Remember the 80’s movie Gremlins? Remember all the rules they come with on how to take care of them? I recently started referring to myself as a gremlin just as a joke, but boy do I sure have a lot of rules now. Batteries are definitely not included, chemo pills are my batteries now.
Since this journey has started for me just a little over three months ago, I have encountered many changes in my body and in how I have to now live my life. One of the strangest things is that I could not have any fresh flowers while in the hospital. Even now at home, I can not have live plants or flowers in my presence. This is because they can carry fungus and diseases. Technically I could catch something from them. Weird, right? Needless to say, I got a few sets of flowers while in the hospital that I never had the joy of seeing.
When I first came out of the hospital after both rounds of chemo, my counts were so low that I would have to wear a mask in public to protect myself. Great. As if my bald head wasn’t enough to get random stares now I have something else that makes me look like the sickest individual in the world. Kids in public would simply stop and stare or point and ask their parents questions. It got to the point where I just wanted to start scaring them by doing a monster pose and saying, “Rarrrrrr!” But on the other hand, I must say that strangers were all of a sudden very kind to me. Retail associates were more apt to help out. Registers would open that weren’t open before we got up to the lanes. And the smiles mixed with compassion were somewhat uplifting. Maybe this combination was a good thing and should be milked somewhat?? I know, that may be wrong. But it’s the little joys in life right now that keep me going!
Now, being home in between chemo treatments is when I start to notice even more gremlin tendencies. If we are planning to go ANYWHERE, we have to go through a long checklist of items that need to come along with me such as: pills, sweater, hat, snacks, water, and a back up water for when the first runs out. (Even if we were just going to be gone from home for an hour!) But that’s my mom/caregiver. Always be prepared. I think it was Girlscouts and already raising me once that got her ready for her next big adventure: taking care of her 31 year old daughter who has leukemia for a year minimum. Surprise!!
Before continuing to tell you about my daily life, I would like to share a story with you. These stories that I will be sharing are things that have happened since Leukemia has entered my life. Now the one thing you need to know about me if you don’t already; I live for laughter. Mainly, I laugh at myself a lot. I also laugh at others a lot. I’m an equal opportunist. And I believe it is laughter that can see you through the toughest of times. So this part of me has not died and never will. No matter what. Some of these stories may make you laugh out loud, cringe a bit, or shed a tear. But they’re all 100% me and my loved ones.
You Have Cancer
It’s January 22, 2014. I enter the hospital on Monday, January 20th and get numerous tests done and my pain is not going away. They’ve had to start giving me blood transfusions because my blood count was dangerously low. My husband, family, and friends are growing increasingly worried about me. I see it in all of their faces…including the doctor’s. I am scared, but I’m so heavily medicated that I feel numb to it all. So here we are, three days of being in the hospital. The answer was going to come soon. Oh how much I wanted it to just be a bad infection in my body. Even through my delirium, I noticed my husband take my parents out of the room for a few minutes. They come back. My husband starts to talk to me. I could see he had something he needed to tell me. At the time, I thought he was beating around the bush. But since then, he has told me that he was just pausing a lot because he didn’t want to tell me what he knew he had too. Finally, the sentence came that I was so scared of. Scott said, “Michele, you have leukemia.” My response?? “Phew…at least it’s not cancer.” That moment would normally be very funny and laughter would follow. IF IT WEREN’T ABOUT MY HEALTH AND LIFE!! I looked at my parent’s faces and Scott’s. They all immediately looked at their hands, the ground, anything but at my face. That’s when I realized and said “Oh, it IS cancer.” I started crying and immediately apologized to my husband for getting sick.
My loved ones and myself have since laughed about this story. And even when I tell it to others who have not yet heard it, it gets mixed reactions. People start laughing but want to cry at the same time. And they tell me, “That is so you.” Which is what makes it funny. Even at the lowest point in my life, I somehow make something funny that certainly is not. And trust me, it was not my intention. But you’re going to see with some of these stories that that’s just who I am. I say the darndest things. My husband has dubbed some of the things I’ve said and done as “Michele-isms” over the years and plenty have happened in lovely 2014.
Don’t let the sun go down on me!
One of the most annoying things I now have to deal with is my intolerance to hot and cold. Meaning I’ll be extremely cold in our house that we keep at 75 degrees. I’ll have on a full set of pjs, hat, scarf, socks, and a blanket over top. Just as I’m getting comfortable and cozy my body’s all like, “NOPE, we’re hot now!” And I have just started sweating and are experiencing a hot flash. So I then unpeel all the layers of clothing and extra blankets. Now, with less clothing and sweat drying, I immediately get cold again. Ahhhhhhhh, this is a never ending battle. But it is what it is. So now I’ve learned it’s all about layers and I change in and out of different clothes while at home at least 5 times a day to suit whatever my body needs. And don’t get me started about
|1) All bundled up in my house. 2) My mother and I
attending a festival in downtown Orlando.
I had to actually remove my wig and buy a beach hat due to
getting overheated. Synthetic wigs are HOT in the
going out into the Florida heat. It feels amazing at first. (You know…since I’m cold a lot of the time.) But give it about 10 minutes of being out in the sun. I’m tired, breathing heavily, sweating, and my wig is making me hotter than a _________. (use your own imagination and fill in the blank) I have literally had to take my wigs off while outside due to the fear of passing out. The doctor’s say I’m pre-menopausal because of all the chemo I’ve done thus far. That’s lovely. I’m only 31. And as if cancer wasn’t enough. The bright side is I’m finally getting to know my new body and limitations. With that being said, I can tell you right now that wigs are a thing of the past during summer time. Maybe at night time. But that’s a BIG maybe. Hello hats and scarves.
Over the years, through my company M3 Makeup, we’ve had the opportunity to work with awesome clientele. One of those clients is Christ for all Nations. We’ve been working with them now for close to 2 years and I have a great working relationship with the crew, people that work there, and Daniel Kolenda who is their president and CEO. He is also a modern missionary evangelist that travels the world preaching the word of God. I can not say enough good things about CfaN and how much I’ve enjoyed working with them.
Within a few days of getting my diagnosis, I had let my main contact with CfaN know what had happened. On February 5th, I was overcome with happiness when Daniel showed up with an entourage of fellow worshipers to come and pray for me. One of the reasons I think I’m still here today and in such good spirits is because of all the thoughts and prayers people have sent our way. So I would never turn down a prayer from such a well-renowned man of God.
Of course I was quite a bit fuzzy-headed on chemo meds and painkillers, but I remember feeling incredibly special and moved by their presence and offer to pray for me. I spoke for a bit telling them about my diagnosis and journey up to that point. Daniel said some words of encouragement and then with his team began a very powerful and moving prayer for me. What an amazing moment this was.
Once the prayer was done and everyone cried out “Amen!”, I raised my hands in the air and in a sing song voice sang, “I’m cuuuured!”
Yeah. I said that. I don’t remember saying it and when my mom told me the story later I was so embarrassed and mortified. Who does that?!! That’s definitely a Michele-ism as my husband would say.
I CAN’T DO WHAT??!
|1) Mommy’s home! The first time I’m seeing Lucy after a month of
being in the hospital unexpectedly. 2) Uh oh. I’m not suppose to
be doing this. It just felt so right.
I’ll end with this..easily one of the things that I hate the most. I’m a cat lady. There, I said it. I absolutely adore my cat. I’ve had her for almost 10 years and she is my bundle of joy. Where am I going with this?? I can’t pet or hold her right now because of the threat of bacteria or infection. Even though she’s an inside cat, it doesn’t matter. Better safe than sorry. I can pet her IF I wear gloves and a mask. Or pet her like normal as long as I wash my hands immediately. But dancing her around like a ragdoll and blowing raspberries on her belly is a thing of the past.
These Short Stories are To Be Continued…
Let’s wrap it up
Thank you to everyone for following my journey and continuing to read these blogs. And as always; thank you each and every day for the love, support, positive thoughts and prayers you’re sending our way.
I would like to share some exciting news for anyone interested. I’ve been asked by the co-chair of Relay for Life to be a guest speaker at their next event which takes place this Saturday, May 3rd. I am equally excited and nervous but I will have some of my biggest fans there which means I will have the strength I need to give the best possible speech.
Until next time, remember the following: smile often, love more, forgive easier, and laugh as much as you can!