Monday, November 4, 2013

...grace and healing...


“I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of things. Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark.” 
― Anne LamottGrace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith


Thursday's mess of swelling and pain in my shoulder and under my arm, turned into a another fitful night of sleep.  When I willed myself upright Friday, I instantly felt the surge of the contents of my stomach rise up.  I ran to the bathroom and vomited, over and over again.  Each time I'd manage to keep a few ounces of G2 down, they'd come hurtling right up at some point.  I called off radiation that morning.  How could I lie still for 30 minutes straight in the midst of my constricting and threatening stomach?

The radiation nurse called and did her best to try and convince me to come in, but I was cranky and having none of it.  It was noon the second time she called to see if I might try to come in.  But still no.  I couldn't fathom dressing, or standing upright, when I was weak and dehydrated.

I'm not even sure what time the next call came.

"This is Panwalkar... you need to come in," he says in to uncertain terms.  "You need fluids, and meds to rehydrate you and stop the nausea.  If you don't come soon, the clinic will close, and then you will end up in the ER and then they..."

I realize "they" could then admit me to the hospital... I interject... "okay... I will come in."

If Dr. P is telling me I need to come in, I know that I do.  Plain and simple.

Superman and I gather up "vomit" provisions, just in case.  I throw on a hat and sweats and run a toothbrush over my teeth.

I'm taken right back to the infusion center and an iv is started in through my port.  The anti-nausea is added in, they flip the lights off and tell my to try and sleep. I'll be there a few hours.

I'm startled awake when I look up and see the radiation team of nurses who have come to ask me one last time if I won't please come back and get my treatment done.

They'll take me by wheelchair and I can receive fluids and get zapped all at the same time.

I have become one of those.

The ones I see too weak to walk on their own.  That vacant and helpless look in their eyes as their ravaged bodies, try to fend off the beast.

Where is my gratitude?

Where is my grace?

Where is my gumption?

Why is this suddenly so foreign and hard for me to do?

I pray during radiation for grace to find me.



I'm taken back to the infusion center with merely 20 minutes left in my iv.  My nurse is leaving and the extended stay nurse is taking over.  I have had her before.

She leans over me and says "The look on your face tells me you don't want to be here."  

  “That which tears open our souls… may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.”  Ann Voskamp


I glance up and read her name off her tag, "Joyal."  She is the one who grew up in my father's hometown.  I read her name again... "JOYal... and what I hear is grace, as I see my Dad's face.

Choose.  Vicky.  Choose.

I offer her a weak smile... My voice gravelly and low, "I'm grateful to be here actually, even though it doesn't show.  In almost three years of treatment, this is the worst I've felt, and that makes me feel extremely lucky- even though I am not expressing it well."

We finish up and the she has the Nurse Practitioner come in to see me.  I decline any further pain meds,  firmly convinced I'll stick with Advil if needed.  I am told to call or come back in, in the morning if more fluids are needed.  

But somehow I am more convinced I won't need to.  The vomiting and nausea have stopped.  I walk under my own power agin out into the cool air as I wait for Rick to pick me up.


While I rest Friday night, Nolan and his Bantam AA hockey team selected just two days prior, are playing in an early bird tournament at our home rink.  Here he is dressed for school on Friday.


By Saturday I am ready to attend his games. Here are just a few of his new team mates in action.


Carter...



Seth...


Joe...


Nolan almost pushing the puck through five-hole for a goal.


Hunter scoring a goal...


The team ended the tournament 2-2 and we all felt good about the potential they seem to have.

Rick and I went and finally put money down on a new mattress.  We pulled the old one off our bed and were shocked at the deep depressions in it.  We've been sleeping on an air mattress and although small, its been much better support than that old coil mattress.  

We did not go with the TempurPedic based on all the feedback we got!!  We went with an off brand and paid a fraction of the amount of money, but will still get the adjustable base and we're thrilled with that part of it.  Its due to arrive in about a week.  


Radiation treatment round 6 done- 9 to go!  


I just also need to say thank you for the grace being shown in and around me by so many friends and neighbors.  We've had a week full of scrumptious meals!  Thank you Angie, Heidi, Laurel, Jen, Suzanne and Stacy! 

I got the cutest box of breast cancer ribbon cookies from Jenny and we ate them all before I got a picture of even one.  

I've received cards and letters and texts and I know I am forgetting other blessings that fill my gratitude journal.  

And although I've been unable to sit and reply to each comment- they soothe my weary soul in more ways than you could possibly know. 

Radiation followed by infusion tomorrow.





59 comments:

  1. Hello from over here. Although while reading this, I feel like I'm right there. I think it's a combination of your way with words and that my heart has been knit to you and your situation, not just by your writing but by His Spirit. And prayer. Prayer has a way of bridging the miles doesn't it? Know that I am coming along side of you right now in Prayer.

    I'm thankful that you were able to go in and receive the treatments you needed. And that you found encouragement too, in Joyal's presence and by the Lord himself helping you through.

    (and yay for a new mattress on the way).

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    1. Thank you so much for your steadfast presence to me through all of this Susan. Oh how you encourage and bless me. Prayer does bridge the gap, without a doubt. Love and blessings to you friend!

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    2. (((Vicky))) hugs to you today. It's Thursday a.m. for me and I'm having a cup of coffee and catching up here. You have the most amazing group of people who are supporting you, near and far. I'm humbled to be part of that number. :-)

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  2. Hang in there. God will walk each step with you. Francis

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  3. I "found" you today....you somehow showed up in my newsfeed and I'm so very glad that you did. I think that God must have sent me to you...and you to me.

    I just wanted to tell you that you're amazing....and strong. I am a mother of two "nearly grown" sons and I have a mom and sister who are both survivors. I read Gitzen's blog, often with a smile and a lump in my throat.

    You will be in my prayers...and thoughts....each day from today forward.
    Hugs to you...and congrats on your new mattress! xo, Kimberly

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    1. Oh my goodness- serendipitous indeed that we should cross paths! Thank you for your encouraging words and for taking the time to stop in and introduce yourself. Blessings to you!

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  4. oh Vicky - i love you! I keep surrounding you with His love and peace and grace too!

    I keep you in my thoughts and prayers - I am asking big for you!! I want you to have it all!

    xoxo

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    1. I feel you right there with me Tiffany- always-love you honey!

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  5. If only I could find a magic wand and with a gentle touch end all this suffering for you. While you have used your suffering to offering an incomparable teaching about courage and grace to us all ... enough is enough. You SO don't deserve to carry this burden.

    While I don't believe in a personal god who intervenes in our lives (one of the few who visit here who does not), I do implore universal consciousness and universal love to somehow intercede on your behalf and bring a full and immediate healing. NOW ... please.

    Sending you love, light and strength across the miles, dear Vicky. xox

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    1. Ahhh- thank you friend! This week is already better and I have to say my whole medical team is devoted to helping me have as much quality to my life as possible. They've helped make that a reality more often than not. Bonnie- I would love to hear your professional thoughts on suffering- I truly miss your posts and philosophical followers who always gave me knew insights and perspectives to consider :) Just a thought! xxoo

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  6. Oh, my dear,
    you are always on my mind and I pray for you every day!!!
    All the best for you....hugs and kisses from good old germany ;-)
    Yours
    Barbara

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    1. Barbara- so lovely and considerate of you to pray for me. Thank you sweet friend- that truly touches me- all the way to Germany :) Bussals!

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  7. Vicky, I'm so sorry and so sympathetic to everything you are going through, it makes me cry. You are SO BRAVE! I want to also add that even though you felt really bad in the photo and didn't have the usual smile... YOU LOOK ADORABLE!

    Thoughts, prayers and (((BIG HUGS))).

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    1. Oh how I know you know this... all too well. I think your dear son has truly been the one who has suffered long and hard days- speaking of being brave- how you face everything you do is nothing short of amazing to me as well. Hugs and love to you!

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  8. Oh Vicky, I kinda felt that the past few days were difficult on you! I go to my blog and see silence in your and think... "oh, how is Vicky doing???" After reading this, I became slightley nauseated myself... i am not sure why? and so far it has no gone away. Then i think to myself, "Peggy-sue now multiply that feeling with hanging over the Toilet bowl, and you have a small concept of what Vicky's days have been like". What does one say???? OH I know other's have fallen for Dr. P but may I say...I fell for him in this post... how wonderful to be pushy and reach out and tell you , "you must come in...we can help" talk about genuine one on one care!!! Once again I love your honesty, your sharing of reality... remember this; At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. each of us has cause to think with deap gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer~ I want you to know, I am not just sending sparks your way. I have a flood lamp going out across the sky's...kinda like what you would see at a 'world premiere' I hope you can feel it in those moments when your energy and nausea have been stripped away by treatments!!! Hugs to you and many continued prayers...because your beauty and grace in motion!

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    1. Such a great quote Peggy Sue! Such truth in that and I definitely felt carried by all of you caring so deeply for me. Thank you friend- I have felt so much better already this week- your light and energy have definitely hit their mark :)

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  9. Praying for you Vicky...Always.

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    1. I so appreciate that- truly- always.

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  10. Oh dear Vicky. You touch my heart in so many ways and I'm thankful you have such a wonderful doctor.

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    1. Susan- than we are equal- as you touch mine more than I can adequately express! Blessings and love to you!

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  11. I never forget to check in on you,
    I never forget to whisper your name to Jesus
    I love you sister.

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    1. Kelly- loving you right back sister- thank you for the whispers- they shout mighty big to me :)

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  12. thank you for letting us check in on you and your progress and as always, i pray for you. i'm so happy you're getting a new mattress and you will love love love the adjustable base. i can't wait to hear your enthusiasm over it!!

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    1. Beth- I know- the mattress has helped me have something to look forward to- can't wait!

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  13. Vicky, thank you for being real. I am so sorry that this is so incredibly difficult. That said, I am glad you stood up for yourself. Your wonderful medical team needs to know when enough is enough. Good for you. Never apologize. At your worst, you sound like a saint! Anyone else in this situation wouldn't have your grace(s). I hope these treatments do their job and that the new mattress is awesome. Hugs.

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    1. Joan- I think they knew me well enough to know I needed that gentle persuasion. I think either my husband would have gotten more involved if necessary ( to convince me) or I would have rationally gotten there eventually. Those pain meds certainly made me less than my normal self :) Hugs to you!

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  14. I'm glad that you went in and got your IV to prevent hydration and that they administered medicine for nausea, Vicky. Thank goodness for Dr. Panwalkar's persuasion!
    It sounds like a terrible ordeal for you. You are a trooper. A storm trooper. And I'm glad that you found Joy in a place that you weren't expecting it at all.
    I'm also thankful for the many many friends who are ministering to you through emails, phone calls, snail mail, texts, visits, and acts of kindness as your meals are prepared by those loving women. God bless each and every one of your wonderful angel-friends.
    The photos of your son and his teammates are great. (Your son is so handsome. What are the chances of introducing him to my beautiful Granddaughter.. :)) Of course, she won't be dating until she is 16, but I can't think of a finer guy for her to meet.
    Know that prayers are all over and around you. Yes, they are.
    Love you,
    Jackie

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    1. Oh my- that precious an beautiful granddaughter of yours would be just perfect for my Nolan- but yes-in a few years perhaps? Thank you sweet friend- for your ever kind and grace-filled words that leave me feeling blessed and loved. Love you sweet one~

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  15. You are just so amazing. You make me humble. I pray for you to hold on, and be strong, and get through this.

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    1. Hilary- right back at you friend- I feel entirely the same about you and all you have gone through and continue to persevere through! Love to you friend!

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  16. Your son looks so handsome. Thats enough to cheer every Mothers heart.
    You are there to see it Even though it is a hard struggle, you are doing it.
    I am still praying for health and a cure for you dear girl.

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    1. True Vic- that is what matters the most. I still ended up being able to be with my son and see him play and in the end that is what matters!

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  17. I love how you have responded to and recognized the promptings of God for your treatments as well as the moments of gratitude during these tough days. Gives me hope. Praying for you that the days ahead will ease and you will once again find a way to experience the "more" of what He has for you. Love and hugs sent your way.

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    1. Jenny- I so love that last part of what you said especially- the "more" of what He ha for me. Thank you for that. I am both coping better and feeling better and thank you for your bringing my name from your lips to his ears. Love and blessings to you sweet one!

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  18. Dearest Vicky,
    You have been on my heart and in my prayers...sometimes minute by minute. God Bless Dr. P
    for reaching out and for you trusting his judgement and help. Anne Lamott was right. I too wish that Grace and Healing came with the brush of a magic wand. I would wave that wand over you my dear friend. Instead I am asking God Almighty to hold you in His hand, no matter what.
    You are LOVED and PRECIOUS...and so honest about the good and tough times.

    And that picture of Nolan? Oh my goodness. What a handsome and growing-up young man.
    I am so glad you got to see him play his beloved hockey. And the new mattress? I hope it will cushion you and hold you gently and you will sleep peacefully.

    Know you are dearly, dearly loved. I wish I lived closer so I could bring over my special chicken dish for you and yours. Counting down those yucky radiation treatments with you on my calendar. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

    Love you to the moon and back!
    Linda

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    1. LInda- gosh- I don't even know how to respond sometimes to such beautiful words. You have a keen knack for lifting me up and making me feel like I matter and that truly is what we all very humanly want to know about our time here on earth. Thank you for the precious gift of you- for all you say of me- I have a feeling the same exact things could be said of you! Love to you sweet friend!

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  19. Your strength and courage inspire me to believe all things are possible!

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    1. Oh thank you- and I believe they are too!! xxoo

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  20. Even though you may not feel this, you have strength of an iron-woman. I am learning so much from you Vicky. God bless you my friend....still praying for you.

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    1. Lisa- that speaks volumes to me if you are still learning from me after all these years. Thank you for blessing me and for those prayers! Hugs to you!

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  21. Vicky sweet friend how I wish I could take on your pain and make it disappear. Sending you strength and love. Praying for you always xo

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    1. Thank you Anyes- I have no doubt you would do just that- and that friend-humbles me so. Love and blessings to you!

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  22. Sending you a big hug and prayers! Even when you are feeling your lowest you still have Grace, Gratitude and Gumption in my eyes...and I'm sure in the eyes of everyone. Your writing is beautiful and you are beautiful :)

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    1. Kim- gosh, thank you. It took a lot of digging that day to find it- but it was with me. Thank you for blessing me with such kind and thoughtful words! Blessings to you!

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  23. honey, i wouldn't have wanted to cross you that day, based on the look you're giving the camera. :D grateful you found the perspective of grace for the moment. you've trained for it, practiced, and you won the battle, girl! you're not going to do this perfectly, and i'm thankful you were able to stay on course. you are never far from my mind.

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    1. Yep- that is my most vulnerable and real self- nothing pretty or very welcoming about it. No way of disguising the true discomfort I felt and would have not moved from my bed if left to my own devices. But so glad I am not in this alone and other more clear heads prevail and figure out what is going on and help me. That is grace I can hold onto. And yes- so true- nothing perfect about it. Thank you for keeping me so close in mind :)

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  24. I was so sorry to hear how awfully sick you were last week, but am very glad that you were able to rebound and enjoy watching your boy play hockey. He certainly looks handsome in your photos, both on and off the ice. It's going to be fun watching these boys gel as a team this year. They are off to a great start!

    I hope that you won't have any more nasty reactions to the radiation or anything else. I have a wonderful 5th grader named Colton, who is a daily reminder to think about and pray for you many times over.

    Take care!

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    1. I did rebound so well Steph- I had to go home and sleep the rest of the day between games- but was so grateful to feel well enough to fully enjoy being with everyone at the rink. We sure all love Matt's style of play- all heart and passion and I know a young player watching and learning from him!! Thank you for those prayers- and I assure you they are mutual- I've had lots of time to pray for everyone during my sessions :)

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  25. Vicky, I don't wish for what you've had to endure, but somehow it's comforting to know that you are just as human as the rest of us; that you, too, grace-filled, open to life, as you are have moments when you just want to say "No." Somehow, I see that as very healthy, and very much overdue given everything you have gone through. And yet...those nurses...they were persistent weren't they? And you did it! Not easily, but it's done. And onto the next, and we're all praying you through it. You inspire us so much. Please know we are still here for you, and wishing for more grace to come so our friend Vicky can get to the other side of this thing. XXOO, Roxane

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    1. Roxane- it was truly a valuable teaching moment for me. How do you find grace, peace, comfort, etc., when you are miserable? How do you acknowledge your human condition but also show that you are trusting in your faith to sustain you? I'm still figuring it all out and potentially have so much more to learn... Thanks for reassuring me...glad you are here! xxoo

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  26. My dear friend Vicky,
    I am covering you in prayer this morning. I talked about you in one of my college classrooms yesterday and my students were in awe of your resilience, gratitude and HOPE in the midst of such a tough journey. After talking about you, I made several statements and then I asked them two question...

    None of us know how long we will live. Vicky doesn't. I don't. You don't.
    We all need to live every day as if it was our last. Yet, perhaps if we stop long enough to look at our lives and ask ourselves certain questions, we might start to live each day differently.
    What are these questions?

    How do you want others to remember you?
    When it is all said and done, what will they say you stood for?

    There was a heart-felt discussion, tears, words of regret, words of hope...an amazing hour.
    I asked for any of them who believed in prayer to keep you in their prayers.
    Just a reminder, God is using you, and your journey, in SO many ways you can't imagine.

    Loves and HUGS!
    Linda


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    1. Linda- I'm so honored- thank you! What a tremendous opportunity to be able to teach about these life lessons at such a ripe age for learning. Those students are lucky to have you Linda- I have no doubt they will remember you long into the future for all you have taught them and that I am some small part of all of that truly touches me deeply.

      Love and hugs to you!

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  27. I am impressed by your doctor's awareness of your situation and his insistence that you come in so he could take care of you. Almost halfway finished; I hope that fact gives you some encouragement.

    I spent some time this morning praying for you. Hoping that new bed works its magic!

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    1. Halfway- yep- totally feeling I am on the downward slope now. And I have managed better with our inflatable bed filling in and me getting by on Advil. All of that has helped a ton! Thank you for those prayers- they are felt and make such a huge difference. Plus- you know I am praying during radiation and you are in my prayers as well. xxoo

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  28. Just the absolute PITS, my sweet friend. Sounds horrid. The look on your face in the photo says it all. JOYal was absolutely right and you have every reason to not want to be there and to practice your "NO" for awhile. But how sweet and insightful of Dr. P to call himself and make you come in and offer some relief from the nausea. And now you're that much closer to being half way.

    Please post details about your bed when you are feeling up to it. We have to get one like that, too, for various reasons and are choking over the price of a Tempurpedic. Glad to hear there may be a different solution. Our mattress is 18 years old and it's about as saggy as we are!

    May I say, even though it may be politically and spiritually incorrect but I'm GLAD you got mad enough to say "NO" and make this decision until you got the right help that you needed in the phone call and meds. The Borg were wrong: resistance is NOT always futile. Even Jesus resisted at times until HIS time was right. This might have been Providential.

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    1. Hey Robynn- the bed is a knock-off of a Tempurpedic- cheaper and not pure foam- so heat and smell which are problems reported about the Tempurpedic are supposed to not be an issue. Cost also a fraction of the name brand- so we'll see!

      I was just plain miserable- and definitely had side effects of narcotics in effect- and not wanting to make a huge ordeal about going in- but truly it was the right call and the nurse who got Dr. P to call me read the whole situation so well. In the end- it did turn out just how it was supposed to be :)

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  29. You are my hero Vicky,,,, I hate, hate, hate that you have to endure all this, just to be the beautiful light that you are.
    Every day,,,, every one, you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.

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  30. I love how you showed us your real feelings, then showed us how you CHOSE gratitude, then shifted the focus to your beautiful son and the other boys (men?) on the team. So glad you got your new mattress! I remember being sad to see our old one go years ago---not because it was comfy, but because....our babies were created on the mattress.

    You're touching so many lives, Vicky.

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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