I have no idea what to title this entry. My brain is awhirl with questions, what if, why, how? First let me say that God has used this entire year of 2015 to strengthen my faith. It’s been hard. Very hard. In January, after having some gastric issues in the fall I went in for a colonoscopy. Not only could I feel them trying to manipulate my insides to get through, I could hear myself moaning. Because I take several different medications, the normal “twilight” they use didn’t get me all the way under. They couldn’t get through. My doctor thought perhaps the prep had not worked well enough so we rescheduled for 10 days later in the OR under general anesthesia. The prep was a 2-day ordeal, no solid food for 48 hours plus the usual prep. Ugh. By the time I reached the OR check-in I was shaking. Unfortunately, the same result came of this. My doctor could still not get through to the end of my colon. This is when we realized that most likely there was a blockage from adhesions/scar tissue from several former abdominal surgeries I’d had. Not surprising since I’ve been on chronic pain medication for three years because of this pelvic scar tissue.
That left one option. Surgery. This wasn’t going to get better. It would get worse and I didn’t want to get into a total blockage situation and have to have emergency surgery. Surgery was scheduled for April 20, 2015. I only waited that long so that I could have Botox treatments for my migraines, which were terrible.
Here we are at April 20th. Surgery takes longer than expected because there is so much scar tissue. The surgeon removed as much as he could laparoscopically but then had to convert to open surgery to resect two inches of colon. Just the thing I’d feared. Surgery took 4 1/2 hours instead of 2 1/2. As usual after any surgery, the get your butt out of bed and moving ASAP. I djdn’t even have a catheter…thank goodness! Sorry if TMI but you’re going to hear more of that as this entry goes on.
All was proceeding well, I was eating soft food, but on day three, I started burping horribly. All of a sudden, I told my husband, Scott, and the nurse in the room at the time, Kathleen, “I’m about to throw up!” The nurse quickly got the wash tub they leave in your room (not the little kidney-shaped bowl thingie, mind you, but the WASH tub). I started throwing up and it was nothing but old, dark blood with big red clots in it. I was scared to death. I did that twice and probably lost about 1 1/2 liters of blood. The doctor came immediately. I was sort of out of it at this point, and they almost immediately decided that I needed an NG tube. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I pray you never have to experience it. It’s a nasogastric tube that goes down your nose, down your throat, down your esophagus and into your stomach. It was horrible. They made me drink Sprite so I would swallow while they were pushing the tube down my nose and throat. At one point I literally called out, “Dear Jesus please help me!” And I wasn’t joking. My doctor, bless him, sat for an hour watching what came out of my system to make sure I wasn’t actively bleeding inside. I had to have the tube for 18 hours to get all that out of my system. No more food, just ice chips. Thank goodness for hospital ice chips!
Once the tube was out, we had to start all over. All total I was in the hospital 9 days for what should have been a 2-3 day stay. I was so glad to be home! Two weeks later on May 5th I saw my surgeon for a check-up and all was well. He told me I could eat a hamburger and I was so excited. Unfortunately, later that night I woke up shaking uncontrollably with my temperature skyrocketing. Off we went to the ER. By the time we got there, after having to stop for me to throw up, my temperature was 103.7. The immediately gave me Tylenol and took a lung x-ray. Sure enough, pneumonia in my right lung. A course of 4 different antibiotics was started, round the clock, for 4 days. On day 3 my attending doctor wouldn’t let me go home because my hemoglobin was so low. The next day it had come up a bit so I was given the ok to leave. In hindsight, I wish they had given me a blood transfusion then.
I was of work 10 weeks. When I went back I couldn’t work full-time because I was so tired. After several blood workups it was discovered that I was severely anemic.I took the bull by the horns and made an appointment with the hematologist who treated me for anemia in 2006 before my hysterectomy. She immediately started iron infusions…my hemoglobin was 7.2 and my ferritin was 5.2. Ferritin should be anywhere from 11 – 240…I had literally none. During this time I changed to part-time status at work for 30 hours a week, which I’m still doing. After five rounds of iron infusions, my hemoglobin was 12.2…normal! And my ferritin was a whopping 403! Did I feel better…Yes!!! Praise the Lord! During the anemia my doctor gave me a slip to get a temporary handicapped handtag for my car because it took literally everything I had to walk from my car into work every day.
So, things are looking up, right? On October 16th I went in for my yearly mammogram. That was a Friday. On the next Tuesday my gyn’s office called and said there were three areas that weren’t on my last mammogram 16 months ago and he wanted a targeted mammogram of those areas plus ultrasound. Red flags go up. On Friday, October 23rd I was back at the breast cancer imaging offices having these things down. The exact words of the radiologist who looked at my ultrasound were, “Regardless of what the American Cancer Society says, this is why we tell you to come in every year. If you had waited til next year, this would have been a big problem.” Would? Not could? OK. She ordered two core needle biopsies for Wednesday, November 4th. Not pleasant but not horrible. 3-5 days for results.
I got tired of waiting and called on Friday, November 6th. The nurse who answered said one area biopsied was clear but the other was pending and a doctor would call shortly. Pending? Really? I just happened to call when you are between looking at the two biopsies? Red flag. A doctor calls me within 15 minutes and tells me one area was clear but the other, unfortunately, was cancerous. Excuse me? Are you talking about me? Even though I noted those couple of red flags, I still wasn’t prepared for what I heard. I just sat there. He told me the nurse navigator would be calling me the following week to schedule an MRI and an appointment with a surgeon.
I hung up the phone, stunned. 4:00 p.m., Friday afternoon, November 6th…and I now have breast cancer. I walked in the Komen 3-Day Walk in Atlanta in 2009 and 2010 so I’ve always been a big supporter of breast cancer research, but when it’s YOU that research is now affecting, it’s a whole different ballgame. My MRI is this coming Friday, October 13th and I see the surgeon the same day at 12:30 p.m.
My whole family and hometown is praying for me. I won’t hide my light behind a bushel and be scared to humble myself and ask for prayers. I crave them, I covet them, I want them, I need them. God is mighty and whatever He has planned for me, I will get through it. The power of prayer is strong and my faith is strong too. God knows what is happening, He has it in His hands. And I, his grateful and obedient servant will be forever grateful for the day when I was 8 years old and He took away my sins when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Remember the old gospel song, “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus?” That’s how I’m taking it now. One day at a time. And no, I won’t hide behind a bushel for my God is an awesome God…and He is good, always!!!