How will Santa know where to find me?

My one medical update is that I FINALLY was granted the procedure to have a g-tube placed. This is a tube that goes through my stomach that attaches to a small pouch. If I feel as if I am obstructed instead of having to go to the ER and spend months in the hospital on bowel rest, all I need to do is excuse myself and empty my pouch. I will not have to rely so much on uncooperative intestines.

I’m in a lot of pain but have a small pain button that administers IV meds continuously at a very low dose. Every ten minutes it can push a larger dose by patient request (by pressing button). It is also controlled in such a way that patients cannot overdose. No worries, friends! No accidental OD’s here.

So as much as I didn’t want a g-tube this summer, I know that this is necessary and dare I say it-

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I think I’m glad I got one…

 

 

So I thought good and hard about what I wanted to share with you.There are the miserable weeks upon weeks of pain, uncertainty, fear, blood, procedures, guilt, what feels unfair.  I could tell you about how part of me is ready to escape these walls and seek the comfort of Cory and my little house in our little town on our little street.

 

So instead I’m going to share with you how spending EVERY holiday in the hospital didn’t totally suck. I’m not saying that there aren’t better ways to spend your holidays but it’s not all doom and gloom when you’re surrounded by the right people.

 

Christmas

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The nurses decorated my room, hung a stocking, and left two unopened gifts. It turned out to be a fuzzy robe and slippers paying it forward from a previous patient. So nice! The last perfect touch was Maggy’s poinsiettta.

I was truly disappointed not to have “our firsts” together in the new house like our first christmas tree or our first cookie decorating(eating til’ we puke) night. More than anything I was looking forward to watching Christmas Vacation together per our tradition. That said, it will make next year’s Christmas list.

 

New Years 2017

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I expecting a low key night with my handsome fella and Stacey  but I was double surprised when  my other wolf pup sista, Michelle, walked through the door! It was the best surprise. I am sad that I don’t have a pic of all of us and that I felt so crummy around 10:30 forcing myself to bed early. Then again 2016 kinda sucked so I suppose it was fine to bow out of the old year early. Cory, Michelle and Stacey could have been anywhere else with anyone else having a much more exciting night (or at least experienced better people watching. Thanks love buckets 🙂

The next day I experienced some more home town lovin’ from my girl Jaclyn in the afternoon. She hauled her law school hehind down from Boston to check in. Thanks to school her life these days is very often not her own so I was appreciative that homegirl could come.

 

Last but not least,

My 29th Birthday

Before I go into any detail about my actual birthday I must remind those that have infrequent encounters with nurses. These are not just the people that take blood pressure and take your temperature. Nurses are the special breed of super-human, caffeine-driven, part-scientist, part-mathematician, part-mind reader, part-social worker, part -cheerleader, part ass-kicker, will not take no for an answer cherry on top of your day advocate. If anything they are just like you and me but profoundly better in every way.

So it should be no surprise that with my luck, my birthday fell on a day that I’m STILL living in the hospital. I mean, that’s bad enough but I’m also still NPO which means I cannot eat or drink anything besides an occasional ice chip (edit: as of this evening I can have liquids). Emily found a solution for that 😉

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This is how it went down from the real beginning:

12:01am: Entire 3rd shift nursing staff enters my room to sing the Happy Birthday Song (I’m already full of happy tears)

Throughout the next day there seemed to be a never ending supply of gifts and flowers and love! My day nurse luckily only had me at the time and treated me to a gorgeous manicure.

 

 

Even the residents doing their oncology rotation remembered and put together a little hand made card.

 

My parents were here! Just when I though this day couldn’t get any better…

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Oh an Alicia jumped out of a “cake” clothed for the sake of  HR and all that fun stuff haha…

 

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I think this final picture of the gift from the 4th fool holds strongest meaning to me. If you sent me something beautiful that did not make it onto the blog this time please know that I am truly appreciative of your love and know that you are with me in spirit.

 

That’s all I have for you for now.

-NG tube is OUT WOO!

-G tube is IN

-I can now drink  clear and full liquids 🙂

Thanks again for keeping my chin and spirits up over the past weeks. I have never felt alone.

Centering mind & body with family & pie

I hope that everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday! Hopefully you did not have to rush off to work just yet (sorry Jacque! Retail is a buzz kill).

Thanksgiving this year was different than usual. Because I was scheduled to receive chemo the day after Thanksgiving, it would just be too much for me to drive back to Torrington and home again in 24 hours. Despite the gracious offer to join my cousins, my parents and I had a modified low-key Thanksgiving together on the Cape. We had a phenomenal four course traditional meal at the Daniel Webster Inn. Afterward, my mom and I whipped up a delicious apple pie and a loaf of banana bread using the secret family recipe. I have yet to eat banana bread that rivals my mother’s so it was nice to share this piece of our family history with her.

We ended the night with a marathon of Rummikub. To keep things interesting, I forced my parents to adopt silly rules and claimed them to be “new house rules”. This involved making by parents flap their arms like birds and yell “caw-caw, caw-caw!” whenever they had two tiles remaining.

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I adore my family and do not get to see them often as we are a bit spread out in a few states. As much as I would have liked to share this holiday with my extended family I think it was in my best interest to have a quiet break from life for a couple days in Mashpee. I was able to decompress and recenter myself. I can honestly say I feel much better than when I last wrote.

As I mentioned, today began yet another new cycle of chemo. I received both Taxol and Avastin. I am thrilled that W&I was able to fit me for an early afternoon infusion so that I did not have to rush back from the Cape early in the morning.

**Bonus** There was a therapy dog today! So many kisses and snuggles were had by all!

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Today I receive the updated CA-125. The numbers came back as just over 600, meaning it has doubled since the last reading. Considering the infection that I’ve been fending off, stress, and feeling rundown I am not at all surprised that my numbers shot up. That said, I’m not upset either (and no, this isn’t one of those times where I’m putting on a brave face but secretly sad on the inside. I’m very legitimately okay with this). I chalk this one up to a ‘not-great reading’ and hope that my body is in better condition for the next one.

In the interest of remaining focused on a more positive frame of mind, I want to share a gift from one of my students:

(I appreciate Kim providing me written consent to share her name as well as this gift with you.)

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Relay for Life 2015- Nelly (left), Kim (center), Me (right)

The context surrounding this gift is that before Kim became my advisee, we had crossed paths through Relay for Life and the Izzy Foundation. We bonded over our common experience of being young with cancer and that evolved into her joining my caseload in Advising. She is a stellar student and has a big heart for those around her. I can happily say that she is now cancer-free.

Through Kim, I met another wonderful girl named Nelly. Nelly was a patient at Hasbro with Kim and they became the best of friends under horrible circumstances. Nelly had been fighting Ewing Sarcoma but her suffering came to an end last weekend when she earned her angel wings.

Kim was the first to share the news with me and all weekend I worried about her. When someone close to you passes it is quite obviously devastating. When someone close to you passes of a disease you can relate to there are complex levels of emotion- fear, anger, mourning, survivor’s guilt, etc. It can be hard for some to process.

On Monday afternoon I returned from lunch to find a purple gift bag on my office chair. It contained a card and the framed picture above. Kim had written on every square inch of this card. It then dawned on me that while I was worried all weekend about her, she was also concerned for me.

Below is an excerpt from her card. It helped me to find perspective and I think it can speak to all of us on some level:

“I made this frame myself. There are many flaws and even some scratches, but they represent scars. When I first made this frame, it gave me issues, so I re-did part of it. I didn’t start new because I felt as though the scars (scratches) tell a story, just as all of our do. I kept it like this to show how perfection isn’t everything. Our lives are far from perfect, but we still manage to survive and get through every day.”

I think we can agree that my student is wise beyond her years. There are no accidents in life and this card arrived at a moment when I needed an influx of reminders that it’s okay not feel strong all the time. Beauty still exists within our imperfect worlds.

I consider myself so lucky to work with students with such heart. When people say to me: “I don’t know how you work through all of this!” I wish I could let them be flies on the wall for these kinds of moments packed with such genuine human connectedness.

So in short (HA! Right…) I feel that I am slowly returning to a more centered frame of mind. I am not currently feeling the stress and sadness that lingered over the past few days and I am getting excited for the weeks to come both in and out of work.

Cheers friends, have a happy and safe weekend!

ENJOY ALL OF THOSE LEFTOVER TREATS!

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