The baby is doing well. We heard his heartbeat strong and fast at the midwives. Hearing that sound, Ben and I shared a look that I will never forget. It was the best news I’ve had since this whole thing began.
Knowing how the chemo has effected me this past week, I keep wondering how much is getting to him and how it is effecting him. But his heartbeat is strong. His is doing alright. And I am so grateful.
This past week has been a haze of bouts of extreme fatigue, nausea and headaches. When I’m “under” the effects of the chemo it feels as though someone sedated me. It’s hard to come out of that fog or feel really “present.” I’ve slept several hours every day. I am so grateful for the many wonderful people who helped with the children. I miss being myself around them. But, it’s supposed to get better from here. Until two weeks from now, when they do it again. But it makes me treasure the moments I do feel good and recognize what a gift each day is.
Monday, July 14, 2014
(Also known as “red death”)
Day five since chemo. It hits me in waves. Sometimes I feel pretty good, then “wham!” it hits me and its like someone sedated me. I feel drugged. Exhausted. Unable to keep my eyes open. I’ve slept four to six hours every day since receiving treatment. That’s in addition to sleeping eight to nine at night. I couldn’t do this without the amazing amount of help I’ve received from good friends as well as Ben.
The nurse administering the chemo told us that the heart has a limit to the amount of adriamycin it can handle across a lifetime, this he told us as he’s pushing the red liquid into my IV.
“How much can it withstand?” Ben asked.
“That’s right. This is number one for you.”
If I had nine more after that one, I’d be dead. End of story. From heart failure. I’m scheduled to receive four doses during pregnancy. I’m not sure how many more after the baby is born.
“That’s why we did the echo cardiogram to monitor your heart,” the nurse explained. “We want to be very certain of the effects it is having upon it.”
Chemo is an amazing science. Given enough, it will eventually kill you. Give just the right amount, and it will target the cancer, killing it and all the other rapidly dividing cells in the body first.
But I’ve just received one of nine doses of the drug that is powerful enough to stop my heart once the limit is reached.
So what did I do today? I ran. I needed to feel my heart pounding, healthy and strong despite the slight pull of the drugs I can feel on it. Three months ago I ran a half marathon. I never worried about the strength of my heart then. But now, look what I’ve done to it.
My friend picked the kids up. They will be gone all day, so I decided to take an hour and run to the end of our drive and up a mountain trail through the forest to a nice overlook. I had to stop and walk the hills more than I wanted to. But the words of this poem played around in my head:
I run because I need to know this heart is mine,
Kill the cancer.
You can’t have me.
But the drugs are there behind each breath,
Pounding in my temples,
Leaving a briny taste in my mouth,
That mixes with the salt of my sweat.
There is life around me,
Beauty, stillness and quiet,
A sacred grove,
Sunlight hits my cheek,
Wind blows my hair,
Yes, I have one week of hair-life left,
Birds call, and crickets chirp,
The air is humid from the storm the night before,
The forest smells sweet,
Of pine and damp earth and leaves,
A bull snake bathes on the road,
He is rigid as a rod as I pass,
As if I am something to fear,
My heart pounds,
I feel the impact in my hips,
My ankles and knees,
These shoes have gone many miles with me,
But none like this.
The fog over my mind doesn’t lift,
But it doesn’t consume me,
Underneath it I feel a sense,
That despite it all,
I’m still me.
I reach the overlook,
A green valley bathed in morning light,
Stretches like a sea before me,
But suddenly, I can’t see it,
My eyes are swimming with tears,
I was thinking of Joseph,
My four year old son so full of joy,
Will I know him years from now?
Will I watch him grow?
Will he know who I am?
Have I done enough to show him truth in lies?
Will he cling to the Savior as I do now?
Will I see him struggle and succeed?
The blue and cream clouds above,
Remind me of the place,
I do not want to watch from.
I chastise myself for the unexpected thoughts,
Don’t think like that,
Stay focused on being well,
“90% of the battle is staying positive,”
“I’m not going to die.”
But what if He does call me home?
What if, after it all,
That is what happens?
Am I prepared?
I push the traitor tears from my face,
My hand rests on the slight bulge of my abdomen,
The life growing within.
Just then, in the distance,
An eagle cries.
The sound of freedom,
How can it not make a heart rise?
Liberation, beauty and choice,
All echo within the sound.
I want freedom.
But the prison is inside me.
One hand on my heart,
One hand on my stomach,
Inside there is death,
But inside, there is also life.
I run because I need to know this life is mine,
Even if it is just a moment,
Kill the cancer.
You can’t have me.