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.