Chemo, Fish Hooks & Soiled Novels

The last few weeks have been particularly memorable, filled with several firsts (3 to be exact), and in my opinion, worthy of a big share with you.

1.  For starters, we wanted to have one last “hoorah” before my first chemo treatment, and decided on a family daytrip to Palomar Mountain, a little escape from the mundane.  I envisioned us picnicking lakeside, while Dave & the kids caught bluegills hand over fist.  I would sit reading and fanning myself, and beam over my beautiful family frolicking in the sun.

No sooner had we driven the 2 hours up the hairpin, nausea-inducing mountain road, and found a postage stamp sized piece of shade, a certain child of ours “cast” sideways, directly into little Claire’s temple, creating a “fssstchh” sound…confirming secure placement.  We froze.  She panicked.  A treble hook was buried into the softest part of her temple, one inch away from her eye.   We were hours from a hospital.   We hadn’t even picnicked.

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2.  Several days later, in a waiting room (unrelated to the hook fiasco), I sat reading, deeply entrenched in my latest obsession, All the Light We Cannot See.  I bobbed Claire on my free knee.  She whimpered about her tummy hurting, and I assured her that it was likely just due to the antibiotics from the treble hook impalement that was causing her nausea.  She nodded in seeming agreement, then promptly vomited all over my novel, my legs, and the floor beneath us. (No image, I wouldn’t do that to ya’ll).

3.  Several days after that, I had my first infusion.   A 1/2 hour of pre drugs, and then 4 hours of chemo via infusion. The drugs are delivered through something called a port, which is a quarter shaped device that was surgically implanted below my collar bone.

Many people tried to prepare me, but I would liken it to childbirth.  One needs to experience it, in order to identify with it.  My sweet sister Anna came with me.  We laughed and did silly stuff, mostly in the way you do when trying to diffuse a tense situation.  I tried making Joe, my nurse, laugh a lot.  He only laughed a little. There’s nothing wrong with his sense of humor, he just knows what’s ahead and wants to guide me well.  Joe & me are going to be a team.  I got tangled up in my rolling IV pole on the way to the bathroom and nearly went down.  I pressed the red HELP button thinking it was similar to a flight attendant call button.  The entire staff surrounded me in seconds.  I only wanted some pretzels.  Everyone knew it was my first time.

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Then I got sick & I cried.  And then I cried some more.

It was a rough week, but this is what I have to say about it.

1.  After a trip to the ER, Claire has recovered beautifully from her impalement (just don’t get within a foot of her ear or she’ll kick you).

2. My book?  I kept reading it.  Clorox wipes can do amazing things for vomit smell.  Anthony Doerr may be interested in obtaining my review, underneath the WSJ’s “Dazzling, Captivating Novel”.  Mine would read “My child vomited all over this book, and I kept reading it, it’s just that good”  Scary Mom, San Diego, CA”.

3,  The way I felt after the first treatment was worse than I imagined, but ironically I am more at peace now, than I was before.  Because isn’t it better to know something is terrible, then imagine that it might be? For example, as I type this I’m waiting for the chemo boogie man to jump out from underneath the couch to pull all my hair out, lash me with mouth sores, bone pain & hot flashes.  All of these things…I’m just waiting to happen.

But then I remember what I believe, or more importantly, who I believe.  Aren’t we to be “anxious for nothing” ?  Aren’t we to present our requests, WITH thanksgiving?  And let His peace, cover over us? All my head knowledge, everything I’ve used to encourage others, is now being put to the test.  My heart is being tested.  I’m remembering and re-reading an old favorite book of mine, Hinds’ Feet on High Places.  “Then the Shepherd smiled more comfortingly than ever before, laid both hands on her head and said:

“Be strong, yea, be strong and fear not.  Don’t ever allow yourself to begin trying to picture what it will be like.  Believe Me, when you get to the places which you dread, you will find that they are as different as possible from what you have imagined…If you ever let Fear begin painting a picture on the screen of your imagination, you will walk with fear and trembling, where no fear is.”

My prayer, moving forward, is that.  To not allow myself to begin trying to picture what it will be like, any of it.  Not next month, not even tomorrow.   Because there’s no fear where He is.

My next infusion is this Thursday (#2 of 8), if you could pray for me I would appreciate it!

I plan to use this blog to send updates & cathartic journaling your way, so stay tuned for my next entry so you can cheer me along!

Love you guys!  Heidi

17 thoughts on “Chemo, Fish Hooks & Soiled Novels

  1. This is the most beautiful message, update and journal I have ever read. You have another gift, writing. Yes, to not imagining what it will be like but experiencing what is, right now . That is all we really know. And your weaving in and out the story of Claire, BRILLIANT. I look forward to more and send hugs and big love your way.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your journey, Heidi. Prayers for you and your family, and cheering for you along with Anna! Praying you feel God very near in every detail and feel Him sustaining you with strength and grace and peace. “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid (which keeps us from starting something) or discouraged (which keeps us from finishing something). The Lord will personally go before you and will be with you. He will never abandon you, never leave you or forsake you.” Deut. 31. Look at your right hand…always remember God is holding it…”For I hold you by your right hand–I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13

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  3. Once again your writing makes me smile, grateful that you are in my life and convicts me to draw closer to Him.
    By the way “you look MARVELOUS “!!!
    Love and continued prayers,
    Elaine

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  4. Love you so much Sissy! You have always been a beautiful writer. And I love how the Lord has given you a beautiful opportunity to write about Him, through you.

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  5. What a way to weave your story Heidi. I love your humor and humanness. Yes to knowing that something is terrible than imaging what it might be. Glad to hear Claire is better and I look forward to the WSJ’s sharing your review of that novel! Cheers to teammate Joe. Laughed at call button. All my fath and prayers to you.

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  6. Heidi
    You are a marvel and
    are receiving an abundance of prayers.
    I hope someone is rubbing your elbow through all of this… I always think of this as one of your most endearing qualities. You and your family will always be connected to ours. Love, Ash

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