Weekly Update #63

Last week was a bit of a rollercoaster, luckily ending on a high note. As I have had to increase my levels of painkillers, I have been finding it more difficult to urinate. It’s a relatively common side effect and one that I was handling okay with various breathing and positioning techniques. On Wednesday, however, I realized that the entire day had passed without me ever fully emptying my bladder. I was afraid of getting into a very bad situation, so I called the nurse line at 10:30pm and they recommended going to the ER.

The ER visit ended up being quite an adventure. The doctors there were very worried about the combination of me being unable to empty my bladder plus the new nerve sensations just nearby in my butt cheek. They sent me for an MRI to see if there was a physical problem causing these issues. The MRI came back clear, but it was an excruciating experience. Laying on MRI tables always sets off the pain in my ribs, which tends to radiate around the left side of my body feeling like flames. For the first time ever I had to use my panic button and ask to be let out of the machine early because the pain was simply too much for me to bear for another second. I only had 4 minutes left but I couldn’t do it. I sobbed and maybe had a mini panic attack while walking around so the pain could subside. They gave me some IV morphine and between that and a break I was finally able to finish. After that the doctor agreed to give me a catheter and I thought we were done. He tried to convince me to be admitted so I could see a neurologist and a urologist. He said he didn’t think I needed emergency surgery, which I guess means it had been a concern of his at some point (?) and also that I may have the catheter permanently. I told him I would rather go home and set up the follow-up appointments myself. I was able to get in to see my oncology team that morning and they agreed that they have been keeping an eye on these issues and have a plan and were happy to remove the catheter for me, thank goodness. I spent the rest of the day catching up on rest.

I said that the week ended on a high note, and that is the knitting retreat that I went to on Friday. I was supposed to head over on Thursday but was waylaid by my medical drama. I was so pleased to be cleared to go on Friday morning. It was a weekend at a beautiful resort surrounded by some of the most lovely people. I’ve been going to this retreat for years, usually as a teacher, and have built some wonderful relationships over that time. I got so many tight hugs this year – I was in bad shape when I attended last year and there was so much relief that I am doing better now. It felt really great to be surrounded by that kind of love and affection. I was also really honored that I got to choose one of the charities that the event raised money for – Wonders + Worries, which has provided emotional care for my daughter throughout my illness and is a very special organization. I left feeling so full of love and inspiration and gratitude.

This week I start back up on my oral chemo, so it was really great to fortify myself before I get to the part where I feel worse again. I will have lots of warm memories to surround myself in when I need a pick-me-up this week.

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