Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Doing the twist, but not the running man.

I am not going to sugar-coat this. Round 4 has not been pretty. She started out easy but I was mislead.

 I left the hospital last week feeling a sense of calm and optimism that was indescribable. My typical side effects were minimized, my spirit was in a good place, and I got back on the dance floor.

Things made a turn for the worse on Saturday. I could barely get out of bed without becoming exhausted. I came close to passing out in the shower and then later in the afternoon saw stars while on a three block walk. I had to be driven home by our family friend.

This body of mine was unrecognizable.
Last week I biked 18 miles while on Chemo, and ran 26 the week before.
On Saturday, three blocks, a flight of stairs, and regular self-care was wearing me out.

So what gives?

On Monday my immune system was at an all time low.

.8 WBC
2.76 RBC
8.6  Hemoglobin
.3 Neutraphils

For those of you not in the medical community- this is bad- real bad. I was anemic, neutrapenic, and had no ability to fight off infection. I needed fluids and blood fast.

I wrote my previous blog entry from the first waiting room where I  had my regular blood draw to assess my levels.  I was in a great mood and feeling inspired by those around me. An hour later, I was in another waiting room, but I was no longer kind and generous- I was a hysterical raging bitch.

Cancer/Chemo has a miraculous way of transforming you- I mean this literally and figuratively.

The woman at the front desk didn't realize that I was still waiting to be crossed and checked for blood because I was wearing a mask. She figured I had already been helped.  After 90 minutes of waiting for no reason, I started to lose it.  All of a sudden it became unbearable to sit in that waiting room any longer. My flu like symptoms were intensifying and fear was sinking in. I sat in my chair next to my mom, crying like a baby.

I then realized I was letting fear take hold of me, and I needed to mentally fight back.  I started my deep breathing exercises, inhale for five, exhale for five. I did this for a few minutes and noticed myself calming down.

A few moments later I  was whisked into the back room, placed in a reclining chair, and again- giving blood.

My world revolves around blood.  My life depends on blood. My spirit is connected to my blood.

After my donation, the nurse tried to escort me back into the waiting room for what she said could be a few hours.

A few hours? I have no immune system.  She was knowingly putting me into a war-zone.

In between tears and hiccups, I looked her deep in the eyes and say  "No".

"I refuse to get out of this chair and go back there. I refuse to be put at risk because your staff has messed up. I will not sit in that chair and just wait to get worse. I am not moving- you are going to have to figure this out. And if that means admitting me to the ER than so be it. I refuse to move."

Hello GI Jane.

I am not sure where the strength came from to advocate for myself in that state of mind, but I was fierce. I was also desperate.

Sure enough, they made arrangements for me to stay and 6 hours later I had an anonymous donor's b negative blood which was a match for my b positive.

So today, I am back on the dance floor- sort of.  I am doing more of the twist than the running man, and that is ok.  I am learning to be patient, I am starting to get creative, and I am learning how to push back.

I am still not feeling great, but I am feeling really empowered. While chemo continues to try to rob me of my voice, the past few days I have been screaming at a fever pitch.

Can you hear me?

And if so- will you join me on the dance floor?


  1. Jenna,

    The way you are wrestling with your demons is causing your angels to sing - or perhaps, more appropriately in your case, dance. How you use your pain as fuel and to remind you of your strength is continuously awe-inspiring.

    Your mere personality - in fact everything about you - is so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature and my whole soul, just as it has captured my heart.

    As I continue to follow your blog, as I continue to read, I don't just learn lessons but I actually feel them. Today I truly understand that strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

    I can't repay you for your mentorship or your lessons but, in the spirit of dance, please accept this small token of my appreciation. This is my way of joining you on the dance floor...

    Thank you and I love you.


    Your Anonymous "Facebook Friend" (See March 19th Blog Comments for Further Reference)

  2. Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish that your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round – remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”
    - "Gentleman" Jim Corbett