Friday, September 05, 2008
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...