Daily Archives: July 3, 2011

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body?

The day I was admitted to hospital, on June 22, I wrote a post called Why I’m No Longer A Healthy Living Blogger. I spoke about how the common idea of “health” has been too skewed towards health foods and running mileage. That’s not what health is about at all.

When I wrote that post, I knew I had a cat scan for that kink in my neck coming up. It’s what inspired me to write it, not my bum elbow. It’s proof that deep down inside, I knew something could be very wrong with my body. Something more than runner’s knee or a tummy ache from eating too much cake. There’s a reason why I freaked out at my mom when she made the doctor’s appointment for my neck. Yes, I had other things I wanted to be doing with my free time. But I also was not ready to face my health fears. I wanted to ignore them until they went away.

While I do try to remain positive and optimistic even after being told I have cancer, I’d be lying to say I wasn’t still in shock. Sometimes I look at my surroundings in the oncology ward and wonder why the hell I’m in there. I feel like this is some kind of bizarro life.

I’ve mentioned several times that I am actually quite talented at hiding bad thoughts in the back of my head and carrying on without acknowledging them. I’m able to do this even with my current situation. But some days, the reality of it all washes over me and I start to feel really sad. The other day my mom and I had a short argument about where to move a table in my hospital room. I finally said, “You think I want to be arguing about this!?” and broke down crying.

I don’t want to be doing any of this. I don’t want to be in this hospital bed or on this floor. I don’t want this IV line in me. I wish I didn’t have an oncologist, or have to tell strangers about a large mass in my chest. I wish I didn’t know so much about lymphoma at the age of 25, and I even wish I didn’t have the spare time to watch Arrested Development. I don’t want any of it. And yet I have it.

If there’s one thing that stupid arm accident was good for, it taught me a lot about how to deal with losing control over my body. It taught me how to roll with the punches when crap gets thrown my way. It taught me how to love my body, even when it’s broken. Even when it seems like it’s working against me.

So, no, I am still not a healthy living blogger. I’m not a cancer blogger. I’m not always going to be a fountain hope and strength. To be honest, laying in bed feeling ill seems to be the farthest thing from being strong. Everyone calls getting rid of cancer a “fight” and yet I can’t figure out how to throw punches apart from sitting in a chemotherapy chair.

All I can do is live life the only way I know how. That’s laughing and joking with my family, forgetting any of this exists. Then breaking down to cry when I realize the weight on my chest is literally cancer in my chest.

It’s just so strange to feel so healthy in my mind when my body is so sick.

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I had a visitor this weekend…

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Spent some time hanging out in the fresh air outside the hospital and the family brought the poodle by! He was mostly confused. I think he thought he was being taken to the doggie hospital.

Surgery is at noon today. They’re putting a scope into my chest to get a sample of my tumour because the needle biospy didn’t work. I’ll be asleep for it. See you on the other side!

Some Cancer Questions Answered

I thought it would be nice to cover some “frequently asked questions” I’ve been getting from people since this whole cancer nightmare began. I’ve been on the receiving end of SO much information, I really only share bits and pieces on my blog. But I realize that leaves some holes in the story. If you have any questions you’d like added, let me know and I can do a post like this again.

About all the needles

I’ve mentioned several times that I am often poked for blood work and scans. Most cancer patients have a PICC line or portacath which is a little piece on the outside of your skin that connects to a vein under your skin. It’s sort of like a one-stop-shop for blood taking and injecting medicines without having to get 8 different needles injected into your skin each day.

I can’t explain exactly why I don’t have one of these yet, seeing as I have been receiving needles so frequently. But from what I understand, it has something to do with the blood thinner I am on (heparin). The blood thinner runs through an IV in one arm at all times, and blood has to be drawn from the other arm. I’m on this specific type of thinner because it has a short half life, meaning they can stop it and I’d be safe for operation 90 minutes later. Whereas an oral thinner stays in my blood for 24 hours. My doctors are waiting until all the tests are done and everything is figured out until they put me on a more stable thinner.

Being hooked up to an IV and pushing around an IV tree all the time sucks. But I am quite proud of the IV clothing I fashioned this weekend.

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Before I was stuck in those godawful hospital robes because the way they go on doesn’t interfere with an IV line. Instead, I cut the straps on a few tank-tops and sewed in clips. That way I can unclip them, put the shirt on over my feet and clip up while keeping the line completely free. I should totally market these.

The benefits of social healthcare

It is true, because I am Canadian everything so far has been completely free. The tests, the hospital bed, even the crappy hospital food.

Now, I am not well-versed in the Canadian medicare system (which I’m sure will soon change) but I am not fully covered for everything under Canada’s system. I’m not under private insurance with my new job yet, which means things like certain drugs aren’t covered. I will have to wait until I know exactly what kind of treatment I am getting, but there will likely be some out-of-pocket expenses with that, such as paying for anti-nausea medications.

Treatment expectations

I’m waiting until I get a full diagnosis to fully explain what lymphoma is (apart from cancer of the lymph nodes). But the large mass in my chest can’t be operated on. It’s not a big lumpy tumour like a lot of people associate cancer with. The only way to get rid of it will be to shrink it with chemo, then zap it with radiation. I have no idea how often I’ll be going to chemo, or how potent my treatment will be, until the diagnosis comes. So it’s hard to predict how long it will take, how sick it will make me, etc.

Food restrictions

Previous to this whole experience, I never knew that some people getting cancer treatment can’t eat certain kinds of foods. The most common being a ban on fruits and vegetables because certain kinds of chemo make a person very sensitive to pesticides. Because I haven’t started treatment yet, I currently have no food restrictions. But the hospital will provide a special oncology nutritionist when the time comes. Please pray that I am allowed to eat produce. And that the smell of peanut butter doesn’t make me sick.

A lot of people are telling me now is not the time to be stingy with my food. That doesn’t mean I can go hog wild with cake, but that my body needs calories and nutrients for the upcoming fight.

To me, that means Big Marc burgers.

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My favourite veggie burger in the whole universe. My sisters and I got a take out order from Calactus here in Moncton and gobbled it up in my hospital room. It felt weird eating the burger out of a cardboard container and not in a brightly decorated hippie restaurant. But it’s taste was just as good.

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I honestly have no idea what this burger is made out of, but I suspect rice and TVP. Seasoned close to what a falafel tastes like, and topped with a mustardy tofu cream dressing.

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Yup, all in the name of fighting cancer. I swear.

As a side note, I just want to show off my flowers.

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They are taking over the window sill in my hospital room and they are all absolutely gorgeous! I can always hear people walking by my room and commenting on them. I hear this one was the talk of the nurses lunch room:

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A family friend brought in this multicoloured rose, isn’t it unreal? Well, actually it’s totally real. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I think it had different dyes injected into the bottom of the stem. However, I’m no botonist.

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Have a great Sunday! I may pop in again to say hi before my surgery tomorrow. As for today, it’s a sunny day and I intend to get outside. IV and all!

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