HELLP I need somebody, HELLP, HELLP not just anybody.

It was this very song I was singing in the ICU after the birth of my son.  Wait a second.  I’m in the ICU?  What does he look like?  It’s a boy, right? Why do people keep saying HELP?  Is that my mom and why is she crying?Let me tell you the events leading up to it.

August 25, 2006.  Another holy shit kinda day.

The day before I had my weekly appointment (I was 36 weeks) with my physician who also happened to be a family friend.  She looked at my blood pressure and said, “Paulson, I don’t like this.  Please go get your blood drawn”.

I agreed to, but walked into the lab and about had a heart attack. It was jammed packed with screaming children!  If she thought my blood pressure was high before she should wait until I sat there for an hour.  At the time I was working for a home health agency.  I opted to go back to work and have one of the nurses I worked with draw my blood and then drop it off myself.  There were very few perks being in that field, but that was one of them, and I was going to take full advantage.

That evening I just could not get comfortable.  I tried sleeping in  my bed, the guest bed, the couch, the floor, the bath tub, etc…  At about 1 a.m. I started to get shortness to breath. It kind of seemed like I was in labor, but I wasn’t having any contractions.  My husband called my bonus mom (notice a pattern) and said, “Lori’s having a difficult time breathing. Should we go to the hospital?”.
My bonus mom replied, “Breathing is important. Go to the hospital”.

After sitting in the ER for what felt like longer than I should have, my blood pressure had increased by the time my friend and doctor got there.  She asked the staff where my current blood work was and panic came over their eyes.  Where was is?  It had been drawn earlier.  Because they couldn’t find it, my blood work was done again. and this time stat.

While we waited for my labs, my doctor sat with me and very calmly talked about all of the potential outcomes.  She also decided to move me up to the labor and delivery department .  About the time I got up to L&D, she got my labs.  Her demeanor went from very calm to VERY matter of fact.  She said, “You just bought yourself a C-section my friend”.

There was no messing about.  All systems were go, go, go.  My husband got changed into scrubs and I got prepped and sent straight to the operating room.  I thought the OR team looked very serious. The anesthesiologist came in and said, “Hi Lori.  Do you know your risks?”  I nodded my head.  He said “Great. Sit up for your epidural”.  I grabbed an OR nurse and asked her hold my hand.  She did, and then I laid back and watched the room scurry about.  My doctor walked in and said she would see me on the other side.

We didn’t know the gender of the baby because I feel like it’s one of life’s last true surprises.  I joked with my anesthesiologist that we had a girl name picked out but not one for a boy.  He told me he had four boys at home I could borrow one if I needed to.

At about that time, out of the corner of my left eye, I saw a tiny little baby being weighed–my baby.  A nurse brought him up to me said, told me he was a boy and I was able to kiss him.  But right then, I could hear some commotion on my right side.  I asked my anesthesiologist what was going on. “You don’t need to know Lori”, he replied, while I watched him push meds through my IV.

I was out cold.

I vaguely remember the recovery room, then my room.  Then I heard was being transferred to the ICU.  I was confused, but I could still wiggle my toes and I wasn’t intubated. What the hell was going on? I was on a drug that someone explained it makes one feel hot, heavy and sticky.  That was a very accurate description.  I could hear people around me, talking about me but it was difficult to respond.

One night I dreamed I was in a video game running from a bad guy.  I ran up a narrow tunnel, got to the top, looked down at him and told him, “I beat you!”  It was in the middle of the night when I woke up and told my nurse that I had in fact beaten “him.”  He said, “Well, okay then, should we take a bath?” I agreed.

What I discovered is that I had just experienced HELLP syndrome. Here is a link about the details ofwhat HELLP syndrome is. Even if you don’t click on it, I can sum it up for you in one sentence. It’s scary shit.

Even though it was a scary time, there are still many funny stories about that weekend. Naming my son is the one that stands out.  Every time I would wake up, faces of my family would appear and start to ask,  “What’s the baby’s name?”

At one point, I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t care honey. You pick”.

He looked at my mom, mother in law and bonus mom and firmly said, “There is no way in hell, I am naming that kid without her. You are going to have to wait.”

On day three I got transferred back to my room and there my little tiny baby was.  He was 21 inches long, 5 lb. 3 oz. and his name was Jeremiah Cole.  There was not a dry eye in the room or on the floor when the two of us finally connected.

photo

But back to my poor friend and doctor.  By the end of the ordeal she looked like she had been hit by a truck.  To this very day poor honey still has PTSD.  Someone told me that if one said my name her eyes would well up with tears.  So having MLOs in my corner goes back eight years.  She was the original.  So she will be known as Original Medical Loved One (OMLO).

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I almost died. But you see my friends, I had MLOs by my side.

I wasn’t ready back then for HELLP syndrome, and I’m not ready now for cancer.  But I still have all my MLOs by my side, and that isn’t too shabby, right?

One Million Thoughts: Gomez Gems

The very first night after I got home from the ER, I didn’t sleep very well.  One MILLION thoughts ran through my head. I took out my phone and started typing them out.  It was a good way to decompress and once they were out, I felt just a bit better.  Those thoughts are now turning into blog posts I’ll call “One Million Thoughts.”

Gomez Gems

Because thinking about my son and my husband was just more than I could wrap my head around I let my mind drift to other people.  As comfortable as close relationships get over time, you don’t necessarily tell the people that you love how much you love them.  This is one very small attempt.
Who would have thought that a randomly-chosen seat in Mr. Shock’s biology class and witty banter with a football player would have been the key to open up a treasure chest full of gems?  I’m talking about my high school classmates, Joshua and Christopher Gomez, who I met when we were all 16 or 17. Through them, I was introduced to their family.  They’ve embraced me for the last 16 years.  They are my bright, shiny gems.  They have showed me what it’s like to have a big family–the good and the bad, but by far mostly the good.  They have taught me how to appreciate food, cook, love, laugh, and be a fan of baseball and football.  The list really does go on and on.Through them, I have cousins, aunts, uncles and a bonus mom and dad that I do not share any genetics with.  This very large Gomez family is even bigger than I’ve described, because I’m not the only one they’ve embraced. Many of my Gomez gems work in healthcare, and at this pivotal point in my life I am so incredibly grateful for that. In one of my upcoming posts, I’ll tell you how one of them was there for me at another crossroads during the birth of my son.

All my Gomez gems ultimately lead back to Joshua and Christopher. Our relationships are far from perfect; I still get sensitive when Christopher one ups me and when Joshua pushes my buttons.  Even diamonds have their flaws.  But Joshua and Christopher have been the brothers I never knew I needed, and I have been a sister I know they’ve come to love like one of their own.

 These are just a few of the gems I have in my life.  There are many more who have VIP access to my heart, and I’ll tell you about them later. But for now, I’m grateful that during that sleepless night, I could think of them.
ImageSee… we even get to be in their family pictures 😉

Nothing says, “I Love You” like carrot juice and wheatgrass.

I confess, I am a closet hippie. Don’t get me wrong. I shave my armpits and don’t really care for tie dye. BUT I think there is something to be said for eating real food, living a healthy lifestyle and being conscientious about the environment. Am I the model citizen for all topics above? No. Could I work out more, drink less and lose 20 (ok 30) pounds? Yes. It doesn’t mean I don’t try. Could I give you a handful of excuses as to why not? Yes, but I won’t waste both of our time.

With all of that being said, I plan on conquering this “pan can” with a hybrid of both traditional and non-traditional healing. With the advice of my HMLO (Holistic Medical Loved One) and by doing some research myself, I’ve decided to incorporate wheatgrass and carrot juice into my daily diet.

Just a few days after my diagnosis it was Valentine’s Day. It was a hell of a week and my husband wanted to go watch the opening game of the Aggie baseball season. I opted to stay home; I was emotionally exhausted and had a DVR full of Winter Olympic event coverage that I was excited to watch. I went to the kitchen to make my carrot juice concoction and *gasp* realized I was out of carrots! I texted my husband to see if he could stop by the local co-op to pick up organic carrots and check out the wheatgrass selection. After the game, he got home with pounds of organic carrots, and flats of bright green and cheery wheatgrass.

Now I will give the man credit where credit is due. He got me a great pair of garnet earrings that morning for Valentine’s Day. But for now, I’m convinced nothing says, “I Love You” like carrot juice and wheatgrass for your closet hippie wife.

So for the first time in my life when I say I want a shot, it’s not of tequila but of wheatgrass!

How this BS came to be…

If I remember correctly, I started getting bad heartburn in October.  I’m a big believer in watching what types of foods you eat and then how your body reacts.  I thought since I was traveling, not working out and then the holidays came up it was all because of my lifestyle.  I started off the New Year with a juice cleanse, then cut wheat and dairy from my diet.  I am fairly certain that I had the flu right at the New Year and then thought that it was just lingering.  Soon after food started sounding icky, followed by weight loss, followed by fatigue.  I mean yes, my skinny jeans fit, but I was too tired to care.  Looking back at it now, I don’t think I knew how terrible I really felt.

 Then February 10 came.  Holy shit.
After a weekend of staying in bed, on Monday morning I felt so bad I started crying and then throwing up.  My husband said, “I’m canceling my schedule and we are going to the hospital.”  Thank goodness he did.  Even on the way there I called my bonus mom (who happens to be an RN) to ask her if I was over-reacting.  She said absolutely not.  One test lead to another, and to another. During the tests, we let two of our very good friends–I’ll call them my Medical Loved Ones, or MLOs–know I was in the ER.  After the last test came back my ER doc told me that I have liver cancer.  Just a few minutes later my MLO came into my room and said that we needed further tests.  I underwent a biopsy the next day, and on Wednesday got the results that I have a rare type of cancer called Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (PNT) and it has spread to my liver.  I have started some tests that should give us a good idea as to how many tumors I’m dealing with and if it has spread any further.
Remember how I told you not to Google anything about pancreatic cancer?  It’s because I did it already and then couldn’t sleep the rest of the night.  The bright side is that at this point, I understand that PNT appears to be treatable, and I might not have to undergo chemotherapy–at least not at this point.
I started two very simple medications; one to help with the heartburn and one to help with the nausea.  In all honesty after getting those two symptoms under control I feel SO much better.  I’ve been able to eat, and that’s given me energy.  I feel like the old me again.
I find myself being very careful as to what I say as this road will have many twists and turns and what I write today might be contradicted tomorrow.  But the truth of the matter is if you are reading this you more than likely know me and I am being honest.
I hope this is one of the most serious posts that I write, but I am trying to give you as many facts as I can.  I promise the rest will have more humor.  Can we start talking about medical marijuana  yet?  I mean I didn’t like it in high school, and I am tired and hungry already, but this might give it a whole new appeal!

THE BIG C

As a general rule of thumb, I’ve always tried to keep Facebook and other social media posts and pictures positive and lighthearted. Unfortunately, today I will need to break my own rule. Last week I was diagnosed with a rare type of pancreatic cancer. I’ve chosen to share this message with my social media circle of friends, because I know I’ll need your support. Getting through this battle is going to take a village and my family and I are going to need all the love we can get.

I am sure that many of my friends are going to have questions, so I have started a blog called The Big C in LC (thebigcinlc.wordpress.com) to keep everyone as up to date as possible. 

Do me a favor and DO NOT Google pancreatic cancer, because I have the rare least aggressive kind. At this point I have a lot of hope and a positive outlook. If you know me at all, then you know how strong I am. My husband and son are just as strong. I’ve got a team of medical professionals, many of whom I am lucky enough to call good friends. I feel very comfortable and confident with the care I have and will receive, and I refuse to approach this with a ‘poor me’ attitude. There will be humor, laughter, camaraderie and team work throughout this process.

From the few people I’ve already told I’ve felt such incredible love and support.  It will take a village to get through this, and I fortunately for me, I live in the very best one a girl could ask for.