Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cold Comfort & Warm Hearts

As you know, I particularly dreaded this chemo round. So God's comfort began before treatment on Sunday. Our church had a special Ascent service, a modern hymns movement concert and worship service that included communion, foot-washing, healing anointing and prayer. The music was beautifully done and encouraged vocal improvisation that I really enjoy. Then the music took a more contemplative turn as worshipers were invited to the ministries at the sides of the sanctuary. It is distressing to me when I am too sick to come to communion, so this was His gracious banquet to strengthen me. The prayer warrior I spoke with for prayer knew my general illness, but not the details. Unusually, she anointed my hands with oil, not my head. Coincidence? I thought it was all over, but an old friend pulled me aside and wanted to wash my feet, "because she loves me". It was an astonishing revelation of the Body of Christ. Some fed the spirit, some the heart and some...comforted the poor broken places they didn't even know they touched.

Chemo #3 yesterday began rather discouragingly, when the nurses had trouble accessing my port. The port is a surgically-implanted catheter into a major artery, giving access with minimum damage to veins to all the infusions I'll need plus allowing all the blood samples to be collected easily and with a minimum number of stabs. The tubing inside had gotten both kinked and clogged at the end. The nurses were creative and patient, but they still had to draw blood at another site. The good news is that they got it working for the chemo infusions - so no damage to peripheral veins. This could become a real problem, since this port should serve me for a whole year.

This time, I tried my naturopath's latest suggestion for minimizing the debilitating burning in my hands & feet. While I was taking the bad-boy chemo infusion, I immersed my hands and feet in icy water. This constricts the blood flow, limiting the amount of taxotere that is delivered to the afflicted areas.

I had a bit of swelling & burning in my hands last night, so I thought it hadn't worked. But I took some Apis (made from bee venom - go figure), and by morning, all the swelling & burning was gone. So maybe we have this under control. I will know for sure some time around Wednesday.

Meanwhile the "Merry Maids" from church came to make my house feel like home again. Not only did they clean it top to bottom, changing sheets and towels, but they left a fragrant soup in the crock pot, and my favorite flowers smiling out of surprising nooks throughout the house. Best of all, they left the benediction of their special prayers in all the living areas.

Mom & Dad completely rearranged their lives to schlep me around town in case I should be too dizzy after chemo to be a safe driver, and then to be with me overnight as well. My cup runneth over.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wigging Out

So last weekend, my wallet fell out of my pocket on a walk. Naturally it had disappeared when I retraced my path a few minutes later. I was closing bank accounts when it hit me. I'll need a new drivers' license...with a new OFFICIAL photo...of me! I ran through my options. I could go bald (aackk!), a scary proposition for everyone concerned. I could wear a hat...which they'd ask me to remove (see option 1). I could wear a scarf, be mistaken for a Muslim, and be profiled every time I go through airport security for the next 3 years. I had to go lie down.

Finally, a friend offered me a loaner wig in pretty much my hair color and a very different style than I am used to. All I had to do was put it on to feel like someone else. Would the DMV think I was someone else, too? I'd have to risk it. Luckily no one in officialdom suspected, and I will see the resultant photo next week. Will I have to mutilate or 'lose' it? Time will tell.

My next chemo is Monday. I dread this one than I expected. I can see that each treatment hits me harder than the one before. All my dear family will be out of town for most of next week.

But I'm not deserted. A group of ladies from church will be cleaning my house while I'm taking the treatment - I'll come home to a sparkling house. I will be leaning hard on my Mom & Dad for driving & emergencies - bless them! And our deacons are bringing over meals several times during the week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CarePages echo #2


Thanks for your prayers this weekend. Monday I took a turn for the better and today, I'm beginning to feel human again.

My Doc chirpily told me on Monday that all of my difficulties were within the bounds of normal expectations for this type of chemo. Well, the burning hands & feet concerned her enough to consider reducing my taxotere dose in the next round. While I'm glad to know that I won't be having to spend my most miserable days in the ER, I'm a little daunted by the prospect of anticipating this stuff in the ordinary course of affairs.

At this rate, I'm useless for a good ten days following chemo. I find being a virtual invalid as difficult as the actual symptoms. My good friend, Sandy, a breast cancer survivor, put things into perspective for me over coffee last week. "Asking for help is one of the things God wants you to be able to do."

It was an Aha! moment. These disabilities are practice for expanded ability. Ps 104 reminded me today that the waters that drowned and shrouded the mountains as they rose as scars on a broken earth, are the same waters that nourish man and nature today. All wine-gladdened feasts, all forested wonders, all mysteries of the seas flow from springs that frolic down the craigged remnants of that terrible judgment.

So once again, it's not about what we have been. It's about who we must become.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CarePages posts now here, too

After receiving several distressed messages from friends whose computers don't want to be friends with CarePages, I agreed to post the CarePages notes here as well. If you want to subscribe here, you can set your preferences to email you when I post, just like on care pages. See the sidebar. Sorry to all of you who are seeing this for the second time. Here are the last two CarePages posts.

Chemo #2: Natural Therapies Pay Off

This second round of chemo started with 2 hours worth of labs and tests. (They took more blood than sparkly Edward.) But the results showed that the fasting across the chemo toxicity, and the naturopathic supplements (not to mention the prayers) have been having a significant protective effect. Most of my blood counts were still in the normal range, only two dropped just below the line. And my kidney function, which is expected to be impaired by the Avastin trial, actually increased!

I am very encouraged because the first round of chemo is an especially heavy dose the Doc calls the loading dose. The rest of the treatments are smaller maintenance doses.

Today I will start a few new supplements to combat the Hand & Foot syndrome reaction, which is already showing itself again. I am hoping to upload a music video of a setting for Ps 123, which I wrote, before my fingers get too burned to play. Ps 123 has become my theme song for cancer. I'm not in charge; I'm not in control, but I'll take my cues from the Master whose hand I watch intently.

Watch for it on my blog: www.mother-lode.blogspot.com If you subscribe, you can set your preferences to email you a note when I update there. You can also follow me on Twitter @KimAMotherLode. When I tweet about cancer observations I use the hashtag #kcancer

As the Stomach Turns

Well, this morning (Sunday) I woke to find the world spinning at a different rate than my insides. It must have been a riot watching me try to walk to the bathroom or even to sit up. Of course, none of my gentlemen watched (the girls are back at school). They leaned in to brace me to the straight path.

Against my better judgement, but in obedience to Dr's orders, I spent most of the day in the ER trying to run down the cause of my extreme dizziness & vomiting. The ER did its best to find out: CAT scans, x-rays, blood tests - the whole nine yards. In the end, they sent me home full of Benadryl and nausea meds with a big shrug of their collective shoulders. Jack says the good news is that they ruled out brain tumors and other shadowy horrors. I just feel sheepish - and slightly green.

I think the good news is that the dizziness has mostly passed. I have kept my dinner down, and had a good nap into the bargain. I was well enough this evening to go to a gathering of church musicians, in celebration of God's power not to let this disease have the last word in my life.

Tomorrow, I have a follow-up appointment with my oncologist. Please pray that she will have some insight into the dizzy episode, as it doesn't seem actually to be over. My hands & feet continue to blister, making basic chores mostly beyond me. Grr!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Things You Can't Do Without Cancer

Faithful followers will recall that God served me up this little Short Term Project (STP) this fall: breast cancer. And that I resolved (not merely) to beat it. So I've been looking for the things I couldn't have done without it. Thought you might like to have a preliminary look at my current list.

Without cancer you can't:
  • Participate in clinical trials for new cancer drugs or natural therapies.
  • Tear out your hair in clumps for emotional release or personal revenge (ask me later).
  • Justify ordering people to fetch, carry, scrub, cook, open jars, or be your hands and feet without feeling guilty.
  • Dress like a pirate queen in a business setting and keep your job.
  • Inspire half a dozen co-workers to stick with the South Beach Diet through the Christmas holiday.
  • Find a moral imperative in a hair-do or lack thereof (story for another day).
  • See sunsets, snowstorms, Christmas trees or children's faces clearly enough.
  • Catch a glimpse of the Bride in all her compassionate splendor as she dispenses gifts from Christ's bounty.


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