Friday, September 24, 2010
When I was young, I was told that if I found one true friend in this world, I would be very fortunate. Well, I have found several. I have a small inner circle, who I truly cherish. This past week, I have just been blown away by the actions of two people, in particular.
One of my friends is a dentist. I have known Etta and Lia (Etta's hygenist), for about 15 years now. I always say the have watched me grow up (although, hell, will I every be fully grown-up? I doubt it...LOL!). We started becoming closer last year, getting together for dinner and such. I see Etta's daughter, now grown-up and in college; Nat has blossomed into a gorgeous young lady. I think it was was because of me that the friendship grew slowly; I tend to hold people at arm's length for awhile until I see what they are made of. I also have changed emotionally; I have grown even more since I hit the big 40. Not that I have ever lived by a lot of rules, but I have allowed society and other people to dictate how I should live my live, to an extent. Since I turned 40 a few years ago, I basically have said "F it; I am going to do whatever the hell I want to". That includes allowing people into my life if feels right to me. I don't want to miss out on some great experiences in life for the sake of protecting my heart all the time. I know that you win some and you lose some.
So, last week I had to go see Etta because one of my fillings had issues; it turned out part of one of them had broken off. So, while she was repairing it, I told her about the upcoming surgery. Now, Lia and I had already discussed it months ago and I just assumed she had communicated it to Etta. But, they are very professional and abide by the patient/doctor confidentiality law and Etta never knew. Well, later in the day, I get this email from her offering for her and Lia to be at the hospital with me. She said they loved me and didn't want me to go through it alone, no matter what the news was at the outcome. Of course, me being me, I said thank you so much but no need. She said to let them know if I changed my mind. I knew that she had patients and it would be like an 1.5 - 2 hour drive for her to the hospital.
Then I spoke to Rick, who is like a father to me. Rick and his wife, Sharon, live seven hours away and could not be at the hospital with me. Now, they know how I am; I have always relied on myself and it works for me. I know that I can get myself through just about anything and, if I rely on myself, I rarely get let down. Rick said that he was uneasy about me being at the hospital alone and that I needed to allow myself to depend on my friends, especially if they offered. He knew that K was supposed to be at the hospital but he also knew there was a chance he wouldn't follow through.
So, I relented. I emailed Etta and said that I would love it if her and Lia were at the hospital with me. Etta proceeded to reschedule her patients for the day and her and Lia drove up and were there in time to be with me in the prep room. Can you believe it? Who does that these days? Who extends themselves that far for someone????? She is a doctor, in private practice, and she effing rescheduled her patients!! To be with me!! I was, quite simply, blown away. The two of them are so generous and their hearts are so big.
As it turns out, although I initially did not want anyone there, I was very glad that they were. They saved my rear end. What with all of the difficulties after the surgery, and the disappointment from K not being there, it was an enormous relief that they were they. They stayed all day; through the vomiting, the tears over K, the pain of the pancreatitis attack, the "happiness" of the Dilautid, etc.
And then it took them three hours to get home; as always, 95 was a goddamn nightmare. They both just took it in stride.
On Tuesday, as soon as he found out that K never showed, my friend Bill (I call him Will.i.Am) immediately texted me and said "do you want me to come up?". I didn't even try to argue with him. He hopped right in his car and came up and spent the afternoon with me. He called and texted every day to make sure things were going okay. He even effing told the nurse that I wasn't urinating enough...hahahahaha! I told him that was the last time I would confide in him!!..LOL! Will.i.Am said that not everyone would make him a cheesecake (I made him one last weekend for his birthday, which is today; he said it was ORGASMIC..hahahahahahahaha!) and that I was a special girl (I think he means that I am crazy as hell..).
I also have a girlriend, Gina, who couldn't make it to the hospital but was always BBMing me and calling me. Gina is a busy girl and she still took time out from her schedule to make time for me. She stopped over last night to see how I was doing. Gina and I are new "friends-in-progress"; we do share a lot of personality characteristics and I was just touched that, being that she really doesn't know me, still made the time for me.
I sent the three girls yellow roses when I got home yesterday; the yellow rose signifies friendship. Gina called and said I made her day with the flowers; that no one does things like that anymore. She said it goes to show that you may not even realize when you do something that means the world to someone else. She had no idea what she did for me; but, for me, she helped to get me through a really crappy experience. What Etta and Lia did for me; well, that's one for the recordbooks.
I know how lucky I am. I think, a lot of times, that people take their friends for granted and assume that everyone has friends. Not everyone does have friends and I feel sadness for the people that don't. Friendships do take work and I don't think that people understand that. That being said, the benefits are so rewarding. It's the intangibles in life that mean the most to me.
My boss may be a millionaire but I think I am wealthier than he is; my friendships make it so.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Emotional pain. It hurts. It hurts far worse, and longer, than physical pain.
This is a therapeutic blog; a rant. I was hurt this week. It cut deep and I will get over it; but this one will take time. Let me give the background.
When I moved back to Westchester around 2002, I started training at a local gym and hired a trainer; I will call him "K". When that gym closed, I moved to the only other gym close to my apartment and K was there as well. I would not call our relationship a friendship, but, over the years, we developed an acquaintanceship. K would train me from time to time and it took, like, two years for me to get a compliment out of him. I think he wanted to see deep my dedication ran for working out and living a healthy lifestyle. The day he gave me a compliment, I was on air for about a week; he said I was one of the hardest working people he knew. K was aware of the rheumatoid arthritis and has seen all of the surgeries. Eventually, the time came where he said I did not need a trainer anymore but, every now and then, I would hire him when I hit a plateau or need to alter my workouts due to a surgery. The first time I swam the Hudson for charity, he texted me that morning to wish me luck; I always remembered that because it meant a lot to me and I was surprised that he had remembered (the guys I work with didn't even do that!).
K is a good-looking, charismatic guy who is about 11 years my junior. I never looked at him in a romantic interest way; to me, he was just always "K". A few years ago, he told me he was getting married, which took me aback a bit as the man has a huge ego and is a big flirt..LOL! I always thought, though, that under the bravado, there was a good guy. But, I also always thought he was full of s--t a large majority of the time. I noticed that he was very light on following through with his word. He would cancel training appointments and basically I took things that he said with a grain of salt. I did tell him, from time-to-time, that he really needed to think about standing behind what he said. He would flirt with me from time to time and I would shut him down. He always seemed respectful toward me and made sure that I never felt disrespected by him.
So, fast forward to this year. All of a sudden, he is getting divorced after only a few years of marriage. All I asked him was if he had been unfaithful; he said no. He just said that people change (of course, he was referring to his wife, not himself). Being that I have been there, I told him that if he ever needed to vent, I was here for him. I was just trying to be a friend and never gave it a thought. All of a sudden, sometime in June, he started texting me "good morning" almost every day. Then, he started to pursue me, saying that he knows what he wants when he sees it. I asked him if he was on drugs (yep, I am pretty straightforward); like, why me and why now, after all this time? I was very, very leary; I told him that I think that he is going through a divorce and is looking for a distraction and that I am no distraction. He told me that every divorce is not emotionally draining. Hmmmmm; yeah, okay. He said that he had moved out in February (we were now in June; not a whole lot of time had passed). For about a month, I kept pushing him back. Then, I finally conceded.
I told him to come over one night and I wanted him to lay his cards on the table; I needed to know what it was he wanted so that I could decide if I could give it to him. When he came over, I think we were both nervous. To me, this was "K" and this, whatever "this" was, was going into different territory. I didn't want to lose the acquaintanceship. We had a couple of drinks and talked. He said he wasn't ready to be someone's boyfriend but that he definitely wasn't looking for a booty call; he said he would never do that to me. He said he wanted to get to know me. I made it clear (or thought so, anyway) that I was worth far more than being just a booty call and that I did not want him to bring me any drama or BS. He agreed but then started giving me, what I realize was now, a bunch of crap. He said that we really could not be seen together as people gossip and that the gossip could make our lives (his life) hell. He said that a lot of people know him and his soon-to-be-ex wife. He didn't want people to think that he was having an affair with me. He said part of the issue was that a lot of people know who I am, and know my truck, but, being that I am pretty standoffish, people do not know me. I do not speak to a lot of people, especially at the gym. So, if people saw us together, tongues would start wagging. I told him, straight-up, that he was a weak person. I am used to gossip; the less you tell people the more they want to know. K said that he really liked me, but, that if the gossip became too much, he would let me go. Seriously??? Whatever.
K has a busy schedule; so do I. However, I do make time for what I choose to and would have no problem making time for him. I mean, really; how can you get to know someone if you don't spend time with them? I saw K twice within one week; and then, that was it. It became very bizarre very quickly. He NEVER had time for "us". He would say how much he cared about me, how much he missed me but he would never be flexible in his schedule. He would BBM (Blackberry Messenger) me daily; saying good morning and good night, which I came to look forward to. He did not like to talk on the phone, either. Which I can understand - to an extent. There was one Sunday that he was supposed to come over, then canceled at the last minute because he had gotten drunk the night before and was too hungover. Nice. One time, I ignored him for two days because I came to see that he was emotionally detached, although he said he was not. He knew about the potential of having cancer and he knew about the impending surgery. K offered to be there for the surgery; he said that I should not have to go through it alone and, when I reminded him that he was not known for following through, he said this was different - that it wasn't like a training session. I do not typically like to lean on people during times like this; I prefer to handle it alone. I do not like to inconvenience people nor do I like to let myself lean on people because that makes me vulnerable. However, I finally conceded and said fine. Now, for two days, I just needed to be alone with my thoughts. I knew he wasn't going to come over if I said I needed him and I was tiring of being a goddamn pen pal! So, I shut off for a couple of days. Let me tell you; when I finally texted him, he went ballistic! He even called me...LOL! He said that if this was how I dealt with stuff, that he was running for the hills. Like, seriously? Whatever. I said fine, I wouldn't do it again.
It just continued on like this. He was becoming more weird, so I thought. For six weeks, I never saw him. He said he was "getting his financial affairs in order and was very focused" for a couple of weeks; he stopped saying good morning and good night and was a bit short. However, he also would notice if I didn't call him "babe" and, if I mentioned other guys, he would ask if he had anything to worry about. Ummm, I thought we weren't dating??? When I would become pissed and confused about the lack of time being spent together, he actually said that I needed to decide if he was worth waiting for!!!! I said he needed to decided if I was worth making time for. HE PURSUED ME!!! He said that he never thought we would take off like we did. I'm sorry?
I started to become increasingly angry; I thought "this" was bizarre and that he was an obnoxious ass. I told him that if all I needed was cute and a nice body, I could simply look in the mirror. I was becoming bored; he really would not carry a conversation unless we were talking about sex. He wouldn't tell me specifically where he lived, which pissed me off. I told him I needed more transparency with him. He said that he lived "far below his means" (to which I had to bite my tongue) and that his place was no place to bring a lady. Yeah; okay. I just told him that I didn't like him for what he had; I like him for what he was. He told me that he had a bachelor's degree in social work but there was no money in the field. He told me that he did have financial security, blah blah blah.
I will give most people a chance; but I will be damned if I am going to take anyone's crap. All I ask for is time and I communicated that to him. I have everything else. If you want to get to know me, fine; but you have to give me time.
Now, we all know it's a small world. I am standoffish, but I do know a lot of people. People seem to be comfortable talking to me, which I take as a compliment. I ran across a girl that knew him; from what I told her, she guessed who it was!! Come to find out, K has been like this with women for years. She never dated him; she dated his cousin for five years. She said that she used to have conversations with him about his attitude toward women. He thinks he is god's gift to women. He will see a woman on his own time, when he is ready. He lies. She has known women that he has dated and it's always the same story. He is looking for women to spend money on him (he actually told me he doesn't mind owing people!! - which I found to be a very unattractive thing to say). She told me that she thought I should run; as fast as I could. She said although she was friends with him, that she did not like him for me.
Over the past couple of weeks, we were supposed to get together a couple of different times; once, I got pissed enough where I canceled and told him that I didn't want to do "this" anymore; that I had too much to offer in the way of friendship or anything more. I told him that he had been treating me in a disrespectful and dismissive manner. He seem shocked but refused to take ownership of his actions and said that I was treating him as if he were the Anti-Christ. He put it all off on me; he is very self-absorbed and it's always about K - never about you. The next time, it was the weather and 95 was a parking lot; he got caught in traffic. The next time, last Sunday before surgery, he was supposed to come over at 6pm. I hadn't spoken to him in a couple of days and I texted him Sunday morning to confirm. He wouldn't give me a definitive answer; he said he was coaching and to give him a second. All I needed was a simple yes or no! At 5:30pm, he said that he couldn't be here at 6, that it was going to be more like 7:30p. I was like, why did it take you all day to tell me that??? I went off. This is how he always was; he wouldn't ask me what was convenient for me, he would tell me what it was and that basically he would see me when he got here. Excuse me? I told him 7:30 wasn't cool but I never said don't come. He took it as me saying don't come (although he never asked), so, when I told him to get his rear end here ASAP, he said you're kidding, right? So he gives me this story that he had something to do, blah blah blah, and that he wouldn't make it until later, but that he couldn't give me a time!! He said that he would be at the hospital on Monday but that, after that, he felt we should go back to being "just friends" as I did not understand him like he thought I should. I thought we were "just friends", as he kept saying. I was so pissed and so confused and, yes, I was edgy because I was nervous about the surgery. Eventually, around 9:30 - 10:00, I told him I was going to bed. He didn't respond.
Monday morning, I texted him the address of the hospital, driving directions and parking details. He didn't respond but I could see he read what I was writing. I told him I was nervous. I told him I did want him there but that I wasn't going to argue; I told him to just be the old K - the one I used to have fun with at the gym. No response. I called him; he didn't pick up. I told him I needed reassurance. He finally texted "Good luck; you will be better than ever when this is over". I asked him if he was on his way. No response. Right before I went in for surgery, I said "Ur not coming, r u?". No response.
He never showed up. I have never heard from him after Sunday night. He left me there. He effing chose that particular day and time to walk the eff away. He let me go into surgery wondering if he was coming. He never called to see how I was doing. As far as he knew, no one was going to be there with me. I was to a place where I was ready to lean on him, where I was going to depend on him; he could have wrapped his arms around me and I would have broken down. Which, according to him, is what he wanted. He kept telling me to let down my walls with him.
I.was.devastated. I cried after surgery. I broke down Tuesday night while talking to one of my girlfriends.
I do not understand how he could do this to someone; how he could do this to me. How could he be that cold and that cruel?
Of course, I am done with him. There is no excuse good enough that he could give me.
But the hurt is going to hurt for awhile. I can't forgive him. Not right now.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I finally was sprung from the hospital yesterday...woohoo! I was supposed to be discharged on Tuesday, but, as Murphy's Law dictates, things did not quite go as planned. During the ERCP, my surgeon said that there was a great deal of bleeding; that they put in clips and they got the bleeding under control. Directly after the surgery, when I was in recovery, I had the obligatory gas issues with flatulation and belching, which was fun (hell, that's like the only time you can get away with acting like a guy...LOL!). Then, I began having discomfort up under my right breast and into my sternum area; they thought it was gas pain. I told them that I know gas and that this wasn't gas. Eventually, the docs conceded and gave me a bit of Dilautid, which took the pain away; for about five minutes.
By the time they got me to my room, the pain was becoming increasingly worse and it went from 0-60 in about 15 minutes. It was excruciating and I was sweating my ass off; come to find out, I was being introduced to pancreatitis. Let me tell y'all; lord have mercy jesus - it's not fun. Eventually, the doctor pumped me full of Dilautid and got the pain under control. The fellow came in later and told me that yes, they did inflame my pancreas a bit during surgery as things had to be moved around a bit. Nah, I am not upset as I know these things happen. Then, I am sitting there talking, and, all of a sudden, I am like "Someone please grab me a bucket because I am about to toss my cookies"; that was the first time I vomited blood. It was actually funny; I was trying to think about what I ate that was brown...I didn't know!! So, immediately, they were like "No, you will not be going home tomorrow". I ended up staying for three nights instead of one.
My surgeon said that he was able to remove all of the growth. I cheered and said "I am cancer-free, right?" and he said that he would be able to tell me definitively once the results came back from the final biopsy. I need to call later today as he said the results should be in by Friday (today). He did put a couple of stents in and I will go back on October 11th for removal of one of them (the other one will go away on its own).
I have to say, outside of my stay being much longer than planned and the complications, the staff at Smilow and the regular Yale-New Haven Hospital were fabulous. One of my main concerns was that they would under-medicate me should I encounter pain (which I did!!) as I have an enormous resistance to pain meds and usually require much more than the regular person. I experienced that during my knee replacement surgery and it was pure hell, let me tell you. However, shockingly, they were incredibly respectful and believed me and were liberal with the pain meds, so I was relatively comfortable. The nurses were wonderful; very gracious, patient and kind - not once were they condescending or nasty (very unlike Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT). I always try to not bother medical staff during a hospital stay unless I absolutely have to; I know they are overworked and underpaid and do not wish to be a pain in their derrieres!! I believe that common courtesy and respect go a long way.
They even had room service meal service!! I kid you not; you have an extensive menu (for a hospital) that you make your own food choices from (based on your physician's meal authorization), call them anytime and put in your order! Now, I did not get to explore the menu as much as I might have liked because on Monday after surgery, I was barred from anything except ice chips, Tuesday I was not allowed to have anything but clear liquids, Wednesday I went to full liquids and Wednesday night, I finally went to full menu but stuck with cream of wheat and egg whites. But I still thought the room service was a cool option.
So, that part is over. I just wait for the results of the biopsy now and have the stent removal. I will have to go back to be scoped every 12 months for a few years to make sure the growth does not reappear, but my surgeon said that, eventually, the time between scopings will increase.
I know I was lucky; trust me. Has this whole experience changed me emotionally? Absolutely. I really think that, if you do go through something like a cancer scare and it does not change you, you didn't pay enough attention. I just refuse to put up with anyone's B.S. or allow drama into my life. If I want to do something nice for someone, even a stranger, then I am going to do it. If I want to just be by myself, I am going to do it. I will get my motorcycle.
It's my life and I will live it; exactly how I feel like living it.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It's been awhile; but, with me and blog posts, it's always a bit of time between, yes?...LOL! I have had some very kind, gracious and caring fellow Sparklers email me and ask w'sup, so I thought I would blog about it. And yes, y'all know it's going to be a long one - so grab the coffee and settle in...
I s'pose you are wondering about the title of this blog post. This year, this saying has come to the forefront of my thoughts more than I care to admit. Back in April, my GI doc found a precancerous growth; an adenoma of the papilla of the vater, in my system. Ironically, he found this growth completely by accident as he was not looking for it; he found it while he was injecting my pyloris with Botox in an attempt to mitigate the symptoms of the gastroparesis. I told him that he essentially saved my life. Immediately, my doc shipped me off to the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale. I had it biopsied again and, at that time in May, it was found to be benign and superficial. Not doing anything about it is not an option as it will eventually turn cancerous. One of the issues is that it is sitting close to the pancreas and y'all know what would happen if it did turn cancerous and spread to the pancreas - lights out, baby! So, I met with two surgeons, allegedly rock stars in their respective rights. I decided to try and have the growth removed endoscopically. If it can be removed, then no cancer but I will have to go back every 6-12 months to be checked to be sure it doesn't come back. If it cannot be removed, or it has turned cancerous already, I will have to go for a Whipple procedure. The Whipple is a huge surgery and can potentially really screw up my body, so it is not something I would want. Surgery is scheduled for Monday, the 20th of September; the day after tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers.
When I was initially told, in April, about the growth and potential consequences of it, I flipped for about two weeks. I was crying at the most ridiculous times and having fantastically lovely dreams about dying. My emotions evened out after a few weeks, thank god. However, I found that my thinking had changed. What if I did have cancer? What if I was going to die? Did I have any regrets about my life? What would I do differently, if anything, going forward? Was I the person that I wanted to be? Shockingly, I found that I really do not have any regrets about my life. The early path of my life was not chosen by me; I followed the direction I was set out in and I have done my best since. I have made an absolute boatload (we're talking cruise ship-size vessel here!) of mistakes and taken plenty of wrong turns, but I seriously wouldn't have changed anything. Honestly, the only aspect of my life that I regret right now is tolerating the amount of crap at work that I do. Outside of that, I'm pretty happy; I am pursuing my dreams of being a personal trainer (that's going very well!) and a motivational speaker (dragging my feet a bit on this one; I think fear is paralyzing me a bit), I have fabulous friends and I am simply content with the woman I have turned out to be. But, let me tell you, I have changed this year; I can feel it. The threat, even remotely, of cancer has scared the hell out of me. Even moreso, I do what I want, when I want, with/without whom I want and I am going for mine. I feel like I have earned the right to be who I am and I want to enjoy being who I am.
I also learned that a woman who is like a grandmother to me had her lung cancer return. This woman's daughter is like a mother to me and I so feel for her and the whole family. I wanted to go visit her but I was told that she wouldn't even remember me. I was just with the family on Labor Day (the absolute best impromptu trip I ever took!) and Sharon (the daughter) said that this whole experience with her mother has taught her to not take any day for granted.
Last week, my boss of 6.5 years was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Lord knows, Brian and I have had our differences over the years but I do care about him. He spoke quite frankly with me about it (even the potential side effects!) and he is going to lean on me for a lot during treatment as his ridiculously useless wife is worthless. I mean, really; he called her to ask her to bring the paperwork from the urologist to the office so that I could send it on to a new doctor and, gee, she was too busy to do it because she was on her way to the U.S. Open!! Byatch. Brian has a very positive outlook and he is young (56) and very fit. He said they caught it early and he will be fine.
Now, Brian does not know about what I have been going through or the impending surgery on Monday. After what has happened in previous years when I have shared personal, intimate medical issues, I decided to keep this to myself. It's different for women in the workplace and I really do not think it will ever change. I am also simply a person who has never needed a lot of attention; I receive love and affection from those close to me and that's enough. I have never been one that needs to announce everything that's going on in my life in order to be in the spotlight. That actually makes me very uncomfortable. I have simply taken three vacation days for next week. After so many years, the guys at work have finally figured out that I am a private person and they no longer ask what I am doing when I go on holiday.
So, all of this has made me much more aware of the "live like you are dying" saying. You know, it's really true. Life is precious and fleeting. It can be taken away from you at any given moment. We always put things off and wait until there is a "more appropriate time". But, you may never get that chance. You just never know.
Other than that, life is f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s. I am really just having fun being me. I am still working a second job as a trainer and I recently began teaching a group "Stretch & Tone" class and it's so much fun (after I initially freaked out from nervousness, of course!). The rheumatoid arthritis is being kept at bay with the infusions, lots of strength training and watching what I eat. My lumbar spine is having issues so I will be going in for injections in a couple of weeks (owwweeeee...hahahahaha) and hopefully that will work. The gastroparesis never did get any better and my GI doc wants to hold off on pursuing any further treatments until the growth is removed. He said that secretly he hopes that, once the growth is removed, my GP will miraculously disappear. I have finally begun dropping weight and have lost about 12 pounds in the last four weeks as I simply do not wish to eat; the bloating and cramping is ridiculous. I eat one solid meal a day, at night, and it is usually some fresh fruit or vegetables. I take several vitamins and ingest protein shots to make sure I am getting as many nutrients as possible. I am gaining in strength, though, which y'all know I love; I still lift four days per week and cardio 2-4 days per week, depending on my work schedule. Volunteering is still a part of my life and, of course, hanging with my friends. Thank god for my friends.
There is a new "man story" but that's for a whole 'nuther blog post..LOL!
Cheers to all of you and I hope this finds you well.
Remember to "live like you're dying"; it really is a good mantra.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I think this blog entry will be therapeutic in nature for me. It's a bit of a rant, I think, and a bit of an outlet for just saying all the things that I don't think I can to the people around me.
Typically, I never think that I am really stressed. I am usually always busy but rarely stressed. However, this year has been a bit tough and I think that I am finally stressed. Of course, my health is the catalyst for the stress. I always used to say that I was healthy as a horse, with the exception of the rheumatoid arthritis, as I didn't really view that as a "sickness" but rather simply a characteristic of my body. Last year, I was diagnosed, finally, with severe gastroparesis; delayed stomach emptying. At the point of diagnosis, my GI doc said that the test results showed that it took almost 7 hours for my stomach to empty. I now believe that it is closer to 10 hours. The bloating and abdominal distention is horrendous; I bloat even from water. It is beginning to affect my life, in general, and my social life, as I avoid going out to dinner with friends because of the bloating and feeling of fullness. If I eat something that I typically do not, I also run the risk of painful cramps and running for the bathroom (that happened on a date last year...nice...very nice). I have tried a couple of medications, even one from Canada, to no avail.
Back in April, my GI doc tried an alternative therapy of injecting Botox into my pyloris, but, of course, it did not help. HOWEVER, my GI doc (thank god for him) found something else when he went down to do the injection. He found a growth, an adenoma of the papilla of vatar, which turned out to be a pre-cancerous growth which, at this point, is superficial. Of course, I freaked out for about two weeks, until I had the endoscopy that proved that it had not spread to my pancreas. I began having dreams about dying from different methods, reflecting on my life and crying at the most ridiculous times. I cannot simply leave the growth alone as it will definitely turn into cancer, at which point, I will be screwed. I have met with one surgeon, who said that I do not need the "Whipple" surgery at this point - he believes I should have the growth removed endoscopically. He said that if it turns out it cannot be removed via that method, THEN he would perform a Whipple procedure on me. The Whipple would be curative BUT it has enormous potential side effects. So, now, I am heading off to see yet another surgeon at Yale that specializes in these endoscopic removals. I know that I will not die, but yet I feel that I am up against the clock because, of course, no one can say definitively when this growth will turn into cancer. I thank the lord sweet jesus for my GI doc because, had he never done the Botox injection, this growth would have never been discovered as it has no real symptoms, no pain, no discomfort. He basically saved my a#$.
The rheumatoid arthritis has been kept at bay with the monthly infusions and daily DMARD. I still strength train four days per week, do cardio three-plus days per week and watch what goes into my body. I truly feel that that is helping me to feel decently.
All this has been an emotional journey. When the growth was discovered, I immediately began to think about my life and how I live it. Shockingly, I would not change anything. I really thought I would have regrets, but I don't. However, I vowed to stop taking crap from people and speaking my mind more. I also vowed to do what I want more (I really don't have a problem doing that anyway); if I want to do something nice for someone, damnit, I am going to do it (there was the cutest little boy at Dunkin' Donuts this morning, by himself, who asked the cashier how much a donut was; apparently, he did not have enough money. I thought for a second and then asked the lil' cutie if he wanted a donut, that I would buy it for him. He politely declined. But that is what I am talking about; if I feel like doing something like that, I am just going to say screw it and do it), and if I don't want to do something, I am not going to do it!
This past weekend, I participated in a 5K mud run for my annual "birthday event". I had never done a mud run but, hey, I am always looking for a challenge. My rheumatologist had given her blessing as long as I did not actually run and as long as I supported my joints. I had a friend come over to apply the kinesiology tape to my knees, wrists and elbows the night before (it didn't do much for the wrists and elbows but I think it really supported the knees). Now, I had also invited two friends to accompany me and we registered as a TEAM and not individuals. They are both aware of the RA and one is aware of everything (the trifecta; RA, gastroparesis and the growth); I had made sure that they were aware that I would NOT be running and that they were okay with that. They had said no problem. Well, let me tell you, that turned to s#%t within the first quarter mile. Essentially, they left me behind and completed the race together, waaaay up ahead of me, calling back to me once in awhile to see how I was doing. I was able to complete the event but, in the last mud pit, I just could not crawl on my knees (titanium) as the pain from the gravel on the ground was excruciating. I got up and just ducked under the ropes. Saturday was tough because I faced the realization that I do have limitations and I also faced the fact that, no matter if you communicate with people, sometimes people just don't give a s&*t; even sometimes people that say I never give people a chance to care because I do not share. Well, I shared with both people that I invited that day and they still left me behind; something that I would NEVER do to someone else.
I uploaded the pix from my digital camera as soon as I got home (and after I ingested a couple of painkillers...LOL!). I was S.H.O.C.K.E.D. at how bad the bloating from the gastroparesis really was. I looked like I weigh 200 pounds. I had, like, three abdominal rolls and I just looked huge. I posted them on Facebook anyway, telling myself that I should be proud that I was able to complete the event (I did weenie out on one obstacle; a wall that I just didn't have any energy to climb). I deleted a couple of photos that just looked too horrible to post. I told my girlfriend that I couldn't believe how bloated I was, to which she responded "oh, whatever...I was bloated too". The next morning, I saw that she had uploaded her photos that her husband had taken and there were a couple of me that were extremely unflattering, along with one photo of only my face at the finish line that clearly depicted that I was in pain. I texted her requesting that she remove the photo as I didn't want people to see that. She responded "people that don't know you won't see that as pain". To which I responded "this is a simple request for personal reasons; I would appreciate it if you would take it down". Now, I know that my face does show pain as, during various times of my life, people that do NOT know me used to come up to me and say that they felt bad for me as I look like I am in pain all the time (that was around knee replacement surgery time).
That's when I hit bottom. I just snapped. The whole text discussion about the photos on Facebook was simply irrelevant minutiae that I didn't want to engage in; absolutely ridiculous. If I wanted the photo removed, take the f$%*&$%g thing down! No one else was in the picture - what's the problem? So, I deleted all photos on my Facebook account and deactivated my account. I had not initially constructed my Facebook page to begin with; my boss's daughter did. I always felt that Facebook was more for people who needed validation on who they were and what they did. I feel that it can be useful in a positive manner for professional networking at times, but it was not something that I found useful and I rarely went onto it. I then shut off my phone for the day and just started shutting down emotionally.
I know life isn't a bed of roses; no one ever said it was. I honestly feel like I have a good life but, at this point, I am turning angry. I know my anger is coming from frustration. I feel like I am doing everything I can to stay healthy but, for whatever reason, my body is constantly turning against me. I also feel like I am not going to live very long. I did voice these emotions to my PCP; he said what I am experiencing is normal (hmmm...at times, I feel like I am losing my mind). He said that none of this is my fault - unfortunately, it's the hand of cards I have been dealt. I know it's up to me whether I fold or play; I will play - it's not in my DNA to fold. It's just difficult lately.
I am an intensely private person and do not typically share a whole lot of my life with friends and certainly not acquaintances. If you did not really know me, you would never know anything is going on. I have shared what is going on with three people, I think, two of whom "accompanied" me during the mud run Saturday. I have known for years that most people don't care about you and I am cool with that; seriously. But don't bitch at me that I don't give people a chance and, when I do open up, completely disregard or minimize what I have shared with you.
If this sounds like a "woe is me" rant, it's totally not. I have a good life and have fun being me. I basically answer to no one, except my boss who signs my paycheck. I am just angry and frustrated. I will get through this, like I have everything else, but right now, it's a struggle. I do not feel like "why me"; I feel more like "what can I do better?".
And, I know, that, when I do come out on the other side, I will be even stronger.
Postscript: In response to Angel7912's comment (girl, you hit the nail on the head), I wanted to add that, in my ever-increasing age LOL!, I have learned that part of being strong is being able to show weakness and vulnerability; something that absolutely kills me to do...however, I think it's necessary to grow as a person...hence, this blog post...I hope that makes sense.
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