So, there are lots of word to describe this last week;
Exciting, Busy, Informative, <painful>, Fun, Wonderful, Magical, Sad.
Exciting, Busy & Informative:
We drove to Salt Lake on Monday morning. We left early because it was supposed to snow all day. We decided to drive down I-70 to Salina, UT and then cut through to I-15. We knew it would take a little longer to get there (it's usually exactly a 4 hour drive), but we didn't really factor in the slow drive in the snow storm and the newly potty trained little 3 year old bladder that would require extra potty breaks. So......SEVEN HOURS LATER we arrived and Grammi and Grandpa's house.
Tuesday morning me, Larry, my mom and brother all headed down to LDS Hospital for my first consult appt. Basically they told me it was wonderful that my last PET scan showed "CR" or Complete Remission. They thought it would be best to extract stem cells now and wait to see if the cancer ever comes back. If it does, I would have healthy stem cells stored for a bone marrow transplant at that time.
I had scheduled my next appt to be that same afternoon at Huntsman Cancer Hospital. We thought we would have an hour or two in between appts and had talked about all the fun places we could go for lunch downtown (PF Chang or Training Table or Hires, etc), but as it turned out, we only had 15 minutes to get from the Avenues up to the U. Luckily we made it just in time, but no yummy lunch for us. We shared a little bag of cookies from the vending machine.
My Appt at Huntsman was not quite as long, and they basically said the same thing. They also said they wanted to do the stem cell extraction after my 5th chemo treatment in January. The good thing about that is then I will have one more chemo treatment in February and then I'm DONE!! Hooray!
We decided to have the extraction and transplant (when necessary) at Huntsman. We really liked both facilities, but the fact that I have rapport with a Lymphoma Specialist at Huntsman that I trust, it just feels like an obvious choice. Dr. Glenn (my Huntsman specialist) works so closely with the transplant team, it just felt seamless.
On Wednesday Larry and I headed back up to Huntsman for an Appt with Dr. Glenn. She agreed that my PET scan looked good. She also mentioned that my bone marrow would need to be cancer free to truly be considered "CR"-Complete Remission, but she thought that would be the case since I had already had such a good response to the chemo. BUT.......I would need to have another bone marrow biopsy to confirm that.
YUCK, ICK, OUCH. I have had a few procedures, as you know. But the one that stands out in my mind as the most painful is the infamous "Bone marrow biopsy". In case you didn't know...this is how this procedure goes: (don't read if you're not into medical details :)
You lay on your stomach and a needle is inserted into your lower back on the side. Lidocaine is administered to numb the area (lots of burning at this point). Then a larger needle is inserted down to your large pelvic/ hip bone. Once the needle is inside the bone, the liquid inside the bone (bone marrow) is extracted. Problem is: the lidocaine can only numb the skin, not the actual bone. So, when they are extracting the bone marrow there is a lot, a lot of pain. And there's really nothing they can do about that. Then they put another needle/tool down to your bone and actually take a piece of the bone. This part doesn't hurt as much as it is very uncomfortable. It's mostly a lot of pressure, and if you think about what they're doing it can really freak you out. And then...it's done. Probably 15-20 minutes total.
I told Dr. Glenn I was very apprehensive about the procedure when she asked if I would have it done RIGHT THEN. She said she would give me some meds to help relax me. But, when the nurse came in to give them to me she said they were Ativan and Morphine. I've had Ativan before during chemo week, and I've had morphine before. I asked her if these meds would kick in after the procedure was over , then I would just feel groggy all day, but not have the benefits for the actual procedure and she said "yes". So I said "Then I don't want them!". I can't believe those words came out of my mouth, seriously. But they did, and I'm glad they did because when the procedure was over I was sore, but not groggy and miserable. I'm not gonna lie though; I'm sooooooooooooooooooo glad it's over! :)
Fun, Wonderful, *Magical*
We had such a fun week in Utah. We went to Grand America Hotel and did their lobby Christmas scavenger hunt. Then we rode Traxx down to the Temple and saw the Christmas lights (is it just me, or were there a lot less lights this year?? Still beautiful though).
We had a big family Christmas party on Christmas Eve. All the cousins put on a "nativity" program. It was adorable. Hope was an angel...literally. I didn't know if she would go out in front of every one and stay there. But she did great. She loved being an angel. Lauren was Mary and Josh was a wiseman. They were so cute and did a great job too!
And then.....Santa found us in Salt Lake. He left lots of awesome presents for every one. We had a wonderful Christmas!
The sad part was when we packed up and had to leave. It was such a fun week. Thanks Grammi & Grandpa for everything ♥
I have a couple extra bonus days before I start round 4 of chemo. I go in on this Wednesday for labs and an appt with Dr. V. Then I will have Rituxin and Chop on Thursday and more Rituxin and Neulasta on Friday.
I've really enjoyed this extra "feel good" week in between chemo treatments. And with the wonderful news we received after my last PET scan I have absolutely no complaints. I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. I truly love this time of year. I hope you all had a wonderful, Merry Christmas as well! ~♥
ps: This is my first blog post on my brand spankin new laptop. Cute huh? Merry Christmas to ME !
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