Back on Track

Things are back to “normal” for most Houstonians following Harvey’s wrath. But, for a great number of unfortunate people who do not fall into the “most” category, the long road to recovery is still proving painfully slow, challenging and frustrating. And it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Brother, Patrick, a project manager for an Austin custom homebuilder, has been volunteering weekends on cleanup crews across the city, removing debris, flooring, furniture, and sheetrock from homes. He reports that homeowners are tremendously grateful for the help they receive – help that makes their repairs more affordable, and to safely live in their homes while they await insurance adjustors, construction bids, and the commencement of work. Niece, Jacqueline, has also been pitching in at Harvey-related events. I watch from the perimeter with deep admiration as family members and other like-minded, generous people dive in to help meet their community’s needs. #HoustonStrong…

Now that residents have largely gone back to living their lives and are returning to work, the already awful Houston traffic is exponentially worse due to continued major roadway and freeway closures. Because Sally Jo’s apartment is so conveniently located to the hospital, the traffic has not inordinately impacted me. The bus I take to MDA had been running behind schedule, but seems to be on time again.

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Waiting on the bus

But, congestion is so bad on the freeways, many residents say they feel as if they’re living in Los Angeles, reports the Houston Chronicle. Drivers say their once 50 minute commute to work is now up to 2 hours long. Yep, that sounds like L.A.

Houstonians are using today’s contemporary coping strategy – funny memes – to express their frustrations.

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Neal’s trip, canceled by Harvey, is rescheduled for 9/27-10/2. Ethan will visit gain 11/1-11/5. December’s winter break will present another trip opportunity for Ben.

Because I am participating in a clinical trial that requires weekly infusions I was quickly scheduled for treatment as soon as road access around the hospital was available.

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Chemo 9/1/17

The storm had shut down outpatient treatment at every Houston area MD Anderson location for the entire regular work week, except for those of us who were prioritized due to protocol schedules or other urgent medical necessity. The hospital remained fairly quiet until just a few days ago. The expected treatment backlog finally caught up with and exceeded available openings, so securing available spots for chemo and Neupogen shots has been somewhat problematic for my trial study scheduling nurse. But she has persevered and made it happen…at all times of the day and evening…Tomorrow, Sunday, my Neupogen shot appointment time is 7:15 pm! Of course, I can arrive prior to this time, and chances are I’ll be injected early. As it stands I am once again scheduled for chemo on Thursdays. And with just 4 remaining weekly infusions remaining in the clinical trial, I am nearing the finish line for this part of my treatment. Next month I will begin standard of care chemotherapy, (given there are no additional delays), which will continue through the end of the year. Surgery will follow, then daily radiation treatment for about 6 weeks.

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At MDA with nephew, Matthew Effenson

I have been carefully considering whether to travel back to California in between my standard of care treatments, which will be spaced at 21 day intervals. However, I’m advised this particular chemotherapy combination “will get rough.” Apparently, there’s good reason why one of the drugs is referred to as the “red devil.” 😬😬 As I don’t know how I will react to the new drugs, travel plans seem a little too arbitrary. Surely I will have at least one good week in between? I do hope so, but the truth is: I just don’t know. Predictability is not part of my current status. Additionally, it will be flu season. Air travel seems a little risky.

But, my biggest concern about going home is that I feel it would be far too hard to leave again. I envision myself once again ensconced on the sofa with my guys, our pets, Buddy, Tootsie, Maverick and Fella surrounding us…I’m asking the remote holder to “please turn down the volume” for the 30th time, as we watch some LOUD, strange movie I can’t follow or become even remotely interested in. But, it doesn’t matter…I’m not there for the movie. I’m there to soak up all the love and closeness I can. If I go home, Neal may have to peel me off the sofa, clinging to his neck, vice grip on Buddy, and force me to leave! 😉

My birthday this week was spent at MD Anderson receiving acupuncture and chemo. Acupuncture, which I’ve used many times in California for muscle and joint issues, is offered at MDA’s Integrative Medicine Department along with oncology massage, nutrition and exercise classes. My oncologist is a strong proponent of acupuncture for the mitigation of chemo side-effects, including dyspepsia, nausea, and sleep dysfunction. While I’ve had just the one treatment so far, my dyspepsia symptoms seem somewhat improved. I am scheduled for another acupuncture session this Wednesday, as it is recommended 2-18 hours prior to chemotherapy.

Sister, Sally Jo, joined me at the hospital for the all day ordeal, and took very good care of me, as always. Several of the wonderful nurses offered their sympathy for having to spend my birthday at the hospital, but I reassured them that receiving chemo on this birthday would ensure I have more of them, so I was definitely ok with it.

When I returned back to the apartment, I opened the box I had discovered at the front door that morning as I departed for the bus stop. Ben’s sweet girlfriend, Erica, and her mother, Monica, had sent to me a care package of lovely birthday gifts. So like them to make certain it arrived on my birthday…It is immeasurably comforting to know this thoughtful young woman and her family are there for my son as he balances a challenging school year with any fears or anxiety about my condition.

We can never have too much love and support in our lives…❤️

And on that note, I want to close by telling you all how much your love, encouragement, support and prayers mean to me. Your cards, thoughtful gifts, and words lift me up and carry me through my hardest days. You make me feel cherished and cared for, and I cannot thank you enough for that. Some days are simply overwhelming. When I become physically and emotionally fragile, I wonder how I will get through the day, much less a year of treatment. It seems, however, that one of you always reaches out with kind words and gestures that keep me from sinking too deep. Thank you, sincerely, everyone for always being there for me…

 

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6 Responses to Back on Track

  1. Debbie Valentine says:

    Hey pretty lady!! Happy happy Birthday!! So nice to hear about the package you got and that you still have your wonderful sense of humor and bright outlook. Just think how wonderful your next birthday will be!! You are terribly missed at Hot Yoga, but your picture is still up and we all ask each other about you in the locker room sending you good thoughts and much love. Glad to hear Neal will be there soon! Big hugs and I love this new site. I just found it and am enjoying the pictures!! It’s Thursday so we’ll be sending you extra special hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill Flyer says:

      So good AND serendipitous to hear from you, Debbie! I’m at the hospital now for my chemo infusion, and you crossed my mind earlier! I miss you and all my yoga family more than I can say…Thank you for your love and support. I cannot overstate how much it means to me…truly. I salute all you dedicated hot yoga warriors for your continued dedication, and look forward to our lobby and locker room reunion soon! xoxo Jill

      Like

  2. Linda Squires says:

    Happy Birthday, Jill!
    What a thorough and complete rundown of what is going on in your life right now! The way you meet your challenges is intelligent and insightful.
    Thanks for sharing your journal and keeping us all informed.
    I wish you all the best!
    Love, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill Flyer says:

      Thank you, sister! I have an equal share of “good” and “bad” days, I would honestly say. A realistic picture of this experience is the only path I know how to take…But, truth is, I really don’t want to scare or depress anyone! Practicing gratitude for what is going well helps to maintain some balance…for me, and I hope for you, the reader. Thanks for always providing thoughtful and kind feedback. I really look forward to reading the comments! ❤️

      Like

  3. Lisa-Marie Cashman says:

    It has. Even such a pleasure and an honor to be your friend through all of this, Jill. Your an incredible writer, being able to express the details, the trails and the joy of noticing all the beautiful unexpected blessings and joys you discover through the pain and perseverance.

    Acupuncture is one of the best side tools to this ordeal. I am glad you are receiving the best care. As for home, it would be great if you could get home for a bit. But, please, dear friend, error on the side of caution. The flu and pneumonia are not something you wish to encounter. Thinking of you with much love and admiration. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill Flyer says:

      Thank you, Lisa-Marie. Your constant support and encouragement means so much to me. I’m sorry I have never told you this before, but you have been a source of inspiration for me in many ways. When you and Dylan traveled into the city to see me in Boston, I learned that you are the type of person who will go the distance for a friend. I resolved myself that day to be a better friend…a friend like you! You are a role model for hard work and perseverance as a professional woman and devoted mother. I love and admire you, my friend!

      Like

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