“How does it feel to be the unluckiest girl on the planet?”
This was the greeting from my sister after I was diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer – and Influenza A – during the first three weeks in February. At that point, I was still waiting to hear what stage cancer I had, what the plan of action to treat it would be – and had just been put in isolation for the flu.
It had the desired effect. I laughed.
Of course, Kristy + morphine + another pain med (or few) = a jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings. Because during that time, I guess I thought I posted more about the situation than I actually had. So now, I’ll take a few minutes to do a quick update.
I’d already told everyone about the skin cancer (in an earlier post) but, before I could get to the plastic surgeon to get the rest of that cut away, I woke up doubled over with pain on February 13th.
The next day, not only was it not better, but my stomach felt like I was about 9 months pregnant … and in the middle of a labor pain that was pushing up into my diaphragm so hard I couldn’t catch a decent breath no matter how hard I tried. Finally, I asked my daughter to take to the emergency room. I just didn’t think I could deal with that level of pain for another night and, add in the breathing issues- Yeah. I needed to be seen.
To my surprise, after a ct scan, I was admitted with what that doctor felt was something called colitis. I didn’t care because between two doses of morphine, as well as another pain med, I was sort of comfortable for the first time in almost 48 hours.
Fast forward through the weekend. The on-call doctor wasn’t sure it was colitis. In fact, she wanted a surgeon to check it out because she saw something she thought was suspicious. So, late Monday morning, I was transferred to one of the bigger hospitals in a nearby town, one where their surgeon could see me.
The plan had been to do a scope on Tuesday but thanks to the first miracle – a very brief window of opportunity (that wouldn’t have been there if I’d arrived even 5 minutes later), I had the scope within an hour of my arrival in my room at that hospital.
The scope revealed a mass growing in my colon. Definitely cancer.
I’m kind of foggy on what happened the rest of that day, and part of the next. But after another ct scan, where I had a bit of a panic attack because not only could I not take a deep breath, I also couldn’t hold it, I was set up for emergency surgery. Why? Because there was a perforation allowing air and ‘other stuff’ into my abdominal cavity. That’s why it had been so hard to breathe.
The surgeon explained that I would have to have a temporary colostomy – up to six months. I told him fine. Whatever it took as long as I was going to live. He thought that was a great attitude. I didn’t realize until later that I’d lied to him. And to myself.
Over the next few days, my daughter let some people know what was going on. And I added a few more to the list as soon as I could sit up and type for a few minutes.
That was actually the hardest thing about the whole situation. Telling people about it. After I hit send, I started crying because, while it sure beats being dead, I still don’t want a colostomy.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 weeks, 4 months, or 6 months (hopefully, the max before I can have the reversal surgery). I hate it. I hate having it. I hate looking at it. And I hate emptying the bag 2-3 times a day. But I can mark 2 1/2 weeks off of the worst case scenario – 26 weeks. I’ll get through it. And I’ll be grateful because it could have been so much worse.
I’d like to say I’ve accepted it. And on one hand, I have. I don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. But I’m still in a bit of denial, trying to pretend for most of each day that I don’t have it. And I’m fully prepared to cut myself off from any sort of social life until the surgery that will ‘fix’ everything sometime this summer. At least I hope it will.
Since I’m starting to zone out, I’m going to finish up now.
I alluded to another miracle. And it’s a pretty big one too. Some might suggest that to be a true miracle, God should have prevented this from happening in the first place. True enough – if He was a genie in a bottle. But He’s not. He does answer prayers though.
Not only was ALL of the cancer contained, I don’t even need chemo. And, instead of removing almost half of my colon, as had been the original plan, I’ve still got most of it left. But, thanks to the perforation, I have to let it heal, which is why I have the ‘ostomy.’
So, I hold on to that miracle when I’m feeling down. And that’s still more often than I’d like. I’m really very, very blessed. I know that. But I’m also still very tired and in more pain than I’d like to be. As those things ease up, I expect I’ll return to my cheerful self. And, maybe I’ll figure out ways to escape my self-imposed isolation from time-to-time.
Anyway, that’s what’s been going on. Hope this hasn’t been too disjointed to follow. I’m afraid concentration isn’t my strong suit right now.
But to answer the original question – am I the unluckiest girl on the planet?
Not even close. 🙂
Photo credit: Pixabay