Purple Ports and Deep Breathing

Sometimes I picture myself swimming in the ocean… I am underwater and can see the foamy white water above me… I swim toward it, anxious for some air.  As my head rises above the surface, I try to take in a nice big breath, but manage only a gulp before another wave knocks me tumbling back beneath the surface.

   This past week has felt like this.  Sometimes there is no energy, only heaviness.  I look at the things that I need to do and just think, “hmmm.  that needs to get done…”   I wrote that sentence in lower case because that best matches the depth (or shallowness) of how I feel about getting those things done…
   On top of our own cancer issues, my friend’s stage-4-cancer-husband is back in the hospital.  We visited with them yesterday and hope that I can take some of her heaviness onto myself because I have an idea how it feels and wish I could ease her burden just a bit.  It is for her sake that I really, really wish I had more energy.  My friend with the darling little brain-tumor-removed-the-pituitary-and-drastically-changed-the-course-of-life daughter marked their one year surgery anniversary this week.  Bless her heart!
   I still feel very deeply all of my positive, uplifting, grateful feelings.  That is very, very real.  But this week the heaviness is here as well, and I cannot deny the weight of it all.  I also have had some great experiences that I am anxious to share, but not quite able – until this passes.
This is Greg’s actual port from 2010-2011.  They saved
it for him.  He can make his wife a necklace.
Natalie thinks that it belongs on Dr. Who.
   In the meantime, Greg is working hard at his schoolwork, trying to catch up and maybe get ahead before chemotherapy begins this week.  His first infusion will be on Friday at Huntsman.  After this he will be able to go to a clinic which is somewhat closer to his apartment and will be able to schedule it around classes and work a little better.  This is truly the source of my burden this week.  I feel that I am going in with him, yet I won’t even be there and the distance doesn’t help me at all.  I can totally remember that first night with the nurses gowned, gloved and masked while hanging his chemo-bag which was in the dark brown wrapper.  It seemed unreal that they had to wear so much protection while it was being pumped inside my child’s body.
   These are the feelings that I am reliving.
   Enough of that…
   One of the best moments of Greg’s first cancer experience was during our pre-op visit before he had his port implanted.  I have mentioned it before.  The doctor brought Greg a sample of what his port would look like and asked if we had any questions.  Greg took it, studied it, and said that he did have a question…… “Do they come in any other colors?”  The whole room busted up laughing.  I feel like that moment set the stage for our approach to his treatment.
This is what Greg’s new port looks like.
This would make a better necklace.
   When his port was implanted on February 12 – he was pleased to tell me that his port was, indeed, a different color.  They didn’t give him an option – but this time it is purple.  He says that it is state-of-the art; MRI friendly and even three raised portions that will help the nurse locate the edges of the injection site.
   We are used to ports, but as I talk to people I realize that not everyone is familiar with them (lucky them).  Essentially it is implanted under the skin with an injection site and a catheter that can go into a larger vessel.  He will not need another IV during treatment.  His surgeon said that she would implant it at the same site as his old one which was in the center of his chest.  She got to surgery and went into auto-pilot and put it in her regular spot on the upper left chest.  Greg said he can feel the catheter at his clavicle.
   His surgery was on a Thursday and he went to work on Friday night and Saturday morning.  It hurt to wear a seat belt, but he did.  He tells his mom these things so that I am grateful he wore a seat belt and this lessens my scolding about going right back to work.  This is why he tells me to stay in Washington.  He has a sister and a grandmother to take care of him, and he does quite a good job of taking care of himself.  Apparently his roommates are trying to help him gain back the 20 pounds from last semester… so he is in good hands.

How it works…

BLAH – I have not wanted to write anything while feeling so BLAH… but I think that it is important to record this experience as well.  It is a reality.  All of the wonderful parts of our trials are also a reality.  This is my focus – sometimes it is more difficult to keep that focus, but it is always there. I think that even these BLAH weeks are important, they make the peace and gratitude that much more powerful.   How can we know the magnificent if we don’t experience the less-than-magnificent?  I wouldn’t trade a moment!  The waves keep coming, I can scarcely catch my breath, but…. LIFE IS GOOD!!!


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