Geez! Last Monday the 20th, was my final day of radiation. It was by far one of the best days of my life. So surreal. I didn’t know what to do with myself all week! I had been hitting the gym hard and working a lot since I had been feeling better. I did notice last week that I was so tired and felt a little short of breath, but I thought it was due to my increased time in the gym, my diet, and work. Saturday night, we had a big “end of cancer party” which was THE BOMB. Boobie cake, Boob Ice Luge, Jello Shots, and my favorite people. It was an awesome night, but the next morning I was sooooo tired. Part of me thought, man, I just can’t do it like I used to! I was struggling all day.
Sunday night, around 9, I went to go lie down for bed, and I had the most intense sharp pain in my left side. I could not lie flat, I couldn’t stand up straight, couldn’t breathe, felt like I was trying to breathe through a coffee straw and the pain in my side was killerrrrr. I thought maybe I pulled something, maybe I had a cramp, so I went downstairs and tried to lie on the sofa. I could not get comfortable. I just sat there and cried. I thought about driving myself to the hospital in the middle of the night, but then I thought maybe it’s not that bad and I’ll try to wait it out as long as possible.
Morning came and I still could hardly stand up. It took everything in me to put on pants and take Matthew to school. After that, I called my radiation oncologist and told him I was having trouble breathing and had a really sharp pain in my left side. He told me to come in ASAP and get a CT Scan. I had a few things I had to do for work, so I stopped by the office first. I was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie and couldn’t have cared less about what I looked like that day. My secretary was like, “how ya doin?” and I said “uh fine, I gotta go to the hospital after I leave here…” She was like, “well, you look okay!” Well, that’s the point! I don’t like people knowing if I’m upset, hurt etc. I always act like everything is fine. If I DO tell you, then it’s probably pretty bad by then, LOL. Anyway, I went to get a CT Scan. After that, I headed to the hospital to meet with the Radiation Oncologist. He came right in and said, welp, you have blood clots in both your lungs, I’m gonna send you over to doctor Loines (my oncologist). Okay, super! not how I wanted to start my Monday. My first week with no visits to the hospital on the agenda, and here I was, back.again. Ugh.
So I walked on over to Dr. Loines. He greeted me with tears in his eyes. “Oh Amanda. I really did not want to see you today! You didn’t take the tamoxifin did you?” Dr. Loines had perscribed me tamoxifin. Tamoxifin is an estrogen blocker Since my cancer was Estrogen Receptor Positive. To grow and reproduce, breast cancer cells require estrogen. Tamoxifen is an “anti-estrogen” and works by competing with estrogen to bind to estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells. Anyway, the number one side effect of this is blood clots. Dr. Loines had prescribed it to me on Friday, but I had not picked up the perscription yet. I said, “no, not yet…” After a few minutes, I remembered that my mom had blood clots in her lungs when I was younger. I remember her being hosptialized. The doctor asked me if I had a history of blood clots and I said, well not me, but my mom. “Does your mom have Factor V?” Well I don’t know, I was young and wasn’t really paying attention. So I texted her. Yes, she does. Factor V is an inherited blood clotting disorder. I had never been tested for it, but he said it was a huge possibility. I won’t find out the results for a few more weeks.
So, factor V, my weak immune system, and radiation/chemo equaled the perfect storm. I probably would have gotten the clots sometime in my life, but these 3 factors sure helped the process. So, I said, “well, are there a lot?” “well, after reading the report, yeah, looks there are several. We’re going to have to admit you…” UGH! I do NOT have time for this. I was so upset. So excited to get back in the gym, get back to work, and not spend any more time at the damn hospital.
Before I left, he said, “well, you know what this means? Now we’re going to have to talk about putting you on arimidex… (only other estrogen blocker)”
“ummmm isn’t that for post-menopausal women?”
“sooooo, you’re telling me that I now have to get a hysterectomy?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Well. What if I just decide to do nothing?”
“Amanda, I couldn’t let you do that. You wouldn’t want to do that.”
“ummmkay. Well, we can talk about this another day. Too much to process today. How long will I be in the hospital?”
“maybe a day or 2.”
So now, I have blood clots in both my lungs, am being admitted to hospital one week after I finished my treatment, and I just found out I have to get a hysterectomy. Lovely.They started me on blood thinners right away, lovenox, which is a shot I have to give myself in my stomach twice a day for a month. That night was, rough. I was in so much pain, and nothing, I mean nothing helped. They gave me vicodin, percocet, morphine, dilaudid, you name it. I just remember sitting in that room alone in the middle of the night crying. The nurse came in and asked what was wrong, and I said, I really don’t want to sound like a pill seeker or something, but nothing is helping me and I don’t know what else to do. It was worse than childbirth.
The next morning, my blood pressure was like 80/40 for about 24 hours, so they sent me to ICU. I had a fever, low bp, and at this point, on percocet every 4 hours which barely worked. Well now, I had pneumonia, along with the clots because I couldn’t take a deep breath and the fluid was just sitting in my lungs. Just call me the hot mess express. They sent me for another CT scan. I hadn’t had a percocet but I didn’t think it would be that bad. I forgot I had to lie flat to get the CT. Well, again, worst pain in my life, cried like a baby, and I don’t cry. CT results showed there was still clotting on the right, left was worse, fluid on the bottom left lung and some blood on my liver? “Did you fall recently or have some trauma to your right side?” “ummmm, not that I remember, and wouldn’t the pain be on my right side if that were the case?” So bizarre. No idea what happened or how that happened. It wasn’t enough for them to be concerned about because my blood counts were not dropping significantly. My blood pressure didn’t really get back to normal until Friday, and the pain in my side finally subsided around that time also. I was on like 50 antibiotics and finally discharged on Saturday afternoon. Gonna have to take it easy for a while, which I really don’t want to do, but right now I can’t even walk to the mailbox without being short of breath. I don’t even know what to think, I feel like I am watching someone else’s movie.
I am not a particularly spiritual person, but lately I have been thinking that maybe life really doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Maybe I am strong enough to go through this, so someone else doesn’t have to because they just, can’t? I dunno. I had a lot of time to sit and reflect this week, when I wasn’t hopped up on pain meds. I don’t know why things happen the way they do, but there has to be some method to the madness.
I had such an outpouring of love and support, messages, gifts, visits etc from some awesome people in my life. Some people I never thought I’d hear from. I was so thankful for the encouragement.
I’ll leave you with this. I am still trying to come to the realization that just because I would do something for someone, does not mean that they would do the same for me, regardless of the circumstances.
Life is messy. Everyone has their own problems. Everyone deals with things in their own way.
Shit happens. I get it.
But the words we say, or in some cases, don’t say, stick around long after the moment has passed.
Have some compassion.
Try not to be an asshole.
And don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.
Love and Light,