With our life lately, it's been sort of a whirl wind. Changed treatment plans, set backs, relapse, new plan, progression, fear, loss, grief... Our life was 24/7 Saoirse, and really it still is. She took all of our focus and attention and care for 8 long months, and we were lucky to be able to focus on her so completely.
I think I forgot that I had my own six month battle that I went through. Mine was so comparatively easy, that I keep forgetting that it happened. I feel good, my hair is coming back, I've (sadly) gained back all the weight I had lost, and now with Saoirse gone, and no more baby to take care of, I almost feel as if the past year and a half never happened. (ok, so this is a whole other can of worms that needs its own post... I'll get to that later.) Time is kind of stopped, and the world around me just sort of exists.
But then, all of a sudden, something will remind me. Usually its a mirror, as I still have a giantly obvious port in the middle of my chest. Or Mike will bring up the fact that he still worries about me. My first reaction is always "why," and then I say, "well, duh." Did I forget about those 6 months of chemo already? Was it so benign that it just doesn't even matter? Then I give myself a little mental slap and say "um hello! What is wrong with you? Did you forget or something?" I'm not sure how you forget that you had cancer. It seems like something that wouldn't get overshadowed by something else, unless that something else was pretty life changing - oh wait, I guess that was 2011 for the Fitzgeralds.
I feel like I was rudely reminded of my ill health status last week when I all of a sudden became very sick. Now don't freak out, not hospital runs or even doctors visits, "very sick" in my relative book means a stomach bug. I know what you're thinking... "What? she had cancer, what does a stomach bug have to do with anything?" But that's just it. I always have had an INSANE immune system. Mike, who picks up any bug and germ that walks by, hardly ever passed things on to me, and if he did, with much less severity. The last time I threw up before last Thursday (yes, this is a real stat, including through a pregnancy and chemo) was in 2005, when myself, Mike and a whole table of people from a gala event ended up with either food poisoning or the flu from the same source. Now colds, sure! I've had my fair share of those, maybe one or two a year, and a couple bouts with bronchitis due to complications from asthma, but considering that I had been working in a retail environment for quite some time, and before that in a school environment, I'm pretty sure I was exposed to many more germs than that. So, to my surprise last Thursday night, after having a lovely afternoon and evening with some friends, my body boycotted and emptied itself all at once over the course of about three hours. (To my rescue was a little Ativan that was so nicely in my medicine cabinet left over from my apparently forgotten treatment.) At first I thought "food poisoning!" as I literally had just eaten dinner at a restaurant. However, we had all shared dishes, and everyone had eaten the same things, and no one else was ill at all. Then I read some Facebook posts from my lovely mommy friends who I had partied with on Wednesday. Two babies, one mommy, and one daddy, all with the same bug! So apparently, while I was running around, snuggling up and playing with all my adorable little "baby fixers," I picked up a horrible baby belly bug which hit me like a ton of bricks in less than 24 hours. (I'm pretty sure it stewed in these other babies much longer than that.) Yup, no immune system. Forgot about that one. I had been protected in the hospital with the baby, if not by the fact that we were in an almost sterile environment, at least by the fact that Purell was everywhere. But now, no hospital, and no undying urge to sanitize every five minutes. Whoops! forgot about me and my negative immune system. Good thing I didn't encounter anyone with chicken pox. (I'm not sure how long it takes for my old immunities from vaccines, etc. to re-activate.)
So now I'm focusing on detoxing my system, and rebuilding my immune system. I think I will search out a naturopathic doctor to work with. I have done some very interesting reading, and I'm looking forward to what, I think, will be an amazing feeling of health once I achieve all the steps. We have already cleared out the pantry of all non-oranic foods (we donated them to the Ronald McDonald house in Boston, which makes me feel a little guilty as I am removing them so I don't eat them as a cancer patient, but at least they will be greatly appreciated). Next will be the fridge and freezer (ahhhh! it's scary in there!). We have been looking around at the local grocery stores and are finding where to get organic groceries easily and cheaply (not usually paired together, but cheap is winning over ease I think). We also signed up for a local farm share co-op, and will be looking forward to our organic produce and herbs coming over the spring, summer and fall! With all this organic food, we will be focusing on a more plant based diet (although I'm pretty sure we won't be cutting out animal products completely, we will be greatly cutting back). We trashed ALL the harsh chemicals in the house and I found a book called "Green Cleaning" by Briggs and Head that tells you how to clean your entire house and keep your house and yard maintained using 6 common and non toxic ingredients (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, salt, tea tree oil, and borax - ok, this one not so "non toxic" but non chemical none the less). We are now using natural soaps - Dr. Bronner's all natural - and my skin and hair have never felt better! They make laundry soap too, which I have, but haven't done a load yet. We got an under sink water filter for Christmas, and I'm considering having a whole house filter installed (we will be having our water tested). The final step will be some heavy metal detoxing for me. Chemotherapy puts horrible amounts of chemicals and metals into your system, bogging down your body and making it unable to function properly and detox itself. I've been juicing, which is a good start, and I've been reading up on some things that I can eat that will help to remove metals out of my system. But having had so many toxins pumped in, I'm looking to do some serious chelation, and I'll work with a doctor (probably naturopathic) on that one so that it's done safely.
So, kind of extreme, but we have done some startling research and hope that this is a road that will keep us away from the "C" word for the rest of our lives. One big driving force is wanting to have more kids. We want to make sure that I am healthy and stable and strong enough to have a healthy and normal pregnancy. We also want to make sure that I don't pass any residuals on to a new baby in the womb, and heavy metals are a big concern there. Plus, a fresh start is a great way to cleanse and move forward, and work on positive energy in a new, and hopefully enjoyable year ahead.
So here's to new beginnings, new horizons, and hopefully not having so many reminders that I am (technically) still a cancer patient.