Butterflies and Sister Morphine

This week leading up to Bobbi’s 5th chemotherapy treatment seemed like a roller coaster at times. The first two days, after the last one, went well. Didn’t get sick, had more than usual energy. The next couple of days some side effects kicked in. Lots of fatigue, but no pain or getting sick. The middle of the week was emotional though. On Sunday I could tell she was dealing with a lot internally. She shared that she was having a difficult time in the mornings. When she gets up and showers she continues seeing hair going down the drain and it’s tough, then when she is getting dressed and sees in the mirror her port protruding from the left side of her chest, a few inches from her heart, and the weight loss, it’s a lot to take in. Lori cut it shorter a few weeks back but she wasn’t ready to see it all go then. She knows that the fight is with the tumor but it’s still a difficult experience.

We had a good talk. Decided that when she felt that way to look back in the mirror and say “Screw you cancer! Your not going to affect me today!” Saying this has helped. She uses a little more colorful words, but I’m sure readers get the point. She isn’t going to let it affect her self esteem or continue to allow it control over her emotions. I get where she’s coming from I look at the long scar starting below my neck, going about a foot down. I see it everyday and know it’s ugly. It hasn’t stopped her from loving me. As far as her appearance goes she knows I careless about it. I shared with her an analogy of a cocoon. It’s not the most impressive looking thing at the time. But look at the beautiful monarch butterfly that breaks out of it later! She has cancer. It attempts to take everything from a person. Physically and emotionally. The medicines used to fight it are strong, maybe even stronger because they are taking on a strong and deadly foe. The battle she is fighting isn’t a walk in the park. But the butterfly that emerges will be beautiful. It made a lot of sense to her and helped. We talked more and the last couple of days have been better in regards to these things. I’m glad that we’ve always have been able to talk and share everything.

Fatigue and body aches start about 48 hours after treatments. She’s never taken naps or rested during the day. Yet she knows there is a big surgery in probably six weeks and needs to rest and heal between treatments, prepare her body for it. She recognizes what her body is telling her. She’s putting on needed weight, getting more sound sleep, having morning coffee (though has lost the taste for it) with her mother, the two going to yoga. The days are better than a few short weeks ago. We had a really nice FacyTime call with Sean and Jen, and the grandchildren in Wisconsin. Also a two hour call with Shay in Australia earlier in the week.

The countdown until Wednesday morning, treatment days, kick in around Sunday. Neither look forward to it but at the same time know it’s a day that will be one more step in bringing twisty down.

When the alarm rang at 4:45 I turned off the pumping oxygen machine and thought of the day ahead. Each of us were quiet, preparing for the trip. We seemed to be on autopilot. I could tell right away that I had to take my heart medication early. My chest and elbow ached badly. I questioned how the day would go. Decided to put on two slow release nitroglycerin patches, one on each arm, and a sublingual tablet under my tongue. Before we left I put the orange plastic prescription container of morphine into a small backpack, hoping not to need it but being prepared nonetheless. Also put a portable oxygen cylinder into the back of the car (didn’t need either though thankfully).

Bobbi woke up an hour before me and we sat in the dark living room, She drank tea, I had my usual one cup of coffee and went outside to warm the car up. There was about an inch of wet frozen snow on everything. The drive down to Petoskey looked like the corn maze in the movie “The Shinning”. It was very dark and spooky. All I saw, going below the 75mph speed limit because of black ice, was the solid white lines of the highway and yellow reflectors appearing on turns. Visibility was about 50-feet as the windshield wipers tried to keep up with the snow. Here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan you never know what the weather will be like in November. When we got to the brightly lite Mackinaw Bridge snow continued to fall (the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere). We still managed to arrive at the appointment a few minutes early.

Bobbi took a deep breath and we walked hand in hand into the building. The nurse, Becki, greeted us, taking her weight and complimented her on the weight gain and was concerned on how her week went. The lab numbers taken at the War Memorial Hospital on Monday we’re excellent! Her white blood cell count was in the 10,000 range, much better than the 30,000+ a few weeks earlier, when the session had to be canceled. All other lab results looked great! Becki commented on how pretty she looked. And she did look good. She looked confident and ready to take on Twisty. When the meeting was over we went to the infusion center and in no time at all her IV was connected to her port and the treatment began. the staff here are amazing. They treat you like one of their own family members. When many doors closed because of Medicad their door opened. Everyone recognizes us and greets us friendly. All of them commented on how nice she looked. About 15 minutes later her sister Lori arrived and greeted us with a big smile. When first moving to Michigan it was difficult, she was made to feel unwelcome by some (water under the bridge now). But Lori and Jim welcomed her with arms wide open and will be something never forgotten. Bobbi was in the beginning of her illness and it was a very confusing time.

The session seemed to go quickly. Three different drugs are used. Between each her IV is flushed clean for the next. When family is around I tend to give them privacy because it’s important. I have a hard time sitting still for hours at a time so I took a few short walks and thought about everything taking place.

Today’s treatment went well. After we had a nice lunch at Big Boys. With her white blood cells looking good, and not many in the restaurant it was alright. We wanted to do same when her sister Chrissy visited, but the session was cancelled and restaurants were out of the question. I shut it down because of her extremely high white blood cell numbers. Not something Bobbi was happy about at the time but my main priority (and always will be) is my wife and she was in rough shape at the time. It was good to see the two of them laughing and enjoying the time together. The trip back home also went quickly. It’s now about 8:30pm. We watched a little TV, had a small meal, but the treatment makes her legs feel restless, with the need to keep shifting them. Massaged them good, put warm compression on them and it seemed to help. She had a hard time keeping her eyes open and called it a day and went to bed. I’m watching the seventh game of the World Series and will soon be joining her. Wanted to write down my thoughts while there’re still fresh in my mind. It’s been a long day. Will send this update onto the blog tomorrow after she reads it.

Progress is being made. Both physically and emotionally. No nausea, no pain. Might be a restless night with side effects but much better than at the start of this battle. I embrace the good days but we’re not going to let our guard down for a second. Thank you again for the kindness shown by many! She WILL beat this.