Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good News and chicken tails

I am either numb or I have followed my father's example and when emotions are just too much for me to handle I wrap them up in a pretty box with a bow and put them away into a closet and close the door.  The only problem with that is my closest is becoming like Fibber McGee's and if I open the door one more time, all the boxes that I have carefully put away threat to come crashing down on me.  

I know this for a fact because I opened that closest with Larry.  And when I was driving home boxes long hidden in that closet rained down on me and overwhelmed me.  And I mourned those losses and many of the boxes were resolved taking a little out of the closest, but I am a master, like my father of hiding my hardest emotions this way so the closet still overflows. 

When Mary was leaving Monday after we had laid Maggie into her rose lined grave I said thank you for coming.  If you had not been here I think I would have lost control, and I have so many things right now, I can not loose it.  I am sure that it is healthier to deal with your emotions when they  arise, but that is not always easy for me and because of that when I do let go I don't know when I will be able to pull myself together.  And I already had been horrible to be around lately.  And maybe all the worry about Maggie and lack of sleep as I would get up and down all night helping her in or out of the house, up and down the stairs, or move her bed to her when she was unable to make it to her bed, or maybe when making her special breakfasts and then taking them to her in bed, has really taken its toll on me.  Of course then there was the cleaning up after her because she did not know when she needed to go outside most of the time.  Or maybe she knew and couldn't do anything about it, or maybe she simply didn't care anymore.  

But we are less then a month away from opening of the play, work is very very busy, Larry's cremation and memorial service needs to be looked after.  Planning the trip with Dad, which I do have a lot of that out of the way, just like I have my taxes out of the way.  And trying to deal with these things after so much loss, and still responsibilities with my animals and gardens, and doing all of this with drugs that we are still tweaking and have been poisoining me as fast as they have been working on the cancer.

Excuses, but there is never a reason to act badly to your friends, and I have.  And Mary being here to help me to bury my Maggierose helped, as well as having friends and family who love you and want to help you, that means so much.  And that is why I will always be so grateful for this disease I have been blessed with.  I am terrible about asking for help.  And I am bad about not waiting for others to ask, I just barge in full of help and ideas.  And cancer is teaching me to ask, and to wait to barge in.  OK, I am not so great at either of these yet, but I am living the lesson and I have learned that the most special gift any of us are given is gratefulness.  I suppose the correct word is gratitude, but somehow to be grateful speaks more of how my heart feels.  

Tuesday at rehearsal I think I behaved better then I have the entire time since auditions, maybe even before that.  But with all the stress of my life lately and then Maggierose, no matter how well tucked away, all of this has affected my "chemobrain", which by the way is a real live documented side affect, and I have the article in a CURE magazine.  Anyway, by Tuesday my mind was shot.  I could not remember anything before Tuesday as in the way of schedules or obligations.  Once again, without a complaint my friends, this time Jack and Jan showed up in their costumes with a camera to take pictures so I can use them in the newspaper we will write up and have on each table at the play.  Friends, I am so grateful for them.

Wednesday was another busy day at work then I raced to the doctor's.  Dr. M came in and immediately asked how I was and where were Mary and Judy.  And then I told him that Mary said, "heeeeeeeeeeey!" and then explained to him that is what Ms Moon's grandson Owen greets pretty girls.  Dr. M smiled, he has a 2 year old.

We talked and I told Dr. M about digging the grave for Maggie and how I was feeling like myself again, I felt strong and happy.  I haven't felt happy in a while, and I felt happy, was he sure I had Stage 4 lung cancer.  I asked Dr. M, "Do I still have cancer?"

He said, "Let's look at your chart."  Then he spun around on his little stool and pulled me up on the cmputer.  He scrolled to the bloodwork and started showing me how I had come to him with elevated liver enzymes and low white blood cell counts.  Some of that was caused by the Hep C, the rest from the first 3 chemo treatments I got before coming to Dr. M.  He took me through showing how the levels had changed, how he was watching them, and how a week after starting the Tarceva that each spiked with the liver enzymes shooting up above an acceptable level on any count and the white blood cells lower then safety  calls for someone walking around in the real world.  He expalined the cause for each test result and his plan of attack.  He took an educated gamble that even though the Tarceva was poisoning me, it was still better to stay on it at a lower dose then go off it completely hoping that my blood work would level out.  And he was right, the last blood results showed a significant improvement, although the levels are still very much in concern.  His plan now is to keep watching with blood tests every 2 weeks and seeing him at least once a month.

But my question was did I have lung cancer.  I was sort of kidding, but now I was curious where he was going to go.  The last set of numbers he showed me on his power point presentation charts that he must have shown others before me was the cancer markers.  He moved through the presentation with such ease and practice.  Well, there are only 2 of us as far as I know that have the type of lung cancer I have being treated at Thomasville.  Only 2 of us on the Tarceva, so I am sure that when the doctors get together at their staff meetings they probably do discuss certain cases.  

Anyway, he showed me where my cancer marker had been very high when I first came in. And he showed how the number has been coming down slowly throughout the different treatments.  And this last blood test?  My cancer marker number is in the range of a normal person.  Do I have lung cancer?  Yes.  Stage 4? Yes.  But Dr. M's treatments have knocked it back and now has it contained.  Contained.  This is the best word I can hope for.  And I will take it.

So that means everything is OK, right?  Well, sort of, I can maintain this containment for as long as my body is strong enough to handle the chemo.  As I understand it some people can be on this drug for years.  But eventually it just takes a toll on your body and you have to say the treatment for the cancer is now worse then the cancer itself.  But years.  I can have years.

And not just years of being sick and restricting my life.  No, I am talking about living a full sensible life.  Nothing hard on my liver, like alcohol, but shoot, if I can give up my hair I can surely give up my glass of wine, or the rare gin and tonic or cosmo.  No more teeny tini's, and limit my stress, and do not physically wear myself down.  And I will retire and see if I can get a part time job low on stress, and I will spend time healing in my gardens, walking with my dogs and cats, laughing at my chickens and pretending I don't have too many rabbits.

Normal range.  

Life seems a little lighter and happier.  I know I will still have to deal with this cancer, and I know that normal range is not normal.  But it is good news, and Dr. M is proud of what we have accomplished.  

And I asked Dr. M if I could treat him to a murder mystery.  He said his wife loves murder mysteries.  I said she will love this one.  So I emailed him the dates.  I hope he calls me and lets me get him tickets to come. I dreamed last night that he did come and I got up to introduce the play and I started with introducing a very famous doctor, the man who had saved my life and I pointed at Dr. M and he stood up and waved all around, and you could hear the mummer of people asking if that was Antonio Banderas.  I woke up feeling very grateful for Dr. M and for Dr. Susan for making the reference so that I got to see Dr. M.  And I am grateful for her brother Rich for all he has done for me, but mostly for telling his sister what I was going through so she could step forward and volunteer to help me when I was being told that I had 6 months to live.

And my friend who just found out he has Stage 4 lung cancer met with Dr. Newman, the best radiation oncologist in the world, in my humble opinion.  I asked him wasn't he mesmerized by her eyes?  He said he was, but that she could not do anything for him.  I had not said anything to him about radiation, and that they can not treat lung cancer with radiation because they can not shoot the lungs with out damaging them right along with the cancer.  

So now I am doing what my friends who are nurses and doctors or have been through the cancer world did to me, not saying things.  I don't feel like I have the right to tell him things before he meets with his doctors, because what do I know?  I am an entomologist, not a human medical educated person.  I only know what I have been through and what I have learned about my own treatments.  

Now I understand why my friends did not say anything to me either.  And then when I got to work today there was a message from my friend, saying he needed to talk to me.  So I called his wife and got his work number and called him this morning.  He told me about what the doctor told him about not being a candidate for radiation.  I don't know why they put him through that?  They gave him hope that maybe there is a treatment to make this go away.

And maybe there is a treatment.  But I know it is not radiation.  We talked about that, and he felt better, realizing it is not that he is beyond hope, but that treatment is just not the right one.  He needs to meet with an oncologist and hear what they think they can do.  Then he needs to get a second opinion, regardless of what this doctor says.  I would be in such better shape at this point if I had.  But I just stepped on to the standard medical train and hung on as it roared down the tracks of chemo, radition, tests and infusions.  It is easier. You don't know what to do or ask.  I had never had cancer before, how would I know what to do? And each person still has to make the decision that is right for them.  But I keep pushing him hard to get a second opinion.  I can't do much more then listen to him.  And it is good to have an ear of someone who has been through this.  Ms Judy does that for me.  But I can also do this for him, push, prod, plead for him to get a second opinion regardless of what the first oncologist says.

He is strong and seems like a fighter.  I know that he will fight his fight with cancer and do it well. I have chosen not to fight, but to try and be the best I can be. And sometimes I am, and other times, not so much.  But his wife will fight for him also.  And that is the best you can ask for in this disease a fight to fight standing side by side with your partner in life.  

The peeps are getting to be chickens.  Teenage chickens.  And they can hop in and out of the tub.  Mostly out.  But the tub is not containing them.  But the 3 smallest ones have just gotten their tales.  I hate putting them outside until they have wings and tails.  And I need to be here the entire first day they are moved outside.  They will go into a cage into the coop. But you have to make sure the cage is right, they can not stick their heads out and get stuck. That they have safe access to food and water.  And well, just worry and fuss over them as they go from the safe small closed world of the bathroom, outside.

And then to clean that bathroom.  I think it will take a bottle of bleach, straight and a hazmat suit.  Good thing I have access to that.  

Today was our lunch to celebrate Rachel's birthday.  She asked for Paneria.  And we all ate together in the conference room and we sat back for a few minutes to just talk and be together, each of us nervous as addicts being away from our desks and work.  So much to do, we all itched to get back to it.

And I feel strong and happy again today.  I guess the chemical imbalances are back at a level I can live with.  I don't know but I feel like that over happy Pollyanna that you just want to choke.  Yep, that is me, and I like it!  And my peeps are no longer peeps, but are real chickens.  And tomorrow I will start making Jack and Jan's wedding cake.  And then go to celebrate with them their marriage.  And the next day?  I will play hookie form rehearsals to go to garden circle where the speaker is going to talk about propagating plants in this area.  And I will keep working on the robe for Thuggee, and rest and enjoy time in the garden.

life is good. 
good news
chickens with tails
life is good.

1 comment:

  1. This is the best blog post EVER! Kathleen- you are a light in this world and I get to be your friend! Great gratitude and gratefulness on my part. Indeed!
    Oh love. You are so wonderful.