Six Years of Metastatic Breast Cancer & My Path

We hold so few of cards in that feared hand one’s dealt along with the diagnosis of any terminal cancer. As an adult we know too much of life by then to live outside of fear. We know far more about the losing hands to come at the cancer gambling table. Unforgettable emotions of diagnosis day never leave any of us the same. No one can conceive of the sentence handed down from an unseen place. The room becomes a blank echo chamber.

We cannot believe our bad luck nor even that the cancer itself somehow grew without us knowing. And no one can really explain it to us. No doctors. Not anyone we loved, not our friends, husbands or wives, mothers and fathers, spiritual guides. Not even god. Nothing those cards we sat holding that day in an office or on a bed in a hospital.

Or at home over the phone if a physician, or anyone in power at that time had they chosen such a cowardly way to end our lives. Just in as long as it took it hear the words we never thought we’d hear – cancer – we disintegrate. In one two-syllable word we change. Quite explicably yet into someone the same but very, very different – suddenly we know we’re dying although death escorted us to that moment in time all along.

Just as suddenly as that change, our gravity which once held the planets in our orbits releases everything we ever knew or held dear. People, faith, hope, love, plans, dreams all go flying away into the universe. Some never to be seen again.

We fall out of life’s great circle, kindu of like when poor little Pluto, downgraded from its original life as planet. I wonder how it took the news. Maybe it always knew it felt different from the other eight planets. Just a small sun orbiting satellite. We don’t really talk at all about it on earth anymore. It’s status shifted.

The Great Wait

After diagnosis I recall the eternity as I waited for the word “go.” The lack of immediate reactions became ludicrously too much to bear. Did these people not know I would die soon? I didn’t have all day or any time at all to wait anymore.

We metaphorically cut out our hearts and hold in our hands to show anyone who might say, “yes, it’s still beating, I see it. I see you.” Now we’re invisible as human beings as we begin the ending of our lives as a “patient.” We become a case. An invalid – so apropos. A disabled person. Some no longer able to work due to the cures. Not necessarily the cancer in all cases.

But patient means several things – it’s the sick and the ill to be sure. But the patience we’re asked to compose ourselves with as the unflinching and resilient ones. The indefatigable and persistent self-advocates who “fight” and then “lose the battle” to the disease. Is it the disease really that kills us all or the burning, poisoning and cutting we must endure? A patient endures. I prefer my friend Rudy’s endured to survivor (we don’t) or fighter (presumes a loser) or a warrior (again we lose a battle to an invisible enemy.

The enemy within us of our own cellular matter gone haywire. Some with genetic mutations, most – over 94% without any explanation. But we spend precious time seeking out a reason for all this. The physicians seek it out for us. They report back generally a status to us of where the cancer is, how it’s progressed. We hope for the disease to show no evidence of itself for a while but in general the scans tell a story of a different kind.

Living scan to scan with anxiety over what the future will hold in the result to be read to us by an oncologist or radiologist or read on our own. As my friend Victoria a long- term unicorn nearing 20 years of enduring metastatic breast cancer likes to quip with her fast wit: unremarkable and stable. That’s like the weather.

We hope there’s no storms brewing somewhere we cannot see yet. But the earth already moved under our feet so many times those losing poker hands don’t phase us much anymore. We save the tears for when we’re not at the table.

Your lips are moving but I can’t what you’re saying…

We leave our reading, or reporting, of the diagnosis without an idea of our real prognosis.

The elephant the room is the question, “how long do I have to live.”

We run home to Dr Google and find out what our general prognosis is – but we dare not look too long. That number of years cannot possibly apply to us. We have plans.

Some of us have surgery to allow the insertion of a port. A strange appliance that’s likely going to be in us until something drastic changes. Change as is very bad or really good. Nothing in between. The port becomes our Purple Heart.

It’s a three pronged plug in our chests that allows things to be put inside of us and take blood out of us for lab tests. It saves us from the living hell of becoming a pin cushion looking much like a junkie.

If we hadn’t known anything about cancer before we receive a stage 4 diagnosis we are known as de novo (from the beginning). No early stage cancer that we were diagnosed with before, we don’t have a clue as to what really is to befall us.

I couldn’t expect to live longer than six months maximum.

The Great Negotiator

When I found out and returned home form a week in the hospital – I reached into the virtual stream of information looking for more than just data on prognosis. I did not believe that 2.6 year average belonged to me. The physicians at the hospital said I should go and prepare my affairs.

Half joking I responded with, “I don’t have time for dying right now I’m too busy.” And I realize only now I was going through negotiation. It’s a recurrent phase most terminal patients go into at the time of their diagnosis settling into their cognition.

I’ll leave the boring details to five years of blog posts. The status of the day is pretty scary. Now my metastatic breast cancer awakened itself like the ugly blood born vampire it’s proven to me it can when it wants. Now again like three times beforehand, I’ve shown a proliferation of liver mets. Only this time it’s slightly different. The Mets and several other problems were caused by a cure itself.The radiation I so feared would cause me more harm than good, did. So now there’s a choice. I’m hesitant to “waste” life extending meds like Piqray and Aromasin . I began those this week on the same day I had another five liters of ascites fluid drained from my abdomen.

Neatly, I have a little mutation located by oncologist number four. I won’t count the first oncologist who informed me of important things through a nurse practitioner. She left me feeling frightened and uninformed, alone and afraid. Not good enough to sit and blankly stare at her computer screen while I assumed she was hearing my questions and get back to me. But she hoped I suppose I’d forget. Never feigning to take a note or respond with a promise to get back to me. She lasted about three months. I asked for a second opinion, and she got knsukted and I felt guilty for asking.

It’s the PIK3CA mutation.

Carried to me by my father from my grandmother, who died in 1969 from metastatic breast cancer. She was born in 1903. Graduated high school in 1921. Was a hat model and my grandparents were very much in love, pictures of them dressed to the nines at the clubs in Harlem and the Borscht Belt shows of the Catskills, in New York City, in Miami Beach. She smiled, she dressed so beautifully. She was tall and interesting, and she loved me ever so much, the daughter she never had. She nearly died in childbirth with my father and his lost twin brother, after countless miscarriages.

Unicorn
The Unicorn- an MBC endurer who has lived past the statistical data currently available and continues to thrive on the medications currently available to extend our lives.

This past month I had a forced break to take my a Covid vaccine. That break created a perfect storm of timing to do so. I’ll be as good as it gets in terms of my blood cell count and my metabolic panel. I’ll be as healthy as I can to handle what may come. Attempting to line up some level of support proves difficult.

However, as always, we know in our hearts what will work for us. I don’t believe coming to cancer with a severance of mind and body is necessarily our best platform for optimal healing. It’s one and the same thing.

I wonder if there’s any magic to become a unicorn. Something mythical and magical, a thing that’s studied, watched. Captured by its own special aura. The colorful rainbow of light protruding from its head. What could I do to get my horn?

Separating my mind from my body can’t work regardless of over six years with metastatic cancer. I’m not depressed, nor am I falling to pieces, although there’s nights I cry so hard from sheer loneliness, I could wring myself out like a dish towel in my kitchen itself bleached, dirty, and once was brand new until it got its demotion from status of the bathroom to wiping grease from the stove.

Yet I can not say it all began that way six years ago Thursday. It’s through learning what our body’s needs are and responding to those with our minds focused on the healing of our bodies when we can achieve the maximum possible results at that time. Perhaps as we go along the cures worse than the disease. I don’t know. So much is a big question and a level of risk goes with every card hand we’re dealt.

That’s okay too. We all face a lot of uncertainty. Additionally in these times of so much isolation and perhaps even not seeing as much of our health care teams as we had become accustomed, it’s crazy to think they even know us well anymore.

Seeing us for an hour every eight weeks certainly is not quite enough – after a chart review, perhaps a bloodwork result or a scan result to go by or if your oncologist believes in cancer numbers then those too, but I honestly believe had we waited to see if the bone met shrunk with the Verzenio which did nothing for me close to ibrance and fulvestrant but that’s another story as to how that got screwed up by insurance company bullshit and a missed fax to Pfizer by a nurse practitioner I’d not have nearly died in early 2019.

Whatever comes comes at this point six years in just now finding out I have the PIK3CA mutation because my new oncologist asked for a review given 40% of lobular MBC patients have that mutation. I am immediately dumbstruck as to how Stanford missed it and how Foundation One missed it and how the heck the genetics counselors missed it.

I’m scratching my head but maybe all things in time. I have hope at my side, my cat curled up on my lap, my husband ignoring me downstairs and a world of people who love and care about me. There’s a beautiful house I am blessed to live in sheltering me. Blessed to complain about deciding what I will make for dinner when I’m fortunate to have a dinner to make. And I count my blessings for they are many and I’m aware of the hardship so many other people face I must live a life of service when I am able to.

I hope you will find more reasons to come by in year seven. Let’s see if I keep beating the house. Because we all know in gambling and in metastatic cancer the house will always win.

And for all of you who support my habit of writhing poetry heeere’s another one. Thank you for indulging me.

Return to Sender
Characteristics measure as weather such
Driving risk factors
But too late now to turn back.
And where your next paycheck comes from or
you’re going to get the food you need to eat?
The luxury of wanting to explore the world
Comes as a consequence
Of knowing there’s more
Out there than just us.
The injustice of beginning to know:
We residents of history
Never addressed or linked together and in the end
we realized that we could actually
Find just the characteristics of right now in this moment
For it’s all we have
That, and our breath.
I don’t know if it’s enough of an argument for
Transcending simply with my own air to help
Me float by
With a simple meditative fix.
A plane perhaps but by breath
I’m beginning to wonder
If it’s a hoax or too complex.
With so many risks
Such factors - what did you decide to notice?
To hug chemicals regardless of history’s exposures
Or enter into a race so to predict
The depth of pockets of children picked to share characteristics
Just like the ones who are real that’s one reason why
The individual impossibility of me
Having been exposed to intervene or change the outcome
Yet I know my kind of density.
People often talk about it as if it’s what changes as
A response to differences in stress.
Do you remember how many we saw yesterday
wondering whether we have enough information we think we do of
The particular and of the extreme
Yet it’s not like we had to ask.
Questions like who is significantly greater our daughters or
Our grandmothers?
Take the injustice of abandonment.
Beginning to uncover pots of stews
Cut up cubes of meat and potato bright carrots and dulled parsnips
Cut into pieces meant to intervene that create need out of want?
Yet it might give us some real information about why systemic and historical vantage points
In the end in our control, our personality changes
The how we and the science
Of who we are now
acceptable or whether to bet
The risk of results for
Telling out to the world
for hope for exposure?
Our right
in these hard days to argue against
Conversations
and the social networks of
women are stark as anything
Growing up to be a silver bullet and to provide important priorities of what we might do to stop this now
and be sure it’s
Done.

I’m Finally Vaccinated, Let’s Go Out Today!

You’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and you must ask yourself the following question: what would you do differently in your life or change about your life so If any week might be your last you’d be happy with it or at the very least okay with that week?

I asked my husband this very question. To which he reacted with a sense of injustice. “That’s not a fair question.”

I don’t agree. No, every day isn’t a great day…that much is true.

Here’s a snippet of an argument:

Unappreciative ass

Harsh realities too bad

I’m having a lot of trouble with this, hon, can’t we just talk?

You’re in no position to just talk. You’re not supporting us.

He needs to be on stronger depression medications just to simply be around me

I’m getting worse to be around

But I am great to be away from yet he wouldn’t be with me if I weren’t sick.

He can’t stand to be around me, lately.

And has no idea why I’m even with him.

But…We get along. Seriously.

Foundations

However, built upon the foundation of modern western culture insure to that. Due to no fault of our own all of us were born into a time of rampant materialism. Noting we buy delivers on its promise of satisfaction. There’s the cliché small print that spells out a guarantee of no satisfaction. What it does guarantee: you’ll never see any money back should anything go awry. A broken warranty means simply using the product breaks the rules.

I’m broken. He cannot return me to a store, although I suppose he could leave me. But what a mess. And I still take care it so much for him, he cries occasionally: what will I do without you! Meaning -my cooking, my housekeeping, my all embracing hugs, my laundry prowess.

A manufacturer’s guarantee is akin to cancer in some ways. By living in our bodies with the environment at a time of great threat to its mere existence, we are swimming in chemicals and stress and we’ve not evolved to handle it nor should we.Read this article from Commonweal regarding reduction of chemicals in our environment.

Susceptible to Infections

The point I’m trying to get across is that by merely living in a physical body we are very highly susceptible to illness and specifically cancer. The warranty on our physical body while living in the post industrial, sedentary, sugar infused world with melting ice caps and chemicals in our air, water, and food there’s no guarantee of any kind.

With that in mind, ask yourself what would you do differently if anything given your own personal special circumstances even if you’re not hiding “a cancer” if you were to be diagnosed with a terminal illness? By the way, I deplore that phrase – the article in front of cancer removes it from our body’s boundaries giving it a life of sorts.

But hey, don’t worry.
Be happy. The year now 2021 – and now we’ve come so far as to have lived through a pandemic that’s still the bane of many an MBC enduerer’s existence (not to leave out anyone who’s also got a terminal illness but we tend to swim with our own kind when we are diagnosed for the shorthand we develop for quick understanding like chemo brain, and well, I forget the rest but you get my point).

Caught in a trap…suspicious minds

Trapped at home, through no fault of our own, due to our battered immune systems we wait out our turns for a vaccine. A shot or two developed so quickly it makes one think about our diseases. What the hell is taking so long to develop drugs to keep us chronic and alive a la AIDS, rather than becoming terminally ill upon diagnosis. Kept further apart from humanity again because of an incurable, rather painful disease.

As March roars for its wintery last puffs of snow coming this week, I recover from my recent covid19 vaccine. In hindsight I hope my appreciation for the life that cancer helped me find enough foresight to live in this moment in a way that’s just right for me. And I got the vaccine knowing it could have demanding physical repercussions.

I dodged that bullet. I’m fact having a break from my daily Verzenio – and my red blood cells began repopulating my bloodstream giving me back some of my energy. But I can’t overdo it. My tummy began filling up with ascites (see a few posts in this blog by searching up Ascites in the search tool right here.)

Stuck in the middle with you

So this will suck again. My pants are tight, I’m feeling uncomfortable and my feet are swelling. If you have ever been blown up like a waterbed, the draining process is exactly like it. But of course I’ll keep you posted – PET Scan next week – oh joy, head to toe and the anxiety It will bring over potential brain Mets.

Isn’t that what we all worry about when we get a head to toe scan? Those horrible metastases that could possibly go to our brains? The ones that we fear the most? Although medical science has come quite far and the cyber knife as well as other ablative mechanisms take care of them quite well. In fact better than mets that travel to most of the other organs are bodies. So nothing to worry about.

Right?

Paracentesis#10: metastatic Breast cancer treatment side effects

Today marks my 10th Paracentesis aka periocentesis. Now my abdominal organs can get properly seated after six weeks of fluid build up.

There’s several narratives in the emergency room. The ER patient’s story, and the stories of minimally 12 people whose aim should look through a scope to find the best possible outcome for the patient.

Our history gets passed on like a game of telephone from doctor to doctor to doctor. Entropy, or a lack of predictably. Entropy increases as the narrative of our illness gets passed from physician to physician because no one remembers every little thing about your case.

That is, everyone with the exception of me – the patient. Even in the hospital during periodic stays, nurses changing shifts play a short game for about seven hours. We tell and retell our stories three to four sometimes more a day.

But, we live in our bodies 24/7/365. Our caregivers – all of them – spend very little time undertaking the spectrum of information to paint a completed picture of our health situation. I’ve always wondered why, especially in the context of a terminal illness the new physician, the former physician and the patients don’t have a transition meeting or appointment.

Communictions of this kind certainly would create a better handoff, files and all. Scary I’m shocked to have only found out that my heretofore missing genetic mutation test that had indeed found a broken wrung in the twisted ladder of my DNA. The genetic counselors missed it, my beloved Stanford oncologist missed it, the second troupe of genetics testers at Stanford missed the entire reply from Foundation one.

My new UC Davis Oncologist asked the question about mutation three that caused my former oncologist but still engaging in colleges to look back at the report and found the mutation. This opens up several new treatment protocols to me and I was happy that she asked about it. It is a good start to a good relationship. I hope.

The Poetics of a Patient

We retell our narratives from our own perspectives to tamp down the amount of somewhat predictable chaos. Missing and misread tests and our own views of our symptoms and side effects may not carry forward. We become an incomplete picture. Kind of like looking at a Cubist or Fauvist painting. The details lost in our faces and bodies. We become impressions of our once whole selves. Just as Impressionism gave rise to Picasso and Braque. More stripping away of the face, the expressions of the subjects they painted.

In art that’s up to the viewer to interpret. Yet none of the paintings themselves had any say so in what they look like in the end. They also didn’t receive radiation treatments or chemotherapy.

Painting a picture of health

Picasso’s Lady in a Hat

The side effects of the paintings were in the faces of the viewers. The side effects of the patient are in the patient. It’s up to us to give the doctors a good enough description or narrative to go along with what ails us and from what we believe those painful effects arise.

It’s up to our doctor to interpret our narrative – They combine our words with facts they learned in medical school and from their experience as doctors. They’ve seen cases like ours before. But no two people are alike, just as no two paintings are alike. Even a copy of a painting is not an exact replica of the original.

Oncologists become like the viewers of a painting. We are like the painting. But who then is the artist? We’re not the artist unless of course we lie about our conditions. The artist stands somewhere in between our selves and everyone involved in treating our conditions and side effects. I’m not sure if that artist is what some people would call “god” or some people might say is the “soul.”

But in the end it really doesn’t matter. What matters to the patient is that we recover as best as we are capable.

No one sees the artist at the museum. In fact who even knows if we’re looking at the real Mona Lisa. She could be a copy. That tricky La Jocond.

Yet we become words in a computer system and films of pictures inside our bodies. We get there by taking treatments or curatives. Our curators as doctors relate our tales from one to the next. Somethings go missing in the retelling of our stories. The mind doesn’t lie. It can play tricks on us. We might not remember everything exactly as it transpired.

Other opinions find themselves showing up in the story of our illness. It’s important as good self advocates to not fear reading. Reading the broad overview beginning to now to preserve the integrity and scan for evtropy. The chaos finds its way into our stories. It’s up to us to keep as much chaos out of the systems as possible.

By now, after six years, three main oncologists – doctors not including the emergency room where my husband rushed my pained and dehydrated body one night in March of 2015. The resulting diagnosis: hormone receptor positive, lobular invasive carcinoma with sporadic metastases to the bones.

In other words, metastatic breast cancer. No language can describe the emotional state of which a terminal prognosis leaves a patient. Some practitioners of various specialities conclude that post traumatic stress disorder results from a diagnosis of a death sentence. It’s no wonder many with MBC reject the “war” metaphors to describe our lives post-diagnosis. Presumably in any war there’s a winner and a loser. Losers don’t die. Everyone dies.

Only terminally ill people know from what they will die. There’s no abstraction of death anymore although we live side by side with it from the day we’re born. Some choose to silence death among the way to meet it at the end of our road taken. Still others face it and learn from it that as this is the moment that matters most. And only this breath we take is what we control.

Between life and death

The visceral and immediate awareness coats those of us with a terminal prognosis with a frightening mirror like substance. Everyone can see themselves reflected in your soul, but few stick around. Fear of their own demise shines in your eyes. Deep within us the fire of life slowly extinguishes. Some sniffed out faster than others

Not so coincidentally in the days and weeks when we feel terrible, we think more about dying. The very normalcy of our lives vanishes. It disappears with friends and people we thought wouldn’t leave us in hard times. The hardest times of our lives in the acceptance of our own mortality. Some of us cut short. Some sat before our time.

I believe in the soul. Perhaps not in the same way others do; we all seek redemption of sorts. Yet, there’s atheists, non spiritualists who believe when we die that’s it. But the energy we produced when we lived cannot be destroyed according to the first law of thermodynamics.

That law of physics, or the conservation of energy, claims it cannot be created nor destroyed. If energy is the ability to do work – at the cellular level in humans – our mitochondria turning fuel into gas to run all of our physical systems. The brain included.

Our energy, our entropy

Entropy takes over when death removes the mind from the body.In my mind anyway, energy is transferred from one form to another, some is lost as heat. And as the energy decreases, the disorder increases.

Perhaps we dissipate – dissolve like dust into the infinite vastness of space. Perhaps we recombine to become the reincarnated souls in newly born beings.

We just can’t know now, dear death, the secret of life and our great democratizor. No one can know what’s to become of us once we die. Do we even get to tell our own versions of our lives or do we live without control of our fate. We won’t know here in this reality.

I think about such things at 3:03 am as in the moment before I’ll publish this post. It’s where my control remains for the time being. In this voice, in my own narrative. I can say what I choose.

Narrative of the patient vs the nurse practitioners

This next narrative reads vastly more dry than my own: a patient with an appointment in a teaching hospital. In this scenario four or five constituents aim for and find the best possible outcome for my ailments.

Because of a coordinated effort beginning with an oncologist meeting and listening to the physical and sometimes emotional challenges faced by a woman with six years of history. A woman only as interesting as the narrative by the attentive and skillful nurse practitioner and her intern:

ULTRASOUND-GUIDED PARACENTESIS
EXAM DATE: 2/26/2021 2:09 PM
COMPARISON: None

INDICATION: Signs/Symptoms: Metastatic breast cancer, needing therapeutic
paracentesis. Establishing care at UCD. Please send for cytology

PROCEDURE PERSONNEL:
Attending: Hsiu Jan Chen
Other: Supervising physician: MD.Vu

TECHNIQUE:
Informed consent was obtained from the patient.

Prior to the start of the procedure, all Universal Protocol steps,
including a pre-procedure verification process, verification of the
procedure site, and a time-out were performed with all relevant personnel
in the room. All elements of maximal sterile barrier technique were used,
including hand hygiene and cutaneous antisepsis.

A large amount of fluid was identified by ultrasound in the right upper
quadrant. The proposed needle tract was interrogated with Doppler and no
significant blood vessels were identified. The patient was then marked,
prepped, and draped in usual sterile fashion.

Under ultrasound guidance, the area was infiltrated with 1% lidocaine for
local anaesthesia and a 4-French Yueh catheter was advanced into the fluid
collection. Upon completion, the catheter was withdrawn, the patient's skin
was cleansed, and a sterile dressing was placed.

The patient tolerated the procedure well.

COMPLICATIONS: None immediate..

FINDINGS/
IMPRESSION:
1. Successful ultrasound-guided therapeutic and diagnostic paracentesis
with removal of 4.7L of dark serosanguineous fluid.
2. Fluid labelled and sent to lab for diagnostic studies.

Final Report Electronically Signed By: Hsiu Jan Chen on 2/26/2021 3:57 PM
Nearly five liters removed each weighs 2.7 lbs

Radiation Therapy, Trauma or Both?

This story begins back in October of 2020 with radiation treatments. A tumor on my internal L4 vertebrae lit up like a star on the films from a CT scan with radioactive contrast. Radiation damages soft tissue including lymph nodes in its path to reach its intended target.

During these six “easy” sessions I felt incredibly fatigued and in six uneasy pieces. My side effucks seemed far worse than I understood as normal. Friends who underwent much greater rads described far greater relief and less fatigue. Immediately the neuropathy I’d worked so hard to alleviate reawakened with a vengeance in both hands.

I let my oncologist know enough was enough. So I stopped after six of the prescribed 10 sessions. My gut told me both physically and emotionally that six shots killed the tumor. I madd the right choice given the destruction continued to cause side effucks even now, half a year later.

Hospitality and Hospital: same prefix, different meanings

I stood letting the intake nurse on duty at Sutter ER in Roseville, California in on my diagnosis with MBC and that I’m neutropenic meaning my white blood cell count falls short of the low end of 4 (normal = 4 through 11). 2.7 equated for my wbc count on that day.

Instead of letting the the physician who performs the hour or so long, low impact procedure I sat waiting for some blood work results, he went home. The nurse Informed me that he would be paged the next morning but possibly not be coming in until Monday. This was after five hours of prep, being ignored, more prep including having my power port x-rated and then tapped to intake the radioactive contrast for a CT Scan. That was when they told me that I would be transferred over to observation not to the oncology floor. A place presumably full of Covid sufferers.

That was when I lost my mind.

In a recent post from December of 2020, Hearts and Bones, Hope and Stones tells of paracentesesis number nine. That story ends after four hours and a successful draining of 5.5 liters of Ascites at the same hospital.

Yet I self aborted my attempt at finding some relief of an uncomfortable and painful belly – I hadn’t eaten, couldn’t skipped, my feet began to swell like “two balloons.” I wasn’t “comfortably numb” I felt as angry as my insides tried to get outsid.

Paracentesis number 10

Yet instead of leaving 17 lbs lighter, a kind nurse ushered me out to my car at 11 pm at the hospital that professionally drained me back in December.

She just been to visit her 80-year-old father. He has cancer too. She went to hug him before she left to get your plane home and he put on his arm and said no honey you can’t hug me. You’re a nurse and I have cancer. He had me at his vaccinations and she wasn’t sure why. She told me she cried all that night on the way home.

She told me that was no place for me and that there were people with Covid. She told me I would most certainly wind up contracting the disease if I ever spent another moment there. Kindly and quickly took out the plug into my chest wall power port. This certainly won’t become a part of the hospital narrative.

Relief never felt so bad

I found relief this Friday afternoon. A full week after my hospital ordeal. As the liter jugs filled up with a brownish fluid, I felt gurgles and swishes inside and could breathe as my diaphragm found room to inhale deeply and my oxygen levels rose from 93 to 100. My weight dropped off of my 6’ frame from 168 to 151 pounds.

My friend waited for me in my car to drive me home. Gratefulness washed over me like love. The sunshine hit my cheeks.

That morning for no reason at all I awoke from a deep sleep at 6 am. I found the full moon setting on the left side of me and the sun rising on right. I stood between both. I smiled knowing equilibrium would soon be introduced into my chaotic system.

And I smiled.