Morphine makes my skin itch. If this is also the case for you, ask for 25 milligrams of Benadryl to be pushed into your IV line (IV Benadryl enters your system quicker and works faster than oral Benadryl) before you are given Morphine.
My best friend Jessica, I call her Jess, is the epitome of who I call a true friend. I remember Jess coming with my Mom and me to the Cancer Clinic to one of my doctor appointments when I was 14. There, I was told I was due for another bone marrow aspirate (by this time in treatment, regularly scheduled bone marrow aspirates were as common to me as blinking). Throughout the few hours it took for me to get pre-medicated, have the procedure in my lower back (I have tons of little scars on my lower back today where I’ve had countless aspirates over the years), and briefly recover while being monitored, Jess showed nothing but patience and kindness, never once wavering in her ceaseless support. She also visited me during my hospital stays, and when I was at home she’d bring me delicious fruit smoothies from the restaurant where she worked. Just after starting today’s post, Jess (who lives with her husband and children in another state) actually called to tell me she’s coming over in a few hours to visit!
All that was said to give a nice introduction to the following poem I wrote after learning another significant life lesson as a teenager in the midst of my cancer journey:
“True Friends are Hard to Come By”
Few friends stay close, most drift away far.
This trial shows you who your true friends are.
Many people call at first, they think that is enough,
But many stop calling when the going gets tough.
At first they visit and bring food, cards and flowers
And they sit and they chat for a couple of hours.
But you keep getting sick, not improving at all
And you notice that lots of people no longer call.
A true friend knows that they don’t understand,
But their presence is precious, they always lend a helping hand.
True friends never let you feel sad or alone
And continue their visits and their calls on the phone.
True friends always show that they care.
True friends, unfortunately, are rare.
When a person is there for beginning, middle and end,
You know that you have found yourself a true friend.
The second you stop and believe your own hype, you’ve lost.”
These FABULOUS words are quoted from “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer.
The above quote located toward the end of the book (I can’t give you an exact page number because my Kindle Fire goes by percentages, not page numbers; so I was about 90% into the book) shot out at me like a supersized punch in the gut.
My Applicable Lesson: Always stay humble. Give God the glory!
Take an extra set of clothes and other overnight necessities to a doctor appointment, when you’re home between cancer treatments and going to a check-up, if you’re already feeling sick. You will probably get admitted by the doctor just to be on the safe side, and in case your family or friends can’t bring supplies like more clothes, food and your toiletries till the next day, it’s good to be prepared. Also, remember to bring the pills you’re currently taking because it might take a while for the hospital pharmacy to get your medication filled, so you may need to take a dose of your pills from home.
Always, always, always bring someone with you to a doctor appointment. The person you bring might hear details from the doctor that you miss, and vice versa. Plus the support is a life saver!
My Mom was my all-star biggest advocate and took meticulous records of my treatment and medications. Sometimes the doctors even asked her for information on my health history! She stayed with me during every single one of my countless hospital admissions for eight years from ages 13-21 and even after that, besides taking me to all my outpatient doctor appointments. Thanks FOR EVEYTHING AND MUCH MORE Mom!
Y.O.L.O. = You Only Live Once – I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard one of the Jonas brothers say in an episode of “Married to Jonas” that I saw sometime in May 2013. That really stuck with me and reminded me that all I can expect of myself is doing the best I can in whatever I choose to do in my life and keep moving forward. Open the door and experience something fresh and new.
Y.O.L.O. = You Only Live Once. Minimize regrets and maximize risks, understandably within reason.
Clever and applicable sayings really stick with me. Here’s one acronym I thought of, I just love acronyms (an acronym is a word created from the initial letters of other words):
K.I.P. = Keep It Positive. Don’t waste your life focusing on unpleasant stuff; instead, look for and dwell on the, both large and little, good things!
Sometimes I jokingly refer to myself as a “word nerd.” I love words and acronyms and palindromes. A palindrome is when a word or phrase is the same spelled backward and forward, like the word “noon” or the phrase “nurses run.” The last cool thing I have to share today is both an acronym and a palindrome:
P.A.P = Patients Are People. In a perfect world, doctors, nurses, and technicians in health care facilities – in addition to everyone else on this earth – will remember that people are patients and patients are people. Health care people have jobs because YOU (a special and valuable person) are sick. Don’t let someone in a white lab coat diminish your sense of self-worth – You are BOTH important people!
When you are desperate for calories, take the liquid route. I wish someone told me when I was too sick to eat and losing too much weight that smoothies and shakes are an excellent and easy way to get some calories. When you cannot eat enough food or nothing at all, a delicious and nutritious fruit and/or vegetable smoothie is a great alternative to intravenous Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).
Dubbed “milk and mountain dew” by patients because of its arrival in containers resembling a bottle of milk and another bottle of the yellow pop, TPN constantly fills your bladder, which means you cannot easily sleep because you are constantly using the bathroom. TPN is also not ideal because the medicine, although necessary and very helpful at times, is not good for your overall system.
If you can eat even when you’re very sick, eat WHATEVER food sounds good to you, no matter the type or amount. At these times, it’s all about just getting calories into you. One day all I ate were some skittles. Another day all that I had a taste for was potatoes, so I ate nine potatoes that day. Whatever works!