Saturday, April 7, 2007

At least I have a Fruit Roll-Up

Not a whole lot else is working out for me right now. I am still in the hospital, and I won't be going home until at least tomorrow. There is still a significant amount of methotrexate (the chemo drug) in my system, so I'm not allowed home yet. My kidneys are taking their sweet time in processing this drug. The two other times I've been in the hospital for this treatment, I cleared the drug by Thursday evening. But my doctors upped my dosage this week, which is causing all sorts of issues, not least least of which is that I'm still here. Because they increased the amount of chemo I was getting at one time, my kidneys pretty much went into overload. My doctor told me that my poor little kidneys couldn't process all of the methotrexate that was being pumped through them. Their going on overload caused some of the blood urea in my kidneys to crystallize, further slowing down all kidney processes. (I'm not exactly sure what blood urea is or does, but it's related to kidney functioning. It can also crystallize.) It's not a big deal that my kidneys are slightly compromised. I am 20, and this is something I will get over in the next few days. If I was 70, then we would have a problem on our hands. But I'm not, and instead, it's just an inconvenience.

I wish I could say I was taking this all nobly and with a maturity beyond my years, but really, I'm super pissed. First off, I am supposed to fly to Boston in six days. Six! If anything happens to me to where I can't go, I really don't know what I'll do with myself. As of now, I should still be discharged tomorrow, and there is no reason why I won't be flying to Boston. But really, you never know... And the other thing is that --feel free to insert judgment here-- I was supposed to go on a date tonight. Okay, maybe not a date necessarily, but I met someone at a concert last week, he called me back on Wednesday, and we were supposed to hang out tonight. And clearly, I can't do that now. He actually just called me, and I had to tell him I'm sick and can't meet up. I suppose technically I am sick, but I'm not lying in bed at home with a violent cold. Bah. Haha, and here I was, all excited about finally meeting some people my age around here. Hopefully we'll meet up sometime later in the week when I'm feeling (ahem) better. Other than that, everything is going alright. My back is very slowly getting better. But it is also taking its sweet time in healing. Again, oh well. These are all things I really have no control over. I just have to sit back and wait. Eventually I'll be okay again. And in Six Days I'll be in Boston! Woo! Peace.

Friday, April 6, 2007

What a Good Friday.

For those of you who aren't Catholic or just don't care, today is Good Friday, i.e., the day on which Jesus dies. I missed His birthday because I was in the hospital, and now I'm missing His funeral as well. Hopefully, though, I won't miss His resurrection on Sunday. (Disclaimer: I am really not that good a Catholic; I just think it's mildly amusing that I have been hospitalized on all the major Catholic holidays this year.) I also gave up chocolate for Lent, so on Sunday I will be able, once again, to nibble the ears off all the unhappy little chocolate bunnies hopping around. They have no idea what is coming.

In other news, not much has really been happening here. I am still in the hospital. My current life isn't exactly rife with excitement. As of right now, I am not sure if I will be released today, but I'm hoping I will be. Yesterday, I literally lay in bed all day. My back. Has been. Destroyed. I don't know why, but for some reason, this most recent lumbar puncture has caused my back to cramp up. Your back is another one of those things you don't realize how dependent you are on it until it becomes incapacitated. It has become difficult for me to sit without any support because it hurts too much to try and hold myself up. I hate that I'm always lying down when the nurses come in. I'm sure they get tired of seeing sick people lying in bed all day, but at this point it's hard not to. Oh well. The only thing to do is just stick it out, I suppose. The cramps should go away soon. Other than that, there were no cancer cells in my spinal fluid, which is always good. Everything seems to be on track and going well. So now let's just get me home! Woo!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Let's start with the bad news, shall we?

As I look outside my window this afternoon, typing this up, I can see quite clearly that it is snowing. And apparently, it is rather chilly out as well. May I remind you that it is also April 4th? What happened to the eighty-degree temperatures of one week ago? Sigh. Oh Spring, you fickle, fickle season.

In slightly more relevant bad news, I have pretty much been a bum for the past two days. Yesterday morning I was given an anti-nausea medication that basically knocks you out. I didn't want to take it, but nurse Anna assured me, "No, no, this medicine does nothing to you. You'll be fine." And I'm not so keen on arguing with that woman. Needless to say, I slept the whole day, with frequent interruptions by various doctors and nurses. Yesterday was also the day I had my lumbar puncture. Which leads us to my final bit of bad news: my back hurts like HELL. And really, I can think of no other way to put it. I guess the pain is a result of muscle spasms, which for some reason are brought on by the LP. The nurses offered to give me some pain meds last night, but I have a very strong aversion to pills I absolutely don't need to take. I also thought that I could just sleep off the cramps. Sadly, I did not sleep off the cramps. I did, however, get a hot pack this morning, which helped immensely. So thank God for hot packs.

And for the good news! I told my doctor a few weeks ago that I would really like to be able to return to Boston in the fall for school. She told me she would have to talk to her "people" and get back to me. So on Monday, she got back to me. I was initially thinking that I would just be transferred back to the BU Medical Center. My doctor told me, however, that BUMC isn't a member of this national group of hospitals that are part of the study that I am in. She did say that the Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a member of the group. She also told me that the woman who heads my study works here at UofC, and that one of this woman's good friends is a principal physician in the hematology/oncology ward at Dana Farber. So basically, because people have connections and my doctor is super awesome, I am pretty much all set to be transferred to Dana Farber in the fall, arriving in Boston at least a few days before classes start. Woo hoo! This makes life so much easier, because I even have a doctor lined up. Also, I mean, you really can't go wrong with the teaching affiliate for Harvard University Medical School. So in exactly five months from today, classes will be starting at Boston University, and I will be one of the students attending them. And that's about it for now. I'll probably go back to sleep relatively soon, get my energy back and all that whatnot. But good things to look forward to in the future. Happy Hump Day!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sox home opener!

And sadly, I was admitted to the hospital. Although, the Sox were whomped by the Cleveland Indians, so really, maybe I didn't have it so bad after all. Checking in to the hospital is always an adventure. I have certainly seen some interesting people in both the reception room and the lobby. I guess that's natural, considering this is a major hospital in a major city. I know there were certainly a few questionable characters at the BU Med Center, but considering its location in Boston, again, to be expected. So I was admitted and directed to a room. Now, this room is on the same floor and in the same wing as I have become accustomed to. It is, however, on the other side of the hallway. Instead of facing downtown Chicago, I now face... another hospital wing! Complete with beds and curtains and even people. People who wear hospital gowns. People who don't adequately tie the back of said gown. People who walk around their rooms, backs to the window, oblivious of open curtains and aghast onlookers. But as my mom kindly reminded me, "If you can see them, they can see you." So I guess henceforth I will be changing in the bathroom, and no more midday dance breaks. Oh well. Maybe I'll make a window buddy with some lonely across-the-way cancer patient. Probably not. Other than that, my room is huge-normous. (Yes, that's right. I said it.) All the rooms on this side of the wing used to be doubles, but they were recently converted to singles. So there is lots of space, as well as a computer, which I don't really need anyway. But that's cool.

Oh, and also: A while back, I wrote about how one weekend I was hit with a barrage of nurses, one of whom was named Olga. Well, it turned out that Olga lived up to no one's expectations in that she was very pretty, very nice, and Colombian. She was also very well-traveled. But this story isn't about Olga. It is about my nurse for tonight. Her name is Anna. She is slightly rumpled, slightly stocky, and very Eastern European. In essence, she is everything you would expect from an Olga, despite being named Anna. This woman is ridiculous though. She just came in after one sharp, brief knock on my door and said, "Miss Britches, I have your stool-soffener here." To which I replied, rather surprised, "Oh no, I don't need that at all. I'm totally fine down there." Which caused her to reply, "You may be fine now, but this acts in the future for you as well." I said that I absolutely didn't need the pill (because I really don't), and I would much rather not take it, but thank you very much. So she said, "Hokay," took off her yellow gown and tight blue latex gloves, threw out the pill and left, without so much as a by-your-leave. But I know she'll be back every four hours to check my pulse with her iron-grip and to be reassured that "really, I'm fine. But thank you." And that's day One of my hospital stay. I doubt the rest of my days here will top today's excitement, but I'm not making any bets. Anything could happen in this crazy hematology/oncology wing. Oh, I also have a promising update regarding my return to Boston in the fall, but that will have to wait for another day. For now, Peace out. p.s. wish me luck tomorrow as I get an exorbitant and sickening (literally) amount of chemo pumped into me. Woo!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Well, it has been an exciting and eventful past few days. Last update was Thursday... Thursday evening, well, I finally found the courage to sit on a stool in front of about ten people, all under the age of maybe 18, and play two of my songs. That's right, I went to an open mic. It's funny: I can have holes drilled into my back and have chemicals pumped into my body no sweat. I just can't sing in front of people. I guess it went OK... I dropped my pick midway through my second song, but I just kept strumming away with my finger. So now I guess the next thing to do is go to another open mic. And not drop my pick. I'm sure the more I sing in front of people, the more comfortable I will become with it. So that was Thursday. Friday, I worked again at the Arboretum; more price-tagging, more fun times. And then Saturday was the really exciting day for me. I went to a concert! It was a benefit for a foundation called Ustorm. Basically, it was like a jam band Super group. There were at least 10 musicians playing together from various jam bands. It was absolutely fantastic. And as an added personal bonus, I got multiple compliments on my knitted hat. I was also somewhat creepily hit on by a guy who looked about 30, but I shifted away from him to dance with someone closer to my age. So I'm not invisible after all! At least to guys who have been drinking steadily for at least the past four hours... Eh.

But anyway, so that was my weekend. I apologize for really not having any cancer updates. I've been feeling great. Oh, I guess I overheated during the concert, which probably wouldn't have happened otherwise... It was pretty hot and crowded, but I got some water and was much better. And now I am just spending today eating and resting. Tomorrow, I go back in to the hospital. I am not looking forward to it, but at least I have some good memories to take with me. I also have the prospect of Boston in Less Than Two Weeks! Woo! Haha, so I'm happy. As always, peace out.