Encouraged by the former English teacher who said she would have given my last post an A (as well as all the other wonderfully kind comments I received), I am here writing another one. I can’t make any promises about the quality continuing, however. I still wish that it could be Elisa writing again, as I love reading her work. It never fails to put a smile on my face, a tear in my eye or a laugh in my belly. However, she has been having a very rough week since her first treatment and has been too sick to write. She is finally getting a little sleep next to me now.
First, I want to say how overwhelmed we both are by the amazing people that we know and many that we don’t know, who are reaching out to us with such wonderful messages of support. Those messages of inspiration and encouragement really mean a lot to us. Additionally, Elisa and I are just stunned by the fact that our friends and family have started a website to collect donations for a trust fund that has been set up to help offset some of the financial burdens that we are facing. Since neither of can work right now, this is a major stress relief for us. I cannot begin to express how grateful we are and how moved we are by the generosity and love that we are receiving. Thank you all. Thank you so, so much.
Next, let me bring you up to date since the last post. Friday morning didn’t start off well for me and I was a little concerned that I was going to have to head into the hospital on the first day of nice weather in weeks. I was having some rather intense intestinal pain. I was not so much surprised by having pain, since I have had that since early November; more it was the intensity of the pain that took me by surprise. It felt like a hot poker was being dragged around the inside of my gut. I don’t actually know what that feels like, but I am guessing it couldn’t hurt too much more. However, this is not why I knew I was going to have to go to the hospital… this is just why going to the hospital was going to be that much shittier. I was going to have to go to the hospital because I was having irregular heartbeats, or palpitations. Various heart conditions are one of the possible side effects of chemo, so the doctors always want to know if anything strange is going on with your ticker. I actually had first felt them on Wednesday, but there were just a couple, so I paid them no mind. However, Thursday night they were continuous for up to ten minutes and they kept happening all morning. So I called the doctor and was told I had to go directly to the urgent care center. Doctors are so predictable!
So began the day of tests. I was hooked up to an EKG to monitor my heart, which of course, had stage fright and preformed perfectly normally for the first half hour. Eventually they started seeing the spikes. They were not sure what was causing them; all the blood work came back “normal” (for a chemo patient, that is – they would keep you in the hospital if your blood count was as low as mine is for no reason). So I was off to get a CT of my chest to check for a blood clot in my lungs and they threw in an x-ray of my abdomen to see what was causing all of the pain down there.
Results: my chest was clear (sigh of relief) but I was full of shit. Literally. My whole intestinal tract was like the Holland Tunnel at 8:45am. So still not knowing what was causing the heart palpitations, I was sent home wearing an EKG recording device that would monitor my heart for 24 hours. There is still no word on what they have found from that information. They said that the beats themselves were not dangerous. My heart was firing a beat too early. "Could be stress related," they said. Not sure what could be causing that! So finally we were back home by 5pm. Elisa, my brother Joel and I were just exhausted from anther long day in a hospital.
That night Elisa suggested that we go stay at her good friend’s apartment, who had just gone out of town that morning; we wanted to be able to have a day of quiet and calm and at least be out of our apartment for a change. It is near Central Park, so we thought we might even go for a walk in the park. We planned to drop Sadie off at her mom’s around 9 AM. By 1PM we were out the door and heading to the city. Life never seems to go as planned. The afternoon started off ok, but Elisa started to feel the effects of her chemo from Thursday kick in. I am not sure why, but the worst days seem to start a full day after your treatment. She was feeling nauseous and was having a lot of muscle and intestinal pain plus a headache to top it off. We tried to get her to eat a little dinner and it seemed to help for a couple of minutes…before we discovered that we have only thrown another log on the fire. She got worse as it got later. Around 8pm we took her temperature. She had a low fever. When you are being treated with chemo, a fever of 100.4 means you go to the ER. So we kept a close watch, taking her temperature every ten minutes. Unfortunately it is rising fast and within a half hour we are up to 100.1. So I put a call into the doctor and wait for the call back. During this time I become convinced that my heart palpitations are stress related as they have kicked into full gear. We get the call back from the doctor and predictably we are told to go to the ER. We start to get or selves prepared to leave. Making some calls to see who might be able to come help out at the hospital as it would not be healthy for me to stay there all night with her. I really start hating my cancer at that moment. By the time we are dress, packed up and ready to walk out the door, Elisa says that she is not feeling quite as hot and maybe we should check her temp one more time before we go. That woman has great instincts! Her fever has dropped some. We decide to hold off leaving and take it again in ten minutes in the hopes that the fever is passing. Jackpot! It keeps dropping in about an hour it is back down to a mild fever. We make the call not to send anther night at the hospital and just keep a close watch on her temperature for the rest of the night.
We called our friends and cousins in the medical field to make sure that this is not foolish and we got the “ok”. If only all the other symptoms that Elisa was having would have passed, too. But they remained and we are now on day six of her feeling terrible. Nothing seems to help with the nausea. Some of the pain meds they prescribed help temporarily with the muscle pain. Sleep is fitful. Nothing seems to help. It makes you feel so powerless, so inept at not to being able to do anything. So I fetch water, help her back and forth from the bathroom, stroke her hair, and hold her when she cries. I am grateful that I am having some better days at the moment and can do all this. At the same time I, we, both know that this is probably not always going to be the case.
It is a little overwhelming to think about us both feeling sick like this at the same time for the next several months. We are so lucky that my brother has been staying with us for the past week and helping with everything. So lucky that Elisa’s mother is close by and able to come over whenever we need an extra hand. So blessed by everyone who has been making wonderful food. So blessed to have an amazing friend as a neighbor to handle the receiving of the food, holding on to it until she knows it is a good time to bring it over. We are lucky to have our friends and cousins who have been picking up and dropping off our darling Sadie on the days that she has day care. There are so many daily things that have become more difficult to carry out, and this love and support is so immensely helpful and appreciated.
Elisa has her second chemo treatment tomorrow and I have my fourth the following day. We are both a little nervous. This will be our first weekend together having both had chemo.