It's 2:40am and I have been up since Hunepants came to bed at 1 am. No matter which way I turn, my chemo port hurts, is uncomfortable and bothersome. I finally decided to get up about a half hour or so ago because I couldnt' take it anymore and I started getting very hungry. As I finished a show I had been binge watching (FRIENDS) I started balling and crying my eyes out. The only thought that came...THIS WAS THE HARDEST YEAR...
I looked back and remembered this time last Christmas. We were newlyweds, enjoy our first Christmas. First Christmas as a married couple. First Christmas in Colorado. First Christmas away from family.
We sent small gifts and I made treats for everyone. We sent my mother in law holiday cups from Williams Sonoma...this year we drank from those cups and as I set the table, it took all my might not to burst into tears.
In January, sadly right before her birthday, my mother in law passed away. She had Bechets and her immune system was often down. She had a minor cold, that turned crucial. We had just spoken with her the Sunday before. It was all so surreal. A week later she was gone. I was married for five months. Five months and no more mother in law. She was so kind and sweet and loving. Most of all, she loved me for me. I have been married before and I have never felt truly accepted by any of my past in laws, but I did by her.
Looking back, I remember the beginning of 2016. I had such high hopes for this year. I was going to make 200 aprons and donate them to the DSM Womens Club. I as going to be a Mindfulness Practitioner and help those to overcome their trials and adversities in life. I was going to do so many things and accomplish so many goals. I even did the Pursuit of Excellence this year and created a plan in Asana. I thought I was going to conquer the world this year....
Then, death happened. She passed away.
The grief overcame me. We lost her in May but they didn't set the memorial until June to go to Pickeral Lake, where all their family summered each year. Holding onto that pain until June was very hard for me.
It was a culmination of things. Remembering the loss of my father when I was young, losing a mother in law so early into our marriage, being there for Hunepants to be the strength and support for him through this trial and then the hurt from on of his family members who lashed out at me, constantly telling me to stop being in pain because it wasn't about me. Which to this say bothers me because though I know that mentally, I felt like she was trying to stifle my feelings, and I felt I should have been allowed to feel what I felt.
I found a therapist and learned EFT and talked through the issues. I moved past things. I overcame, once again.
Then I tore my rotator cuff doing my New Year's Intentions to get more fit when I was lifting weights. I found a local doctor and started seeing him for the issue. He was an Ortho doctor and family so I chose him. (later I regretted that) He helped me get the right physical therapy, dry needling for my back issues, and got me back on track physically.
Mid year, we moved apartments to the other side of the building. The week of the move, I got terribly sick. I just kept vomiting over and over. We just assumed it was a stomach flu or something I ate. It didn't let up and I wasn't much help in the move. After speaking with my Chinese doctor, I was given some herbs to help out. My regular doctor was no help at all really. I told him of my issues and complained about bowel problems. He, like all the other doctors, said it was just IBS and not worry.
June we went back to Wisconsin and I felt like I walked around with baited breath. I was afraid I would be overcome again and the family member I had issue with would once again come at me, telling me to stop being so upset, that it wasn't my family and that it isn't about me. I did my EFT training and pretty much stayed to myself. Then another family barked at me for something completely unrelated and I lost it. I didn't even want to spend time with the family out to eat because I was so upset. They never apologized and the matter got swept under the table, like most family issues often are (especially in my family and now I guess this is how his family is too). The once built relationship I had with those family members now is always tainted in my mind. though I forgive and move on, the apprehension of that issue is still there. The rest of the time, I kept to myself and didn't want to really be around one. I never feel accepted by his family, only his mother in law and his father and Step mom. With the mother in law passed, all I had was the other set of parents and was grateful when they let me hang out with them at a flea market like I was one of their own.
August rolled around and I remember writing in my journal how much pain I was starting to be in again. I felt he pain was getting worse but I didn't want to talk to Hunepants about it because we had already been through so much that year, and I hate being a complainer. My family is a long line of bitchers, whiners and complainers and I didn't want to be like that.
A few more months went by and the pain in my belly was getting worse. I had problems constantly when I was going to the bathroom and my back was killing me. I kept calling my doctor and never got a response. When I was able to talk to him, like always, he discredited my issues for e mere nothingness.
Come Early October I tried countless times to reach him for my issues. to no avail, no answer, no return calls, even his nurse failed to get back to me. I couldn't take it anymore. I was fed up. I called the Clinic and talked to the head admin. I informed him of my concerns and that I had enough of trying to talk to that doctor. I had seen that there was another doctor int he clinic and I wanted him as my doctor now. I realized I just probably sounded like a bitchy patient, but I knew something was not right in my body, and no one was listening. The admin told me the other doctor was not accepting patients. After beginning a pleading and basically stating that since they are a business they mgiht want to keep me as a "client", that I could either take my business elsewhere, or see if this doctor would take me since the other one at their clinic had no desire to get back to me. LAter that week I had an appointment.
My first visit with Dr. K I am sure to him was an interesting one. I told him of my ailments and issues and to say our first few visits were "rough" might be an understatement. Yet I persisted. My spouse didn't want me on certain meds like Lyrica, I didn't want to be just given meds for everything and continued to complain of lower back pain and abdominal pain.
My friend A comes out to visit and during her stay I see Dr.K again. As I go in she says to me something to the effect of "Stick to your guns" and I smile.
I asked for colonoscopy and we talked about it. We talked family history and I found here and there some issues but mostly uterine and cervical. Dr. K wanted to rule out any issues in that area since that is where the majority of the family history was. I still thought it was something with my colon as it still was taking me two hours to have a bowel and that was with much pain.
In the ultrasound the tech is casually taking pictures of my uterus and calmly says "Honey, do you have problems with your colon ever?" There ya go. I mean, we aren't anywhere near my colon and SHE is even asking about my colon. She take a few more picture near that area and sends me on my way.
A few days later Dr. K brings me in and says there were some spots near the colon and he is concerned and wants to rule out issues and not to scare me, but this may be colon cancer. (How does it feel to be THAT doctor that has to tell you that? I have always wondered. Ar eyou nervous to tell your patient that? He seemed "genuinely" concerned.
I go back to the Touchstone Imaging Center and do a CT. I get a disk at the and as Dr. K told me to and when Hunepants came home we took a look at it. We are not health pros but we do have the ability to look things up online. One our two monitors we have the scan on one monitor and info on CT results on the other...We look left, my scan, look right, info. We look at each other. We both have a sneaky idea this is cancer but though we say it, neither wants to admit it just yet.
Dr. K calls me the next day..."Don't be scared..." he says. I already know...he is going to say he thinks it is cancer..."I want you to get the colonoscopy asap because we think it may be cancer." I reply that I am fine and that is what I thought. I wonder if he believed me or thinks my BiPolar is making me be in denial. I am sitting on the edge of the bed as we speak. (talk about the edge of your seat) and he tells me he request Dr. N at South Denver GI to do the screening. Now they have something to look for. This isn't a free screening anymore. Now we are concerned. Things just got serious. I hang up and stare at the floor. My kitties Mr. Dude and Mr. Booties both come nuzzle up to me (which is rare) and I start crying. I know if both my cats are near me, I should be worried.
Keep in mind, I have barely know Dr. K a week or two when all of this is going on. I am a brand new patient and this is what he has to start with. I feel sorry for him having to deal with this and me through this. I try to reach my current therapist. He informs me he doesn't have time for me. I decided I no longer have time for him if during this crisis my own damn therapist can't be there for me. i will deal with that one later.
Less than a week later I am drinking SuPrep and cleaning out my bowels to ready myself fro a Colonoscopy. I get through the prep (which I am told is worse than the procedure and I tend to agree). Hunepants can't take me to the appointment so I ask a brand new friend if he can take me. I have already called 7 people and no one else can. I remember calling my friend A and saying, "After all I have done for others, why is it when I am in need, there is no one to be found?" She agrees. Wished she could be with me for everything.
D picks me up and as we are driving to the test he casually asks "I don't mean to pry but what are we going to the hospital for?" I say, after taking a large gulp, "They are concerned I might have Colon Cancer." I hold back tears. He apologizes and wishes me well. I thank him offer him money for gas, he denies. He mentions to let him know how things go. I say I will.
I walk into the GI alone and start shaking.
I get through all of the paperwork and fill out the slip that says who will be picking me up. the nurse asks me if he is here and I softly reply no. I try not to let this bother me, though it does. I look around and everyone else has someone with them. I am a mix of mad and hurt that Hunepants isn't here with me, but I know he will be when I wake so I try to be ok with it.
The nurses are all great, everyone kind and sweet and sincere. They talk me through everything and get me ready. We go into a small room after I am changed and I meet the anesthesiologist. I feel ok but still nervous. They give me something to put me to sleep and I try to get comfortable, The one nurse tells me to get on my side and be comfortable the best I can because I will be asleep soon. I barely remember raising my arm up then down and I was out.
I woke in recovery and as I barely woke, there was a nurse handing me a glass of cranberry juice, someone pulling back the curtain to let Hunepants in and the doctor is telling me I have cancer. They are doing biopsies but he knows I have a tumor and I need surgery STAT! He asks Hunepants is he can take me right away to meet the surgeon to get this scheduled. I don't even have my clothes or shoes on yet. DAMN. Now I am pissed. Not at him but at every Mercy Medical Clinic doctor in Iowa for not listening to me. For the back doctors not listening to me. for everyone discrediting me for years. I tried to tell them. Now I am wondering what stage I am. I try not to think about it. I get dressed and we meet the surgeon. Nice man, seems to know his shit. Dr. H. Eveyone in his office is very nice. As we talk I am stoic and he keeps telling me it is ok to cry, it is ok to have emotions about this. I feel like a tank just got dropped on me. The more he talks the more it is sinking in....I start crying now...he hands me a tissue and it appears he is relieved I am crying. Perhaps the not crying make doctors more concerned.
Mind you this is Wednesday and the surgery is scheduled for Nov 1 the following Tuesday. He tells me to stay on soft foods and I shouldn't' have to drink so much glug if I do. It is called GoLighlty and he makes fun of the name saying the makers of that need to change the name because it is nowhere near LIGHT. He tells me I might not have to drink the whole gallon. I hope not, that doesn't sound fun. We stop by CVS, hand over scrips and leave for them to let me know when they are filled. I let them know I had surgery so I needed them right away, but they have to order them because they don't have them. Talk about nervous. Ali, the Pharmacy tech tells me it will be ok and assures me they will have it in time.
We go home and I being to write cards. I pour myself into emotions of letting others know how much tye mean to me. The tech, Ali, the bankers at Wells Fargo, Sprouts manager, my vision place and so on. I think I wrote over 25 cards to hand out and another 25 to send. This is how I cope. letting others know their worth and value.
As the surgery gets closer I panic more. I cry and cry constantly. I have called or emailed every family member I can and put out the Facebook blast about my condition. The outpouring of love and concern is amazing. Here is that support I was wondering about a few weeks ago. It showed up. HARD. I wonder if my mother cried is worry about me. She seemed so strong on the phone but, hello, this is her baby we are talking about. My older son was stoic about it. That was to be expected. My younger son got completely silent and informs me his last girlfriend before his fiance dies of Colon Cancer. I don't know what to say. He offers me love and support. This too, was to be expected. Not that my older son doesn't love me, I know deep down he does, but he never says it. I mean it, I just told him I have Cancer and he still can't say it. I consign that this is just how he is and accept what he can offer me. Math jokes.
The weekend approaches and I am up all Saturday Night. Tuesday is surgery and the day and time are drawing near. I feel like I am having a panic attack. I get out of bed and start reading scriptures and praying. HARD.
Sunday morning. Early. 5 am. I pray for more knowledge and answers and peace and comfort. not knowing what do and feeling as if I will die. The spirit came over... "Call for a blessing". This prompting continues in my head...I decide to go to www.mormon.org and find out who my missionaries are.
At 7 am, I called in tears asking for a blessing. I left a message and they called me back. We schedule for them to come later than night and I tell them my story. I ask Elder Mork to give me the blessing and Elder Bjerga assists.
After tears and emotion being revealed and a wonderful blessing, I finally feel at peace.
Tuesday comes. My friend D accepted my request to go with Hunepants and I to the surgery. The staff was very nice, the doctors make me laugh before I go in and I am happy. I feel ok. They joke about not being professionals and I remembering commenting that if they were stuffy, then I would worry.
Surgery is great and I was in recovery two hours.
I remember waking and thinking "I made it! I didn't' die! I am alive!"
I have a whole new lease on life and think, geesh, if people thought I lived life out loud before, just wait!
I do great in the hospital, I sat up right away, I walked all the time, the nurses loved me, I loved them. By Friday I am eating solids and on Saturday Nov 5th I am home. The next week I walk for 3-5 miles each day around Fiddler's Green and think I am doing very well. he following weekend, I have diarrhea for three days straight. Uh oh. Somethings wrong. I call the surgeon, he isn't concerned. I still am. Though, thinking it is just food, I go with the church ladies to CFA and hang out. LM brings me home and I lie down for about 20 minutes. My stomach hurts and again I am worried. I call to see if I can see Dr. K and the admin gets me an appointment. I text Hunepants and tell him he needs to go with me. He comes home ealry and takes me.
I have CDIFF.
I end up on these monstrous anitbiotics. Which to me is dumb because too many Antibitiocs is what caused this in the first place. But I hear it helps. I text my Dr. friend Dr. I. he concurs so I decided this must be what I have to do.
The following week I am no better. followup with Dr. K. More Metrondiazonale. Yay. Not and he suggests a probiotic to get my gut flora back.
Two days later I am better, but he says keeps taking it until it is gone.
Now we are here.
I have seen the oncologist and he alerts me that even if the scan is clean we still need to do chemo to kill any microscopic cells that might linger that have cancer that we can't see. This is th best we can do. I am in denial. Hunepants says do it for him. I don't want to. I want to wait and see what the scan is and then keep doing the herbs and juicing we are doing now. He keeps trying to get me to understand. I give up talking to him about it. We won't see eye to eye. I dont' get why I shoud put poison in my body if the scan is good.
This week was the crazy week.
Tuesday. Scan was clean.
Thursday Chemo class to learn everything I can about my upcoming chemo treatment.
Friday. port put in.
Now it's December 25th. Merry Christmas.
I am still in denial. I am doing the chemo though I don't want to. They wanted to start right away and I halted saying "No, I need to go see my mother and family in New Mexico first" They schedule my first chemo for Jan 9th.
The year is winding down and all I can think of is how HARD this year has been. WTF.
I go through bouts of tears and happiness. Not really sure which to feel.
Today I made a dancing video and posted it online. I am determined to remain fabulous though all of this. Not an easy take mind you. But yet, I smile, and then I cry. My emotions are still close ot the surface and I am just trying to cope.
I will be glad when this year ends, though, for once, I am NOT looking forward to the new year. Six months of upcoming chemo.
Which of these years will be the Hardest Year?
This one...or the next?
We shall see....