Recovering as George

First, I must thank you for the outpouring of support over the past week while I spent four nights in the hospital resolving the obstruction in my small intestine. The words of encouragement mean more than you know especially when you feel like much is out of your realm of control.

I was discharged on Wednesday and have been trying, successfully I might add, to proceed with a high level of self-care. I pretty much needed to fight all of my natural instincts. So basically I’m operating on the “Constanza Principle”…

 

  • Instinct #1: I haven’t been at work in many days and I have to go back on Thursday or the world will explode
    • Opposite action: I was strongly encouraged and well supported by my supervisors and colleagues to return on Monday when I was feeling better. I was admittedly starting to feel anxious as my inbox piled up with questions that I couldn’t necessarily answer from home so I made a compromise with myself. I slept in on Thursday and at my leisure went to my office for an hour MAX, closed my office door, knocked out enough to feel less anxious, and went home.
  • Instinct #2: I am discharged which should mean that things are improving. There is nothing to talk about.
    • Opposite action: The night I was discharged one of the first things I did was email Dana, my social worker, at the hospital and ask for an appointment this week to “debrief”.
      • I will write more about this next week but one thing I have learned time and time again and not properly addressed is that when you are hospitalized you have experienced a trauma (anyone who truly understands what it’s like to have an NG tube placed while you’re awake can give me a chorus of “amen sister!”). Trauma’s are not all blood and gore- you are in a vulnerable position, you are not in control of what is happening to you, it is a trauma, period.
      • I went into my appointment not fully knowing what I wanted to talk about. Truly, I walked in there feeling pretty stable. As I anticipated there are issues that bubbled up that started with the hospitalization and weaved into other concerns both medical and non-medical. This appointment was the best gift that I gave myself this week. To express certain concerns out loud, to validate feelings, to have a good cry in a safe space where I don’t feel inclined to edit my thoughts- it was truly healing. I’m glad I nipped this in the bud.
  • Instict #3: Resting = Sitting in pajamas and binge watching TV
    • Opposite action: 
      • Ok fine I totally binge watched The Wire and old episodes of Veep on HBO. BUT I honored myself in other ways too!
      • I invested in my body by booking a massage at the Alayne White Spa. I didn’t truly know how many knots existed in my back until I got on that table. At one point I was face down and was so relaxed that I dosed off. I woke up to my mouth gaped open like an idiot and I was totally drooling on the floor through that little face hole. I’m 99.9% sure I didn’t drool on the massage therapist’s sneakers. Fingers crossed.
        • Funny aside: As I was on my way out post-massage I ran into Heather (infusion center nurse manager) and Nancy (4th floor oncology nurse). They were there for facials that they won at a silent auction. One would think that any reminder of the hospital the day after a hospitalization would conjure up negative feelings. I was just so happy to see these lovely faces outside of a medical setting I had to fight back happy-tears.
      • In addition to the massage I also treated myself to some time in one of the more peaceful venues in Providence, The Duck and Bunny. I enjoyed a quiet snack of crusty break drizzled with olive oil with Narragansett  Creamery ricotta and a pot of chamomile tea. It was calming and so good for the soul.
  • Instinct #4: I’m out of the hospital which means I’m capable of doing things for myself
    • Opposite action: Sucking it up and letting people offer their help because it just makes life easier
      • Mom and Dad cleaned up and did my laundry so I could come home to minimal work (seriously, gems). Also after arriving home after 15 minutes of me trying to convince them that I’d “figure out” something for lunch, I gave in and let them indulge me in a sandwich from Olga’s. I would have probably made a PBJ so they called my bluff.
      • Katie “Mamamamamabear” Carlson gave me a ride to Beth and Brendan’s house to dye easter eggs with her family. Sure, I could drive myself but it was very nice to have a ride. (p.s. I’m not very good at dying easter eggs #jewishkidproblems)

 

So there we go, trying desperately to practice self-care that I speak so highly of but don’t often practice.

Off to spend the weekend with my parents and back to work on Monday, hello sh-normalcy!

 

 

 

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Izspiration

When I speak to others about my experience I can’t help but always discuss the silver linings. As I have discussed at length in this forum, one of these silver linings was finding the perfect medical team. 

I was fully prepared to take an Ativan every time I walked in the door at Women & Infants Hospital. As it turns out, these people have become like family to me and some are legitimately close friends. My chemo nurse Sheila and I hang out at least once a week. It is clear to me that the right people come into your life at the appropriate time.

Last night I got dressed up to go to Feb Fest, a casino night to benefit “The Izzy Foundation”. This non-profit was started to help my oncologist and her husband fund medical expenses for their daughter who was diagnosed with Stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma two weeks after her first birthday. Izzy passed on two years following her diagnosis. From the stories I was told she was happy, vibrant, loving, and generous.

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She “Izspired” people all around the world. Now, in her memory, The Izzy Foundation lives on to help families and children with debilitating diseases. 

Last night’s event brought in a great crowd! Not only did we get to contribute to an amazing cause, but I also got to spend quality time with my medical team. I mean, how often does a patient get to do wine tasting and play blackjack alongside her doctors and nurses? 

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Here are some highlights:

1.) Our fabulous black jack dealer! It as no secret that we were inexperienced so he would offer tips like: “are you SURE you want to hit?” or “MAYBE you should double your bet”. 

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2.) Sheila & Sarah just killing it at the black jack table

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3.) Dr. Robison and her husband announcing the raffle winners. Unfortunately I did NOT win the tropical timeshare I was hoping for. Oh well. My money still went to kids with illness so that is a win regardless.

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4.) This is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met. We have been through a lot together in the past year and I am standing here today because of her brilliance. My beautiful oncologist, Dr. Robison!

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5.) Of course, the trifecta: Chemo nurse, Gyn. Oncologist, & Patient. They crush cancer for a living and I crush cancer to live 🙂

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What a great start to a big week!

To come:

Today: Superbowl/eating until I feel sick

Monday- I am back to work full time! 

Wednesday- My fundraiser for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition!

 

Updates to follow 🙂