Saturday, October 26, 2013
Best grab a fresh cup of coffee first if you choose to read on...
This is for me --- to get my thoughts out of the swirl in my head and clearly in front of me. They can get too big to deal with when they’re building up in there, so need to be cut down to facts…
So – I’ve never been totally what you could call “healthy”. I’ve dealt with an auto-immune disorder and IBS for my entire life. Those gave me some limits, but I learned to work around them and enjoy life.
I spent most of my life obese, but fit and active. I loved heavy lifting, and used my strength daily at work.
A few years ago, when my Dad was dying, I had an extreme sciatica attack (due to degenerative disc disease) that necessitated basically re-learning how to walk (I was a shoe-in as the winner of the Ministry of Silly Walks), quit lifting and working out (since activity just made everything worse), but still enjoyed life. The Man and I just made some adaptations to our activities, and it was ok.
Then, I got sick. I was increasingly dizzy, and disoriented, and confused. I was always nauseated, had extreme pain at the base of my sternum, and couldn’t follow a simple “how was your day” conversation. I was unable to work – heck, I was unable to sit upright without being supported by the arm of the couch and some cushions. Multiple scans didn’t show anything, but some great docs stayed with it and found that I had colon cancer. I had surgery to remove half my colon, and then 8 months of chemo.
During the chemo, I ended up with a pulmonary embolism. I was put on injections of blood-thinners, but still ended up with two more as chemo went on. The final post-chemo scan showed some trouble spots in my lungs and the PET scan to see if they were dangerous or scarring showed up some scary activity around my uterus and ovaries. So, I had a full hysterectomy.
I seemed to be recovering, but 3 weeks after the second surgery, I started to randomly faint. It started as once every few days, and progressed over the months until I was dropping 3 to 5 times per day, every day. We still managed to enjoy life, just made some more adaptations to accommodate my “strategic naps”.
I started the rounds of every medical specialty to try to figure out what was going on. I started tracking every bite in case it was caused by nutritional deficiencies. We got a treadmill so that I could safely start to get my strength back, and I hesitantly started working out again. Yay for me – this caused a massive hernia on my incisions. The doc informed me that my excess weight was one of the major causes of the hernia, and that he couldn’t attempt a fix unless I was almost at “normal” weight, and that he couldn’t see it being a permanent fix unless I maintained “normal” for the rest of my life.
Fine. So – I started restricting my calories while still maintaining the nutrition. I started learning to cook, so that there would still be as much pleasure as possible in eating. We made still more adaptations so that we could still have fun.
It actually was a relief to me that there was something that I could control that would have a positive impact. I kept seeing docs and trying meds to get the fainting under control (it’s improved, but not gone), but could at least work with the surgeon about getting the hernia fixed. A date for surgery was set, I’m almost where the doc wants me weight-wise, we really enjoy how we eat now, and – even with all of the adaptations – life was good.
Two weeks ago was the first time in a couple of years that I felt safe and comfortable enough with my level of health that I said to the Man that I actually believed that it was possible that he might have to put up with more for a few more years.
Then I had this bright idea that it was time to get some new glasses and contacts. My vision seemed to have settled down after being all over the place during chemo, so it was time for a new prescription. Saw the eye doc, and got a “hmmmm – I’m sending you to a specialist”.
There is a spot on the back of my right eye that has been there for years – according to the last specialists it is simply that the opening in the back of my cornea where the blood vessels come through is slightly smaller on that side, making the vessels squeeze together and look like a lump. Nothing to worry about, but this time the eye doc said that it looked more “raised” and wasn’t happy about it.
Off to the retinal surgeon, who was quite inordinately happy while shining bright lights in to my dilated pupil: “Oh – this is cool. You are an interesting patient.”
Damn – I HATE being interesting!
Apparently, there’s something there besides the clumped-together blood vessels. It could be a cyst, it could be scarring from a bleed (I’ve been on blood thinners for a long time), it could be a benign granuloma from my auto-immune disease, or it could be a metastasis from the colon cancer.
My brain hates me, and has been focusing on that last one. I’m not having an easy time keeping myself from spiralling down in to fear. Logic tells me that the odds of it being cancer are miniscule, but it comes down to this:
REALLY?!? FREAKIN’ REALLY?!? AFTER EVERYTHING ELSE, I CAN’T EVEN GET FREAKIN’ GLASSES WITHOUT THERE BEING SOMETHING TERRIFYING?!?
So, right now I’m scared. And whiny. Really, really whiny. And starting to get more than a bit PO’d.
The Man is working crazy OT right now, so he’s not around to logic and laugh me out of it, so I need to do that myself…
So – here I am. Writing this all out, so that I can SEE that it’s not as big and scary and threatening as it seems when it’s swirling around in the dark recesses of my mind. And really, it ISN’T so bad…
Week after next, I will have a quick hospital visit for them to scan the cornea and retina, and I’ll KNOW what I have to deal with. Knowledge is power – the power to deal with whatever it is. There’s nothing I can do about it until then, and, regardless of what it is – LIFE IS GOOD.
The Man and I will make more adaptations if we have to, but we’ll find a way to keep having fun. We always have, and we always will.
The hernia will get fixed. Hopefully, we’ll get the fainting fixed, but we’ll be fine even if it stays how it is now (we’re awfully good at dealing with it, and it’s a great source of dark comedy when we’re out), and the eyeball will … well, it will be whatever. None of that is ultimately important. What IS important is that we’ll deal with it, and have a lot of love and laughter along the way…
Hmmmm – there might be something to this writing thing. There definitely is power in the “spin”…
So, those who were silly enough to read this --- thank you for your time, thank you for being here, and please: take a few minutes to clarify what is important in your life, and “spin” your perspective to focus on that…
Right here, right now, life is good.