Tuesday, November 25, 2008

my week in the hospital

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.


Shannon said...

I'm so glad you're back at home, Emilie. I'm sure Stephen, Daniel and Ben are all as comforted by your presence as you are by theirs.

Thinking of you often,


Agape said...

Bless you heart! I am glad you are home! May God give you strength to remember all you need to remember. It is hard to have to treat yourself. I wish you could hand all the pills and shots to someone else to take care of for you. I can imagine of confusing all that is. Enjoy your boys!!! They are blessed to have you and you to have them!

EasyMac said...

I am so glad you are back home. That bond is precious, enjoy being part of it.

Sue said...

I'm happy you're home with your family - they are the best medicine at all. I hope the new normal becomes tolerable soon.

Amy M said...

So happy that you are home and with your sweet boys again. You have a new candle burning brightly for you in the Orleans Cathedral.

Julie said...

Yeah! You're home! Just a few things I'm noticing from your writing...
Isn't it wonderful to have contact with others who have been through what you've been through that can share your trials?
What a great little family you have. I don't know how people go through these kinds of things alone.
My grandmother had breast cancer when my mom was in Kindergarten. I often think that's one of the major things that made my mother amazing. She could ride through anything with such grace.
You are all I could ever wish to be. No, Emilie, you're not perfect, but you are coming through it and sharing it all with us. You are strong even though you might not see it now.
Hang in there, my friend. I'm continually praying for you. You are on my mind all the time. I wish I were closer, so I could actually do something for you guys and help lift some of your burden, but it sounds like you are well-loved and others are stepping up. What great blessings these people are. I just can't help but thing that God is watching out for you.

M said...

i'm so glad you're back home!!

Cate said...

Yay!!! You're home! I'm so glad to hear that you're home with your precious boys and your sweetie. Let their love wash over you and take away all the discomfort of last week. Please continue to get better. My thoughts and hopes are with you, all the way from California.


Christina said...

What a tough concept to adjust to, the idea of a new normal -- and feeling torn between wanting to accept that quickly and not wanting to accept it at all. I am praying for you!

So glad you're home. Enjoy your precious boys.

Barbara said...

I'm so glad you're finally back home with your boys (all three of them), and hoping you get a break in the action for a while. Give me a call if you'd like to chat. I'm thinking of you, and of course you're always in my prayers. I love you, honey.

LutherLiz said...

I'm glad you are home. Take it easy and enjoy all that you have to be Thankful for this week - particularly your three wonderful guys!

Journeywoman said...

I'm so glad you're back at home. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

liz said...

"The new normal" stinks. I've heard that phrase a lot in reference to grief/redefining life after losing a loved one. It makes me feel so tired and sad.

I'm so happy you're at home. It's something I'm very thankful for this Thanksgiving. Enjoy your beautiful family.

otrey3 said...

Ditto to everything! Especially the "glad you're home" stuff! Hooray for good (though exasperating while you're going through it) medical care!

--Laura S.

sara said...

You strength through all of this is such an inspiration to me. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Topcat said...

I am so glad that you are home, and hope that the bond re-entering took no time at all.


Anna's Mommy said...

What a dreadful week. Your true strength despite all you've experienced is incredible. I'm happy to read you are home with your sweet boys again.

Victoria said...

What a hard hell week Emilie - glad you are home and regaining strength among your boys.