17 December 2008

My cancer diary – part 14

After gallons of plasma, some serious nausea, and what may have been gallstones, Lynn, Andre and the girls are in for a great treat.

After gallons of plasma, some serious nausea, and what may have been gallstones, Lynn, Andre and the girls are in for a great treat.

Lynn sent the following message on October 17. It had the subject line "Lynn's Anatomy Ep 13: The one where dreams come true and miracles happen".

Hey everyone

Andre wrote to you a couple of weeks agoabout “dem stones” and I’ll just give you a quick update about what happened since then, and then tell you our really exciting news.

So, as Andre told you, I was admitted to hospital after they did an ultrasound scan and found what they thought was a gallstone (well, something was in my gall bladder), and there was the very technically termed “sludge” in my bile duct. I’m learning a lot about the different parts of the body as you can imagine, and the bile duct connects your liver to your gall bladder (and other bits of you).

Dr Oodit (I kid you not, that’s his name – and he’s really very nice) was a bit worried that a gallstone had got stuck in the bile duct and wanted to do a scope to check it out. They admitted me (oh joy) and ran tests etc, then realised that they could not bring any sharp instruments near me as my blood was so thin it’s amazing it wasn’t seeping out my orifices (or should that be orifi?).

Anyway, they measure the thickness/clotting factor in your blood and it gets an INR count. For normal people it’s around 1. For patients medicated like I am on warfarin to prevent big clots (er… that would be BLOOD clots… nothing they can do for silly clots), they like to keep it between 2-3. Mine was >10 which is just a tad on the high side.

Pumping in plasma
So, before they could get stuck in, they had to thicken my blood which they do by pumping blood plasma into you.

Now I’m not sure if it’s because the stuff is frozen, or if it’s because it’s someone else’s blood, or because they have to run it into you quite quickly before it “expires” – whatever it is, it made me feel hideously nauseous.

Once again, I felt a bit like an imposter in my ward because initially I was feeling yugh but not like, THAT bad. Until 10.30 the next morning when the pain started in earnest… and after literally throwing about the whole pharmacy at me, it eventually started abating at about 7 that night.

Once again I thanked the Lord for arranging it so that I had to have an emergency Caesar with Courtney as I soooo don’t think I would have made it through labour! They say that with pain management it’s crucial to “stay ahead of the pain curve”, but I clearly missed the proverbial boat that day. I truly didn’t know what to do with myself and my poor family stood by helplessly (have I mentioned I can be quite dramatic?). After that experience, every time I was offered pain medication, even if I wasn’t in particularly bad pain I just took it anyway.

No more gallstones
Anyway, long story short, after five days and what felt like gallons of plasma, they decided to do an MRI-type scan of my abdomen to check out the bile duct. And, surprise…. no more gallstones! Either I passed them or they may not have been there in the first place.

What they did see was that there was a lot of blood in my bile duct (the “sludge”) which they think came from my tumours. Melanomas are apparently known to bleed and, whether they spontaneously erupted or whether I somehow caused them to bleed through a bump, jump (Pen and I did go to a rather energetic dance class…) or squish (I’d also recently been pretzel’d by the chiro) we don’t know, but essentially I was kind of like bleeding internally and my blood wasn’t clotting because my INR was so high. So the treatment they were giving me was helping me, but not in the way they were expecting it to.

The next day (after being there a week) I was discharged and got to come home to a decent bed and edible food, and after a day or two I felt much better. YAY!

And now for the exciting stuff…
Just before this latest episode, Andre told me that “there was a strong possibility that we would be going to Disney World”. I was a bit taken aback, thinking maybe we’d been invited on his company’s incentive trip or something and I hadn’t been paying proper attention. But then he told me the most amazing news.

Tracy Dicker, one of the moms at the girls' school, had come up with the idea to send the four of us to Disney and had been plotting, planning and organising up a storm to make it happen. And it was happening! Now I don’t know who’s been doing what - Tracy keeps telling me it’s a group effort and others have told me that Tracy has been driving it all, but what I do know is that this is an OUTRAGEOUSLY generous and overwhelming gift, and we’ve been blown away!

I also know that God’s also been hard at work slotting things into place and making things that wouldn’t normally happen, happen… truly miraculous.

Unheard of
The parents in the grade 1 and 3 classes have been making donations of Voyager miles, accommodation points and cash to send us on this dream holiday. I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve managed to book a Voyager flight I did it a year in advance. However, we’ve managed to get ALL FOUR of us on the SAME PLANE going where we want, when we want, to coincide with the availability of the accommodation block – all only three weeks in advance! Unheard of.

The next hurdle we had was the small matter of passports… which had expired! But one of the moms knew someone at the Bellville Home Affairs who said she’d help us, and within ONE WEEK we had new passports for the kids as well as the unabridged birth certificates we needed for the American visas (which normally take 6-8 weeks!). Amazing.

And then there was the small matter of the American visas. What a palaver! But, off we went last Wednesday for our interview with bar-coded forms and as much proof as we could gather that we weren’t planning on staying there forever and, after making it through security and jumping through all the hoops, we got our visas. Hallelujah.

After the consulate we went to see Pam at Gilt Edge Travel who has been working like a Trojan securing all our travel arrangements – sometimes working late into the night from home to secure bookings because of the time difference! Pam gave us our tickets and vouchers, and told us that a friend of hers who works at the Disney office in CT had also got in on the act: they’d donated enough Hopper passes for all of us to get in and out the park every day, and had also made up a hamper for each of the kids.

When she said “hamper” I thought it would be things like caps and lanyards… you know the normal corporate promotional material. But I think they’d got together and collected cash and gone out and BOUGHT a fortune of stuff so that Cassi got an amazing Hanna Montana hamper and Courtney a High School Musical one.

Telling the girls
We told the girls last Wednesday and they knew that there was an “exciting surprise” in the making. I’d been giving them clues every day (their first three guesses were something to do with my health, getting a pony or adopting a child!), so on Wednesday we played 20 questions and after lots of BIG HINTS they finally guessed it. We then brought out the Disney hampers… their expressions said it all!

We feel so very blessed and quite humbled to be on the receiving end of all this love and generosity. Enough cash was donated to pay for the airport taxes, our flights from New York to Orlando, car hire and one-day passes. Flights and accommodation have been sponsored by the parents and even some old school friends, and Gilt Edge Travel have sponsored the travel insurance and Disney have donated the extra passes. The girls have been given dollars to spend and all that’s left is for us to go and enjoy what truly is a long-held dream.

It’s also been so amazing to see God at work making everything fall into place.

So, we’re super duper excited. We only have six more sleeps (we leave on Thursday 23rd) and there seems to be so much still to do. I’ve visited the Disney website a couple of times, but keep getting overwhelmed by the size and all there is to do and I just close it again.

So thanks to everybody… you’re truly amazing.

- (Lynn Ferreira, 18 October, 2008)

Read more:
My cancer diary - part 1
My cancer diary - part 2
My cancer diary - part 3
My cancer diary - part 4
My cancer diary - part 5
My cancer diary - part 6
My cancer diary - part 7
My cancer diary - part 8
My cancer diary - part 9
My cancer diary - part 10
My cancer diary - part 11
My cancer diary - part 12
My cancer diary - part 13
My cancer diary - part 14
My cancer diary - part 15

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