Extreme Makeover – Cancer Edition

IMG_0859 What a week it’s been.  Last Sunday I drove to Orlando and dropped all three girl dogs off with my wonderful son-in-law who took the bullet for me and did what I could not bear to do.  He drove to the west coast of Florida to relocate my beloved girl dogs.  I was able to send Lucy back to the breeder who made her, and Maritza and Zoey were welcomed to join her for placement into homes in which they would receive the attention they deserve.  It was the right thing to do, but that didn’t make it feel any better.  I couldn’t even look in the rear view mirror on the way to Matt, because I felt like I’d turn around and race home if I made eye contact with any one of them.  I barely remember transferring them to his car, ISteven in bed with mask do remember him giving me a huge bear hug, which just made me crack.  I certainly don’t remember driving home.  I do remember the huge pile of damp Kleenex on the seat next to me that I had to dump in the trash, so I must have been bawling my eyes out.  I just keep trying to focus on the important reason for the decision.  I need to channel all my energy, love and caring into keeping Steven well.  He was so beat up when he arrived in the hospital that they had to mask him up to get him to the room without anyone sharing a germ with him!

IMG_0972Steven was in really bad shape for the first 4 days in the hospital.  He received what seemed like gallons of blood, IV drips of antibiotics, potassium, platelets and probably a little Spic & Span to clean up his blood.  It took a couple of days for his skin to go from grey to white to pink to normal.  And every time he seemed to feel a little energy, he’d get wiped out from overzealously texting me.  By Wednesday night I was starting to get really nervous.  His progress seemed so slow that I thought he’d be in the big house forever!  I could only visit him for about an hour IMG_0975each evening until he was shooing me off because he just didn’t have the energy to stay alert.

I was so worried that I texted Dr. Sprawls and asked him to call me.  Earlier in the week I was able to get a speakerphone visit with him and Steven one morning during rounds.  The doc was very pleased with Steven’s progress, but the rest of my updates were via Steven which was really messing me up.  Chemo brain is a lot like Brian Williams…inaccurate reporting!  Again the doctor told me that this was all pretty normal, albeit pretty sucky.  He told me I didn’t need to worry about Steven’s infection any more because it was under control even if it seemed to be moving out slowly.  Of course that only made me ask him to tell me what I should worry about.  I wish I could stop thinking that every report was a trick answer!  The doctor told me I should concentrate on worrying about giving up my dogs until I got that under control.  Somehow, his understanding of the emotional overload I’ve been under made me feel better about all of it.

Hospital movie seatsAnd then Steven asked me on a date.  On Thursday he called before I left for work and asked me to stop on the way to see him to pick up some non-hospital food for me so we could have dinner together. He texted me throughout the day, so proud of the plans he was making.  We were going to watch a movie after dinner so he arranged moving seating hospital style for us!  We haven’t had a date for a while, so this was a pretty sweet gesture under the circumstances!  And just so I wouldn’t freak me out when I arrived, he broke the news viaSteven selfie-hair falling out photo – Oh, yeah!  My hair is falling out!

I sat across the room a bit so I didn’t have to wear a mask, and we ate and talked like normal people…in hospital gowns.  His of the patient variety and mine of the quarantine variety.  We we going to watch a movie after dinner, but first I had big date plans for him.  I suited up completely with mask and gloves, moved him over to the other side of the room to a chair, IMG_0973draped him in towels and shaved his head.  If his hair was starting to fall out and his pillow always looked like a drain in a high school locker room shower, I can fix that!  Hairy pillow – Not sexy!  Doing the honors was priceless!

Steven looked good bald in 2004 and he still looks pretty dapper to me.  He took it like a champ and even let me take some mug shots.  It was a little hard for him to yuk it up with me because all the buzzing gave him a massive headache.  And he tires pretty easy so the makeover seemed like a day’s work IMG_0978to him.  Of course the nursing staff has been very attentive to him since they all feel pretty proud that he didn’t let him kick the bucket during his first 24 hours there!  That always seems to bring a great togetherness to the group, wouldn’t you say?  So his favorite nurse, Hannah, just poked her head in as we were finishing and asked if he was having any pain.  He told her he had a pretty bad headache and she was back with some horse tranquilizers within minutes.  So there went the movie.  We only had about 30 minutes in the chairs, holding hand to glove…and then he conked out.  I helped him back into bed before he started to go down for the count and I slipped out the door, pretty grateful for the time we had.

IMG_0979So what a difference a week makes.  He’s coming home tomorrow, he feels better and can actually walk and get up by himself.  That’s huge!  I put him in the wheelchair and rolled him out of here last Friday.  I had dogs to round up and secure so we could get out the door and a dozen things that needed to be done for them before we could leave.  He was in pain, weak and hanging on by a thread.  And tomorrow he’ll be back to a quiet house, with hopefully fewer cooties, definitely safer for padding around the floor without tripping on a squeaky toy, bone or stealth girl dog, and he’ll have my complete attention.

What a makeover it’s been.  And we’re still just starting!

 

If you want to help me take more time away from work and have more time home caring for Tumor Boy widgetand writing about our adventures with Cancer,  we’d be so very grateful if you’d visit our Go Fund Me Page. Our insurance has a lot of loopholes for things that aren’t covered, and my job has no loopholes for being able to work from home!  And I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to keep my husband around.  After all, I just got him house broken!

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Big Decisions – Hard Decisions

IMG_0958I don’t even feel bad anymore for missing work.  I was up and drinking coffee Thursday morning just looking at him sleeping.  His skin had taken on a grayish hue which isn’t as distinguished as the gray in his hair.  Actually, the hair is a hot mess because he hasn’t had the strength to let me take him to his barber to have it shaved off.  I can see where it’s thinning already from lying around all day.  His current style is all Cosmo Kramer, only without the witty repartee!  I was just about to hit the shower when he woke up.  I told him I thought I’d go to work at the design center, and he assured me that he’d be ‘fine’.  But, he hadn’t convinced me and I couldn’t stop thinking about the day before.  He couldn’t have possibly gone from totally helpless to “fine” over night.  So I asked him if he was just saying that I should go so I wouldn’t feel guilty.  “Yeah, kinda” was the answer I got.

So we always have to play this ‘what if’ game.  What if I didn’t go to work th-2and was here all day.  Would you feel better or worse.  “Better”…so there you are. I didn’t even have to take the game to round 2.  I decided to just stand guard from now until Monday when we go to Gainesville to meet with the Bone Marrow Transplant Team.  We already lost 2 more weeks because of Steven’s last hospital stay.  He’s scheduled to go back into the hospital next Tuesday for the second 4 day round of 24 hour a day chemo.  I don’t anticipate him feeling better suited for a 3 hour drive right after that.  He’s already pretty low, I can’t imagine what I’ll be getting back when the release him next time.  I swear to God, it’s like watching a human science experiment!  But I do know that if anything happens to him when he’s home alone, I’ll never forgive myself.

IMG_0960I’m getting pretty nurse-y.  I did the sponge bath thing while he was in bed.  He’s blacked out and fallen in the bathroom so many times that he’s just afraid of the shower at this point.  I moved him around so I could change the sheets, and in the last 2 days I’ve taken charge of his medications so I know he’s taking all the right things at all the right times.

Luckily my team in the design center is covering my work load like champs.  I can’t be more grateful that I don’t have to worry about anything there.  I get an occasional phone call for back up verification on unclear issues, but for the most part I’m left to concentrate on Steven.

I was planning on staying out of the office on Friday anyway.  I didn’t have any clients scheduled and Steven had a blood test on his calendar.  I didn’t want another dog escape or doggie medication ransack so I just decided it would be best to do this myself.  (See It’s Going to Be Alright)  Everything was buttoned up at home and I whisked Steven off in his magic wheelchair to drain off a few vials of blood.IMG_0963

I hadn’t counted on passing Dr. Sprawls in the hall on the way to the test.  He took one look at Steven and banished us to the hospital…I don’t know if it was the weakly posture in the chair, the pained look on Steven’s face or the baseball hat and sunglasses with the skin tone that made him look like a stand-in for Weekend at Bernie’s.  Whatever it was, we were back in our old stomping grounds of the ER at Wuestoff Hospital within 30 minutes.

IMG_0965Apparently Steven picked up some kind of cootie somewhere.   He’d been to the oncology office on Monday and Tuesday and who knows what kind of germ might have been exhaled in the waiting room from one of the caregivers killing time while their ward was getting pumped up with chemo juice.  Or he could have just touched something contaminated.  My biggest fear, though is that he got something from a dog lick.  The nurse in the ER assured us that mouths of dogs are cleaner than human mouths.  I don’t really doubt that, however I hadn’t mentioned the doggie part of my last post to her ( A Couple Of Firsts for Me Today! )  No matter how clean a dog kiss may or may not be, I don’t think that goes for a dog mouth that had a dead rat in it!  The tests came back and Steven had bacteria in his blood.  The doctor always uses special terms for me and what I asked him what that meant he said Steven had shit in his blood.  Real shit?  He never seriously answered that, however we live with butt lickers, so it’s not out of the question!

We left our house at 10:30 and it was now 4:30 PM.  We were still in the ER IMG_0964and a room was imminent, but I knew it would still be way past dark when I arrived home.  So I called my sister agin to run over to my house and turn on some lights for the dogs.  Between that little issue and the dog excitement of the last week, the conversation just happened between Steven and me…we need to find new homes for the dogs.  I’ve been thinking about it on and off for the past couple of months.  My plate it full enough with a job that adds an additional 3 hours to each day in my commute, Steven’s inability to care for himself and the household chores that pile up naturally.  The dogs have been really putting me over the edge.  And the antics of the week have completely defeated me.  We agreed not to make any permanent decisions until he was off the pain killers.  And then I got a text from my sister.  The dogs were fine, she put on some lights…but she found a pill bottle cap and 5 hexagonal shaped pink pills in the staging area.  WTF?  I cleaned the place like an OCD candidate.  Where did they get pills?  I never did check the back yard the day of the pill incident…but who would be looking for medication in the outdoor foliage?

IMG_3450Before I changed my mind, I contacted the breeder from whom we adopted Lucy.  I texted her the very short version of our sitch, and she has already texted back that she would be happy to take Lucy.  I haven’t been able to speak with her yet, because we’ve both been pretty tied up thus far.  But I’m hoping that by this afternoon we’ll have the most active of the bunch off to a home who can match her zest for life.  Killing me.  Can’t even write about it yet.  Can’t talk about it without tears, but I know it’s the right thing to do.  She is the worst and repeat offender.  She can’t help it.  She’s only 6 months old and has been spending her days with a sick man who can’t give her the human direction on expected behavior.  She’s so smart and so loving that it’s just not fair to her.  Crying again…sorry…BRB!

With any luck, this wonderful woman will take them all to find new homes. DOGS IN BED I just don’t have the time or the strength to do it myself.  I cry whenever I think about it.  But I know it’s right.  When Janet found the pill bottle cap with 5 tablets…I swear it was a sign from God.  And then at 3 am last night I was awakened by a crunching noise.  Lucy got out of bed, took herself outside to pee and then came back in, took my cheater glasses off my night table and was snacking on them.  The third pair this month that she’s destroyed.  Thank you God.  Her warm cuddly body as I was falling asleep was making me weak and had me reconsidering our decision!  Pills & glasses!  What the hell is next?  When I get home from the hospital today, I’m expecting a doggie party going on with the Animal Planet station blaring on the TV and everyone getting doggie fart drunk on Milk Bones and Rawhide!

2013-01-22 17.47.48So I’m here with Steven, waiting for the doctor to make rounds, watching him sleep and worrying about what is going on at home right now with no human supervision. I had really hoped that a puppy would bring new life to my oldest dog.  I had no idea she would bring a whole new idea catalog of “bad dog” hijinks that both of the older ones had grown out of and forgotten.  It seems like I have 3 puppies instead of 1.  And they are no longer a pack…they are a gang.

It’s really no wonder I drink!

 

 

If you want to help me take more time away from work and home caring for Tumor Boy and the Whippet widgetwidgetCircus, we’d be so very grateful if you’d visit our Go Fund Me Page. Our insurance has a lot of loopholes for things that aren’t covered, and my job has no loopholes for being able to work from home! And when I say this crew needs me, I’m sure you’ll agree that I’m the glue that holds this crazy group together!

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A Couple of Firsts for Me Today!

This is just a short post today to let you share my accomplishments du jour.  There is a lot of medical stuff that makes me queasy.  When I donate blood, I can’t watch or my knees get weak even while I’m sitting.  When Steven had his knee replacement surgery he had to give himself injections for a few days after he got home.  I think it was NEUPOGEN®, And he injected himself in the abdomen.  I’d get him set up and then turn my back or refill his water.  It only took a second.  I didn’t have to watch.  No harm, no foul.

The blood tests this week revealed a really low T (testosterone) level from the chemo.  Really low…like I think the number was Ovary.  So after 2 days of running around trying to get the drug (I guess there are so many old people living beachside that there is not a large stock of T), and approval from the insurance company (didn’t get it – I just paid for it!) I left Walgreens with a couple of syringes and 2 vials of liquid.  The palm sweating part came when the pharmacist told me that it had to be administered in his buttock.  That’s where he recommended and the doctor wanted it.  Probably because Steven has lost so much weight, it’s hard to find any meat that has any muscle attached.  But a quick scenario in my brain played out as impossible for him to self administer.  Between the shaking hands and dropsy, trying to aim for the small hard to hit area that still has some padding would be impossible for him.  Just as a side note for anyone trying to lose weight really fast.  You probably never get a good look at your butt during the starving process, so let me enlighten you.  Steven had a great butt.  Now it looks like a scrotum.  Just saying’.  Crash diets and chemotherapy don’t look too pretty good from behind!

The pharmacist told me how to do it, but my head was spinning so much I really didn’t get it.  So I did the logical thing when I got home…I You Tubed it.  Damn, you can learn to do anything on You Tube.  I bet I could also give him a butt lift if I thought it wouldn’t make ME puke!  Long story short – I did it.  I administered my first injection today.  No blood, no bruise and Steven said it didn’t hurt at all.  Of course the chemotherapy is the equivalent of getting kicked in the head by an elephant, so this baby syringe probably didn’t hurt him.  Me…I was sweating like a whore in church!

He started feeling a little sturdier within a half hour.  Not necessarily from the shot, but also from the rest of the medications I assembled and served.  So we moved him to an upright position in the chair in our bedroom and just sat a talked, like regular people…for about 5 minutes when Lucy came bolting into the room with a dead rat in her mouth.  She dropped it at Steven’s feet and I realized I was about to have another first.  Gag, gag and more gag.  This was way worse than the injection.

Dead stuff is usually Steven’s department, but right now his only department is staying on this side of the dirt!  So, I got a garden hand trowel and tried to scoop it up…with a bag covering it…without looking at it.  Not so easy.  Eventually, I had to bear down and just look at what I was doing.  It took a couple of false starts until I managed to get it into a Walgreens bag, which I tied off and put in another Walgreens bag and then I double bagged that bag.  The whole time I was doing that Ewwww-ickkkk thing, and I know my face looked like I was sucking a lemon.  But I did it.

No photos today – my day was too gross.  But when this whole cancer thing is over, I may just audition for Naked and Afraid.  Because Steven spends a lot of time naked, and I spend a lot of time afraid!  I’m going to try to go to work tomorrow…so Good Night!

 

If you want to help me take more time away from work and home caring for Tumor Boy and the Whippet widgetCircus, we’d be so very grateful if you’d visit our Go Fund Me Page. Our insurance has a lot of loopholes for things that aren’t covered, and my job has no loopholes for being able to work from home! And when I say this crew needs me, I’m sure you’ll agree that I’m the glue that holds this crazy group together!

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I’D LOVE IT IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY E-MAILING LIST! IT’S JUST YOU AND ME, BABY! I DON’T SHARE MY TOP SECRET SUBSCRIBER LIST WITH ANYONE, SO YOU WON’T GET JUNK OR SPAM OR FOUND IF YOU’RE IN WITNESS PROTECTION! I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW WHEN I POST A NEW ENTRY. SUBSCRIBE HERE

It’s Going To Be Alright

You’d think that right now I’d be either crying, freaking out or crawling on my belly like a reptile looking for a stray Xanax under the sofa. If you’re wondering why I’d look for Xanax on the floor, keep reading!

IMG_0936Steven had an unexpected visit to Dr. Sprawls today so he made arrangements for a friend to take him. That was a huge relief to me, yet I was a little apprehensive that Steven would be able to get his shit together well enough to get out of the house without me. He’s been like a dementia patient ever since he got out of the hospital. If I hadn’t researched the chemo he was given to know the side effects, I would have thought that they broke him!

Contrary to popular belief, I really don’t like nagging. I know that sounds weird because I’m so good at it! But just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you want that to rule your life. I’m also good at sleeping but I can’t do it all day long!

So when I left for work this morning I did not give Steven the list of dos IMG_0946and don’ts for leaving the house. Do slide the pocket door in the hallway closed, so the dogs can’t get down the hall to the bedrooms. Do slide the pocket door to the laundry room closed so they don’t pull all the tee shirts on the dry rack off the bar, out the dog door and into the back yard. And do make sure when you come home that you have New York (Steven’s nickname for his bud) put the dogs in Whippet World before you try to get the wheelchair back in the house.  Oh yeah!  DON’T forget to do everything I told you to DO!

Shoulda, coulda woulda!

I had Steven call me when he got into the “little room” with the doctor. He put me on speaker phone and it was great. I was able to “be there” for the visit and to hear all the updates. Just for the record, the doctor was ecstatic about the progress from the first round of chemo. Steven’s lymph nodes and tumors are “remarkably, hugely, greatly” smaller. Doctor’s words, so YAY!

Steven  got some new meds for the extreme, debilitating tiredness and a shot because his red blood count is 0. Zero. Zip. Nada. I’m not a lab tech but I do know that every aspect of the blood test has some number attached to it. The only Zero we’re looking for is in the cancer department! Not so much with the blood! So a shot of Procrit and Steven was glad to be on his way home.

IMG_0318I texted him to let me know when he was safe at home and back in bed and he phoned just moments later. I could hear the panic so high that I couldn’t understand the words he was trying to get out. On the third time around I finally got it. “Zoey’s gone.” She got out as he was trying to get in. What did he expect. One Whippet is faster than any human over 50. Three Whippets are a team that guarantee that someone’s going to make a break for it. I asked if New York was looking for her and he could barely get the yes out as he tried to break part 2 of the saga to me. “Pills everywhere! They got into my med box. They took all my pills. OMG!!! He’s got everything from Morphine to stool softeners. None of it vet approved and I was not sure which would be worse!  And I wasn’t sure what “took them” meant either.  Took them?  Like Jimi Hendrix?  Or took them, like Bonnie and Clyde? As I ran out of my office I texted “LOCK THEM IN WHIPPET WORLD,” in CAPS. He replied, “I cannot.” OMG!!!  That, my friends, is not him being difficult. That’s cancer tired!  I’ve been watching it all week and it’s awful.  His body just doesn’t want to work for him.BEE LINE

I drove home from Orlando with God riding shotgun! I miraculously slowed several times seconds before spotting a Florida Highway Patrol car. It made me laugh a little to think I could never explain what was REALLY happening to make me speed, because who would believe it? I was also amused at how calm I was. I was speeding, but I was in control. I knew Steven was freaking out, too weak to deal with any of it, and I managed to assure him that it would all be fine.  And I believed it.  I’d say I was calmly being nervous.  I know that doesn’t make sense, but it fits.

I drove around Satellite Beach in the exact pattern I travel when I walk the girls. I looked down the side streets, in the shade under the trees and asked every crossing guard if she’d seen my white dog. I finally drove home with the hope that Zoey would be waiting there. She was not. I was taken aback when I got in the house. It looked like a party scene from Valley of the Dolls! There were handfuls (or pawfuls) of tablets, caplets, and plastic drug store bottles with labels chewed off and teeth marks aerating the containers strewn everywhere. I should have taken a photo, because it was something to behold. Maritza and Lucy were finally locked in Whippet even though Steven told me he could not. He found that little bit of residual energy to keep them safe from themselves, and I realized that since I had been driving for over an hour, if they had actually eaten any of the pills, they would either be in comas or be projectile crapping a Jackson Pollack design through the crate!

I was just putting on sneakers when my phone rang. A vet’s office in Indian Harbour Beach, the abutting town, gave me the phone number of Amy who found Zoey. The white dog was running around nekked (without her collar) so she had no ID, but that microchip that we had implanted had all the info in a one second scan. Amy couldn’t have been nicer and since she was leaving the vet’s office and already had Zoey in her car, she delivered her to my doorstep.

I banished Zoey to Whippet world with the others and she was glad to go in.  Her little adventure must have been exhausting.  They found her about 7 miles away!  And then I started cleaning up the pills and bottles. And I should have been a mess or pissed or numb, but I really believed it when I told Steven it would be alright. I knew I could take care of it as soon as I got home.  And now I really feel better because I have that same feeling about him!  This isn’t going to be fun, but it is doable.  Hopefully with no projectile crapping, thank you very much.

IMG_0957

 

widgetIf you want to help me take more time away from work and home caring for Tumor Boy and the Whippet Circus, we’d be so very grateful if you’d visit our Go Fund Me Page.  Our insurance has a lot of loopholes for things that aren’t covered, and my job has no loopholes for being able to work from home!  And when I say this crew needs me, I’m sure you’ll agree that I’m the glue that holds this crazy group together!

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I’D LOVE IT IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY E-MAILING LIST! IT’S JUST YOU AND ME, BABY! I DON’T SHARE MY TOP SECRET SUBSCRIBER LIST WITH ANYONE, SO YOU WON’T GET JUNK OR SPAM OR FOUND IF YOU’RE IN WITNESS PROTECTION! I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW WHEN I POST A NEW ENTRY. SUBSCRIBE HERE

Learning How to Ask for Help

Sikora Family 1990s

My Mom & Dad with their 5 kids and 1 grand daughter

Steven and I have both been grown-ups for a long time.  It’s not that we’re all that old (well, he is but I’m not) but we are both “oldest children.”  That family placement brings the unsolicited responsibility of having to grow up a little quicker than the rank and file kids.  It had perks, but it often sucked.  Early on we were expected to “keep and eye on your sister,” “show your brother how it’s done,” and the worst of all, “you need to set a good example for your brother (s) and/or sister.”  It’s probably a point of contention with all of our younger sibs (the ‘good example’ clause), but Steven and I learned a long time ago that neither of us was going to enjoy the luxury of being coddled because there were others at home who needed parental attention more.

It is amusing that conversations about those times arise occasionally during family gatherings, it’s also NAGGING Postcardfunny that oldest children don’t really give a crap.  We’re the oldest, we’re alway right.  Case closed! It happens in every family with multiple kids.  If you don’t believe me, scan through any psychology book.  I’m right…again, which is still an oldest child trait!  Quite frankly, what might have been a giant pain in the ass when we were high school age has been the luckiest life lesson of being independent and dealing with our problems alone.  The fact that we have each other to lean on is a luxury that we have both enjoyed for the last 18 years only.  Prior to that, no matter what our individual relationships brought, neither of us ever had the security of a partner who was really there to be a committed half of a team.  So I ain’t bitchin’ about any of it.

The Dynamic Duo - Phone Portrait

The Dynamic Duo – Phone Portrait

My point is that neither of us EVER think of asking for help.  We are the helpers.  We are the one’s who do for others.  We don’t ask for help.  In 2004, we went through 9 months of chemo, radiation, lab tests, doctor’s appointments and all the other scheduling headaches that come with Large Diffused B-Cell Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  I took him to every doctor’s appointment except one. Every lab test was chauffeured by me.  My brother Andy busted him out of the hospital once so I didn’t have to run out on my client.  But Andy knows me so well that he didn’t ask what he could do, he just showed up and helped and then drove back to Miami.  Technically I still didn’t ask!  Throughout the entire ordeal, I only missed 2 days of work, and one of them was because I was sick!   I’m not trying to impress you, I’m just making my point.  Until now, we’ve been a secret society of TWO!

IMG_0920But things change, get worse and don’t go according to plan.  We had to go to the ER last week.  It was a Friday and Steven was a mess.  He had passed out earlier in the week while trying to walk to the bathroom, AGAIN, and this time I couldn’t get him off the floor.  This was going to have to be the last  time, because I couldn’t lift him alone and he was getting too weak to help! Plus, it’s really not fun.  The entire months of December and January had been one long wait for us with this kind of hijinks peppering the mix.  Waiting for all the assorted doctors to have time, be back from vacation or the holidays and be available to us was hell and we were both suffering.  Finally, Steven’s oncologist took the situation in hand and put it quite bluntly when I told him he just needed some help to get him through the weekend so we could keep our long awaited appointment with the Bone Marrow Specialist on Monday February 2.  Dr. Sprawls told me to take him to the ER where he could be admitted for chemo because if we don’t get him started quick, he might not need to see the Bone Marrow Specialist.  That was a cold wet slap in the face with reality.  After taking a few short minutes to totally freak out, I got moving.

I made sure the dogs had food and water, that Steven had what he would need to spend a few days in theSteven in ER-FEB 2015 hospital and that there was enough Kleenex in my bag that I could make it through any unexpected surprises.  The only thing I didn’t expect was that this would be an all day affair that would run into early evening.  We arrived at the hospital early in the daylight, and Steven didn’t get a real room assigned for almost 8 hours.  Surprisingly, the time went pretty fast for me, with all the tests and questions and comings and goings of the staff.  Until I suddenly remembered that I didn’t leave any lights on in the house for the dogs, and this was really unusual for them to be alone for this long.  Steven has been sick for a while and hasn’t really left the house for anything longer than a chemo treatment.  And the puppy girl gets a little whacky when the situation seems like a free for all!

So for the first time, I called for help.  I called my sister and asked her to go over to my house, check on the dogs and turn on some lights.  She lives less than 5 miles from my house, but this was still HUGE for me.  I was asking for help.  And she was seemingly happy to help.  I was in a daze for a bit.

Steven got his room and he was exhausted after a day of probing with no time or quiet for a nap.  He told me to go home and since I was starving, I left.  I called my sister to thank her for helping and she was on her way to pick up some Chinese take out.  She asked me what I wanted and before I knew it, I was letting her take care of me again.  It was great.  And the sky didn’t fall!

This week, I put my brother Al in charge of finding a wheel chair.  I kept trying to score a used one since our insurance coordinator assured me that a side deal would be way less expensive than a new one which would get about one wheel’s worth of benefit payment.  But I didn’t have time to keep nagging all the decent possibilities on Craigslist.  The only response I got came from a guy who I was pretty sure was holding duck tape and a machete while we were talking.  So whether the wheelchair was actually in his possession or just being used by his next victim, I decided to block all his future calls just because of the extremely creepy feeling he emitted!

Staccato Mambo StevenIn the back of my mind I was hoping Al might have better luck, and in the nick of time and he came through with a chair which he delivered!  He even ran me through the test drive of braking, folding, opening and using said wheelchair.  It showed up just in time for our first outing to the Cancer Center for the dreaded Neulasta shot. (Note – so far so good on the Neulasta!  After suffering though several of these shots, the doctor finally suggested that Steven take a Claratin the day before, of and after the shot and it might manage the side effects.  I don’t get why, but it’s working!)

People always say, “Tell me how I can help.”  I always thank them, and then just leave it.  This time, I’m not going to be able to leave those offers on the table.  I need help, Steven needs help and we’re both past the point keeping up our exclusive club of TWO.

We took a really, really, really HUGE step today.  We signed up for Go Fund Me.  If you think less of us for this, sorry.  But we have donated to countless charities over the years, raised money for all kinds of local needs and generally tried to be good and generous humans.  But the tables have turned.  And we need help.  And what you can do is donate to our mounting medical costs.  We would appreciate it!

CAREGIVER BECOMES THE CARE NEEDER