Here's the Cliff's Notes version of all that transpired between last Monday and yesterday:
• I checked into the emergency complaining of shortness of breath and pain in my right side.
• I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my right lung and fluid build-up around my right lung.
• I was put on blood-thinning medication to prevent future blood clots and will stay on some form of that medication for the life of the cancer (likely for the rest of my life).
• I had one liter of fluid drained from my lung. A chest x-ray showed there was still plenty more in there, so I went back the next day and got a chest tube put in the back of my ribs (ouch!), which drained another one-plus liter.
• A set of scans Thursday revealed that more tumors have grown in my lungs and in the chest cavity outside my lungs. (After the scans, they took out the chest tube.)
• I had a round of chemotherapy for the new tumors.
• I had a blood transfusion for anemic-level hemoglobin counts.
• I went home Saturday.
• The hospital discovered I'd developed a bacterial staph infection and called me back. (Note that I tested negative for any such infection when I checked into the hospital Monday, which means I developed it sometime during my stay.)
• I started a round of antibiotics for the chest infection.
• My Hickman catheter was removed because doctors told me there's too high a risk that clumps of bacteria will stick to the plastic and not come off.
• A new PICC line was placed in my arm so I can give myself antibiotics at home.
• I came home yesterday afternoon — exhausted and trying to remember the barrage of pills and shots and antibiotics I have to give myself.
A fellow St. Paul sarcoma survivor sent me an e-mail the other day, and I hope she doesn't mind my printing part of it: "I feel your emotional rollercoaster, too, for I have received bad news too and it is a slap in the face to say the least until you can find that place that puts you in the “new normal” but you do not want to accept that place."
The new normal. That phrase has been sticking around in my head since I read it. It's so true. I hope I can get used to it soon. Right now it just makes me feel so excruciatingly sad.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to reimmerse myself in the comforts of home life. It'll be easier once the chemo nausea wears off and I can eat normal food without blanching at the thought of it. Steve and the boys are the biggest comfort of all. They seem so bonded. I look forward to reentering that bond little by little as my strength comes back.