Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our word for 2014

This is our word for 2014. It's applies to all of us in some way or another. 

For me it describes what's been required since the dreaded "C" word was first uttered six months ago. Craptastic chemo took so much out of me that I am still trying to restock but in reality it feels like I'm in the eye of the storm as my surgery is being planned and I know that will take its own toll on my already ravaged body.

We often use the word resilience in our family. It's an important trait that we want the KATs to develop (and they are). But I also love the word Grit because it feels more "active" to me....being resilient can sometimes seems a bit reactive...this situation or this person is being shitty and I need to bounce back etcetera etcetera. Grit on the other hand is about not just bouncing back but getting stronger as a result.

Active versus passive. Does that make sense?

Friday, January 3, 2014

A sting in the tail

So no sooner had I logged my Christmas Day post than the fist of two ill-fitting shoes fell.

First I got the news on Boxing Day that my Neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) were at an all-time low and this would explain my particularly low energy levels.

 In actual fact I had awoken on Boxing Day feeling like I had the worst hangover in history and yet I was quite certain that no alcohol had passed my lips. Unless some nurse overimbued with festive spirit had tipped some into my canula it was not a hangover making me feel so craptastic!

As the day wore on the second shoe dropped. My blood pressure proceeded to dive and by the evening it was clear that my low neutrophils had make me easy pickings for an infection. Cue nasty chest cough. 

 I spent Friday morning huddled under multiple thin hospital blankets. Blood tests confirmed my white blood cells were continuing their descent and my blood pressure was giving a convincing impression that my heart was anywhere but beating enthusiastically in my chest cavity. Oh and the cough was worse.

Just after lunch the nurse appeared to check my "obs" and calmly squeezed my forearm before preparing me for what was to come next. It was time to call in the cavalry. Cue the ICU doctor.

What ensued over the next 12 hours will be forever etched in my mind. I didn't have the benefit of being unconscious so the only part that isn't imprinted on my brain is the view of the corridor, lift and the general ICU area as they wheeled me there. For some reason I had my eyes closed. Oh that would probably be because I was in such a weakened state I could barely keep my eyes open so squeezing them shut was far less taxing.

It wasn't until 48 hrs later that I worked out that the entire ICU wasn't made up of individual rooms full of medical equipment and state of the art monitors....and a bathroom of my own. Why my view out the door was of a storage shelf and the doctors and nurses had what looked like a card table set up in my doorway. 

Hmmnnn that would be because I was in the isolation room! One of only two such rooms in ICU. They had to be perched right outside my room because the nurses station was 20 metres away and I was requiring constant attention!

Just a tip. If you do happen to have the misfortune of ending up in ICU pray you are unconscious. Putting in an arterial line fricking hurts. Like buggery!!!! What is an arterial line you ask? It's a nasty long needle about 10cm long that needs to inserted into your radial artery at your wrist. Yes very unpleasant! Requires sutures to keep it in that were bloody painful in the meaty part of my palm for the time it was in. Thankfully I was pretty drugged up so this wasn't a big issue. Getting them removed was a different matter!

Attached to an arterial line (helps them accurately monitor your vitals) and with sticky bits all over my chest for other measurements I looked like Pinocchio.

Sorry for the pathetic photo...this was taken when the emergency had passed (24hrs in) and I was able to smile despite how truly horrid the situation had become.

Preceding this shot was the initial hours of desperately low blood pressure where they were pumping me full of fluid and seeing if my BP would rise and if my kidneys were going to keep functioning. They also got me onto antibiotics quick smart and the middle of the night heralded the arrival of my long lost friend N.A.U.S.E.A. with her close friend Vomiting! My lovely ICU nurse assured me that these two were welcome party arrivals as it was "all stomach acids" which was apparently! Mind you it didn't feel so great to me to be covered in vomit and wires and it occurring to me that this might actually be what it feels like before you die.

ICU is a stripped back environment and there was nothing soft-focus about it. Lying in the half-light of monitors that are actually attached to you and reflecting my real precarious state and not some sound effect on a TV drama was distressing it say the least.

Fast forward it the following day and whilst my white blood cells were refusing the advice to surface, Agent-Orange like antibiotics had held infection at bay and with the amount of fluids they'd pumped into me I could have served as a tug boat for the Titanic!!!

It took another day before I was shipped back to my room on the ward and it took 13 long days before I was able to make my escape from the hospital.

This is my selfie when I got the news that my Neutrophils had passed the no-go zone

Just over an hour later my break-out crew arrived to extricate me from the clutches of the ward

Home. Happy. Healthy (as healthy as I can be at this juncture!).

With my family and very grateful to be here despite the sting in craptastic chemo's tail!

The top photo is the lovely nurse who saw me off to ICU and serendipitously was my discharge nurse today! What a lovely coincidence. So very nice to have her there to see me go home smiling.

New Year's Day for 2014 for us is officially today- Jan 3. Bring on 2014!!!!!

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