I have a relatively high pain tolerance. After my Caesarian section deliveries for both children, I only needed Tylenol for pain relief. I felt like I had a rug burn, not major surgery. The only time in my life that I've felt harsh pain was when I first got braces as an adult and when I experienced intense headaches with the adjustments.
This time last week found me in extreme pain. I hadn't slept more than two hours a night for three days. The side effects of the new chemo drug had set in, making it impossible for me to sleep and making it possible for me only to feel wave after wave of pain sweep over me. When a fever set in as well, the pain worsened and some pretty dark hours followed. I was even willing to go to a Chinese hospital emergency room and that says a lot. (The reason my doctor here didn't want to take me to the ER is because of the lack of control over what drugs would be given.)
I wrote my second pain chapter last Sunday night and Monday night was my time of deepest crisis. While I feel I was honest in what I wrote, I don't feel I was honest enough. The rawness of those night hours on Monday will not be easily forgotten. Being stripped down to basic function failure is being completely dependent upon others. Trying to make it to the bathroom to vomit and failing . . . resulting in vomiting in the middle of the living room floor . . . and hearing my son cry as a result of his seeing his mother in such a state is not something that will soon leave me.
I've always wanted to be able to say that Art didn't have to clean up my vomit. He's never had to before now and it felt humiliating that he had to do so.
I never wanted my children to see me so helpless. They heard me cry in pain and they saw me on my hands and knees in the middle of the living room floor. They saw their dad and the doctor pick me up and put me on a chair and wipe my head and face wet cool cloths to try to cool me down. They are learning about cancer in an up close and personal way.
But more than learning about cancer, they are learning about our dependence on God. Not only did they see the things I've described, they've seen and heard Art's and my cries out to God for relief. We pray constantly . . . both in and out of our children's presence. They know our faith is not just lip service and they see us putting our faith on the line all the time. There's nothing like being stripped bare of pretenses that shows how real things are.
Things turned around very rapidly when the fever and pain broke on Tuesday morning. It truly was a 180 degree difference . . . I couldn't believe I was the same woman! We KNOW it was the power of prayer that made the difference as we had sent a prayer SOS around the world.
It's not done yet. I had my blood counts checked on Tuesday and they indicated that I was past nadir (low point), but that I had an active infection somewhere. Since I no longer had a fever, the hospital lab didn't want to do a urine test. I continued taking antibiotics for skin infections since I had three swollen pimples/broken hair follicles on my head. Once again, such little things, but responsible for my infection? Not so sure. My neck lymph nodes had been swollen through Monday night, but were normal on Tuesday.
I returned to the hospital for another blood test on Saturday. The numbers were still indicating an infection. However, by then, I was having nasal congestion and blowing yellow snot. (Sorry . . . graphic language . . . but at least it gives you an accurate picture!) I was having lightheadedness and headaches, similar to previous chemo cycles, which were attributed to stress. However, I've never had blood numbers like these in previous cycles, so my antibiotics were switched to some that could deal with respiratory infections as well as skin infections.
It's interesting . . . the recommended minimum dose for this new antibiotic is 250 mg. The doctor has me on 750 mg. The capsules I take are only 100 mg each, so that means one day, I have to take eight capsules and the next day I have to take seven! The general belief in Chinese culture that the more pills you take, the better the treatment. While the total dosage is the same as elsewhere, the placebo affect of "more pills" is met as well.
So here I am . . . with another infection . . . on more antibiotics. I do ask that you continue to pray that my body can handle the assault being placed upon it. I'm also struggling with insomnia again, although, at least there is no pain this time around. I can sleep for about two hours at a time and then I'm wide awake. I go ahead and get up because my tossing and turning disturbs Art. I putz on the computer, read, knit or watch TV a bit and then head back to bed after two or more hours. I think that overall, in a 24-hour time period, I'm probably getting enough sleep, but just in strange sleep patterns.
We need to finish packing the shipping boxes this week and get them to the post office next Saturday. We are asking for grace and patience on the part of the postal workers as we ship out a dozen or more large boxes. We are going to set up an appointment with them and try to do as much as possible before we get there. We are not allowed to seal the boxes until we are at the post office and we have to provide an itemized list of what's in each box. I'm being fairly general in the paperwork (i.e., clothes 20 pieces) rather than listing each specific item. From what I understand, this should be okay, but please be remembering us as we go through this process. Bureaucracy is no fun in any language or in any country.
We remain unfailingly grateful for all the support we are receiving from around the world. As we go through each day we realize that we are abundantly blessed in so many ways.