Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chemo update-Week 13 no treatment--5/20/14

Week 13—no treatment
It was somewhat frustrating to miss a second straight week of treatment however it was important to understand why Angela was experiencing a new symptom.  I will admit that it was a scary few days leading up to her doctor’s appointment on Tuesday the 20th.   I fought the urge to believe that the cancer had returned in a different form but couldn’t help but allow it to enter my mind on occasion.   The other battle that I face each day is knowing that my fears are minor in nature compared to those of my wife.  The devil  on one shoulder tells me that I’m human, have human emotions that I’m allowed to express however the angel on my other shoulder tells me that I need to stop being selfish & consider her fears.   

So without going into a lot of detail the big news on Tuesday was that the symptoms my wife was experiencing are the result of a non-cancer related problem with her colon.   I cannot tell you enough the relief that I felt but once again, taking a step back, I cannot tell you how relieved my wife must have felt when we received the news. 

Prior to this great relief I had the experience of once again witnessing my wife laying in a hospital bed in an altered state.  She was curled up in a ball covered in a blanket mumbling unintelligible words.  Tears rolled down my eyes as I thought deep thoughts of worry & concern for her well-being.   Victims of illness are not just those directly affected but also those with whom they surround themselves & love.  If, by chance,  I lost this woman my world would effectively end. 

The message being delivered to us from above is that we are stronger than what we thought.   We can beat this but the this but there will be many battles until the fight is over.   The individual battles in our own minds are probably the most difficult to win but if we communicate we can fight together & win out.  Internally, externally & all around us it is difficult but I love my wife & we will not give up.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chemo update: Week 12—No treatment 5-16-2014

Chemo update:  Week 12—No treatment
Coming off the most promising weekend in between treatments we found out on Tuesday the 13th that Angela’s white blood cell count was once again below an acceptable level.  My wife was obviously disappointed & frustrated but I tried my best to ease the blow by reminding her that all things happen for a reason.  In this instance my in-laws were due to arrive mid-week for a 3-day stay so instead of witnessing their daughter’s pain they would now have a chance to enjoy her company without the nausea, aches & general sickness.

Other than being aware of the fact that my wife was ill things seemed back to normal until another meltdown Wednesday evening at which time she told me of yet another physical problem that she has been experiencing.  This one was odd and scared me to death.  As she was crying Angela went on to tell me that over the last month she has been passing blood & mucous through her bowel movements.   I was paralyzed by her words because the immediate thought that came to mind was the cancer had spread however it wasn’t long before logic kicked in and I recognized a similarity between this condition & the condition with her tongue & membranes in the lining of her nose.  Though I’ve been warned against researching information on the Internet I gained some sense of composure by confirming my beliefs through documented articles on credible Sites.  Once my emotions stabilized I stared my wife directly in the eye &  pleaded with her to never again withhold this type of info from me again.  I reminded her that we are at the very beginning of what will be a five year journey so it is important that she learn to trust in me.  I love her, I’ll take care of her & I’ll protect her.   Still shaken by the emotion that cause the breakdown I’m not sure my message registered but I have it memorized and will not hesitate to repeat it over and over again.

The very next day I called the doctor to inform him of the new condition with the hope that he would just prescribe an antibiotic or some medication that would eliminate what I suspect to be an infection or inflammation of the bowel or digestive tract but instead he prescribed a colonoscopy.   It’s not what I wanted because again this introduces the fear of the unknown which in this case could range from a simple side effect of the chemotherapy to something that is life threatening.   When we started this journey we knew there would be ups and downs but in my mind I  planned out in a manner where the downs were minimal and certainly not life threatening.

Today Angela is watching our youngest play ball.   While I worry that the long trips to and from the field deplete her of needed energy  I know that this is an activity that puts a smile on her face and drives her to live.

So this week we push onward and pray that her new problem is related to treatment and easily cured with the only lesson being the importance of disclosing every new symptom immediately to the doctor or a confidant. 

I barely recognize pain or stress in my own body & mind because I witness real pain & real stress every day that my wife has to manage.   This woman is my hero.  Love you Angela!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chemo update: week 11 treatment #8 5-7-2014

My wife responded well to treatment this week in spite of the nasty mixture of medicines that she received.  Typically this particular treatment has produced the most brutal side effects of the three types of mixtures that she gets.  The sequence in which the effects of the medicine occurred did not change but the power either significantly weakened or my wife has just become accustom to pain. 
Emotions throughout the week ranged from anger, frustration, sadness all of the way to happiness.  Anger is an emotion that I experience more so than my wife.  It is something that I must learn to channel in a more positive manner. I have some difficulty understanding how the most emotional being on this planet cannot comprehend the importance of sensitivity toward a person that is sick.  Respect is something that my wife has earned & deserves and now that she is sick I am overly sensitive about others not paying her the respect that she deserves which often results in anger. 

Again sadness is an emotion that can be more overwhelming for me more so than my wife.  I experience this only when reality is shoved in my face which it was at the 5K run/walk to support ovarian cancer on Sunday.  I listened, observed & digested a recurring theme behind many sad stories. The next night’s sleep was restless & ultimately it ended with tears in my eyes with the thought that my wife would not win this fight.  What I learned from this experience is that it is okay to listen to the experiences of others but it is important to remember that we are all unique so what happens to one will not necessarily happen to another.  The mantra I’ve adopted & tried to live by is one day at a time.  As my cousin says it will all work out.

My wife’s biggest emotional challenge is the battle with frustration.  Her mind reflects on better times which drives her body to attempt to return to normal activity & when she is unable it produces frustration.  This week, in particular, she wanted to watch our youngest son play at his baseball tournament but when the day arrived her body said no.  Then on Sunday she had every intention of being a part of the run/walk but again her body said no.  The good news is that she was sensible enough to listen & battled through the frustration to feel very good about her ability to manage through the side effects of this week’s treatment.

Next week we will reach the halfway point a milestone of sorts.  It is hard for me to believe that we have come this far knowing that on day of the first treatment my wife was in tears & I felt like a parent dropping his or her child off at kindergarten for the first time.  After next week I’ll step back & evaluate how we’ve managed & hopefully I will be able to tweak some of my own behaviors to make this a smoother ride for her on the back side.

My wife has done wonderful throughout teaching me & those who surround her how to manage pain, manage emotions & manage life.  She is a great woman whose legacy will be helping others to understand that life does not end because cancer strikes.  I love you Angela! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Angela's Facebook comment on Saturday 5/3/14

Had every intention of going to my son's baseball tournament this weekend...while my head always says yes my body always seems to say no : ( I must say though I don't feel as bad as I have after my other first treatment rounds so I thank God for that!!