31 December 2009

"God Bless Us, Everyone!"

I realized that I need to seize the moment to make my last entry for 2009. A new decade begins tomorrow that will undoubtedly bring with it its blessings and its challenges. I just wanted to leave with those that read the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for the last week and a half.

Christmas was wonderful. Physically, it was the most challenging time of my entire life. Really. The side effects of this new drug were quite intense. They are much more severe than with the first round of chemo drugs. As for my spirit, I was happy and delighted to be surrounded by my sweet family. It was wonderful to speak to Eric, our full time missionary, on the telephone.

Starting on the Wednesday after my treatment, I had much worse nausea than I had yet experienced with chemotherapy. In addition to that, I experienced severe pain in all my bones and joints. Deep down to the bone marrow pain. This lasted for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Christmas Day). The pain had lessened a bit for Saturday, and I was grateful, since I had to finish up the two wedding cakes for delivery later on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, I began to have severe chest pains with accelerated heart rate, pounding in my chest and shortness of breath. The best way to describe what I was experiencing is like labor contractions of my heart. I was always at a constant moderate pain level (5 on the 1 to 10 scale) with surges of increasing pain, lasting different lengths of time that brought the pain level to 8 or 9. By 9 o'clock that evening, my daughter, Elizabeth insisted I call the oncologist "on call" doctor. She just suggested I take Percocet to get through the night and to see my doctor the next day. The pain kept me up in waves throughout the night. The pain was often unbearable.

I called the cancer center and was only able to leave a message with the triage nurse. Three hours later, Nurse Jan called to say "come in RIGHT NOW".

When I arrived they checked my vitals and gave me orders to take to Cary Wake Hospital for a CT Scan to check for pulmonary embolism. They gave me a preventative shot of a blood thinner and a very small dose of Morphine for the pain.

I really don't want to take the time to do a play by play of the whole ordeal, but will say that after the CT scan came back negative for a blood clot, it was necessary to have an EKG done, which for some reason, could only be done through the emergency room. Daniel had driven me to the doctor, and was my constant companion through everything. We spent about 6 hours in waiting rooms in the ER in between two EKG's and blood work before I was in an ER room. I was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation to make sure that my blood enzymes did not show any heart damage. The pains had started to subside by the evening. Catherine switched places with Daniel and spent the night with me in my room.

In the morning, I had an echo-cardiogram (ultra sound of my heart) to check further for damage. It took 5 hours to get the results. No damage. (In other words, I did NOT have a heart attack). I left the hospital around 2:00 p.m.

Waiting in the E.R.

Dr. Singh said it is likely just a very severe and unusual side effect of the Taxol. Great. But, he had to rule out the other things to be sure.

I have been very weak and nauseous this whole week. It's just the way it is. But, my spirits are good.

So, back to my thoughts....

Every year, during this season, you can take your pick of any number of incarnations of the classic Dickens tale of "A Christmas Carol". I have seen portions of several versions this year. Just this afternoon I watched one I had never seen before, a more recent musical version starring Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) as Ebeneezer Scrooge.

As an aside, for many, many years, Doug has taken amusing offense to anyone remarking in a disparaging way to anyone who lacks Christmas cheer as a "Scrooge". He says that everyone should be a Scrooge, because he was great and generous man. You see, he choses to see Mr. Ebeneezer as he became in the end, rather than who he was during most of the tale. It's been a good spirited heated topic between he and I.

Today, while watching this new version, I was struck with the message of this tale. It is simply, do not let anything get in your way of living your life and loving one another. Whether it is too much emphasis on material things, whether you are in abundance or struggling; whether it is a grudge in your heart against family or friend; whether it is unexpected adversity or illness or any of another hundred things on the list. There is nothing more important than seizing the opportunity to love and serve others, and for that matter, to love and serve yourself, if you make sure that your service to yourself improves your ability to serve others. I think of it as developing Christ-like attributes.

I cannot tell you how many times, during this last week, with the severe bone and muscle aches and the intense chest pains in my heart, that I thought of our Savior and Redeemer. and knew that what I was experiencing was nothing compared to what he went through for all mankind. And, what's more, is that I see it as a gift to have been given an opportunity to think and feel more deeply upon his sacrifice as it relates specifically to me!

2009 was a fantastic year for me. There were so many great blessings offered to me and my family. We received guidance on the timing to purchase a new home, and where to buy it. I have been given the blessing of learning about how many people really care about me. It has been wonderfully overwhelming. The service that has been offered to me and my family in so many acts of service and kindness are innumerable.

So, if I can offer a bit of advice based on Doug's view of Ebeneezer Scrooge, let us try to see people not as they are now, but as they will become. Most people we encounter really are trying to become better people. Love each other a little more purer. It's kind of like the way our Heavenly Father can see our eternal potential. We'll all be better off if we can be more gentle on ourselves and each other.

So, in the words of the immortalized Tiny Tim, "God Bless Us, Everyone". For all of us deserve God's blessings in this coming year.


Judy said...

Ken and I wish you and your family every joy in the new year. You are a remarkable woman, Sally. May your strength and vitality return soon..along with a clean bill of health!

Catherine said...

Happy New Year to you, mom! I am constantly amazed by your strength and am trying to love more purely. Love you!

pyneszoo said...

I love "A Christmas Carol" and the message it gives to all of us. thank you for reminding me that we do need to love more purely, more Christlike. I love reading your blog!! We are praying for you and hope 2010 will be full of blessings for you and your family!! ~ Nancy

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