After much drama and many frustrating drives back and forth between Kaiser and the hospice to get the blood work juuuust right on Monday, my oncologist was finally able to see all of my most important labs Monday afternoon. These results indicated that my liver and kidney functions were back within the minimum limits to start the next kind of treatment! However, he still needed to clap eyes on my person to make sure I wasn’t really at death’s door (since I really was the last time I saw him).
Backing up for a moment, I want to fill you in with some of the details I am also just now learning about what really happened to me. (Please note that my days will be wrong. I’m writing this before others are awake, so I can’t fact-check with the people who were actually conscious through all of this). Sometime around Sunday-Monday, I started experiencing some pain and bleeding, very similar to what I had in December. My mom and Peter were here and thought we would have a similar outcome (hospital for a while, bleeding would stabilize, I could go home and recover). I guess around Tuesday, though, things took a significant turn for the worse. Again, right now I can’t remember all the details that were relayed to me, but I know that at some point, they needed to do a procedure to see if they could cauterize the bleeding (likely from the kidney). When they were in there and looking around, they could see a lot of bleeding, but no defined source. Somewhere in there, my mom said that she wanted my dad and brother to be able to fly in, and the staff had to prepare her for the very real possibility that I might not make those few hours.
I can’t even imagine how terrifying and awful that time must have been for my mom and Peter. They transferred me to hospice and apparently almost immediately upon arrival, I began improving. That said, even though I was “improving,” I was still in a fairly desperate way. I don’t remember most of those days, though they were filled with friends coming to say hello (and goodbye), filled with music, stories, hugs, and even visits from both Emmie and Jasper. At some point, I started to get stronger and stronger. I remembered more. I was more lucid and awake during interactions with friends. At some point, I remember thinking “How can I die when I feel so alive?” Yet I knew that this was a possibility.
Fast forward again to yesterday, Tuesday. Labs had looked good and I had an appointment with my oncologist. It would be the first time I would have left the hospice facility in about a week (and there was even some debate if I could leave the site to see my doc). If the oncologist gave the go-ahead to start the new treatment (Keytruda, the newest, hottest drug), then I would officially be kicked out of hospice because I would be actively pursuing treatment. (For those who are not aware, hospice is a wonderful, beautiful service or place where skilled nurses help patients pass. They do not offer life-saving interventions or treatments, which is why I could not stay if I started getting Keytruda).
Basically, if my oncologist said Keytruda was a go, I would have gone from having hours to live, to having a pretty decent shot at living at least several more months (or many more!). It would be a miracle.
I got as gussied up as I could for my appointment to show him how “fit” I was. I kind of styled my hair (thank God for that shower a few days ago), I wore clean pants (that somehow miraculously fit over my 7-months-pregnant-looking belly), and I tried to rest as much as possible so I didn’t zone out during our appointment. I tried to look as human as I could to try to convince him that I was not the same person at death’s door he saw a week ago.
Thankfully, he was apparently suitably impressed we got our miracle! I was declared me fit to start Keytruda on Friday! Since then, there have been many behind-the-scenes arrangements to try to navigate all the proper channels while also making sure that I am not stuck at home without some important medication or something. I will be getting in-home palliative care, which means I can get treatment, but I am “home-bound.” Since it was a pretty good effort for me to make the 10 minute drive to my doctor’s appointment yesterday, I do not think it’s a stretch to call me home-bound at all. It does mean I’m going to have to figure out different ways of entertaining myself at home (since Emmie will be going to school) that will me mentally stimulating enough while not too physically taxing. But I am PERFECTLY willing to have this problem if it means I get to LIVE!!!
Thank you all for the incredible prayers, thoughts and good juju. Without all of that support, I don’t think I would still be alive today! THANK YOU and here’s to more miracles!