But I crawled into bed and threw big blankets on me, instead. I slept until noon. And awoke, just as cold. I finally found the thermometer. 101. I crawled back in bed, shivering, trying to warm myself. An hour later, my fever was at 102. Time to call the doctor's office.
Dr. Panwalkar's nurse is always so helpful. The concern registers in her voice and she assures me she'll track down Dr. P right away. She calls me back as my temperature rises to 103. But other than general malaise, and the discomfort of fever and chills? I have no symptoms. So we agree I'll get the fever down with tylenol and if it stays down, I have an appointment the next morning with the PA, Annie.
Annie, has already introduced herself to me earlier in the year, having read my blog and recognizing me in the waiting room. We quickly discovered we have a love of Golden Retrievers and we've both named ours after Pro hockey players.
It's the next morning that Annie sees the white spots on my now scratchy and sore throat and feels the swollen lymph nodes around my neck. We conclude its likely strep, and either way I'll be given two antibiotics to fight infection. And no chemo for the day. Annie even calls me the next day, just to check on me, and I'm so touched by her follow through, and her compassion.
Last week became a blur of sleep, fatigue, and general yuckiness. The antibiotics are doing their job with the infection, but my body doesn't take kindly to them either.
Through long days of bed rest and quiet, I find that my reflective voice and so many of my prayers center on the same theme... strength. Both physical, and mental strength too. Weekly chemo is taking its toll. I barely start to feel well, when its time to begin the whole process again.
I'm foggy, groggy and the grey and gloomy loom overhead, with hints of light streaming through, but they're too elusive to pin down and make them stay for awhile.
So I see Dr. Panwalkar yesterday. I've been preparing to have my 3 drug cocktail after I visit with him. We volley our questions back and forth. I see he is contemplative. And even though I have chronic diarrhea, and fatigue gnawing at me, he feels we should continue on with treatment.
I'm fine with this, as long as he'll give me a date in the future when I can have my next break. And then I say the words that change everything, "because mentally, I am struggling with weekly chemo."
And without hesitation, he simply says, "Well then, why don't we stop the taxol?" We'll just continue on with the two other drugs, once every three weeks."
"Really? I say. You think that would be okay?" "Yes," he says with assurance and confidence, and a big smile on his face.
Relief starts to flood over me instantly...
And then I bring up the piece I've been clinging to, for so long now.
"Dr. Panwalkar, tomorrow, is 5 years from the day of diagnosis for me."
He turns and breaks into a really big smile, now. "5 years?" And as it registers shaking his head, he says it again, "5 years..." And we don't need to say anything, because those two words say a lot already.
As he finishes up typing orders he also mentions he wants to check into an antibody study for me since I'm NED and we can discuss it more my next visit with him in 3 weeks. I'm beyond excited to hear what he may come up with!
So I ask for a photo with him, as I prepare to leave.
Later I come back for infusion. I'm grateful they squeezed me in.
I'm taken to my room, and then Joyal comes in to say she'll be my nurse. As she heads off to gather supplies to get started, I'm surprised tears spring to my eyes.
Joyal (with the beautiful name) hasn't been my nurse for a really long time. She is the one who grew up in my Dad's hometown. Its such a small town in North Dakota, with the famous big cow on the hill that you can see from the highway.
And my teary eyes? Because without knowing it, Joyal brings my Dad to me. He died, just 8 months before I was diagnosed. Oh the memories of my cousins, and the farm, and trips to see Grandma, and the fun we had. And somehow, I feel Dad there with me, in that infusion room. And all of those prayers for strength? Somehow, I feel HIM there with me, too.