The Caribbean sun, sand, and salt did both Craig and me much good. It was so cleansing to be able to walk away from it all even for just eight days. To leave the piles of medical bills, the long to-do lists, the bags still not unpacked from the various hospital stays. A change of scenery where we were forced to do nothing but enjoy ourselves was wildly healing.
The islands, their white sands and unreal turquoise waters were nothing less than breathtaking. As we were sailing from St. Thomas to St. John on a catamaran with raggae pumping and rum runners being poured from a cold jug all I could think was "This is how I want to go." Not in a hospital bed but out in the beauty of nature doing something that makes me feel so alive it hurts. It's experiences like that that make me realize what an incredible world we live in and fuel my urge to continue to travel to see more and more and more of it.
The sun helped my eyebrows grow to the point of near normalcy and my eyelashes are creeping out as well – still very short, but they look like they'll be very full. And, there is a distinct soft fuzz sprouted on my head. Unfortunately, it didn't heal the immense fatigue, but I held me own. In reality, it wasn't too strenuous to lay out in a lounge chair or make it from our room to the theater to take in a show. Every day I got in a solid two-hour nap in our air-conditioned room. So, by the time it got to excursion days, I was well-rested. We snorkeled and sailed in breathtaking St. John, toured the historic streets and took in the stunning architecture of San Juan, and explored uninhabited islands (as well as the very inhabited Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville) of Grand Turk.
Now we're home and in the midst of a major New England heat wave so it's as if we never left the warm embrace of the Caribbean sun. Only here, unlike on the boat, there is no massive fresh fruit and fresh sushi buffets nor 24/7 access to a soft-serve ice cream machine. No live calypso music nor nightly entertainment consisting of everything from jugglers and comedians to dancers and hypnotists. Ah, well. We really did have a blast. The best part was really just being able to enjoy each other without the heavy weight we've been bearing for so long.
I wish I could say that that sense of freedom has remained, but it has not. Before we even left, I was coming down with some kind of something. I was going into coughing fits to the point of gagging and sometimes vomiting with a lot of chest tightness and fullness. Plus, there was – and still is the swollen lymph node issue. Dr. Dailey gave me a z-pack antibiotic to take on the cruise, but unfortunately, it did not help. I just sucked it up and pushed through doing my best to keep the coughing fits to a minimum. Some nights on the ship I'd end up with shaking chills, which I knew meant fever even without a thermometer. But it was only one night (my 28th birthday, actually) that they were so bad that I couldn't make it out to "showtime." I could do nothing but shake under the covers in our room but Craig was more than comforting staying in with me and watching "Monsters vs. Aliens" on TV.
Now that I'm back home without all the beautiful distractions, the symptoms are a little harder to ignore. Dr. Dailey now has me on another type of antibiotic as well as some prescription cough medicine that is working to calm my bronchial tree. The combination also takes away my appetite and causes a lot of nausea. So I've just been taking it easy. Reading and melting into my hammock. Today I have to take it especially easy – no strenuous activity – as tomorrow is the big day: my PET Scan and I can't take any risks with false positives.
Tomorrow Craig and I will drive down to Yale Cancer Center where I'll get blood work, another breathing treatment, PET Scan, then meet with Dr. Cooper to go over the results. I am so freaked out about this test I could rip the skin right off myself in agony. This is a big reason why I wanted to cruise away, less time to dwell on something that I have no control of. The size of the lymph nodes on my collar bone and the one in my left under arm have only increased and have gotten harder and this is concerning. Though the hope is that this chest infection, or whatever is going on, is what is causing that to happen and not that the cancer is back. That would be impossible.
Right now, all I can do is enjoy the shade of this pine tree and the calming buzz of Craig's saw as he works up in his workshop. I just can't wait for tomorrow to be over.