April, 2016

Pneumonia Admission

George and I were supposed to leave for our anniversary trip yesterday. Yet instead of staying in Dena Point, I wound up to stay at a hospital with Pneumonia.

I was not doing well the last couple weeks. Usually It takes a coupe days to recover from chemo infusion, but the recovery was getting slower and running nose and cough was just relentless. As I ran a low fever on Monday, I decided to hold off on the oral daily chemo, Afinitor, and canceled Tuesday’s infusion. Yet that was not good enough.

At Tuesday’s night, I ran a fever over 103F with vomit and diarrhea. The fever seemed gone with Tylenol on Wednesday morning, but it ran again in the afternoon, which sent me to the urgent care, where the blood test showed severe infection and I was told to stay over at ER.

Refusing to give up the trip, I was still praying that I would be discharged by Thursday afternoon, but a doctor said, “Oh no. You have to stay here at least a few more days.” It was so disappointing and sad.

Yet not everything was bad. I found ” God’s fingerprints” in the midst of this discouragement.

First, I am recovering with good appetite and energy. Thankful for the great antibiotics!

Second, I am receiving overwhelming get well wishes, including the owner of the vacation rental house George and I were supposed to stay. He already told me I didn’t need to worry about the cancelation because he had a cancer friend and understood the situation, but in his email, he, who knew this trip was for our anniversary, said he had been ready to welcome us decorating the property with flowers. Maybe this was a courtesy like a birthday cake with the birthday song at a restaurant, but his kindness made me feel more than just a courtesy, and I was touched deeply.

Third, I have to hold all chemo until I fully recover from pneumonia, but perhaps because of that, all numbers of the blood test, which were raising higher and higher, dropped down into the normal range. I should go back to chemo quickly, but maybe this is a good break.

This anniversary was our 22nd, and during 6 yeas of those George and I have been battling against breast cancer. If I think of how long I have been able to survive, my gratitude multiply. The life of George, who has Parkinson’s disease, and me will be steeper and steeper, but I pray that we can add good memories as many as possible until the death parts us, and at the end we can say each other; so glad to have married!

I’m Home!

I had thought I would have been on Kaiser’s bed at least this weekend, but surprisingly, on Friday Morning, a doctor ordered a discharge of me. I could come home in the afternoon!

PRAISE THE LORD!!

Being so excited that I thought even the anniversary trip might be still possible. Yet as soon as I got up from the bed, I noticed that was a wrong expectation. I was still weak, coughing like a mad dog, and getting out of breath easily.

At the hospital, I was not allowed to take a shower because I was too weak. So the first thing I wanted to do at home was taking a shower.
Yet, looking at the same mess as the time I left, I wanted to wash dishes in the sink, put away plates from the dish washer, sweep the floor, put away the laundry George washed, and email back to people to let them know I got home.

Home is the best place, but it is very difficult to be still and rest. By the time I got out from the shower I was so exhausted being about ready to collapse, and realized that I was recuperating, but not fully recovered yet.

If I won’t recover completely, I can’t resume chemo, which is life threatening just like pneumonia, and I will keep putting a big burden on George, who has Parkinson’s. I shouldn’t be foolish. If I love him, I need to depend on him for everything doing nothing for a while.

Another difficult thing at home is taking meds on time. While at the hospital, even though I was sleeping, a nurse woke me up to give me medicines, which are to taken every 12 hours, but certain hours before or after meals, here at home, I can barely control the time of getting up, or eating meals. At home the responsibility is increased.

I was scheduled to have a CT scan to evaluate the current regimen this Tuesday, but a radiology specialist may misread pneumonia as cancer or vice versa. As I asked the question, I was told that it would be better to postpone it in 3-4 weeks.

Well, it is nice to have a short break from nasty chemo, but I can’t afford to have a long one, so I have to be Lazy!!

Amazing Grace

It has been three days since my discharge. It is  difficult to ignore a pile of dirty dishes, clothes, and crumbs under the table, but right now even sitting in front of the computer for 30 minutes is like hours of marathon and I get so exhausted.

I don’t know if people found it out or not, but from the Bible study class, they are coming one after another to run errands, bring foods, wash cars, water the yard, or fix the lights outside.  It is utterly stunning.

Get well wish mails and cards are also still arriving. I feel like all the people in the South Bay are praying for me.

What is this? What is going on? Why are they doing this? Because George gives the good study?

Some may say, “You deserve this.” Really? I don’t think so. This unbelievable shower of kindness  is too great to explain with such an ordinary words.  I believe this is God’s Grace. Amazing Grace.  Pneumonia is dreadful, but God’s Grace I am experiencing is much more powerful.  I get tears.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you so much for loving me by surrounding me with so many good people. You are always, forever, almighty!

Ice Sunday

Ice cream George made for me. He is another God’s Grace.

Resume Chemo

I walked upstairs to the 3rd floor at the clinic for a lab. My legs were getting heavy as I turned at a staircase to the 2nd floor, and by the time when I got to the 3rd floor, I was totally out of breath. I was panting.

I sang a song together with a little piano student. As a four measure phrase was too long to sing without inhaling, I got out of breath again and coughed hard.

It has been two weeks since the discharge, and I am still limiting my activity to a minimum listening to friends’ advice.

I am not sure if pneumonia was completely healed or not yet, but because the lab result was good, I resumed chemo.

I am planning to go to Hawaii in a month with the family. Since about a year ago a good Bible study friend has been inviting us to her house in Maui, saying ” I ‘d like you to stay at my house and relax there.” After a couple attempts and giving-ups, finally we picked the dates and bought the air tickets.

The friend said that in right front of her house was a private beach, where big turtles lived. I have been dreaming to snorkel like when I was young, but if I get out of breath so easily, how can I snorkel? Or at the point just after I gave up the anniversary trip, I am not sure if I can make it to fly to Hawaii in a month. Going on the trip sounds even crazy right now. Yet, if this is another God’s Grace, it is possible.

Well, first I have to clear today’s infusion without much trouble. May everything be under God’s control!

God Is Not Dead

On Tuesday night, after a chemo infusion, I went to see a movie, ” God Is Not Dead 2″ with the Bible class. This is the 2nd story of the same titled movie, which became a surprise hit last year.

A Christian high school history teacher was sued because she answered quoting a Bible verse to a student, who asked if Gandhi had been affected by Jesus. It was about Christianity, which has been pushed out from the public in the U.S. more and more recently.

As the teacher, the main character, was facing the crisis being curiously focused on by the media, criticized from colleagues and parents, and threatened to lose her career and to ruin her finances, a group of Christian students made a surprise visit to her and sang a hymn holding candles in front of her house.

That was the turning point of the story, but it was also a scene where I was moved the most. I was recalling the overwhelming kindness I’ve received in the past two weeks when I was down with Pneumonia.

When I blogged this shower of the kindness, Arlene, George’s cousin said to me that it was the body of Christ.
The Bible calls a church or Christians to become the body of Christ, who is the head: suffer together, rejoice together, and help each other like parts of one body.
The church is not only a place to listen to a sermon or sing hymns, but also to unite under God to work together. If it happens, it is incredibly powerful. That’s what I saw in the movie, and what I have experienced.
God is Not dead. When we are ready to fall down, cry, or lose hope, He comes right next to us.
While one more affliction hit me, I was with God.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

George Got Pneumonia, And I Went Back To ER

After I was discharged 18 days ago, George, who has asthma, started coughing and it was getting worse. Last Friday finally he went to see a doctor and then was told that he was also had pneumonia!

Every 3rd Sunday in a month he is given an opportunity to give a sermon, and since Ma, his mom, whose birthday was 4/10, was coming to listen to his sermon yesterday, we were planning to have a birthday lunch for her including our kids after the service.

“There will be no change.” Saying so to people who worried about him, he kept working on the sermon, though he looked horrible. I thought it was my turn to do the house work so I worked hard through the day, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, going to the grocery shopping, making the lunch, washing dishes, and teaching the piano. Then at night, I ran out energy completely and felt sick again. Coughing and with pink puffy eyes, George asked me, who had a shortness of breathing, ” Is there anything I can do for you?”

If I stay at home being this way, George will worry about me and he can’t rest. It’s better to go to ER, where I can get good medical attention and care. —–Thinking of so, I decided to go to ER preparing for the hospitalization again.

At ER, as an Xray showed no pneumonia sign, a doctor considered to let me go home, but after all, thankfully she took me as an inpatient to observe until Saturday afternoon.

I was discharged, but still had no energy until Sunday morning. George looked pale, also. We were far away from the best condition, but we made it to the service and the birthday lunch. (I appreciate the kids who did the most work to make a nice birthday lunch for Ma.)

This year I have been admitted to the hospital already three times. Yet the new inpatient rooms were clean, quiet, bright, the bed was comfortable, the food was good, and the staff were very professional and caring. I could rest so well without bothering George, or being bothered by a mess at home. Having such a good experience each time, now I feel like Kaiser hospital were my second house! I like there very much!:-)

Setback or Progression

I was so frustrated with the slow recovery from pneumonia. Last week once I resumed the infusion and oral chemo, I was admitted to the hospital again because of the shortness of breath.
After the discharge, I thought finally I was getting better Sunday afternoon and Monday. Yet from Tuesday I felt weak again and since Thursday night I have had fever.

On Wednesday a family doctor, who ordered an X-ray again, told me I had new pneumonia in a different spot. Then today as I went to the Urgent Care, a different doctor said that the radiologist, who read the X-ray, didn’t mention it was pneumonia. So it could be a viral infection or something else.
The doctor ordered a blood test. Though I haven’t talked about the result with him yet, the numbers of the blood test I received through email were all in the normal range. At least for me there appears no sign of infections.

I have read if cancer in lungs progresses, it causes pneumonia,fatigue, fever, cough, chest pain, chills, and the shortness of breath, which all I have had in this month.
I haven’t taken a CT scan since last December though my routine is every three months. I now wonder if those all symptoms are the signs of cancer progression. If so, I have to change the regimen quickly. And next questions are how I know if this is a setback or progression and if it’s the progression, when and what to change the regimen.
Yet instead of imagining this or that by myself, I should listen to the doctor’s diagnosis, which I might have to wait until Monday.

Doc’s Opinion With Lab Result

Around 11pm on Saturday, the phone rang. It was from a doctor who was button touched from the doctor I saw at the urgent care earlier on the same day regarding the lab results.  After confirming that every number was in normal renege, I asked if I had pneumonia, viral infection, or cancer progression.

First he said the doctor who saw me during the day was concerned about the infection because last week when I was admitted to the hospital, one of white cell counts was very high, though I had told that I had used a shot, which increases the white cell counts, because it was the third day after a chemo infusion, which knocks down the count.
The new doctor who was on the phone said although the lab results were normal, I should finish the antibiotics because there is still possibility of pneumonia or viral infection.

” How about the possibility of cancer progression? ”
I asked. He said it’s also possible but personally he thinks it is unlikely that a cancer tumor grew 2.7cm all of sudden at a spot where was nothing a week ago. I was more than happy with his answer. 🙂

I appreciate for the young doctor who called me at such a late time on Saturday and took time to answer all my questions! Kaiser is good!:-)

Two More Weeks Off Chemo

I see white thin hairs growing on my bald head. That means I haven’t had chemo for  a long time.

Yesterday morning, a nurse of the oncologist called and told me to hold off chemo including Afinitor, an oral daily drug, for another two weeks, which was not a surprise. Yet then, this month I had only one infusion and two weeks of Afinitor. It’s 25% of the full dosage. Cancer must be very happy.

A CT scan, which is rescheduled from 4/5 is coming next week, but I’m not sure if it’s on schedule or will be postponed again. I will find it out this Thursday when I see the oncologist.

Usually I take a CT every 3 months. As I think of the radiation amount I have exposed for the past 6 years, I always wish to expand the intervals. This time It has been 5 months, or possible longer. It is ironic that my wish came true after messing up chemo for a month. If I see the image after such a long time, I may see something horrible, as though I opened a refrigerator after I unplugged it a month. Scary!

Although the family medicine doctor, who called late Saturday night, said that the new 2.7cm nodule found in the latest X-ray was unlikely cancer, because the cough has been so persistent and nasty, it is difficult not to have a bad imagination.

As I’ve heard that there are Kaisers in Hawaii, too, I checked the locations. Unfortunately all of them are in Oahu island, but not 0n Maui island where we will stay.

” I don’t feel like I can make it.” As I said so, George answered, ” One day at a time. Don’t worry about ahead. You said you feel better than yesterday. ”
If I listen to him, I calm down.

Yes. If we face a huge overwhelming mountain in front of us, we need to focus on one day, or one step at a time.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”–proverbs 3:5

I chew God’s Word.

No More Afinitor

“No More Afinitor.”
With the doctor’s words, I doubted my ear.
“Since you started it, you have had so many troubles. If you have to hold chemo each time, the negative effect is bigger. And it is only 50% ( of the full dosage.)”

She is right. This regimen has been pretty harsh and I was down 1-2 days every week. Actually I was going to ask her if it was OK to hold off Afinitor until I come back from Hawaii. Yet giving it up was not in my mind. While usually a chemo drug works for 3-6 months, this regimen with Afinitor works for 2 years according to the study. My expectation was high even though I was taking only 50%.

“What should I do next if I stop Afinitor?”

The doctor said we should discuss about it after we see the result of next CT, which was postponed to the end of May. She said if my symptoms are not improved, I should have a CT to see what’s going on in the lungs, but right now, as pneumonia has affected on even lymph nodes, it won’t help to see cancer status.

“Pneumonia blew up everything.” She sounded like she was also frustrated with it. Yet I should think the Pneumonia is also included in a package of cancer.

The good news was that when I asked if I could go to Hawaii in two weeks, she said, ” Yes. Why not?”! I was going to give up the trip if she said, “No” and ready to hear the word. Since she approved the trip, unless I have another episode, we, as a family, will go to Hawaii!

As I shared with George about the discussion with the doctor, as well as the concern of the progression and the next option, he said again, ” One step at a time. We prayed to give the wisdom to the doctor so she can make good decisions. If there is no more options, then your job on the earth is accomplished and t’s time for you to go Home. The Home must be much better than Hawaii.”

Right. I agreed with everything he said.

The hardships are increasing on my plate, but right now my goals are to get better, to clear the next infusion, and to have a fun safe family trip to Hawaii, and these are also my prayers. God is the Light to guide me and protect me in this darkness and I need to focus on it instead of being distracted by the concerns and fears.