually, I read this interpretation of a verse in this book I’m reading (I won it from a give-a-way at the Home Show in Lima through WTGN) called Nobody tells a Dying Guy to Shut Up (actually it’s a book about a man’s online journal through his years with Lou Gehrig’s Disease…and its crazy how many parallels I see with his book and my blog when people are faced with diseases.)

'The Christian can even welcome trouble. When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem, he has only to ask God...' (James 1:2-5)

I never once doubted my faith throughout this last month. I never asked God 'Why me again?' and actually, I felt at home again in the doctors offices, MRI beds, and hospital rooms. :) However, I feel my downfall during this was that my frustration could be read all over my face. It was hard to stay content when there were so many unknowns. I was forgetting everything I had learned through my Pursuit and living in frustration. This process is so different than cancer because we are still looking for the diagnosis and treatment plan...however this time around, I'm the one telling the cancer nurses what neurological terms mean, and once again I was going back to my doctorate degree in Google to help find whats wrong. Actually, I went back to my blog for support too. I read through a couple blogs and remembered the things I learned though having cancer and had the ‘Ah ha’ moments again. Right now, I am calm because I feel better and have a clear path again that hopefully leads to some kind of relief from this pain. But in all honesty, the biggest lesson so far that I have learned this month, through all of these new issues…is to just care about people when they are hurting. This new health adventure could have started on the right foot if that doctor would have smiled just once at me. It’s so essential to living a happy life for both parties involved. When you or a loved one is hurting, having support means the world. And when I was hurting so badly physically after my port came out, nothing hurt more than to feel blown off. I care about you guys. I learned a lot though my Pursuit with cancer, I pursued happiness in a dark time and writing made me think clearly. I am hoping I can do that again. Now there are a lot of situations in life that can change you, mine just seem to keep being medical issues :) So.....I am going to act on this interruption in my life and keep you updated throughout this new process. It may lead nowhere, and this pain may be something I just have to live with, but I know I'll keep learning, and letting you know what I've learned in the process. And I also hope that I can use this blog to have you help hold me accountable to being more content in my life. To help me remember to keep living, remaining positive, and finding my strength in God to get me through not only the hard days in life, but in all days. I wish I would have written down the last couple of weeks in detail, I would have learned a ton more if I took the time to reflect instead of being so frustrated. Writing is my release, so maybe this will help me again through my next journey in life…although it's not a Pursuit anymore…it’ just my Life, Interrupted.