welcome to the danger zone

Posts tagged “pain

Return, Resolutions, Repeat

I'm back....

I’m back….

That’s right, my lovelies – I did not run over any armadillos, I did not get a cat, I did not mix vodka with orange juice, I did not become a brain eating zombie, I managed to stay awake for at least one hour a day, I resolved to clean the house when absolutely necessary (which it never truly was), I did not use a drone to attack the neighbors, I ate no cauliflower, I checked my phone once a day, and I never told facebook what city I live in, no matter how many times it asked. 10 Resolutions made, 10 completed. Completing such daunting tasks gives me such a sense of satisfaction. I don’t know that I can top this in 2015, but damn it, what’s live without challenge?

I’ll get to this year’s resolutions in a moment. I really want to give the real ending to the attack on the cyst, because I couldn’t before I told my dad (aka pop) the facts – I didn’t want to ruin the holiday for him or for my niece – I mean I had to ruin it for Andy and some of my brothers, co-workers and friends, and of course, it was a bit of a downer for me too, but I couldn’t do it to my dad. I think I’ve told most people, if I haven’t and this is where you get the news first, I’m sorry. It’s not the thing you get any enjoyment out of telling people and one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how many people I tell, there’s always going to be someone that I forgot to. I can think of five or ten or fifteen now. Fact is, I’m tired of telling people. Here’s a fact: Telling people you have cancer (again) is fucking hard. You feel bad that your are giving people bad news, you feel you have to make them feel better, they always ask how they can help and it’s just generally a bad thing. If I tell you, just tell me that you love me. Or if you don’t love me, just say, hey, whatever you need. I’ll keep talking if I feel like talking about it, and if I don’t keep talking about it, and you have questions, ask me. I have a blog, seriously, it’s not like this shit is secret.

Anyhow, I read the CT scan before the surgery. I saw the words “possible malignancy” – I saw the look on the ER doctors face when he had to tell me there were some concerning items on the scan. I know my body. I knew something was wrong. After surgery, when Minion 1 arrived, and I asked her about the offending nodule and if they found cancer, she danced around it, saying that they “don’t think” anything is wrong, but they are only using human eyes. I much preferred the way I found out the first time – the resident held my hand and said it straight up, we can’t confirm it yet, but from the preliminary pathology, it looks like cancer. This time, I knew I was going to hear not very good news at my appointment. I know when they take a biopsy, they look at the sample to make sure it’s a good one. They don’t just randomly snap out a bit of tissue and hope for the best. And while they are checking, they can notice whether they have good cells or abnormal cells. Sure, they may not know if it’s malignant with certainty, but they know if something’s up or not. Minion 1 needs to work on her delivery. I should give lessons.

I also knew I wasn’t healing as quickly as I have in the past. I had some pretty hideous bruising. I lost my appetite. I knew things were different, but I wanted to believe what the Minion 1 told me. So when I got to my appointment on the 22nd, I was ready for the news, or at least I thought so. I went by myself because Andy was in Pittsburgh with my nephew and brothers for a Steelers game. I didn’t want him to not have fun because I had an appointment. I asked my niece’s mom to go with me last minute, but she couldn’t. So I just resigned myself to going it alone. I got there on time, checked in, and waited. I got weighed, and found out I’d lost 40lbs since October. That’s a lot. And then I waited. My blood pressure was almost normal, but there was much excitement by the nurse when I told her I was off the morphine and just taking percocet. I wasn’t in pain. That’s good. Yay. No need to undress. Hang out, Dr. will be in. Now, Dr. K is a presence. He’s a tall, funny guy, with a southern twang to his voice and he’s always cracking jokes with nurses and staff and patients. I suppose you have to when you have to give the news he’s giving. He’s almost never late. I can sometimes hear him talking to other patients when I wait for him. Today I can hear him telling one that they will beat this thing, and that they will be in to review the chemo and radiation schedule with her, etc, etc, etc. Not good. It’s still taking a while for him to see me. I wonder where my treatment coordinator is – I have presents for her and Nurse Sue and Dr. K – just little holiday gifts to say thanks. I don’t hear Anne outside either – not good. Finally, Dr. K arrives with Minion 2 from the ER nightmare. They sit down. Sit. That doesn’t usually happen, so yes, it’s another harbinger of doom. Dr. K looks at me and doesn’t mess around – the biopsy shows cancer, and launches into how we could treat it. No surgery, no radiation, two different ways to address it with chemo, there’s no protocol for cancer in this area, quite frankly he doesn’t even know how or why it came back, it shouldn’t have at this point, once you pass two years, there’s a much less likelihood of recurrence. I just kinda look at him, and tell him I don’t have dying on my agenda. He said that’s good because he hasn’t, and isn’t, giving me permission to die. I’m not crying, I’m almost relieved because now I know – I awkwardly hand him the card and ornament I brought him – tell him I don’t know if he Jewish, or celebrates Kwanza or Christmas, but he can hang the ornament on his Hanukkah bush if he wants to – and thank him for taking such good care of me. I can tell this is as hard on him as it is for me. I think the Minion 2 wants to bolt, but is glad I am not crying and that I am, matter-of-factly, addressing what I need to do. Dr. K tells him to talk to me about the MRI, since he hasn’t staged it yet, and needs the MRI to determine what all is happening in the dark recesses of where the stupid pufferfish lies. I tell him I think the unwieldy beast is starting its dark resurgence because I’m having some discomfort in the area, and he says that’s what he wants to see on the MRI. Minion 2 has ceased sweating, I truly believe he thought I would lose it like I did when they offered my the psych hold in the ER. I maintained calm. OK, I was in shock, but it still didn’t involve crying.

You are never really prepared for the news. I’m still not sure I have accepted it, and probably won’t until they hang the poison bag on the rack and it starts dripping into my arm. Dr. K and I hug, he assures me that we will kick cancer’s ass and be laughing about this in no time. He tells me this is a shitty way to end the year, and a shitty way to start a new one, but go home, enjoy the holiday, and they will call me with the chemo schedule the day after Christmas. I tell him I trust him, he got me through it the last time and will this time. I shake the Minion 2’s hand, and like a scared bunny, he hands me the packet of papers for checkout and flees the room. I head to checkout. As I stand there, alone, having just been told my body has betrayed me, it hits me, and I tear up. I have cancer. Fuck. The receptionist asks me about the papers – I tell her all I know is I have a 4 week appointment on the 5th, and Dr. K wants me to have an MRI. She asks if it is scheduled – I tell her I don’t know – I was just handed papers by the Minion 2. She looks, and doesn’t have a clue why I have been handed all of Dr. K’s results and notes. I suddenly realize I need a note for work, and another prescription for percocet. I ask if she can get that for me when she asks him about the other papers. She does – he tells me I’m off until after my 4 week check up. I realize we never even looked at the incisions. Good thing I heal OK. She comes back with all my papers – I ask her if she can give Anne and Sue my cards and ornaments. She will. I’m still not really connecting to any of this. I get my appointment for the MRI and visit summary and head for the elevators.

I don’t break down until I am in the car. Then I am a snotty, sobbing, weeping, sniveling, snorting, coughing, choking mess for about five minutes. And alone. Horribly alone. And also very glad to be alone because I don’t have to worry about making anyone else feel better about my breakdown. I text who I need to text. I need to get groceries while I am down here. It’s funny how the trauma and the mundane activities intersect here. I need to get food. I also need to get home. I start the car and go to Giant, and mindlessly wheel the cart up and down the aisles, tossing shit in I don’t really need, but I have a fuck-it-you-only-live-once attitude and decide we’re having a fucking rib roast and ask at the butcher counter for a small incredibly expensive rib roast. Two hundred dollars later, I’m checking out of Giant with my rib roast. I forget to buy water. I’m not even hungry. I need to go home and that’s the last place I want to be. My iPod won’t fucking charge. I’m not going home until I have the opportunity to sing loudly with my iPod, and preferably with OWTH, until the pain inside is purged. I must also see my friend, Pony-Pony. I need some normality in this surreal scene. I also need gas. Actually, GAS first.

So I drive – first to a gas station. I fuel up and head to the MHS barn to see Pony-Pony. He’s not there. They probably are making him be the stupid donkey is some live nativity somewhere. I keep driving. I see my friends, the goats, at the goat barn, and I yell “fuck you” at the sheep in their pasture. My iPod is still not charged. I see some cows. I see another pony, and another, none of which are Pony-Pony, but at least I saw them. I keep driving. I realize my blood sugar is quite low, and I am a little shaky – I’ll got to Hardee’s. This whole time I feel like I am in weird freaky film where my character is in a dream world unbeknownst to everyone who sees her. It’s like none of this is real. I finally get the iPod charged enough to commence screamsinging. Fortunately, RTE 322 is not busy and I can cry and sing and drive all at once with no worries. It’s not real. It’s not real. I get to Hardee’s and order some sort of burger and onion rings. I manage to choke down the onion rings. I head home.

The drive was cathartic. And pretty scary. Occasionally I would look down at the speedometer during pauses between songs. I pushed 100+mph more than a few times. It’s not really my fault the car goes that fast. I slowed down several times. I wanted to get home and then I didn’t. I would have to tell Andy and then other people. This is the part that sucks. I finally drove home – I walked in and Andy was all excited to tell me about his trip and the game – and I killed that with a look. He asked how the visit went and I lost it. I sobbed and cried and told him how sorry I was he had to go through this all again. My kid is a good hugger. He told me I was the strongest person he knew and it was just cancer, and I could beat it. Then he proceeded to hug me some more. When he was adequately covered in snot, he went and got the groceries from the car. I didn’t want my expensive rib roast being stolen in this neighborhood

The C-monster is such a fucking burden. Not only do you have to worry about being sick, but you have to worry about bills and work, and the house and telling people and not upsetting people all while being told that this is the time you are supposed to focus on yourself. If there are people who are able to do that, I wish they would have a network where you could find out their secret. Because once you recover from the shock, you have to think about who to tell, and when and where and how and how are they gonna react and if they are old, like my dad, are you going to kill them? And then there’s the logistics – appointments and chemo and food and laundry and the joys of all the changes in smell and touch and taste. And when you have been the head of household for the last 24 years, that just doesn’t stop, you still worry about that. It’s just a lot. And no matter how much you have people tell you they will do whatever they can to help you, you don’t want to ask, because you don’t want to be a burden, and you want to be strong and tackle this yourself.

I’m tired of writing tonight, and I am tired of watching this fucking pathetic Steelers game while I type. I’m tired of being sick and doctor’s appointments, and not wanting to get out of bed. At least there’s minimal pain. At least there’s plenty of food in our house and we have functioning utilities. I can still write. My bed is comfy. I have a new blanket to take to chemo with me. It’s all gonna be over in 18 weeks (it better be). Tomorrow is the MRI – it will be a whole new experience for me, so look forward to that blog entry. I sure hope there’s no metal inside that suddenly gets torn from my body like I’ve seen in horror movies.

Good night my happy people…I’ll be keeping you updated – hug on your loved ones and do something fun with them before they can’t, or you can’t. Sleep well. Oh, about those resolutions, still working on them. I won’t be bound by your constrictive linear timetables. Kisses.

Oh yeah – three years ago yesterday, I got my first diagnosis. Happy Anniversary. I didn’t know the 3rd anniversary was also cancer.

Advertisements

Slice and Dice With Minions – Part Dos

Ah my friends, I have returned, later than planned, but back nonetheless. It’s early morn on Christmas eve, and I am still a little amped up from crafting like a loon as if I could ever finish everything I want to before Christmas day. As we know I am a grasshopper in all things. I did however, finish a project for the tree I have moved from project box to project box for two years now, so I’m kinda stoked. Now the tree just has to go up. Again, another attempt to get Christmas right gone awry because of the stupid pufferfish — which leads us to today’s entry where the minion encounters the pufferfish for herself in the operation remove and apparently realizes that I wasn’t kidding about the torture it was inflicting on me.

When last I wrote, I left you with a cliffhanger about how I was going to see Dr. K on Monday to discuss the future of pufferfish residing in its pouch. I hope you googled pouch of Douglas so you can visualize the pain I endured from leaving the ER and enduring the rest of the week lying on my side because it was no longer possible to sit or stand for very long after that no good horrible very bad day. Monday arrives and Andy drives me to my appointment. LONGEST hour of my life. Every bump stung. We could not get there fast enough. I am sure Andy was doing at least 80 but it felt like 40mph, and every stupid person who could possibly be on the road was on in front of us slowing us down. I get to the appointment. Dr. K is running late. I can’t sit. It hurts too much, so I am standing and pacing and squirming and just generally miserable. Did I mention by this time I have also run out of percocet? Yes, well I was out on Saturday. I have seriously pondered removing this thing myself. FINALLY my name is called. I jump on the scale, and guess what? I am down 30lbs. Since October. Being unable to eat has its benefits. Onto the exam room.

Again, no one is taking my pain as seriously as I am, even when I tell the nice nurse I am at an 8, pushing a 9 on the 1-10 pain scale. I am lying down on my side on the exam table, my blood pressure is “going to pop a blood vessel” level. I am rocking and crying and waiting for Dr. K. He will save me. He arrives. I blubber about how this is now unbearable and I cannot go on, this monster has to come out. He nods and says, yes, I agree. Finally!!! Someone is taking me seriously. He’s gong to get me on the surgery schedule for tomorrow. YAY!!! And even though this means I cannot have anything to eat or drink from now until after I am gutted, I am elated. I would not eat for weeks if it meant I was going to have some relief. Whatever it takes, I tell him, just get it out of me. I pause in my blubbering to complain about his new associate and the minions and how they wanted to keep me overnight on psych hold and how his associate should never ever use the words sympathize and/or empathize ever again because she is clueless about what my pain was like and it came off as cold and uncaring, and they sent me home in the exact same pain I arrived in. And also, please let them know I know the difference between “the pufferfish is trying to assassinate me” and “constipation”. So there.

I meet with the necessary folks to get all my surgical ducks in a row and get some sodas and water from the kind nurse Sue. She’s the best. They will call me with a time for the surgery tomorrow. No more eating and no drinking anything after midnight. Fine, what ever, just give me another ‘script for the happy opiates and I’m on my way. Oh wait, you need to go to anesthesia. No, not them, Dr. Doogie will say I have a heart murmur again. Damn. Okay fine. Whatever it takes to be released from my bonds of pain.

I go find Andy in the parking lot and give him the news. Now we have a dilemma. Do I go home, an hour away and usually 20 degrees colder than Hershey with a winter storm pending, and risk having to drive at a super early hour to the hospital in snowstorm, or do I stay in Hershey? It seems logical I stay here. I have clothes in the car since the ER trip. I have friends I could call and stay with, but with a storm swirling off the coast, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I decided to book a room. I get one at the Simmons Motel which I will plug here as a very nice, quaint, clean and comfy room and a 50’s feel and a super soft bed. And quiet except for the damn train. But I am getting derailed. (see what I did there?) In the meantime, Andy makes arrangements for his friend Tom to pick me up and get me to the hospital in the morning so he doesn’t have to come down and just sit around all day. Now some may say it’s odd that I don’t want anyone with me – but frankly, it’s easier to be by yourself, in my opinion, you don’t have to make anyone feel OK, and comfort them. You can just get shit take care of. We go hang out with Tom for a while, I get my pain under control with some medication, and head back to anesthesia. I meet with the goofy anesthesiology associate – I think you have to be a bit odd to work in that department or working in that department makes you a bit odd, because she asks me this litany of questions but doesn’t put down the answers as I tell her as I find out later. She asks me about my “heart murmur” and I ask her to keep reading so she can see that I had an expensive EKG after that diagnosis, and that there was no heart murmur. Her response? Oh, right I see that now. Then she asks me about my anemia following my surgery. I tell her continue reading, so she can see that I lost a ridiculous amount of blood from my tumor and that once I got some blood bags hooked up, anemia gone. Again, Oh right, I can see that. Then she asks me about my thyroid. Again. I tell her to read ahead, and again, she sees the answer I was going to give her. It takes forever. I want out . I just want to go to the hotel and sleep until I get the call. Let me go. Please. Finally, she leaves and the Dr. comes in. She checks to see that I am still breathing and I still have a heart. I sign the papers. I get to leave. I go to the hotel and check in and send Andy on his way. All is going to well, see you in two days. We hug, and give the usually mother/son affection. I tell him, no worries not gonna die.

I find that my surgery is scheduled for noon. Oh good, I could have gone home – but hell, the room was only $50, I don’t have to worry about being tempted by food or drink because I have none, and I can just lie there, in an opiate haze and do my bowel prep. Those of you with previous abdominal area surgeries or in the medical profession will understand that this means a lot of time running back and forth to the bathroom, typically in the middle of the night. I drift in an out of pain riddled sleep, literally counting the hours until I will be rid of this nightmare inside. I finally doze off for a few solid hours until BOOM. The medication for the bowel prep sends me running to the bathroom. Now the fun starts for the next 4 hours. I get through night, and though I’d like to remain in this super soft and comfy bed, I have to go. Tom comes and picks me up and takes me to the hospital around 10, because he is squeezing me in between work, and I wait. Counting. I am all checked in and they tell me a volunteer will come get me when I need to go to the surgical wing. I am stoked because I can then get a wheelchair ride instead of having to make that long walk. I connect to the free wifi, and get down to the business of saving baby pandas from the mean dragon. I will save you baby pandas.

Noon. Gee, all the volunteers have gone home, so here’s a map and off you go to same-day surgery, ma’am. What? I have to take myself? No wheelchair. Walk? Oh fine, and I head off. (please make no mistake, I love Hershey Med Center, they are awesome and I would not go elsewhere for my health care) I get to the elevators when I encounter on of the Sons of Anarchy Pennsylvania motorcycle club members. I can tell this by his hoodie, that reads “Sons Of Anarchy – Pennsylvania.” He has a pager. He must be a MD too. Why else would he have a pager, being in a biker club? He notices my Spamalot t shirt I am wearing from the musical. He shares with me that Spamalot is one of his favorite musicals too. If only I wasn’t about to have surgery, I may have just met my soul mate, a biker who loves musical and is clearly a doctor to boot! But as my luck would have it, after we exit the elevator on the surgical wing, he turns left and I go right, and our potential love affair is over. Sigh.

At the unit, I am escorted to my prep area and given a gown and some special washing clothes to prepare. The nurse shows me the chart and tells me how to wipe down for surgery and says when it comes to doing my back, ring for her and she will do it for me. I do that and a different nurse comes back to help. I tell her what I need, and she says to open the last package, place the pad against the wall and rub up and down against it like a bear scratching its back on a tree. I look at her surprised, about to question her, but still ready to follow her instructions, when she says, “just kidding”. I laugh with her and said that I guess they have to get their fun anyway they can, and she said she was gonna see if I was going to do it, but she decided against it. I told her had she not stopped me I probably would. I hope on the bed and entangle myself in my blankets and listen to an Anxious and Angry episode on my iPod I guess my laughing to myself troubled the nurse and one comes to hang out with me and get all my vitals and shit. She hangs out for a while, and finally I am ready for the big surgery, when they ask where my ride home is. I said I am not going home til tomorrow, and she’s all – well it says here that you are going home after surgery – I look at her and say, uh no. That’s not what the Dr. said. She leaves to go get that worked out. Time check. 2:20PM. Technically I am supposed to be in the ER in ten minutes. She comes back to assure me that I am indeed staying overnight and informs me that surgery is running about 45 minutes late. I tell her it’s cool, I was a last minute add on, and as long as the pufferfish is dealt with, I will wait. I pick a movie to watch on Netflix and wait.

3:45. Still waiting. Me and another woman are the only people left in this holding area. She’s crying and whimpering, and I am am just happy that gutting will occur. 4:30. I’m on my way. Next stop the OR. I tell the operating room nurses that they better keep Dr. K focused and don’t let him mess around, I want be in and out and in recovery before the Season Finale of SOA at 10pm, so no dilly-dallying around in there. They assure me they will keep in him in line and before you know it, I am waking up in the recovery room to another nurse asking me if I want ginger ale. And this Mennonite lady in a rocking chair smiling at me. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first and then I slipped into full awareness once I noticed there was no pain. JELLO!!! I could have JELLO!!! It’s JELLO heaven. I immediately order up a few orange jellos and some water and eat like I haven’t eaten in days. Oh wait I haven’t eaten in days. I inhale the JELLO and begin to keep the nurses and the nice Mennonite lady in stitches with my sense of humor until they determine I can go to secondary recovery down the hall. The doctor will see me then. My “sister” Paige calls me and we chit chat for a bit as the anesthesia wears off. I assure her I am fine, and think about getting more jello. The little boy in bed across from me belongs to the Mennonite woman, and needs to go to the NICU, but there’s a problem getting enough people to help transport him – I tell my nurse she can go help, I have things under control, I’ll be fine. She is about to do when word comes down, I’m off to the next stage of recover and away we go. At this point I realize I still have a catheter. I am not please by this. I ask for its immediate removal. Denied.

I get settled in my room. I have some sort of inflatable bed. It’s very comfy. I have the special massaging boots I love so much on, and my phone. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is about to start and I can have all the Jello I want, and when I am ready, even a sandwich. I make sure I am not dead, because it seems like heaven. Especially the no pain part. No pain. Did I mention NO MORE PAIN. I get a new nurse. Like all of the nurses, she is super nice. She tells me I am staying there all night as there’s been some sort of influx of patients on the Women’s Health wing and there’s no room for me there. I see all kinds of people walking the halls – they aren’t stuck with a catheter. I ask again for mine to come out. Wish Granted. I am even allowed out of bed. I get up and head to the bathroom, just for fun. I have no pain. I am so happy I can’t even explain. I jump back in bed, watch the final episode of SOA, call Andy and eventually get my sandwich. I take several trips to the bath room, roam the halls for a while and finally fall asleep around 2 am. I still have no pain. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I’m still not awake and this is all a dream.

I get up around 6 when the female minion arrives. I remind her that in the ER she said she said she would not be gutting me. I ask her what happened in the ER, because none of the nurses knew the exact details. She tells me that they went in, it was hard to get to, they just drained it and did a bunch of biopsies. I ask about the C monster due to the what I read in the CT scan and she tells me that they are pretty positive that things were normal, but they won’t know until the reports come back, because you can’t tell those things with human eyes. I ask where Dr. K is. She tells me they will be back between 8 and 9 to discharge me. At this point I am starting to think he called it in, and let her do the surgery because I didn’t see him before surgery or in recovery and now he’s sent her in here and I am not even sure he didn’t go back to Disneyland. But I’ll wait to see.

I alert Andy to come fetch me. I am starting to have pain from surgery but not pufferfish brutality. I am told to wean of the perocet first and then the morphine. I get up and head to the bathroom to produce enough pee to be allowed to go home. After succeeding in that area, I am provided with a delightful breakfast of eggs with salsa. I can’t really eat, but I try. The nice nurse who was with me through the night tells me that Dr. K and the minion aren’t coming back but I can go home. I find this odd, and now I am sure he is just a figment of my imagination, but I am going home. I get freed from all of the IV tubes and machines and dress to go home. Run to the bathroom again. When I get back Andy has arrived. I am free to go. Still no pain. It’s a early December miracle. The minion comes back with my note for work, and a pretty prescription for percocet and I am turned out into the cold. Andy and I head home, after stopping for chinese and a chocolate croissant. I am cured.

This brings us to today. The pufferfish remains. He is still under the watchful eye of Dr. K and my close monitoring of my body. There are more tests to be run, but I remain pain free. I am weaned off the morphine (yay) – I have no debilitating pain – I had my one week check up – wounds are healing very slowly, and there was a lot of bruising inside and out. My incision did not start spouting fluid like they did during the last surgery. I can eat a little and sleep a lot. I have lost 40lbs now. Things are looking okay, but I cannot go back to work until the 6th after my 4 week check up and I can’t lift things. This means no holiday baking, not decorating, and only doing things that require sitting or lying down. I drove the car to the Dr. yesterday – I am still recovering from that, but the bottom line is I am recovering and will be able to enjoy the holiday with NO PAIN.
And that my friends, it the second part of the story. I will relay the story of my one week check up at a later date, but it involves minion 2 (the male one). It’s time now for me to return to watching White Christmas and sleeping. Have an awesome holiday and be sure to savor every minute you are with those you love. Eat, drink and be merry. I know I will be when I am gnawing on the bone of my rib roast on Thursday. Tomorrow (actually today) is the annual family Christmas eve dinner. Pictures will be forthcoming and I bought a special surprise that will bring joy to the hearts of many and make the family photo spectacular. I will share that debacle with you all later. Merry Christmakwanzakuh. I hope it’s all you wish for an more.


The Minions Meet Pufferfish…The Beginning.

Well, well, well, I’m back to write. I bet you’ve been wondering if you’d ever hear from me again. It’s been a long haul. I’ve been tempted to write a million times, but when you are on morphine 24 hours a day, you tend to lose interest in things you love, and/or lack the enthusiasm to finish things you start. It was like being in a fuzzy cloud, and one that didn’t feel all that awesome. I knew what was going on, could function, but sometimes my brain stopped dead, and I couldn’t remember what I was doing, or what I wanted to do. What was harder still, is because you “appear” normal, albeit somewhat slower than usual, people don’t quite grasp that you aren’t yourself in any way. Unfortunately, after the horrible experience in September, in which we attempted once again to thwart the pufferfish with drainage, that ultimately backfired and cause me unprecedented pain, I had to try and manage the pain in any way I could.

Until I couldn’t.

Some of you know what happened next, some of you don’t, and for those of you who are new to my blog, this is the true story of a girl and her pufferfish. And the tiny blue pills. And tears, lots of tears. It may be a two or three parter – I have a lot to write about and this morning I’ve decided I am not taking any more morphine, and just going to try to finish my withdrawal from opiates by weaning of the percocet instead – but that’s for the end of the story, and I’m jumping ahead.

It was the week of thanksgiving. I had to leave work early on Monday after court because I couldn’t even sit down – I was on the phone with an agency provider discussing a family and I was in such brutally punishing pain I wanted to scream, drop the phone, and run from the building. As she’s telling me about her concerns I’m fighting back the tears, and trying to get the attention of one of my coworkers to ask her if she could please take me home because I am not going to make it through the day unless I drug myself to sleep. Finally I just said, I’m sorry, I have to end this call, I’ll call you tomorrow and with the kindness of Momma Y, I made it to the sanctuary of my bed and sweet narcotic sleep. I made it through Tuesday, and Wednesday ended up being a ½ day snow day, so I had four days to try and recover. I spent all of thanksgiving in bed. I was supposed to go to my sister-in-laws, but I was suffering and it was best done alone and not in the company of others. My brother brought me food – I ate about two pieces of turkey and a few forkfuls of stuffing and spent most of my time in my bed asleep. On Monday, despite the lingering pain, I tried to convince myself I could go to work. I got up, dressed nicely, and headed off to the office. I made it until lunch time. I lined up some people to cover my on-call, (thank you Amanda and Kaylee, I know you probably don’t read this, but thank you anyway). I called the Dr.’s office that afternoon and they assured me my pain was likely constipation from the narcotics. I disagreed, but I agreed to follow their instructions. Without being totally graphic, it involved taking things to make my body expel waste. It mostly worked, but did nothing to alleviate my pain – it made me feel a little better at first, but that was short lived. I had to stay close to the bathroom – until things seemed to shut down completely. I mean stopped dead. I thought my body had just said no more.

Now it’s Wednesday morning. I wake Andy and tell him I need to go to the ER. We get in the car and I endure the horrific hour-long ride to Hershey. I could have gone to a local ER, but since all of my records are at Hershey and I trust them more, I suffered the trip. Luckily the ER is empty. The triage nurse takes my vitals, and we head off to an exam room – and as we turn the corner, we walk smack into a small group of hospital staff in haz-mat suits who will not allow us to go further – yes, haz-mat suits. They redirect us and the nurse assures me it’s just an Ebola drill, not really an Ebola outbreak but all joking aside, the way I was feeling, if expelling my internal organs in a bloody heap would stop the pain, I was down for it! We round the next corner, and bam! – more haz-mat suited peeps. No entrance. We reroute yet again and finally I am permitted to enter an exam room. The doc comes in, I tell the long sordid story of how I ended up here and my stupid ass pufferfish and tell them my pain is at an 8 after taking 15mg of morphine 3x a day and at least 4 percocet in the last six hours. He orders a CT scan and some dilaudid. Yay for dilaudid. Yay for CT scans. Yay for someone taking me seriously.

Now is when the story starts to get amusing/sad/disconcerting. I’m waiting for a CT scan. A new nurse comes in, a new doctor, another nurse, and every time I have to tell the story of how I came to be in the ER starting with my hysterscopy, hysterectomy and the c-monster treatment. I wait and wait for the CT scan. In the meantime, I get an IV started, and they ask me for a urine sample. I can’t pee. I haven’t drank anything in hours, and frankly, the last few weeks, I can’t pee on demand without pain and a short walk around the house first. So guess what I get? Yep! Catheter. And sad to say, I was perfectly okay with that because I was in so much pain, that couldn’t be much worse. Well apparently it is. But whatever, I am just glad I am in the hospital and they will make me well.

Finally, I’m off to radiology. I get a CT with contrast dye in a cool machine with Minion stickers. I am glad that Hershey understands the importance of stickers on the CT machine. It makes it so much more relaxing. The staff are great, they always joke with me and help take the edge off. Then it’s back to the room. Dr. #1 eventually comes back and tells me that gynecological oncology is looking at the film as there are some concerning developments and they will be over to talk to me because I may be admitted for surgery to day. Nervous at the word “concerning” but relieved that I am not crazy and relieved that there are changes in pufferfish, and that I am not just imagining it, I nod in understanding. It’s okay, the dilaudid is still working, and I’m sure I am going to find relief.

Understand that my doctor, Dr. K, has elected to take his family on vacation this week, so he is not privy to these developments, but they assure me his associate Dr. F will be over to talk to me. The door opens – enter two gynecological oncology minions – and no Dr. F. I ask if I will be gutted today – they say not likely, and proceed to examine me – they ask about my pain, and my use of colace and senna and what’s going on. I ask them about the CT scan – they say they didn’t really see too much of difference, the pufferfish is only “marginally” bigger and there’s a nodule now growing inside, and the fluid is clouding and not clear like it was, but they think it’s just because pufferfish ate the hematoma outside of it. I’m dying of thirst. I’m crying again trying to tell the story and explain my pain. They look at my stomach and notice some (old) bruises. I explain that I pushed again the banister trying eliminate the pain in my stomach, and could have possibly caused them. I also bump into the top of the banister frequently as well, which inevitably leaves a bruise. I am fat, I have a huge belly, I sometimes don’t negotiate well in the middle of the night when I am trying to get to the bathroom. They seem appalled at this. I don’t get it, but they assure me, they will be back shortly with Dr. F. They will have a plan. They are pretty sure I am going home today. They scurry out.

At this point, it’s noon. Andy has been patiently sitting with me, but he has to work tonight, so I try to get someone to come bring me home if I am not going to be admitted, so he can go home and get some sleep. When the minions and Dr. F don’t return by noon, dear sweet Paige agrees to fetch me home and I dismiss Andy. I am alone. Waiting. It’s now 5 hours in the ER. I continue to wait.

Enter Dr. F and the posse. She’s very nice. The dilaudid has worn off and no one asks about by pain level anymore. I can only lie on my side, but I roll onto my back for another exam. Dr. F talks about the CT scan – she says if I was her patient, she’d remove the pufferfish, but she has to wait for Dr. K to come back because I’m not her patient. Great. She uses words like sympathize and empathize and I tell her she has no clue what I am feeling because unless she has had chronic pain herself, she has absolutely no understanding. I need this thing out of me. It is causing me crushing pain, which she proceeds to dismiss as constipation, and tells me I just need to follow the colace/senna regimen for a few more days and it will go away, because my pain is now the result of massive amounts of narcotics, not the pufferfish. I disagree – it may be compounded by it, but it’s the pufferfish, it’s in my fucking body and I know what is hurting me. Then comes the most ridiculous part of the tale – she says her bigger concern is the bruising on my belly. She is concerned that I am trying hurt myself and tells me that she herself gets a little crazy with road rage from time to time and that she will be happy to allow me to stay overnight if I feel the need to be safe and talk to someone. Meltdown mode initiated. Eyeroll commences. I try not to react inappropriately, and through my tears, I tell her I do not need a mental health hold, I need someone to stop the pain. She says, no, no, she doesn’t think I have mental health issues, but just that she is afraid I am doing dangerous things to hurt myself because I can’t cope. I tell her that is insane. I was just trying to help relieve the pressure for a few minutes, because I couldn’t make the pain stop, even with all my pain meds. I don’t need to talk to someone about my pain or how my pain feels. It hurts and talking to someone about it, will not lessen it, extracting the pufferfish will. Thank you very much for thinking I am on the edge of a mental break down, but make my pain stop. She then proceeds to tell me that there’s really nothing they can do, so go home, keep taking pills, and come back and see Dr. K on Monday for my scheduled appointment. Really? 8 hours in the ER, and your response is, head on home and come back on Monday. Unless you want to spend a night on the psych ward, because sure, that’s gonna help. They will do nothing to help manage the pain, but they will help you talk about it. My response, no thank you, I will just go home and cry myself to sleep. Dr. F tells me she has ordered a suppository to help with the swelling in my rectal area. I ask if this will stop the pain – she says it might. Might. Yay. That’s fucking awesome. Another hour waiting for the suppository. 9 hours. I feel not one iota better than when I came in, in fact, I feel demoralized, frustrated, and now, starving. ER Fail.

It doesn’t get better. I go to the hospital cafeteria. I spy the special tandoori chicken wrap. Of course, it’s sold out. Why wouldn’t it be? Curry makes me feel better, so of course there isn’t anything curry flavored to help me. I choose a veggie brie and mushroom sandwich. The lady at that station is mostly ignoring me. Finally she acknowledges me and allows me to purchase some food. It’s cold. So now I have to figure out hot to warm it up. I find a microwave and make it lukewarm. I inhale it because I am starving and suck down a green juice. Sated, I head off to the lobby to await Paige’s arrival. Fortunately for me, there are screaming children in the lobby as well. And potential clients. I only want to go home. Home. I want to take a handful of pills and sleep. Please.Let.Me.Sleep. I could have had just as much success with treating my pain at home as I did here. Children continue screaming. Fucking hurray.

Paige arrives to rescue me and bring me home. I pass Andy on his way out to work, fill him in.

I can’t go back to work – I can’t sit or stand or lie on my back or stomach. I can lie on my side. Until that side goes numb and then I flip. Moving causes pain. Walking causes pain. Eating causes pain. Breathing does not cause pain, but allows me to remain alive, which causes pain. And my mind is still chewing at the fact that the only thing that was offered to help manage this pain was a psych hold.

The days pass waiting until Monday. Monday I see Dr. K. Monday Dr. K will fix me. I drift in and out of painful sleep, spend too much time in the bathroom in futile efforts and spend an equal amount of time rocking myself back and forth trying to make the pain stop.

Of course, this part of the story wouldn’t be quite complete without me sharing the fact that I also can see my CT scan as part of my health record. I can also read the summary. I see the words “potential malignancy” “node” “marginally larger”. Previously, pufferfriend was 10X11X9cm and today, it is 12X12X10cm. In one month. Now, yes, it seems like that’s not much, I mean it’s centimeters. Pufferfish is located in the pouch of Douglas (here’s where you google where that is). There’s this ancient torture device called the pear of anguish. It used to be inserted into the vagina or anus of the victim and then it was opened internally, mutilating them while causing unimaginable pain. It would be slowly increased in diameter to rip you apart from the inside (again, use your google skills for the detail) An 1 or 2 cm increase in the size of the pufferfish = 100 or 200% increase in pain. It’s no wonder that the morphine isn’t even touching this. It’s an internal wedge between my bladder and rectum and it’s making everything else compact so that it can take up the space. Fuck you “marginal” increase – it wouldn’t be so marginal inside of your uterine cavity or if someone started ramming a giant tree branch inside of you that just kept getting wider and wider. It’s like having a baby grow inside in a very wrong area, and without a reward at the end of nine months. I’ve had this thing longer than I carried Andy, I’ve had it longer than I had cancer treatment, I’ve had it too long. It must come out.

At this point my friends, I will pause and leave you hanging for the rest of the story. I don’t want to write a novel as an entry, and this shit’s already three pages long. I will tell you that things have improved somewhat, and will return with details tomorrow, because I know, you can’t even imagine not knowing the intimate details of what happens next. It’s no Sons of Anarchy finale, but if you like medical dramas, it’s all about that, both medical and dramatic. So enjoy chapter one, my friends, and I will return with my next installment tomorrow.


Because Sleep Is My Best Friend

I’m rewatching the most recent episode of Sons of Anarchy. I spent most of the day in bed – I’ve been spending most of this week in bed – due to the never ending pain that writhes through my body and my days like a nest of snakes. 12 days until I have another dr. visit, and hopefully find a stop gap for this stupid pain, other that 24/7 morphine with percocet chasers. So that’s why I’m not writing much – I hate the fact that my days are reduced to whining. I try hard to find beauty, be positive, laugh, but it’s a struggle and feels so fake – but I fake it anyway, because there’s no other way through. I keep reminding myself there’s a reason in all of this, a lesson, and I think back on the last time I was pain free like it was trip to Disney. I remind myself that life is suffering, that art takes pain, blah blah blah, but right now the only thing pain is doing for me is clouding my mind and making me sleep, and a sleep full of crazy mixed up dreams that leave me wondering what day it really is when I wake.

Yeah, I’m feeling sorry for my self. But in other news, this healthy eating thing seems to be working out. And some days I remember that I actually like eating things that are good for me. Even if they aren’t cookies.

I’ll find my way back here eventually – there’s too much in the world that I have opinions about not to.

Peace and pumpkins, people. It’s time to squelch the pain with another pill.panda


 My Days in Poppyland…

Red_Poppy_Fields

 

So, I’m trying to wean off of the morphine. I had my appointment with Dr. K. My treatment plan is this: suffer. No, really, it’s manage the pain for now, try to lose 30lbs or the weight of a medium size dog, and then try some laparoscopic surgery in the New Year. Not exactly what I wanted to hear as my doctor was stabbing me in the side saying “yep, your cyst is back and no, I won’t cut you open.” Apparently, the pufferfish is not the toxic life threatening kind of blowfish. It’s just a pest. An inconvenience. A bother. And I’m stuck with it at least a while longer. Because of where it is, and my “fluffiness”, the Dr. would like to see me drop some “fluff” to be in a better place for the procedure. He has said if he goes in and it would be more hazardous to remove it, than it would to leave it be, it’s gonna stay. If he can’t get it with a laser, I’m stuck with it unless something more dangerous grows alongside it or I am impregnated as part of an alien experiment. It’s like a baby I’ll never deliver. Again, another example of me wishing for something and getting it, but only in the universe’s twisted system of fulfilling my dreams.

So my days are now categorized into “manageable” and “unmanageable” – the pain is ever present, but there are days when it is tolerable, and days, like this morning, where it is brutally cruel and tortuous. I waited too long to take a pill, and I was rewarded with two hours of writhing around on the bed bellowing like an elephant seal and looking like a beached beluga whale. And to make is stop, or rather, dull it, I had to double up on the opiates and send myself into a coma for an hour until it was time to go to work. Don’t worry, I am smart enough to not drive on coma mornings. And every time this happens, I make a silent wish that medical marijuana will someday be the law in PA. Because I believe that much of my pain would be squelched by a cannabis brownie.

This will not deter me from the Wine and Whine OTR trip this weekend in which we shall descend on local wineries like thirsty locusts and suck up grape nectar until we tumble back onto the bus. I’ve never done one of these wine tasting trips, but I am looking forward to it. Although I believe there’s some sort of cautionary bit on my prescriptions about alcohol intensifying the effects. Also long as it’s not intensifying the pain, I should be OK.

I apologize for my failure in the witty blogging that you’ve grown accustomed to, but the narcotics dull my shine. I hate not being myself, and I hate being in pain and there’s no happy medium. But I’ve committed to myself to write my way through this, so maybe one other person who is struggling with the magnificent residual gift of the c-monster doesn’t feel insane. They give you all these pamphlets about what treatment is like and what the effects of chemo are, etc, etc. And they show all these smiling “survivors” on TV, all bright and beautiful – but what you don’t hear about is all the goodies that the disease and the treatment leave behind. I’m still having to randomly smell phantom odors (all of which are unpleasant), I’m tired a lot, my hair still tries to be curly, and then there’s this fucking stupid cyst. But there’s no evidence of any cancer, so for that I’m grateful

So since I took my happy little blue pill an hour ago, I’m nodding off as I type, so this signals I should try to get some rest while I’m in the honeymoon stage of numbness. But before I go, I should announce that in my efforts to defluffitize, I’ll be trying to eat in a healthy manner. That means no more “single serving” pints of Ben and Jerry’s and stuffing pizza in my mouth like I am the beaked creature in Beetlejuice whose head practically opened in half. I’ve asked my coworkers to punch me or knock unhealthy food from my hands at the office, so if you see me in a public space dining on sugar bombs, please feel free to do the same. I am somewhat upset that I am trying to do this during the eating season when orange kitkats, turkey cranberry paninis, and warm chocolate cookies are taunting me like tiny demon sprites around my head. And now it’s time to watch American Horror Story, because the morphine and percocet don’t give me enough weird scary dreams on their own.

Peace my pumpkins, be well.


Aside

Mission Gyro: FAILED (or What Maps Are For)

I wanted a gyro for dinner. I was headed to Nesquehoning where there exists an alleged Arby’s that serves this coveted treat. Yes, I know it’s not a “real” gyro. But it’s tasty. And what I wanted. And I was hungry. It’s not really alleged. I’ve been there. And had said gyro. This time however, I was trying to find it from a completely different direction. Yes, I had my cell phone and I could have mapped that shit, but where’s the fun in that? I was going to guess where it was. Bam. Gyro is minutes away.

I know the road where the Arby’s is. I just need to find it. I’ve gone there on a back road before, and though it was in the middle of the night, and few lights or roadmarks were to be seen, (and it was two years ago) I believe I’ve retained enough details to easily locate my dinner with minimal difficulty. Of course I can. Toss in the added factor that I am on a long-acting narcotic, I’m tired and according to my treatment coordinator, it probably isn’t my best decision to be driving, I will still continue on this fool’s journey. I make the first turn of my adventure. Crossroad? Left, right, forward. Um. Left.

Here’s where I tell you that my sense of direction sucks. Which is why I also have a compass app on my phone as well as the maps app. Am I using either of these? No. That would only make sense. And there’s no need for sense on this road trip. I decide at the next intersection that a left turn is in order, because another left turn is probably required at some point, so let’s just go for it. It only takes a few miles on the road to realize I am driving in a direction that is probably directly opposite of where I would find Arby’s because I am on the side of a mountain. I know this is definitely where Arby’s is not. I suppose I could turn around, but I know I’m not going to. Because becoming lost in my attempt to find my way to dinner has just become the allegory of my life.

I can see how this has caught your attention. I will explain. I realize as I am driving along, that the scenery is gorgeous. I know I’m not headed in the right direction. I know what I should do is turn around and find my way back to what I know, but I’m not going to. I’m going to keep driving and see where I end up. The gorgeous autumn colors of the mountains have caught my attention. I’m not paying as close attention to the road as I probably should be because I am looking around. I’m pretty much alone on this road anyway. I spy a lake. I decide to tuck this nugget of knowledge into my “check that shit out another day” file, even though every fiber of my being wants to go see it now. I remind myself I am on a mission, and I am already headed in the wrong direction. My curiosity is forcing me to explore this new road. Normal people would turn around. Normal people would look at a map. Normal people would have looked at the map first. I am not normal people.

This has been my life. I know where I need to go, most times, even how to get there, or how to figure out how to get there. Sometimes I am on the right road, and make a wrong turn, or sometimes I am on the right road and let something else distract me, or sometimes I make a wrong turn right at the start. And instead of turning around and correcting my course, I just plunge headlong forward. I justify it in my head as “learning experience” – sometimes I get so lost that I never get to where I started, but in that journey I get so many lessons and rewards, as well as setbacks and deadends, that even when I fail (IE: no gyro for dinner) it’s okay, I’ll just make do with something else (IE: sucky Turkey Hill mini pizza). This has been my whole life. But so far, instead of enjoying the ride, I’ve been cursing my stubbornness and cursing the fact that I didn’t turn around. I forget what beautiful (and dangerous) things I’ve seen along the way. I forget that the success was in continuing to go forward, despite the obvious signs that this was not how I was supposed to go, but going ahead without reservation. Not traveling recklessly, like crossing into clearly the wrong lane, but sometimes driving onto the shoulder and suffering some bumps until I get back on the road. Sometimes traveling too fast and hitting a pothole that jars me back to reality. Sometimes just losing track of time that I miss out on something else. My life is a series of wrong turns that start off as trips to other places. I sometimes get to where I was going, but even when I don’t, even when I break down along the way, it’s an adventure, and I see a lot of cool things, and sometimes I learn the hard way that some chances aren’t going to work out.

So what did I see on my trip today? Beautiful scenery, gorgeous houses tucked in the woods. Log cabin. An amazing line of gnarled trees to go back to photograph another day. A lake to investigate, a new alternate route to a destination. Knowledge that next time it’s a right turn or straight ahead instead of left and left. Knowledge that Turkey Hill pizza sucks and that I shouldn’t have an energy drink if I am already cranky. Sunbeams. And the knowledge that I just need to keep driving.

So this is the lesson grasshoppers. It’s okay to use a map. That’s what they are there for. However, when you choose not to, you also choose to accept whatever the road you follow brings you to. Good or bad. Yummy gyro or nasty pizza. You can go probably go back for gyro another day, but if not, you can still have other delicious treats. Unless you refuse to let go of your desire for the gyro. This is all very zen.

I leave you with a picture of how you can take something ugly, like the stubs of dead bushes, and turn them into something magical. Or you can leave them like ugly remnants of another life – the choice is yours. Every time I see them I think of the great imagination it took to transform those dead sticks into a roadside coal reef to make the day brighter for every person who takes the time to notice it.

IMAG0962-001

 

But wait, there’s more. There’s this tree.

IMAG0942

It’s at the top of a hill. A hill in the middle of a cemetery. You can see death all around it, or a magnificent tree at the top of a gorgeous hill on a sunny afternoon – which leads me to this parting thought…I saw a retirement/nursing home today adjacent to a cemetery. It made me think about the home’s residents – does it trouble them, this reminder that their time is now so limited or is it comforting to have the constant reminder that every day is precious and that the reality of death keeps them focused on the present. Just a thought.

No news from the Dr. BTW. Pain is still my constant traveling companion. Always screaming for attention in the background. Hopefully tomorrow brings answers. But for now, it’s carnage and death, SOA style, my guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

Be well pretty ones. If you’ve got gyros – eat them.


When Last We Met With Our Not-So-Fearless Heroine…

First, I apologize. I’ve been lax about my blog. Not because I haven’t had anything to write, because I have, but like so many other people who write or draw or do creative things, occasionally you feel like you are boring your audience (even when your intended audience is yourself) and you can’t get excited about things as you used too. I’d blame depression, but for me, depression is often the one time I want to write because I don’t want to keep that chaos bottled up in my brain case. I didn’t want to bore anyone with my incessant whining. However humorous it often is. So I’ll recap, and then end with the current quagmire.

Picture it, Shenandoah in mid-July, 2014. We’re headed off to have the pufferfish poked and prodded and punctured and badness sucked from it’s soul. The day after the procedure I am stunned by the relief that comes after pufferfish is defeated. I revel in the painless days and nights – I don’t even touch the percocet or the Advil or the Tylenol. There’s no need – I am happy to frolic about without even an inkling of pain. I can eat with reckless abandon, and I do, nom nom nom, like a non-stop Miss Pac-man gobbling anything in sight. Yeah, yeah, I gain a few pounds, but hey, my body is functioning normally again. I am happy. My two year cancer free anniversary comes and goes, with nary a second thought because I am blissfully not being tortured by my body. I go to my one year radiology check, and gush at Dr. J about how not in pain I am. I do things like swim. Ahh, life is good.

At least it was. For a while.

About four weeks later, I start to notice subtle changes in the way my bladder is acting. I harken back to the days of pre-pufferfish-puncture and suspect that it may be returning. I try to pretend it’s not, I mean, hey, I’m not in pain. Changes keep happening, and I feel something pushing itself about in the great darkness. I’m pretty sure stupid fucking pufferfish is back, but hey, there’s still no pain, so perhaps I am just projecting the imaginary growth of a giant grapefruit sized squishy mass in the darkness of uterus-used-to-be land. Then, without warning, one Friday morning, at the hour of 4:30am, I awake in screeching agony. Welcome back pain, we’ve been waiting. I rock back and forth in bed, stuffing Advil into my mouth in between sobs, cursing the fact that I should have already called the Dr. After about, oh I don’t know, maybe 15-16 Advil, I am able to move without the shriek of a banshee. I head to work.

I should have called the Dr that day, but I didn’t. It could have just been a fluke. I would have preferred a fluke inside me instead of the pufferfish. I thought I should just test my theory. Just one more pain day, and I will call then. I swear it. I don’t know why I didn’t believe my body when it was clearly telling me what I already knew, but hey I never claimed I was the queen of good judgment Although the next two or three day were pain free, my body is never one to disappoint and BAM, pain’s back. Daily. I call the Dr. and in another week, I’m off for another CAT scan. I know what’s going on, but apparently, my word isn’t as convincing as a CT scan. There are still no cats at these scans, which is good because I don’t know if I can refrain from attacking one if I saw it considering the amount of pain I am in. I am eating Advil like it is candy. And there is only ONE, just ONE percocet left from this last prescription. I am saving it for that night when I seriously am weighing the option of self-surgery in which I remove the perpetrator of my pain myself and nail it to the wall. Then I will take it. That night comes pretty quickly and much to my glee, I realize that I have not paid close attention to the stash of narcotics because there are almost two left. There is one tablet, and a half and a quarter from another that I was clearly gnawing on at some time past. It’s an opiate miracle.

Now I am sure I mentioned before that my scans appear in my medical records long before I hear from my medical team. This time is no exception. I can clearly read that gargantuan sea creature has again returned and it trapped behind my bladder and on top of some nerves and is wedging itself snuggly in there to make sure it maximizes the torture experience. Oh, and this radiology student/resident/drwannabe has taken upon himself to decide that my spleen and pancreas are atrophied. What is this new development?!?! Away to Google we must.

Google at the ready, I enter this new information. As Google does, it gives me the most terrifying response one could expect…these are the first signs that the above referenced organs are affected by cancer. I know what pancreatic cancer means and that’s death. So, it’s 7 pm, there’s no Dr available, and I have just read in my CT scan results that I am not only full of the vile fishy torturer but I am facing death. Most of my friends try to talk me down. They know the perils of googling symptoms, but I will not be deterred. I know I am dying. FML. I will acknowledge that being the reader of several of these scan reports that say nothing else is wrong but the bloaty fishy in the past, that perhaps this new scan reader is an arrogant ass who just wanted to find something else the others did not. I agree to not make funeral plans until I hear from my Dr. And the longest 18 hours of my life begins.

Finally my treatment coordinator calls and leaves a message that I will be treated to another delightful out patient visit to radiology to have my friend puffy aspirated. It will be on Tuesday. No, it cannot be on Tuesday. I have training that Tuesday. I call back. We will reschedule, and I am told in no uncertain terms, to stop reading my own CT reports. Don’t worry about the spleen and pancreas until they do it with a contrast dye. And your new date of probing and poking is next Friday. I ask for a new prescription of percocet so if this repeats again, I will be ready – they say it will be ready for me at the procedure. Unfortunately, I am not going to make it without percocet until then, and I call on Tuesday, begging to be able to pick it up. I head to Hershey and retrieve my magical paper. I try to fill it at the hospital pharmacy, but it will take an hour! AN HOUR???? I don’t have an hour…so I take it to another nearby pharmacy and in just 30 minutes I am on my way to sweet fuzzy relief. I get home and sleep the sleep of the blessed poppies. I manage to avoid taking the magical tablets during the workday, but on Thursday night, the throbbing and stabbing are not quieted easily, and I head out for my procedure in drowsy narcotic haze.

Andy drives me to the hospital. I tell him to not even bother coming in with me, because I know the drill and I will just sleep till the designated pufferfish slaying time. He can reappear during my recovery period. I arrive and hop into my hospital bed. I tell the nurse that I had to take percocet before coming to the hospital and that I would like some more. Denied. They will talk to the Dr. and see if they can give me some pain meds during the procedure. The very kind and helpful nurse tells me they usually don’t give any pain meds because it’s not a painful procedure, I’ll just feel pressure. I sweetly tell her that this is my third go-round and I am feeling pain now, a six on the 1-10 scale, and there will be pain during the procedure, pressure is just a nice way of saying it will fucking hurt. I have gone through this twice, I know there will be pain. She assures me she will let the Dr. know this. She tells me I am lucky, Dr. S will be doing my procedure and he’s a great Dr. I am somewhat relieved. I relax as much as a person writhing in pain can until they wheel me into the procedure room. It’s a bait and switch. Dr. S. is there, but he’ll be supervising Dr. G, who will be the gutter of the day. I slide into the CT machine and there, inside the machine is that pufferfish sticker that mocks me every time I am there. I stare him down and mentally tell him he will not defeat me. Another kind nurse discusses what position I should be in, I just tell her how we do it. She promises me some fentynal. I like this nurse.

The procedure begins. I can tell from the start that it is not going as smoothly as the previous two. It feels rougher, less routine. Then I hear, from the twilight of my fentynal/whatever else is in that IV drip the ominous “oops, uh, not, not that, stop, okay” and some more rough movement toward the pufferfish. Yes, I am awake through all of this. I feel everything. The kind nurse with the fentynal asks if I am in pain. Seven I say, I am at seven. She ups the meds, and while it still hurts it’s not as bad. Soon, it’s over without any more issues, and I feel the relief that comes when the beast is defeated. There’s still pain, but it’s a different soreness and not monster eating my spine. And tomorrow I will feel nothing but a little ache. It’s totally worth it.

I hop back onto the hospital bed and get wheeled back to recovery. The nurse there lets me skip out early after Dr. G checks in on me. I told him I felt fine, because well, at that point, besides the achey soreness I did. They drained as much fluid this time as they did the last time. Hopefully this will be the last time I will have to endure this. I spot the cute male nurse from the last time. Hey wait, I’m not ready to go yet…

But I go. Saturday dawns and I’m still pretty sore. No problem, I’ll just stay in bed. Sunday morning and the sun’s shining on me. Still hurting. This is not right. But maybe it’s just because this is the third one. I’ll just wait and see, and sleep some more. Hey whoa, Monday’s here. PAIN. PAIN. What’s this???

Well, I’ll just give it until Wednesday. I mean no reason to jump to conclusions. Tuesday. Ditto with the pain thing. Not happy about this. But it’s SOA night, I’ll just rest. Hello OMFG-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-me-and-who-replaced-my-hip-bones-with-jagged-razors-broken-glass-rusty-nails-Wednesday? That’s it. We’re calling Radiology. I call off work, I call radiology, Dr. G assures me that it’s a good thing that it’s just this razor pain and no fever, because at least I don’t have an infection. I can’t lift my leg over the bathtub to shower, but hey I won’t die of sepsis. Come on down for another CT scan, and we’ll see what’s up. We get there – I can barely stand up straight. I go down for the scan, they get me in quickly. I enter a new CAT scan room. The first thing I see staring at me is that mean pink bear from Toy Story III. This is a bad omen. It all goes okay until I have to get off the machine bed. I am in blood curdling screaming pain, and I am sobbing. The nurse helps me to the waiting room. After a short wait, a nurse comes in and tells me to call Dr. K., my gyn-oncology. It is not a positive sign that it’s not radiology that wants to talk to me. Now I’m scared.

They gave me a direct line to Dr. K. By the time he gets on the phone, I am crying out in the courtyard like a giant baby, a baby who is can’t sit because I am in so much pain. He tells me there’s a hematoma on my peritoneum from a vein being nicked during the deflation procedure. That’s why I feel like there are razors slicing me to ribbons. He wants to see if it will resolve itself. He is prescribing me a long lasting more powerful pain pill to take with the percocet. I ask if I can work, and he laughs, and says I shouldn’t even be worrying about work with this pain but yes, I can work, if I insist on it, but I should stay home a few days let the pills work. It’s a narcotic damn it. He says if it’s not better by Monday, we’ll figure something out. He doesn’t want to do surgery, not at all, because the pufferfish is in a deep awkward part of the uterine ocean, like the Marianas trench of uterine cavities. It will be a severe major surgery, and it won’t be easy, there are no guarantees that they will even get to it, or that it will resolve it. But we’ll talk in a few days. Take the pills. Rest. I tell him I will send Andy up to pick up the prescription and to tell the nurses to not be afraid to give the 20 something kid with the dreadlocks the powerful morphine prescription because his mom really is in the car. He laughs. I say, “you think I am kidding, I’m not.”

We get the prescription. While it’s getting filled, Andy tells me all the ways we can parlay the pills I am given into cash on the street, enough to supply oil all winter and have cash for a vacation after we sell them, and use that cash to buy some weed which we can sell and get more weed, and then…and then… I tell him they won’t let me have these meds in jail, and to stop making me laugh, because it fucking hurts. I slip one of these beautiful deep blue pearls into my mouth and we head home. Morphine Sulfate XR, bless you, as you cut quickly to the pain and make it just a grit your teeth and whistle level instead of the tearing your fingernails out one by one level. I spend most of the next few days asleep. And then I am told I should not be driving if I am taking the morphine and percocet. So with a note from the Dr. faxed to the office, the soonest I am going back to work is Monday. The next five days are fuzzy, I fall asleep randomly, sometimes with a sandwich in hand, and glasses on, or in the middle of typing a sentence. Sunday I try to wean off the morphine. My body’s response to that? You’re one crazy bitch, that’s not gonna happen. This brings us today – my hematoma is still here, my cyst is back to the size it was before they drained it, I can stay off the percocet, but my pain will not allow us to say no to morphine. And I’m waiting for word from the Dr. on what happens next. He’ll be back in the office tomorrow. The pain is manageable for now. And I keep telling myself at least it’s not cancer. And that I am grateful that at least some of my doctor’s trust me to know my body.

Thus ends the most recent chapter of Cancer, A Gift That Never Stops Giving. I am sorry for this novella, but now you’re on the same page as me, and we can wait, impatiently, together. I am headed to my bed now, to rest quietly and gear up to face tomorrow – I am applying again for FMLA, so that no matter where this is headed, I’ll still have a job to come back to. And this better not interfere with me being able to attend the upcoming adoption of one of my kidlets at work, because then I will be seriously pissed off at this nonsense. I’m not gonna let this noise interfere with the one good thing that comes out of the work I do.

It’s really hard to stay positive with life throwing up road hazards around every turn, but I keep reminding myself, I still wake up every morning and I get out of bed to clean water, and an inside toilet and electricity and food. So I am richer that most of the rest of the world. And I have cookies, so that’s just icing on the cake.

Stay healthy my friends, and keep fighting the good fight.

Image

Buttercup kicks “the sick” out of the amoeba boys


Patience My Pretties, I’ll Be Back.

Never fear, I haven’t abandoned you. I have tales to tell – it’s just been a bit of celebration and whirlwind of things happening since the pufferfish was deflated again and I was enjoying the last six painless weeks, with nary the need for pain medication. That said, I’m a tad down at the moment, and needed to write the following, and though I thought I’d keep it private, hell, why not share, I mean, you’re already familiar with my former uterus.

Stay with me dear ones, I will be back to keep you spellbound with happier tales than what follows. But today, I am sad.

Joey,

I can’t remember the last time I wrote you one of these letters that I couldn’t send if I wanted to, but the sadness that lingers at the end of summer when the days are perfect but growing shorter reminds me of you. And it may be coincidence, but I keep seeing things that remind me you’re gone but still hanging around, if that makes any sense at all. I miss you. I miss having one person who knew the darkest side of me and one person who understood my innocent joy. I think of what it must have been like in the last moments you were here and if you knew you were about to leave or if you made that choice. Everything changed when you were gone.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a day here when I don’t think about you. And in my mind’s eye, we’re 20-somethings with not a care in the world, scheming, and whether we’d seen each other the day before or months apart, the world was ours when we were together. And in my mind’s eye, I remember every detail of the day it crashed around me.

I wish I could mail this letter to you like I did so many others – tear stained, or gleeful, excited, full of wonder, sharing every detail of my broken hearts and plans for the future – fat envelopes, stuffed and sticker-covered and keeping me connected to you despite thousands of mile and minutes. Stories of new adventures and days I wanted to close my eyes and have it all be over.

I know it’s a matter of time until we find our paths crossing again. I thought it could be in this lifetime, but probably the next. Just know I’ve never forgotten you my friend. And I am still mad you left me, but I understand that it was time for you to go. I just wish I could have one more hour to put my head on your shoulder and cry until you were covered in snot and slobber, and have you take the hurt away for little while. Fucker.

Me


50.5 Hours ‘Til Depufferization

I am so restless. Monday cannot come soon enough. I had to stop taking motrin last night because of its blood thinning properties, and I’m out of tylenol until later so I’ve been nibbling on percocet trying to make the pain go away. It’s not.

.

In an effort to distract me from writhing about in bed, bemoaning my situation, I decided to give cleaning out my closet a go. I applied the fifteen minute rule, and actually was at it nearly an hour. I got rid of a lot of things I won’t/don’t want to wear again. There are still some things I can’t get go of including the very Victorian/gothic long black dress I bought trying to hang on to my goth past, and a crushed red velvet mini dress from the same desperate period when I dreamed of returning to my glorious youth. I tried – I event took the black dress of the hanger, but in the end, I clutched it my hands, as my opiate-sotted brain harkened back to the days of pale skin and clove cigarettes and dancing wildly to Echo and the Bunnymen, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Love and Rockets. Sigh. I realistically know that the dresses will hang in homage to my youth, never to be worn again, the same way there’s a pair of size 5 shorts in a box somewhere from when my short-lived border-line skeletal hips slipped them on one summer day following my high school graduation. Strange the things we treasure. Now, I’m lucky if I could get them over my ankles.

.

Even though the pain is still a constant ache despite the medication, the sedative effects are doing just fine. My eyes keep slipping closed and I should probably take a little nap because I’m going to head in to the den of babysnatchers to get a few more things done before I am off on Monday and Tuesday to have my procedure and biopsy done. They pushed the time back to 12:45p so a pathologist can be available when they retrieve the tiny chunks of flesh from SPFXL from snappy steel jaws that will be tearing them out of me. Of course, I don’t expect to have the pathology completed before I am released to go home, even though I secretly know they do because all they have to do is look at the sample and it’s either normal or it’s not. I don’t need to know how normal or abnormal the cells are, I just need to know one way or the other.

.

Not that it really matters, because as I was driving back from Pittsburgh on Thursday night, I was on Interstate 99, and if you have never been on it, there are 11 miles of the most beautiful stretch of highway I have been on, outside of Hwy 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway, in California. The sun had just about set, the hills were green and purple and some of PA’s tallest rounded mountains were rising above the fog that was settling into the valleys amongst the farms and random houses spotting the countryside. It was so magically beautiful, I kept waiting for it to end, and each curve of the highway just became more breathtaking than the previous one. At one point, when the sun had almost sunk below the horizon, there was this lone cow standing next to a barbed wire fence on a hill close to the highway, silhouetted black against a violet twilight and I could not even remember when I saw something so simply marvelous. If I wasn’t moving along at 80mph, I would have hit the brakes and captured it on film. Fortunately, I can still picture it in my head. And I realized, after travelling 500+ miles that day, in the car, alone with my thoughts and in silence most of the car ride, that there’s nothing to fear, no matter what happens next. In that moment, it didn’t matter if I was going to live or die, because everything is connected and timeless. Yes, I had brief reminder of nirvana, one of those glimpses of what being human is all about, and why nothing is ever lost, why we are here, and why it matters, and that whatever comes is just another lesson for me to learn. It’s all going to be okay, even if it seems like it’s not. And I’m okay with that. I forget how strong I really am, and how much I have gone through and how I am so grateful for everything I’ve endured because generally speaking, it has made me the pretty fucking awesome person I am. And even all the not so positive bits, the parts of me I don’t like, are just challenges yet to overcome. Including the SPFXL.

.

surgery_cartoon[1]

.

So now that I have waxed philosophical for the day, I’m off to get ready to face the day and head into work to tackle a few things so I can come back after the probing and get back to the grind. Then it’s off to Presto’s 3rd Birthday Party. Have a great weekend, friends. And if I don’t check in before I’m rocking the CT scanner on Monday while I’m probed like an alien in a secret lab out at Area 51 in Arizona, send me some good vibes – especially that they have some good jello in the recovery area. Peace.


The First Offensive, Second Edition

We’ll be going in to try and attack the SPFXL (see previous entry for clarification) which we determined today to be the size of my small desk fan. I’m just waiting for a procedure date – my treatment coordinator told me that they asked for it to happen in the next seven days, and if they don’t schedule it within seven days, she will call and tell them to make it happen, because I am symptomatic (based on my near-encounter with the ER yesterday). On the plus side, most of today was pain-free, or rather, pain-minimum, because for the last six weeks, I’ve been in pain to varying degrees.

.

Like the last attack on SPFXL, when it was known as PF, there will be an attempt to aspirate it, followed by the painful snapping of flesh from the beast itself for purpose of looking for the C-monster. The difference is this time, it will be more pieces of flesh being torn from me, and in more areas to see if there is something that was missed last time, resulting in the return of SPFXL. They still will force me to be awake throughout the whole ordeal, but at least I can play with the monitors and make them think I am dead several times for my own personal entertainment.

.Untitled 2

I’m trying to be positive, but pain puts a damper on that shit, especially when it feels like sharp spines in my lower back most of the day. The fact that it is in exactly the same are is a plus, and as I was told, I shouldn’t worry about it, it’s just concerning, not alarming. Of course when you have a blob the size of a newborn’s head inside of you, you are just a tad concerned. I will keep you darlings updated, I’m just not feeling the joy tonight.

.

Sweet dreams my pretties.