As promised in a previous blog, here are my continuing adventures of cancer at 31. In addition to making fun of my own michele-isms and other funny-now (but maybe not funny at the time) stories of actual events. Something I have yet to talk about is my experience as a patient in the hospital. Probably because most things associated with the hospital includes a lot of not-so-good memories. Be warned, some of this stuff might be a bit morbid or deal with fluids you might not want to know about.
I am now realizing that there are far too many things and stories to fit into just two blogs. So I will continue to spread them throughout my blogging.
I find myself writing this on May 11, Mother’s Day, so it’s only fitting that I start it by honoring the person I still call Mommy. I always knew that I was a lucky girl with an awesome mom. But this year has opened my eyes far more than I would have ever preferred. Both my mother and father put their lives on hold to help take care of me. There was never a question. While my husband is working hard to put food on the table, my parents are at my home being caregivers to their 31 year old daughter. Well…let me be more specific. My dad shows his support by watching tv from the recliner and occasionally buying me things. Don’t misunderstand me, my parents are not rich by any stretch of the imagination. But when their daughter has leukemia and we’re out window shopping, all I have to do is bat the few lashes I have left and my dad is won over. I know, I know. It’s wrong. My mother does everything; cooking, cleaning, pill provider, shoulder to cry on, shopping buddy, cat litter cleaner, cat bather, and the list goes on. My husband has said and I quote, “I would not be able to do this without your mom.” And me? I would certainly not be able to do any of this without her love each and every day. Simply put, she’s my angel. Thanks Mom.
Yes, you read that right. I was on steroids while in the hospital and am 100% positive I had roid rage. Because my blood count and platelets were so low, I also had to have countless blood transfusions. Whenever I was having a dumb moment (or entire day), I would blame it on the mysterious person I had been given blood from. With the amount of blood that was being ordered up for me, you would think I was a blood sucking vampire. I was pale enough to be one. But I did not sparkle, therefore I could not have been a vampire, right??
|This would be me if I was on these
type of roids. Buff bald-headed
Roid rage: Roid rage is a term given to people who act in a very aggressive or hostile manner after taking large doses of steroids. Most everyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a very sweet person. Michele going through roid rage…not so sweet. I was so angry at times. I was short with people, mainly my loved ones and at times the nurses. And I couldn’t control it. Sure, I was (and still am) pretty upset about getting cancer and you may think that could have something to do with my temper. But I’m telling you now, it was not controlled. I was like a crazy person. Moral of the story: Don’t do steroids.
I can’t work for a year minimum??!
When my doctor first told me that I was not going to be able to work for a year, I about slid out of the hospital bed. I couldn’t even comprehend that since I had been going non-stop for so long. I immediately then starting questioning my doctor and his “advice.” Thankfully with M3 Makeup, I have capable people taking care of most everything. But I still had emails and different work items so I started slow and realized I could do a little which made me feel like I was contributing somewhat. While in the hospital, I limited my time on the computer to 1 hr each morning. Plus, I had to do it before I was given pain meds. Anyone that has been on pain medication understands why you would not want to send emails during that time. Ok, so I could still work. Silly doctor.
Now to the next item. I am a makeup artist. I absolutely love it. Obviously I wasn’t going to be doing any makeup while in the hospital. But I did take advantage of an opportunity when it came about. One of the other M3 artists, Rali, and her husband came to see me one day. They had given me a Smurfs coloring book and crayons to pass the time. Besides, one can only watch but so much tv. I thought, “This is perfect.” It will calm my itch to do makeup.
It was the moment I had been waiting for. I chose the picture that best fitted my mood for coloring and got started. 45 minutes later, all I had to show for it was Smurfette’s colored in face and hair. But man, did I stay within the lines. And that is why I don’t quite trust myself as a makeup artist right now.
My friends and I have joked about the following…For clients who want Michele as their artist, there is a separate contract agreement that you must sign. Please put a check mark next to each of the items saying that you have read and understand them.
___ I am ok with the fact that Michele will need to take a 5 minute break every 10 minutes.
___ Michele can take a nap when she feels it’s necessary.
___ I will overlook the fact if she seems loopy or is forgetful at times.
___ I will need to allow up to 2 hours for my bridal makeup alone.
___ I can not be a bridezilla. Or have a mom as a momzilla. Or have any bridesmaids that are bridesmaidzillas.
Chemotherapy has saved my life thus far. But at the end of the day, it is a poison. They had to go in and kill all of my healthy blood cells and marrow to get rid of the cancer. (When I got my diagnosis, I was told the leukemia had taken over 85% of my cells. So most of them were bad already.) Something I’ve been learning is that not all chemo-therapies are the same. Meaning someone with breast cancer may undergo chemo as an outpatient and they’re able to be back at work the next day. Acute Leukemia chemotherapy is extremely aggressive and can only be done in the hospital. It’s 10-14 days of hard chemo and a minimum week of recovery before I can think about leaving the bed. I am in bed 24/7 and just getting up to go to the bathroom is a challenge. And supposedly, while I’m on all these cytotoxic drugs, I guess even my sweat can be potentially toxic.
Even though I have a bathroom in my room at the Florida Hospital, when I’m this weak, they put a portable toilet right next to my bed. *Another little fact: when you’re given a lot of fluids, this means you have to pee. A LOT.* Now, I’ve already mentioned how awesome my husband has been throughout this entire process. There was not one night that went by without him sleeping uncomfortably in the recliner next to me. As drugged up as I was, I will never forget the morning of the spill. It was 5am and my full bladder woke me up. I wake Scott up to help me up to my toilet/bucket attached to a seat where I have an Austin Powers peeing moment and I stand up 10 minutes later. (TMI I know and clearly I’m exaggerating about the 10 minutes. It was more like 7.)
We’re both still half asleep and I’m all drugged up. What happens next certainly woke me up. I don’t know what I hit or how it happened but when I stood up the bucket filled with my pee fell to the ground and even though it was dark, I saw liquid shoot all over that entire room. It was absolutely horrifying. Obviously, this wakes Scott again. He runs over, just having heard me yell and the crash…and then he starts yelling about his wet socks. I start giggling. He hits the nurse’s button and starts screaming, “Bio-spill! Hurry, we’ve got a bio-spill in here!” This as he was dancing away from the growing toxic lake trying to take his socks off without touching them. I still can’t get the image out of my head and I laugh about it every time I remember.
Things that make me HAPPY 🙂
|Although it may not be for the reason I would like, my story still made the first page of my hometown’s newspaper! (You can read the online story here.) The support that Franklin County is showing me right now in my greatest hour of need has left me absolutely speechless.|
|I have loved watching and feeding these
duckies on my victory walks.
|Finally almost done with
this amazing and
hilarious book. Well
done Tina Fey!
|My new slippers for the big BMT. I think they say, “There’s no place like the hospital.”
Regardless, pretty excited to break these bad boys out! Who says you can’t be stylish
while undergoing chemo, getting a transplant, and fighting for your life?!
Everyone in Franklin County is praying for you Michele. I'm a 2003 grad of FC, but have many friends that graduated in 2001. I read your blog everytime Sara Vaassen shares it on Facebook. We may not know each other, but I follow your blog, and I pray for you. — Jessica Wilson
Michele Mann says
Thank you for the encouragement Jessica. I am incredibly blessed to have so many people all over praying for my recovery. I've never felt more love in my life 🙂