Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another fun-filled day of.... fun, I guess.

I ran lots of errands today; it was a good time. I also went to Coldstone's for ice cream; it was an even better time. It's good to be back on chocolate. I was fine walking around, which was nice. I guess my strength hasn't been affected as much as I thought. I'm tired now though, so I know I'll sleep well tonight. And thank God too. This past week has been the ultimate example of, "I couldn't sleep last night." Hoorah for the hospital.

I know everyone is wondering, "What was she talking about at the end of her post yesterday?" Well, please, let me fill you in. My doctor wants me to home-infuse with hydration packs for the next four days, including today. My kidney functions were returning to normal when the discharged me, but the hydro-packs are just to ensure I continue to get a good amount of fluid in me. So my home care nurse Bonnie came today. She's pretty sweet. She actually said to me, out loud and unflinchingly, "Ain't no thing but a chicken wing!" I was like, "No, you did not just say that." But she had. Anyway, so the hydration went well. I know this because for pretty much the rest of the day, my bladder has been full and giving me grief. I mean, come on vital organ! I just emptied you. Not again. So that was fun. Here's the really fun part of my day though: I get to give myself shots now. "What type of shot, Caroline?" you ask? It's a shot that helps my white blood cell counts increase. It's called Neupogen, or rG-CSF. "What does that stand for, Caroline?" you also ask? Well let me tell you! It stands for "Recombinant Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (rG-CSF) derived from E. Coli." That's right, every day I get to stick a needle into my leg, bevel-side up, and inject into my thigh-fat a derivative of Escherichia Coli. How freaking cool is that?? I was so excited when I read that on the wrapper. Yet again, add this to the many instances where you are unbelievably jealous of me. I think I may have given myself the shot slightly incorrectly, however, because my leg started bleeding a little bit. It's not really supposed to start bleeding. I guess my legs are just too beastly. Ha. 'S anyway, that was my Saturday. I can't wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings. As always, pax.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's 10:30 pm... Do you know where your children are?

Luckily, I don't have children, so the above question is not an issue in my world. I do, however, know where I am... Sitting in my comfy chair in my living room! That's right folks, the kind people at the hospital have finally released me. So thank you to everyone who may have been thinking happy kidney cell thoughts with me. My chemo levels are still a bit high, but they are dropping. Also, my white blood cell count has improved, and my kidneys seem to be back to normal. The main reason they discharged me is because my white cell counts have increased to a safe level. I still have to go back to the clinic on Monday and Wednesday to have my blood drawn, but that is a small price to pay. And the sun was shining today for the first time in a while, so there is not much else I could have asked for.

So here's an interesting little blurb that may or may not provide some more insight into the type of person I am. I'm assuming that it is normal, when you are forced to eat only certain types of food for a period of time, to crave food items you haven't had in a while. My dad told me about one time when he and some co-workers went to China, and when they returned to the U.S., at least a few of the other people bee-lined to McDonald's. In fact, I feel like McDonald's is often the first place people go when their food has been restricted or different for a while. So, okay, McDonald's. Greasy burger patties, limp buns, greenish lettuce, flaccid fries... I get why people would crave it. It's the quintessential American meal. Anyway, so, my food has been severely restricted for the past ten days. And do you know the first thing I wanted to eat once out of the hospital? A grilled chicken panini. I actually ended up getting a chicken sandwich with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, although it wasn't grilled. Does that make me strange? I would like to think it means I have a more sophisticated palette. Either way, my first out-of-hospital sandwich was delicious; I have no regrets. And that is about it for me. I have a home care nurse coming tomorrow to teach me how to give myself the hydration packs, and I will also be shooting myself in the thigh with a needle, but more on those when they occur. Things to look forward to! Happy Weekend, even though I'm bummed I'm not in Boston. Oh well. Peace.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thirsty Thursday anyone?

I don't know about all of you, but I am super thirsty. Even though they have me on a 24-hour drip, I am still drinking water like a fish. Sadly, I have yet to sleep with my eyes open. Other than that, and since I know everyone is anxiously awaiting my daily updates, yes, I am still in the hospital. I'd say maybe tomorrow I'll go home, but I have been saying that for the past week. So maybe not tomorrow. Ooh, reverse psychology! I am running out of things with which to amuse myself. I'm leaning towards bringing back Popsicle-stick art. Eh, but then I'd have to deal with the glue, and there's always the problem of what do you do with the inevitable five or six sticks left over. Do you throw them out? Can you perhaps make a small chimney for your little house? Do you use them to flip things at whomever may be sitting across from you? I'm going to go with the latter. I am also going to stop mindlessly blabbing on, as much as it amuses me.

The only other thing is that I have a nasty cold, for real this time. It's fun because when I inhale through my mouth, I can hear/feel the phlegm rattling around in my chest. Mmm, phlegm. My doctors aren't too concerned about it though, and I haven't gotten a fever, so I am not infected with anything either. I guess I just need to wait this out. In the meantime, I'll be yelling at my left nostril. It is blocked, completely. It's actually really annoying and not the least bit amusing. But oh well. That's all for tonight. Tune in next time to find out, "Where in the world is... Caroline San Diego." I'm betting on a hospital bed at the University of Chicago. Keep fingers crossed for a surprise! Pax.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In brief.

I don't have a whole lot to report, mostly just that I am still in the hospital. My chemo levels have showed a slight decrease since yesterday, so my doctors and I are optimistic about tomorrow. I will probably still have to stay here tomorrow, but I'll hopefully be out within the next few days. Otherwise, that's really it. My kidneys are doing better, my cold/allergies are still doing their thang, and my back is also getting better. So things are alright. I guess the only major negative thing is that, once again, my muscles are atrophying. I've been here for over a week now, and I have had very little physical activity. There is only so much one can do within the confines of their hospital room while constantly hooked up to an IV. While I enjoy watching America's Next Top Model, I don't really want to look like that. At least, I don't want to look like that by sitting on a hospital bed. So I am anxious to get back to healthy. The good news with this is that I know my strength will come back quickly. I'm proud of my resilience. Alright, happy hump day. Pax.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I'm still here. My chemo levels have plateaued. My doctors think I'll be fine; now we're just waiting until my body decides to eradicate the chemo. So I'm keeping busy. Guitared a bit; I planned my schedule for next year; I've blown my nose a Lot. I also found out that the nurses talk about me. My night nurse came in and said, "Hi, I'm Joy. I'm excited; I finally get to be your nurse!" Apparently they all think I'm "so nice and polite." I try to be low-maintenance, I suppose. I feel bad because I know some of the patients here are pretty demanding. Nothing against them; if you're sick and need help, then by all means. And the nurses are so great. One of my nurses said today,"Oh, nothing phases us anymore." And really, they can handle just about anything. I could never do what they do. So props and a huge thanks to them.

And another update... I'm not going to Boston this weekend. Tear. My doctor was actually just in here, and we decided that it would be in my best interest not to travel. I completely agree with her not wanting me to fly halfway across the country. My body is currently struggling to get its (relative) health back. A weekend with my friends, as much fun as it would be, would probably set my recovery back. I'm disappointed, but like I said earlier, I am more concerned with staying on track to get back to school in the fall. That being said, I'd better see some pictures of Marathon Monday all you BU folk... Haha. Otherwise, I'm still thinking happy kidney thoughts. Sticking this out, and I can't wait to get home. Tha's all. Peace.

Monday, April 9, 2007

I wish I could say I was currently listening to Big Pimpin'. But I'm not.

No, instead, I am listening to Blues Traveler. I am still in the hospital, and I still have no definite idea of when they will be sending me home. But I am trying, as my nurse advised, to "think happy kidney cell thoughts." Come on, happy kidney cells! Do your regeneration thing! That's about it though. I feel better than I have the past few days. My back is becoming less painful, albeit slowly. But I haven't had any Tylenol in 24 hours, so progress is being made. Now I'm just waiting for these stupid chemo levels to go down.

In other news, I had another run-in today with someone who wasn't born in this country. And by run-in, I mean delightful encounter. A man stopped by my room this morning, a man with thick, wavy brown hair, a quirky little smile, and what I think was a Spanish accent. He said to me, "Caroline?" I looked up from my book at this strange man who knew my name and answered, "Yeah..." He then said to me (again, in his accent with slightly rolled r's), "Would you like to paint?" This man, this vision from another country, was offering me paints! I guess someone comes around to the cancer folk every once in a while with painting supplies. Occupational therapy, if you will. Anyway, needless to say, I accepted his offer to art. And art I did. He brought me acrylic paints in hot pink, neon green, sort of puke yellow, sky blue, and there was a purple in there as well. I commented that, "Wow, these are really bright," and he offered to bring me some more muted colors to mix. So he returned with white, black, a peach, and a color he called "ochre; all the famous paintings have it as their base." He also brought me another brush, in addition to the second-grade plastic-bristled one he had brought initially. Oh, and an orange colored pencil. And then his mysterious, arty, and foreign self left, never to be seen again. But I still have his day-glo orange pencil, although I did throw out the acrylic paints. The smell was starting to make me feel a little fuzzy. I also have the god-awful painting I drew. But it made me happy and was a nice distraction for a little while. So that was my day. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Maybe a French man will come and bring me runny cheeses and wine. Oh God, that would be fantastic. If slightly fanciful. Otherwise, I'm off to dream of mysterious, dark, and accented men presenting me with Monets and glasses of Bordeaux-region reds. Splendid.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Merry Ester

I suppose. Sadly, the Nondenominational Rodent did not visit the adult wing of this hospital. He may have ventured into the Children's Hospital, but I can't say for sure. Regardless, a few of my nurse friends dropped off some candy for me, and one nurse even made me two sparkly, origami bunny heads. These bunnies, along with the white chocolate rabbit my doctor gave me, are sitting on my table, watching me type. If they could talk, I'm sure they would be saying something along the lines of, "Don't worry Caroline, things will get better soon." And the chocolate one from my doctor would be saying, "Hey, at least you're in remission," which is what my doctor told me yesterday. The reason they would be saying these somewhat reassuring trifles is that I am still in the hospital. My methotrexate levels have actually Increased since this morning. I do not know how that happens, only that it did and that it means I still can't go home. So I have officially taken the cliched "one step forward and two steps backwards." And now I am also not sure if I will get to go home tomorrow either. The other thing is that I officially became neutropenic last night, so my immune system is compromised to the extent that I have no mechanisms left to fight off infection. I have actually been on the verge of a fever all day. And, while I would like to attribute my current issues -stuffy nose, sore throat and cough- to allergies, I feel like I'm coming down with a head cold. So this is lame. The good news is that this will pass. My kidneys will eventually get back to their normal functioning, and my white blood cell count will rebound.

What this means for the immediate future, though, is that it is becoming less and less likely that I will be flying to Boston this coming Friday. Obviously, I am disappointed. But I can't be too upset. I knew there was a chance this would happen. It's just unfortunate that my body would choose now to react to the chemo when I have had relatively few negative reactions these past four months. Oh yeah. Today's the four-month anniversary of my diagnosis. Thank God, I'm almost halfway finished with all of this. But the health thing. I'm not angry. I don't want to waste the energy I still have on anger at something I have no control over. That's a new way of thinking for me, new since four months ago. But really, there is nothing I can do about this. I can only get through it. And I'm certainly not going to complain about still being here. Nor am I going to try and analyze every detail of this past week, in the hopes of finding something that I should have done differently. I can't do anything about the past. I've just got to move forward and pray that these silly setbacks are only temporary and that nothing more serious happens between now and September. Yup, that's about it. Peace.