I was a much more willing patient this time around. The first time I was hospitalized I really did not want to be there. I missed my system of wellness that I had at home. This time, however, I entered the hospital with all of the tricks that I had learned the first time, plus an appreciation for not being at home. That is, at home I incur a lot of incidental activity, such as climbing stairs and playing with the girls, that when I am super sick are perhaps better avoided in order to maximize rest and recovery. Regarding hospital tricks, these include ordering food before you are hungry, ordering Tums before you have heartburn, and requesting bathing supplies before you actually want to shower. I found this level of premeditation to be exhausting and frustrating the first time around, but I managed the system better this time and therefore suffered less.
Another bonus about this hospitalization is that Dr. O decided to give me a dose of blood products, specifically Red Blood Cells. I love blood products! To steal words from my friend M, it is truly my Go Juice. I feel significantly better today than I did on this day three weeks ago (that is, on the equivalent day of my last hard chemo cycle, get what I mean?). Everything is less--less dizziness, less nausea, less fatigue. It's all thanks to someone else's Red Blood Cells, hard at work in my body. I am grateful.
This is a good opportunity for a public service announcement, encouraging you to consider blood donation. I have donated blood in three different states, reaching the 1-gallon mark in one state, but I will never again be allowed to donate blood because of the whole cancer thing. Blood donation is an easy thing for a healthy person to do, and it makes a huge difference in the lives of the unwell. Please contact the Red Cross for blood donation information in your area. Thank you to all of the blood donors out there, including all of my parents!
The only way to end this post is by expressing my excitement at finally being on the good side of the third and FINAL round of FEC (5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide). Recovering from this drug combination has been the hardest thing I've ever done--harder than my first cancer fight, two natural childbirths, writing a PhD thesis, and commuting in rushhour traffic as a 15-year-old COMBINED. I feel positively ELATED. I don't even care that I still have three more rounds of hard chemo to go (taxotere, herceptin, and pertuzumab--the taxotere makes it "hard"). It will be so much easier. The worst is behind me.
If the worst is behind me, then I have reached the summit. My brother's friend J made a movie for me on this subject. J is a mountain climber. He and my brother climbed Mount Rainier last month, and J was inspired to make this movie for me. It includes footage from some of his other Rainier climbs. The photo at the end is of my brother and I when we hiked around Rainier in August of 2010 (note the change in verb from "climb" to "hike"--my feet did not touch the mountain proper). The beauty of this 1-minute, 20-second movie jerks my tears every time, so don't say I didn't warn you.