Monday, May 18, 2009

Beaten But Not Broken

I guess I was bound to hit a shitty day along the way. I was a little pompous over the weekend, inflated by steroids and decadron. Today, without them, I felt like I got hit with a truck driven by a truck driver that made no attempt at braking. Forward, backward and forward again. 

In short, my body is extremely achey, especially my back. I've been woozy, seeing stars, eyes burning and very uneasy. I was able to get some work done this morning which I was proud of but by the time of my bone marrow biopsy appointment I was like a wilted balloon. Food no longer tastes or smells the same and my mouth is beginning to feel very raw and sores are developing as the chemo attacks those soft tissues. Juice, tea, ginger ale all feel like a flaming Sambuca shot going down. But I have to drink lots of fluids at the risk of a developing UTI. What a conundrum. A special "for oncology patients only" mouthwash helps a bit to calm the throbbing tissue but I hope this is a temporary sensation. 

My mom and sister took me to the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at HH for the bone marrow biopsy. Shaky, flush and uneasy I stumbled into the center on their arms and careful watch. They took blood, a lot of it, and usually it doesn't bother me but today ... I was going down. The fellow who would be doing my biopsy was explaining the procedure and all I saw was stars. I had to interrupt her with a "uh, I'm feeling pretty woooooozy" as they jumped to lay me on the exam table. 

Helen, my favorite oncology nurse, came in with an IV of Adivan to ease my nerves and the doc began the biopsy procedure. Long needles jammed into my rump to numb up the area felt just fantastic (oozing sarcasm). The numbing took longer than she had expected and she had to go back in a few times with more Novocain as the pain was much stronger than the "pressure" I was supposed to be feeling. The goal was to extract some bone marrow with a needle aspiration. That part went fairly smoothly. It was the piece of my hip bone that they needed to extract that wasn't so straightforward. 

She had an awful time breaking off a chip. "Do you work out? You have such strong bones," she kept saying. "It's so much easier with elderly people ... they're so much more frail." 

In my head: "well I'm not frail, and jamming into my hip bone with this knife is hurting like a son of a bitch." Out loud: "ya, I guess I do have strong bones." cursing myself for loving milk, those calcium supplements and hard workouts. 

The pain subsided but I could feel the pressure and hear the sound of her chipping away at my hip. Then I hear the conversation between her and the pathologist. The sample was crap. Great. "Sorry, we've got to go back in again." More jabs, cracks and pulls and they finally got a little grain-of-rice size piece of bone for examination. 

On the way home all I wanted was a Happy Meal from the golden arches. I haven't had fast food in over three years but I needed comfort fast so Mom pulled in for me. It was delicious and I even got a purple squid toy. 

Loopy and confused coming down from the Adavan, the ride home was a blur but I woke up on the couch to my mom and sister who had cleaned the kitchen, made the beds, watered my plants and had supper going .... ahhhhh, content. Then Craig came home and the four of us ate a dinner that went down without too much mouth pain and he helped me to try out the new mouth rinse Dr. Dailey prescribed to soothe my raw gums. 

Dr. Dailey said that there would be bad days and this would be expected. The only thing that makes it easier is that I got through this one and have every hope that tomorrow will be a better one. 


  1. A purple squid toy sounds great :) I'm so very sorry to hear how painful the procedure was, and that you're aching and have oral sores. Hang in there, honey. You're so strong, sweet, funny and beautiful. My hero :)
    Bad days will be followed by good days. Hugs, love.

  2. Karin, You are by far one of the bravest people I know. I know our acquaintance is by a default of sorts, but how strange it is when we meet people in our lives. There is always a bigger picture, always a reason. I am not a religious person, by any means, but I have tremendous faith in something larger than all of us. We may not always know what the reason is at any one time, but eventually we figure it out. (Isn't that what Oprah calls an aha moment?) I remember, not too long ago (5-ish years to be exact), sitting in the Oncology waiting room at Hasbro Children's Hospital. NOT a place I ever in a million years thought I would be sitting. I remember my daughter getting so used to having her blood drawn that all she would say is "oh no." And, most of the time, wouldn't even cry. And several months later, placing my toddler daughter in the hands of experts to draw bone marrow out of her gorgeous little body. Just a little spot above her cute tushie. Luckily she remembers nothing. But I remember everything - - every feeling, every emotion, every mountain, the smiles, the tears, and even the guilt. Every visit to Hasbro, and ultimately to CCMC when we moved here to CT, all I could think of was why do good people (old and young and even younger) have to go through this? As my husband and I waited for results, all I could think of was what did I do to make this happen? I know that it wasn't the right thing to think, but it crept up no matter how I tried to suppress it. Today, that beautiful little girl is a a happy, healthy, very sassy almost-7-year-old. We also found out that the diagnosis was fairly common, and by fluke we were able to catch it due to other bloodwork she had had done. She eventually "grew out of" her condition, as the doctors predicted she would. People wonder why I am so overly protective of her, and I know why. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about the doctors, the nurses, and the support. Now it is my turn to offer the same. Live, dream, laugh, love, smile, cry, scream, punch something (or someone, if that makes you feel better) and then laugh some more. Rent the funniest movies you can find, the craziest and raunchiest comedians to listen to, and continue to write. Rely on those around you - - your family, your friends. Don't ever feel as though you owe anyone anything. What goes around, comes around. You deserve the very best, take it in, no questions asked. That's what friends are for. With love, Kim

  3. You're doing great, Karin. There's no shame in getting a Happy Meal. If anyone deserves a little junk food, it's you. Sheri

  4. On days like this, I think the best response is a Happy Meal or two and punching a muppet while singing "It sucks to be me." You can go back to being an adult again tomorrow if you feel like it. Rie