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Archive for May, 2018

My narrative continues with my stay in the pulmonary wing at Le Centre Hospitalier de Béziers (CH Beziers).

After the fluid was removed from my right lung, the fluid was sent to the lab to be analyzed and the results confirmed that it was a lung infection. However after a more in-depth investigation of the fluid, it also showed that the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that I was originally diagnosed and treated for 17 years ago, had a made a recurrence.

I was given several antibiotics to attack the infection. After a couple of days of antibiotics, I could feel my strength returning, along with improved breathing capacity. Meanwhile, preparations were being made to transfer me to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montpellier, Saint Eloi (CHU Saint Eloi), where my oncologist/hematologist practices.

The first attempt at the transfer was interrupted by a very rare event in the south of France – a snowstorm. After two hours in the medical taxi – and not even getting halfway from Beziers to Montpellier – we had to turn around and, after another two hours, arrived back at CH Beziers, where they hadn’t given up my bed, on the chance that I would return.

Finally two days later, the snow had for the most part melted and I finally left CH Beziers and was checked in to CHU Saint Eloi. My hematologist confirmed that I would need to begin chemotherapy, but first the main priority was to get the infection under control. I had many tests to monitor my situation. One of the crucial tests was to confirm that the lymphoma that had appeared was indeed the same type that I was diagnosed with back in 2001. When the results confirmed that the lymphoma was the same, it was a relief because we knew that I responded well to treatment before, and was confident that I will once again. Who could imagine that someone could be happy to have a confirmed diagnosis of cancer?

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With these results, the treatment plan could be established. The protocol is six rounds of chemotherapy, with each round consisting of two back-to-back days as an outpatient, spaced 28 days apart. The first round was done while I was still in the hospital. Following this first round, I developed a low-grade fever, a result of the tail-end of fighting the infection. I was not able to leave the hospital until the fever broke.

After a few days of continued antibiotics, the fever finally started cracking until it finally broke. I was finally going home after 23 days in two hospitals.

In conjunction with my release from the hospital, a team of nurses sprung into action. There was a check-out nurse who was responsible for ensuring that everything was done to prepare me to leave the hospital as well as coordinating all of the medications that I would need with my neighborhood pharmacy. There was a coordinating nurse who arranged upcoming home visits, supplies, paperwork – even down to arranging medical taxis for the next few scheduled trips to the hospital, for chemo, doctor visits etc.

I have access to day and night nurses at the hospital, who are only a phone call away. Of course there are language barriers, but they always find someone that can speak a little English, and Steve speaks a little French, so we always manage to communicate.

There is a rotating team of three home nurses that visit me to take blood, give me injections and change the dressing on my picc line, all on the well-documented schedule organized by the coordinating nurse. In fact, they provided a customized binder containing all of the instructions for the doctors and nurses, places for the nurses to document their actions, as well as all of my prescriptions – and there are many! I take a number of pills daily, some for five days after the treatment and some for the entire six months as well as a daily prescription mouthwash to prevent sores and fungus in the mouth, common side-effects of chemo.

As one of my girlfriends said “It is a full time job to keep up with all of this.” Fortunately, my Steve has it all organized in the diary on my phone, and it beeps with a reminder of all of these things to do throughout each day.

I have to say that the French healthcare system is #1 in the world. The doctors, nurses and the hospital staff were incredible. They were supportive, understanding and caring people. I am provided with a taxi to take Steve and I to my doctor’s appointments and all chemotherapy appointments in Montpellier – which is 45 minutes from our house.  Not to mention our village pharmacy, who delivered all of my medications to our house the day I came home from the hospital.

It is so good to be home with Steve and our many supportive friends. The support from our family and friends in the USA, France, UK, Canada, Australia, Belgium and Israel is what helps keep me going.

An adventure in the journey of life – I stay strong and positive and am thankful and grateful for everything – everyday.

I look forward to going home to our kids and grandson Isaac when my six chemotherapy treatments are behind me. It is what keeps me going…

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A Long and Winding Road

Let’s see where do I begin?

This blog post is a long time coming as I have not written a blog in many months, for good reasons, as you shall see.

When Steve and I moved to South of France almost 4 years ago, after living in England for almost 7 years, I told Steve that once our kids starting having children – our grandchildren – that we will need to be going home to Southern California more often. I would not want to miss watching our grandson Isaac growing up.

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“Bubbie’s Boy” Isaac my Precious Grandson 

I have looked forward to having children and grandchildren since I was a little girl myself.

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Bubbie and Isaac “Inseparable”

Wanting to keep Steve happy by living in South of France 7 or 8 months out of the year, and keeping myself, my kids and grandson happy too, by seeing them more often,

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Uncle Joshua and Isaac – Ready to Go Play 

we finally came to an agreement. We decided to fly home more often and stay for fewer weeks at a time. This meant that we fly home every three months for four to five weeks at a time. This travel plan has worked well for the whole family since Isaac was born – June 18, 2016.­­­­

We have been home 5 times and this past time was for 2-1/2 months. It included all of the holidays in December,

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Our Family Celebration of Chanukah and Shabbat

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Bubbie, Isaac and Papa

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Liz, Isaac and Jonathan  – Intrigued by the Candles

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Happy Chanukah – Isaac’s Menorah and New Trucks

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Celebrating the Holidays with Lupe’s Family

a three week visit to New Zealand in January 1-22 2018, then back to Southern California for our younger son’s wedding February 2, 2018,

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Steve and Maxine With the Happy Couple – Joshua and Lupe

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Jonathan, Lupe, Joshua, Liz and Isaac

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Our Family Wedding Celebration 

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Isaac With His Papa

celebrating Jonathan’s birthday and my birthday together,

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Jonathan and My Birthday Celebration 

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Isaac With Bubbie on Her Birthday

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Isaac Helping Bubbie Open Her Presents

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Look What I Got – A Jonathan Painting – I Love It

and Valentine’s Day before heading back to France mid-February.

Even though the trip from Paris to Los Angeles consists of a lot of travel, including a short flight from Montpellier to Paris to catch our non-stop flight to Los Angeles, we have enjoyed each trip and I have been able to keep up with the busy travel schedule.

However this past December 2017 to February 2018 trip was a little different. I had been having a few health issues over the past 6 months and I was not feeling 100% myself. I had a cough and cold a few times during those 6 months and my breathing wasn’t feeling normal. I could take deep breaths but had labored breathing if I walked too far or did uphill walking.

I noticed my stamina for physical activities wasn’t where it should be. I had been to my GP doctor in France a few times and she checked my lungs, heart and breathing, and nothing showed up at the time. So we decided to continue with our plans to go home for 2-1/2 months to be with our kids and grandson Isaac.

It was the best decision that we could have made.  We had total quality time with all of them.

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My Girls – Liz and Lupe – Shabbat Shalom

We also spent time with Liz’s parents and family and Lupe’s parents and family. We had time with many of our friends, too. I was able to keep up with Isaac, playing with him all day and chasing after him in the garden, taking him to Gymboree

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Isaac Playing at Gymboree

and to the park.

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We Are at the Park with Jonathan and Isaac

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Papa, Isaac and Jonathan Taking a Walk in the Park

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Sunshine and Warm Weather in December – I Love S. California

 

As you see, we packed a lot into this visit.

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We Wore Out the Kids on This Visit

Towards the last week before we were to leave to go back home to France, I began showing signs of low energy and labored breathing. I went to see my GP doctor in Diamond Bar 2 days before leaving for France. He took a chest x-ray which showed that I had fluid in my right lung.

He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a mask to wear on the plane. He said that it was safe for me to fly back to France, as long as I saw my doctor as soon as I returned.

I made the two flights back to France and saw my GP doctor a few days later. He said to come back after I finished the antibiotics for a recheck.

But my health took a sudden turn and I ended up in the emergency room a few days later. After a few tests they checked me into the hospital and the rest is history. They did many tests and the pulmonary doctor did a procedure to remove the fluid from my lung. He removed 1.4 liters of fluid – a lot of fluid that I was carrying around.

I thank God for giving me the strength and energy to enjoy those 2-1/2 months of quality time with our family and friends, it is priceless!!

To be continued…

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