End of 4th week

Melanie @ treatment
Melanie’s little helper
So, my fourth week has come to a close. 4 Chemos down, 2 to go. 13 Radiation treatments left, ending Aug. 2. The good and the bad news is that my digestive problems were partially caused by a food borne bug found mainly among children in developing countries, Enterogenic E. Coli. I have no earthly idea how I contracted this. No one that I have stayed with or have been exposed to, (including Anita, who attends the majority of my chemos, meetings, and radiation treatments) has shown any of the same symptoms.

I found this out after taking my 3rd specimen in. I showed up for radiation Friday morning, and they immediately put me in an isolation room, so that I wouldn’t mix with the other women, who also had lowered immune function. My Oncology Radiation nurse came to give me the news that there was indeed a reason for such severe diarrhea. This is somewhat comforting, as I wasn’t really sure how I might endure the next 2 and 1/2 weeks, if it was simply a problem caused by radiation and chemo. The bad news is that MDA is not sure how they want to treat it, as antibiotics might cause more problems. As it is right now, they are hoping it will just run its course. Infectious Disease Control was contacted for discussion.

I do think yesterday was a better day. Less meds, less trips to the bathroom. Some of the post-chemo nausea and malaise gets mixed into the pot. I asked for this particular treatment, which means chemo weekly. Unfortunately, about the time I’m feeling a little better, I have 1 day before chemo starts again. However, I still believe 6 and 1/2 intensive weeks is a heck of a lot better than MAJOR surgery–with a 6 week recovery time–followed by 4 and 1/2 months of chemo that also kills brain cells.

The medication that seems to really help is Tincture of Opium. There was a big snafu with People’s Pharmacy last weekend, so I wasn’t able to pick it up until I got to MDA on Monday afternoon. I was hesitant to take it, but Anita convinced me that there was no better time to try it then while I was in the hospital getting chemo, where they could oversee any problems. Actually I did not notice much at all, except that I might’ve been a little bit more relaxed, and it definitely calmed my digestive tract.

Enough about that subject!! I stayed with my “Aunt Alice”. She and my Uncle Jerry transported me to appointments, babied me, and provided emotional support. Wednesday is my light day, with just one radiation appointment, so Jerry and I took the opportunity to go visit two Jewish cemeteries. My father, paternal grandmother and grandfather, as well as some uncles, were at Temple Emanuel Cemetery, which is a gorgeous, soothing place. We placed stones on their graves and said Kaddish, a prayer for the dead. Then we went to a separate Jewish cemetery, where my beloved grandmother, Sophie Robins, and my cousin, Leslie is buried. We did the same there. Also, Jerry is a Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner, also called tapping,so I had a long session with him. The idea is to stimulate certain acupuncture points while bringing up strong emotional issues, to release/downgrade/change those feelings that get stored in your cells’ memory. I think it was very helpful. I also got to spend an evening with my special Aunt Jeanne, the sharpest 93 year old, incredible co-publisher of the Jewish Herald Voice.

Through the course of this disease over the last almost 4 years, I have tried to examine all stressors, negative thoughts, any self “unlove”, as I think that causes “dis-ease”. There are many subtle and not so subtle ways in which we don’t exhibit enough self love. I am a caregiver. That’s what I do. I love making people feel better. However, talking with Jerry, I realized the great extent of the stress I have been under for probably 10 years or more. First, going back and forth to help my father, who lived in Abilene, had dementia, and allowed multiple women to take advantage of him until he was deeply in debt. (I always said I needed to write a book, “Life with Jack”, because every week there was a new trauma!) At the same time, Michael and I were trying to help his 85 year old parents in Bryan, cleaning out their house, writing bills, and helping his Mom, who also had dementia. Throw in feeling responsible for my fabulous, but intense Mom moving to Dripping, and Michael’s youngest brother in Blanco, who has considerable mental problems, and was sheltering several people running from the law. We were always the “go to” couple, although my siblings and Michael’s tried to help when possible. When one is going through hard times,the only thing you can do is put 1 foot in front of the other. Who knows how much we internalize?

I do have more love and support coming my way than is imaginable at times. My friend, Lynda Burger, drove me to Houston on Monday, and stayed with her daughter all week in order to pick me up on Friday. Anita hung out with me all Tuesday, once again beating me at Canasta. I am taking the Vonlane Bus back to Houston (VERY LUXURIOUS!) courtesy of Judy Carter. It’s like a First-Class airline seat. And, I will be staying with my kind friends, Laura Pang and Bill Wheeler, this week. Way too many people to mention contributed to my mind-boggling Go Fund Me, so that I don’t have to worry about how to afford this time off or past medical bills. Todah Rabah, Muchos gracias, Thank you!!

Until next week, signing off.