TIME TO GO HOME? MAYBE NOT YET…

Update…why does it matter when I tell you guys when I THINK I am going to get to go home? It doesn’t matter because its constantly changing. As I have mentioned in previous posts, cancer is a test of your patience. It doesn’t always follow your plan. The good news is that I have been done with my 2nd round of maintenance chemo for over a week. This is the point where my blood count numbers should be at their lowest and I should really feel like crap. And guess what?! I DON’T feel like crap. I’ve actually felt really good the whole time I have been here at Camp Summerlin. (I better not be jinxing myself here.) I have been recieving some platelet transfusions (which would to be expected) but other than that I feel like I am just taking up space here…kind of like my bulldog Gru just takes up space at home. (Bulldogs can’t help that they are lazy and just take up space.)

My Buddy Gru

My Buddy Gru

Sorry its not the best pic he’s taken, but he is quite photogenic and handsome (just like the character he is named after in Despicable Me.)

If you remember, my oncologist prepped me to be in here for 3-4 weeks from the start of chemo. She came in my lovely room yesterday and said maybe only 4 more days! (That would make my stay closer to 2 weeks.)

Kids Surprise Faces

The kids were just as surprised as I was when they heard the news. (I also think they could give Macaulay Culkin a run for his money with the Home Alone face.)

Then…my oncologist came in my room THIS morning and said everything is looking good, maybe I can go home in 4 days. (Notice it was the same as yesterday….she has ADDED a day.) She smirked when she said it too. We all know the game. It changes all of the time and so I really won’t know for sure when I am headed home until it actually happens. I am okay with it though. I’ve learned to not worry about it. It will happen when it is supposed to. Plus, I now have my whole home office all set up in my room here at Camp Summerlin.

Office Setup

Bank statements? Check. Laptop? Check. Printer? Check. External Hard Drive? Check. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Heck yes check! I have everything all set up here now so I can actually get caught up and get some work done. At home there’s always distractions of kids, laundry, dishes…. Here at the hospital, I don’t worry about those things so its really a blessing in disguise that I can get all of these things done. Plus the nurses and doctors get a kick out of the fact that I’ve set this all up. Hey, I’m just trying to be efficient because when I do get home, I want to be able to enjoy those little kid faces and dog faces that I’ve been missing for the past 2 weeks.

“I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS…”

Well, my hospital room WAS full of Christmas cheer (no, I’m not going to get all “politcally correct” on you and call it Holiday cheer) but its time to take the decorations down!

My in-laws, Mike and Lynn were here earlier to help me pack it all up because I am headed HOME from Camp Summerlin to enjoy Christmas with my husband, kiddos and bulldogs (and a Mastiff)! It’ll be nice. I still have shopping to do, cookies to bake, etc. but it will feel great to get back into the routine of things. There are ALWAYS things that need to be done before Christmas – just like every other normal person. And if you are one of those “abnormal” people who have EVERYTHING done and its only the middle of December, then I really don’t want to talk to you! hahaha

In my defense, before I got admitted back in the hospital on Dec, 2, my awesome husband was great about getting all of the outdoor lights up (including the white reindeer lit up with white lights, the blow-up M & M and the light up Snoopy . He also got the Christmas tree up inside (yes, we use a fake tree every year) and the whole family helped decorate with the lights and ornaments. The stockings are hung over the fireplace. (I’ll grace you with all of these pics when I get home later today.)

I love this time of year because it just feels warm and cozy to me. I love the smell of Christmas, the festive Christmas lights and the corny Christmas music that seems to run on a neverending loop wheverever you are. Once we started having a family of our own, Dave and I worked really hard to try and keep certain traditions alive that we do every year at our house. We have implementent the ever-so-popular Elf on the Shelf. (Roger is the name of our Elf – and he’s quite devlish and creative at my house.) We go and visit Opportunity Villages’ The Magical Forest  and spend an arm and a leg there (its not cheap!) (This year they asked for my first born child as well, and that’s where I had to draw the line.)  At  least we know the money goes towards a great cause here in our town. And last, but not least, we go to Town Square so that Ava and Grady we can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and tell them all of the things they would like for Christmas. The setup at Town Square is great because it is designed as a Normal Rockwell Christmas.  You actually go inside Santa’s little house. We’ve always gotten good pictures from them and some classic ones as well! (Such as Grady laying across my lap screaming because he wants to have nothing to do with Santa.)

My numbers (meaning my White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells and Platelets) are all looking up and I’m feeling pretty darn good. I haven’t gotten full discharge directions yet, but I believe I will be visiting my oncologist’s office a few times a week for them to draw blood, monitor my blood counts, decide if I need transfusions of red blood cells or platelets and to schedule my next round of chemo which I imagine will be in the beginning of January sometime.

I am just happy and content to continue these traditions –  Leukemia hasn’t gotten in the way this time around!

As Johnny Mathis says, “I’ll be home for Christmas…”

P.S. WordPress has decided it doesn’t want to be fully functional today so I can’t upload any pictures into my post. As soon as the bugs get worked out, I will post pictures.

THE ART OF HAPPINESS

I think I failed to mention that when I was first admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with AML, they also found a subdural hemorrhage on the left side of my brain. What the “H-E-double hockey sticks” does that mean? It means I had a bleed in the front, left hand side of my brain. Kinda scary. Before I came to the hospital, I had a weekend where I was really sick and violently vomiting. My doctor thinks that is what caused the bleed. My doctors have been watching me closely. I have been getting regular CT scans and MRI’s of my brain and the results have shown that the bleed stabilized. Yesterday I started getting headaches again and this prompted another CT scan. The scan showed a trace of new blood on the left side of my brain. They watch me very closely because if I have low platelet levels (which means my blood doesn’t clot very well) and I have a bleed, then we have a problem.

Unfortunately, Camp Summerlin (the fond nickname we have here for Summerlin Hospital) doesn’t have a neurosurgeon so I have been transported (yes, in an ambulance but they don’t turn the lights and sirens on) to Valley Hospital. Valley Hospital is an older hospital but there are good doctors here. Camp Summerlin is only 3 minutes from my house. Valley Hospital is probably a good 15-20 minutes away. It just makes it a bit more inconvenient but if they can get the bleed and headaches under control, then its worth seeing the neurosurgeon here. I am told I’ll only be here at Valley for a couple days in the Surgical ICU unit and then I can be transported back to Summerlin. I can get back to everything that I know and am used to.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, you just have to go with the flow. Treatment plans, timing, medications can all change on a daily basis so you have to have an open mind. Its ironic (well not actually ironic because I do believe everything happens for a reason) because I have had a couple lengthy conversations with my GI doc about a book called “Zen: The Art of Happiness” by Chris Prentiss. It is a short book – around 50 pages – and a wonderful read. Its not a foofy, feather-filled book about how to make your life better. It is based on the ancient practice of Zen, modern day illustrations and scientific research that shows how you can truly find happiness for yourself. I highly recommend it because it forces you to look at your life and the Universe in a completely different way than what society has taught us to look at and react to life. I have found the book very comforting during the past week and I have found myself re-reading portions that really speak to me. I was starting to get angry and upset that I was sick and stuck in the hospital. This book gave me a different perspective. I really didn’t want to get this news on my CT scan and I didn’t want to have to come to Valley. But today, I was not upset. I feel positive about what the outcome is going to be and when I will be able to speak with the neurosurgeon.

HOSPITAL SITCOM

I will first give you an update, then get into the funny stuff. I am still on my second round of chemo (to catch up those of you who aren’t up-to-date) and I am on Day 6. That means I have one more bag of the poison and that will be in my body by tomorrow around midnight. Then I will have about a week (hopefully) of no major side effects, and then after that, that’s when the fun begins. Side effects can include fevers, chills, night sweats, hemmoroids, rashes, weakness, loss of appetite and stomach issues. That’s only skimming the surface. The first time around, I was lucky enough to avoid the nausea, mouth full of canker sores, metallic taste in my mouth and the fairly long list of other possible side effects. Believe me: I AM GRATEFUL. My blood counts are high and my doctors are happy. All is well in Camp Summerlin for today.

So now we address the possibility of me creating a sitcom. (Now I am very new to this blogging stuff so you can see I am very balls-to-the-wall in this whole new career I am creating for myself. What else do I have to do while sitting here in the hospital bed? I might as well dream big!) Anyway, the premise for the sitcom: Its about all the abnormal $hit that happens around Camp Summerlin but seems all VERY normal for us that are here day in and day out. The idea came from my dear friend Malene who is Danish. She said us Americans may not find it hysterical but it would be a hit in Denmark. (They have a different kind of sense of humor than we do.) So…now I am thinking…I might need to find a Danish producer and production company. Ahh…just minor details.

Denmark_flag

So I have just a few examples of what would be included in the pilot episode. (All events actually took place.)

Incident #1: I told you $hit went on in here – literally. I pride myself on my multiple walks that I take daily. Even though my walking buddies left me, I have kept up the trekking. Its so important to keep moving and stay active whether you have a disease or are completely healthy. (Blah, blah, we all know that, right?) I am one of the youngest on my floor so there are patients that are much older and in worse condition than me. I am self-sufficient but others can’t get to the bathroom on their own and have to wear Depends. (This is going to bite me in the a$$ because one day I am going to be the one in the Depends.) Anyway, I was taking my nightly walk and I just could not get away from THE SMELL. Someone had just done a Number Two and there was no escaping it. I even had my mask on and I was still being inundated from the odor. Needless to say, I cut my walk short. But, like I said, normal occurance in a day at Camp Summerlin. I hope one of the nurses grabbed the air freshener and sprayed the crap out of the hallway.

Incident #2: My floor is split between chemo/oncology patients and the cardiac unit. Cardiac patients come here to recover from open heart surgery, removed lungs, etc. The cardiac patients do not have private bathrooms. They just have a toilet in their room and a curtain to give them privacy when they do their business. There are no doors because back in the day heart patients would go in the bathroom, lock the door and then pass out or have a heart attack and the nurses couldn’t get in. Therefore, the policy was changed. For some reason, the toilets are positioned toward the front of the room and there’s a window with blinds right there as well. You know where I’m going with this. As I take my walks, I have more than once walked past a room with the privacy curtain closed and the blinds WIDE open. Only for me to happen to see an old gray-haired man taking a pee. A normal occurance in a day at Camp Summerlin.

Incident #3: Same scenario – I’m taking a walk. (13 laps around both nurses’ stations is a mile by the way.) I happen to look into an open door to a patient’s room. (I feel like a peeker but I can’t help it. If you don’t want people to look in your room, then close your door!) Anyway, there was another elderly gray-haired man standing with his back to me. The back of his hospital gown was just WIDE open. Can we say a FULL moon? Believe me, I kept walking – and quickly.

Full Moon

Incident #4: I was getting my mask on to go for a walk. (Maybe these darn walks are the cause of my problems. If I just became a hermit and stayed in my room all the time, I wouldn’t have to endure these episodes. Ehh…that’s too boring.) My mask was on and I hd my trusty pump (Mr. Buddy Braun) with me. I encountered an older lady in her 70’s with her super comfy hospital lounge chair in the middle of the hallway (not really normal.) She does have a nurse with her (a good sign) and they are trying to get her out of her chair to take a stroll. Apparently, she has Alzheimer’s so she doesn’t really know where she is, what’s she’s doing here and she’s not sure she wants to walk. The nurses were encouraging her and all seemed to be well. Then she started yelling, “Let go of me! Let go of me!” and “Help! Help!” Then other distressed noises come out of her mouth. Then she calmed down and continued walking. Then she decided she wants to go into another patient’s room, so they needed back up nurse support to get her going the right way again. Then she doesn’t want to walk again and threatened to hit the nurses with her cane. More than once! That’s when I decided to get back to the safety of my own room. The halls were too dangerous for me! All I knew is that my end wasn’t going to be due to an old lady with Alzheimer’s and a cane.

That was all just a sneak peak. I will periodically update you on new incidents because I am SURE I have not experienced the last of them. I only have more to look forward to – and more sitcom material. Malene! Start scouting out a production team in Denmark! Stat!