one flew over the red herring

This is my third attempt in three weeks at writing a new blog post – hopefully not another false start. The first post, which I started on my last day in the hospital, was to be entitled “One Flew Over the East River.”  It was to be a lengthy, humorous account of my week in a four person room on the oncology ward. Though I did bond with a couple of the ten plus roommates that came and went throughout the course of the week, there was one woman who was there for a good chunk of my stay who I’m pretty sure had tourette’s syndrome. I made the mistake of asking the nurses to ask her to turn down her TV one night (she was the only of the four of us who refused to use headphones). She subsequently directed her anger, not at me, but at my other roommate, whose medicine made her gassy. Her epic belches and loud, perpetual flatulence were all met with a string of expletives from behind curtain number four. By my last night in the hospital, I was shacked up with three women with varying levels of dementia. Yes, this is a very sad thing. But let’s just say my compassion was put to the test.

The second blog post I started was to be called ‘The Red Herring Strikes Again.” Upon release from the hospital, one of my IV sites was swollen, red, hot. That, coupled with lingering side effects from the treatment (chills, fever, nausea) landed me in urgent care, and subsequently on a course of two different antibiotics, just in case, which resulted in complete loss of appetite, constipation, and lethargy. Although I was fairly certain that the combination of Bactrum and Amoxicillin was the culprit, when you have a GI system full of tumors, any stomach issues make you think you are dying, imminently. There were a lot of tears that week.

The moment I finished up the antibiotics – which coincided with a visit from April, one of my best friends on the planet – my appetite returned, I resumed daily poops, and I sprung back to life. I spent the week feeling like a million dollars. Although we mostly sat around playing cribbage and having the kind of marathon conversations that make you feel both brilliant and understood, I did manage to have an entire day in NYC, topped off with a concert at Prospect Park (Bela Fleck – YASS!!) with a handful of people I love, where I didn’t feel tired or ill or sorry for myself.  It was like having a brief vacation from cancer. Which is why, when my chills, fevers, nausea returned with a vengeance the next day, I was gutted. The vacation just wasn’t long enough.

Fortunately, Tylenol kept my symptoms at bay enough not to have to go to the emergency room last night, though I did wake up hourly to take my temperature. I spent today getting two units of blood to amp me up for my next round of treatment, which starts on Monday. When I arrived at the cancer center today, I got hooked up to the blood and slept for the next six hours. Again, I had side effects. I was under the impression that the side effects from these IL2 drugs were going to be acute, meaning that they would happen only on days when I was treated. I see now that this may not be the case. The only consolation in feeling so shitty is the knowledge that fevers are often indicative that your body is working hard to fight disease.

My decision not to have any visitors during my last hospitalization was a good one  – though my mom, sister and a cousin were there for a chunk of it, and a few friends popped in when I spontaneously felt up for some company. But it allowed me to develop really close relationships with my nurses and the ability to tune the world out completely when I needed to. And so I’m going to go with the no visitors policy again for this round.  I’m hoping my fevers remain manageable tonight and tomorrow, partly so I can enjoy my last day of freedom but mostly so I don’t have to be admitted early… I’ll be REALLY pissed if I have to miss Game of Thrones.

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14 Responses to one flew over the red herring

  1. mmwm says:

    ” having the kind of marathon conversations that make you feel both brilliant and understood” — so well put — I feel lucky to have a few of these kinds of friends, and I’m glad you do, too. May all be well as you undergo the next round.

    Like

  2. sclazarus says:

    I admire you so much for challenging your disease like Arya takes revenge on her enemies. You do you soooo well. Love you

    Like

  3. Bonnie says:

    glad u got to spend good quality time with April, you did look terrific Wednesday. Stay strong I am here for you my love.

    Like

  4. Sheryl Gina says:

    Thinking of you
    And hope round two is better
    Than round one!!!
    Xoxo

    Like

  5. karenthornton2017 says:

    I had IL-2 treatment for Stage-4 melanoma in Portland, OR in 2013. I am one of the lucky 5%. I feel that I am a link in the chain for the cure – and so are you. Reading your blog brings back memories of my journey. Your writing is raw and genuine and powerful. I’ll be thinking about you next week and will be sending you lots of white energy, especially on Monday morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. lydia8835 says:

    We are in awe of you Jen.
    BTW your writing skills are amazing. This old English teacher is visibly jealous.
    Praying you do well with this treatment.
    We are always thinking of youLove,
    Lydia and Burt❤️❤️

    Like

  7. frankieherrington says:

    So glad to hear you were able to enjoy a gig with April.
    Saw your pics and it looked like you had a great time.
    I recall your and April’s long conversations – just add wine or coffee.

    Love to skype and GOT it up when you’re in the mood. xxx All our love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Roni says:

    Sending you love, prayers. Love you

    Like

  9. Diana Candella says:

    Zena the warrior Queen.

    Like

  10. Rita Rios says:

    Sending love and prayers. I’m always thinking about you. Hope to see you soon. It’s almost birthday time. Stay strong. Love you so much Jen.
    Rita

    Like

  11. Can says:

    Thinking of you as always. Much love

    Like

  12. Sharon. Teig says:

    A big fat kiss to you from ca…brave woman..in your journey you give so much by sharing your humor and strength..much love to you

    Like

  13. Freddy says:

    Sending you love , energy and healing thoughts.
    Xo

    Like

  14. Lee says:

    You are a warrior Jen! One of the most courageous, powerful and admirable women I know. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day. Love you tons 😘🙏🏻❤️

    Like

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