Let’s face it I have never been in great health. I have been plagued with one thing or another pretty much since birth (pneumonia 10 weeks old, born with holes in my heart). But when I hit about age 25 things started accelerating. I got a very bad case of Epstein Barr, with a titer that was off the charts and ended up in the hospital for a week. That was kinda the beginning of a long series of auto-immune diseases and mystery ailments that just never seem to stop coming. So fast forward about 20 years or so and things are still happening but to a more extreme level. Instead of just getting sick, now I am hospitalized. On my husband’s 50th birthday trip we returned to me in the hospital for 3+ weeks with an undiagnosed lung issue. So that’s the background.
My husband had purchased a small farm and hired a farm manager with zero experience to operate it while we lived in another state. We were 52 at this point. This is a terrible situation. One of the worst I have ever been in. This person was not a good fit for us and the situation was simply not working. My husband pleaded with me to work in the “office” to try and make things work, to figure out what is going on, there are mouse dropping everywhere it is filthy, less than a year ago my husband had completely redone the place and it was spotless and beautiful. The entire situation has me beaten down and exhausted. I fly home and make an appointment with my Doctor. Before I leave the house for my appointment I pack a bag for the hospital, actually hoping she will put me in, as I am too tired to take care of myself.
I arrive at my appointment get out of my car and promptly faint in the parking lot. A kind woman helps me up. I show up to my appointment with two skinned knees. My doctor keeps looking at me funny, she asks me what’s going on, she is feeling my stomach with a strange look on her face. She says “I think I want to put you in the hospital for a few days, would that be okay? This is not your stomach.” I say, “I was hoping you were going to say that, I have a bag packed in the car. I feel so terrible, I need someone to take care of me.” And so I am Direct admitted. Something I am an old hand at by now.
Within the next 24 hours my Doctor and my Hematologist/Oncologist come into the room and tell me they have found cancer but need to do further tests to determine whether it is Lymphoma or Colon cancer. They tell me they are going to be aggressive and fast moving on this. I nod and say yes, let’s. They leave and I call my Husband and tell him to come home. I am strangely calm. I feel like I knew this day was coming sooner or later, and I trust my doctors. So I wait and I begin my usual hospital routine. Up early never wear hospital clothes, read the bible every morning, walk around the nurses station several times, get my coffee, sit in the chair order breakfast, go through my emails, start working. I never turn on the T.V.
They come get me for the procedures: Bone Marrow Test, Biopsy, Insertion of Port, all done by a very handsome, ginger-headed doctor. I am back in my room. It is the following day the morning rounds are in full swing, here comes my Doctors….Lymphoma: Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma, 6 rounds of R-CHOP we will start the first one in a day or so, Everything is going to be alright. I call my husband, “Where are you? It’s Lymphoma.” He is at the airport.
The first round of chemo took 36 hours. I am reacting terribly to the drugs I am going into convulsions, I am shivering my blood pressure is dropping…not good, I think this is a piece of cake! I get through it, then pneumonia. This is going to be a big deal. After a total of 4 ½ weeks (34 days) they release me from the hospital I go home….I am now not quite so top of the world but okay. Before the next treatment the hair is gone. I never lose it entirely I keep a fine downy layer of my light blonde hair throughout.
We go wig shopping:
Oh no! I feel awful, visit to the ER, admitted. Neutropenic fever, released just in time for second chemo treatment. There that was easy and the nurses are so nice. I feel fine. But about 2-3 days later I am back in the ER in need of a Blood transfusion and I am horribly ill, Pneumonia, admitted for 3 weeks. Released just in time for my third Chemo treatment. Everything is fine until it isn’t. Another trip to the ER. Admitted Neutropenic again. In the hospital where I have picked up some infectious disease (?) for another 3 weeks released just in time for my fourth Chemo treatment, smooth sailing, I am weak, but good. I work over at my friend’s house, I go see my Dad, I go back to the ER I need another Blood Transfusion and the infectious disease is back, Admitted for 2 weeks released just in time for my fifth chemo treatment. I get home, I feel a little off, I am talking to my niece on the phone, the next thing I hear is “Aunt Doe, Aunt Doe, Did you faint?” to which I realize I had. I grab the phone tell her I am fine I just sat down for a minute. Back to the ER, Admitted. 2 weeks once again, out just in time for my final sixth round of Chemo, a friend of mine was in town from NC and we asked for a private room and had ourselves quite a time. A week later I was back in the hospital for a final 3 weeks.
All in all I spent approximately 125 days in the hospital from Diagnosis to the stay after the final chemo treatment. It was hard to not be able to help and support my brother –in-law as he went through his battle with esophageal cancer or be there for my sister. It was tough to miss out on things like my niece’s graduation. But I was hard at work fight a fierce battle every damn day. It was tough and the only things that saved me were the awesome nurses who were beyond incredible, my husband and having a routine that prevented me from lying in bed and dwelling on what was happening in my body. In fact I tried to never think about it. I thought positive thoughts, I made plans for the future, I made plans for my business, I didn’t keep a journal of how I was feeling. I did get up every day and give myself a pep talk in the mirror. I would tell myself I was a badass and nothing like a little deformed cell was going to take me down and that I had the best of the best on my team and we were not F**king around with this thing, it had to go! I told myself that I was the toughest SOB I knew and that I could beat anything without half trying and that this was no different. And then I would wash may face put a little light make-up, on slap a beanie on my bald head, stick Dammit Janet in a different and strange place, and get on with the business of living.
I am 4-1/2 years Cancer-Free as of this writing.
The Dammit Doll I named Janet: Best Gift Ever, Given to me By Pamela Marte Miller, THANK YOU!
Dammit Janet Checking out the Bed Controls!