Girl In the Mirror

Hello, fellow readers and bloggers.  I know its been a while since I’ve said much about anything.  Starting the week after my transplant, my days have run on and on against each other and I don’t even know what day it is quite often.

TMI moment coming up:  Stop right here if you don’t wanna read about it.  My soapbox, remember?  Ladies and gentlemen, I have been suffering from various viruses and GVHD. These have all caused and continue to cause severe diarrhea and nausea with vomiting.  Which all course has lead to me losing so much weight and three subsequent hospital stays.  Sixty-six pounds lost to be exact at this point.  I know what you’re thinking, especially you girls!  You will not believe how many women have told me how good I look.  GOOD??  I usually just nod and change the subject.  Listen up ladies, I would much rather have lost weight the right way or be a happy, healthy, chubby bunny.  Had I been given the decision to lose the weight via my own will power or because of a horrific disease, I would have definitely picked the first one.  So please don’t compliment me on the weight loss.  Its not something I’m particularly proud of.

My transplant day of November 16, 2012 was my miracle day.  God gave me a second chance at life through my own father’s stem cells.  Little did I know that that gloriously, happy day would turn into the most nightmarish months of my life.  I cannot describe how hard it has been to just get from sunrise through sunset every day.  Its a constant struggle between my mind, my emotions, my physical strength, and begging God to end my misery.

My reflection.

My reflection.

The reflection in the mirror deceives me with my gaunt face, sunken eyes, pale skin, and newly growing hair that doesn’t know which direction it wants to go.  I don’t recognize this girl and she scares me.  Cancer and treatment do some pretty horrible things to the body.  My skin is forever dry and I feel like I leave a blanket of snow every time I get up.  I have bruises all over my arms from having blood drawn every day.  I look like I just got initiated into a gang with all these bruises.

Food just doesn’t taste the same right now.  Things I used to love to eat make me feel nauseated now.  There’s not much of a selection for me to eat either that won’t cause said diarrhea or sudden onset of nausea.  It sounds like a prison menu.  No dairy, no fresh fruits or vegetables, no fried foods, no greasy foods, nothing spicy, no whole grains, and the list goes on.  I think prisoners might have it better than me now that i think about it.  There’s a constant bad taste in my mouth from all the medication and chemo effects.

The steroids have made me lose so much muscle mass, it’s so tiring to do simple things like brushing my teeth or getting my shoes on.  Even talking is a challenge.  Typing this is making my arms burn and I can barely keep my fingers from shaking enough to do it.  Everything leaves me out of breath.  Everything.

This is why I’ve been away so long.  Yes, I’ve screened my phone calls.  Yes, I’ve tucked myself away into my own little nook.  But I’m not sorry.  I need time and time alone to get better and to be alone with God while I try to figure out what it is He wants to show me through all of this suffering.  Yes, my life is an open book, but this book is gonna take a little longer to be written.  Like the great M.J. said in his song, I need to make a change for once in my life and I’m starting with the girl in the mirror.

Some change.

Some change.

I bought a guitar.

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24 thoughts on “Girl In the Mirror

  1. Yvonne Ybarra says:

    Praying that you will continue to heal physically and emotionally. Every day you are amazing !

  2. Tammy Conolly says:

    I wish I could do or say something to make it all okay. I can’t, but I love you and I continue to bring you to God’s throne everyday and ask for healing and blessing. Keep the faith. There is a plan in all of this. We just can’t see it yet.

  3. Elena Burgos says:

    Don’t lose faith mijita ….what I wouldn’t do for you to make you feel better … I love you mijita.

  4. Lorrie Miessner says:

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May you always be surrounded by love!

  5. Jodi Jarrell says:

    Kudos to you for buying a guitar. Music has a certain way of healing our souls and connecting us to something mystical far greater than we can grasp. (For me anyway.) I felt just like you with having lost muscle mass, but now 8 months post transplant it is finally beginning to return. And my hair…. no one mentioned it could go back curly… so that’s been interesting 😉 We are warriors of a sort, those of us having received transplants. Warriors for life. Our own lives. You’re doing a great job at this warrior/survival assignment. Know that you are loved and your journey is not in vein. Peace be with you always.

    • Jodi, we ARE warriors of our own lives, aren’t we? I never thought of it that way. I’m not only fighting for my family and loved ones but for myself. We are worth it!! Thanks, my warrior sistah!!

  6. I hope this gets better for you soon. I know what it’s like to have constant nausea and diarrhea and not be able to eat anything, to lose weight so rapidly you don’t even recognise yourself. It’s horrible! And I was only sick like that for about two months and wasn’t dealing with all the horrible cancer treatments on top of it. I can’t imagine how much worse it must be for you. Keep on fighting, even if you have to take a nap or a bathroom break more often than you’d like.

  7. Laurie Graham says:

    Even though your message sounds sad, you are stronger than you know and these hard times will pass. God gives you everything you need as you need it. Please hang on and know that times will get better

  8. Take all the time you need sister!

  9. Rey says:

    I first want to apologize. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our everyday lives that we tend to forget about others and I want to apologize for forgetting to check on you and express my love to you and German. I have no other words but to say I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through and my heart hurts as I hear of your continued suffering. I wish there was something I could do or say to ease the pain but I know I can’t. Just know you are loved not only by me, but by others. Saying a prayer for you NOW!. God Bless!
    Rey Rey

    • No need for apologies, Rey! I’ve been in my own little world myself and there’s nothing wrong with that. I do miss you but there will be time to catch up! I will definitely bug you when I get back home. Or you’ll just have to pick me up and take me to San Antonio for a weekend 😉 love ya friend!

  10. Elena Burbos says:

    Good morning I pray to god that this day today you feel much better. You are in the Lord’s hand o mighty god is so powerful that he will heal you and do not lose faith mijita .. Love you and we miss you mijita 😦 God bless and take care:(

  11. Sarah Moore says:

    Hi Cristina,
    We’ve only met briefly a couple of times, but I wanted to tell you that you have really inspired me. Your story motivated me to hold a combination blood drive and “Be the Match” bone marrow registry drive at my company. We got 22 blood donors, and 19 new bone marrow registrants. (I also completely mortified myself by fainting after the blood donation and peed myself while I was out—how’s that for TMI!!)
    I know you’ve inspired so many others to do what they can help others. We’ll probably never know how many lives you have saved, but the count probably reaches to the thousands!
    I am so sorry you are feeling so bad. I wish there was something I could do to help. Me and my two kids pray for you every night.

    • Thank you for reading and all your prayers, Sarah. Don’t feel bad: I’ve fainted twice while getting my labs drawn in the past two months. They already know me in there by name, lol! I appreciate your kind words and what you’ve done for the cause!

  12. stephanie gomez says:

    I wish there was something I could do or say to give u comfort or peace, but all I know to do is Pray for u. You are in my daily prayers. Love u.

  13. Nathan says:

    I just fell upon your blog here, Google has been my good friend since my autologous stem cell transplant I had recently… (day+37).. I just wanted to say, I totally feel you. Stay strong!

  14. Linda Keltch says:

    I am loving to hear your fighting spirit. My daughter was diagnosed in November with Multiple Myeloma and has been in treatment since then and is scheduled for a stem cell transplant soon (procedures begin May 6). You remind me so much of her and you keep it real on what we have ahead….believe it or not that is such a help even though it’s not going to be pretty. You are a fighter and I believe in you! Thank you for your blog and your spirit.

  15. Cori Cortez says:

    I would love to get a visit there to you my friend, I have some things that just may cheer you up and make you feel better! How do I get to you?

  16. Nichole R. Cuevas says:

    All i can say is WOW, you just amaze me Cristina! Your just a strong girl that is living her life the best way she can. I can not imagine the struggles you face everyday and living the life you live. MOst people would have given up by this point but YOU my friend have proven that to be nothing but a grain of salt off your shoulder. YOur have such a positive outlook on every situation you face. I hope to make it up to you one day. You stay strong and i love reading your blogs. Love and miss you! MUAH!

  17. Bill Kahler says:

    Hi Christina, Doing a Google search I came across your blog. Congratulations on doing such a good thing! As I read it, I saw so many parallels to my own trip. I was diagnosed with Lymphoma and leukemia in March 2012, stem cell transplant in July 2012, and finally in May 2013, taking steps back into the world. A lot of people will find comfort in reading about your experience.

    Sometimes it seems like it’s all happened fast, and sometimes it seems like it’s taken forever.

    So many things I can relate to:
    *When my hair finally came out in clumps and I shaved my head and looked in the mirror, I cried my eyes out. Not just for the hair but the gaunt gray sick look. I said to myself, “I’m a cancer guy now.”
    *The bubble – having been stuck in the house for 16 months, it’s almost hard to go out.
    *Chemo, radiation, weight loss, muscle loss, fatigue. Made me wish they could put me in hibernation and wake me when it’s over.

    I wonder if you experienced really good friends fading into the background while a few “second tier” friends came forward. A couple of my newer cancer friends said the same thing happened to them. Some people don’t know what to say, or are afraid to face it I guess. Still I found it really tough to understand until I went to visit a friend of mine dying of lung cancer. The day I was going, I realized I didn’t want to go. Later I was glad I did go, but getting over the hump was hard.

    If your journey at this point is at all like mine, I expect you are starting to feel better but somewhat impatient with the “slow process”. I tried to do a push-up a couple days ago. Ha! It was laughable. I’m about 4 months ahead of you as far as transplant dates.

    I found meditating and trying to stay in the moment helped. I would check myself and realize on a pretty good day I was about 80%, and when the bad days happened I would spend a lot of time in bed. Also forcing myself to exercise even a little bit helped too. For some reason the doctors and staff forgot to tell me but I Googled it. (Oh yeah, mostly stay away from the internet. There’s stuff on there that has nothing to do with us!)

    Congrats on the guitar! I’m a musician myself and had my guitar in the hospital for most of my stays. Make sure you have it checked out if it ever seems like pushing the strings down is just killing your fingers. Often times a simple adjustment and string change will save a newbie from being totally discouraged. (That is when your strength in your hands feels mostly normal – last year I couldn’t open a soda can or snap my fingers. It’s only when I remember that kind of stuff that I realize I am making progress.)

    Anyways, I wish you the best. Thanks again for writing the blog.


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