July 4, 2016

Signs, oxygen, and reduced inflammation!

It all started with a directional sign that in part read Oak Creek Juvenile Center. As I passed this sign, I was taken back to the summer of 2004 when I first stepped foot in the facility to see one of my children. As I continued to drive it was as though time stood still as to provide a space allowing my mind to visualize and experience countless dramatic rapid memory flashes, liken to photographs, from childhood into adulthood; they continued to appeared in rapid succession. Then they stopped. I realized I had driven a couple blocks. My breath was slowed and I could almost feel myself coming back into my body – I felt as though my mind and body had separated from one another as I lamented on my life. When I was again fully present with my driving, I said aloud, “my life has not been easy”. I had not thought of many of the memories that flooded my mind for years. One stunning memory was of being in junior high and high school and not being able to manage the social expectations. While in junior high school, I thought often of ending my life – life just seemed too difficult to navigate. I recognized that it did not need to be difficult, but people really made it hard for other people thrive. Many kids were assholes, some authority figures took advantage of their position, it was like I felt trapped in this hell of sorts and did not know how to get out. Ultimately, I left home around the age of 15/16 dropped out of school the summer prior to my junior year of high school. I had total forgotten that I dropped out of school. What a strange memory to have resurface. My senior year I enrolled in a private Christian school and worked diligently to complete two years of school in one year to graduate on time, and I did.

Many of the memories unearthed impacting events in my life – my life has been wrought with challenges many of them I invited into my life by virtue of the advocacy and social work I chose to immerse myself in for all these years. As I write I think of the many injustices that happened to me that I have never spoke of – there is little reason to reveal now as it would serve no purpose. I too know that it is because of what I experienced, it drove me to become a fierce advocate, especially for youth. I married straight out of high school into a loveless marriage to man a did not really know. I became pregnant a couple months thereafter and felt trapped. We eventually divorced after about 2 ½ years of marriage. I had been single for a while then I met my second husband. He had a stable job, was older and more established, he adored my son, and he seemed to love me. At that time in my life I was looking for stability and that is what I got. He and I adopted a son – so our children were separated by about 9 years. As I grew older, he and I grew apart – we were living more as friends and less as husband and wife. I remember feeling so alone and thinking that marriage really sucked and that I never wanted to be married again – ever! We eventually divorced. I actually loved being single, no commitment, I would send the kids to see their dad (my second husband had taken on the role of raising my biological son) every other weekend thus getting a break from being a single parent. I had a lot of fun, but eventually I too grew tired of dating and silly games guys would try to play that I wanted no part of. Just as I was ready to stop dating, I met Curtis and two months later we would marry. I did not want to get married again but I could not pass up Curtis – he adored me, he had never been married, he was mature, had a steady job, an 8-year-old son, and I was smitten by him. Curtis and I have now been married 12 years.

As I reflect on the images that flashed so vividly on that day, I think of how wonderful it is that I have a strong resiliency gene. Despite all the challenges, trauma, trials, advocacy, hurt, abandonment, and loss here I am standing upright and greeting life as it comes at me. You know, we all have a story, if we are honest with ourselves. Many pieces of our story will forever remain silent – only for us to know. Especially as children, as we see life through such a vulnerable unique filter making it difficult to put what is happening into words so that someone can understand the pain, loss, fear, lack or worthiness and so on. One of the gifts we can give ourselves in adulthood is to attend to our inner child and process the dangling pieces of our lives. If we fail to address these, the patterns will continue into adulthood and repeat over and over again. I have done a lot of personal work over the past five years, having a terminal diagnosis has a way of pushing you to that uncomfortable place quickly. I have chosen to do my work. It is just that I do not think our work is ever truly done – there is always room to go deeper and grow more as a person. When I saw that sign that set these traveling thoughts twirling around, this was one of those moments, a gift for me to continue to grow.  

Because even chemo can be funny, with Lene'!
I have recently chosen to have chemotherapy infusions weekly for three weeks with one week off. The first two infusions I did 50% (low dose) of the medication typically given and the last two I chose 75%. I am not sure what I will do this week although I am leaning toward 75% due to a lack of tumor cell death while choosing low-dose chemotherapy. I am at a point where it becomes a quality of life issue – it is not a simple answer or choice. Doing 75% infusions on Thursdays makes Fridays really interesting around our house. I say the strangest things. I have vivid dreams and am often in a state between sleep and being awake – similar to a meditative state. After this last infusion, I recall having a dream about my soul rocking back and forth almost as though I were cradled in a swing of sorts. There were others there too but no physical bodies – yet I could feel the others around me. It was peaceful. Gently being rocked back and forth. I felt that I had a choice, that I could choose to leave this journey or choose to stay. I chose to stay, despite the discomfort I knew I would return to and this comfortable state I would be leaving. The timing of this dream is interesting as I do not feel as though I am close to death, despite the diagnosis. I too plan on living a healthy life into my 80s and offloading this diagnosis in the next 18-24 months. The dreams and visions are very interesting. There too is a pretty funny side to Fridays, the day after chemotherapy; Curtis tells me that I say strange things and he captured one such event as he audio recorded me. I hope to post it for all to enjoy!

Inside the chamber.
The oxygen hyperbaric chamber has been an amazing find! It is making a significant difference in reducing the inflammation of the mass. I am beyond thrilled about this modality as it is reducing my pain – something the morphine is failing to effectively manage. Last week I chose to do 75% chemotherapy, still low dose chemotherapy. It is for sure more difficult to recover from 75% then 50%, but I need to try to get more bang for my buck from chemotherapy. The day after this last chemotherapy I went to the hyperbaric chamber then came home and slept from about 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm, I was awake for a few hours and then went back to bed and slept for another 10 hours or so. My body is tired and needs rest in order to heal. I recommend that every one in the area try the hyperbaric chamber at least once, when you call to schedule your appointment, tell them I sent you and you will get your first 60-minute session for only $39. The chamber treats over 80 different ailments from PTSD, strokes, TBI, autism, cancer, wound care, post-surgery healing, and much more. This is an amazing modality that I cannot say enough positive things about!

New Leaf Hyperbarics
1200 Executive Parkway #230
Eugene, Oregon

I want to share photographs of my success in using the chamber. Although a bit graphic, the images depict the severity of the mass. I am quite sure you can only imagine the pain I am experiencing. Most importantly, you can see the reduction in inflammation of the mass. The oxygen chamber is working!!! I am so grateful I have access to this modality and that it is working. 


I continue to utilize alternative modalities in combination with western medicine, a majority of which is not covered by medical insurance. If you would like to offer financial support you can mail donations to the address listed below or make a direct donation at your local Selco Credit Union. Every dollar donated goes directly towards my treatment.

Mailing donations:
Christina Garrett
PO Box 192
Philomath, Oregon 97370

Selco Credit Union Direct Deposit: "Team Christina"

Today, I am hopeful~