Monthly Archives: June 2011

An Update

Hello! This is just a quick update. I’ve been really sick since yesterday. I think I caught a bug or something and was very, very ill all day throwing up and such. On top of that, I had a “bilateral” bone marrow biopsy. Which means I got a needle inserted deep into my pelvis bone not once, but twice. It was hands down the worst experience I’ve had in the hospital so far. I won’t go into the gory details, but throwing up on a biopsy table is one memory I’d like to forget.

My body temperature is also up and down, I was running a fever last night and this morning. I thought it may be related to the flu, but my doctor said it may be related to the cancer. They took some blood cultures to make sure I don’t have an infection.

The biggest news I’ve received in the past couple days is that they didn’t get enough viable samples from my chest biopsy to make a proper diagnosis. I met with a thoracic surgeon yesterday and he’s going to cut either into the bottom of my throat or side of my chest to insert a scope to get larger samples of the growth in my chest. The good news is that I will be put under anaesthesia for the procedure. I’m up for anything if I’m put to sleep for it! The bad news is I won’t know exactly what kind of lymphoma it is or how it’s going to be treated for another week. So the waiting game continues.

I’m taking a road trip tomorrow to get a test at a hospital 75 minutes away. Hopefully I’m feeling a little better by then so I can enjoy my brief escape from the hospital. I’m still very weak and can’t walk around. Ironic, because I’m finally off the bed rest order! I haven’t been on the computer much, just lots of sleeping and resting, which is what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day. So don’t fret if you don’t hear from me :)

How To Make The Sick Sicker

Hi! I’ve written a few important posts lately, so if you haven’t caught up yet you can start here first, then here, and finish here.

Today’s post is all about a very serious aspect of staying in the hospital.

The food.

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Now, I know hospital food is notoriously bad, but I feel like the stuff they serve at the Moncton Hospital is exceptionally bad. I’ve never seen anything like it. Me, who will eat pretty much anything, won’t even go near some of these dishes.

As a long-term patient, I get to choose my food in advance from a menu. On paper, it looks like some pretty decent options.

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But then it arrives and it’s the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen. Most of the time unidentifiable and empty of any taste, texture, or nutrients.

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These are the scrambled eggs I got on Sunday. Made in a cup maybe? The were really spongey and I didn’t eat them. My sister Jane says it looks like it came from a can. Is that possible? If it is, the hospital would probably do it.

The serving sizes are also incredibly small. I think it’s because they are geared toward the sick and elderly. I mean, I know I am a 25-year-old who still has the metabolism of a personal trainer, but I also know my 88-year-old Nana could not survive on these portions.

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Saturday, my sister whipped the lid off the plate to find one lonely boiled egg. A piece of cheese and orange on the side. We laughed and decided the hospital must be trying to starve the cancer out.

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This is what I get for coffee with my breakfast. About 50ml filled in a 125ml cup. A splash of coffee, essentially.

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Thankfully, they offer unsweetened hot cereals, but the cream of wheat is more like cream of wheat soup.

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Yesterday’s supper: I’d ordered a sub sandwich and received unidentified lunch meat on a white bun. At first I thought it was bologna, and then I tried a nibble of it, and I think it was spam!!! Barf.

Sometimes though, something edible will come up.

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My jaw dropped when I saw fresh vegetables on the plate. With a little scoop of egg salad, a piece of bread, a little bit of (gross) potato salad and some (good) apple crisp. It’s hit and miss. 97% of the time a miss.

Thankfully, my family has been showering me with food everyday. To the point where I’ve had to order them to stop bringing me food, because I am only one person and can only eat so much! So far, I’ve just been picking at the edible stuff on the hospital food trays, and supplementing it with food people bring me.

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Soupy cream of wheat made better with fresh blackberries.

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Homemade veggie pizza from good family friend Mary (who will also be acting as my advocate).

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Dad’s been bringing me big tupperware containers of greens and I throw random things on top with balsamic or hummus.

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Homemade red quinoa salad with black beans and asparagus from a family friend.

Now that I know I’m sick, I’m taking extra extra care to eat better. Nothing that will feed the cancer. It’s an issue we all take seriously after my uncle had brain cancer.

I’m cutting waaaaay back on processed sugar, no artificial sweeteners (byebye Diet Coke), and washing my fruit really well. I’ve upped the anti-oxidants with things like green tea, goji berries, acai, etc etc.

And yes, I’m giving up coffee for green tea.

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Okay, so I’m still drinking one cup of coffee a day. But going from 3-4 cups to 1 cup is huge! I only had one day of really bad caffeine headaches, but now seem to be okay with just the one cup. And then 15 cups of green to compensate for the caffeine ;)

Honestly, I am kind of horrified by the kind of food sick people are served here. It’s not even food. The ingredients are canned, frozen, or come from a powder. All high in sugar and salt, low in protein and whole grains. Eating good quality food so far has been key in keeping my energy levels up, I can’t imagine how sick I’d feel if I was left to subsist on just what’s available at the hospital. The Globe and Mail just this weekend had an article on changing the way hospitals serve food. I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, there are some things I must ingest that I have no choice over.

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A giant dye smoothie for a cat scan. It actually wasn’t too bad. I mean, compared to some of the other things the nurses have brought me ;)

Bone marrow exam and meeting with my oncologist again today. Scared for both but keeping happy thoughts!

Looking For A Sign

A lot of people obsess over the future. The “what ifs.” They go over all possible outcomes of any circumstance they may come across. Fearing the worst, of course.

I don’t. When I lay awake at night, before the sleeping pills kick in, it’s these things that keep me awake:

After three days spent in bed, 10 days of a straight fever and the remnants of a sore throat and sinus infection, I was feeling pretty lousy.

-Jan 16, 2011

The doctors tell me the mass in my chest could have started growing six months ago, and my brain is determined to pinpoint when that exact moment was. I’ve been going over incidents and scenarios from over the last year, asking myself, “Were there any signs I had cancer then?”

In January, after coming home for Christmas, I was just walloped with illness. Namely, a 102F fever that lasted 10 days. Not normal. I remember looking up my symptoms on the internet and seeing a fever is often the sign of your body fighting off an infection, or worst case scenario, cancer. I clearly disregarded the cancer thing because that was such a silly notion for me, the healthy personal trainer, to have cancer. So I chalked it up to a sinus infection and figured lots of rest would help me get rid of it.

But really, a 10-day fever is not normal. And there were other symptoms. I felt crappy a lot. I always had dull headaches and would often get feverish chills without the fever temperature. After I broke my arm and had reconstructive surgery in February, any symptom I had was blamed on that.

I told myself the surgery was the reason why I still didn’t have the stamina to run like I used to. I was going 12 minute miles when I used to run 9, and I thought it was just taking me longer than normal to recover from surgery. But looking back, what if it was the large mass in my chest slowing me down?

Even after moving home, I still got fever symptoms every night. I had a gnarly chest cough come and go. Overall, looking back, I haven’t been feeling in my best health since before November 2010. But the symptoms were so minor, I thought I was just tired or overworked. Or the Toronto subway was making me sick over and over. Now I wonder, was it all the cancer??

I know it’s not good to dwell in the past, but it has given me something to think about apart from my looming diagnosis at the start of the week. I had my chest biopsy on Thursday, and then pictures of my stomach, pelvis, brain, and heart were taken on Friday. No tests this weekend, thank god, I needed the break from being poked and prodded and feel a lot better because of it. Instead, I’ve rested up, took my first shower, ate some good food my family brought me, and best of all visited with people I love.

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I am still on bed rest because of the blood clots in my neck. They’re only giving me a little bit of thinner until they know what kind of chemo I’m starting on later next week. I’m getting my bone marrow test on Monday and being sent for a PET scan in Saint John Monday or Tuesday. And of course, biopsy results one of those days. Right now I’m living in a sort of ignorant bliss. I’ve told myself that I simply have a large disease that’s just going to be really crappy and time consuming to get rid of. But who knows what the biopsy holds.

Don’t expect me to blog every day or at a strict time. If I don’t blog, it’s likely because I’m busy with tests, visiting with people, or just tired and resting, which is more important. I’ll keep you updated if anything noteworthy happens.

And please, if you’re experiencing mild symptoms, write them all down, keep a journal, and don’t brush them off just because you think you’re a healthy person. If it wasn’t for my mom forcing me to a doctor, I’d still be going to the gym every day with what I thought was a kink in my neck.

Thanks again for all he messages and prayers xo

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