As I said in my previous post, sometimes life gets in the way, and as was the case last week, sometimes “things” in the way of life. But when cancer is in your world that in itself may derail life…or at least life as I know it…as this post is the result of spending four and half days in the hospital battling a blood infection that came out of nowhere.
Somehow and or somewhere I picked up a Strep B infection in my blood system which then manifested itself in the lymphatic fluid that accumulates in my left arm, chest, and torso. This fluid accumulation is the byproduct and side effect of the lymphedema I have been dealing with since my lymph nodes were removed last June. While there was nothing overtly obvious, there were some signs I probably missed or just attributed to what chemo usual does to me post treatment. But once the infection took hold, in a window of about 20 minutes, I went from feeling OK to so-so to ‘call the doctor’, and we were off to the ER. I’ll spare you all the details, but I wanted you to see how quickly the events unfolded and how I will have to guard against it happening again to the best of my ability.
Reducing my fever and the diagnosis of the infection was the first order of business. From that point, it became a numbers game as the antibiotics started doing what they were designed to do. Once the cultures identified what the doctors were dealing with, they were able to reduce the overall number of antibiotics to a specific set and could start attacking my low white and red blood counts. After that it was hurry up and wait for those numbers to come up high enough to safely return home. I have to self-infuse antibiotics everyday for a week or two because they feel oral antibiotics would not be enough. Fortunately, the chemo port in my chest makes this fairly easy to do, even for someone like me who has trouble opening child-proof prescription bottles.
Shari was at my side almost every minute I was there, and I can’t imagine what those days would have looked like without her! Her ability to ask the right questions and help me hold the medical team serving us accountable offered so much clarity and discernment with the decisions that needed to be made. Plus she offered the support only she could, mixed with the occasional “butt-kick” when I wallowed in the self-pity pool for too long! Plus, she gladly passed along my Dad’s advice to read my own blog when I ventured to those dark places one’s mind can take them!
Doctor’s orders for this week are monitor and rest! They will monitor my blood work numbers several times next week and I must rest. I will take next week off and it will be a time to heal, recover, and restore as much as I can before cycle 7 of chemo starts the first week of August.
So many lessons were learned through this experience covering so many areas, related and unrelated, most of which apply to any life, not just one fighting a disease. I will probably share most of them on my blog at some point, but the greatest lesson learned had to do with something I heard but didn’t learn in a sermon early this year about operating at a sustainable pace. Hopefully this is one you can help me with and one I hope, by sharing with you, may be of value to you as well.
Life Lessons…not just a cancer lesson
“Your life moves to a better place when you move at a sustainable pace.”
Our relationships, health, decisions, emotions all move to a better place when we move at a sustainable pace.
Ask “Is my pace sustainable?” and do whatever it takes to move in a more rested direction.
What I just shared are from notes I took from the Life Apps series at North Point Church. Jeff Henderson, who is the campus pastor of North Point’s Gwinnett Church shared his wisdom on what the Bible says about rest, specifically how God thought enough about it that He included it as one of the Ten Commandments. I would highly encourage everyone to listen to Jeff’s message visiting the North Point Church website to view this message.
Unfortunately for me those were just sermon notes and not steps applied to my own life. After experiencing what I experienced this week I know I had not been maintaining a sustainable pace…for far too long. What I realized was my thinking was flawed and the pace I tried to maintain could have hinder what the treatment hope to accomplish. Part of me, and maybe it’s just a me thing, thought:
“Tom if you let cancer alter your life too much, you’re letting cancer win.”
On the surface, this is a valid statement and something I’d advise others not to let happen from a MINDSET STANDPOINT. You can’t shut down mentally and roll up into a ball in the corner just because you have cancer, you have to live and you can thrive. I hope my life, my marriage, and the relationships I hold dear THRIVE in the spite of where my third bout with cancer has taken me.
But below the surface, you do have to let cancer and the treatment of that cancer ALTER YOUR PHYSICAL LIFE if you want to battle at the optimum level. This is something I honestly know now that I did not do.
Stupid is as Stupid does
I got those two things confused. When that mistake takes place, not only does your health suffer, you end up not in a position to thrive in life like God wants us too.
Hope to see and or hear from all of you…and when we do connect after you get done asking how I’m doing…you have permission to ask, “How are you pacing yourself…really? Tom, you do know what’s at stake!” Plus you have permission to ask Shari to help hold me accountable. Those of you who know her know she’ll give you her opinion, and boy do I know that! ; )
trusting God period!
Thank you for visiting Leveraging Life and you’ll notice the Sharing Is Caring buttons at the bottom of the post which makes it easy to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or as an email.
You also can you can receive Leveraging Life updates in an email every time I update and all you have to do is click here to subscribe to Leveraging Life. (It’s free)