Friday, August 26, 2011

the final time

tonight was my last shot. i actually can't believe that this day is here. in some ways, it seems like yesterday i was going in for my high dose shots and coming home with an iv in my arm. in other ways, it seems like a grueling 365 days of feeling like hell almost every minute of every day. 20 high dose treatments at seattle cancer care alliance. 144 shots in my arms at home.

here are some things i will not miss...
- the pain of the shots in my arms - it hurt every time
- holding my arm after the shots to stop the bleeding
- feeling like i was keeping a secret from malena since i never let her see me take my shot
- the smell of the alcohol wipes that made my stomach turn every time
- the smell of the biohazard container that my needles needed to be kept in
- having to be harshly reminded three times a week that i am undergoing cancer treatments... perfectly good days that had the joy sucked out of them when the 8pm cancer curfew came calling
- trying to find a spot on my arms that didn't make me wince by just touching it so that barrett had a spot to aim at
- the constant nausea i have felt every minute of the last year
- the nausea when it would ratchet up and i was so sick to my stomach that all i could do was lay down, not move, take my nauseau pill that would knock me out, and hope it would be better when i woke up
- the muscle aches that never gave me a break...the times when my legs hurt so bad that i couldn't put my heels on the ground because the pain was so crippling
- holding my hair in my hands as it fell out in clumps in the shower
- the flat out exhaustion and even small tasks seeming so overwhelming
- not being able to honestly answer "i am doing good" when people ask how i standard answering being "i am ok" which really meant "i feel like complete crap"
- my mood swings, knowing that i was getting upset many times without good cause, but also knowing i had no ability to control it
- being an emotional mess and never knowing when something would make me end up in tears
- having both of my arms hurt so bad that i just kept my fingers crossed that no one brushed my arms when they walked by me, grab me by the arm, or squeezed my arms when they hugged me
- the scar tissue that has built up in my arms (although i am not sure that i will be able to miss that because i don't think the scar tissue is going to go away)
- having to have barrett help me out of bed because i was in too much pain to be able to do it by myself
- having to pack up all of my shot supplies to travel or be away from home on a monday, wednesday, or friday
- seeing the phone number for the pharmacy light up on my phone every four weeks
- being asked if i wanted to refill my prescription when it was really the last thing that i wanted to do
- seeing the charges from the pharmacy on my credit card statement every month
- having to go to bed as soon as malena was down because i was so sick to my stomach
- the times when i had to lay on the couch and couldn't play with her because i was too sick
- not making plans with friends or family very often because i never knew how i was going to feel and it was emotionally easier to just not make plans than to have to cancel something i was looking forward to
- having to pay to park downtown because i was so tired and sore that almost everyday the thought of taking the bus was too overwhelming for me
- acting like i felt better than i did most every day so that the focus of whatever i was doing was not on me and my cancer treatments
- dreading sunday nights because it meant another round of shots was ahead of me, saturday through monday evening were my favorite days because it was the longest stretch between shots
- not having to open the refridgerator and see my interferon (which had to be kept cold)...every time i have needed to open the refridgerator in the last year i have been reminded of cancer...i never thought before my diagnosis about how many times i open that door in a single day
- having no appetite
- food and drinks not tasting good or like i know they should
- not drinking wine because it never really sounded good and made life tougher for me the next day
- telling people i don't know well that i have cancer
- having to have barrett give me my shots, which i know was just as tough on him as it was on me
- during high dose treatments when my teeth were chattering so bad from the chills that i thought they would break and fall out...when someone had to keep malena distracted downstairs so i could quietly sneak in and go upstairs without her seeing me because i was so sick
- seeing the box with my interferon sitting on the front porch when my monthly shipment had been delivered
- hearing barrett say "ready?" before the shot went in, always saying yes, always wanting to say no

i think you get the point.

i have purposely not drawn much attention to this specific day as i have felt strongly that a celebration would inevitably be followed by bad news. i try very hard to think positively, but my instincts have told me for a long time now to enjoy this day, but not to mark it in a specific way other than completing the last shot. i will quietly continue to breath in and out and find my way. though i have done the last shot, i in no way feel like it is over. i have a lot to work through and the reality is that i don't expect to ever be through it, just making my way with it.

my ultrasound today did not indicate what is causing my pain. we have moved my scans up to next wednesday, but it isn't clear yet when i will get the results.  i should have a better sense of that at the beginning of the week. the pain continues. no obvious indications on the surfaces of my organs in that area is good. now we just need to do the scans to see what lays beneath the surface.

luck. keep sending it.

interferon. you don't know how much i hope you were worth it all.

*needle photo by my superstar sister Denise Hamilton (nerd)
*arm photo by yours truly

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