'Hope...' · 11/28/2007

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November 28th, 2007

The halls are quiet, no visitors this time of night. I took the pile of clothing off the counter at the Nurse's station and walked to the sterilization room. I removed my clothing, rinsed off what germs may have followed me here and then slowly changed into my hospital attire of gown, pink beanie and pink hospital socks. I left everything I had brought with me in that small room to be cleaned as well before it could be brought into my cold hospital room.

As I climbed up into my hospital bed, a deep feeling of loneliness and despair instantly set in. How I hate being here. It's cold. It's empty. I am afraid. It would be another two hours before I would receive the call from my Oncologist currently back in New York. He had been discussing my recent test results with the other Doctors on staff so he would be prepared to tell me what was next. So, I had two long hours to sit in silence, waiting and wondering if the news would be good or if it would be like all the times past. My hope was shattered by the thoughts of the results of each MRI in the past 12 months. Each scan had shown a growth somewhere in the body, why would this one be any different. I wrapped myself up in the thin hospital blanket, rolled onto my side and curled up, longing to be held and cradled by someone, anyone!

As I laid there wide awake, surrounded by the beeping sounds of my Kangaroo pump and vital sign machines, I thought about the last 13 months of my life. How had I made it this far? How have I hung on this long? How much longer can I fight? I am 5 weeks into my research chemotherapy round, my six round of chemo since my diagnosis. The drug has been intense and has viciously beaten me up. The numbness in my toes has remained from the first chemo treatment I received over a year ago. Will the feeling ever return? Now, a side effect of this new drug, my left heal is numb and the numbness has begun to spread up into my ankle. There is numbness and tingling in my left hip and occasional numbness in my left leg, all of which cause me to loose my balance at any given time. The nausea is violent, my joints ache. My heart is tired! My soul is hanging on by a thin string of faith, trying to piece back together my shattered hope.

'Hi, Juli! How are you feeling?' my nurse asked as she entered the room dressed in gown and mask. 'I'm ok.' I said. 'I am going to get your IV placed and start your antibiotic drip. As soon as we hear from the Dr. we will get your slow drip chemo going. Do you need anything?' 'No!' I said, perhaps coming across a little cold and impatient. The IV was placed in my right wrist and the cold antibiotics began to flow. In my left wrist, a hub was placed where later, a tube would be attached and the poison I must endure would begin to flow.

An hour passed. I heard the door open again and I turned around to see who had entered. In came two of my Doctors, one carrying the phone. Here it was, the moment I had been dreading and yet anxiously waiting for all day. They handed me the phone and then stepped back. 'Hello!' I said. The tears had already begun to flow from the stress that had been trapped inside me all day. 'Hi, Juli! Are you hanging in there? I know it has been a long day for you.' He said. 'Yeah, I am ok. I am tired' was all I could say in response. 'As you know, I have been talking with the Doctors about the results of your tests today. I am glad you are where you are. Your heart is stressed and the infection could easily spread if we don't get it under control.' He said. 'I know. I should have stayed a long time ago.' I said. 'Also, I noticed on your blood work they faxed over, that your white count is lower than we have ever seen it. You need to be protected from everything that is going around. You know as well as I do what a cold could do to you. Let's get those numbers up.' He said sternly, followed by a moment of silence. 'What did the MRI show? Please get it over with!' I whispered through my flowing tears. After another moment of silence, his voice cracked as he struggled with words, 'Juli, the MRI…. it's clear!' My body began to shake uncontrollably. My nurse stepped up and took me in her arms, already knowing the results I had just received. 'The liver is clean! The Uterus is clean! Your lungs were clear, your brain scan looked normal. We did see a shaded area on the Kidney but can't at this point determine whether it is a growth or scar tissue. We will do a repeat MRI the end of December to evaluate. Juli, you are clear!' he said, through his own tears.

I sat there in silence, trying to understand what this meant. Can it be real? Can I trust it? 'What now!' I said. We discussed what this meant as far as treatments and medications. We decided to stop the research drug after this week's treatment because of the side effects I have experienced. After a short break, I would begin Oral chemotherapy taken daily for at least the next five months. An MRI would be scheduled for late December and exploratory surgery scheduled for early January to make sure nothing has changed. 'Can it really be that easy?' I thought. 'Am I really at this point?' 'Is the end of this living Hell really in sight?'

'Juli, you have made it. We all knew that you would. The road is still long, recovery takes time, but you are going to make it. You are a fighter and we are all so proud of you. I am proud of you! Now, get some sleep, chemo isn't over yet.' He said. 'And Juli, don't forget your loved.' 'Thank you!' I said. 'I can do this. I already have! I am almost done.'

I hung up the phone and sat with my arms wrapped around my legs, burying my head deep into my chest. My doctor walked towards me and placed a hand on my shoulder. 'We did it Juli! You did it!' He said, gently yet firmly squeezing my shoulder. 'Now, let's get your chemo hooked up and get this last treatment over with.' They hooked me up to the IV tubing and started the slow drip.

Soon, I was left alone in my dark, cold and empty hospital room. I, once again, pulled myself into the fetal position, wrapped in layers of heated hospital blankets. I stared out the window at the lights of the city. Tears still ran down my red, chapped cheeks. I softly whispered into the silence, 'God, I know you are there. Thank you for this miracle. Thank you for pulling me through this. Thank you for guiding me, for carrying me. God, thank you for listening and for softly sending me the answers and the assurance my heart has longed for. God, please hold me together and help me to continue to be strong. God, thank you for the peace that has surrounded me! The peace that has tenderly embraced me with your love and warmth! Thank you for sending me you're light to fill the darkness of my soul. And, God, thank you for helping me begin to slowly piece back together my shattered Hope. The battle is almost won. I have almost made it!

Juliann Housholder


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