Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Seven Weeks Post Stem Cell Transplant - Christmas Parties, Preparations and Balance

Christmas is my favourite time of year. On Friday, I went with Hubby and some friends to Lumina Borealis on Friday night. This is a magical, interactive light show that is currently being shown at a local tourist attraction. I had a great time as the snow fell from the sky and we wandered through the exhibit. My friend and I sang into the microphone and saw our voices make changes in the shape and colours on the walls. What a great night it was! I felt like a little child and I wanted to spin with my arms outstretched. However, the adult part of me restrained myself and I wandered through with a big smile on my face.

Saturday, we enjoyed a dinner with friends at their home. Hubby and I enjoyed good food and great company until I ran out of gas and needed to head home. We did not need to walk very far to get home as we live in the same neighbourhood.

Sunday morning, I went to church and then headed straight home. I was very tired but also excited to see my son who was on his way home for the Christmas holidays. Hubby took me out for a late breakfast. We had just arrived home when our son arrived. I'm so happy to have him home. He was excited to show us his report from his teaching placement and he also showed us a test that he had written for the students in the class. I am happy that he continues to have such enthusiasm for his career.

Yesterday, I had a couple of appointments and then went shopping for Hubby's Christmas present. Then last night, I was at another of Hubby's Christmas parties. I was exhausted when we arrived home last night. I ate too much greasy food and had an unhappy stomach through most of the night. Thank goodness the stomach eventually calmed down early this morning. However, I had a disrupted, sleepless night.

As a result, I slept in and my body let me know all day long that it was tired. Normally after sleeping in, I won't need to sleep again during the day. Not today. I ended up having heavy eyes while sitting on the couch this afternoon so I went and had a nap. Hubby woke me up in time to eat some supper. I'm still tired and I will go to sleep early tonight. I have a big day tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will do my grocery shopping in preparation for our Christmas dinners and birthday lunch for my daughter. After all that shopping, tomorrow night I will go with Hubby to another Christmas party.

Thursday and Friday, I will be busy baking and cooking so I can visit with family on the weekend and still put together a good meal. In order to survive this busy time of year, I will be needing to go to bed early and perhaps even having small cat naps to rejuvenate myself. Despite the busy-ness, I still love this time of year.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

6 weeks Post Transplant - Set Backs

Overall, I continue to do well but my body lets me know when I've done too much. This week I have been planning my Christmas baking, Christmas activities and trying to schedule in rest days. I made my last batch of Christmas cookies on Monday. Then I decided to make my cinnamon rolls that my daughter likes to have for Christmas morning. The recipe for these cinnamon rolls came from my grandmother and I remember her serving them when we would visit her and grandpa on the farm. They are easy to make and really good. I made them yesterday. I've been working on sending out my Christmas cards. Again, I try to schedule in rest times as well.

Last night, my body let me know that I have been too busy. I was really tired around 8:10 p.m. but my stomach was showing signs of rolling and upheaval. So I took my Olanzapine which controls the nausea. Unfortunately, it was not successful and I had a disrupted night. I was supposed to go for a walk with my cousin-in-law this afternoon and I was really looking forward to it all week. I am very tired this morning and so I have cancelled out. I know she will understand and I'm hoping that we can get together next week sometime.

I was also supposed to get some groceries done today but that may also be put on hold until my body is up to it. I know I could rely on Hubby to do the groceries, but I am wanting to be involved with the groceries this week and also next week when we will do the groceries for celebrating Christmas and my daughter's birthday which is Christmas Day. Again, I have to schedule in rest times.

I know I'm getting stronger and better when I am frustrated with having to sit and rest. Life is too short but I also need to make sure that my body is rested. Otherwise, I will have more nights and days like last night where I am a friend to my bathroom and can't leave it.

On days like today when I am resting, I have time to reflect on the Christmas/Advent season. I recognized this morning as I lit my Advent candles for Hope and Peace that it is much too easy to let the busy-ness and consumerism of Christmas intrude and distract me from my real reason for Christmas. This is the time to sit, reflect and wait patiently for Christ's arrival on Christmas Day. Wait patiently for family to arrive. Wait patiently in Hope and Peace for my body to heal. Wait patiently and quietly while at the same time keep the busy-ness at bay. Waiting patiently and quietly during this Advent season also gives me time to reflect and pray for Hope and Peace not just for me personally but within my home, community and within the world. Especially for Peace at this time of world upheaval and intolerance. Peace and intolerance cannot cohabitate together. So perhaps my prayers for today should be for a decrease in the intolerance that is found in our communities as well as in the world.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

6 weeks Post Stem Cell Transplant and Embracing Christmas

So tomorrow the "new" me will be 6 weeks old. I had a check up at the Cancer Clinic this past Wednesday and my blood levels are doing well. I was given permission to get my flu shot which will prevent me from catching some of the flu germs that are in the general public domain. At my check up, I was also told that I will have a CT scan within this next month  and it will confirm conclusively that I am in remission.  I don't have to go back for another check up until 2 months from now. Woo Hoo!! Life is great!

I love this time of year. I love all the Christmas music which includes the sacred Christmas carols but also the secular Christmas music. I have it on in the house and in the car. This music lifts my spirits and helps me to prepare and wait for Christmas day. Some people may call me naïve. I don't care. I still believe in the birth of Christ and I eagerly embrace all things Christmas during Advent. I have an Advent wreath that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas many, many years ago. I love to light the candles and reflect on their meanings. I do this in the quiet moments of the morning before life gets busy. I light them every day in their order. So last week, only one candle was lit all week long. This was the candle of "Hope". This morning is the second Sunday in Advent so while all was quiet, I lit the candle of "Peace". In my personal reflection, I hoped for peace to reign throughout the world. Hope for a calming influence on the leaders of the United States and North Korea. Hope for world peace. These were part of my reflections this morning.

Another part of my reflections was hoping for my family to spend time together during Christmas this year. My daughter's work schedule may allow for us to have just one day together. This Christmas is very special for me. I am very blessed and fortunate to be here. So I hope for my family to be able to be together for Christmas Day at the very least. We will celebrate Christmas but also my daughter's birthday as she was the best Christmas present many years ago.

In the spirit of embracing Christmas, this past week included 3 Christmas parties and a hockey game. I had a wonderful time at all of them. They were an opportunity to see people that I care about and visit with them. The last party was held last night. I had a very filling turkey dinner which was topped off with a sherry trifle and a cup of tea. This morning, I was wanting to go to church and celebrate the second Sunday in Advent. I wanted to contribute to my church's White Gift project. However, this morning, my busy week has caught up to me and I'm feeling very tired and achy. So I have listened to my body and stayed home from church. I truly believe that God will forgive me and appreciate my own reflections on this Sunday of Peace.

Advent will continue and I will continue to wait and prepare for Christmas Day where I will celebrate the arrival of the birth of my saviour, Jesus Christ. I will also eagerly await and prepare to celebrate my family being all together. The four of us have not been together since February. My children fill me with warmth and this year is a special Christmas to celebrate us all together again.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Day 31 and Day 32 Post Stem Cell Transplant

As a reminder, once I had my stem cell transplant, then I am just like a newborn baby. All my vaccinations have been wiped out and I will have to get them all redone. This is why I am posting as Day 31, etc. Eventually I will be posting like newborn ages of 6 weeks, 2 months, 3 months, etc.

Day 31 - Friday, December 1

Yesterday, Thursday, November 30, I did not get my groceries done in the morning. I did make it to the bank, but I started to feel nauseous and I wanted to go to the Women's Institute Artisan and Craft Show with my cousin-in-law. I rested in the morning and then went out in the afternoon. I had a lovely afternoon at the craft show and then back to my cousin's home for a cup of tea and gingerbread cookies. The afternoon flew by and I had to leave to meet Hubby at his work. We then enjoyed a nice dinner together at a local sports bar.

Hubby took today, Friday, December 1 off as a vacation day. We went grocery shopping in the morning and came home for lunch. I was feeling a little tired so I had a brief power nap. Then we made our way to the downtown to do some Christmas shopping (stocking stuffers) and enjoy walking in the outdoors. We did some touristy things in our downtown and we enjoyed a lovely cup of tea (coffee for Hubby) at Musiikki Café. Before this was a quaint café that hosts small musical ensembles in the evening, it used to be a retail store. A friend used to own the store and we were very happy to see the space now has a great vibe to it. Although we enjoyed our tea break, it was really a break for me to rest and regain some energy to continue with our day.

Although we had not been successful in finding stocking stuffers, we did find some treasures for ourselves. I love the store, Send in the Clowns, and I found advent candles which have been scarce and hard to find. I bought enough for this year and next year's Advent season. I use them with my Advent Wreath which is put out and I reflect on every Advent and Christmas season. I also found a lovely set of Christmas cards that I can now start sending them out to family and friends through the mail.

Hubby bought himself a new shirt from a local men's store that is closing in a couple of weeks. It is a retirement closing and the owner is really looking forward to a Christmas break. This gentleman has never had a holiday between Christmas and New Years!

While Hubby and I were meandering and shopping, we stopped into one of our favourite stores. The floors are still the old, creaky hardwood and they have a great selection of imported foods and local, artisan foods. We went in just to browse but we weren't expecting to find anything exciting. But......I had only taken a couple of steps inside the store when I recognized the logo of a brand of Scotch that I love.  Obviously this store does not sell alcohol but what I saw was my favourite whisky fudge. Glenfarclas Whisky Fudge!! Hubby saw my eyes light up. He saw me get a spring to my step. He also saw me make a fast beeline to the display. We bought 3 tins which I'm going to hide until Christmas time. What a fantastic treat this will be on Christmas Day when my children will be home and we can share as a family.

After buying the fudge, Hubby and I decided to make our way up the main street to our car. Once we got there, we carefully put our packages into the car and made our way to our favourite Indian restaurant for dinner. I haven't been there since the day that I was admitted to hospital back in October. My taste buds are still slightly off and I've been afraid to try my favourite Indian foods in case they don't taste good to me or that they don't sit well with me. Tonight, though, I'm willing to try it. I ordered a dish that I haven't had in a long time. I always enjoy it but it is very, very mild. This would be my first foray into reintroducing this cuisine to my body. It was good. I did try some of Hubby's Saag Aloo (a potato and spinach side dish) and I found it very tasty. Again, it is a mild dish.

Our plan for the day was to finish it off by attending the Kingston Frontenacs OHL hockey game. We were willing to be flexible on this item of our day as it would depend on my energy levels and how well I felt. My power nap must have helped me out as I had the energy and willpower to attend the game. I thoroughly enjoyed the game although I started to yawn as the time that I normally go to bed came and went. It was so nice to be out and about! As soon as I got home, I headed off to bed.

Day 32 - Saturday, December 2

Today will be a rest day. I will go out and finish the groceries with Hubby in the morning and then I will rest for the rest of the day.  I will put up my nativity scene and get my Advent Wreath assembled with the candles. I might work on Christmas cards. It will be a quiet day without much activity. I want to be able to go to church tomorrow morning and then to another Frontenacs' hockey game tomorrow afternoon. I am tired and need this rest day today.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Day 26 to Day 30 - Recovering and Update

Wednesday, November 29

I last posted on Saturday when I didn't have a good day. I indicated that I had hoped to go to church on Sunday morning. Sunday morning, I awoke and still was not feeling well. My stomach was queasy and I was very tired. I slept in and was not able to be up and going to church in time. It was close to 12 noon before my stomach and digestive tract started to calm down and I was able to get dressed.

At that point, on Sunday, Hubby wanted to get me out of the house and go for a walk at the local conservation area. I agreed because it has benches placed along the pathways for people to sit and rest. We took some birdseed with us. We had fun holding the seed in our hands and letting the birds come to us to eat. I had Chickadees, Northern Flickers and even a Downy Woodpecker land on my hand and gently take the seeds. When the birds land on your hand, it tickles and you don't even feel them take the seeds from your hand. The wind was cold and bitter on Sunday so we didn't stay out long. I did have to avail myself to the benches along the way in order to rest. It was nice to get out into the fresh air.

On Monday evening, Hubby and I went for a walk in the local mall. The last time I did the "mall walk", I was able to walk 75% of the mall before I had to sit and rest. This time I was able to walk the whole mall and climb the stairs to the second level at the end in order to go to the car. After reaching the top of the stairs, I had to rest on benches just inside the mall doors. This was progress though because I had walked the whole mall. After we got home on Monday night, Hubby and I settled into his man cave and watched two episodes of "Outlander" that we had missed while I was in hospital.

Tuesday, I enjoyed an afternoon walk with one of my good friends who lives around the corner from me. I was pleased that I was able to walk the distance although I'm not walking as fast as I used to. That will come. My friend and I enjoyed a lovely time of catching up after our walk. Tuesday evening, Hubby and I watched three more episodes of "Outlander". I really love this series of books and I'm enjoying the television series just as much.

I must add here that it is important for me to go to bed by 9 or 9:30 at the latest. If I go to bed any later than that, then I don't feel as well the next day..

On Wednesday (yesterday), I got myself up and going so that I could go to the Hospital Auxiliary's Christmas Bazaar. I drove Hubby to where he had to work and then drove the car to his office and parked it. I walked to the hospital from his work. I used to do this on a regular basis, but this is the first time I've attempted that walk since I've been home. It was a little daunting but I managed to do it. Then I still had to walk throughout the hospital and through the Bazaar. This was maybe more than I was ready for. I did manage to also visit my co-worker in the hospital. She had a baby boy on Monday. I was glad I got to see her before she was discharged to go home. By the time I made my way back to the Bazaar, I had to rest. I had bought a "refreshment ticket" for a cup of tea and a scone so I took advantage of the tables that were set and I sat. At that point, I enjoyed my tea and scone. I also enjoyed several visits with co-workers and volunteers that I have worked with. I did manage to pick up a few items for stocking stuffers and a baked good for Hubby and I. It was sticky buns with nuts and green & red cherries. We had a couple for dessert and they were delicious! After dinner, Hubby and I settled back down into the man cave and watched the last episode of Outlander. We are now caught up and ready for the next episode which will air on Sunday night.

Today, Thursday, I'm looking forward to going out with my cousin-in-law in the afternoon to another Christmas Craft Show and then dinner out with Hubby. I may even get some grocery shopping done in the morning if I feel up to it.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Day 26 - A Reality Check

I was so hopeful and looking forward to going to the Jingle Bell Tea at my church this afternoon. Unfortunately, my body decided to give me a reality check this morning which changed my plans. I had my breakfast and I took my pills. I was feeling very tired and also could feel my bowels getting ready to move.

I was glad that there was going to be movement as it means that my body is getting back to normal with regularity. Unfortunately, my stomach also decided to heave at the same time. I still was hoping that I could rest and get myself back to normal so that I could go out to the Jingle Bell Tea. This was not to be.

My taste buds have been soured for the full day. I did eat a piece of toast with butter for my lunch and then had some chicken noodle soup later in the afternoon. The day wasn't a complete waste as I managed to make some chili that is our traditional meal during on Grey Cup Sunday. I did have a small bowl at supper tonight. So far everything is staying down but my taste buds are definitely soured.

Here's hoping that I will continue to be settled tonight. I'm still hoping to attend church in the morning.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Day 24 and Day 25 - Embracing Life As Best I Can

Day 24 - Thursday, November 23

I spent my morning carrying Christmas tote boxes from the basement to the living room. I was hoping to begin the process of putting up my Christmas tree in the living room and also start displaying my Christmas decorations and figurines. I overestimated my ability to do these things. Just carrying the boxes upstairs tired me out for the morning. I held onto a faint hope of being able to decorate in the evening.

In the afternoon, I went for a lovely walk with my cousin-in-law who now lives in Kingston. We enjoyed our visit while I got some much needed exercise. I was very pleased with myself in that I was able to walk somewhat briskly. I was very tired by the time I got back home but we walked several blocks. We continued our visit. We seem to have a connection at various intellectual levels. We have some similar interests and this feeds our conversation. I am enjoying this newfound friendship. It is the first time ever that I have had family in the same city as me.

Due to my walk, I was too tired in the evening to decorate. I had a great day and I can always start the decorating tomorrow. However, I was able to do a load of laundry and get it dried.

Day 25 - Friday, November 24

When I awoke this morning, I was feeling a little weak and dizzy. Oh, oh! This means that I didn't drink enough yesterday. I'll have to do better with that today. I fed my cat, Frodo, and then I went downstairs to get the laundry that I had done last night. I took it out of the dryer, folded it and brought it upstairs. Now I had to sit. Who would have thought that I would take satisfaction in just folding and carrying laundry up the stairs. After resting, I made some coffee as it can count as part of my hydration and I really like my cup or two of coffee in the mornings. I realized I needed to rest for a bit, so I picked up my knitting (another sock) and worked quietly away while I rested. Hubby was very tired and sore as he had volunteered with Habitat for Humanity yesterday. Finally, my coffee was ready and I got my first cup. I sipped on it while I continued to knit. Hubby awoke and slowly made his way to the couch with his coffee. I feel so bad for him. I worry about him too because he is out of shape and he worked hard physically yesterday. Anyway, we enjoyed our coffees and then it was time for me to get my breakfast. My body was feeling better already.

After having my breakfast, I continued to knit until I finished the one sock. Now I was motivated to get decorating. But....it was now lunch time. So I made myself an omelet and a salad. After lunch, I managed to get the tree up but only partially decorated before I ran out of energy. While I was working on the tree, I was listening to Christmas music and then I found a lovely Christmas movie on television which I enjoyed.

In the afternoon, a parcel was delivered with my Hubby's name on it. I called and let him know it had arrived. He specifically told me not to open it. OK...Christmas is coming up and who knows what he has been buying and for whom. Also in the afternoon, a friend of mine delivered 3 jars of my favourite relish that she makes. What a gift! I love to use her relish on my sandwiches and hamburgers. Most likely, the jars won't last long.

Also, in the afternoon, Hubby called to say that he would pick up my pizza on his way home. He is off to a concert with another friend this evening and I was going to treat myself to a Hawaiian pizza from our favourite pizzeria in town. They make a great crust and their pizzas are never overdone. For those who don't know, a Hawaiian pizza has ham and pineapple along with the mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce. When Hubby arrived home, we enjoyed some pizza together. Then it was time for him to leave. I met his friend at the front door as I am also good friends with him. It was great to see him. He came to visit me while I was in the hospital and I really enjoyed my visit with him then. We're also friends with his wife who I last saw in September.  Tonight, she sent with her hubby some gifts for me. She sent me a magazine and 2 soap pumps with Christmas scents.  I have read the magazine tonight and then I watched some hockey and also the Christmas shows "Frosty the Snowman" and "Frosty Returns". These have been cartoons that I have watched since I was a child. It is part of the Christmas tradition.

I love Christmas and the season of Advent. I think my favourite part is Advent where I find my soul is prepared in a peaceful manner for the anticipation of Christmas. I am much more attuned to the sacred part of Christmas rather than the consumerism and materialism of Christmas. My favourite decorations in my home are the ones with a sacred meaning. I light my Advent wreath with its candles every day during Advent and reflect on the meaning of each week in Advent. I also love my nativity scene that includes a wooden stable that a very good friend made for me about 26 years ago. I also treasure my nativity decoration that hangs in the window. It used to have lights that would light it up at night but they stopped working a number of years ago and there is no way to fix it. I love this decoration in my window because during the day, the daylight brightness shines through it and makes it glow. I have even found some Christmas tree ornaments that show the 3 Kings following the star.

Christmas has always meant a lot to me. I remember being pregnant during Advent when my daughter was born on Christmas day. It is a very special time. On top of all this, I truly love the family time that we share over the holidays. I find this year I am feeling even more sentimental about Advent and Christmas due to my major illness and treatment. I have so much to be thankful for. I'm not just thankful for my health, but also for all my friends and family that have been so very supportive throughout the last number of months. No wonder I'm embracing life as best I can.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Day 22 and Day 23 - Rest, Concert and Graduation from the Stem Cell Unit

Day 22 - Rest and Concert - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

After my busy weekend, I rested all day Monday but did go shopping Monday night in order to get some walking and exercise. I rested a little more on Tuesday as I wanted to have enough energy to go to dinner and a concert with another couple. I did get some exercise on Tuesday by doing a load of laundry and hang it outside on the line. This tired me so I rested for the rest of the day.

Hubby came home from work to pick me up and go to the restaurant to meet another couple who are our friends. They very generously offered us 2 tickets to see "Simon & Garfunklel: The Story" at a local theatre. Our dinner was a great time of conversation and visiting. The concert was really well done. Although, I was a little tired, I totally enjoyed the music as I let it wash over me. I stayed awake through the whole concert but was tired at the end.

I was thirsty when Hubby and I got home. I believe it was the French fries that I had. After having a glass of milk, I went off to bed. I slept through the whole night! This is only the second time in many months.

Day 23 - Stem Cell Unit Check Up - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

After a busy night last night, I had an 8:00 a.m. appointment at the Stem Cell Unit this morning. I have much to be thankful for and also to celebrate!  My blood counts are continuing to climb and are almost at the normal point. I didn't need any hydration today! Woo Hoo!!! This is a big accomplishment!

I received two surprises at my appointment this morning. Not only was my picc line removed but I have graduated from the Stem Cell Unit. My file will be transferred back to my hematologist for him to follow me at the Cancer Centre. I am so relieved to have the picc line removed! I get my best sleep when I sleep on my left side. Since August, I have had to sleep either on my back or on my right side. I've been sleeping best while on my back. I can now go back to sleeping on my left side. Let's hope that I will have better sleeps.

When Hubby picked me up from my appointment today, I told him my good news. His response was that we need to have a celebration tonight which translated means we'll go out for dinner before we do some shopping and walking tonight.

Life is good!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Day 19 - Extended Family Christmas

After my check up on Thursday, I made the decision and plans to travel 4 hours on Friday to my brother's home. That's because yesterday was our extended family Christmas. This is when all my aunts, uncles, cousins, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my cousins' children and also their children all get together for a Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

I look forward to this every year. The only people who are not there are the people who have passed away (my grandparents and my father). There are always lots of various conversations taking place at the same time. There is always lots of laughter. And there is always the happy sounds of children playing. There is always lots of food and it is a day of controlled chaos.

As I was heading into my stem cell portion of my treatment, I had let my cousin, who was hosting this year, know that I would not be able to make it. I expected that I would either still be in hospital or just being discharged. On Tuesday, November 14, I was feeling really good and had the kernel of an idea of attending the family Christmas. I mentioned it to Hubby and we decided to make our decision after my check up on November 16. My nurse practitioner gave me her blessing to attend as long as I ate well and stayed hydrated. I called my brother on Thursday and contacted my cousin to let them know I was making the 4 hour drive to the area and I would be there on Saturday.

On our drive to my brother's home on Friday, I fell asleep while we drove through Toronto. We had a lovely visit with my brother and sister-in-law on Friday night. I did go to bed early as I was tired and wanted to be rested for the Christmas party.

Yesterday, I awoke and had my breakfast and visited with my brother. Then it was just a time of relaxation as we waited for my son to arrive at my brother's and for my brother to go and pick up my mom. Neither my son or my mother knew I was in the area, let alone attending the family Christmas. While my brother was away to pick up my mom, my son arrived. He was very surprised and pleased to see me when he made his way into the room where I was relaxing. My mom was very surprised when I said, "Surprise!" from the bottom of the stairs as she came in the door. She had not noticed our car in the driveway. We all visited for a bit before it was time to leave for my cousin's home.

We were one of the first to arrive, so I found a comfy spot on the couch in my cousin's living room where I could see the front door. As my extended family arrived, I said "Merry Christmas!". The extended family was overjoyed to see me in attendance. We had tentatively planned to do a live video chat with me at home so that I could be part of the celebrations. Numerous family members mentioned that my being there in person was the best Christmas present. We all agreed that this was an extra special day.

I loved watching the little children play and run around. I loved visiting with my aunts and my uncles and my cousins a well as my siblings. This was a fantastic day. I ate a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I enjoyed my aunt's homemade pies. I enjoyed the casseroles for the dinner later on. I drank all the water I was supposed to. It was a fantastic day! I was very tired at the end and when Hubby took me back to my brother's home, I went right to bed. It was the first night in ages that I slept 9 hours straight. Perhaps it was too big a day, but I would do it again in an instant. Family is so important and it is worth making a long trip to see them all.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Day 17 - Check Up and Living Life Fully

This morning I had a check up at the Stem Cell Unit. My blood levels were all good and I didn't need any boosts. After chatting with the Nurse Practitioner, I am committed to drinking tons of liquid and getting my exercise. We are going to try a trial run of no supplemental hydration. I have been given permission to enjoy some activities where I am surrounded by lots of people.

I will have another check up next week and hopefully, if all goes well, my check ups will become weekly and I will have my picc line removed next week. This would be wonderful as it is in my left arm. I have always slept best by sleeping on my left side. For the last number of months, I've had to sleep on my back so I'm really looking forward to being able to return to the most comfortable position of sleeping on my left side.

I'm so excited to be able to visit people and go to an upcoming concert on Tuesday. Hubby and I have been invited to attend a Simon & Garfunkel tribute band concert with some friends. I'm really excited and looking forward to seeing our friends and going to the concert. I am really ready to enjoy life fully. I will build in time to recover and rest but it is so exciting to participate in some of the upcoming Christmas activities as well. I am ready to celebrate life and embrace all opportunities to enjoy family and friends. Life is short but now is the time to reward myself for the trials of the last number of months. Now is the time to enjoy life to the fullest.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Day 16 - Exercise and Hydration

I continue to have to strive to walk more and drink more liquid. After chemotherapy, people are more susceptible to getting dehydrated very quickly and without realizing it. Today, I had another one litre of saline solution by IV. I really want to get off of this and I'm really trying to drink enough liquid and stay hydrated. I also have to walk more so that it will help boost the blood levels. So tonight, Hubby and I finally made our way to the local mall to walk for exercise. I managed to walk 75% of the mall before I had to sit and rest. I walked farther than I expected myself to be able to do. I walk slower than I used to, but I'm hoping that eventually I'll get my speed up again.

Today, I struggled with lack of appetite and some nausea. I believe the nausea was caused by having a hungry stomach and I was late feeding it. Unfortunately, at that point, the food I ate didn't stay down. I waited for my stomach to settle while I continued to drink some tea. Then this afternoon, I was able to eat a banana and it stayed down. I'm hoping it will help to boost my potassium.

Today I really felt cold for most of the day and I was wrapped in both my prayer shawls. My cat, Frodo, helped to keep my legs warm by sleeping on them all afternoon and evening. I continue to spend my time knitting socks. Yesterday, I started on the second red sock of the size Large pair that I'm working on. I hope to finish it tomorrow. Then, I'll probably start a pair of size Small red socks.

Tomorrow morning, I have a check up at the Stem Cell Unit and I'm hoping that I can convince the nurse practitioner that I don't need supplemental hydration anymore. We'll see how the appointment goes.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Day 14 - My Daughter's Visit

This morning I had a follow up appointment at the Stem Cell Unit to have my blood tested and make the levels are where they are supposed to be. All the levels were normal and I didn't need any kind of blood transfusion. However, my potassium levels were low and I had to have potassium put into me via IV. I was also scheduled to have a litre of saline solution put into me by IV at home using the CBI Health nurse. The Stem Cell Unit nurse combined my potassium and 1 litre saline solution together so that I could cancel the home visit this afternoon.

The nurse practitioner in the Stem Cell Unit decided that we should try hydrating me using IV every other day to see if I can get myself hydrated by drinking liquid on the off days. I believe we are trying to wean me off of the IV which I would be happy with.

After my 2 hour IV hydration this morning, I went to the Volunteer Services office at the hospital to deliver a medium size pair of socks for the upcoming Hospital Auxiliary Bazaar. I enjoyed a visit with the staff in the office and then made my way to my former manager's office to say a brief hello to her and my former co-worker. It was great to see them. As I walked the long hallway towards the front of the hospital to meet my Hubby for lunch, I kept running into people I knew. One of these was a buyer for the Gift Shop and I really enjoyed our brief visit in the hallway. Not only did I enjoy her company, but I was needing the short break to catch my breath from the long walk.

I met Hubby and my daughter at the front and off we went to have lunch together at our favourite Vietnamese restaurant. I totally enjoyed our meal and spending time with my daughter and hubby. Our daughter had decided that she will make supper for us tonight.

So late in the afternoon, Hubby and my daughter left to go to a chiropractor appointment together and then off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for supper. As I waited at home, I was eagerly looking forward to the salmon dinner that was going to be prepared by our daughter. While they were away, I drank lots of tea in an effort to get in the habit of hydrating myself.

Finally Hubby and my daughter arrived home. She was very efficient in the kitchen and before we knew it, dinner was served. What an incredible gift this was that she gave us. The salmon was perfectly done and very tasty. It had garlic butter and rosemary on the top which was crusted to create a tender inside of the salmon filet. She served it with steamed broccoli which was again perfectly done and a Caesar salad.  She served it all with an Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling white wine.

I'm so proud that both my children can cook fantastic meals. My daughter's gift of this meal totally impressed me. I'm so happy that I'm around to see my children continue to grow into fantastic adults. My visit with my daughter is coming to an end much too soon as she will return home tomorrow. I'm so grateful for my day today. It was a great day!

Day 13 - Good Health and Family

As I'm at home and convalescing, I have time to reflect on my good health and my family. I say "good health" because I am in remission. The stem cell transplant worked. My body is creating its own stem cells once again. The follicular lymphoma is in remission. We don't know for how long and I am at peace with that. I will not waste a single day. My son has been home visiting this weekend and this was his last day. He left a little later than intended to return home but I fully enjoyed the extra time with him.

Literally about 30 minutes after my son left, my daughter arrived for her own visit with us. I haven't seen her since August and it was wonderful to cuddle with her on the couch while I had my saline solution IV attached to me. Family is so important and as a result, our phone was busy today with lots of family calling to chat. I was able to visit with my uncle and aunt-in-laws from Scotland. I got to visit with my father-in-law from Victoria, BC. I visited with my mother who lives 4 hours away. I also got to visit with my brother who also lives 4 hours away. The phone lines were busy today but family is so important.

Friends are also important and when there is no family close by, friends often become like our second family. The support of everyone during these last 3 months and for the upcoming months is so important. It lifts my spirits and it gives me a sense of a net underneath the tightrope of crisis.

In the next number of weeks and months, I will be working on getting stronger, walking farther and building my stamina. Now is the time for me to tap into my determination and get back to "normal". I may have to learn that there is a new normal but my goal is to get back to my old normal. It all will start with baby steps and slowly build to running steps.

I've been asked what should people pray for specifically for me. I pray every day that this lymphoma will be in remission for a long time. That's a little general so what does a "long time" mean. To me, it means 5 to 10 years or longer. That is my fervent wish and I do pray for this every day. My hope is the longer I am in remission, the better chance they might find a cure for follicular lymphoma.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Day 11 and Day 12 - Discharged and At Home

Day 11 - Friday, November 10 - Discharged

My blood was taken early as usual in the hospital. I needed to have 2 pouches of potassium and one pouch of magnesium as well as a blood transfusion (hemoglobin - red blood cells) and a litre of saline solution for hydration. This all had to go into me through the IV. The nurse started it as early as she could but this meant that my discharge time was going to be delayed until later in the day.

I spent my time while on the IV, knitting my socks. In one of the earlier posts, someone asked how many socks had I knit so far. As of my discharge day, I had knit 5 pairs of socks (2 small, 2 medium and 1 large).

While I was on the IV, Hubby was at home madly cleaning and getting the house ready for my return. A very good friend of ours came over to help him out. She does not know how much this meant to us. Eventually, I was able to call Hubby and tell him that he could pick me up around 2:00. However, I ended up not be ready to be discharged until closer to 3:00.

At that point, I was allowed to ring the gong on Kidd 9. Patients get to do this when they are discharged and in remission. I made the most of the moment to thank the nurses and then with the mallet, I struck the gong like a true musician. And also like a musician, I was able to dampen and end the ringing using my hand. I guess this is not always the case and the gong rings on. Hubby and I left the ward carrying my belongings and made the walk to the elevators. That walk was long enough and I was already tired. I was happy to reach the front doors of the hospital and to see there was a chair where I could rest with my belongings around me while Hubby got the car.

The day tired me out so I relaxed on our lazy boy couch. My son came home to visit and arrived just before dinner. Hubby asked me what I would like to have for dinner and I suggested Chinese food. We ordered a take out order from our favourite Chinese restaurant. What an enjoyable meal it was!

Day 12 - Saturday, November 11 - At Home

I did not realize how exhausting it would be to return home. I have so many more steps to take to get to my bathroom and to my bed than I did in the hospital. I am having to rest on my couch often. While I rest, I continue to knit my socks. I started a new pair (size Large) and I continue to use yarn from past projects. So this pair of socks will be bright red. I was so happy to be home and able to watch the Remembrance Day ceremonies on television. I chose not to have television while I was in the hospital so I am glad to be home and not miss the ceremonies today.

This afternoon, the home health nurse came by to give me my saline solution. I guess my doctor ordered that I receive on litre of saline solution for today, tomorrow and Monday so that I am hydrated. The nurse arrived and got me all hooked up. She then showed Hubby how to unhook me and then throw the lines and used bag in the trash. Hubby was happy to learn something new.

In the afternoon, a couple that we are friends with, came by to deliver our dinner and also to have a visit. What an enjoyable visit it was and it helped pass the time while I was on the IV. Our visit was full of laughter and celebration as she and I were both celebrating our respective victories and joys. And the dinner that was left for us was fantastic. They brought us ham and scalloped potatoes. My appetite isn't very big right now but I fully enjoyed what I did eat. She also surprised us with some chocolate chip cookies. Who can resist chocolate chip cookies especially with a cold glass of milk!

I seem to hit a wall around 7 p.m. At that point, my brain starts to shut down and my body is ready to go to bed. I've been having early nights and am sleeping most of the night. I'm glad to be home.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Day 9 and Day 10 Post-Stem Cell Transplant

Day 9 - More of the same

I still continue to have waves of nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. My day was spent trying to survive. This is why Hubby and I were surprised when we were informed that I could be going home as early as Thursday or Friday.

The reason for this surprise is that my white cell blood counts have started to rise. This means my "new" stem cells have taken hold and are multiplying well. Hubby and I were concerned about if we were ready to have me home yet.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I developed a fever around midnight. I had to have a chest x-ray done. Blood had to be taken and sent down to be tested for cultures and bacteria counts. This may delay the going home date.

Day 10 - All Blood Counts are Rising

Today's blood testing showed all my counts rising. This is where the doctors want to see it. For me it has happened a day earlier than the doctors expected. My fever from last night broke in the middle of the night but I am still on the antibiotics that were prescribed for me by the doctor last night. One of the side effects of this medicine is diarrhea. Great.....more and more. However, at least I can have Immodium to keep it under control.
This afternoon, my hubby and a good friend of mine visited for part of the afternoon. Again, it looks like I will be discharged tomorrow (Friday). So I went ahead and packed up what I didn't really need for the day and hubby took it home with him.

If you are planning to visit tomorrow, I would suggest that you don't. I don't know what time I'm getting discharged but I would feel terrible if a trip was made to the hospital to visit me and I wasn't here. I will be able to have visitors at home though.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Day 8 - Surviving

At this point, I could just copy and paste my posts from the previous few days. Not much has changed. I didn't need any blood transfusions today but I did need to have some magnesium put into me. My best friend came for a brief visit this morning just as the magnesium was being put into me. Unfortunately, there were tons of tiny air bubbles in the IV line and the machine kept beeping and making it difficult to visit with my friend. Not only was there constant beeping but the nurses had to come in and try to fix the problem. However, it was fun to see my friend's husband down at street level from my room on the 9th floor. Once my friend texted him, he looked up and we waved at him. That was the end of the visit.

I slept a lot today but I am still tired. I was also feeling really cold today. I decided to wear my head covering to see if it would keep me warmer. It worked while I slept. So tonight, I have it on. I believe that by the weekend, I'm supposed to start feeling better. One day at a time........

Hubby came to visit this afternoon and I slept most of the time. However, when I woke up, he informed me of the death of Roy Halladay who was a retired baseball pitcher. He was our son's favourite player. So hubby and I reminisced about the time we went to a game on my hubby's birthday and saw Roy Halladay pitch. It was a family highlight for all of us.

The death of Roy Halladay reminded me, yet again, how short life is. He died doing something he enjoyed which was flying a plane. He was a licenced pilot and this was his dream life in retirement. I'm going through this process and feeling miserable but I know that I will feel better and then I can, again, live life to the absolute fullest. Seize the day! Carpe Diem!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Day 6 and Day 7 - Tired, nausea and side effects

Day 6 - Sunday, November 5

 All I can say is that I am tired, my bowels are out of control and I feel sick. This was a day of just getting through it.

Day 7 - Monday, November 6

Today was a better day. I can now have medication for my bowels as it has been proven it is not C Difficile that is affecting me. I'm still light-headed and need to have someone walk with me if I decide to walk the halls. Walking the halls helps my blood pressure stay up which is better for me. I'm tired most of the day. Today I was sitting in my chair knitting in the morning. This afternoon, I was in bed and asleep.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. I am allowed visitors. If I leave my room, I have to wear a mask.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Day 5 - On the Side Effect Ride

I wasn't able to post the last couple of days due to some internet issues with my laptop here at the hospital. This afternoon, Hubby arrived and got it all working again for me. So I'm up and able to post again.

Basically not much has changed. My blood levels continue to go down due to the High Dose Chemo I had a week ago. The side effects of this chemo also is the killing off all the fast growing cells. This means the whole GI tract is shedding its lining. This mean the mouth is tender with canker sores although so far I've been able to keep ahead of them and so I have no open sores. The other fast growing cells are my hair. It is falling out although I'm still able to go around with a head covering.

For me, I am getting tired of the GI tract sloughing its old cells. This causes nausea, indigestion and many trips to the washroom. The nurses are great at keeping me on medications that combat the nausea and indigestion. I have about another week of this before I will start to feel better.

As I mentioned earlier, my blood levels are dropping. Today, my nurse told me that I may get a blood transfusion on Monday to help boost the levels back up. Today, I received my first shot of Neupogen to stimulate my new stem cells to grow and multiply.

I feel cold and shivery but I don't have a fever. I tire really easily and I am hesitant to walk the ward by myself. I don't want to fall. I also am needing to make sure I'm close to my washroom. I, jokingly, told Hubby today that I'm getting my walking/running exercise with the many dashes to the washroom.

There is definitely a rhythmic routine to this Oncology Ward. My body has adjusted and I am now waking up in the middle of the night just before my nurse will come in to check my vital signs. This includes checking my temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate. They are looking for the first tell-tale signs of infection through a raised temperature. I have blood taken from me every morning about 4:30 so it can be sent to the lab to be tested. Right now, my white blood cells are non-existent so I have to wear a mask if I leave my room. I've been advised to avoid children and anyone who has a cold.

Around 10:00 a.m., the nurse will come in and fill out my chart so I can see how the levels compare to the day before. I continue to fill my hours with knitting and colouring an adult colouring book.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Day 2 - Levels Dip and Tiredness

I have now recognized the routine of the hospital and my body is waking accordingly. This morning I awoke at 6:50 which was a little later than usual but I couldn't seem to get the energy to get up and start my morning routine. Next thing I knew, it was 7:15 and I knew the day nurse would be coming in soon to introduce herself and take my vitals. I just struggled to force myself to get up and going.

I was given another 2 hours of saline solution this morning along with magnesium to boost the magnesium level. My blood is taken from me around 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. every morning and sent to be tested. I have a chart in my room that makes it easy to see the blood levels and where they are compared to the day or days before. Today my counts were definitely down in all areas although most are still in the adequate range. But this is why I'm feeling more tired and lethargic. It will only get worse.

I passed my time this morning continuing with my knitting. Once I was finished the IV solutions, I took advantage of the freedom from the IV pole and went walking 3 laps around the floor. I ran into a volunteer who was working on the floor and she recognized me from when I worked in the Tuck Shop. Another volunteer had been wondering if I wanted visitors so I indicated to this one that, yes, I like visitors. Then I was tired. My morning also involves visits from the medical student who is working with me. She is very nice and we were able to enjoy a laugh this morning as she went about her duties. The med student reports to my stem cell doctor every day so there is no gaps in information.

Late this morning, a friend came by just as I was bored and I was so happy to see her. She was on her way in to volunteer in the hospital and came early just to see me. We had a lovely visit and then it was time for my lunch to come.

My lunch went down well and although it was a light lunch, it filled me up. Just after lunch, the heads on my picc line needed to be changed so the nurse was in. She is a lovely lady but was run off her feet. She got called away to help another nurse. When she came back, the volunteer who was wondering if I wanted visitors also arrived at the same time. We had a nice visit while the nurse worked. The volunteer stood on the other side of the room for sterilization purposes and it kept my attention from what my nurse was doing. Thus, I was not contaminating the process either.

By 2:00 I was feeling pretty tired and finally took my nurse's advice at 2:30 and laid down for a nap. Just as I was awaking from the nap, another friend came to visit as part of my church's pastoral care. We had a lovely chat and I really appreciated him taking the time to come and see me. His prayer at the end reminded me again that I'm in God's keeping but also in the safety net of all my friends and family that a behind me too. I especially liked that the prayer touched on the wellbeing of my children and hubby. This is hard on them too.

I continue to be tired tonight and will have any early evening. The downward slide progresses but as my nurse tonight said, it is all going according to the plan.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Day 1 - The downslide begins

I had some nausea in the middle of the night and needed a supplemental nausea pill. I did not enjoy my breakfast this morning and my appetite was slightly decreased as the day wore on.

This morning, I had the routine medicals prods and checks. I am being given 2 hours of saline solution every morning now for the next little bit. So this morning, I spent my time knitting and walking until lunch time.

I had my lunch which was light and sat well with me which was nice. Then this afternoon, it was wonderful to have visitors. One arrived right after lunch and then just as he was leaving another couple of friends arrived and stayed until close to dinner time. Then Hubby arrived and shared dinner time with me.  After dinner, we spent some time playing cribbage and chatting although we also did a few laps of the floor so that I could walk out the swelling that is still in my abdomen and upper legs.

Today, along with the decreased appetite, I was having plenty of trips to the washroom. This will be watched closely by the staff and there is a plan in place to deal with it all. I don't like this part of the process and it is only starting. I have been assured that I will have meds to help with it all at the appropriate time.

Hubby was here for the night change in the nursing shift. After the new nurse had checked all my vital signs and left, Hubby got his things together and went home. It is garbage night and our cat, Frodo, is needing his nightly cuddle time.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Stem Cell Transplant Day - Called Day 0

With all the heavy rain and some anxiety about today, I didn't sleep very well last night. This morning I was given 2 hours of IV saline solution before heading down to the Stem Cell Unit for my transplant.

Hubby and I walked to the elevators and went down to the Stem Cell Unit. The transplant was pretty uneventful and a bit of a anti-climax. I was given Benadryl through IV and in no time, I was falling asleep. The nurses did their best to keep me alert and awake. I was back in the elevators heading up to my room with Hubby by 2:30 and then I slept for a couple of hours.

The stem cells were preserved using some kind of corn mixture and so now I am emitting the smell of creamed corn from my pores. This will apparently continue for about 2 days. I don't notice it but the nurses and hubby did.

This morning while on the IV saline solution, I did deliver a few pairs of socks for the upcoming Hospital Auxiliary Bazaar at the end of November. And I have started another pair of small size socks (the first sock) which will also go to the bazaar.

I'm on a high protein, high calorie diet to get me through the phase where I will lose weight. I'm struggling to eat everything that is added to my order by my nutritionist. Tonight, she added Ensure as well as a night time snack of cheese and crackers. I managed to eat my supper but the Ensure was my night time snack. I will probably have the cheese and crackers in the morning as breakfast is always served a little later here.

Thank you to all my friends and family that have been sending words and cards of encouragement as well as comments after these posts. It helps to know there is all this support. I have a great health care team working with me and friends that have been and will be coming to visit. Thank you is not adequate to express myself but there it is.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Day Minus 1 - Trying to Pass the Time

Overnight last night, I had a disrupted night. I am battling some constipation due to the anti-nausea drugs that I am on. I am bloating and swelling due to the constipation but also due to the liquid + saline IV that I was on for the last 4 days.

To reduce the swelling, I have to walk. To move my bowels, I have to walk and drink lots of liquids and I am doing that. This morning, I was a little unsteady on my feet so while I was alone, I stayed on my floor and walked laps. Once Hubby arrived to visit for the day, I could leave the floor with him walking with me. We continued to explore the hospital and walk as briskly as I could. My ankles were less swollen but my stomach to my knees are still swollen. So I continue to walk.

Our (Hubby and I) day was spent walking, playing cribbage, eating lunch, more walking, sitting and chatting in my room and more walking. I have a good view of the Queens soccer field and it was interesting to see soccer and rugby games being played in the pouring rain.

Late this afternoon, my nurse came in and chatted and visited with us. We got to know more about each other and it helped pass the late afternoon lull that we were experiencing. She's a lovely young lady and I thoroughly have enjoyed her as she has worked with me today. A sense of humour goes a long way to making a stay a bit better.

I finished the second sock in the large pair that I was knitting so this pair is ready for the Bazaar. Hubby left just as my dinner arrived. He took my laundry home to wash for me. It needs to be washed twice in hot water to kill the chemicals that I am emitting from my pores. He will bring it back tomorrow for me. Last night I found it hard to walk to the end of the hallway as he left. The walk back to my room seemed very lonely. Tonight we just said goodbye in the room. Because I'm toxic, he can't really touch me but we do say goodbye with a fist bump.

I'm hoping I may have visitors tonight still. A couple of very good friends are employees here and may come to visit during their break. Definitely, tomorrow my very best friend will be coming to visit me in the morning. She most likely will arrive to see me hooked back up to IV fluid in preparation for my stem cell transplant tomorrow at 12:30.

This evening I may pass the time working on my Sudoku book, Crossword book or colouring in my colouring book.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Day Minus 2 - Swelling, Walking, Visiting

The swelling from yesterday has continued. It started to reach my hands but then I started knitting again and the moving of the fingers has helped reduce the swelling in my fingers. At about 1:30 p.m. I was disconnected from the IV and this allowed me to walk more easily and be up and down and moving. The swelling is still there but I'll be working on moving around to reduce it. As was asked after yesterday's post, the swelling is due to all the saline solution and fluids that have been constantly pumped into me since Wednesday night.

Hubby came by to spend the afternoon and part of the evening with me. Last night I started having trembling and shaking in my hands and a feeling of trembling inside my body. As a result, I need to have someone walk with me at all times until this trembling/shaking is gone. The nurses are afraid it my attack my knees and I could collapse. We're not sure what is causing the trembling. At first, we thought it was fatigue but it doesn't appear to make a difference. Then we wondered if it was low blood sugar near mealtimes and snacks. That doesn't seem to make a difference. We're keeping an eye on it. So I got off track a little. Hubby was my walking companion. We have been exploring different areas in the hospital and learning about the history of the hospital. The days can be long. When hubby and I return from our walks, he checks Facebook and I go back to knitting with my feet up. Today hubby brought a deck of cards from home for me to play solitaire by myself when I have no one here. Tonight, we played "Go Fish". We haven't played this for many, many years and it took some time for the rules to reassert themselves in my mind. Tomorrow hubby is going to bring the cribbage board and we can play cribbage together.

This morning I received a really nice phone call from my daughter. She had only a small amount of time to chat but it was really lovely to hear her voice and have a brief visit. Speaking of visits, I had a very good friend who works at the hospital come by on her break to visit. We had a lovely time and caught up on how all our various children are doing. Hopefully, she will be able to visit again tomorrow and maybe have one of her daughters with her. This family is a lovely, warm and caring group. I've known them for several years and always enjoy seeing them. Visitors help make the time here go by more quickly

I am now on a high protein and high calorie diet after having met with the nutrition yesterday. This is in an effort to keep my weight up and also help my red blood cells and platelets rebound after the transplant on Monday. I'm a little concerned about the next week to 2 weeks and how bad I will feel. It's a good thing I'm in the hospital as the nurses are taking wonderful care of me. I have a great health care team. I see a doctor or a resident doctor every day. The nurses are very caring and attentive. This relieves the worries in my mind and helps me stay calm. I truly feel like I am on a ride and we'll see where it takes me. Does it take me down into the low valleys? Then will the ride travel along in the low valley for a week? Does the ride take a steep climb up to the regular level or does it take a slow, gradual climb up the steep hill? However the ride goes, I'm in good hands. I'm in God's hands. I'm in the hands of my health care team. Perhaps it is God working through the health care team and they are God's hands. I like that thought and I feel calmed.

It's now getting close to my bedtime so I must sign off and start my bedtime routine which includes a mouth rinse that I need to do at least 4 times each day. This will help to keep the mouth sores (canker sores inside the mouth). It was hard to say good bye to my hubby tonight. I'll see him tomorrow though.

Friday, 27 October 2017

High Dose Chemo Minus 3

I noticed last night and again throughout today that my lower legs, ankles and toes are swelling. Yesterday I had to sit all day due to the length of the high dose chemo. Today's dose was only 45 minutes long. So after my last chemo session (hopefully the last one ever) and then after my medications and my lunch, I went for a long walk throughout the hospital. I'm keeping my legs raised and going walking in the effort to lessen the swelling. I dropped in and visited with my old volunteers in the Tuck Shop and also some regular customers. I walked over to the chemo lab in the Cancer Centre to say hello to the nurses who looked after me earlier in this journey of cancer. Only one nurse I knew was there. She smiled at me as she worked with her current cancer patient. I was attempting to walk briskly and was running out of breath quickly. My hubby was with me and suggest I could slow down. I want to get myself back into shape and keep walking even as I was tiring. I did receive some encouragement from one of the porters that I know from working at the hospital. I dropped in to see the volunteers in the Gift Shop. I then returned to my room. I did go for another couple of shorter walks later on in the afternoon.

I met with the nutritionist who works on the floor that I'm staying in. I am on a high protein diet. I get to choose my menu for my lunches and my dinners. Tonight I had a high fiber Tilapia dinner with wild rice, steamed broccoli and corn. I noticed that a high protein snack was added to my meal for later. It is peanut butter and crackers with a 2% milk.  The hospital food isn't that bad. Maybe this is because I'm not tired of it yet.

I'm on constant IV fluids to keep me hydrated and my potassium and magnesium up to where they need to be. There is a chart in my room to compare my blood levels every day. This means that blood is taken from me everyday to check the levels and I will be able to see when they go down. I have been told that it is normal for people to get blood transfusions to bring up the red blood cell counts and the platelet counts.

I apparently will feel good this weekend but by next weekend, I will be feeling ill and will go downhill after that for another 7-14 days before my counts rebound.

I am tired and bored. However, I do have things to occupy my time. So far I've continued knitting my socks and reading in the evening before bedtime. I have some colouring books and pencil crayons but I haven't coloured yet. I also have some magazines that I could read. I'm sure I'll get to doing these activities before I leave the hospital.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

High Dose Chemo Day Minus 4

As it was explained to me this morning, my stem cell transplant on Monday is considered Day 0. The days before that day are in the minuses. Today is Minus 4, tomorrow is Minus 3, etc.

Last night I went to bed at 10:30. The nurse had to take my vitals (temperature, blood pressure and heart rate). She had to do this again around 4 a.m. when she hooked me up to a saline solution to enter me through my picc line. I also had the on call doctor come in during the night (maybe midnight?) to check me over as part of the admissions process. When she entered my room, it scared me and I yelled out. Also during the night, there was an announcement for the whole hospital regarding a Code White. This woke me and startled me. Needless to say, it was a disrupted night's sleep. I am well aware that I will have disrupted sleeps while here because the nurse has to check my vital statistics every 4 hours to make sure I'm not coming down with an infection.

So this morning I had to go for a chest x-ray so they have a baseline to show and compare if I get an infection. As I waited for my breakfast and my chest x-ray, I started another pair of socks. This time I'm knitting a large pair (size 9-10). I had my breakfast of a bowl of cornflakes with milk, 2% milk, raisin scone with margarine, a serving of cheese and a coffee. After breakfast, the porter, who I know, took me down for my x-rays. We chatted about the Kingston Frontenacs all the way down. I had my x-rays done and on the ceiling in the x-ray room was a painting of Calvin & Hobbes. I mentioned to the x-ray technician that I love Calvin & Hobbes. She admitted that she painted the tile using a projector. She admitted that she has done some other paintings on the ceilings in the hospital. As she took me back to the area for me to wait for the porter, she pointed out other drawings on the ceilings that have been done by child patients and their families. There were hand prints and feet prints that have been painted to look like elephants and giraffes and zebras. It was so cool to see these paintings. Anyway, I knew the porter that took me back up to my room. As we were navigating the hallways, I kept seeing other employees and volunteers that I knew. The porter was nice enough to stop and allow a short hello conversation.

After getting back to my room, I was hooked up to IV liquids and given some anti-nausea pills (Ondansetron, Emend, Dexamethasone) and Benadryl an hour before the chemo was to be injected. The chemo didn't start until 2 p.m. It is an 8 hour session, so even as I blog this tonight, I'm still have chemo pumped into me.

I've spent my day knitting and sitting quietly with my hubby in my room. I've enjoyed a surprise visit from my co-workers and volunteers where they presented me with an absolutely beautiful prayer shawl that has hearts and a cross and an angel attached at the ends. It's very soft and very warm. What a lovely gift that means so much! Just as that group was leaving another volunteer that I worked with arrived to visit briefly. She had been volunteering today in another area of the hospital and stopped in on her way home. What a thoughtful thing to do when she was tired.

I'm tired tonight. I've knitted most of the day. I'm ready to go to sleep but the chemo still has 30 minutes to go before it's done. Today's been a good day. I do need help to change because my picc line will have an IV in it that my shirt needs to navigate around and then my nightgown sleeve needs to navigate around the picc line and IV. I'll be getting the nurse to help me.

The nurses believe that I won't start feeling poorly until next Thursday or Friday. We'll see.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Admissions Day

I awoke this morning and waited by the phone while I knitted my socks. I was waiting for the phone to ring and tell me that a bed was available for me at the hospital. I knitted and watched television while I waited for the phone to ring.

A friend contacted me to see if I wanted company. I said "Sure, come on over. I'm waiting for the hospital to call me." As soon as she indicated she was on her way, the phone rang. It was the Admissions Department of the hospital telling me there was a bed available. I asked if it was a private or semi-private room. I lucked out and got a private room. I had to report to the hospital after supper.

Hubby and I had decided that we would have our "last supper" at Darbar if the hospital called during the day. I had most of my belongings packed and ready to go. My friend arrived and we visited for the afternoon. It really was nice to have her there and make the time go faster. When she left, I had about an hour before Hubby would be home from work to pick me up. I ran through my checklist and was pretty sure I had everything packed that I would need. I then called my sister and caught her just before she started teaching her kickboxing class. We had a brief visit but I was glad to talk to her before leaving for the hospital.

Hubby arrived home and we carried out my "luggage" and locked the door. Then we went for dinner. As always, I enjoyed my meal and savoured every bite. We got an overwhelming surprise when we went to pay for our meal. Someone had paid for our meal and bought us a gift certificate. On the gift certificate under "From" it said "Everyone who loves you."  Both hubby and I were speechless! What a gift and we don't even know who to thank! Whoever it was, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It touched both hubby and I deeply.

We then made our way to the hospital and I was admitted. I am settled into my private room which overlooks the soccer field at Queens University. I have a small bar fridge in my room so I will be able to have gingerale and my flavoured club soda kept cold. I will also be able to have some yogurt and space for a small container of my quinoa salad. Here's hoping all this will help to boost my blood cell counts.

So a tentative plan is in place and now it's just a matter of getting through the next two weeks. Tonight, the nurse has taken blood from me to test my levels. My vitals have been taken and I have had an ECG. I'm just waiting now for the doctor who is on call for the overnight shift to come in and see me. I've been told she will check me over physically to see how I'm doing.

The final ride has begun.

In Waiting Mode

I didn't sleep well. I was awake most of the night. I just can't shut my brain off. I'm anxious. I'm just putting in time waiting for Admission Day and then the high dose chemo days at the end of this week. I'm scared. I'm knitting to pass the hours in the day. I'm trying to keep my mind busy so I don't think and worry. Knitting helps with that.

I really believe that God sees me worrying and trying to not worry. I think that God knows I'm scared. I try to acknowledge that fear during the daylight hours but it revisits my subconscious while I sleep. I think that God knows all this and as a result, I had two visitors today. A very good friend came by after having been in the area for an appointment. We had a lovely visit and it was so good to see her. I used to see her and another friend every week to make music together. I miss that but I did enjoy the short visit today. It lifted my spirits and helped distract me. She also gave me a book that I'm looking forward to getting into. It's called "Lectio Divina - The Sacred Art - Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer".

My other visitor today was my minister. She came by this afternoon and we shared communion together. As we went through a lovely prayer and "service" and then shared the bread and grape juice, I felt a mantle of peace fall over my shoulders. It was the first time in days that I didn't have an underlying current of anxiety. The peace of Christ was just what I needed. Prayer works and is very similar to meditation. Breathe deeply. Breathe in the peace of Christ. So after my minister's visit, I was filled with renewed peace.

My evening was short as my lack of sleep caught up with me. I went to bed around 8:30 and have just now awakened with a night sweat. I realized I hadn't posted for today. I need to remember to breathe deeply and pray for continued peace of mind. I will head back to bed now and pray not just for myself but for my friends and acquaintances that are also struggling with some major life issues.

Perhaps I've learned or been reminded today that being in "waiting mode" can mean spending it in prayer while I knit and while I can't sleep.

Monday, 23 October 2017

A Warm Autumn Day

This morning I was anxious about the end of the week and I was antsy because of it. I just couldn't settle. So I took advantage of the warm Autumn day and worked on cutting off the spent flower stalks of my hostas. I also did some weeding until I was tired. Then I went indoors and spent the rest of my day knitting. I probably did too much gardening as I wanted to lay down and have a nap. However, if I did that, then I wouldn't sleep well tonight.

Late this afternoon, I did go to my chiropractor for a regular "maintenance" adjustment. My chiropractor is very much aware of my picc line in my left arm and he makes sure that he doesn't do a large adjustment near it so that it is not jarred. He was using his small "adjuster" to loosen up  and move the spine in the middle of my back between my shoulder blades. This is where I get stiff and sore during the night while I'm sleeping. After seeing him today, I feel like I'm moving better.

My tiredness and weariness from earlier today is still with me tonight. Perhaps it is from my busy weekend. I'll be heading to bed early tonight in order to be well rested for the high dose chemo that goes into me on Thursday.

I'll sign off now and head off to bed for the night.

A Great Weekend....So Much that I Didn't Get Posted

Saturday, October 21

I awoke at my normal time but I was excited. My brother-in-law was coming to visit today! I haven't seen him or my sister-in-law since the beginning of July. Unfortunately, my sister-in-law isn't coming to visit because she has a cold and doesn't want to spread it to me.

Hubby and I enjoyed our leisurely coffees and then decided to embrace the warm day as Brother-in-law isn't arriving until mid afternoon. Hubby had to return his work van to work so we decided to enjoy our favourite fast food breakfast out. While waiting in line to pay for our order, a female behind us was coughing loudly without covering her mouth. Ewww!!! This is what makes me afraid to go out in public. Uneducated people who are willing to spread their germs and viruses with the rest of us around them. I immediately left the line and found a table for us to sit at. We did enjoy our breakfast despite the line-up incident.

After dropping off the vehicle, we went home to clean and tidy up the house. I know that Brother-in-law doesn't really judge us based on how messy the house is, but it was time to tidy and clean. We had just finished when Brother-in-law arrived from out of town. After using hand sanitizer which is kept at our front door, he enveloped me in a nice big, warm hug. He then gave me a backpack that he had brought in with his other overnight bags. "This is for you for in the hospital." What a thoughtful present!

Inside the backpack was a colouring book, a large sudoku book (I love sudokus), a small blanket with a note indicating that it is them giving me hugs when I wear it (awwww), pencil crayons, a pencil sharpener (great idea!), moisturizer lotion (for when my skin is dry), 2 bags of candies and a box of chocolates. So much thought went into this! There was also a lovely note from my sister-in-law. After looking through the backpack, I felt the warmth of family love and caring.

We enjoyed catching up with Brother-in-law and, at one point, when it was he and I sitting on the couch, he commented "You look great! You would never know you have cancer." I notice that my hair is thinner but he didn't until I mentioned it. I am feeling great right now and have energy and pink cheeks. My weight is good and I do look healthy. We all continued to visit and catch up until it was time to go for dinner at Brother-in-law's and one of our favourite Greek restaurant downtown. We had reservations. I had been looking forward to having dinner there as it has been a long time since I've been there. We had a great time and enjoyed our meals as always. The drawback to this restaurant is it is small and loud. However, the food is amazing! I started my meal with the escargots. I am always torn whether to have the escargots or the Saganaki. When our children were small we always called it the "Flaming Cheese". Brother-in-law had the Saganaki and was willing to share a piece of it so I was able to enjoy both my escargots and some Saganaki. I then had the restaurant's renowned lamb shank. Again I always look forward to it. I know that I should try some of the other entrees on the menu and I always say "someday". Then when I get to ordering my meal, I get the lamb shank. I'm never disappointed. It is always so tender that you don't even need a knife. It just falls right off the bone. The au jus or sauce is always spot on. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

After dinner, we came home and continued our visit. We were all very full. I think I was home for about 30 minutes and I suddenly was very tired. I went off to bed and slept for a full 10 hours! My body must have needed it.

Sunday, October 22

I awoke around 8 a.m. I did the morning routine of changing Frodo's (our cat) water and feeding him. The house was quiet and I was hesitant to make coffee. Our kitchen sink is directly above the guest bed in the basement. I was afraid of waking up Brother-in-law. I had already been using the water to change the cat's water so I figured I had already inadvertently woke him up. I made a full pot of coffee and settled down on the couch to do some knitting while the coffee brewed. I love my morning coffees and when my taste buds were off, I missed having my coffee. But I couldn't stomach trying to drink coffee that tasted like stale cigarette butts. I'm glad my taste buds are settling down right now. Perhaps I appreciate my coffee just a little bit more. So back to the present. While knitting, I heard Brother-in-law moving around in the basement. He came upstairs and admitted he had been awake about 30 minutes before he heard me moving around in the kitchen. Good! I didn't wake him up.

We chatted about life until Hubby made his sleepy appearance. He is NOT a morning person. We all enjoyed cups of coffee and then Hubby made his specialty breakfast. I am so spoiled and I truly appreciate that fact that Hubby can cook well. After breakfast, we continued visiting and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon and Brother-in-law needed to get on the road to return to his home (about 2 hours away). At one point during the afternoon, a childhood friend of mine called and I enjoyed a visit with her across the many miles. We caught up and will hopefully be in contact through electronic methods while I'm in the hospital. It was just after her call that Brother-in-law indicated it was time to get on the journey home.

We waved goodbye as he drove down the street. What a warm and gorgeous day it is!! Hubby asked if I wanted to go out on the motorcycle. Absolutely!! This would be a short ride as the days are getting shorter. I love riding on the back of the Honda Goldwing. I always feel liberated as the wind blows against me and I get a better full view of everything around us. Hubby and I got suited up and off we went. The Fall colours are past their prime but I was able to get a sense of the brilliance that would have been in the woods just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to get out due to chemo and how I was feeling. However, this was good and very enjoyable. As we ride, I like to look for wildlife such as deer, turles, foxes, etc. I really didn't see any today but I still enjoyed my ride. We did stop to fill up with gas which allowed us to go further. We ended up at a park on Lake Ontario. We stopped because I had made the comment, "I've never seen Lake Ontario this still. It's like glass!" We enjoyed watching the water very softly and gently lap against the shore. There were mallard ducks, seagulls and a lone cormorant just floating on the still water. We took some "selfie" pictures and then decided to get back on the bike and head home. What a wonderful afternoon idyll for me to remember until next Spring. This was my last excursion on the Goldwing for 2017.

After returning home, we took all our gear off and put it away. It was now dinner time and I hadn't pulled any meat out for anything for dinner. Hubby suggested going to a local diner for fish and chips. We haven't been there in over a year and it's funny, because I was craving fish and chips while on the bike. So off we went. We've been eating out so often lately! It's not from being lazy and not wanting to cook. And it's not from lack of food in our home. We are celebrating each day and visiting the restaurants we enjoy while I can.

When we returned home from our dinner out, there was a voice mail from my son. So I called him back and enjoyed a visit with him. While he was talking to Hubby on the phone, a call waiting occurred and a voice mail was left from my brother. After Hubby was finished the call with my son, I called my brother and enjoyed a lovely visit with him too. When our visit wrapped up and I hung up the phone, I realized it was 9:00 already and time for my favourite series "Outlander". Hubby and I watched and I fully enjoyed the program.

I normally would have gone to bed immediately after watching "Outlander" but instead I got into watching a program that Hubby had "pvr'd" (personal video recorder). Meaning, he had taped this program called "The Secret Path" which was a taped version of Gord Downie's last solo tour. Gord Downie, the front man for the Canadian band "The Tragically Hip", passed away from brain cancer this past week. I really enjoyed "The Secret Path". As soon as it was finished, I was off to bed and asleep immediately.

It has been an awesome day!!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Living Life to the Absolute Fullest

Hubby and I have always had just one vehicle. I wanted to use the car today. This meant I was up and dressed early so I could drive Hubby to work. I had made arrangements to go visit my friend who lives in the country. What a lovely drive it was. I had built in extra time to get there due to construction within the city. Wouldn't you know it! I was not held up at all and so was going to arrive too early at my friend's place. So I turned down some side roads and enjoyed a "Sunday drive" on a Friday morning. I paid attention to the time and enjoyed my drive. I just turned around and made my way to my friend's home when it was time to do so.

I arrived and she was ready to greet me at her door. We spent the morning outside on her back deck. What a sunny and warm morning to enjoy the peaceful view that unfolded in front of me. It reminded me of when we used to live in the country and how peaceful it is. We chatted over coffee and enjoyed the company of her dog, her cats and her chickens. I saw her beehives in the distance. That was close enough for me. I'm terrified of bees. However, the peace of the country filled my soul despite the beehives. What a gift this visit was. I was reminded again how important it is to seize each moment of every day and enjoy it.

The morning went by quickly and when her husband, who was working from home, came out on the deck, it was time for me to go. I was going to meet my hubby for lunch. I visited a little more with both my friends and then I had to leave. Again, I enjoyed the drive back into the city. When I arrived at hubby's work, he was ready to head out for lunch.

Before we left for lunch, I needed hubby to remove the dressing that was covering where the dialysis line went into my neck. It was time to remove it. What a relief it was to have him pull it off! I am allergic to the adhesive and we could see the redness and raised blisters in places. I had a covering that I've been wearing around my neck to hide the dressing so people wouldn't stare. I put my covering back around my neck. It's very fashionable and was matching the top I was wearing today. The redness from my allergy was very itchy and the opening where the dialysis line went in was very noticeable. My fashionable neck covering just made me feel less conspicuous and more comfortable.

Hubby and I then left for lunch. We went to a local establishment that we haven't been to in years. I had their house made mac & cheese. The description sounded good. It described having pulled pork in it and various cheese and topped with panko crumbs, baked and topped with salsa. I was disappointed. There was no pulled pork but actually ground pork. It wasn't what I expected. Oh well. Live and learn. Unfortunately, the meal just sat in my stomach all afternoon.

Hubby had to work tonight so I spent my evening watching television and finishing my sock for my mismatched pair. As I create this blog post, the socks are keeping my feet nice and toasty warm. My cat is sound asleep on my legs and keeping them warm.

I find the knitting, the television and my cat very soothing. I've started another sock. This pair will be pink. I have lots of pink yarn leftover from an afghan I made 4 years ago for my cousin's baby. So the socks I'll be making for the immediate future will all be pink. I'm using all my yarn remnants from past projects over the years to make the socks that will be donated to the bazaar and to the homeless people.

I'm tiring now so I'll sign off and head to bed. It's been another great day where I've feel I have lived life to the fullest.

Celebrating the Small Things in Life

Wednesday, October 18

I returned to the Stem Cell Unit at 9:30 a.m. today to have my dialysis line removed. As I walked into the Unit, the nurse handed me a copy of the stem cell collection report from Ottawa. It showed that yesterday they collected 14.1 million stem cells in 90 minutes. We only need 2.5 million. I'm a stem cell producing machine! So I went into the patient room and had to lay on the bed. I was hooked up to the blood pressure monitor so they could read my vitals while the dialysis line was removed. Everything went smoothly. After it was removed and the nurse held pressure on the opening into the vein in my neck for 15 minutes, she put a dressing over the opening and I had to lie quiet for another 15 minutes. Then I was instructed to go for a long walk. After the walk, I was to return and check in with the nurse before leaving the hospital. They just wanted to make sure there was no bleeding and leakage.

So I walked to the Tuck Shop and visited with my former co-workers and volunteers. I was happy to see one of the volunteers as she is moving away in the coming week. I then walked over to another office and visited with friends and acquaintances there. Hubby was with me and kept checking my neck to make sure it wasn't bleeding. We then walked  briskly down the long hallway on our way back to the Stem Cell Unit. But first, I dropped into the Gift Shop to visit former co-workers and volunteers again. Hubby and I met a new employee that we actually knew from another part of our lives. We visited with her also and then continued to make our way back to the Unit. I was given permission to go home.

Hubby and I went for lunch at our favourite restaurant and then he dropped me off at home and returned to work. I spent a quiet afternoon knitting because I was not allowed to move turn my head or bend down. When hubby got home from work, we made our way to our friends' home where we had been invited for dinner. It became an evening of celebration. We celebrated that my stem cells were prolific and were collected quickly. I have an extra day of "found time" tomorrow. What a great evening we had with our friends!  When we left at 9:30 p.m., I was tired and went straight to bed as soon as I returned home.

Thursday, October 19

I was very tired when I awoke with the alarm at 7:00 a.m. Before hubby went to work, he did help carry laundry to the basement so I could wash a load and he carried it outside so I could hang it on the line. It took me a few hours to gain any motivation to do anything but knit.

Then I decided to get started on my Christmas baking. I really want to have a few of my family's favourite Christmas baked goods in the freezer for us to enjoy at Christmas. So this morning, I made my sugar cookies. This is a recipe that has been handed down from my great-grandmother. I roll them out, cut them with cookies cutters and then when they are fulliy cooled, I ice them with butter icing. The dough is very soft and pliable but it needs to be chilled before rolling it out. The shapes are Christmas trees, Santas, Angels, Bells, Snowmen and Stars. While the cookies were cooling on the counter, I decided to take stock of the icing ingredients. I realized that I needed green and red food colouring as well as icing sugar in order to ice the cookies. That's alright. Hubby and I will be doing some grocery shopping afer dinner tonight.

I am feeling so content. This week is going really well and I am feeling good. I do notice that when I'm not eating or drinking anything, my mouth has a bothersome taste to it. It doesn't matter if I brush my teeth or rinse my mouth. It is there. This "off" taste doesn't affect the taste of food or drink so it isn't affecting my appetite. Food tastes good when I eat.

I spent my afternoon continuing to knit the second sock of the pair of mismatched socks. They are mismatched because I ran out of yarn and have had to use a different yarn for the second sock. This pair will be for me. The last couple of days I've been re-thinking my plan to give knitted socks to the homeless. These socks are very thick and are more like slipper socks. I'm not sure they would fit inside people's shoes unless they are wearing shoes that are much too big for them. I am now considering donating the socks to the Hospital Auxiliary for their bazaar that is going to be held on November 29. I approached the Auxiliary and they would be very pleased to have the socks to sell. The bazaar is a fundraiser for the Hospital Auxiliary. The Auxiliary helps buy needed equipment for various departments within the hospital. I think I am at peace with giving the pairs of knitted socks to their bazaar. If I get more socks knitted after November 29, then I will give them to the Kingston Street Mission to be given to the homeless.

In the days that I have left before being admitted to the hospital on October 25, I am hoping to add to my Christmas baking. I plan to make my Bourbon Christmas Fruit Bars. All my Christmas baking will be put into the freezer and then it will be nice and fresh when it comes out. I need to buy some of the ingredients for the fruit bars. The other baking I want to do is my Christmas M&M Cookies. Unfortunately, the Christmas M&M's are not available for sale in the stores yet. I haven't seen any. I will probably have to wait until I'm discharged from the hospital in the middle to end of November before making these. I really want this Christmas to be "normal" and create more warm memories for my family. For me, it is important to have the favourite baked treats available. I want my family to have cherished moments that will become cherished memories.

As I baked the sugar cookies today, I enjoyed the memories of having sugar cookies at my grandparents' home during the Christmas holidays. The cookies were always put out as a snack while we played cards or crokinole. I remember watching my grandpa and my uncle playing crokinole together. I remember us all around the long kitchen table playing cards with cookies, squares and nuts on the table to be shared as snacks. The warmth of the wood stove in farm house is another great memory to the point that I can almost smell the wood. The heat radiated from it and was very comforting. My own memories motivate me to bake and earnestly work towards creating happy, warm family moments for my own family. My hope is to succeed at this despite the current and imminent challenge of my cancer journey.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Miracles Do Happen! - Stem Cell Collection Day

I awoke at 3:30 a.m.  I was wide awake probably because I went to bed a 9 p.m. in preparation for an early rise of 6:00 a.m. Oh well. After trying to go back to sleep, I finally got up at 4:45 a.m. and started the next sock in my pair of Ladies' Large that I am knitting. My mind was going full tilt and starting to fret about my upcoming Stem Cell Collection. Finally, I heard the radio alarm go on in our bedroom. I put my knitting down, heaved myself out of the couch and made my way to the bedroom. I was cleaned, dressed and ready to leave the house by 6:10. Hubby was still in bed. He didn't take long to get ready and we were out the door by 6:40. We went to McDonalds to treat ourselves to breakfast before starting what we anticipated to be a very long day in the Stem Cell Unit at the hospital.

We walked into the hospital just before 7:30 a.m. I dropped by my former workplace to drop off some used books for them to sell as I was walking by on my way to the Stem Cell Unit. When we arrived, I was shown to the room that was assigned to me for the day. Blood was taken from me to test the blood levels. The white cell count came in at 87 which was very good. I was waiting to be taken down to the Imaging Department where they would insert a dialysis line into my neck. It is through this line that the stem cells will be collected. Finally, the porter showed up with a stretcher bed to take me down to the Imaging Department.

I recognized the porter from seeing him daily while I worked in the Tuck Shop. I would see him in the halls and we would exchange greetings with a smile. Today, hubby and I joked with the porter as he wheeled me down to the Imaging Department. There were 6 people ahead of me so I was parked in the hallway behind another gentleman's stretcher/bed. After a while, I eventually was moved into a curtained holding area. The doctor came and explained what was going to happen to me and I signed the consent form.

The dialysis line was inserted into the vein (not artery) on the right side of my neck. I was given some local freezing before the started they procedure.  It took about 15 minutes and then I was all done. I was wheeled back into a curtained holding area and waited for a porter to take me up to the Stem Cell Unit. Eventually, she showed up and wheeled me away.

When we entered the Stem Cell Unit, the nurses started clapping and cheering. They were calling me their star patient. I guess when they took my blood this morning, they were also testing the amount of stem cells found in a 10ml blood sample. I apparently am now the record holder for the Stem Cell Unit for the most stem cells found in a 10 ml blood sample. I had 26.1 million stem cells in 10 ml of blood. We only needed to collect 2.5 million for the stem cell transplant. This means that instead of being hooked up and collecting stem cells for 6 hours, they would only need 90 minutes in order to collect the 2.5 million stem cells required for the Oct. 30 transplant. I was finished and unhooked from the dialysis unit by 1:45 p.m. The stem cells were being picked up by a courier at 2 p.m. and shipped to Ottawa where they will be counted, preserved and frozen.

Tomorrow, I need to return to the Stem Cell Unit at 9:30 a.m. to have the dialysis line taken out of my neck. The nurses do not expect that I will have to have any more stem cells collected, but just in case they wanted to keep this line in my neck for the night. If they need more stem cells collected, they will call me early in the morning to have me come in earlier. The nurses don't expect this to happen.

It looks like I will not have to come back into the hospital until I am admitted on October 25. Woo Hoo!! Today was a miracle and I truly believe that prayers were answered. I wasn't anxious today like I thought I would be. The whole day has been fabulous! Hubby and I celebrated our awesome day by having chinese takeout for dinner and then an ice cream cone for dessert. It's a day worth celebrating!! Thank you to all of you who have been sending positive thought and saying daily prayers for me. I truly believe that God has listened and answered those prayers today. The positive thoughts have also helped me to be less anxious because I know people care. Thanks to you all!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Day 18 Third Chemo Round - A Fantastic Day

Throughout the night last night, I was drenched numerous times with night sweats. I had to turn my pillow during the night as it was also soaked. I was worried and wondering if the lymphoma hasn't been pushed back and the tumours didn't shrink in size. The night sweats are one of the telling symptoms of lymphoma. The interrupted sleep caused me to wonder how my day was going to go today.

I had so many plans and things to do before I'm tied up at the hospital all week with the stem cells being collected. I really wanted today to be a great day. When I awoke this morning, I was a little groggy and slow. Hubby and I decided that we would meet for lunch.  As my morning coffee made its way into my system, I started to wake up. In the mornings, I sit on our Lazyboy couch and drink my coffee. I have a "Bread of Life" container beside me on the end table which contains various bible verses. This morning the one I picked said "I am with you as I was with Moses." - Joshua 3:7, NIV  As I read this verse, my anxiety and worries about this week were instantly calmed. God is with me through all that is going to happen this week. He will keep me safe. What a great verse to read first thing in the morning.

I was now energized, maybe with the help of the coffee, to start my day. I drove hubby to work so that I could have our car. I returned home and picked up some music that I've been wanting to return to the church choir room since August. Today I did it. What a joy it was to see the work party of men trimming the trees and bushes around the church property! I was able to exchange greetings with these men who I haven't seen in months. What a lift to my morning already! I continued on into the church and let the secretary know I was going to be upstairs in the choir room. I dropped in to see the secretary on my way out and had a lovely, short visit with her. It had to be short because I needed to get home and get my Neupogen out of the refrigerator in preparation for my last visit to the CBI Health Clinic to get my injections.

Once I was at home and the Neupogen was removed from the refrigerator, I had to wait until it was time to go to the Clinic for the injection. I filled my time by knitting my current sock. When it was time to leave, I put my knitting aside and got ready to go. I also had an errand to run at the bank after my clinic visit. Then I would make my way downtown to hubby's work and go for lunch.

My visit to the CBI Health Clinic was good. The nurse knew this was my last scheduled visit and we had a good visit while she gave me my 2 injections of Neupogen. After my visit, I made contact with my cousin-in-law and firmed up our plans for this afternoon before I started driving to the bank. I made it to the bank and, again, enjoyed my banking errand while I chatted with the teller. I'm happy and my day is going well. It was a little early to head to hubby's work so I returned home and continued knitting before deciding it was time to go for lunch.

I made my way to hubby's work and we walked to our favourite restaurant, Darbar, to enjoy a delicious lunch. What an enjoyable time we had as we ate our favourite food and also chatted with the staff. My morning has gone exceedingly well. It's wonderful to feel this way and know that I'm having a great day before heading to the hospital tomorrow.

I  made plans to visit this afternoon with my cousin-in-law who gave me the "Bread of Life" container last month. We decided that we would get together for tea and then maybe a walk to the local conservation area. I had finished lunch with hubby and I had about an hour before I needed to be at my cousin-in-law's home. I returned home and continued knitting my sock with the calm silence of the house around me.

At the appropriate time, I made my way over to my cousin's house where we enjoyed a cup of tea together. We decided to dress warmly and walk over to the nearby conservation area. We talked and visited while we walked through one of the trails at the conservation area. We walked briskly and then decided it was time to head back to her home. It was a long walk, about one hour total, but it was invigorating and I loved our visit. I haven't had a long walk like that in a long time and I was so pleased that I wasn't totally exhausted by the end. I was very tired but I did not feel ill. I returned home and knitted more on the sock until it was time to go pick up hubby from work.

For dinner tonight, I had pulled out the frozen homemade ravioli and tomato sauce that one of our friends had brought over a couple of weeks ago. When hubby and I got home, we worked together to get it cooked and onto the table. While it was cooking, another good friend of our's dropped by to return my rain gear that he had borrowed to ride to Port Dover with hubby. We knew he was alone for dinner tonight, so we invited him to stay and share the ravioli with us. What a great impromptu dinner. A perfect ending to a fantastic day.

After dinner, I even managed to finish my sock. I have run out of that particular colour of yarn, so this pair of socks will be mine as they will be mismatched.

My day has been so good that all my anxiety about this week has been kept at bay. I'm feeling good about tomorrow. I'm going to bring a couple of books along to read while the stem cells are collected. Hubby is going to sit by my side and work from the hospital room. I will be in the Stem Cell Unit for the whole day. I will go to bed early tonight because I have to be at the Stem Cell Unit for 7:30 a.m.  Hubby has already said we can leave the house early and treat me to an Egg McMuffin and coffee for my breakfast. I'm so spoiled (as it is said with a smile). This was a fantastic day that was full of smiles and a warm heart. I truly believe all my friends' prayers have helped me today.