Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving and the laundry room floor...

It's 3 am-ish last Sunday morning, when I fumble towards the bed.  I've been in and out of the bathroom, gosh, how many times already?  I tumble in, burrowing down under the covers,  groggy with sleep meds.

Its the crashing sound outside our room that jolts me awake at 530 am.  What was that?  Rick, having driven 4 hours to the cities and then back again, is deeply asleep.

He stumbles out of bed, throwing on the overhead light and we see in the hallway, its Crosby.  He is in the midst of a seizure, drool pooling outside of his mouth, his legs thrashing.  His eyes are dazed, his paws clawing, and he is far away in another world, trying like crazy to get out.

I wish I could say its the first time.  But, it was last summer when the first glimmers of something wrong with him began to crop up.  Despite having chemo the day before, I had to take Crosby in to the Animal ER.

The doctor, upon entering the room, got right down along the wall, where Cros and I were sitting.  He simply starting cajoling Crosby, whispering to him, scratching his belly, and Crosby melted on the spot.  Fairly certain, I did too.

We ran all kinds of blood tests and ruled out all kinds of things.  But the big thing remaining?  Epilepsy- which essentially means seizure disorder, and its not uncommon in Golden Retrievers.

Plus this Veterinarian?  This God send of a doctor?  Looks at me, and looks at Crosby, and says- "he is so in tune with you.  He senses how sick you are.  And he can't keep it at bay, any more than you can."

Apparently, my dog is as surrendered as I am.

So we started him on Phenobarbital, last July.  Shortly after I started my 3 chemo cocktail.  And he slowly got better.

But this Saturday morning?  Was one of the worst seizures we've witnessed.  His dose of meds is clearly not within the therapeutic range for him any more, and we need to increase it.

The seconds stretch out before us as Crosby continues to writhe in front of us.  Then he loses control of both his bladder and his bowels, as we sit trying to soothe him, and yet steer clear of the mess.

Then suddenly?  His eyes clear, and he is back with us!!  And his tail thumps a time or two, and we start breathing in...  and instantly we're gagging, because its putrid and clearly we're mired in mess.  We spend the day cleaning, resting, and regrouping for the big week ahead.

 Because each day His mercies wash anew, and I start each day, with the gift of renewed hope.

I'm fine until early evening, Monday,  as we prepare to go to the parent hockey meeting for Nolan.  My stomach is churning and I'm downing more Immodium, hoping to settle it, in time.

But half way through the meeting, I'm feeling faint, lightheaded, and just downright sick.  And my stomach is now cramping.

I grab Rick's arm, and push him over to the sign-up sheets, scribbling our names down once, or twice, before I finally plead to go.

As I go to swing my leg up into the back seat of the car, my stomach doubles me over, and pain shoots through my abdomen.  I'm shocked by the intensity of it.

Tears spring to my eyes, as I rock back and forth.  Instantly we start talking about going to the ER.  I'm running scenarios through my head.  What could be causing this?

My stomach is distended and tender and I'm the one now writhing in the back seat, trying to bite my cheeks so Nolan can focus on driving.

No mother ever wants to see their young son, have to witness her in pain, let alone drive her to the ER.  He asks repeatedly if he should just take me to the ER, the concern and the worry flooding his voice.  But we're closer to home, and I know if I go to the ER, it'll be an all night affair, and I may not even get to go home.

So I ask for a reprieve in my own bed.  I swallow all kinds of pills, and tell them to let me rest, and if its not better soon, we'll go.  But really?  I'm finally able to just let the tears fall, because sometimes its all I have left to offer.

I eventually manage to fall deep into sleep and awake Tuesday to the cramping subsided.

But then the day and its meaning pops into my head and I'm sickened all over again.

It's chemo day... and how on earth am I going to do infusion... when I'm feeling too weak to crawl out of bed?

I think sometimes we know, before we know.

Tuesday was going to be a hard, and then an even harder day.

I was too sick for chemo.

My stomach was a tender, roiling mess, and it took the Nurse Practitioner two seconds to check, and  when I winced as she lightly touched my abdomen, she shook her head side to side, then hurried off to page Dr. Panwalkar.  "No Taxol."

I'll see him in two weeks... and lord only knows what, if anything is left for treatment.  Plus, I'm still waiting to hear about scheduling the scans we talked about doing.  So is all the stomach turmoil side effects?  Or is something new taking over my stomach, yet again?

And how is it when, you don't think you can sink any lower?  The hardest blow hasn't even landed yet.   With that,  I simply decide by the end of the day, I'm done on Tuesday.  With the tears, and the heavy, and the hard.

Late that night, its just me, kneeling on the laundry room floor, covered with shreds of whispered prayers and piles of mismatched socks.  I've left it with Him.

"Empty to fill, again."

 It's then, that I turn to Jesus Calling in search of words to balm my aching heart and soul...  and there it is... Sarah Young brings it home for me yet again...

November 24th-

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I have instructed you to give Me thanks for everything... This is a spiritual act of obedience- blind obedience... it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank me for heartrending hardships.

"Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts.  You may still be in the same place... but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting of adversity."  


Monday, November 16, 2015

when moments sustain...

I'm trying to learn this new landscape of weekly infusions.  I come away from infusion with a steroid induced thrum going through my body, heart and mind.  I fully use it to propel me into going out, seeing people, steeling myself for the tapering off of those adrenaline boosting drugs. I'm making up lost time, from all the months of seclusion this summer and sickness.   So I live those moments full because I can go from active- to flat on my back in sheer exhaustion, in mere seconds. 

And the rest I am coping with?  Is more nuisance and inconvenience.  It feels like I need handfuls of Imodium to loosen the tether I feel to the bathroom.  And the bloody noses.  The dry, cracked, bleeding nose.  The vaseline, the humidifier, the saline, the swabs, the kleenex.  Just another taxol side effect, more bothersome than worrisome.   

So I had every intention of being here, updating all that's transpired this past week or so... but it was Saturday night, when I crashed in a chilly heap on the bed.  Nolan had hockey tryout scrimmages we'd attended, and despite the fact it was Superman's birthday, he was coming down with a cold, and so we simply ordered pizza in, and crashed early that night.  

But in between the urgent rush to live full, and the crashing and burning that comes shortly after?  Are all the sustaining moments that bless beyond measure.  

Because it feels like the hard, is cushioned with His grace filled gifts, always. 

Like when my cousin, Pam, sends me the above card, in black and white- its one of those moments that sustains me.  The words, seep right into my heart and I'm nodding and smiling because they fit me so.  She sends the best cards, with offers of help when I need it, and words that speak to me, and I just need her to know it sustains me so. 

And then, at the same time, my friend, Connie, comes and brings me the cross from above.  It fits so perfectly in my hand, and I'm clinging and holding and hanging on again.  Thank you, Connie.  

Then the surprise from the Brantners.  They don't even know me!  But they bless us with a Bell State Bank Pay it Forward check, that is generous, and touches me, because they've never laid eyes on me. But they humble me so, and honor me in a way that is hard to attach the right words to.  But I'll start with these... Thank you, Laine and Tiffani.  We went to the Moorhead bank branch and deposited it in my old "benefit," account.  Every time, its close to being depleted, something shows up.  I feel like He shows up.  And we bank our gifts, knowing when the new deductible hits in January?  We'll have help.  Blessed help.  

How about that collage picture on the bottom?

It was weeks ago when the call first came.  I was sitting in the PT waiting room, surrounded by patients, waiting my turn for the Lymphedema therapist to see me. 

I answered the phone in a hushed voice, and heard a hushed voice in return.

"Hi Vicky, this is Chery.  (Chery is a Psychologist that facilitates our stage iv group.) We were wondering if there is any chance you might want to go to New York City?  My mind hits pause, because did she really say, New York?  Me, go to, New York?  

"We have a Breast Cancer Conference, sponsored by the Avon Foundation, and were wondering if you'd like to attend with us?  I'll go, and one other, plus you."

But most of this is somewhat lost on me, as its noisy in the waiting room, and I can barely hear, but I know I heard New York, and I'm saying Yes! 

And suddenly, its only a couple of weeks away, December 1st, and I'll be leaving for New York City! We booked our airline tickets, and reserved hotel rooms, and the excitement of going keeps drawing me forward, sustaining me.  The Avon Foundation granted us money to help run our support groups, and my mission?  To help garner more funds!  

And I have a special friend, Barb, with both enthusiasm and wonderful taste for fashion and style.  She generously brought the "New York City," bag from TJ Max and filled it with things I could wear!    She clipped ideas in pictures(above) and ran them past me, and then proceeded to get me all the right sizes, and mix and match colors and truly just gave me the confidence to feel like I'll look fine when I go. 

Could the sparkling cider have arrived at any better time?  Linda made sure to include it in a box with  a pretty sweater, cute hats, and a scarf and the beautiful Rumi card.  Its a Colton favorite and he can't wait to open it and enjoy. 

As small as I feel sometimes, vulnerable, and stripped bare.   How is it that my life feels so big?  Far bigger in ways I could have ever dreamt it could be.  

Its Ann Voskamp that sings it home for me: 

“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks."

I'll humbly be whispering my thanks tomorrow as I go in for lab work, then doctor's appointment, then infusion for Taxol, Perjeta, and Herceptin.  It's a long and full day... but this much I know is true...

~All shall be well~

Can I pray for you?

Please leave requests in the comments below if you are so inclined.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


It’s right when they pull the bar down over my head and wedge it into my lap on the rollercoaster that I start to inwardly scream, “Wait! I changed my mind! Let me off!” 

Who picks Space Mountain, at Disneyland, to be their very first rollercoaster experience?  

By now, however, it’s too late.

With a jerk the car moves forward, as the undercarriage starts grabbing the hooks, to lift it towards the sky.

By the time we are climbing, the car is clicking- each "click, click, click" ratchets my anxiety up a notch and I am sure this was a mistake. I press my knees against the back of the seat in front of me trying to hold myself steady.

I steel myself, surmising the drop will come, whether I like it or not.

And then there is that moment, that nauseating and violent moment where everything slows down... 

For a brief portion of a second I’m airborne, held in by that suffocating bar. 

Then down we go and I shriek as I hurl back into the seat!  I tell myself "it's over soon, over soon... over... I just need to ride it out.   It will end... 

Whew, it does.  I'm shaky-kneed and breathless as I walk away...

Its not until my boys ride their first "intermediate," rollercoaster at Hershey Park, that I get back on... this one in the light, and I'm more focused on how my boys will do, than myself.

These days I find myself, on a rollercoaster ride... like none other.  One that doesn’t end.  I'm flying around corners, hurtling up steep embankments, waiting... feeling my stomach lurch... knowing the plunge and the free fall will happen... again, and again... whether I'm ready or not.  

Weekly taxol infusion today...

Are you following Rory and Joey's story?  Heart wrenching and life-giving all at the same time.

THIS post, had me saying, me too!

Pretty sure love made my hair fall off, too.  

It's love after all, that beats cancer, every time.

Next blog post later this week- filled with all kinds of love that is seeing me through- plus my next big adventure...

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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