When I returned from traveling in Virginia and Maryland, God had begun resurrecting plants and flowers in my garden, just like he was resurrecting healthy cells in my body. Mexican petunias, gerber daisies, lantana, alligator plants, 4 o’clocks, succulent plants, fern, ivy, elephant ears, marigolds, snap dragons, pentas, bougainvillea, cactus, spider lilies, orange lilies,indigo salvia and fuchsia salvia (Wendy’s wish) were all sprouting new shoots. When I went to the doctor on March 14, there was good news and bad news. My alkaline phosphatase enzyme levels were up from 192 to 302. They had been steadily coming down, from 239 in December to 192 in January. I guess putting off chemo treatments by 2 and then 1 week while traveling made a difference. From now on I will stay on the three week schedule – until November when Al and I go to Antarctica! The good news was that the tumor marker levels, which were 5.3 in December, are now down to 4.3. Yea, God, 2.5-3.0 is normal!
On March 13 I went to see my pulmonologist. He said there was a big improvement in my lungs. The X-rays are stable; no new damage in the left lung, and he can hear more air moving in and out of that lung! That’s resurrection, right here at Easter time! On March 22 I went to see my cardiologist and was told that I have atrial fibrillation. That explains my irregular heartbeat. It could also explain my shortness of breath on exertion. I have had this condition twice in my life, so I know what to expect. The cardiologist is going to run some tests and have me see the cardiac electro-physiologist again.
On April 12 I got fitted for a cardiac halter monitor. I wore it for 24 hours and I kept a diary of when I felt symptoms. Symptoms for me are shortness of breath, abbreviated as SOB in the diary and in this blog. That day I went around town with Al and Dorothy to run errands. While we were on the go all day long, there was no strenuous activity and I did not feel any SOB. The next morning I got up early to exercise on the treadmill while the halter monitor was still hooked up to my heart. “Surely”, I thought, “this will give me symptoms.” I set the treadmill for 30 minutes at 2.5 miles per hour (MPH). I walked 1.25 miles but had no SOB. Well, in the past, my heart always sped up during the cool down period, so I did a two-minute cool down, but to no avail! Still no SOB! Then I went to my little weight machine. I usually don’t use more than 5-7 pounds for the arm and leg exercises, but, as I was trying to push my heart’s limits for the test, I increased the weight to 7.5-10 pound. Still I did not experience any SOB!! Now I was running out of time. It was 10:00 and the monitor will turn off at 10:45. I still have to bathe and return the monitor to the doctor’s office before meeting Dorothy for lunch. I had 15 minutes left to exercise. I decided to get back on the treadmill, keep the speed low at 2.2 mph and add a 10-15 degree incline. Two minutes into the walk, my heart is doing fine, no SOB. So I turned up the speed to 2.5 mph. “This always makes me short of breath!” I said to myself triumphantly. I walked for 10 minutes, but still no SOB! Time’s up! I have to get ready for my luncheon outing! I will see the cardiologist for the test results on April 24!
I have had the strangest revelation in the past two weeks. Since I found out that my alkaline phosphatase went up, I have come to embrace the symptoms of my chemotherapy. I now think of the drug as my friend, knowing it is saving my life. When I feel spasms in my back muscles, I think, if it is working in that part of my body, it must be working on the c*****cells. When food doesn’t taste good, I think, Oh, well, I can lose a few more pounds. When I see the swelling in my feet and ankles, I think, time to put on my medical support hose. When I feel fatigued, I tell myself, it’s time to lie down and rest. When I get a headache, I say, time for some over-the-counter Tylenol. Whenever I feel any of the symptoms, I praise God and think, small price to pay for life. Thank you God, for your healing promises, for the doctors, for the treatments, and for life!
And thank you, God, for my beautiful garden! I love to work in it. When I water it, I envision God’s streams of living waters. I put mulch down and think of it as the armor of God, protecting my plants like the armor protects me. I gaze upon the long lily leaves and think of them as swords of the spirit, the word of God. I see the Celtic trinity knots and think of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I see the Celtic art on the bench and the flower pots and think of continuity and eternity. I see the sprawling lantanas and think of freedom. I see the little heart sculpture and think of how God has written His healing words on my heart. I see the ribbon sculpture and think of faith, belief, and knowledge of God’s truth. I see all the plants and sculptures that friends and family have given me and think of my wonderful support group! Thank you all for your prayers!
Pictures show my first Mexican petunia bloom; my azaleas; the red flowers in the tubs, my first knock-out rose; and the side flowerbed containing the 4 o’clock plants, lilies, and ragged leaf succulents which are just now beginning to grow.