Thursday, November 5, 2009


....and I feel like my memory is failing me right now!

One big thing I forgot to mention was my family! Right before I got into the accident, my dad resigned at his job and decided to move to Florida, where he had a new job (less stress). Well, the market was beginning to crash. My mom put our home up for sale, we had lived there since 1989 I think. Well, my dad went down to FLA to start @ his new job. My mom was going to stay back home til our home sold. My mom just recently reminded me of some key dates: November 29th was the day my dad moved to FLA, and December 10th was the day I got into the accident. As you can see, the situation kind of sucked!!! My dad was in FLA when everything happened, which made it really hard for everyone, including him. My mom still kept the house for sale, but said if it sold, she would not leave for FLA til I was ok. She is the best.

Back to where I left off at now....

So I had just had my port implanted. I couldn't move my arm. Actually, I couldn't move my entire right side, and my back was hurting bad still, so I really couldn't move at all. I couldn't shower because I was covered in bandages and stitches and all that fun stuff. The night after my surgery, which was Tuesday (I believe Dec. 19 2006), my boyfriend's family went out to dinner. I think it was for Chris's little brother's birthday which is on the 10th. Well anyway, I wanted to go so bad. I hadn't really left my house, and I wanted to get out. I remember my hair being really nasty because I couldn't shower. My mom went to Jewel and bought this stuff called "psssst". I laughed. Her and Meg (my sis) sprayed it in my hair, and it looked clean again! Then Meg had to help me get dressed. I remember being really picky because I didn't want to wear anything that showed this HUGE bandage on my upper chest, but whatever we tried still showed it. That made me sad, but Meg was awesome and really dressed me up. Chris picked me up that night and he brought pillows in his car so I had something to rest my arm on, and also to prop me up. He was so sweet. We went to On the Border in Naperville, a Mexican restaurant. I was so excited to go out, it was hard to eat though! I got tired really easily, but that night was awesome. I took it easy for the next two days, because on Friday the 22nd, my mother's birthday, I had my very first Chemotherapy appointment scheduled.

I was freaked out. I had had two surgeries in the past 5 days, and then I had to start Chemo!? All I kept thinking about was some movie I saw on Lifetime, which kept bringing these visions of pale bald women, very frail. I was scared, and didn't know what to expect.

Well, the day before I had my chemo I had to get a bone marrow biopsy, just to make sure that the cancer hadn't spread there. I went to JOHA, Joliet Oncology and Hematology. I went into this little room, Chris and my mom by my side. When they take a biopsy, they take it out of a bone near your side, low near your hip/butt area. I was on this table laying on my side. I was drugged up, and had some topical anesthetic on my skin. I couldn't look at the needle. From what Chris and my mom told me, it was huge. They started hammering it into my side. I swear I started crying. Either the drugs weren't working, or I needed more. They gave more anther injection of pain meds. I felt really dizzy. They went back to the biopsy, and started pounding this needle into me. They had to puncture my bone. It still hurt. I could feel the needle in me. It got so bad that they had to stop. They didn't get the sample. (Luckily the surgeon who did my back surgery had gotten some marrow, and tested that, it hadn't spread). I think they wheeled me out in a wheel chair. I couldn't walk. I hurt, but was numb at the same time. I was scared. Chris and my mom told me that there was a lot of blood. The needle was about a foot long. Well, I survived that, but did not look forward to the next morning.

My appointment was at 7am. My mom brought me. I didn't eat that morning, I didn't know what I should've done. I got there and the nurses were very nice. They asked if I ate, and I said no, I didn't know if I could. They said "yes! The more you eat the better you'll feel!" This was 3 days before Christmas, so there were cookies EVERYWHERE. The nurses brought me cookies, and I had them for breakfast. They had to remove the bandage from my port surgery early to access my port. I still had stitches. I was scared to see the scar. I was crying. I'm sure my mom was terrified, but I don't remember her freaking out. She was calm, which made me feel better. They took this GIANT needle out, and told me they were going to stick it in my port on my chest. I almost passed out. She took out this can of freezy stuff, and told me she could spray my skin to numb it. I took her up on it. They put the needle in, I swear my heart stopped beating I was so scared. Once it was in I said "whoa, that was it?". It wasn't that bad. Then she hooked up all these bags of all these fluids to a big pole which was right next to my chair. She took a little syringe and said "this is called the butt burner. This is a med for anti-nausea, it makes you feel like you're sitting on fire for a second, are you ready?" What else could I say but yes. She injected it into the tube, and it felt like I was sitting on flames. Horribly. Never want to ever feel that again. It went by really fast though. Then for the next hourish I got to hang out while the two big bags of stuff dripped into me. Eeew. I think I fell asleep. My mom sat beside me patiently. I remember it being really cold. They had the nice warmed up blankets like the hospital did, that made me happy. The nurse came back with lots more syringes. She explained what they were, Bleomycin, Adriamycin, Dicarbazine, Vinblastine. I was like, ok lady, I really know what they are. She was cool, and told me what other patients refer to them as. The only one I remember was Adriamycin, which I guess people called the Red Devil. It was the drug that made your hair fall out, and made you pee red! Eew. She injected two HUGE syringes. They made me sick at the site of them. They were Hawaiian Punch Red. To this day I cannot drink anything red, and if I see Hawaiian Punch, I have to leave.

I get the drugs all "pushed" through me. Then I have to pee. I have to wheel this giant pole with bags hanging connected to me into the bathroom. I peed red, it was nasty. I had to go back to the chair for some more meds, and then they took out the needle. The whole process was abut 3.5 hours. Took forever! They had to "flush" my port next, meaning taking a fluid and pushing it through my port to make sure it didn't get clogged with any fibers, or whatever else was in my aorta. yuck. They used heparin, which has no taste or smell. Well it did have a taste, and a nasty smell. As soon as the pushed it, I tasted these gross vapors in my throat, smelled this toxic-y smell, and heard it bubble near my throat. yuck. yuck. eew.

I was done. I saw my oncologist, Dr. Sivarajan, Dr. "Siv", who is awesome. He told me I did great, and I should probably start shopping for a wig because I would probably lose my hair by January. I cried. I wasn't ready to hear that.

I went home. My grandparents were there again. That made me feel so much better. I got home and I fell asleep. I couldn't eat, all I could do was sleep. I don't know if I was tired, or just to the point where I couldn't take it, and sleep was the only thing that made everything go away. I remember that Mrs. Whitgrove, a friend of my mom and a mother of an old friend of mine, stopped by my house. She had grocery bags full of food for us. She made mashed potatoes, and some other fun stuff. I hadn't really been home at all, and obviously grocery shopping was the last thing on my mom's mind. It was the sweetest thing. I ate mashed potatoes that day. That was all I ate, but they were so good. I think the next day my friends Julie and "Wruk" came over. Julie brought me Joliet Monopoly and they baked me a get well cake. It was so sweet. They hung out with me, we played monopoly for a little bit. Of course I started to feel really sick. I was so nauseous, I couldn't leave the bathroom. I couldn't even come down to say bye to them. They still waited for me. They were awesome. Eventually they left, because I still hadn't come down.

I ate mashed potatoes the next day. I lived in the tv room, with my wedge pillow.

My mom had the fire place on, so it was always really warm. I was always cold. Our dog, Ricky, a wonderful shi-tzu hung out with me non stop. We had just got him the year before. I think he knew I was sick because ever since I came home from the hospital, he never left my side. He followed me everywhere. It was nice to have constant company like that. I really believe dogs can sense things like that. He was, and is, the best dog ever!

I remember Christmas Eve came. Every year I celebrate Christmas Eve with Chris's family. They had it at their house that year. I was excited to go. Chris came to pick me up. He brought me my gifts. He always gets me lots of fun stuff. He got me an iPod to listen to while I was sick. He got me and old school sega and nintendo, with a million games to play. He got me movies, books, tons of stuff. He was so thoughtful. I love him. When we got to his house, I remember not really being able to leave the couch, I was in a lot of pain. I ate dinner, we opened some gifts, but then I had to go upstairs and sleep. I was always so exhausted. Chris drove me home that night. The next morning was sad. My dad was in FLA still, all alone. Christmas sucked without him. I don't remember what we did.

My parents are wonderful. For Christmas, they got Chris and I plane tickets to go to FLA to see my dad. We were going to leave January 2nd, I think, and stay for about a week. It was perfect. I was so excited to see my dad. It was also nice to get out of the nasty winter weather here.

My mom insisted that the airlines provided me a wheelchair at the airports. They never came with one. I was ok to walk, but my mom was so mad at them. She is very sweet. Chris had never flown before. The airlines screwed up our seats, and our seats weren't together. I was so mad. We had to pay extra to get to sit by each other. I remember being really mad at my old room mate because she "borrowed" my flat iron, and I didn't get it back in time for Florida, I thought it would be the last time I could do my hair. Grr, I was so mad, but Bess (my sis) let me take hers. The flight was nice, we landed in Orlando. We got on a shuttle that took us to the town my dad was staying in. It was so great to see him.

He took us out to an Italian restaurant that night. We stopped at Walmart, and he got Chris and I all kinds of food, stuff he knew we liked. Florida was great. We went to Tampa Bay, and swam all day. Ate all kinds of good food. One day we drove down to Cocoa Beach, on the Atlantic side. We swam all day. Chris had never seen the ocean. We even saw sharks, swimming about ten ft. away from us. Scary. It was perfect. I remember that night we ate at a seafood restaurant on the beach. Chris had to get grilled cheese, he doesn't eat fish. It was perfect. We went out for gelato later. I remember being really cold, even though it was probably 80 out. One day we went cameoing, and our boat capsized. It tipped into the water, everything spilled out. We were in jeans and t-shirts. My shoes floated down the river with our cooler. The canoe guys managed to save everything. I was freaking out because there were gators and snakes in the water. My dad and Chris convinced me to get back in. I was so scared, but it ended up being pretty awesome. We went to an animal sanctuary and saw sea cows (manatees). They were so cute. We had so much fun.

FLA went by too fast. It was so hard to say bye to my dad. I didn't know when I would see him next. We went out for breakfast before our flight, and then he dropped us off. I couldn't stop crying. Once the plane took off, Chris handed me an envelope. It was a card from my dad that said "Kate, don't cry. It will be ok. Love you, Dad". Somehow, I didn't cry.

We got home to the nasty weather, and my third round of chemo. I had to go to chemo every other week. It wasn't that bad. I went every other Friday, and the day after each chemo I had to go back for a shot. It was called Nuelasta. It promoted white blood cell production, which boosted my immune system.

"Chemotherapy (also known as chemo) works by killing fast-growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemo can’t tell the difference between cancer cells and fast-growing healthy cells, including red and white blood cells. As a result, one of the most serious potential side effects of some types of chemotherapy is a low white blood cell count.1,4,5 Chemo that causes this side effect is described as myelosuppressive (my-eh-low-suh-PRESS-iv), because it suppresses your production of white blood cells. A low white blood cell count—also known as neutropenia (new-tro-pee-nee-uh)—can place some patients at risk for severe infections and interruptions in cancer treatment.1-3 In fact, complications associated with a low white blood cell count are the most common causes of dose reductions or delays in chemotherapy. 6-8 Neulasta® is a white blood cell booster to help support your natural defenses and help reduce the risk of infection in patients with some tumors receiving strong chemotherapy. "(taken from Nuelasta's website)

White blood cells are produced in your bone marrow. This shot stimulated the growth of marrow, which in turn caused tremendous pain. I went back to JOHA at 8am every other Saturday morning. It was always cold and grey. I got the shot in my stomach. It hurt bad going in, and drastic pain followed pretty quickly. It felt like all my bones were throbbing, like they were going to explode. They felt brittle. I couldn't move. All I could do was lay there. It was the worst part of chemo. I also had to get a shot for my red blood cells the day of my chemo. I forgot about that. That hurt worse going in, but no side effects. I didn't mind that shot.

That's all for now.

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