Sometimes God Really Does Speak…

 

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I focused on BETTER DAYS when I was sick like our wedding anniversary at the North GA Wineries

 

I woke up early Thanksgiving morning and wrote a blog post giving thanks to God for healing me. Later that day I started to feel chilled and crummy.  Really? Really God?

Friday we were supposed to have my husband’s kids and grand kids over to celebrate Thanksgiving; instead I donned a hospital mask and The Hubs and I headed to urgent care.

My heart was on the floor

During the month of October I consistently wore hospital masks when I went out in public to protect myself against the bugs because I have developed immunodeficiency from chemotherapy.

 

Mask

NOT my favorite look

 

Yet despite the precautions I took, there we sat. If this had been an isolated event my spirit would not have been crushed but I have been in and out of hospitals and ER’s for 16 years.

The past few weeks were a blur of blue lips, inhalers, antibiotics, steroids and sleeping with my Bible in my bed. It was incredibly difficult to breathe and I wondered if this was the end of my journey.

My husband, parents and sister’s family poured life giving words over me. I forced myself to press into gratitude for seemingly small things: the soft blanket my sister gave me 2 years ago, the pretty trees outside our window, our dog, our peaceful home, my family’s unconditional love.

One night I threw a magnificent pity party for myself. I sat in our bed with my journal and Bible in my lap, tears streaming down my face and cried out to God. And this time I heard His voice in reply. It was not an audible voice but it was clear and spoke directly to my heart, not the words I would have picked.

I cried something along the woeful lines of “all these years my friends have grown families and careers and the only thing that has been consistent in my life is that I have been sick for 16 years”...

I heard “And I have been there”.

I got quiet because, well I wanted to wallow in pity and what do you say when you hear that truth bomb?

I was like “well yes, but still…”

I heard “And your family has been there” “And you have had shelter”.

I smiled faintly and said, “OK. You win”.

Then I curled up with my Bible and went to sleep.

It was not smooth sailing after that night. In fact the weeks were riddled with complication and heartbreak as I crawled through mud to regain health.

I often think of those words God gave me that night to calm my broken heart. Immunodeficiency with no end in sight does not seem fair and it can feel frightening. But those words were peaceful, true and gentle in the midst of my distress.

My goal was to be well by Christmas and I am happy to say that I will meet that goal. I am also believing big for miracles in 2018.

*For the record — the past 16 years have actually been filled with incredible experiences. Yes illness has been a part of my story, but not all of it.

“Call upon Me in your day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

–Psalm 50:15

 


Healing

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An old Family Photo–We are Currently Healing

When I wrote my last blog post I was crushed in spirit. I received so many kind messages and I have been too worn down to reply to most of them but I want you to know that your prayers and messages carry me. Thank you.

It has been one month since I wrote that post. I can barely remember the days between then and now, though they were long and seemed to stretch eternal.

After the serum sickness, I recoiled and became very small, absent, empty. I grieved in a way that is required of us after life deals too much hurt.

The past 15 years have been harsh, at times brutal. And life has been intense since late November/early December 2014 when my case of leukemia relapsed.

In March my oncologist gave me an IVIG treatment to boost my immune system because it is wiped out from chemotherapy.

When I got the treatment, I was actually in a getting better stage. I had returned to work in January; our dog and I were walking an hour a day. I was joining other women for yoga and even barre workout classes. It seemed like we were finally getting back to life.

I had a wicked reaction to the IVIG called serum sickness which you can read about here. It was a horrific set-back.

I felt like someone pummeled me right when I was coming up for air sending me back under the water, wiped out, weary and having to fight the current again in order to survive.

The physical pain of the serum sickness and chemical meningitis was devastating; the night at the ER which went so wrong left me feeling stripped of dignity.

When my oncologist called me the morning after my ER trip, she explained serum sickness and that I won’t be having IVIG again. I slept feverishly and fitfully for a couple of days; when I woke up her words became clear to me and my heart cracked wide open in sadness.

That time period is now blurry and void of details other than the sting I felt in my heart and the shallow breaths that accompany severe sadness. I remember PBS was running an Anne of Green Gables marathon that Sunday and I watched it, recalling younger years spent with my sister and my college girlfriends during what was an uncomplicated stage of life.

I returned to work and focused on survival. I worked and I slept. I had become severely iron deficient and was scheduled for an iron infusion. The anemia made everything that was already so hard, extremely complicated.

It felt as though I had a blindfold around my eyes and was being shoved through a thorn-filled maze.

It hurt, I was exhausted and I knew that the only way through it was to go through it. I put one foot in front of the other and did not think past the moment.

The Sunday before my iron infusion fatigue draped heavily over me; I simply could not stay awake. It was a sunny day and my husband was working in the yard, I wanted to join him because I longed to spend time with him. I also knew it would be good for me to be in the sun.  He found me in the house with defeat stamped across my face. Tears pooled in my eyes while I told him how badly I wanted to be outside with him.

He chose compassion.

He took my hand and guided me to our bedroom where he wrapped me up in my favorite blanket. He told me to rest, to nap, that I would feel better when I woke up and that he would be right outside.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched him through the window until I fell asleep.

This man, who has never been “sick” who does not understand by experience what it feels like to have your body stop working correctly; this man who is not naturally inclined to extreme patience has been immensely generous and patient and loving towards me. His dreams have also been dashed by my health crisis because it impacts everything from our finances to our ability to socialize to what he has had to witness. He has chosen to love me and to stay committed to me. He breathes words of life into me and treats me gently when he could easily allow resentment to build up toward me. But every day he makes the conscious decision to choose love over resentment. I am amazed. 

When I awoke from my nap that Sunday afternoon, I did not feel better, I felt hopeless. I remember standing in our kitchen wondering if all of my good years are over. Then I shook my head and told myself to “stop”. I reminded myself that God has always provided for me. I literally stood in our kitchen and talked to myself “yes, there have been times when I have been in pain and at times it has been profound, but God has always supplied hospitals and medications for me. There have been horrific moments but there has always been an end to those moments”. “There are places in the world where that type of pain relief and medical rescue does not exist. I am grateful that I live in a place where I have been able to have those rescues”.

I expressed gratitude for my husband and his choice to stay faithful to, and supportive of, me during this time which has seemed ruthless.

In my experience, there are stages that are part of healing and I wish I could skip steps and rush through the painful ones but it does not work that way. We have to go through each stage. It is the only way we heal.

I am not crying or grieving anymore. We are laughing again. I am still working full time and my dog and I are taking our daily, one hour walks. I am stretching it out in yoga.

My heart is not yet light again but we are adding play into our lives now that I am medically stable. I know that the light-heartedness will come in time.

I have been through these stages before; it has just been a while since I had to do it. This is not easy.

I recently heard a song that reminded me of the way that God has been with me over the past 15 years. As hard as they have been, He has peppered them with joyful moments too.

The song is really beautiful. I hope it encourages you too, whatever you may be facing.

 


Complications

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March 9, 2016 IVIG (hopeful)

If you follow me on Instagram or if you are a personal friend then you know that 10 days ago my world imploded. And with the collapse of my health, so went the ground from under us. At least that is how it felt.

It was was ugly, profoundly painful, frightening and sad.

Wednesday, March 9th, I had an infusion called an IVIG treatment. Simply, IVIG is an intravenous method of boosting a patient’s immune system with a mixture of plasma from mass donors.

It works for wonders for many people, several of whom I know.

However, when it goes wrong, it can go very wrong. And that is what happened with me.

I got the treatment because my immune system is severely suppressed. Our immune systems are made up of different types of cells and antibodies. Most people understand that White Blood Cells (WBC) are part of our immune system. In my case, my WBC have not always been reliable because of the leukemia. Now that the leukemia is in remission my WBC count is healthy so that part of my immune system is working well.

Another critical part of our immune system consists of antibodies which fight off infections and viruses. Two of these are Immunoglobulin G (IGG) and Immunoglobulin A (IGA). My IGG level is 386 (normal levels are 694-1618) and my IGA is 36 (normal is 81-463).

That part of my immune system is terribly low and it is why I was unable to fight off the respiratory infection from November through January.

The chemotherapy I take is doing it’s job by keeping leukemia in remission. Unfortunately, it has wiped out my immune system and left me wide open to viruses and infections. For this reason, even though I am back in remission, I usually have to stay at home to avoid germs.

I have been home for the majority of the past 1-1/2 years and I am lonely. You would be too.

One way that people with suppressed IGG levels thrive is by boosting their immune systems through IVIG treatments.

My oncologist was reluctant to try IVIG with me because she was concerned that I would have a severe reaction. However, now that I am in remission from leukemia, I have started to re-enter the community. With my re-entry, I have occasionally had the initial symptoms of respiratory illness again. Recently, when I became symptomatic, my oncologist decided that we needed to try the IVIG.

Going into the procedure I knew that I was at risk for complications because I have a history of migraines.

According to the site nufactor.com, “serious side effects can include acute renal failure, thrombosis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, serum sickness, aseptic meningitis and anaphylaxis. ***The most severe form of IG-related headache comes from aseptic meningitis, and in fact, patients with a history of migraines appear to be more susceptible to aseptic meningitis. Symptoms, which are severe and similar to meningitis, usually begin a few hours after treatment but can occur up to two days later. They can include severe headache, photo sensitivity, chills, nausea, vomiting, fever and painful eye movement***.”

I hoped and prayed that I would not have adverse effects. However, over the past 15+ years I have learned that God’s answers to my prayers are not always the responses I wish for; nor do they typically play out on my timeline.

Frankly, I don’t understand (fade to me crying)…

The morning of my infusion, my oncologist gave me a prescription for pain medication just in case I started to feel poorly. 24 hours later, not only did I feel poorly, I became wicked sick with the severe side effects of serum sickness.

I was working via telepractice and my headache escalated into a pulsating migraine. The pain was so intense that I was unable to formulate thoughts, words or sentences.

I cancelled my last client. I took Imitrex, pain medication, antihistamine, nausea medication. I lay on our bed with my head on ice packs. My lips began to swell, my eyes turned a glassy shade of shade of pink. Light felt like sharp glass causing me to squint and ultimately close my eyes altogether. My body shook with a low grade fever. My were neck and back were immobilized by pain. By the time I realized that this was more than a migraine, the office of my oncologist was closed.

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March 10th (Serum Sickness)

 

When I called the cancer center, the paging operator put me through to the oncologist on call. Gratefully he knew exactly what was happening to me. With a calm and compassionate tone, he directed me to go to the ER where he was working that night. I was to tell the ER staff to page him and he would give them instructions on how to treat me; he would tell them how to make the horrific reaction stop.

My husband drove me to the ER where we stood in a long registration line and were told that there would be a 3-1/2 to 5 hour wait. I was in a 9/10 level of pain.

When you are in that much pain, you don’t care what you look or sound like. Due to my medical history, I have been at that pain level more than once; the response is primal.

I held my head in my hands and sobbed, I rocked back and forth, I prayed nonsensically, I begged for help, I clawed at my hair and at my husband.

Since my chief complaint was severe headache, a nurse did look at me while we were in the registration line; he checked my facial symmetry to rule out signs of a stroke. I begged him to page the oncologist as I had been instructed. He brought me a wheelchair and reminded us that there was a 3-1/2 to 5 hour wait. There was no acknowledgment of my plea for him to page the oncologist.

When we checked in, tears streaming down my face, I asked the woman at the registration desk to please page the oncologist. With no response to my mention of the oncologist, she told us that there was a 3-1/2 to 5 hour wait. My husband wheeled me to a remote corner where I continued to claw and sob and pray and rock. The pain was horrific.

This was not my worst ER experience. I have been through so much worse, specifically with Crohn’s disease. But the fact that I have been through worse does not diminish that what I went through 10 days ago was almost too much to bear and I feel defeated.

Because I have been both a healthcare provider and a patient for the majority of my adult life I am a forgiving patient. The past 20 years have taught me that even under the best circumstances things can go wrong in the hospital; I have been on both sides of that coin. There are things that went very wrong 15 years ago when I got Crohn’s disease, 9 years ago when I got leukemia and last Thursday night when I had a serum sickness reaction to an infusion that could have sent me into shock or death.

From the moment we got to the ER, I followed directions and told all staff we encountered to page the oncologist on call. After telling 5 people, one nurse finally heard me. She was not even my nurse. She was the nurse who had been sent to me after my first nurse could not get my veins to thread around an IV needle. For various reasons veins will blow out, roll and refuse to thread. This is frustrating for nurses as they need to get IV’s into their patients so they can get labs, fluids and medications started. Thursday night, I was dehydrated and my already small veins, which have been scarred from years of IV’s, refused to cooperate for the first nurse.

I have been through all of this so many times over the past 15 years. During some hospitalizations, my veins have been so worn out that I have been reserved for the IV team; their job is to find veins in the most complicated patients. I know what it is like to have a line inserted into my heart because all the other veins just won’t behave adequately anymore.  And I know what it is like to have a nurse in an ER dig through bleeding skin in a search of veins that refuse to thread despite my desperate pleas to stop.

Understandably, my nurse was stressed; it was a long and  hectic night in the ER. But in her pursuit of my veins, I felt like she forgot that there was an actual person attached to the bleeding arms in her hands. Her level of annoyance with my veins with palpable. She finally left the room in what was later described by another staff member as a mess: needles on the counters, blood on my arms and the sheets. I felt stripped of dignity.

Something that is very hard about being a patient is that when your body is not working correctly, when you are the source of frustration, you feel guilty. Regardless of how much pain you are in, you still feel responsible for the stress of everyone around you.

That nurse did however send a more experienced nurse to my bedside who sat calmly with me. The second nurse spoke in a soothing voice. My veins relaxed for her and she threaded one without pointlessly shredding skin. She cleaned the blood that the other nurse had left behind. I told her about the oncologist on call and she expressed anger when she learned that nobody had paged him. She stepped outside the curtain of my ER room and we heard her page the oncologist. Within minutes, he returned her page and she came back to my room with a plan.

That night, I watched my heart-rate escalate from the 60’s through the 70’s, 80’s, into the 90’s and occasionally drop down to the 40’s. While I was not the most complicated patient in the ER, I was in distress. Even though the staff knew that I was having a serious reaction to an infusion and they followed the protocol provided by the oncologist, they continued to speak to me as a migraine patient because I have a history of migraines.

My husband found sheets for me, he stroked my head. He gave me ice chips. He rubbed my neck.

Some relief came late that night when the oncologist’s protocol was put into practice: IV steroids and pain medication. Even with the protocol, I left the ER in a 5/9 level of pain but that was certainly better than a 9/10. More than anything, I was terrified that the medication would wear off and the the 9/10 pain level would return.

The doctor sent me home with a prescription for oral prednisone which I took with antihistamine and pain medication for a few days.

I slept hard the first 2 days after my ER visit. My face was white and swollen. My sleep was fitful and I was drenched in sweat. It was the type of sleep that accompanies the breaking of fever. I remember my phone ringing, texts coming through; everything sounded so far away and I was too exhausted to respond.

When I finally did begin to wake up, my heart cracked wide open in sadness. My oncologist had called me and explained that I had Serum Sickness.

“Serum sickness is a reaction that is similar to an allergy. The immune system reacts to medications that contain proteins used to treat immune conditions. Or it can react to antiserum, the liquid part of blood that contains antibodies given to a person to help protect them against germs or poisonous substances.” –Medline Plus

Serum sickness can cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock, it can cause death. It is a serious complication and I will not be able to have this treatment again.

Everyone has really hard times and I know that my personal tragedy just that: my personal tragedy. I also know that I have got to move forward however I am having a very hard time doing it this time.

Five days after my ER trip I turned 44. This has been a difficult birthday for me. I am trying to make peace with the reality that despite my efforts to be healthy, I have been sick for many of my adult years.

15 years ago I had a profound onset of Crohn’s disease. I remember the hospitalizations and pain and procedures. I remember mustering courage and praying and sleeping with a Bible in my bed.

I was told that I was fortunate because I was getting my “thing” out of the way early; people told me that everyone has a “thing” (crisis) and I was getting mine as a young adult which would leave me with a long and healthy life. I took hope in that. I held onto the idea that there would be years of health ahead of me.

And there have been short bouts of normalcy but for the most part, I have been in a battle for health ever since I got Crohn’s 15 years ago.

And I am tired.

Writing usually helps me sort through my emotions and I typically end my blog posts in gratitude or even with an inspirational thought. But I can’t seem to find it this time. Instead, all I can think to do is to ask you to please pray for me. I am so tired.  Thank you.

 


Trying to Breathe

 

 

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Bronchoscopy January 18, 2016

 

Tears were shed last week. At times, I sounded like a wounded animal and while that is not glamorous, it is real.

I also had moments of brevity and strength and I am proud of myself for those moments; many people would simply not be able to discuss bone marrow transplants and the potential collapse of life as we know it.

I have been extremely sick since early November with antibiotic-resistant bronchitis/pneumonia. In November, I required 4 antibiotics, a breathing treatment and an inhaler to get well. December granted me a brief reprieve from the respiratory infection but I was still fighting for health through the holidays.

On January 2, the respiratory infection came back with a vengeance. It was much worse this time; the antibiotics which worked in November did nothing to clear the January infection. After multiple medication fails, I was placed on a very strong antibiotic, one that clears infections in most people. Even that very strong antibiotic did not do much for me until a steroid pack as well as an inhaler (which also has a steroid) were added.

My past success with immune boosters such as zinc, vitamin C, Oil of Oregano, super-foods, etcetera did not help me.

Last Monday my Oncologist gave me the choice to go to the ER or to her office where she would see me as an emergency work-in.

I have an Awesome Oncologist. She offers a sense of calm even in the worst of situations thus I chose her office, I wanted to see her and hear her peaceful voice. My father drove me to the hospital.

Many vials of blood were drawn so that she could run a myriad of tests. My initial blood-work that was available to her that day perplexed her because other than anemia, my CBC revealed a healthy white blood cell count, red blood cell count, healthy platelets. If the leukemia was back, most likely there would be an abnormality on my CBC. Of course there are much deeper tests to look for leukemia, but from the initial blood-work, it looks like I am still in remission; my chemotherapy is doing it’s job.

My Oncologist decided to send me to a Pulmonologist. She said that she could continue to prescribe antibiotics and chest x-rays but she wanted a lung specialist to look at me.

My father and I went to the waiting room and listened to her receptionist try to make an appointment with one of the lung specialists from the pulmonary group. We learned that their first available appointment was 2 weeks out; my oncologist said something and suddenly I was on their schedule for 8:00 AM the following morning.

Something I have learned over the past 15 years: when you are an emergency case, the doctors will find a slot for you. If they can’t, they will send you to the ER where they will see you and often admit you. We were grateful for the 8:00 AM appointment.

Thankfully, Dad drove me to the appointment with the lung specialist because I only “heard” about 50% of what was said; later my father was able to fill in the blank spaces for my family and me.

We are impressed with the Pulmonologist. He is knowledgeable, skilled, and has an excellent demeanor. He also has the gift of compassion.

There have been so many doctors over the past 15 years. The doctors who have the gift of compassion stand out from the others. It is easy to appreciate a person when they are vibrant, when they have on nice (clean) clothes and look their best but it goes against human nature to express appreciation and respect for a person when they are sick, dressed poorly and completely undone. Compassion is a gift, you can’t teach that to a doctor, they either have it or they don’t.

The Pulmonologist looked at my chest x-ray and the CT scan that was taken last March when I got pneumonia (2 months after being on my new chemotherapy).

He then began to explain something that crushed us. The chemotherapy I take is in a class of drugs which can cause pneumonia.

We had known that. However we thought that it was because it suppressed my immune system. We misunderstood…

I know that I will explain this incorrectly because I still don’t completely understand it. Apparently this drug can cause a chemical pneumonia in which there are little pockets of fluid throughout my lungs caused by a response to the chemotherapy.

My doctor said that the pattern on last March’s CT scan are suggestive of that chemical pneumonia and his concern is further supported by the fact that I did not respond to antibiotics, but did respond to steroids.

If this is the case, I will have to come off of the chemical. In my situation that means that I will have to come off of the chemotherapy that keeps my case of leukemia in remission.

At that point in our conversation, tears spilled over my cheeks and I said, “I would have to have a bone marrow transplant”.

He let me cry. He gave me that dignity. He did not belittle my pain or sadness. In fact, when he went to speak, I saw him swallow his own tears as he steered the conversation in a direction that had order, which is what I needed.

I thought of the many times when I used to work in hospitals and had to deliver hard news to patients and families. I used to watch them crumble and it hurt because, as humans, we share the common thread of understanding pain. I remember swallowing back tears knowing that I had to stay strong so that my patients could look to me for leadership.

My doctor did that for me.

He gave me a few minutes to cry and then gently guided the conversation a few steps away from the transplant topic.

He explained that we will take things 1 step at a time: there would be another chest CT. There would be a bronchoscopy with lung biopsies. The biopsies will reveal what is happening in my lungs. The biopsies will confirm whether or not this is an infection or if it is a response to my chemo.

During the moments in which he explained the next steps, I was able me to gather my emotions.

I nodded my head and verbalized my understanding.

My father said that the doctor made a statement that grabbed his attention. I really don’t remember much of what was said. Apparently the doctor said that his suspicion is that “the reason you have not been getting better is because we have been treating an infection that does not exist”.

We then went back to the potential transplant. At which point I understood that this lung specialist has probably worked with other patients on my chemotherapy, who probably faced my situation. He explained that if I was on a 1st tier drug we would have more options but I am on a 2nd tier and that does not leave many choices.

I took a 1st tier chemotherapy, Gleevec, for years. It kept me in remission for 6-1/2 years. In 2014 my case of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia mutated and I became resistant to Gleevec. I was transitioned to a 2nd tier chemotherapy, Sprycel, in January 2015.

He explained that there is no way to predict which patients will have lung complications with Sprycel and that it can happen at any time; that it happens immediately for some people, it can happen 1 or 2 years after starting the drug for others.

I was half-way present and I had tears in my eyes but I formed cohesive sentences. I am really proud of myself for the way I gathered my thoughts despite the fact that I was hurting so badly. With a quivering lip, I told him the name of the Bone Marrow Transplant Oncologist who worked with me last year. This Pulmonologist has an excellent working relationship with that doctor. I told him that my sister is a 5/6 match which is considered a “Perfect Match” and he lit up with excitement for me.

I know that he was not truly as happy as he portrayed, because in an ideal world a bone marrow transplant would not be part of our discussion. In an ideal world, I would be successful and accomplished, medical bills would not have robbed me of everything I ever worked for, I would have children. In an ideal  world, I would not be sick and I would not know this doctor.

When he left the room, I tried to talk with my father but we were empty and raw and sad.

From my position on the exam table, I looked out the window. It was one of the coldest days we have had this January. I stared at the leafless, lifeless branches on the trees and thought about how I feel like those brittle, lifeless branches. I felt grey.

Last Wednesday my husband and I spent a long night in the ER. My chemo can cause Pulmonary Embolisms in addition to Pleural Effusions and Pneumonia.The doctors spent the night ruling out reasons to explain why my chest pressure and difficulty breathing had switched to chest pain. In the end, we learned that the pain is because my muscles are so sore from all the congestion and coughing I have done since November.

Monday morning I had my bronchoscopy. It was scary; the Pulmonolgist was wonderful. She too has the gift of compassion. They took 11 biopsies from my lungs.

We will get the results next Tuesday the 26th. This week, I have also been getting results from various tests my Oncologist did. I don’t understand some of the results.

Have you ever had pneumonia? Have you ever had bronchitis or even a bad cold? It is a miserable feeling. I have had it for such a long time that I don’t remember the feeling of breathing easily.

I am tired, my family is tired. We are ready for Tuesday’s appointment because we will learn what is happening and then we will learn what our next step is.

Right now, I am savoring each moment that feels good.


A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Eileen Laird — Giveaway!

A Simple Guide To The AIP

I am thrilled to tell you about Eileen Laird’s book, A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. Last year Eileen became a great source of strength and inspiration for me.

For those of you who do not know my story, I am going to provide a brief introduction so that you will understand why and how Eileen was so instrumental in my healing.

I have a history of Crohn’s Disease and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, both of which had been quiet and in remission for years until I grew resistant to the chemotherapy which kept my case of leukemia in remission from 2008-2014.

In January 2015, I was placed on a new chemotherapy drug and my GI tract revolted. Even though I was not having a true Crohn’s flare, my body mimicked the symptoms of a flare. I was horrifically sick.

When I started the AIP in January 2015, my intention was not to go on the Autoimmune Protocol and change my life forever; I was simply looking for a way to tolerate the chemotherapy I needed for a leukemia relapse.

Last winter when faced with questions of whether I would be able to continue on the chemotherapy I needed, I decided to apply the lessons I had learned early in my journey with Crohn’s disease about the use of a healing diet to decrease intestinal inflammation. Obviously I would not be able to remove the main gut irritant, the chemotherapy, but I was hoping that my return to a healing diet would counter the inflammation from the chemotherapy.

As I scoured the internet for recipes, a new diet repeatedly came up in my search, the AIP.  I had heard stories of people following the Paleo diet for Crohn’s and frankly, I had dismissed those claims because I did not know enough about the diet. Last January I was desperate; I decided that I had nothing to lose so I tried it. And it worked.

What I did not expect when I went on the AIP is that my other autoimmune symptoms would disappear. In many ways, last year was a series of pinch-me moments as autoimmune symptoms I had grown to live with slipped away: my body temperature was no longer painfully cold, my joints no longer ached, and autoimmune fevers vanished.

2015 granted me time-out to heal after a setback. During my recovery, I read books and blogs about the Autoimmune Protocol; I immersed myself in the AIP online community.

In my search for education and support, I found Eileen’s website, Phoenix Helix. I learned that Eileen follows the AIP and has reversed her symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis by 95%. When I read her story, I felt encouraged and hopeful that the AIP would be able to help me.

Then I discovered her podcast and I was inspired exponentially. The podcast interviews allowed me to hear people who had, like me, been through terrifying health crises and regained healthy, full lives by eating real foods and following a healing lifestyle. As I listened to the interviews with patients, scientists and doctors, the support for following the AIP mounted in my mind.

Most people don’t have a year to spend researching books and blogs. Truth be told, finding the time to listen to a podcast once a week can be a luxury given life’s demands. Eileen’s book brings the research together for you. She has taken the rich content and important information available on the Autoimmune Protocol and written it in a way that is easy to understand.

The AIP is a big adjustment which is why this book is an invaluable resource. Through her guidebook, Eileen sets her readers up for success.

Eileen explains which foods are on the healing diet and which are omitted; she also explains the reason behind omissions. She provides steps for when and how to reintroduce foods.

Something else that I really like about this book is that Eileen addresses the AIP lifestyle. It is the natural tendency for us to focus on the diet part of AIP but learning to live a healing lifestyle is equally as important in achieving optimal health.

Eileen covers topics such as circadian rhythms and the importance of sleep, stress reduction, overcoming self sabotage, and gentle detoxification. She teaches the reader how to get support, how to survive a flare, how to troubleshoot if you are not getting results. She provides grocery lists and gives extensive links and resources for recipes, continued education, helpful tips, and connection.

Eileen has generously offered to giveaway a copy of her book! This giveaway is open to both US and International entries. 1 book will be given away: if the winner is in the US, you will receive a paperback copy; if the winner is International, you will receive a PDF copy.

The winner will be selected randomly and announced Sunday January 17. If you enter be sure to check your email inbox next Sunday evening to find out who wins this giveaway.

If you do not want to wait and would like to purchase the book, you may do so by clicking here.

Update: This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to our winner, Laura! 

To enter contest (go through the Rafflecopter link below)

***A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol***
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Required:

  1. Check out The Feel Good Days Facebook page (remember to go through the Rafflecopter link located above)

Additional, but not required, ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below this blog post about what aspect of Eileen’s guidebook is specifically appealing to you
  2. Follow The Feel Good Days on Twitter (go through the Rafflecopter link located above)
  3. Tweet The Feel Good Days Giveaway of Eileen’s book (go through the Rafflecopter link located above)

A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol


A Crohn’s Disease Pep Talk (for Newbies or for When You Are Flaring)

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When I was diagnosed with crohn’s disease 14 years ago, everything stopped.

Ironically I was 29 years old, so it was figuratively and literally the end of an era for me. My 20’s had been magical. They were filled with laughter, friends, first love, and the early years of a successful career.

I am so glad that I got to have that decade.

I celebrated my 30th birthday quietly, at my parent’s house. I was living with them while trying to get into remission from a profound onset of crohn’s disease because I was too sick to take care of myself. I remember the night of my 30th birthday. The sky was clear and I could see the stars and I felt…I felt lonely and displaced.

Everyone with crohn’s or colitis has a story. There are people who don’t have horrible cases but a lot of us have some significant heartbreak in our history, even if we look totally “ok” on the outside.

Before I got sick, I left North Carolina (the state which holds my heart) for 2 reasons:

1. I had the opportunity to work as a speech therapist on a unique brain injury unit in Atlanta; as a professional I was excited to have the opportunity because working with patients with brain injury was my professional passion.

2. My family lives in Atlanta, so I thought it would be nice to live near them.

In retrospect, I think that God must have known that my world was going to fall apart and that I would need to be near my family.

1-1/2 years after I moved from the Carolinas to Atlanta, I collapsed at work and was rushed to the hospital where a nurse later found me rocking back and forth in excruciating pain with a fever of 104.7 (F).

The next morning, my GI doctor told me that I had either crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; he said that he was not sure yet but that I had some form of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

I did not understand that with his diagnosis, my life had changed on a dime.

I remember lying in that hospital bed in horrific pain with my family at my side. When he said the words crohns or colitis, I thought “that means I can’t eat corn” because at some point in my life I had known a person who could not eat corn due to one of those conditions. That is how removed I was from the moment. I did not put it together: the reason I was laying in the hospital, in excruciating pain, bleeding form my intestines was because of this new diagnosis.

I was hospitalized for the majority of that summer and into the early fall. I had to be fed through a central line in my heart because I could not eat or drink anything by mouth.

My friends were getting married and having babies and I laid in bed, in a big hospital in Atlanta. I stared out the windows at the magnolia trees which were in bloom.

Social media was not really “a thing” back then; actually cell phones were just starting to be something that everyone had. Thus, there were no blogs for me to read. I did not have Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to distract me.

My days and nights were filled with: an insane amount of pain, lamaze breathing lessons by the nurses to coach me to get through the pain, naps, books, a TV in the corner of the hospital room that played 12 stations. I journaled. I slept with a Bible in my bed and missed my dog. I tried hard to laugh and not cry.

I was very scared and nothing made sense.

In addition to crohns, I also had C-Difficile. The C-Diff was resistant to several rounds of antibiotics. It finally responded to a third round. After it cleared I was left with what the doctors called a “profound onset” of crohn’s disease.

I did what any person would do if he/she was placed in a hospital room with no real social outlet for a prolonged period of time in horrific pain, bleeding from the gut, requiring blood transfusions and being fed through a line in their heart: I examined my life and wondered if I had done something wrong to cause everything to fall apart.

When I was younger, I had an unhealthy relationship with food and often chose “skinny” eating over “healthy” eating. I asked God to forgive me for not taking care of my body, I worked through the process of forgiving myself.

I envisioned days of health returning and I clung to faith that one day I would be able to eat again, that I would live without that horrible pain.

I worked through the feelings that any 29 year old woman goes through when her body goes from being desirable to not working correctly. I felt like damaged goods and like nobody would ever be able to see me as beautiful or desirable again. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think that at one point my weight was down in the 80’s. I remember rumors flying about eating disorders and I remember feeling so sad and hurt by that judgment because I really wanted to be out of pain, I wanted my intestines to stop bleeding and I wanted to be able to eat again.

It is hard to be judged. I had to learn to let go of what everyone was saying or thinking about me.

I was allergic to most of the medications used to treat crohns which meant that I went through allergic reactions and they were scary. They also left me feeling hopeless and concerned that maybe nothing would work.

I remember one particular moment in an ER when I was so incredibly sick. I was in the hospital bed, throwing up and simultaneously passing blood from my intestines. My GI doctor ordered blood transfusions. I then watched him ask my parents if they were willing to let me to fly out of state to one of the country’s top IBD clinics because the Atlanta doctors could not seem to get my case under control. When he asked that question, the look of grief and hopelessness that washed over my parent’s faces penetrated the ER. After they agreed, he said, “I pledge to take care of your daughter and I will”. I was looking at my parents and my doctor from my bed; they still looked sad and serious, but a bit of the grief was relieved with his pledge and at that moment he became a hero to me for helping them.

After that, I was admitted (again) and given blood transfusions but I did not have to fly out of the state. Something changed that time and my body started to calm. I started to get well and it has been a very long road to wellness.

I have always said that if someone who was living well with crohn’s disease had visited me in the hospital, I would have felt so encouraged. There would have been a real person, who was living a full life, for me to look to for tangible hope.

While I can’t be the person to walk into your hospital room, I can tell you that I have spent hours on the floor crawling and screaming in pain unimaginable; I have rushed to the bathroom every 15 minutes only to pass copious amounts of blood from my gut (it is gross and painful). I have had diarrhea so badly that I learned about using Boudreaux’s Butt Paste (by the way, it is totally appropriate to laugh at the name of that, I do, however it works).

When I was 30 and just starting to heal, I went to the grocery store in a nice area of Atlanta and totally lost control of my bowels, in my favorite pair of jeans. #LowPoint (possibly #LOWESTPoint)

I have also

Healed ❤

Dated ❤

Fallen in love with a man who thinks I am beautiful even though he has seen me at my worst ❤

Had a fairy-tale wedding at a winery ❤

Traveled ❤

Spent nights laughing until the sun came up ❤

and

I rarely have trouble with crohn’s anymore ❤

Everyone with IBD is different but this is what has worked for me

  1. I work at maintaining a great relationship with my GI doctor.
  2. If I feel a flare coming on, I call the doctor. I learned this the hard way when I was younger; I used to refuse to call the doctor because I did not want to admit that I was about to flare nor did I want to have to go to the hospital. Since I refused to acknowledge what was happening, I often waited too long, and I became an emergency admission to the hospital. Now I know that if symptoms start and I call the doctor, they can usually call something in. If I take what they call in and rest, the flare can usually be averted.
  3. I take my medications as prescribed. Years ago, I was on high doses of multiple medications but now I am on a very low dose of 1 maintenance medication.
  4. I follow a healing diet. Gut Health is fundamental in healing any illness but especially an illness that involves the GI tract. For years I followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Now I follow the Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo Diet (AIP).
  5. I am involved in support groups so that I don’t feel alone in my walk toward wellness.
  6. I have completely changed my lifestyle over the years to decrease stress. At times, that has meant walking away from relationships and even positions at work that were not healthy for me. Those decisions have not always been easy for me. However, when you find that you are constantly in flare mode or being hospitalized repeatedly, you must evaluate your circumstances and identify sources of stress which can be removed. As much as possible, choose environments that encourage you to feel less stressed, even if that means making choices that other people might not understand.
  7. I have learned to deal with stress in ways that help prevent flares. When I feel overwhelmed, instead of allowing myself to focus on feelings of worry, anxiety, or something I can’t do anything about, I focus on something “fluffy”. When the weight of the world is crashing down on me, I will watch a feel good movie or read a feel good book to help alleviate the stress so that I don’t end up flaring. You must find a way that you can “check-out” of toxic stress.
  8. I take daily walks. See my previous post on exercise and autoimmune disease.
  9. I practice yoga. See my previous post on exercise and autoimmune disease.
  10. I journal: this is a great exercise for getting your emotions outside of yourself (especially those feelings like stress and anxiety which are triggers for flares).
  11. I get good, quality sleep. Sleep is another fundamental key to healing. 
  12. I don’t compare myself to other people.
  13. I practice gratitude: throughout the day, I give thanks for even the smallest blessings.

I also eat amazing foods now, without pain. Here are some pics of what I have been eating lately

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Chicken de Provence

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Filet and sauteed Kale and Grapes

 

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Mexican Hot Chocolate (from Down South Paleo cookbook)

 

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Pancakes from Paleo Down South cookbook

my pumpkin latte

My Pumpkin Spice Latte

Migraine Friendly, Nightshade-Free Potato Salad

Grilled Chicken Thighs with My Migraine Friendly, Nightshade-Free Potato Salad

Friday Funday milkshake

My Friday Funday milkshake

cherry pie based on grazed and enthused bars

Cherry Pie Based on Recipe from Grazed and Enthused Website

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One of my favorite Healing Soup Bowls

 In my experience, the first few years were the hardest because I went from being totally normal to being dreadfully sick. Doctors had to find medications to get my case under control and I had to learn what it meant to live with an autoimmune disease.

It does get better, life does return to “normal” again, and you stop living in constant pain/crisis mode. My best advice: reach out for encouragement and today’s social media world has made that so easy, especially with Instagram and the use of the #.

Just use #Crohns and you will find a community ready to support you ❤


My Personal Take on Blood Cancer Awareness Month

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Sistah and Jessica Bone Marrow Biopsy 7

If you are one of my regular readers than you know that I have a history of chronic mylogenous leukemia (CML) and that I had an unexpected relapse last year when I grew resistant to my chemotherapy.

The posts on this blog dating from late November through April/May and even into June chronicle dark days marked by pain.

Two weeks ago, Hubby and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and we are now embarking on my favorite season, fall.

This is when my health began to unravel last year.

Because last year was cruel and every day seemed to hold exclamation points of tears, fevers, bone pain and blood it is very hard not to be a tiny bit afraid of what lies ahead this year. 

As we note the passing of days, we both find ourselves trying to place events. When I say “I am so glad this is not last year” he will say “you know, you were actually already starting to get sick right now…you were tired…”…and we start to piece the ugly, messy puzzle together.

I see my oncologist this Friday and will get my latest numbers, the markers which indicate whether or not the CML is in remission. I feel well and I believe that I am in remission. However,  there is a nervousness that I think almost anyone would feel given the circumstances.

Last year was hard and scary and I don’t want life to unravel again. It seems like my life has unraveled too many times because of crohn’s and leukemia. I hope that I get a great report on Friday. And I pray that I get great reports for decades to come. 

This month is blood cancer awareness month and this morning I saw a cute parody video that I am going to share below.


Be Well

Be Well Tea

Be Well Tea Bag Inspiration

 

Last Monday I wrote a blog post and unveiled a secret we had been keeping: I seemed to be regressing, we were concerned. I was going on several weeks of sleeping way too much and I was forgetting to eat.

And, we were scared.

It was all very reminiscent of the endless sleep, fatigue and loss of appetite that characterized last year’s leukemia relapse.

As a family, we are still trying to find solid footing after the relapse, so this recent sleeping thing brought back bad memories and emotions for us.

While I slept, my family tried to find excuses for why I was so exhausted, why I was becoming lifeless again.

Last Sunday evening, after I had slept for the majority of 24 hours, my husband and I were sitting on our screened porch, I was pale and trying very hard to keep my eyes open, I wanted to spend time with him, I did not want to sleep.

I looked across the porch and saw him look at me. In a rare moment of vulnerability, he voiced his concerns about what seemed to be my health declining. At which point, my shoulders collapsed and teardrops fell. Between my tears and gasps for air, I told him that I felt so scared, that I hate cancer.

Then my husband did that thing he does where he is strong in the way that I depend on; he assured me that I will be alright, that this sleeping thing is nothing, that I will get to see my niece and nephew get married, that I have a long & healthy life ahead of me. He did that, despite his own concerns, because he knew that I needed someone to tell me that I will be o.k.

The next morning, I opened a tea bag and read a simple, yet powerful, word “renew”.  And the timing of that word seemed to be significant as though God was trying to encourage me.

Throughout that day, I clung tightly to the word renew and it’s definition: “to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again” (Merriam-Webster).

I sent a text message to my family with a picture of my tea bag inspirational word and they replied with smiles and words of affirmation.

I slept for the majority of that day.

Later that evening, when my husband and I were getting ready for bed, we got out the stuff to give me my weekly vitamin B-12 shot.

…and that was when we realized that we have missed a several doses. 

If you are not dependent on B-12 shots, as in you don’t absorb it, then you cannot imagine how utterly exhausted you become when you skip shots.

I used to get them once a month. Now that I am recovering from a leukemia relapse, I get them once a week per order of my oncologist.

Hubby and I looked at the date on the bottle, the doses in the bottle and realized that once we took our vacation, we got off schedule.

And while that probably sounds inexcusable to some of you, it was actually a very simple mistake.

We have lived so strictly since last December; our lives have revolved around getting my medication doses into me at the right time, without me getting sick, trying to get me through a relapse and back to a healthy baseline.

When we went on vacation, part of us just went back to “normal” again. 

Last Monday night, after hubby gave me my B-12 shot, I padded back out to our kitchen where I made another cup of tea. I smiled quietly as I read the message on the tea bag “Be Well”.

I took a picture of my tea bag inspiration and then curled up with my cozy, warm mug of tea.

I inhaled, exhaled and thought that maybe God had just happened to allow that message to cross my path that night as a way of bringing my day to a complete close.

…the day which began with a message of “renew” and ended in “be well”

Tuesday my energy levels increased and I did not need a nap. In fact, I have not needed a nap at all this week and I have been strong enough to walk our dog everyday which (which means I am getting some cardio + vitamin D). 🙂

I feel a thousand percent better than I felt last week and I am no longer sleeping too much. My appetite has also returned.

We will be getting the results of my CML marker tests very soon and I think that they will show that I am still in remission.

It seems like this recent episode was honestly due to my need for B-12.

And I have never been so happy to announce that

we made a mistake,

we forgot to do something.

We are human. 


Lately…

honeymoon

Honeymoon 2009

During my 20’s, if you had told me that a romantic evening would look like me dressed as the Michelin tire man in layers of flannel and fleece, highlighted by (yet another) night at home and (yet another) movie rented, I would have been absolutely terrified of the future that lay ahead.

Thank God, life comes in stages; harsh blows are countered by breezy moments.

Anybody else with me? I am in my early 40’s and suspect that most of my peers have met tragedy by this point be it through loss the of a loved one, marital problems, aching for your child, or your own physical battle. It all hurts, it all takes courage. It all requires so much more from us than we ever imagined life would demand back when we lounged on the beach during PTH (Prime Tanning Hours), reapplied tanning oil (yes, we used tanning oil back then),  flipped through magazines and dreamed of our future lives.

 So last Friday evening when my husband, my layers of fleece, and I stumbled into a romantic evening after months of illness and sadness it was unexpected and looked far from glamorous. But we had a blast. Hubby  grilled filets which I was able to eat and enjoy (without tummy pain). We even lit candles. We talked about the future, about trips we want to take; I daresay that we dreamed and every couple needs to have dreamy conversations.

After supper we watched Gone Girl. Without giving anything away, I will say that I had heard it was a great movie however I did not know the plot. Oh…My…Gosh… please check the plot; it is a story line that will be fine with some people but not with others. If you have seen it, you know exactly why I am saying that.

Throughout the evening, I kept touching my hand to my cheek because my face felt so cool and void of fever. It was the first time that I really “felt better”, like significantly better, in months.

I remember when that happened in 2007, when I was on Gleevec. It was during the middle of the night. I was asleep and must have rolled over or moved and my hand landed on my forehead; I woke up because my forehead felt cool. I did not have a fever. I remember a rush of happiness, and a desire to live; a knowing that the chemo was working. And because I suddenly felt better, I really wanted to live again, I had forgotten how good it felt to be alive…

That is how I felt last weekend.

When you are sick, you forget how good it feels to not hurt, to not be sick. When you start to feel better, you are overwhelmed with the clarity of how badly you have felt and how good it feels to get well.

You want to live again and you realize that you did not know your drive to live had dampened.

 Sunday was a happy day and one that was marked by progress.

It was Superbowl Sunday and I wanted to try and create a festive environment. It was my second time to drive in 6 weeks. My first drive had been to the hospital (which, honestly, was not a fun drive or destination). Sunday’s drive was to Whole Foods. I had not driven to Whole Foods or any happy place since November. The day was peppered with defining moments of re-entry into life.

 I posted a picture of myself (a “selfie”) on Facebook and Instagram . The picture triggered (of course) different responses. And that is ok, I put it out there.

For the most part, my friends rallied and recognized that I am trying to figure out how to re-join life after a dark time. I did get messages concerning my weight. And yes, I am eating.

I actually look so much better than I have looked. Over the past few months, I have given you glimpses into our lives through my blog. However, privately it has been so much worse.

I lost almost 20 pounds in 6 weeks and I did not need to lose weight to begin with. That is what a chron’s flare, leukemia and a new chemotherapy will do to you. I look pretty beat up and I am fully aware of it, but I am starting to look alive again, and that is so exciting.

getting better

Not the best…but getting better…

There was one moment at Whole Foods which threatened to burst my happy bubble. A young child reached for me and gleefully yelled “Grand-mommy!” (yes, you can laugh).  His parents looked mortified and I looked confused. Then his mother told him that just because I look like his grandmother, he can’t call me that because he does not know me.

The part that made my heart sting: his parents were, at most, 7 years younger than I am. It was an abrupt reminder of the brutal beating that illness and treatment have taken on me recently.

In honesty, I wanted to get out of the store, get back to the safety of my home. I wanted to cry and I felt silly for going out in public looking so beaten down.

But it was a feel good day and I did not want it to stop. So I smiled, swallowed hard and decided that I absolutely would not allow that moment to crush my spirit.

When I got home, I cooked some AIP (autoimmune paleo) chicken wings and sweet potato fries. The recipe was easy to follow, yummy and I love to cook, which meant that my feel good day was ending on a stellar note. After cooking, I pretty much collapsed and went to bed early. But hey! I did a lot, and I felt alive.

This week was rough. Especially Tuesday and Wednesday. Ironically, Tuesday morning one of my friends asked me how I am doing to which I responded that I am 75% back; that day turned out to be the hardest day I have had in a while.

Once again: I was reminded that healing is a slow progression from “bad” days to “good” days with the goal of more positive days than negative. And I am getting there, but it really is baby steps.

“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it” — Tori Amos


Optimism and Realism…

optimist realist glass

photo credits google images

Finally! Another Feel Good Day.

I woke up at 5:45 this morning feeling well, no pain, no shivering, no fever.

Yesterday I estimated that for every 2 good days, I was averaging 3 bad days which is laughable because it is far from true.

Typical for my nature, I was being overly optimistic and not realistic. There are great qualities that come with an optimistic nature, however the problems which accompany that optimism directly correlate with the optimist’s tendency to overshoot in ambition what can actually be done. And though I have not had a professional tell me that this as a fact, my 42 years of repeated life lessons are making it pretty clear. I overshoot and end up setting myself and others up for disappointment (now there is a topic to dissect with a therapist!)…

Realism and optimism, neither is wrong or right. A good balance is important and I have such a hard time finding that balance.

Looking through recent text messages sent back and forth between my immediate family, I can see that I had 2 good days last week: Tuesday and Wednesday.

I remember my husband saying “wow, you seem to be doing so well, you seem…”….I finished his sentence…”almost like a normal person”.

That was Wednesday evening after I had managed to cook supper. I love to cook which meant the evening was a treat for both of us as I felt happy and creative, plus we had something delicious to eat. Bonus, the house smelled yummy.

It was reminiscent of the thousands of evenings we have taken for granted.

Then, I overstepped my strength. I watched Downton Abbey.

 It was ~ 8:00 PM and I decided to watch the episode we had recorded the previous Sunday. I was so tired that I was starting to get that shivery feverish feeling and I remember thinking,” I should stop, I should call it a night, I should go to sleep”. But it was only 8:00 and I really wanted to see what Lady Mary, Lady Edith, Tom, Lord Crawley and The Countess of Grantham, as well as their dog Isis were up to–side note, has anyone else noticed that the cast has conveniently not “called” the dog’s name out loud during this season? Apparently, the adorable pup has had a pretty tough run lately because of his name, poor thing….

I digress…

…So, I decided to curl up on the couch and assured myself that it would not wear me out to lay there and mindlessly watch one episode. About 45 minutes later my husband had to help me get to bed and although he was not carrying me, he was doing most of the heavy lifting. When we reached the bedside, he kissed my forehead and said “sweetheart, why didn’t you go to bed earlier? you can’t push yourself like this.”

to which I replied “it felt so good to do normal things”.

That was followed by 5 days of sleep, sadness, shivering, fevers, pain, and what felt in every way like I was stepping backwards, not forwards.

Yesterday was the sickest I had been over the series of the 5 days. And it broke me, it burst my optimistic spirit. It shoved realism in my face and forced me to confront the thought that I have not allowed to cross my mind, “what will the oncologist say tomorrow?”. We are counting and betting on the simple, explanation “the leukemia grew resistant to Gleevec, you are now on a new and better chemotherapy and we will keep following you, have a nice day”.

But in the very back of my mind, especially on a day like yesterday, the question lurks, what exactly is going on?

I recently asked my husband what we will do if the oncologist has more to tell us than the simple explanation and hubby said, “that is why I will be with you”.

My husband is a realist and I am an optimist. I am finding the journey of life, the people we partner up with and the lessons we learn from one another to be, frankly, ironic. Ironic in a very good kind of way.

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Christmas Day 2011.