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Hello.

I am Leah and I have Bipolar Disorder. To make life even more interesting, my husband, Dan, has Stage IV Cancer. He was diagnosed at 37 and has  been in ongoing treatment for 4.5 years! We also have a healthy and rambunctious 7 year old. So follow along as we try to manage our life together and strive for love, gratitude, and joy.

picmonkey-collage2 The prelude to winter began with Dan's hospitalization November 1st. I spent the day wrestling with my intuition that I needed a significant break--things were getting to be too much and I felt super fragile. I talked to the HR manager at work and decided to take a leave of absence for the month of November. I came home and told Dan, only to discover he was developing a fever. I needed to take him to the ER so my abrupt decision suddenly seemed genius. Honestly, I felt like I really couldn't put a price on the relief I felt to not have to call in and get a shift covered for the next day at 7:00 a.m.

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Dan spent 8 months since April 2016 struggling with recurring episodes of cellulitis in his right leg every month. It wouldn't have been so scary if it didn't have the possibility of a deep layer infection (flesh-eating strep for example) or  overall damage to the lymphatic drainage system due to the chronic nature--especially because he has a slightly compromised immune system and he seemed resistant to certain antibiotics. So obviously it didn't take much for me to get him to the ER at the very first sign of the infection. For crying out loud.

As fragile as I felt that day, you would never know it. I immediately go into autopilot when needed. I examined the leg, called the doctor, packed a hospital bag, woke up Raine and took him to Rachel, drove Dan to the ER, and helped communicate his symptoms, needs, history, and meds to the nurses. Then I stocked up on snacks and drinks that Dan likes and turned on Neflix on the laptop so he could watch something while we waited. I left just before they admitted him at 2 a.m. and returned home to sleep before picking up Raine and taking him to school in the morning. After that, I loaded up on caffeine and packed Raine's babysitter bag, fed the pets, and returned to the hospital.

I'm not going to lie. I am still traumatized by the first few days of his symptoms, admission and transfer to the hospitals, and the devastating diagnosis we were given. I have a little nip of PTSD, and when I need to go to the hospital, or Dan makes a strange noise from another room in the house, or really, anything seems odd--I am on high alert. I think most of you who have experienced these sort of medical traumas or any other trauma due to death, military duty, natural disaster, or abuse can empathize. Our bodies sense that trigger and we can't always predict how we will react. It all happens in our bodies so fast. So far, I get super competent and organized. (And then there is a disastrous aftermath where I eat too many cupcakes, cry for days and can't leave my bed, or drink myself into an oblivion). Or my body releases adrenaline and I mentally have no idea what to do with it. There might be twitching, raging, or crying. Who knows?

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NOT TO BE SUCH A DEBBIE DOWNER.

Dan has had a pretty enjoyable winter. The cellulitis hasn't returned for the past 3 months. He packs in a lot of fun into his schedule when he isn't down and out after chemo rounds. He is taking full advantage of seeing friends who fly into Chicago, his brother and family, and friends here in central Illinois. Not to mention me and Raine--He gets a dose of us everyday and usually the pros outweigh the cons. Ha!

Also, every three months Dan has scans to monitor previous tumors and potential new ones--it initiates major scanxiety and it's no joke. Recent bummer news and losses in the small NSCLC community we are a part of further discouraged us recently. However, upon the most recent review, March 1st, everything remains stable.

[High five!]

If you would like to be hands-on helpers, we now have a Caring Bridge account that lists tasks on a calendar as requests for help. Check it out. It's in early stages but I'm trying to update it daily. My blog posts related to his condition will also be copied to that account.

 

 

March 14, 2017

Valentine's Day