Friday, April 18, 2014

A Rainbow After the Storm- Literally.

Warning: This post contains graphic material

The last time I left you I was just starting radiation and my mom was just released from the hospital. I am happy to report my Mom has been doing great at home and has started to make a valiant effort in taking better care of herself. In the midst of all of these things just pouring over me; the pain, my mom being hospitalized, and the crazy amount of stress a rainbow appeared . . . literally. It was snowing, and it was freezing outside and out of nowhere this rainbow showed up. I snapped the picture above of the rainbow over our house. It was as if God was sending me a direct message: "I promise it will be okay" He whispered to me. He said it would be okay, he didn't say it would be easy.

Within a couple days of radiation I felt the fatigue hit me pretty hard. At first I wasn't sure if it was fatigue from radiation or from life in general. The girls became very sick and had spiked fevers and kept me up all night vomiting. I had noticed I also became very nauseated and was barely eating. I thought maybe I had caught a little bug from them. Every day we were trying to find someone to watch SJ and one of the girls so I could head over for my radiation treatments and every day my stomach issues seemed to become worse. I kept reminding myself "You only have 10 fractions; you can get this done, easy-peasy lemon squeezey." I felt the start of a sinus infection coming on, but I trekked through. Last Monday I had to take Lily to the doctor, her fever had gotten above 103 and she had eaten in days. I couldn't make it to radiation, I hadn't slept and I was feeling worse and worse. Well, I was not prepared in any way for what would come next. The following morning, my stomach had started to cramp very bad. I went to the bathroom and didn't leave for a solid hour. My stomach just tried getting whatever was in me out, whether I had to go or not. My whole body seemed to wretch from my mouth and my bum. I couldn't stop going to the bathroom. It wasn't right. The cramps were horrendous. They were worse than childbirth. I screamed in pain. It was unlike any pain I had ever felt. It just wasn't right. And when I wiped- there was blood. Steve rushed me over to the Radiation Center where I seen the doctor right away. Based on my symptoms and a rectal exam, I was starting in to bowel damage. Unfortunately, radiation kills cancer cells but it also damages normal tissue cells. Since I was having my pelvis radiated, my colon, rectum and bladder were all susceptible to radiation damage. The doctor put me on a low-residue (low fiber) diet and gave me two extra days off from radiation. I followed it for a couple days and was feeling better. It seemed to pass as quickly as it came. By that Friday it started all over again and if it was possible; hurt worse than last time. There was more blood and mucus. I assumed the episode was just me not listening to the doctor and eating McD's one day that I felt better. "That's what you get" I thought to myself. Since it was so late in the evening I figured I would just tell the doctor on Monday and would be okay through the weekend. My nausea got worse over the weekend and I was eating once a day. My stomach was so upset I physically could not eat. I only had one more fraction of radiation. I could do this. 

When I went in for my last radiation fraction Iz Kamakawiwo'Ole version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" played while I laid there for treatment. It is one of my favorite songs of all time. Here it was again, the rainbow, and a whisper: "It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it and it will be okay". When my treatment was done I sat up by myself, unassisted. I got done from the table by myself. The radiation seemed to have done its job and my pain from the tumors in the pelvis had significantly decreased. I no longer had a constant pain and could lay flat on a table with minimal pain. This, of course, did not come without cost. 

The next day, the cramping started again. I sat in the bathroom for over an hour this time screaming and crying in pain. My whole body shook. I hadn’t eaten, I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom and the pain was so severe I just knew there was more damage than what anybody thought. It was worse than childbirth; and when a woman says that that’s some crazy-ass pain. Even though my body had nothing left to get out, I still dry heaved and my belly still had spasms as if it did. My doctor sent me straight to the ER. There was enough blood and mucus to be concerned but not enough that I needed a blood transfusion or needed to stay. It was quite apparent that I had bowel damage, which if not treated could lead to more serious complications. I was given a slew of medication to help stop the cramping, ease my pain and heal my colon and rectum.

If you wanna test your relationship with someone, ask a friend to help you administer medicine rectally and see what they say. Hehe! Although I had one friend volunteer and my mom never hesitated to say she’d help me. But it’s cool, no mom, friend or husband of mine is shoving anything up my butt. I don’t care if I have to try for an hour, I will be administering this medication by myself. 

I had another mini-meltdown. It is utterly amazing to me what I have to put my body through in order to either kill or shrink this stupid cancer. In order to live longer and have a better quality of life I have to subject myself to fatigue, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, nose bleeds, mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, psoriasis, weight gain, broken nails, numb toes, optic nerve swelling, loss of vision- that’s just insane. Pity parties for me come and go but this one is officially over. I am done with radiation. 

The real test comes next week. I have all of my scans to check on my tumors. IF everything is stable, we may start to discuss planning my bi-lateral mastectomy. I just keep remembering the rainbow. This will all be worth it. 

I hear babies cry and I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more than we'll know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world world

Someday I'll wish upon a star,
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That's where you'll find me