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Pendulum Swing

I’m really not doing a good job at this “blogging every day” thing, am I?  It’s been a relatively uneventful last few days.  Our monthly “Girls Night Out” was Friday, and I had a wonderful time laughing and cutting loose with my girlfriends (and a gay male friend, who’s really one of the girls deep down!)  It was wonderful watching our daughter’s team annihilate their soccer opponents last Saturday morning.  (I know that team sports are about sportsmanship and teamwork and learning the art and craft of the sport and being healthy, but let’s be honest.  It feels great to win.)  We went out to dinner as a family at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.  I’ve been focusing only on the world around me and not the quiet storm inside my body.  I’ve been keeping busy, and the days seemed to go by quickly.  In all honesty, you’d never have known that I was sick by outward appearances, and I really wasn’t spending much of my energy focusing on what’s going on.  All of that came to a screeching halt this morning.

 I actually think it started yesterday.  Over the weekend, I did some research online in an effort to find some additional healing methods or approaches that I might use in conjunction with my hormone therapy for my atypical complex endometrial hyperplasia.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  I found one study that seemed to suggest that Vitamins C and E and beta carotene had been shown to have a strong deterring effect on uterine cancer.  I called my doctor’s office, and she confirmed it.  So I’m taking Vitamins C and E now and I’m off to GNC this afternoon in an effort to find beta carotene (finding pure beta carotene is harder than it looks.  No, Mr. Pharmacist, I don’t want Vitamin A with 20% beta carotene…I want 100% beta carotene!).  My doctor’s office also gave me the names of three local gynecologic oncologists, as promised, and suggested that I call and see who I can get in to see within a reasonable amount of time.  I think that all reinvigorated the worry and the panic.  You should have seen me at Walgreens last night, desperately comparing brands of vitamins and trying to understand all of the chemistry and IUs and dosages – blah, blah, blah).  When I got home, I felt a little blue, but spending the evening reading with my daughter and having dinner with my family helped.  I was so exhausted…I’m guessing from the worry and the sadness.  Both emotions hit me hard this morning around 5:00.  I just laid in my husband’s arms and cried.  Cried for the fear…the worry about this progressing to cancer…the very probable loss of my fertility…the guilt at this self-imposed condition and the stress it has caused the people I love…the fear of radiation and chemotherapy…all of it.  As always, my husband was amazing.  He reminded me of the good…and there’s a lot of it, let me add…and promised me that he’d be here to catch me when I fell and to celebrate with me when the clean bill of health was finally mine once again and for every step along the way.  I’ve walked around like a zombie all day, alternating between sadness and deep numbness.  Inability to concentrate made working on my audit near impossible.  I called the first oncologist on my list, only to be greeted (?) by an unbelievably rude office assistant.  She wouldn’t even discuss scheduling an appointment with me until she received my file from my doctor’s office.  (Hello?  Help me out, here.  Are we talkin’ next week or next August? I’m the patient here and could really benefit from your kindness and understanding as I’m hurting and worrying inside!)  She was abrasive and ugly and wouldn’t confirm that I’d see the oncologist my physician had selected, and snickered (I kid you not) when I raised concerns about insurance.  Just an ugly, ugly person…and a horrible reflection on someone who, I’m certain, is a wonderful physician.  Off to doctor-number-two on my list.  Her staff was much more friendly and welcoming, and I felt comfortable.  I had my records sent over, and I got a call back late this afternoon from Andrea, the very kind oncology nurse.  I’m in at 2:00 Thursday afternoon (that’s the-day-after-tomorrow Thursday!)  Can’t tell if that means I should panic (i.e., the oncologist looked at my records and, in sheer panic on my behalf, scheduled me right away) or if I should just shut up and be grateful that I got in as quickly as I did.  I felt the fog instantly begin to lift when I talked to Andrea.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and hope that this doctor can give us some good information.  One of the things she’s supposed to tell us is whether or not she thinks it’s a good idea to try for a laparoscopic hysterectomy.  If I have to have this surgery, and I’m convinced that I will, I’d so much rather go this route.  The procedure is significantly less invasive, and the healing time is so much faster.  Please cross your fingers for me that we get good news Thursday afternoon.

I still feel a little residual “ick” – not sure how long that’ll last.  I guess it was “just that time.”  I think it’s normal when you’re going through something like this, especially when inherent therein is a long period of “hurry up and wait” (three months is a l-o-n-g time), for there to be “up days” and “down days.”  Hoping for more of the former and less…much less…of the latter.  My doctor told me not to cry and worry.  Why is it so hard to shelve that worry and not allow it to manifest itself as tearful waterworks?

I Just…Am

After last week’s panic, I tried to re-shift my focus to the positive.  I don’t have cancer.  My pre-cancerous condition was caught early, and treatment has begun to (hopefully) prevent it from becoming cancer.  I have a wonderful doctor and good insurance.  I have a strong, beautiful support system behind me.  I didn’t think very much about what was happening inside me over these past several days.  My dear friend Sara re-made my webpage for me to make me smile.  Work kept me busy, as always, and I moved from project to project and got a lot accomplished.  Our daughter’s soccer team had an amazing first game (tie score, 3-3!).  We went to the off-leash area with our killer Boston Terrorista and had a wonderful time outside in the beautiful spring weather.  I spent the weekend with my husband and our dear friends (both Saturday night and Sunday) laughing and enjoying one another and the shared experience of friendship.  Plans were made for a camping trip (and a spa day for those of us who prefer indoor plumbing and the comforts of home, free of the creepy crawlies).  Shopping was done.  Crochet work on a purse neared completion.  It was a good weekend.  Then came Monday.

I’ve mentioned that two of my friends are battling cancer.  One is doing remarkably well.  The other received staggering news yesterday about her condition.  Another friend of mine has been losing her father for a long time now.  I’ve been so wrapped up in my own selfish concerns that I’ve not talked much with her about her family situation.  I got a chance to do so yesterday, and it’s heartbreaking and awful.  He’s dying and nothing can be done to stop it.  Another dear friend’s daughter (who is a Brownie sister of my daughter) has bronchiectasis and is sick….again.  (No child should suffer like this little girl has.  It’s just awful.)  My mind drifted off to an ongoing conflict I have with a former friend, and the damage it has caused to a group of people who once considered themselves a family of sorts.  All added together, it made for a crummy evening.  I felt awful inside.  Empty.  Why is it that so many wonderful people who have done nothing wrong suffer and endure heartbreak and physical pain, the likes of which many of us won’t ever know?  It lacks justice on every level, and is so incredibly unfair.  I realize that life isn’t supposed to be fair.  No one ever promised us an easy go of it.  I feel incredibly limited in my ability to help the people I love and it makes me sad.  Maybe the answer is just to love and pray…and to let God handle the heavy things for which my hand can bring no healing and my heart can bring no resolution.  Giving it all to God should make me feel better, but it doesn’t.  Hard to let go, I guess, of the human inclination to control and hang on and do-do-do on our own. 

I spent my lunch hour at the office today looking again at information on atypical complex endometrial hyperplasia.  I’m reading good things and bad things.  One study seemed to indicate that there is a relatively high regression rate of complex hyperplasia with atypia (55%!)  Other literature dooms ACEH patients to certain cancer with or without a hysterectomy (I think it said that in 43% of women undergoing a hysterectomy because of ACEH, the uterus was found to have endometrial cancer).  An amazing YouTube video shows what this disorder looks like through the lens of a microscope.  I’m slowly starting to look again at this information, and hoping to remain grounded and strong enough to see it in its true light and to not panic.  I see my doctor again this week for a follow-up, and I have so many questions for her (Will I need another D&C after the three months of Megace?  What else did the pathology report say?  Is there any metastasis of this condition?  Is this because of my PCO?  Will my daughter get it?  You promised me you’d take all the endometrial tissue out.  You did, right?)  I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say.  A little scared, too. 

Please keep my friends in your hearts and prayers.  Me, too.   Thanks.

The Night Before…

So here we are – “the night before.”  Oddly enough, I am (almost) completely calm.  It just feels like a normal Wednesday night.  I took the day off today and spent the morning at the hospital doing all of the “pre-admission” paperwork and testing.  I also got a chance to talk with one of the anesthesiologists.  The experience went well and I am really, really glad I went (it was optional, but strongly suggested when I talked to the pre-admissions nurse last week on the phone).  My nurse today was amazing.  Ever feel like you’ve met a kindred spirit?  That’s Leslie.  She was more of a sister than a nurse and we laughed and she made me feel completely comfortable.  We share the “gave soda up for Lent” challenge, although she’s struggling with it much more than I am, sad to say.  Unfortunately, she won’t be working tomorrow, so I’ll have another nurse before and after my procedure (probably Amy, who I did meet today…think of me, only skinnier, older, and with a LOT more energy and bubbliness.  That’s Amy.)  The anesthesiologist asked me a barrage of questions and explained how things would go tomorrow.  Leslie said they’d have an IV in me early on, and the doctor told me that they’d begin giving me sedating drugs on the way to the operating room.  I told him that the part that most frightened me was the nervousness I knew I’d feel when I was laying there “just seconds before” the procedure, with the entire medical team staring down at me.  He said that I’d be so sedated by then that I’d not really even notice.  He also said that the most discomfort I’d likely feel is a minor sore throat from the breathing tube, and perhaps some mild menstrual cramps (which, oddly enough, he said the narcotics wouldn’t help…um, they’re narcotics?  Don’t they help everything?)  He said that if I had any severe uterine pain, they’d send me home with medication.  I did complete a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions and a Healthcare Treatment Directive while I was there…

Basically, I designated my husband (and if he should die tomorrow, my mother) as the guardians of my final wishes.  I also specified that I would want to die naturally if, God forbid, something were to go horrendously wrong and my death were imminent anyway, or if I were to be rendered unable to identify myself or loved ones, communicate, or feed/care for myself.  A lot of additional worry and planning, most likely very unnecessarily, but good to have done.

They did a pregnancy test “just to be sure” I wasn’t “in the family way” (I’m not, although boss #1 is dead certain that no sooner will I get through this procedure than Erin will be a big sister.  Not sure how I feel about that.)  I also had an EKG, which looked great.  Blood pressure looked great.  Heart rate looked great.  Everyone was amazingly kind and I felt great when I left.  How it’ll work tomorrow is that I’ll come at 8:00 and do all of the last-second preparation, one more read-over of the paperwork, Q&A session with my surgeon, and then we’re off.  Two hours seems like a mighty long time, but Leslie assured me that lots will be going on, so it will probably seem to pass by quickly.  Oh, I also learned something interesting…..those little gadgets that they put on your finger to monitor your heart rate will not work if you’re wearing nail polish.  Ask me how I know this.  :)  Thankfully, I was able to chip off enough of my turquoise-sparkly paint to get a good read.  Tonight, I’m to sleep in clean linens (which are in the dryer as we speak) and shower, followed by an all-over body swipe of some two 2% Chlorhexidine Gluconate wipes.  They’re focusing on reducing any risk of MRSA, hence the need for the clean linens, extra cleanliness tonight, and the “no sleeping with pets” rule (Sorry puppy dog!  Mommy will snuggle with you tomorrow when she gets home from the hospital!)  That’s about all….except for my last-second, one-more-question session with the anesthesiologist.  Um, if the narcotics won’t help the cramping, what’s the point?  He basically explained that uterine cramping didn’t respond to the kinds of narcotics they’ll be using tomorrow, which confuses me, but he did say that they’d amp up pain medication if, in recovery, I was in any pain.  That works.  I’ll take it.  Leslie said that although I’m “technically” not supposed to be alone for 24 hours following the procedure, she thinks I’ll be OK for the hour tomorrow night that my husband will be coaching our daughter’s soccer team.  It’s the last practice before the first big game, and I’d hate for him to miss it.  She said to just have him take me to the bathroom before he leaves, and then set me up on the couch with the laptop, the phone, and some bottled water.  Sounds like a plan to me.

Went to school with my daughter for lunch, and spent the rest of the day relaxing.  She had Brownies tonight, and is spending the night with a dear family friend (whose daughter is a Brownie sister and classmate).  She seems amazingly strong and not at all worried for me, which is good.  Just to be on the safe side, I made sure her teacher and day care provider knew what was going on.  That way, if she had a sudden case of the worries and had a few tears, they’d know what was going on.

That’s about all from pre-surgery central.  Thank you again to all of you who have sent your love and support and shared stories about your D&C procedures and who have just been generally wonderful.  Thanks for not judging me for sharing this story with you.  And thanks for just being here.  If I’m not too groggy, I’ll blog tomorrow and let you know how it all went.  If I am, I’ll ask my husband to do so for me.  If you would, say a quick prayer for me and for my doctors and nurses.  Hope to be blogging with you again in 24 hours.  :)

We’re Getting Closer…

Hi Internet. Yet again, I begin my blog in apologetic mode, saying “I’m sorry” for being unfaithful in my posts. This “blog every day” thing is a lot harder than it looks. All is going well and we’re keeping busy. I hope that you are having a good week, friends.

So we’re getting closer to “the day.” When the nurse called last week with her barrage of questions and instructions, I threw in a few questions of my own, mentioning on more than one occasion that I had some apprehensions and worries about what was to come. She suggested that I come in and talk to one of the anesthesiologists, which I’ll be doing tomorrow morning. My doctor also wants to do a pre-surgery EKG on me, so we figured tomorrow’d be a great time. Just get it all done and over with so there aren’t any surprises on Thursday. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow. The nurse left me with an interesting, comforting thought. An operating room is a highly-controlled environment. People are watching YOU and ONLY you and are focusing 200% of their energies on your well-being and reactions and general state of being. You’re safer in an operating room than you are in your car on the highway. Interesting.

Not much else to share, really. My husband and I caught the Sunday night finale of Big Love last night, and spent significant time dissecting it and trying to tie together all the loose ends. (Why is it that every single time I fall in love with a television show, it goes off the air? Sex and the City, ER, and now Big Love. *sigh*) Soccer is in full swing. The kiddos have their first game Saturday. I’m going to spend Friday night “in” with my amazing family and have a funny movie fest/pizza night and go out Saturday evening with dear friends for dinner and a movie. Sunday, we’ll head about an hour away for a birthday celebration for my mother- and brother-in-law. It feels wonderful to be surrounded by so much love. I feel very blessed.

I guess that’s all from my little corner of the universe. Before I leave you, though, I wanted to share a thought. I saw this on Twitter yesterday and I like it…and truly believe it.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Thanks for being part of my strength and courage these past few weeks.

The Delinquent Blogger

So, it’s Thursday and I haven’t posted to my blog since Monday.  *gulp*  Not doing very well on my “quest to blog every day of my fortieth year,” am I?  Sorry about that.  All is going well and it’s been a good and productive week.  Soccer practices have started, my audit at work is almost done, and it appears that spring has (f-i-n-a-l-l-y!) sprung.  I hope that you are doing well, too, and that you’ve had a great week and a fun St. Patrick’s Day.

I got a call from the hospital today.  We went over the particulars of what to expect next week.  No food or water by mouth after 12 midnight.  Come at 8 a.m. and wear loose-fitting clothing.  No jewelry, nail polish, or makeup.  No medicine except Tylenol after midnight.  Bring your insurance card and driver’s license.  Buy maxi-pads just in case you spot or bleed, but don’t bring them to the hospital.  We’ll give you some if you need them.  What is your religious preference?  Do you know where to park? Etc. etc.  She also asked me if I had a living will or an advanced directive, which I don’t (but should…shouldn’t we all?)  All I’ve been thinking about lately is the possibility that something might go wrong next week.  I have this nightmarish vision of throwing a blood clot while I’m on the table and being left in a vegetative state.  I know the likelihood of anything close to that happening is slim to 900% nil, but still.  Surgery has its risks and when you’re heavy, those risks are increased.  I sat down to work on a living will and will probably finish that this weekend.  I called our employee assistance program (EAP) and spoke with a local lawyer, and also looked at a template of a living will on the Kansas Bar Association’s webpage.  I think I am good to go.  This is probably really unnecessary given the common nature of my procedure, but it never hurts to be prepared.  On the topic of preparedness, I’ve also scheduled an appointment with an anesthesiologist for the day before my surgery.  I just want to cover all my bases, get any last-second questions answered, and learn a little bit more about what lies ahead.  My surgeon also wants me to have an EKG done, which we’ll do then.  Better to do it ahead of surgery than to be surprised just before, she said.

(All this worry about a relatively simple and very, very common surgery….that LOTS of women in my life have had!  You all must think I am a drama queen, or overly-cautious to the extreme.  I feel a little silly, but I’m also a little scared.  Please tell me that makes me normal.)

Day #9 without Coca-Cola.  I’m doing well!  I’m shocked at how much easier it’s become.  Truly, I keep waiting to experience these horrific soda cravings that just aren’t coming.  Granted, it feels a little weird to go out to a restaurant and not have a soda, but water is cold and refreshing and wonderful and I’m truly not minding it like I thought I would.  I’m also beginning to feel better as well.  My digestion is better.  My skin is clearer.  Benefits all around.  Now that I’m this far along, I find myself saying, “I don’t think I’ll ever have another Coke” and “I really can’t see myself going back to the way I was…drinking so many Cokes a day.”  Here’s to the hope belief that this change is for the better…and forever.

It’s Getting Easier!

Hi everyone.  I’m sorry I didn’t blog over the weekend.  Hope that you and yours had a wonderful weekend and that your week is off to a great start!

All’s going well in my little corner of the universe.  Today marks day #6 without soda, and I’m finding that I don’t really miss it.  I guess I thought it would be harder this early in the game.  Last Thursday and Friday notwithstanding, this process has really not been anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be.  I thought I’d find myself struggling to make it through the day, fighting urge upon urge to sneak a soda behind closed doors and away from the watchful eyes of those around me.  But truly, I’m not feeling that way.  I am fine with my bottled water (cold, preferably), and did treat myself to a beer over the weekend.  I know Lent has just begun, but I’m really proud of myself for coming this far.  Keep me honest, guys.  Don’t let me slip!

I’m still in (sorta) “Bring It” mode…still focusing on the positive and holding on to a quietly confident certainty that I will be OK.  In the last day or so, the worries about the D&C itself have crept back.  I know that my doctor and her team won’t let anything happen to me.  I guess I’m just afraid of how I’ll feel going in to it…those last few seconds when I am laying there and everyone’s scrubbed and ready to go and the last few words are said before my drug-induced sleep surrenders me to their hands.  I know I’ll be scared, and I don’t like that feeling.  I foresee tears and a lot of worry, neither of which I’m exactly proud of, but both of which probably render me “normal,” on some level.  I’ve had four other surgeries, all more major than this, and I survived and recovered from each without (significant) issue.  I’m sure this will be the same.  I guess it’s the whole “surrendering control of my body to someone else” thing that’s bothering me now.  I rather like breathing and walking on my own and being conscious and alert and a wholly functioning person.

My amazing husband is coaching our daughter’s soccer team.  Our first official practice is tomorrow.  I’ve spent the evening finalizing schedules and plans and I can’t wait for it all to begin.  Stay tuned for more soccer info, or check out our team’s (very fledgling) website!