A fuzzy haze

Nov 10

I’ll be in the hospital until my chest tube comes out.  The chest tube the same size as a garden hose and several inches (maybe even feet?) are wound into my chest cavity; it exits between my lower ribs on the right side.  On the other end of the garden hose is a gentle suctioning device: all excess fluid and leaking air run out through the hose and into a filter to be measured.

Having this chest tube is definitely uncomfortable.  Coughing and hiccups are The Worst, FYI.  It is one of the most painful post-operative conditions that exist.  To counter the pain from the chest tube, I am on some serious narcotics.  I have an IV with push button attached to my port so that I can push the button whenever I want–every 8 minutes it will dispense a new dose.  And yes, I now measure time and the clock in 8 minute segments.  I also have a block; a small tube that runs medicine along the spinal cord, thereby numbing all the nerves that wrap around to my front.  And still, it hurts.  Once the chest tube comes out, they will wean me off the heavy narcotics, and I will switch to oral medications.

In the meantime, it is safe to say that I am, well, high; this accounts for the fuzziness I’m feeling.  The pain level is so significant that I try to stay on top of my push button narcotics to preempt it as much as possible.  The drugs leave me very fuzzy; it is hard to track time; sequences are lost on me, and I can’t imagine my conversation is very lively.  I find myself going cross-eyed in an effort to stay awake at times, and my memory of these past few days is shoddy.  What’s nice, though, is that I remember good things.

Brad spent the night with me, curled on an impossibly short couch for his 6’4″ frame.

Maren gave me one of her new stuffed animals to take care of so that we could connect across the city.

I hear tales of Greta’s adventures and know that she is good hands while she and I are apart.

The shelves across from me are filled with cards and messages of goodness.

The chairs to my left are full more than they are empty with friends and family coming by to talk and to pray.

It is the narcotics, I think, that have kept me from having huge emotional reactions to the malignant spot in my lung.  A large layer of fuzz has been draped over me; I don’t have the energy, motivation or will to begin to engage that all important question, “What next?  Also, logically, there is no plan for me to make.  Dr. Wonderful will receive the pathology report sometime this week, and he will make a treatment plan that is specific to my malignancy.  My job in the meantime is to rest and to heal.  When start to I worry, I revel that I have NED (No Evidence of Disease) in my life.  For this I am very, very grateful.

Once the pathology report and then the treatment plan comes in, we will be able to make a plan and articulate our needs.  In the meantime, we are just treading water until we know what direction to go.

I’m enjoying reading messages in all their various forms from loved ones, and the pulse of “we want to help” is most certainly penetrating loud and clear through the fuzzy haze.  Brad and I are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have already received.

As I heal from the physical surgery, as the haze recedes, as the treatment plan sharpens into focus, we will be able to identify needs.  The truth of doing Stage IV cancer as a young family is that there is no script or program for what we need.  Our needs are going to go way beyond meals and the mundane.

In the meantime, I’m draped under my fuzzy haze.  I’m feeling loved, I’m enjoying being a queen in the hospital (3 meals a day on a tray in bed!), nurses and techs who cater to my every whim, doctors that look at me as a person rather than a number.  Is it weird for me to praise God for the haze?  He is only letting through what I can handle.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart; wait for the Lord. –Psalm 26:14


  1. I love you Jen! Lord bless and keep you. May His face shine upon you and be gracious… And give you and your family peace… <3

  2. Patty Wheeler /

    Sending you my love.

  3. lindsay /

    girl..even on the crazy drugs and in pain, your writing is so real and your faith continues to spur us all on. look forward to each post. will continue to keep praying! 🙂

  4. Praise Him in the storm. Not weird at all. FAITH.
    And you write amazingly well for someone in a haze of narcotics!
    Rest. Recuperate. Praying that chest tube will be taken out ASAP.

  5. Rebecca /

    Sending love and comfort to you “stranger friend” and your family.

  6. Elevator girl /

    Hi!! Your friend elevator girl here…talked to and hugged brad
    , Super grandma, And the girls at the 9am church today. An entire army of northstar-ers praying and equipped to do way more than meals and mundane…u just say the word and we are on it…love you lots my friend, keep resting and know you are more special than you will ever know…
    Elevator girl
    Aka heather

  7. Michelle /

    Under all this “haze” you still manage to write in your voice, wrap us in your spirit of goodwill and grace, and provide us yet one more dose of Jackhammer Jen. You will continue to take your positivity to break apart this cancer monstrosity and shatter it into millions of little itty bitty pieces. May courage, strength, and warmth continue to blanket you.

  8. Julie Hughes /

    Yes, rest and heal. Know many prayers are being said for you while you are in a fuzzy haze and coping with a garden hose in your chest- ouch! You are strong. You are loved. We are praying! Love from Alabama!

  9. Susan Taylor /

    You’re never far from my thoughts and are often prominent in them. My heart is with you and your beautiful family. What a treasure you are to so many. I’m looking forward to helping however I can. I pray for your healing.

  10. Jen powers /

    Praying for your pain to minimize significantly and for that button to somehow turn 8 min into 80 or even 800…please Jesus! Praying the haze turns into deep rest and sleep…and that the Spirit of peace covers you like a warm, thick blanket. You are loved!

  11. Shannon Kahrs /

    You have been on my mind and in my prayers almost constantly. My Chris had Maren during Quest – he said she is JOY! Something David Smith said during his talk today made me want to share with you. He said when we “inhale God’s peace we exhale His praise”. You do this so beautifully! That thought alone gave me peace and so I took a deep breath…
    I am so grateful for you and your family! You are doing today well! I’m praying, I’m believing, and I’m breathing…

  12. Marlayne Skeens /

    Jen ~ May GOD wrap HIS Loving Arms around you ~ HE knows how strong your faith is & that you have a Hubby that Loves you Sooooooooooooooooo Much ~ You have 2 Girlie Girls that so LOVES their Mommy ~ You are on our church prayer list ~ Today we got together with friends & painted HOPE TILES ~ Please go to HOPE TILES Community on FB ~ If You Like the HOPE TILES idea, when you get home & feeling better ~ Give me a call 513-465-6748 & we can have a Party of HOPE for YOU 🙂 Sleep tight & Fuzzy is good for now ~ Continued Prayers & Peace 🙂

    • Kim Rourke /

      I LOVE your idea of a Party of Hope for Jen! I’m in!

  13. Jen, your writing is amazing for being in a narcotics haze. What wonderful perspective. I am praying for you from the southeast corner of your state. Much love!

  14. Bonnie J /

    Life is so complicated and fragile. .. The Lord takes us to places that we thought we could never go and HE is there !! The Lord brings trials we never ever thought we would bear and HE is there. You’re constantly on my heart and in my thoughts Jen along with Brad,Maren and Greta. Praying the Haze lifts completely and the chest tube comes out soon. Praying for a rejuvenating sleep that heals and refreshes. The Lord loves you and so do we !!

  15. Holding vigil here in Nor Cal for you. So glad that Greta and Maren have Super Grandma and that Brad’s long self can curl up on that teeny couch just to be with you. You are loved.

  16. Karin Eppert /

    Abba, thank you for taking care of your daughter. I know You love her more than words can say.

  17. Kim Rourke /

    Jen, I share your blog with Adam, Elizabeth, and Chelsea. We hug you in our conversations and smile when thinking of old adventures in Loveland. Embrace the “fuzzies” and being “queen bee”! Praying today finds you stronger and in less pain.

  18. You are an amazing lady. You give thanks to god and others for what they do but truly you leave me saying ‘my god how does she do it’. Your love and strength is an inspiration to us all. Jake summed it up nicely when he said ‘Jen is my role model’ not that be wants to be a super mom but you get the idea. We send you all the Aussie love we have and you are always in our thoughts and prayers.

  19. Maureen /

    Revel in the haze. You will feel so much better once that tube is out. I promise! You are an amazing woman. I know that you will develop a plan to keep your NED and there will be lots of us in cyber land cheering you and your loved ones on.

  20. I simply refuse to picture you lying in a hospital bed, tubes and hoses protruding from everywhere, while drugged out in a morphine stupor. “My Jen” is swinging around on a wrecking ball beating the H*** out of this crummy cancer that’s seems to be attempting to interfere with her ability to be “magic moment mom” to her precious little girls and “hot mama” to that incredible husband who is willing to curl up on a teeny, tiny lumpy couch just to spend the night with her! Ordinarily the fuzzy haze is God’s way of forcing you to rest, but that pesky pain isn’t allowing it. We shouldn’t question God’s thinking, but in this case… At any rate, I’m still in praying/positive thinking mode…and will continue to do both. 🙂

  21. sending you and your family prayers of strength and courage… you can do this!

  22. Karen Almand /

    You my dear, are amazing! You have been on my thoughts and prayers daily since your surgery. I have to tell you that on thursday I had wine club with some other mms from my girls’ school. At about 6:00 I thought “Jen!” I immediately checked my email and was disappointed there was no update from Brad. When I got home at about 10:30 I thought of you again and had to check email. Just thought you might enjoy what you mean to a total stranger. I love how you focus on the NED. I know of a co-worker’s sister-in-law who is thriving with stage iv cancer. She is a personal trainer and runs half marathons, etc. I know you are gonna rock this in your own fabulous way! You can do it Jen!
    Karen from Memphis

  23. Jeff Mills /

    Just learning about your fight, have no doubt you’ll have this thing whipped very soon! You and your entire family are in our thoughts! Stay strong!!!
    Jeff & Van

  24. nancy zwolinski /

    Jen and Brad, we continue to pray with you and for you. Praise God from whom all mercy flows, praise Him all creatures here below, your praise and peace lift the hearts of those near to you.
    Love to you both, Nancy and Ray.

  25. Erica Allen /

    Praying for you and Brad and the girls.