Life After a Cancer Dx

Life after a C diagnosis.

Sometimes you look out the door and think “Damn, it’s a beautiful day.” And sometimes you look out the door and see a blood draw chair in the ER hallway and think that it seriously resembles the talking chair from Peewee and you begin to question everything.  

Days like that, a general “What the fuck?!” is usually my first question. Next comes “Will I freak out over every ache and pain until my last day on this earth?” And specifically last week- “How will I pick up my kids if I’m in the ER for several more hours?” ” But really what the Fuck is this chest pain?” “Am I having a heart attack?” “I guess I’m in the best place to have a heart attack but really, is this what a heart attack feels like?” “Will this pain ever go away?” “Am I going to freak myself out to the point where I actually end up having a true heart attack?” and finally “Why is all my time-off from work spent in damn hospitals?”

Wait, what? I know- total word vomit. Let me backtrack a sec…

Last fall I was feeling really great- physically, emotionally, mentally and I told my doctor that I was ready to be weaned off of my anxiety/depression medication. I had been on it for about 4 years this round because, let’s be real- not my first depression med rodeo- but I felt confident that I was ready. So we very gradually weaned me and by Christmas time I was completely off. If you read a few posts back, we had a pretty chaotic holiday and by the time we got home, I still felt good so I thought “Yup, I made a good decision.”

But about 3 weeks into January, I felt myself slipping back into hopelessness. I was not ok and I knew it.  So I asked my doctor to put me back on a low dose of my previous med. Shortly after starting up again though, I began to have consistent indigestion and a lingering feeling of something stuck in my throat and chest. Cue all consuming anxiety and fear because after C, indigestion isn’t just indigestion. It opens the mental flood gates to all possible awful things. 

Could it all just be related to being back on the meds? We didn’t know, possibly. Indigestion and heartburn are listed as side effects… but was it likely since I’d spent the last 4 years on it without issues? Again, not sure. Was it stress? Who’s not stressed?! Was it C? Per my onc, she had very low suspicion but per me- it was time to freak the fuck out.

So between my oncologist and my primary care doctor- the tests began. I tried Prilosec first, no help. Then had blood tests and a barium swallow test which showed nothing. A couple of days later I ended up in the ER with what felt like either a pulmonary embolism (like I had while pregnant) or a heart attack. While there I had more blood work, an EKG, and chest X-rays all which showed nothing. And on the following Sunday I had a CT scan which I found out today was – THANKFULLY – clear as well. 

But it all comes back to this, life after a C dx is confusing as fuck. I still don’t have an answer as to what’s causing my chest pressure, indigestion, throat issues but I did get to totally freak out about it possibly being a reoccurrence or metastasis for several weeks. I know- a solid freak out doesn’t help the situation and most likely stress and anxiety are to blame in the first place but it’s hard to maintain a clear head sometimes. Of course, I try to practice what I teach- affirmations, yoga, journaling, exercise, quiet time… but anxiety and fear are stubborn assholes, you know?  

After all the tests, I am grateful for my health and clear scans even if there is not a clear reason as to why I feel this way. I am grateful for a medical team that takes my concerns seriously. And I am forever grateful for a partner who lifts me up when I feel I can’t go on during it all. In my gut, I believe that stress and anxiety are the root of my issues (but I’m a crazy person and needed to have medical tests performed to rule out the shit possibilities) so now it’s time, it’s time to take better care of me… for me.

Soul Seeds

So, I did this thing…

You may have read a post several months back about me starting up a Kickstarter campaign for my side project: Soul Seeds // Affirmation Deck. The Kickstarter was a success- massive thanks to all who supported and continue to support me! Once the decks were received by me, I went in a-banging and have gotten most of the pre-ordered decks out – with the exception of a few missing addresses… so if that’s you- PLEASE REACH OUT!!

But if that’s not you and you’re like- ‘wait, what?! I want one of those 52 card positive affirmation decks with dreamy geometric designs!’… To that I say- Don’t Worry, Be Happy because those babies are up for purchase on my website! ~ Sayyyyy whaaaaat!? ANOTHER website? ~ Yup, damn right! I have another website that I haven’t really done much with until now. Check it out to see awkward photos of myself and other yoga and affirmation related goodness. I also have additional dreams-a-brewin’ that I hope to get up in there sometime in the near future too.

Oh and since I apparently love purchasing domains and setting up websites, stay tuned for another side project in the works. Kewl shit, right?

Right!

Holidays and Hospitals

People always say that the holidays are crazy. And you know us, we wanted to keep our part of the crazy up-to-date this year too.

Driving back to my brother’s house after Christmas Day festivities, Harlon broke out in hives – all over his face and neck. We tried to go to an urgent care but they were closed for Christmas. So we gave him some Benadryl and things cleared up for a bit.

The next morning while driving up to Oregon, he started to break out again. It was just me and the boys so I was remaining as calm as possible while I figured out a game plan. He took some more meds and passed out as the hives cleared up again. Once we got to Bend, Oregon I had started to suspect the plastic tablet case he’d recently got was the culprit. Took that fucker off and Hives-Be-Gone!

I thought that was the beginning and the end of our ‘Crazy Christmastime’ but, sha right!

Later that night, two family members came down with ‘something’. Food poisoning was thought but the rest of us were ok. By the next day, Wyatt caught that ‘something’- vomiting all over. And once he stopped, I picked up where he left off…. and another family member was to follow soon after.

By Saturday, we all seemed to be back to somewhat OK so I prepared to get us packed and ready for an early morning drive back to my brother’s in NorCal on Sunday. As we were saying our goodbyes Sunday morning with the car packed and everyone pee-free… Wyatt projectile puked- literally as we walked to the front door. We gave him some stuff to settle his stomach and decided to wait a bit before leaving.

Nothing helped and he continued to vomit with every sip of water or juice. Nothing would stay down and blood started to streak his vomit. I rushed him to urgent care as blood filled his puke bags. I started to cry as the doctor hugged me. He didn’t like what he saw, I was scared, it was the anniversary of my dad’s passing, I was having flashbacks of both my parents in the hospital during the holidays. It was Crazy Town and I was the Mayor. We were then sent to the ER with the doctor notifying them we were on the way.

It took 2.5 hours and three groups of people (ER staff, NICU staff and eventually the Dream Team) to finally get enough blood for labs and to place the IV. He was screaming and severely dehydrated, begging me to get him out of there. I was sobbing, covered in vomit and feeling completely helpless. Thankfully Harlon was occupied by his now case-less tablet (because, no more medical shit, k?) and was with my step mom …. in a safe space so they couldn’t hear Wyatt screaming.

Abdominal ultrasounds were completed and blood tests were performed with the thought to eventually be that he caught the Norovirus. And with this, we were moved up to the pediatric floor where everyone had to gown up when entering the room.

It felt like a snail’s pace recovery. Not knowing when we would be able to get back home, I sobbed on the phone with airlines to find an available seat for an unaccompanied minor just so Harlon wouldn’t have to risk more contamination. That and I felt so guilty for him, spending his whole vacation with sick peeps. And not seeing snow like I had promised. I know it seems silly now but I felt so, so bad for him. But being so close to NYE, no seats were available.

John flew up and we were finally discharged later in the day New Years Eve. We monitored Wyatt closely that night- which was thankfully, vomit-free.

I am happy to report that we are all finally back home in Orange County and feeling good…. though extra tired. I am so grateful for my family and fantastic hospital staff. And for friends who listened to me text-freak-out throughout it all. How some of the fam made it out virus-free? No fucking clue. But glad they did. So, bye-bye 2019. Cheers to 2020. Let’s see what other (vomit and shit-free) adventures await!