So I’m doing it…I’m finally starting this blog thing (Your welcome Aunt Barbara!). I’m hopeful that I can give a little more insight to what this crazy cancer journey looks like, and give you more knowledge about how I’m doing physically and mentally. I’m going to do my best to make it informative, fun and real. Thank you for even taking the time to visit my blog…let alone read it. You might wonder why I’m starting this now or what took me so long? In June of this year I will be three years into my diagnosis, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that were all on our own journey/path, and none of our pathways look alike. I’ve learned to listen to my needs and be patient with myself. It’s pretty sad that most of us don’t even consider self-love or self-care until were diagnosed with a serious illness. Our society often makes us feel “self-ish” for doing something for ourselves. That’s obviously a big reason that Jill’s Hope even began in March of this year. Were trying to help others become their best selves during a seemingly trying time. With that being said, let’s talk about yesterday morning and the Wicked Witch of the East!
Yesterday I had a PET scan appointment at St. Lukes downtown. It’s not my first rodeo with a PET scan or with the nurses administering it, but it had been a while since I’ve had one at St. Lukes. They took me back to the same room I sat in over a year ago and sat me in the same chair. I truly don’t get too worked up about PET scans any more, and they mentally don’t drive me crazy. I don’t take any type of valium or anything to take the “edge off” because I just don’t need it. But after sitting alone in this room for twenty minutes, with the TV blaring something hateful about politics, and what sounded like a dentist drilling into a T-Rex’s mouth on the other side of the wall, I was starting to think I was going to need some help (like a straight jacket). When Trent came into the room and immediately turned down the television while apologizing for my wait, I asked him if this was my preparation for the 25 minutes in the PET scan to make it seem like a piece of cake. He smiled and said, “I know, this is not the ideal situation is it? I’m very sorry, but your right the PET scan is going to be a breeze”.
He went on to ask me which arm I wanted my IV in. Before I could even answer, he said I see a good vein in your right hand. I explained to him that unfortunately, I have to get my IV’s in my foot (it’s ok to pass out right here). I told him how many lymph nodes I’ve had removed and on one of my previous PET scans they used my right arm and I had a lymphatic reaction where my wrist began to swell. Fortunately, we were able to get it under control, because lymphedema is not something I want to add to my list of issues. So…in the foot it is!!!! He went to work on prepping my foot for the IV. You could actually see his excitement. He said, “I haven’t got to put a needle in someone’s foot for a long time. Ok, I need you to really relax your foot”. Of course, I’m thinking…uh-huh and I wish it wasn’t my foot you were putting a needle into, and why don’t you come sit here and try relaxing your foot. At this point I’m still able to look at him and my foot. He says, “Ok, really I need you to relax your foot”. I look him straight in the eyes and say, “That is my relaxed foot”. We both just kind of look at one another and know that this isn’t going to be good, as I begin to pull my sweatshirt hoodie over my face.
This might be where I add in the fact that I wore the most awful socks to this appointment. I actually apologized to Trent, my nurse, as I was taking off my right shoe. He laughed and said that they reminded him of the Wicked Witch of the East on The Wizard of Oz. So we were laughing, but only briefly. His first attempt to hit a vein was an epic fail. I mean EPIC in the sense that I actually cried. I bawled like a baby all while covering my face in my hoodie. What probably took 1 minute felt like 20. I know at one point he called a nurse in because when it was over I was holding her hand and apologizing for being a wuss. I do remember her saying in the middle of it, “Your ok, it’s probably just an accumulation of everything”. I remember crying harder after she said that. As if, by her saying that I had been granted permission to cry…so that’s what I did. Poor Trent, who was so excited about getting to poke someone’s foot versus a forearm or hand, now felt awful.
Once they have injected you with the a substance that is like sugar water, you have to sit for 45 minutes to see let the cancer cells light up like a Christmas tree. During that time you get to do very little outside of thinking or playing Candy Crush on your phone. I try to divide my time up evenly between the two. After my 45 mins. is up Trent has to escort me to the table. I make sure to let him know that I’m fine and how out of character that is for me. I honestly think he felt worse than I did. PET scans aren’t like MRI’s; you don’t lie there and hear all the banging and clanging. With about 5 minutes left, I hear the female nurse’s voice (the lady that held my hand) over the intercom, “Jill, your doing great. Were almost done.” Shortly after that I feel a tear run down my left cheek. I feel myself become so uncomfortable because all I want to do is wipe it away, but I CANT move. Then I play the mind over matter game with myself, and I hear Jesus say, “I wanted you to know that you are loved and your tear was just my way of kissing your cheek”. Of course, that makes me smile and then I feel another tear run down my right cheek. And sure enough I hear him say, “Well, you didn’t just think I was going to kiss one cheek, now did you?”. Seriously, I do love Jesus.
PET scan is over, but here is where the magic happens (although Jesus kisses are pretty magical too)!! Trent comes into help me get out/off of the machine. He has to push a bunch of buttons to move me out and down. After he moves the table out I tell him he gave me an idea for a Facebook post. I ask him if he will move the table back in with me on it, so that only my legs are showing. As he is looking at me like this girl is crazy, I tell him about Jill’s Hope and what a kick my friends and family will get out of this picture. I said I want to recreate the scene from Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the East legs are hanging out from under the house that has landed on top of her. He starts laughing and eagerly takes my phone. He maneuvers me back into the machine and I can hear him laughing as he takes the photo. He goes on to ask me about the foundation and is totally enthralled with it. He then says, “My dad has lung cancer and I think he would really benefit if I got him involved with Jill’s Hope”. With a twinkle in my eye, a smirk on my face, and my Wicked Witch socks on, I give him my card and say, “We would love the chance to work with your father”. It really is amazing how God works through us if were open to it. So what could have been a bad experience became a amazing one. Trent and I are now friends, hopefully I will meet his father, and next time I go in for a PET scan I’m going to relax my damn foot and let Jesus kiss me! Is your glass half empty or half full? Our experiences are what we make them. Love you always and forever!