Unexpected Side Trip

Part of having breast cancer is apparently being ready for the unexpected. Although I was pleased with how well my journey was going, about ten days ago, I took a significant side trip from which I am still recovering.

The following is the story of how my breast cancer journey was interrupted as well as some of the learning I picked up along the way.

Months ago (long before my diagnosis) I was invited to speak to our local BPW (Business and Professional Women) organization. I was looking forward to it since it is always fun for me to get a roomful of women together for an interactive presentation on empowerment. I was excited when the time came for me to show up and I felt well enough to create a fun experience for the audience.

Thankfully, all went well and my first lesson was that when I turn my attention outside myself (in this case, to the audience) I can over-ride my feeling of fatigue or nausea. This was a welcomed lesson since I imagine there will be other times in the future when I will be expected to speak when not feeling so well over the remainder of my chemo treatment.

Immediately when the talk was over and I was finished with signing books that were purchased, I suddenly felt ill. . .very ill. Within an hour I was violently hit with good old V&D and after several hours appeared in our local E.R. where I was noted to be severely dehydrated and in kidney failure with dangerously low blood pressure.

Feeling sicker than I have ever felt I was admitted to the hospital hours later and tested for a variety of GI-related illnesses/bacteria etc. Unfortunately, my condition worsened due to repeated bouts of diarrhea, eventually occurring every hour. Naturally, sleep eluded me and I became weaker as the medical team worked hard to get my electrolytes back to a normal range. Unfortunately, my body was eliminating fluid faster than it could drip in my IV.

As the days ticked on one by one, I felt like a rag doll unable to physically help myself. I was completely dependent on the help of the nurses to do the simplest tasks. While in this prolonged state of weakness I found myself naturally taking the role of the observer. I observed my physical body suffering, yet did not identify fully with it. In some ways, it felt as if my highest and invulnerable self was the one in charge. even though I felt the discomfort and the weakness, I was able to find a way to be at peace with it all. I truly felt the power of non-resistance and accepting what I could not change.

Having the experience of slipping into the observer mode in this extreme situation reminded me that it is possible at any time with any challenge. I can be the observer when I’m frightened or intimidated, anxious or even angry. I was delighted to see that I did not have to be completely taken over by what may be in my face at any given moment. Even though I was physically weak and very ill, I was not a victim.

As the days blurred from one to another without any significant gains, the Doc’s concern grew that something drastic may be needed such as surgery. I knew what that might mean, so that night as I lay in my hospital bed looking out the window at the snow covered tree branches I mentally prepared to meet whatever was needed procedurally so that I can live. Once again, acceptance was called for, not resistance. As I felt myself calmly breathe, I prayed for a shift, some sign of improvement so that it was clear my body was going to finally change gears and take me down a healthier track.

I peacefully fell asleep and miraculously slept for four hours and when I awakened and walked my IV pole to the bathroom, a miracle happened. My body which previously was only putting out small amounts of urine at a time, let loose breaking my all-time record for one sitting. It was also the first time since my admission that my bowels took a break. I squealed with delight and needed to be reminded by the CNA to be careful not to move so fast.

From that moment of shift, I knew I could now quickly turn things around and recover my strength and stamina. My appetite increased, my eyes became brighter (according to my husband), my voice changed from dull and low to vibrant and alive and my enthusiasm for life went off the charts. I literally went from half dead to my usual joyful sparkly self.

After a full week in the hospital, I was discharged two days ago to home with lots of instructions on how to keep my recovery on track so I can be ready for my second chemo treatment next Tuesday.

I am in awe of the resilience of this body where my spirit so happily lives and will continue to stay awake and learn the lessons it has to teach me.

32 Comments »

  1. Kate, I am so glad you are home and recovering with such a positive attitude and outlook. You continue to amaze me and so many others. Keeping you in my positive thoughts as you move forward.

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  2. Kate I have had uou on my mind so much over this padt week.I truly noticed your absence from FB,and I even went to your page to see if I had missed a post.I was sending positive thoughts and prayers. Now reading this Im all teared up to find out how much you have been through.You are such an amazing inspiration to me and so many others.Much love and big hugs my friend!!❤

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  3. I am sending my guardian angel to stay with for a while to give you a boost. His name is St Michael the Arc angel. I was told by a priest that he was sent to me because I always seemed to find myself in in need of protection. I often ask him to help others so expect a sign that he is with you when you need him the most. I love sharing.
    God Bless you Kate .

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    • Why thank you, Elaine, for sending Michael. He is on duty quite a bit on my behalf and also went to Afghanistan with Alan. I often call on my angels for support and always receive it!

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  4. Kate. Sounds like quite a week. Thankful you pulled through as well as you describe. Definitely helpful for you to know all of the tools you’ve learned. Keep with the wonderful deep breathing that you are embracing. Prayers that your body stays strong and able to receive and use the chemo. Blessings.

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    • Thank you, Susan….Yes, this experience has taught me that I can meet whatever shows up. Hopefully this incident was the worst of it. 🙂

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  5. Thanks for your update, Kate. I was praying for you this morning and wondering how you were since you hadn’t posted. Now I know! Sorry to hear of your hospitalization, but happy to know you’re better now. Hugs!

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  6. You are the most inspiring person I have ever met, Kate. I am so grateful that you are back home to further your healing. May the rest of this cancer journey be smooth sailing!

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  7. You always were a firecracker my friend… And that’s the way to handle all of this… The only thing that startled me was the bald Avatar… You did that for effect I hope… It took me a while to get used to the red hair but now I’m used to it and look forward to seeing it better days… You’re in my thoughts and prayers Jessie

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    • Thanks for your support, Jess! No the bald avatar is for real. I do have a cute short red wig though, so maybe you won’t notice. 🙂

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  8. Wow! I had no idea! I’m so glad you are ok and gained strength from this unexpected vulnerability. I will say… please observe your body’s limits. Listen to it… we sort of like having you around. ♥️

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    • Yes, I agree….I am totally tuned in to what my body is up to and giving it what I believe it needs. Sometimes things just sneak up and take you by sursprise like this deal. I’m not ready to sign off yet, so I will take good care. 🙂

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  9. So glad to know you are improving after such an ordeal. Your inspiration boosts us all. Hoping our prayers are doing the same for you. Blessings and hugs coming your way❤🙏

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  10. Dearest Kate – You are so the real deal. Not only do you teach but you live out all that you teach. I absolutely love that you are sharing your perspective through this process. I love learning about how you think and how you bring acceptance, peace, joy and life to yourself and in this situation. I too was wondering what was happening since you had not updated us for a while. God bless you dear lady as you continue your journey.

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  11. Thanks so much, Gail! It will be wonderful if my blog followers gain something from my experience. It gives this whole deal a sense of purpose and for that I am grateful! 🙂

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  12. Beautifully written, my friend. I agree with the others… you top the “Inspiration to Others” charts. I will keep you in my thoughts for a smooth chemo experience Tuesday. Your body has amazing power to heal, but your mind is even more amazing! Love you!!

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  13. Kate,
    I am so glad to get the updates from Ed as well as you. What an inspiration you are to everyone else, as you need joy and inspiration from us. Keep the smile on your face and know you are in my prayers daily.

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