Monday evening, I busted out of the clinker. LOL 18 days in the slammer was enough! Hospital life can be tough, akin to being in prison I imagine, where everything is scheduled, there is no freedom and you cannot escape. Since this wasn’t been my first incarceration, nor my longest, it really wasn’t that bad.
MD Anderson is a world-class, top-notch facility staffed by incredible people who are carefully screened, not only for skill but compassion. The doctors, nurses, transporters and even food service workers are incredibly sweet and polite. It is wonderful to have care such as this. After 18 days, however, I was ready to bust out! ;)
And it is so good to be back at my friend’s Jenny and Randy’s house, where I can regroup and relax after chemo.
Many folks have had questions as to a timeline of activities. Originally, Jenny and I were at MD Anderson on June 26th for a few appointments of mine. I had fallen at her house while attempting to stand the day before, I could feel that my body was weakening. I suspected the tumor in my T10 was growing, especially since radiation had been abruptly stopped and my steroids, which help to reduce swelling of tumors, had run out. My body just crumpled beneath me. Not a good sign.
On the 26th, we had seen my pulmonologist who had positive news about my lungs. Seemingly, they had improved in the last few months. She also believes that they can continue to improve, which is awesome news, because 1) she is the first doctor to say it’s possible and 2) because I need a Stem Cell Transplant and to go through the procedure, I need healthier lungs than what I have now, or risk damaging them more, which could go very badly.
My next appointment was with my oncologist in the Lymphoma Clinic. Upon reporting the fall at Jenny’s house, and the weakening of my body, I knew they would admit me to the hospital, and that was, indeed, the plan. I was relieved. I knew I needed help.
The wait for a room was very, very long. Eventually, we were sent to a Family Waiting Room where I could be more comfortable and rest in a reclining chair with a warm blankie. All I could do was sleep, another sign my body was heading downhill.
Hours passed, I slept and Jenny spent her time talking with others just outside of the Quiet Room. After some time, I had to use the bathroom. Upon attempting to stand with assistance, my legs gave out from under me and my body, and, for the second time in two days, crumpled to the floor. I thought for sure my right ankle or knee had broken as I heard a crunching sound on the way down. Fortunately, the two falls only caused a sprain and it looks much worse than it is. The picture below was taken yesterday. Today, the swelling has reduced considerably.
Surgery on my spine took place a couple of days later on Saturday, June 28th. In the meantime, the pain from the tumor became more and more excruciating. I was nervous about the surgery but being in the best place in the nation put my mind at ease, especially after meeting and researching the surgeon, Dr. Tatsui. The first time I met him, I was awaiting a scan in another part of the hospital but he tracked me down so he could meet me and explain exactly what the surgery would involve. He informed me that the purpose of the surgery was to relieve pressure on the spine and NOT to remove tumor. The 7 hour surgery was very successful. Because my spine was sandwiched by tumor, Dr. Tatsui had no choice but to remove tumor. This only occurs in 10% of these types of surgeries. Muscles were shifted to overlap and protect my spine, thanks to some talented plastic surgeons. Now, the pain I experience is more discomfort and seriously, compared to the tumor pain, is a breeze!
I spent several days after surgery on the Surgical Rehab floor in an ICU-like setting where plenty of nurses were available to fewer patients. There, on this floor, I had both Occupational and Physical Therapy, to help build strength and to help my re-learn how to do things like stand and get into bed without hurting my back which, for a bit, I cannot bend, twist, etc.
After several days, my good behavior earned me an escape from Surgical Rehab floor to the Lymphoma Floor. Yes, there is an entire floor dedicated to just Lymphoma patients and that’s how MD Anderson is organized. If you ever have some time, check out the MD Anderson website. They offer so Services & Amenities to patients from these organizational things to free wigs in their Beauty & Barber Shop (yes, there’s a salon! LOL), an Integrative Medicine Center to help patients and caregivers learn peace and healing, and so much more.
Tuesday, July 8th chemotherapy began to be administered to me in my posh, 15th floor room outfitted with a pull-out sofa, chairs, desk, armoire. These newly remodeled rooms are beautiful and functional with easy to maneuver laminate floors with plenty of space to navigate with a walker and an IV pole.
After three days of a chemotherapy called Cytoxin, I moved onto a few days of Rituxan. I was very happy to receive the Rituxan, because Peeps, if you recall, this is the treatment that was questioned regarding the damage to my lungs. MD Anderson has determined, once and for all, that it did not. Rituxan is a very powerful chemo medicine so I was happy to finally get the dosages needed to help blast away tumor.
The first bag of Rituxan left me in rough shape. Coughing, mucus, and exhaustion took over my body but worse than that, an extremely high heart rate of 140 bpm and a very low blood pressure. Very low. I was given some time to recuperate from the first bag of Rituxan, my vitals returned to somewhat normal, then the second bag was administered.
A few days of observation, and good toleration of the chemotherapies and finally, after 18 days, I was finally discharged. I could not be happier. Jenny and Randy have opened their home to me, Jenny is an excellent caregiver, their home is beautiful, peaceful and comfortable. The expectation is to stay through my next chemo treatment in a few weeks and go from there.
Until then, I so very appreciate your prayers and support. It means so much to me and, although, I may not be able to respond to everyone, I read each comment and keep them to review when I need a boost.
Fred and the girls are returning to Houston in a few weeks and I am so excited! I miss my little family…
As always, we can use help financially to get us through. Any assistance helps so much and goes so far. If you feel inclined to help, here is the link to use. Go Fund Me for Lisa Lafferty McGill If you can, please feel free to share the link on your social media networks. Much love to all of you, my prayers go out to you as well. xoxo
Go Fund Me for Lisa Lafferty McGill