Thursday, January 27, 2011
For Pete's Sake
Now. As many of you may already know, Dan, Judah and I took a trip to Florida this past week. What you may not know is how the trip came to be. We were sent by a group called For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation (formerly known as Crossing the Finish Line) to stay in their home 20 minutes from Disney World. Our flights, rental car, food, and tickets to ALL of the parks were covered. The 3 bedroom house had everything we needed (plus a pool), and we got really lucky with the weather (except maybe for the NE storm on our way out of Philly). Only one rainy day, all the rest were warm enough for flip flops. Sunshine, mickey mouse and family: how much more can one ask for?
Needless to say, the trip was wonderful. We got a chance to be a family again - just concentrating on one thing: having fun together. We went to Magic Kingom and met all of the Disney characters (even saw some princesses), Animal Kingdom and went on safari, Epcot and traveled to space, Hollywood Studios and saw Disney Playhouse Live, Universal Studios to visit the wizarding village of Hogsmeade, Sea World to feed dolphins and meet manatees and much, much more. Only the 600 pictures we took can help us remember everything we did. Parades, fireworks, 3-D movies, wand demonstrations, killer whale and dolphin shows (now we know where the Olympic divers and gymnasts go after competitions), stage performances, and oh, the rides! Thank goodness it wasn't like re-living Sesame Place 2010 (refer back to a late August posting for a refresher), Judah loved EVERYTHING. We asked him over and over, "Did you like that?" and his reply (consistently) was, "Yes, but is there more? Is it over? Can we do it again?"
So of course, there is not a thank you note big enough to fill with all of the memories we created together, but FPS must already know how meaningful their work is (or they wouldn't be doing it). Please check out their website for more information.
As far as my health goes, I was feeling pretty good in FL, except for a slight breathing problem that started a few days before we left. It's not that I can't breathe, just that I'm not getting enough air. In order to get enough, I must suck in oxygen to the deepest corners of my lungs. At first, I thought it was just anxiety. I experienced it before, during chemo and (at the advice of a doctor) I used the help of a prescription to sleep it off and when I awoke, the problem was no more.
This time, however, the problem did not go away. In fact, on our last day in FL (in the midst of shopping! how rude!), I had an episode where my heart was racing, I got dizzy and had to lay down (on a bench in Downtown Disney). I phoned Dr. Henry and his nurse practitioner told me to either get checked out at a nearby ER or see if I could manage until I got back and I would see the doc the same day I was scheduled for my CT scan (just 2 days later). I opted for choice B, knowing how things in the ER (especially one far away from my medical records) would go.
I had some panicky moments the last night before bed, thinking I probably wouldn't wake up the next morning and would traumatize Judah forever. Luckily (for all of us), I did wake up and we got back to Philadelphia safe and sound (and on time).
Fast forward to yesterday and the ridiculous snowstorms of January 26, 2011. After discovering the roads were impassable, my mother and I took the train to center city for my first post-treatment scan. We walked to the hospital and I was eventually taken back to the scan room. Even though I had made multiple mentions of my port needing to be accessed, the tech had ignored me and I had to insist on having it accessed. He finally brought me back to IR (interventional radiology - where I had my first biopsy and my port installed) to get accessed. My favorite nurse there, Becky, came to help me out. I mentioned the breathing issue and that I felt like my heart was racing. She took my vitals and discovered, indeed, my heart was racing (went upto 160 bpm). Long story short, we spent the day in the ER, had an IV put in my arm (with a rather long catheter, I might add), was scanned for a pulmonary blood clot as well as "routine lymphoma" and was discharged, still with no idea of what is causing the breathing problem.
The good news came from the scan results: there are no new growths, the mass is smaller and less dense and I have no pulmonary clot! Yes, I do feel a big sense of relief about having had a successful scan. I cannot yet declare myself in remission until the PET scan comes back clean (in 2 months), but this is certainly a good start.
I have an appointment tomorrow with my primary care doctor to figure out how we can fiddle around with some of the meds I'm on, thinking perhaps I'm experiencing some side effects from them (or the combination of them). Hopefully we can get it sorted out soon so as I can breathe normally again.
For now, we're busy indoors (I am still in my pj's), enjoying being cozy and catching up on TiVo. I have a lot of picture sorting to do and will try to share as many of the Disney highlights as possible on this snail of a computer.