Round two- Chemotherapy
Round Two – Chemo
My 30-day period at Emory hospital was finally over and I could now go home for a few days to recuperate. I would be home for two weeks and then return to continue treatment, that would bring to early May. While I was at home, I had to visit the Emory clinic twice a week for blood transfusions and other procedures. Two of those procedures were a lumbar puncture and bone marrow biopsy. The bone marrow biopsy was easy but the lumbar puncture had the most painful after effect I ever experienced. I suffered spinal headaches or the headache from hell. I could not sleep, walk or even stand due to that excruciating headache. Although I drank lots of fluid before the LP which is highly recommend, it still gave me the most unbearable headache. In two weeks I was due back at Emory to continue my treatment and surprisingly, I was actually looking forward to it, anything to stop that headache
A port was inserted in my chest, in order to continue my treatment and I cried all the way to the hospital for the outpatient procedure. I wept because the spinal headache seemed like a permanent fixture as it literally started in my back and travelled to my head and was ticking loudly. When I arrived in admissions, to start my second round of treatment, I was in so much pain that I was asked to drink coke. Apparently the caffeine helps the headache, so I drank as much as I could.
I did not get my old room with a view on the hematology floor but I looked forward to see my favorite nurses. I was eager to start the treatment which included another dreaded lumbar puncture. Have I explained what a LP is? (Well a tiny puncture is made in the lower part of your spine and a needle is inserted to draw the spinal fluid and then replace that fluid with a cocktail of chemotherapy.) The fluid is then tested for cancer cells. I indicated to the doctor that I was not mentally and physically ready for another LP. I still had pain from the last one. They decided to do the LP 5 days later and also put me on caffeine pills to help with the headache…… You mean I could have had caffeine pills from day one?
Day one of treatment started well and we all anticipated it would continue that way. I received a cocktail of chemotherapy in the morning and in the evening. The treatment was very aggressive and I was just happy it was working. One of Eli’s Godmother had arrived to care for him while I was going through my treatment. I was truly blessed to have numerous loved ones. I would be at Emory for about 8 days and then go home.
My other two girlfriends and another of Eli’s God mother had also made plans to be with us in May so my husband and I decided that we should christen Eli then. This was something I was really looking forward to. While in the hospital we made all the arrangements with our church and the caterer. Elijah would be christened with friends and family as soon as I got discharged from the hospital. Due to the short notice, everyone would be invited via texts and phone calls. We planned on having a lunch after the church service, something small as we could not anticipate my condition after chemotherapy.
I was elated about planning the christening/luncheon as it gave me something to do while the treatment was being administered. Hospitals can be lonely and overbearing so it is always wise to have something to focus on instead of the reason why you are hospitalized.
My hair was finally coming off, everywhere at lightning speed except on my head for now. Yup, wherever hair is grown, the chemotherapy takes it away. It felt like you’re getting a daily Brazilian wax. The hair was dropping in little patches all over. I looked like a hairless cat with a bad shaving job. The treatments were completed and 8 days came and gone quite quickly. I had no serious side effects except the puking, darkened finger and toe nails, and lack of energy. The nurses ensured thay you exercise though, one mile a day round the nurse’s station. That was my daily exercise routine and I’m happy I adherred to it. My vitals were checked every eight hours, weight, temperature and oxygen level. I was doing well and was ready to go home. I had no appetite and could only handle a smoothie or a milk shake, everything else upset my stomach but I was strong and ready to go home to my Eli.
I was happy to be home with Eli and Agnes, my girlfriend/sister. She took the motherly role to care for Eli and myself. She said I needed to rest but I wanted to do everything. Her goal was to make me eat as she noticed the weight was dwindling off me. I wanted to do everything, (mentally ), but physically I just wanted to curl up in a bed and sleep for a few days. I was feeling so drained but I had to be strong as that’s what everyone kept on telling me. I could not show weakness, not at all.
All arrangements were in place for the christening and I decided that I needed some me time. I wanted a mani and pedi but decided against it as my immune system was very low and I did not want to get sick. I decided to get my hair shampooed though as my hair needed some TLC. I called my hair dresser and she was happy to get me in when the salon was empty. She did not know that I was sick just wanted to get me in and out as quickly as possible. I wanted to look healthy at the christening for my friends and family that would be in attendance.
My me day arrived and my husband dropped me off at the salon. I was just so excited to get my hair done. I mentioned to her that I have been sick and undergoing chemotherapy so some hair may fall out. She indicated that she noticed the port and suspected something was going on. She recommended a certain treatment and we went to the shampoo bowl. While sitting in the shampoo bowl, I noticed the hair dresser’s face looked worried. We chatted and chatted while she shampooed my hair. I then sat in her chair so she could style my hair. She looked worried but did not say anything , but I did see the chunks of hair in the towel. She did not want me to see the hair that was dropping off. She combed my hair as usual and when I looked in the mirror, I went into complete shock, I cried and cried. it wasn’t about my hair falling off because my hair was falling off in chunks, but I cried because it finally dawned on me that I was really sick. I finally looked like a sick cancer patient. I could not hold back the tears anymore and was just bawling in the salon. I called my husband to come pick me up and I could hardly utter two words, but he understood and came to pick me up. My me day ended up being the most depressiing day since I had been diagnosed.
My husband came to pick me up with Agnes and Eli and when Agnes saw my face she understood completely. She told me that I looked nice and that was just a reason to start bawling again. I could not hold back, think I had a meltdown. I had to let everything out, my mom’s passing especially as I don’t think I had grieved as yet. Eli was my distraction for grieving for my mom but now with me looking sick, I could not handle it. Both Agnes and my husband tried to console me but there was pent up tears and frustration that had to come out.
I think I went into a depression mode for a minute. The sight and smell of food brought me to the toilet and I just wanted to curl up in a bed and sleep. Agnes told me that I should cancel the lunch and just go ahead with the christening. I think that’s what woke me up. This would be Elis’s day and I would not stop it. I told her I wanted to have the luncheon to celebrate Eli and he won’t be short changed because of my illness. Day by day I started getting out of my depression with Agnes’ help and companionship. The other girls arrived, Ingrid and Marie Ange and they all really took over. They had a routine going on, who would clean, who would cook, who would have Eli in the morning and wake up for the nightly feedings. They just took over and did everything. I watched in amazement how my friends truly loved and cared for me. They took time out of their busy schedule, vacation away from their family and paid their own way to come care for me. I was truly blessed and yes there is a God. My mom taught me well because without her foundation, I would not have such loving caring people in my life.
The christening day came and we were ready. Eli had his handsome suit that would be a onetime wear. The child was growing like weed. He was blessed with three God mothers and a God father. I was happy that we did not cancel. It took me forever to get ready as I would not find the perfect hat. I had to cover my head because I believe it would be a distraction to the congregation. Yup, the hair was going slowly. We had a beautiful celebration in church and everyone came to support Eli. After church we went home to continue the celebration with a scrumptious lunch. I had to take a nap before lunch because chemo really is.tough. This thing drains your body. I was now feeling the effect of it and I probably need a blood transfusion as well because I was so weak. Eli had a beautiful day with family and friends. Everyone who we invited came to support us. We had so much food and the food was really tasty, everyone was gone by six pm and it was a beautiful day. Eli was now christened and I was happy that I was there and have the strength to go through it.
It would soon be time for my third and last chemotherapy period at Emory. The last week of May was creeping on us and I was not looking forward to it. After this last stint, I would be put on a maintenance plan for the next two years, but before that I still had to complete two more lumbar punctures. I was not looking forward to taking meds for two years straight but if that’s what would cure me, I would compy like white on rice. I just wanted that evil disease to be out of me. My mom would always say this, it breaks my heart that she was never able to be healed or healed the way we wanted. God healed her in his way with no suffering. I got readmitted for my last stint. This last period was a bit harsh, the side effects from the chemotherapy was in full swing. The nausea, constipation and loose bowel, yes you can have both. The darkened nails, the darkened skin and the hairless body, the sensitivity to light and the blurred vision. I was so over just being sick. I took my week of poison very well and was being monitored round the clock. The nurses at Emory are always on point and I was very happy that they took such good care of me. I kept my hair tied all during the time and did my exercise routine when I could. I was just counting the days to go home and recuperate. It is always so nice to be in your environment and your own bed.
I got discharged on a Friday and was felling so well. I decided to attend church service and say hello to all the people who had been praying for me. It was so nice to be out as the only place I had been since the end of March was in and out of the hospital clinic. After church we went home to relax and entertain Eli. My week was going well until the following Sunday after church. I was now home for two weeks and was enjoying it. I was feeling sluggish but being tired is one of the many symptoms you get from the treatment. On Sunday after church service I started feeling more and more energy deprived. was freezing inside but the temperature was only 72 inside. I was also so very sleepy and fell asleep on the chair for a few hours. I had no appetite as always but this one felt worse. My husband took my temperature and it was ok, nothing to call the doctor as yet. The next morning I was due to visit the clinic for the usual check up, blood work and transfusion. I felt horrible, very weak and could barely see. I even thought I was losing my sight, could barely keep my eyes open as it also felt like there were pebbles in it when I blinked. My husband had to help me bathe and get dressed because I could not stand on my own. I arrived at the clinic and they literally had to put me in a wheel chair. I could not walk as my knees felt soppy . I went straight to get my lab work done and the blood transfusion would be after I visited the doctor. The Doctor’s visit did not go very well. My temperature was 103 and my heart rate was not very strong. I was rushed to the hospital and started on fluids and steroids. I had an infection and that was not very good in my condition. For four days my temperature was going up and down and the doctors could not find the source of the of the infection. I was not doing very well and yes I was scared. The illness was really taking its toil but I was not losing faith. God does not give us more than we can handle and he is the ultimate healer. I was not giving up, my Eli needed me and i know that he was put in my life for a reason.
The journey continues.