Friday, September 05, 2008

The C-word


I'm not talking about the one that will end a relationship if uttered by the man involved; the one that can send any well-grounded, rational woman into a lunatic rage. The c-word in this instance is cancer.

I found out on August 5th that I had three lesions in my liver -- the result of a routine MRI that my hepatologist, Dan Pratt, had me do. The results came back while he was on vacation, so one of his colleagues, whom I'd never met in my life, got to give me that bit of info. Not fun for either party, if you ask me.

Needless to say, everything else in our lives came to a screeching halt as Mr. Spiffy and I had some decisions to make in a hurry. I gave myself over to the Worst Case Scenario for that first week and wept myself limp, thinking of my babies being motherless. The thought still just about makes me vomit.

Once I purged myself of such thoughts, I gave myself a swift boot in the ass and decided that that can't be me; that simply isn't who I am and how I am going to go. Still, telling friends and family that I have cancer was eerily familiar to when my dad was diagnosed 10 years ago. Hearing my mom say it over and over, it felt like the first time every time. The reality of the situation and the surreal nature of the words uttered made me feel like I was losing my mind.

From that point, things happened at an alarming pace: Liver biopsy on August 12; met with the surgeon on August 18; surgery on August 21.

The most remarkable thing that happened in all of this -- we met with Martin Hertl, the surgeon, on the 18th, and he told us that he had the OR booked for the exact surgery/time I needed on the 21st. Another patient of his has the same condition I have, but is, "in denial and has decided to postpone it." Since he knew we were coming in, Dr. Hertl instructed his assistant to keep the time booked, "just in case."

After talking with him for just a few minutes, I would have agreed to just about anything! Such a pleasant, reassuring person. Mr. Spiffy and I both agreed to doing the surgery ASAP. While it meant scrambling to get things taken care of, it meant getting the cancer out as soon as possible too. And when a cancer goes from just not being there to 3-4cm in four months, there is no hesitating. Unless you're nuts, or you have a death wish.

So, I am now two-weeks post-op. I really don't want to revisit my time in the hospital here. It hurt, it was really hard, I was up and down -- mostly due to being pumped full of drugs, I think. Normally, I take the occasional acetaminophen when I have a cold or headache, but otherwise my drug of choice is caffeine or chocolate! I came home with eight prescriptions. Ugh. I am back off most, and am just taking pain meds so I can sleep. And lots of help, since I am not able to pick up anything heavier than five pounds. Try that with a five-year old and a two-year old (who weighs 28 pounds and is still in a crib -- yeah, right) in the house. I can't even make myself a cup of tea, for the love of Pete.

And we have a long way to go before life will even begin to be normal. I've been exhorted to eat; to make it my job. Trust me -- it feels like one at the moment. Food tastes weird, my appetite is just not there. I get tired from eating. I get tired from everything, actually. Having 60% of your liver removed and then growing that amount back is exhausting work. This makes a c-section and caring for a toddler and a newborn feel like a cakewalk. I would have much preferred that to this, but I don't know if Mr. Spiffy would agree with that!

Once I am recovered from surgery, then we will get started on chemo. Yet another c-word, and this one strikes terror in my heart. I've had lots of unpleasant things done to my person over the years, but this is something I dread. I think my lack of knowing anything about anything is what has me a bit freaked.

The picture is my nighttime reading these days. I can only handle a page or two at a time -- I'm still really foggy from anesthesia -- but I need to educate myself in a hell of a hurry about a lot of things. And I need to keep knitting. I've never been so happy to have such a lovely creative outlet and be in the company of such generous folk. But this is all I have steam for today. Next post -- more recovery news, knitting updates and the generosity of friends and strangers alike...

20 comments:

The Curly Knitter said...

Welcome back Colleen! Glad to see you posting. You're doing great from what I can see! You're a very strong woman.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Oh Colleen, I can't tell you how good it is to "hear" from you directly.
I am frantically writing but the minute the manuscript is handed in I will be hopping on the ferry and heading your way to bring you mountains of chocolate and cormo roving.
XO

Anonymous said...

Colleen-I agree it is wonderful to hear from you directly. I've been thinking about you so much. Wish I was still in the Boston vicinity, I would love to offer some practical help. Keep doing your work-eating sleeping and healing and learning what you can-it sounds like you are doing a great job.

Ellie

Brooke said...

So good to see you post! Hugs for you, and we continue to pray for you and family.

Ruth said...

It's so good to have you back and blogging. We're all praying and rooting for you.

stella said...

Colleen, it's great hearing from you! Glad to hear you're home and putting up the good fight! We can't wait to have you back on Wednesday nights when you are able! You are in our prayers.

-Steph

Danielle said...

Good to hear from you! Sending positive thoughts your way :)

Morigaine said...

Lots of warm and fuzzy thoughts and positive energy from a "stranger" who wishes you a speedy recovery!! *HUG*

yarnophiliac said...

Good to hear from you, Colleen. You and your little ones are forever in my thoughts and prayers. I am sure they are happy to have you home!

Em said...

All the best to you as you heal!

Kristina Baumler said...

Yay, Colleen! Glad to see you up and online. Two resources from your favorite (pretty presumptuous, eh?) avid American Cancer Society volunteer: Cancer.org (great resources in some pretty digestible chunks) and the 24/7 information line (1-800-ACS-2345), if a particular thought is keeping you up at night and you want an immediate answer. And I'm happy to help research in any way I can...

Keep that liver growing, and big hugs to you and your family.

:) KB

Anonymous said...

Roomie please! I know for a FACT that you drank a few concotions at Simmons that would make a chemo IV run screaming for the hills.
Kiss Kiss
Bunkie

Heather said...

glad to "see" you again! We're all pulling for you. :-)

Stay strong!

Angelina said...

Colleen! If you need me to, I'll get on a bus and come help you. Seriously mama!!

You were my strength, and I'll be yours! I love you so much mamacita! Whatever it takes, we'll get it done okay!?!?

SOOOOO much love and prayers for the Spiffy family... daily (multiple times a day!)

If you run out of fluffy stuff to play with, you know who to call. ;)

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

OhioKellys said...

Having been there twice now, trust me it is so much better once the chemo is over . . . the future is far brighter!

tina from Keene said...

Colleen...thank you for sharing where you are at during this very challenging time... you have gone through a tremendous surgery, one of the most difficult surgeries out there...I have been thinking about you and wondering how your recovery is going and when you would be starting the next process...and also praying that every day you are getting stronger and delighting in the hugs and faces of your children.
Well wishes from Tina

Heather J said...

Great to read you are home and making progress slowly. If you can type that much, you are getting better.
I look forward to keeping up with your progress.
KEEP EATING!!!
Best wishes Heather (PSC) from the bottom of the world in New Zealand.

RoxanneZYG said...

Hi Colleen! Nice to hear your voice! Hang in there and stay strong...we are all pulling for you! :)

Buckette said...

A toddler and a newborn. . .God Bless You!