Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ambulance, surgeons, wigs, police, and more

Presently, I'm quite glad that I have a fully booked week. It is helpful to distract myself at the present time.
I enjoyed free time yesterday in the morning with my son and husband when there was the T8 (typhoon level 8) warning hoisted. Eventually my husband had to head to work and the kiddo and I had an appt to get x-rays and sutures out at the surgeon's office.

Working on my patience:
I've noticed that my patience is wearing thin when I have to talk with medical people on the phone. It helps to remind myself that it is a short time period that I have to deal with it and "this too shall pass". Sometimes I think these complications are good for me to work on my patience skills, breathing skills, and communication skills...  Reminding myself how many people these individuals talk to is also helpful- if I'm kind/nice, will help other patients out.
For example:
On Monday afternoon, I got a call from my surgeon's office. They wanted to change my Tuesday appointment time from 3:45 to 2pm. Well, that was confusing as the appointment they wrote down for me was at 11am one week before. After sorting it out, I was grateful that the appointment was at 2pm since there was that T8 that came in and had most everything closed in the morning. They called two hours later to confirm the appointment that they called earlier about and took quite a bit of time clarifying everything, I grew impatient about this since I already talked with them two hours before about the same thing. Also, I was told to go at 1:30 to get an x-ray of my lungs done at another location. When I got there at 1:05, the office was closed for lunch from 1-2pm. I chuckled, called the surgeon's office, and was told to wait til 2 and then come over immediately after... It all works out. I was able to cross the street and hang out at a favorite bookstore and had unexpected relaxing time.

Surgeon time:
Visiting with my surgeon was ok. He's quite pleased with me and my progress and is now "done" with me. Good guy, talented surgeon. Asked me about new diagnosis and when I mentioned how my oncologist said that the chemo/radiation only had a 40-50% predicted success rate, he simply said "try to be more positive, I've seen patients like you before successfully battle cancer and live for a long time." I explained to him how I was staying darn positive but that he asked about the diagnosis and I was simply filling him in... but I appreciate his positive support. He gave me some ointment for the three scars, removed the final three sutures, and sent me away with many instructions. Really glad that he's happy with the progress and also grateful to be finished visiting yet another doctor. Must mention, I can recognize myself now by x-ray. Since that lower right lobe of my lung was taken out, my x-rays look quite odd. Interesting to see the changes already in three weeks since the surgery.

So, working on my skills, taking deep breaths and more...
At the end of the day I was able to have some lovely women over and have a class in Qigong, reminded me of Tai Chi with deeper breathing and energy focus. I'm so happy that this will be a weekly occurance, just wish I'd started this up years ago... Complimentary to yoga. I put a few YouTube videos with Qigong exercises on that page to the right of this blog post called Healthy Practice Videos to Visit.

I'm happy that I got preregistered for a yoga class and chanting class thru CancerLink. Those will start in October. Hope I have energy to go to them every week... will be healthy outlets I think.

So... appreciated accomplishments for the day.
Hair- I like touching it, soft and all that but when I look in the mirror I'm not so fond of it yet... but I'll adjust. Have had many supportive friends tell me how much they like it.

Insurance fun (NOT):
Today I met with my school foundation's human resources representative about insurance coverage. She was reassuring but I didn't receive any definitive answers... what a surprise. I have paperwork requests I'm setting up for back-up insurance and more. Shall see. Grateful there's someone supporting me there.

Overwhelming packages:
Received the prettiest hats and scarves in the mail today. Thank you to my lovely friend for passing them to me. Shall picture model soon enough. This afternoon I went to CancerLink to meet with the wig specialist to learn a little about wigs and also find out about how to wear scarves. I was really thrown trying on different wigs. Really thrown. Didn't recognize myself and wasn't so thrilled. But the woman was so kind and patient. I borrowed a wig... it is ok. Plus I received a nice pink hat and an odd skull covering for keeping me warm, protecting me from itchy wigs, and when my hair starts falling out I have another odd head covering that helps me avoid hair falling all over when the chemo effects begin...
Yesterday a friend also passed me her turban/scarves that were created for cancer patients. I'm happy I have multiple options, a good thing.

Began crying (crying is ok) this afternoon when a care package arrived from some of my beloved librarian friends from Beaverton, Oregon. Working with them was incredible over the years... dear friends... Really touched to receive so many special letters, treats, personalized gifts, and much more... I have many things to use for chemo treatments and many special things to boost my spirits. Really really overwhelmed by that box of special gifts, thoughts, and love.
*I just read in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr about how I should create a quiet place to go each day. She had one corner of her home with a cushion, candles, and things that inspired her... Think some of the care package gifts will be there.

Ambulance and Local Hospital Experience:
Tonight was a little tumultuous. Our live-in helper (my lifeline for almost everything) collapsed in pain after dinner, we're not sure why, and we called an ambulance. I rode with her to the hospital. She felt a little better after 45 minutes but then we waited an hour and a half before she was released... she has to go to the doctor tomorrow. I suspect she has kidney stones but also she's had other issues in the past and usually it is food related. While we waited for the ambulance to show up, my husband quickly zipped out to take our dog for a walk. He went to a local money exchange place and when he talked to the person about getting Vietnamese dong. The person tried to give him a poor exchange rate and then refused to give him back his money. He called the police and the person gave back money right before the police showed up... He filed a complaint. Our son was over at our wonderful neighbor-friends in the same apartment complex... Thank goodness we have friends to lean on that have a kiddo his age. He was happy to hang out with his friend.
I got home with my helper at 10pm. Glad she got care, medicine, and is now resting. Scary to see someone you care about in pain, curled up... Appreciate that an ambulance ride and emergency room care total $100 Hong Kong Dollars- that's $12 USD. In the US how much would it be? Crazytown costly, I know... But I didn't feel like the ER doctors were really knowledgeable. You must be your own advocate there. I noticed that my helper spoke up and got a referral letter so that she could go see a regular doctor... That was my first experience in an ambulance in Hong Kong (or ever for that matter) and also in a local hospital. I've been in four private hospitals here in Hong Kong for procedures. I tell you, drastic difference. I was quite entertained people watching for two hours- drunk people, vomiting people, broken ankle people, and more... did I mention I asked for a face mask immediately?

Marathon man:
So, why was my wonderful husband getting Vietnamese dong? He's going away! Tomorrow! For 5 days! I'm getting my first chemo treatment right in the middle of the time he's away! But I refused for him to cancel anything. He is a marathon person, one thing we'll never share beyond my support for him. He's going to Vietnam to participate in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon. Running. A marathon. In the mountains. Seriously. This is like his birthday present to himself since that's coming up the day after he returns. Curious? Here's a link to his adventure:
Really happy we live in a place that gives him a chance to run marathons like this. He's done marathons for a long long long time... and I admire his tenacity. Shall miss him a tremendous amount while he's gone though!

Tomorrow? Trying out a new acupuncturist. Crossing my fingers he works out for me... Have had some not-so-fabulous experiences so far here... they are expensive appointments. Want it to be worth it.

Enjoyed watching this video, interesting study: Cell Nutritionals: Pomi-T Study -


  1. Debbie, I wish I could have bottled all the conversation,laughter, and joy we had when we gathered for the "packing party" for your package. We were part of a stellar group. And, we will always care about and support each other. Thinking of you every day.

  2. Hope the marathon is great! Good for Doug. You are also finding good, healing ways. Like Qigong. Excellent! And by the way, the short hair is very cute!! That it's hard to adjust to I get, but it does look cute :) Holding you in my heart and thoughts as always. Sending you hugs and love!