Friday, September 20, 2013

Embarrassing Chemo Side Effects

Oh, what a pleasant last week it's been. Ha ha. I tend to share really personal things on here, but the nature of my latest chemo adventure just does not allow for full disclosure. I will try to tactfully explain what's going on without going overboard on the TMI.

So what is my latest body part affected by the chemo? My. . . bladder! Trust me, this is a part of your body you want to function properly. My latest chemo was five days in a row of both ifosfamide and etoposide. Ifosfamide is known for irritating the bladder, so, like always, they gave me a drug called mesna to help protect the bladder. Clearly it did not work this time around.

I was in a lot of pain Saturday through Wednesday, having these horrible bladder spasms. When I would have one I imagine it was like a contraction. I couldn't talk through it, sometimes tears, usually squeezing anything close to me tightly until it was over. Saturday night I went to the ER where they guessed I had a UTI. They gave me some morphine while there, sent me home with some medications, and said it would clear up soon.

The ER communicated with the cancer center about what had happened and as soon as the cancer center was open again on Monday, they called me. They are much more familiar with my chemo regimen and side effects and things. They told me they didn't think it was a UTI and recommended I go to the hospital immediately. So I packed a small bag and headed to the hospital. I expected to leave within a day or two, but boy was I off. It is now Friday and I am still here.

This is where I will majorly gloss over the details. It turns out my bladder is just really irritated. They have tried a ton of things to get me better. Luckily, I'm not really having the bladder spasms anymore, I'm just painfully using the restroom every fifteen minutes to one hour, which is annoying, but a serious improvement.

Why am I still at the hospital? Mostly because my counts are just so low. Despite getting three units of blood and two units of platelets, things continue to drop, specifically my platelets. Platelets are what help you to stop bleeding if you get a cut or something. They are nervous to send me home because if my platelets continue to go down, my bladder will continue to be irritated and bleed even more. Yeah, not a pretty picture.

So I'm just chillin here at the hospital, using the bathroom way too much, and waiting for my counts to come back up.

Question: How many times did Crystal use the bathroom from 10:15am  to 10:15pm (a twelve hour period)?

Answer: 25

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Story About a Cancer Girl

Once upon a time there was a girl who had her whole world crash in on her. She found out she was sick and that the only way to get better was to fill her body with poison. She lost her job, she lost her ability to run and be active, she could no longer take care of herself and new husband, and her physical appearance felt to her to have lost any semblance of femininity. She, a skinny girl to begin with, lost 25 pounds. She lost her hair, she lost her lashes, her skin became pallid, and her eyes, gaunt. She now waddles around with a cane and smiles back at the well-meaning people who stare and then timidly smile at this sick, pathetic woman.

She sometimes feels sad and bitter that the lively, awkwardly funny, disorganized educator and adoring wife she once was have now been replaced by a single title, "Cancer Patient."

Many people ask her, "What do you do all day since you're not working or going to school?" She laughs and replies that she asks herself the same question. She's filled with shame as she reflects on the last 9 months filled with hours of mindlessly surfing the web, watching TV, playing games, reading and occasionally trying new things like crocheting. She thinks about the fact that waking up in the morning isn't a challenge because of exhaustion, but because she is once again waking up to a morning without purpose. 

It sounds bleak, and for her, life sometimes is. But sometimes, she and her husband go grocery shopping. Her husband jumps on the back of the motorized shopping cart and they zoom down the aisles, laughing like there's no one else in the store. Sometimes her nurses tell her she is their very favorite patient and she takes pride in knowing it's true. Sometimes friends come over and play video games and they get fake-mad when they die playing Mario Kart. There are ice cream runs and Mini-golf dates. And sometimes, life is the opposite of bleak. It's exquisite.

And then sometimes life is peaceful, comforting, and consumed by the love she feels for and from others. After reading an inspiring scripture, talking with people she cares about, or getting swept up in meaningful prayer, she lets her eyes close and she slips into sleep without any fear or regrets. She sleeps peacefully knowing that life was never meant to be a series of simple, painless situations, but a series of heart wrenching events that, with help from our Heavenly Father and loved ones, help mold us into better, stronger people.

This isn't the first time that girl has blogged about her roller coaster life, and she certainly isn't the first to have a roller coaster life. We all are oscillating between enduring and enjoying life. No one is exempt. She just has the good/bad fortune of having her roller coaster life be in plain view.

I wanted to write about the good and bad of cancer and for some reason, writing it in the form of a short story seemed the easiest, though this doesn't even cover 1/1,000 of the things I've experienced and felt so far.

No matter what you believe, I hope you can feel the truth in this scripture and be overcome with the same peace I feel when I read it.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Wow, I am really going on a blogging rampage! Awhile back I mentioned the long term disability insurance company denied our claim. We decided to hire an attorney and appeal the decision. And guess what. . . we won! Last week we got our first check in the mail with everything they owed us from the last 5 months. Woo hoo!  Hiring an attorney was one of the best decisions I've made and if someone else finds themselves in a similar situation, I would highly recommend Andrew Reichardt. Anyway, this means that Michael and I will be able to continue to support ourselves, stay in Utah, and remain out of debt. This was truly a miracle.

Grateful for the blessings, but so ready to be done

Well, by Friday I will have officially completed 7 out of 9 cycles of chemo. I will have stayed in the hospital 11 times, 5 days each time, since December. I will have received high doses of 5 different chemo drugs, survived an excruciating and simultaneously miraculous surgery to piece my leg back together, plus another minor surgery to fix up the first one.

Our bodies are amazing. We can do truly horrible things to our bodies and often times they bounce right back and continue to function. I would be lying if I said there have been no side effects. For example, I am currently enjoying all the fun symptoms that accompany menopause. Every 23 year old's dream! But I can walk! I can breathe! I can laugh with my husband! I can swim! And you KNOW I work that stationary bike. Ha ha.

I guess I'm saying we all have different trials, but there are always blessings to help sustain us; there are always things to learn. Part of me does feel bitter that I had the life I always wanted, and in a matter of days that life was gone. My new life consisted of pain, sickness, devastating physical changes, a lot of dependence on other people, and a total lack of direction and purpose. Yet I have never felt more love, hope, and a desire to be better. I have never felt more at peace with both life here on earth and life after death.

Despite loving so many of the blessings that have found me during this trying time, I could not be happier to announce that. . .

I have 2 months and 6 days left of treatment. Boo. Ya.

                                                         Miss you eyebrows.