Thursday, February 16, 2017

real and raw

The Flexural for my back seemed to work for awhile.  I was getting more accomplished during the days and managed to go to some hockey games at night.  

Until that one night last week. I'm so foggy right now, I couldn't say for sure which one.  I just woke up, in the middle of the night with my back riddled with a stabbing kind of pain.  Over and over again.  I quickly got up and moved out to a chair that I could sit up in.  Then I found the heating pad.  Then I took some Advil.  And... the list goes on and on, mind-numblingly so.   I simply found no relief.  Hour after agonizing hour.  I finally, flattened myself on the floor, grounding my heart and pouring out my deepest act of surrender to Him.  I crawled back up into my chair and sat,  till the wee hours of the morning and Rick awoke to check on me.  He brought me a steaming cup o Joe, and with the sun starting to announce day break, the pain finally eased.  


And so it went.  Each day, somehow, I'd climb out of the depths of the pain from the night before.  I knew in a few days I'd see Dr. P. and I just wanted to get by.  But I couldn't stop the slide down in to the pain the next night,  no matter what I thought to try.  From massage to pillows, to recliners, to creams on my back... nothing relieved the pain at night.

At my lowest, I simply rocked and cried, and cried and rocked, with the words of old hymns coming to mind, clinging to those words that formed somewhere deep within me.  That morning, Friday morning, the pain never did subside.  And I was done.  Physically and emotionally, I couldn't do any more.

I simply told Rick he needed to take me in to the ER.  It was still early enough in the morning that I didn't have to wait for a room, I was taken right back.

With just a few questions asked by the nurse, pain meds were offered right away.  The young doctor poked his head in the door and said they were in the midst of a few urgent cases, but he'd get me comfortable and then come talk to me at length.

I was so in the grips of pain, I forgot to mention to push the pain med SLOWLY through my port which enters my system instantaneously!  BOOM, the room spun around, the Dilaudid flew through my body and I went to sleep like I was hit with a ton of bricks.  

Again, time was elusive.  But at some point the doctor came in to visit.  Whew!  What a day he was having- two Cardiac Arrests, and a Stroke Patient, and he was overwhelmed.  

Had I ever had a scan before?  A bit flabbergasted, I assured him I'd had a few.  But we agreed another CT scan, with no contrast would be the best way to see what might be amiss.

Hours later they came to take me for a scan.  Several more hours passed and finally the doctor came back with the results.  It wasn't the left side where the radiologist saw anything, it was on the right kidney, and down into my Ureter which looked swollen.  They surmised it might be due to kidney stones, but I'd have to have a couple more tests.  But he was still so busy with his patients, it'd be a few more hours to get me to the tests.  In the meantime, I assured Rick he could leave to go to Cloquet for Nolan's hockey game.  

With my patience in low reserve, I simply put it all in black and white terms to the doctor.  If I'm stable for now- and you can send me home with the Diluadid, then could I wait at home and see Dr. P on Tuesday and go from there?

He young doc actually looked relieved, and said yes right away.  Rick's Dad came to get me and managed to get me home, just in time.  The Dilaudid, did a number on my stomach, and left me with my sides heaving.  It was enough for Rick to call and tell me he was on his way back home after the game that night.

Somehow, we managed to get through these last few days.  


Monday when I went to Roger Maris for lab work, I told my nurse about my emergency episode.  She took careful notes, and in very little time, Dr. Panwalkar's nurse called me.

Angela- or Angel- a, as I often think of her,  worked her magic.  I needed a new CT scan the next morning, then Dr. P would like to see me over his lunch hour at 12.  We'd hold off on chemo for the time being.  Would that work for me?

I'm always left in awe of how hard Roger Maris works to accommodate their patients.  I simply gulped, "yes," to her squeezing back my tears.


Dr. Panwalkar strode into the room right at 12 the next day.  "Tell me what happened," he said seriously, wanting to get right down to business."  

We relived the past week, with Rick filling in any parts I left out.  Its the most I've heard him say.  But when I talked about the pain, Rick stepped in and said, "If I can just add something, its the MOST pain I've seen her in throughout these 6 years of treatment.  And its the most stubborn she's been about taking pain meds."  

"Its true,"  I told Dr. P.  "I was taking so many, I was afraid I'd become an addict."  

Dr. P simply nodded and then sternly admonished me, "If you need more meds, then take them.  Take 2, if that doesn't help then 3.  If that doesn't help, call me.  But you need to take them.  Addiction is the least of your worries right now."  He reminded me so much of my father right then.  Firm in his words, but only because his concern was real and raw.  His mood lightened then.  

Rick said, "I tried to tell her..."  Dr. Panwalkar then stood up, reached over and shook Rick's hand, which is not something I've seen him do before either.  Then he ushered me over to the exam table.  

After the exam, He turned to the scan and showed me what he thought may be happening.  "I don't think you have kidney stones."  The scan shows fluid around your left lower lung, which is pushing everything around it, causing pain.  It is also likely filled with cancer cells.  In addition, your kidney looks enlarged, as does your ureter, and bladder."

He went on..
He'd like me to see a urologist and had already put in a call for me for Thursday.  I also needed to do a PET scan- as soon as possible- they are calling for pre-approval.  

So the pain is due to cancer, not kidney stones.  And the PET Scan will show us where it all is. 

And somehow, I was able to stay in this precarious, uncertain,  moment with him.  

I don't understand all the suffering.  But somehow, looking back I see, it fortified me for what I would need to have for the next thing I will be going through.  That tenuous rope of faith that I continue to hang onto. 

I took in all the info, and nodded my agreement.  He also said he was pretty sure we'd be switching chemotherapy and going back to Taxotere, weekly.  But we'd wait to get my results back from the PET scan.  

He bid a hasty goodbye.  

When the pain settled in last night, I reached for the Oxycodone.  And reached again, and yet 1 more time until I fell into a deep sleep.  I lasted until early this morning.  I crawled into my recliner, and was thankful to just be able to get up, to sit, and start a new day.

prayers greatly appreciated for this day.  


  1. Prayers for you and your family and for wisdom and continued caring for your doctors. This isn't fair and it isn't right, but there you are. Thank you for taking the time to share what has been going on. I am so very sorry. But take small comfort in knowing your words made a difference this morning.

  2. Sending prayers and hugs my friend ❤

  3. Oh Vicky, just praying for what God can provide for you. Comfort, strength. and hope. You are so beautiful.

  4. Oh, Vicky. My heart br aks when I think of how hard of a time you are having. Also. You are one. tough. cookie. But taking pain mds will not change that! Ironically enough, I had the exact same talk with my research nurse yesterday about the pain meds and not wanting to take them so often, and she said the exact same thing as yours. (And my pain is absolutely not comparable) that question about why all the pain and suffering is so tough. My Rory has been having such a hard time with this question and I always tell her adults don't understand the answer to this question either. please know that I am praying for you daily and I love your sweet heart and tender spirit. Hold on to that new mercy we are given every morning.

  5. I always struggle to find appropriate words. Sending you love and healing thoughts, prayer in the ways I pray, strength and courage and peace of mind - and most importantly, relief. Much love to you and your family - xo

  6. In tears...with many prayers your way. Thank you for sharing the hard~much love to you, my friend.

  7. So it must be urology Thursday. Prayers for some help, some relief, some rest. You have been in my thoughts & prayers for a while now!

  8. Always in my prayers and thoughts and heart dear Vicky!!!
    May His Mercy and Grace continue to carry you!!

  9. I am kneeling beside my bed in prayer for you. My heart is heavy as I realize how much pain you are in because of your cancer. I pray for relief for you. I hug you gently from here in South Georgia. I love you, my friend.

  10. A few years ago I injured my back badly, and had a full month before I could get in to see the neurologist who would prescribe me pain meds, a steroid shot, and muscle relaxers. It was worse than labor pains, and I remember having nights when all I could do was moan (and say a new bad word, to be honest) and wait for morning and a shower. I think I have some very small insight into what you're talking about, and you are in my prayers.

  11. Hi, Vicky! I've been following your blog and sending lots of love and hugs! I think about you every day and wish I was there with you now! Please know you can call me anytime to laugh, cry, gossip, or just need someone to listen. I am here for you! I'm sending healing and comforting thoughts. I wish you calmness and peace. I can't wait to see you in October!

    With lots and lots of love always,

    Emily Gerhardson

  12. I think I've only commented once before, but I've been reading your blog since you first discovered you had breast cancer. My mom had just passed from kidney cancer in 2009, and my oldest sister was just diagnosed with lung cancer (she never smoked in her life), when you learned of your own cancer. My sister died in May 2011 and I had to quit reading your blog for a while after because it hurt so much. But the Lord often brought you to mind, and I started reading and praying for you over the years. My mom and sister, I don't think they knew Jesus, but I am so glad that you do. He is going to heal you, one way or the other. I am praying for you, your husband, and your boys as you travel this very difficult and painful road. May you feel His Grace and Comfort in a tangible way.

  13. Dear Lord have mercy on your child.

  14. while my heart aches for you, it is also heavy for Rick, Nolan, and Colton as they must watch you endure such intense pain. please let them know that they too are being prayed for! my intense hope is that they have people who are safe for them to talk to whenever they need to have someone shoulder the burden they are so lovingly and bearing. through tears, i'm keeping my eyes on Jesus and asking Him to hold all of you very close. this is beyond understanding.

  15. My prayers and wishes for ease are with you and your family, Vicki. Knowing you are surrounded by love is such a comfort, I am sure.

  16. Oh honey,
    I love you so. Tears are spilling everywhere as I imagine you on that floor crying and rocking with the words of old hymns to comfort you. I so wish I could take it all away and bring you relief and comfort. Thank you, thank you for being so authentic about where you are and the struggles you are facing. I pray every day for you and Rick and Colton and Nolan. I am asking God Almighty to bring you relief. Please, please...I know how hard it is to take pain killers, but I'm so proud of you for doing it so you could get some rest.

    Know that I love you, my dear soul sis, more than words can express. I am on that old truck with you through every twist and turn...always. I will not cease praying!!!

    Love you to the moon and back!!

  17. If my tears would help you, you would be feeling relief right now. I wish I could do something, and I know that all of us who are here for you, wish that same thing. Prayers, dear Vicky. You are my hero, and you always will be. I pray to be as strong as you are. One thing I can tell you for sure, the gift of "you" that you have given to your husband and your sons is a priceless gift that will stay with them always.

  18. Sending prayers to the Westra family

  19. May our prayers lift you and your family. Love and thoughts are with you all.

  20. Words seem so inadequate but all the offering of hope and peace that I have. Praying over you and your family. Praying for relief and sleep and rest. Mostly praying a thick presence of Jesus over you. Many hugs

  21. You've been so heavy on my heart for I understand why.

    Lord, in Your mercy, will You lift the pain? Will You bring rest and healing and hope? Will You cover this precious family with a whole host of angels? Will You bless Dr. P for his wisdom and kindness? Will You bring joy during this suffering? Ministering angels? An extra measure of Your favor?

    Pour out Your love right now over each member of this family, please, Lord.

    We ask this in Jesus' name and for His glory...amen.

  22. I have been so concerned about you these past weeks, and was both relieved and then grieved to see this post. How we hate that you are in such pain, how we admire Dr. P and your super man, how we pray for your continued strength and life. God bless and keep you and those you love so fiercely and deeply.

  23. Oh sweet girl...child of God, my prayers for you are reaching our Father's ears. Prayers for sweet relief from the suffering and that awful pain. I cry and I pray along with you. You are so very strong, and your faith is true. May God bless you and keep you.

  24. Even though I don’t comment very often these days I keep up with your blog and pray for you often, dear Vicky. My heart hurts for you and all you endure, and now so much pain on top of it all. So thankful for your Dr. P and his wisdom in how to help you. Praying you, and your precious family, will feel the presence of the Lord, and that He will give you comfort, peace, rest and strength for each day.
    Much love and hugs to you.

  25. Nothing is as lonely as the walk through unmanageable pain, dear Vicky. No one can share it and you don't feel as though you can endure it. I'm glad you are taking the meds that give an escape, if nothing else. Crying, rocking, and screaming the name of Jesus into a pillow are sometimes the only true release but I PRAY, P-R-A-YYYYY, that there will be a way to relieve it and I know Dr. P won't quit until there is something. Thank God you had the insight, even in your fragile and vulnerable state, to not start getting treated for a kidney stone and you waited for a more thorough look.

    Sending gentle hugs, little friend, and the drugs are there for reasons exactly as you described. Sending you the hope of answered prayer and comfort and healing. You are so tired. Rest now and let others do the worrying and gophering. You saw how Rick could stand in the gap when you couldn't. God will surprise you in other good ways. Many prayers and love, dear one.

  26. I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through. A heart full of love and hope sent your way.

  27. My dear, sweet Vicky,
    It is 3:30am on Sunday, and I woke up with you on my mind and heart.
    Just wanted you to know that right now I am praying non-stop for your comfort and relief.
    Love you to the moon and back, my dear soul sis!


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