Please g-d, when this is all behind me, I want to go to the Beresheet Hotel and Spa for two days and just sit outside and breathe. I don’t want to do anything else but be in an unpolluted environment with fresh, crisp air and just breathe in and out. Right now, that is one of the things I’m striving towards.
I’m very conscious about air these days. Mostly because I walk around in public with a mask, and it’s very hard to breathe with a mask over your face. I’ve never realized just how much I’ve taken fresh air for granted. Take a minute for me and go outside, no matter how cold is might be, and just close your eyes and breathe deep. Feel your lungs expand with clean air and enjoy a little break from whatever you’re doing right now.
It has been five days since my last blog post, I honestly just haven’t had much energy or time to write. Today, thank g-d, I’m in a better place although yesterday was one of the hardest I’ve had in this journey so far.
Yesterday morning, I was scheduled to get a PICC line installed at 9:30 a.m. at Shaare Tzedek hospital. The PICC line is essential as it will eliminate the need to always find a vein every time I need blood tests or to receive treatments. They do no sedate you for a PICC line procedure and you need to be fasting. Unfortunately, one of the procedures before mine turned complicated and my 9:30 a.m. go time didn’t happen until 1:00 p.m. At that point, I was dehydrated and very hungry, not to mention pretty anxious. I was in very good hands with the radiology department at SZ and at one point there were at least four doctors, technicians and nurses in the room with me. They were beyond respectful and talked me through the entire procedure. I was in my mask because I didn’t know my blood count and I wanted to minimize exposure to illness. If you’re in Israel right now, the ER’s are packed with sick people, and I’m particularly vulnerable since CHEMO is essentially wiping out my entire system.
There is a lot of sterilization that goes on with a PICC line, I was washed with soap and water, then alcohol, then more alcohol, and then covered almost completely with a sterile drape. I kept saying Tehilim and just focused on my breathing, I hummed the Rabbi Nachmun Remix song and tried to just stay calm. Almost halfway through the procedure, I started to feel ill. I was nauseous and my blood pressure just bottomed out. There’s a medical term for what happened but I don’t remember it right now, I just remember them quickly elevating my feet and the nurse wetting my face and mouth. He lifted the mask off my face so I could breathe and talked to me so I could stay conscious. When they finally wheeled me back to the room where Gaby was waiting, I was out of it but feeling a bit better. The nurse put a warm towel behind my neck which helped. Gaby told me that the doctor told him I had fainted during the procedure and so I had to stay an extra 45 minutes in recovery before I could leave.
They brought me food and I had a really hard time finding something to eat. I’m off of sugar and I don’t eat dairy, and the box contained cold eggs, some cut vegetables, lots of dairy and a white roll. The Chemo has given me heartburn so I knew the white roll would be painful, but they insisted that I eat so I had the roll with a tiny shmear of some white cheese and a couple of cups of hot water. My insides were on fire from the heartburn so we called my primary care physician and she left me a script for Nexium. I was feeling better so they let us go at 2:30 and we drove towards the Medical Center.
At some point during the drive, I started not feeling well again. I broke into a sweat, there was tremendous pain in my chest, and I thought I was going to vomit. Gaby sped towards help and I kept my eyes closed and just started praying. The doctor at the Medical Center told him to take me back to the ER ASAP and so Gaby jumped behind the wheel and drove faster than ever. I was in a very, very bad place. I couldn’t open my eyes and I was drenched. Gaby got me back to SZ in record time and was able to pull up at the ER where a security guard got him a wheelchair for me. Gaby literally ran me back to the radiology department and I’ve never seen people move so fast in my life. I was so out of it but I remember people pulling on my clothing to get me onto a bed and the amazing nurse who was with me in the procedure hooked me up to monitors and just talked to me and told me to breathe as my blood pressure stabilized. But they couldn’t keep me in that department since I was discharged and they wanted me to go to the regular ER to be monitored and get some fluids.
When they pushed my bed into the ER and I saw all of the sick people in beds just literally lining the halls, I begged Gaby to just get me out of there. The radiology nurse told me that I needed to just elevate my feet, drink fluids and rest, and my blood pressure would stabilize. We spoke to an ER nurse who understood my fear of catching something and she basically said it was against her medical opinion for me to leave but she understood it. So, Gaby helped me to the car, put the front seat all the way down, and got me home and into bed as quickly as he could.
It took three hours for me to finally feel a little better last night but during that time, I realized just how little I have control over this illness. Who would have thought that a PICC line would result in low blood pressure? We had to scramble to find people to help with the kids and thank g-d my mother in law was able to pick the kids up from camp and play dates. I realized that it was time to just ask for the help so, so many people have been offering.
I am so blessed to have a wonderful network of family and friends who literally jumped to help. Within an hour, there was a meal train set up, offers for babysitting help and pick up help, and countless of messages of encouragement. We’ve been keeping a gratitude list and it keeps on growing. I have no idea how I will ever be able to repay all of the people helping us right now. Just know that thinking about you all brings me to tears. Thank you all, you know who you are.
I stayed in my room last night and rested and stayed away from the kids since Sivan was feeling a little under the weather. While we were at Shaare Tzedek, Sivan was at the doctor making sure she didn’t have strep. So, it was shocking when Tani started vomiting at 10:00 p.m. We discovered that he was burning up with a fever as well. We discussed whether or not I needed to leave the house and decided as long as Gaby took care of him and he stayed away from me, I should be okay. We were up with him almost an entire night; two more bouts of vomiting before the diarrhea started early this morning. He had to stay home and more help had to be called in since Gaby had an important meeting.
At 7:30 a.m. this morning, my mother-in-law picked me up and took me back to Shaare Tzedek for my weekly appointment with Dr. Ashkenazi. They drew blood from my PICC line and we waited for the results and our meeting. What I like most about Dr. Ashkenazi is that he listens to me, patiently. He let me go through all of my questions and answered honestly and thoroughly. While we were there, I got the results from the bone marrow biopsy. Thank g-d, there is no indication of the cancer within the bone marrow. That was AMAZING news. I’m still trying to let that sink in because it is wonderful. My blood count was also thank g-d really in a good place so we moved forward with scheduling my next treatment date. I have to go back next week for a repeat blood test and meeting with Dr. Ashkenazi. It looks like Tuesdays will most likely be my Shaare Tzedek days, so I need to start prepping for that as well. I didn’t bring anything to keep myself company and that just made me anxious. I’m going to need to stock pile books, magazines and fun podcasts for next week!
That’s all the update I have in me today. I’m sad it’s the last night of Chanukah but I’ve been told if you sit next to the candles tonight and pray for whatever you need – in whatever language is comfortable to you – you have the ability to alter the path sealed on Yom Kippur. I’m waiting for Gaby to get the kids ready for bed so I can just sit by the light of the Chanukiah and daven for the strength to get through treatment and for ultimately a clean bill of health.
Chodesh Tov and Chanukah Sameach from Jerusalem
Lior Shira Batya Bat Chaya Yehudit