Monday, July 17, 2017

Knowing More.

It has been a little over three weeks since surgery.  I had post-op follow-up last week, and the news was not quite what I expected.  I'm healing well, except for dehydration, but the pathology report was disappointing.  Of the 17 lymph nodes they took, 1 was positive for metastasis.  I figure, 1 out of 17 isn't horrible, but it put me at stage 3. There is chemo and radiation in my future - beginning August 15, in fact.

A lot of things go through your mind when the doctor across the desk from you is rattling off facts, figures, and more information than your blown mind can assimilate.  I just sat there, taking it all in. He said, you don't have confidence in me?  Oh yes, I told him, I trust you implicitly when it comes to my treatment.  You got my cousin through hers, and she had her port removed just three weeks ago.  I trust you.  But it's a lot to take in all at once, and my dear friend Gypsy passed away just this week...cancer.  And you're saying I'll have to keep my port in for 5 years...So, my mind is racing, but I'm in your hands and God's, and I'm going to fight this, too, as hard as I can.

The first treatment is a strike back against cancer and i'm dedicating that one to Gypsy. My friend Gypsy, the bubble of laughter and love who is no doubt a bright and shining star or a comet or some other celestial anomaly smiling down on the earth and all the friends she has here.  For you, Gypsy, as you make your music in the spheres.

The next treatment is a strike back for my Dad.  He chose not to fight it that last time around. He was too tired.  So the second treatment - in your honor, Dad, a blow against cancer for you.  It's a lot easier to fight in the name of others than just myself, but I'm fighting for me, too.  Hard.

I'm in the process of bolstering my immune system with approved supplements, taking my vitamins, eating a healthy diet, and drinking a lot of water so dehydration won't be a problem.

Planning to scrub my house from top to bottom so it will be the cleanest it has been since before the surgery.  Stocking up on antibacterial wipes, bleach, Lysol to keep things right to reduce the risk of infection.

I'm going back to work for four weeks so maybe I won't have to come off of the payroll and go on short term disability.  And besides...the work will be good for me.  I've missed my work mates, and it seems they might have missed me, too.  My supervisor was happy to hear that I'll be returning for a cameo appearance.  She said, I'll take what I can get.

Life is just full of adventures.  I can't wait to conquer this one.




Friday, June 30, 2017

What - I have an extra belly button??

One week ago today, I opened my eyes, saw a bunch of people I didn't know and promptly went back to sleep.  The next time I woke, my husband was there, and I was in a hospital room.  I remember two things from that day - the same nurse kept coming when I rang the call bell.  Didn't she EVER go home? and when I peeked down my hospital gown, my belly button was sitting up; WAY high.  Drugged or not, I knew that was wrong.

Surgery was successful - that's the word from my surgeon so far.  All the cancer was confined to my uterus.  and apparently, they woke me up a little too quickly and I became combative.  My adopted kid (40s) who works at the hospital was waiting for me in post-op and saw the whole thing.  She said my doc looked at her and screamed - get help!  Which goes to show you...if you try to kill me in my sleep or if I think you're doing that, I will whip some ass. :-D

Back to this second belly button dilemma...apparently, they took the fatty apron from in front of my intestines in case any cancer cells had settled into that comfy sofa and wanted to stay.  According to sources whose accuracy for fact is not known to me, this is also done in weight loss procedures, so that if there is hanging skin that gets infected or something, insurance will cover removing it.  I feel pretty confident mine's not that bad.  As soon as things heal up, i'm considering a little belly button embelishment.  Wouldn't a connecting earring be cool?  ;-)

Still healing, still on drugs, still having trouble with cohesive sentences.  Will write more as I find out more.

I'm just about ready to get out and have some fun.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Proactive Me :-)

WELL!

Now that the shock has worn off, I'm in a better frame of mind.  I won't lie, the last two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.  First, I was numb.  Then I was pissed - especially at the ER doctor who told me I was constipated and sent me home.  And then panic set in. Every morning, I woke with this crippling fear.  And then I cried. Honey, I cried everywhere -- at work, in the bathroom, walking the dogs, drinking coffee.  But it always made me feel better, later.  So my advice to anyone who receives devastating diagnoses - go with it the first week or so.  Let yourself cry, but don't stay down there.  Do Not Let It Keep You Down.

Yes, I'm still a bit scared.  I mean, who wouldn't be?  But since I have this thing, I have no choice but to fight it.  And battle, I will!  How I reached this particular point is funny, actually.  My husband pissed me off.  I know this has been scary for him, too, but he was MEAN.  He said things to me I wouldn't say to my worst enemy, and I could have beaned him with a heavy lamp, but I like my lamp, so...

When he pissed me off, though, it ignited this spark inside of me.  Fuck you, I thought, and fuck cancer, too.  And that spark has found fuel and burst into flames.

 BATTLE!!!!

My surgery is a week from tomorrow.  My PET scan is Tuesday.  I'm far more afraid of the PET scan, but no matter what it reveals, this girl's going to stay pissed. I have to.

I've researched diet, plan to speak with a RD, have already planned out what will be needed after surgery and have begun gathering necessities.  When the anxiety hits, meditation and a boatload of lavender.  It smells good, and if it does for me what it did for that little frog I found hiding in the plant pot, all the better.  That little frog looked stoned.  He was so relaxed he didn't even move when i poked him.  He only looked at me like..what?

Ah, it's nice to know there's spirit in me, yet.  I will beat this.  Watch.  :-)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Well, son of a gun

I'm just venting,don't want to depress anyone, so ... please, if you don't want to read, please don't feel like you have to.  It's just an outlet.

I have been negligent in taking care of other areas of my health, aside from diabetes, so this is my fault.  MY fault that I didn't go months ago when i first noticed the blood.  Thought it was nothing, although when I mentioned it, my boss poo-pooed the notion that it might require medical attention.  See, i'm trying to blame her, but I can't, and that makes me mad :-).  The decision was mine, ultimately, and I chose to ignore it.  It was over, anyway, and wasn't much.  Didn't see anything else (that i can remember) until a few weeks ago, so I decided it was time for the pap smear.  Made an appointment, got in quickly with the FP, not the MD, because she wasn't taking anymore patients.  Because my uterus was enlarged, they wanted to schedule an ultrasound, and they did.  On Friday before that appoinmtent, I was home for my lunch break when the phone rang.  It was the FP strongly advising me not to skip the appointment because the pap had come back positive for adenocarcinoma.  I asked...are you saying I have cancer?  She sent an email follow-up to the call that gave me all the information needed.  My boss laughed and said, oh, it's just abnormal.  My sister had an abnormal pap and they just called her in and it was all cleared up.  There again, i'm trying to blame her, but can't do it.

I do have cancer.  I had the ultrasound, had an endometrial biopsy to see if it was there, too.  And i have to say, the biopsy was the worst thing I've been through, to date, but only after i left the office. The cramps started, I passed out, broke out in a cold sweat, became physically ill.  Home never seemed so far away...

But I got through it.

My gynecologist wanted to refer me to Chapel Hill for treatment, but because of my husband's physical limitations, I asked for a doctor more local, in Pinehurst and she agreed, but said he was very busy and doubted I could get in to see him in the timely manner she/I needed.

When my friends found out, they all offered to help.  They are so wonderful, and I love them dearly.  My cousin's wife is the office manager for the oncologist I wanted.  Call her, he said.  My friend, Libby, said - my daughter is a nurse in her office.  I'm calling her right now.  In a bit, Libby came back and said, Katherine said to call, but there was no referral from my doc yet.  Still, they would work me in.

In the meantime, my husband's friend Elspeth called him to do some work for her.  She asked about me, and he told her what was going on.  She said, no worries.  My son in law will be her doctor.  I will talk to him tonight at dinner.

I had known her son in law was an oncologist, but didn't know his name until she texted later that night and said, call him in the morning.  She gave his name and son of a gun, it was the oncologist I wanted the referral to.  I called the next morning, and within an hour, I was sitting in his office.

He was amazing.  He said, Jim takes care of our stuff, we'll take care of his.  I will treat you like you're my own sister.  Later, I left the office feeling a bit more encouraged and a little less afraid.

And I'm trying to be positive, trying not to be afraid, but fear does rear it's ugly head at the most unexpected times.  It's like grief - it sneaks up on you and overwhelms you.  I woke the other morning and my first thought was Cancer.  I went into a full blown anxiety attack.  Did I wait too long?  What if it has spread?  What about the pain I went to the ER for the week before? Was that cancer? What pain is this that i'm feeling right now? Is that it, too?  I couldn't breathe.  I started crying.  And in a little while, I was fine again.  Washed my hair, went to work.  Yesterday, another Friday, still awaiting results from biopsy, went to work and everybody was in turmoil.  If they weren't angry, they were accusing.  If something happened that I couldn't prevent, they found a way to somehow make it my fault.  I have no power over my own health, and they think I can supercede the will of the transfer branch?  I cannot.  and I Could Not Take Another Thing this week.  I completed some tasks and I high tailed it out of there.

But I have to go back.  I need to save my time for the surgery, recovery, and possible chemo or radiation.  I have to keep my job for the insurance benefits.  I have to prepare and work ahead so my absence won't take too much of a toll on my boss, because she depends heavily upon me.  And I need something else to think about, anyway, because my mind is swirling and whirling with all kinds of possibilities and responsibilities.  Who will take care of my dogs?  Who will cook dinner?  Who will do my job while I'm out?

My morning mantra is, I will be strong. I will be positive, but the mantra should probably be an affirmation:  I AM strong.  I AM positive.  I AM beating cancer.  I AM making this a little easier on my family.  I AM taking care of them, of things that need doing.

I'm trying.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reminiscing

It's one of those once upon a time nights.  It could be the holidays, could be having a little too much time to think, or it could have been seeing an old restaurant customer the other day, not sure it isn't a combination of all those things.  Sometimes, I think about the old days, and how I should probably write down all of them for my grandchildren to read one day.  I wish my mom had written down her memories.  As it is, I can only recall the stories she told about her and Uncle Bill, all those years ago on the little farm in Fairmont.  I wish I had been more attentive.

Anyway, I'm not sad tonight, just thinking of old times and how good they were, even if I didn't think they were, at the time.  So here goes.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Marshall. He was the baby out of twelve children born to Robert and Nannie Belle Parks.  Marshall dropped out of school, lied about his age, and joined the airforce back in the 1950's.  He travelled to places he never thought he would see, to places so different from the large farm his father owned.  He didn't like some of those places..said New York City was dirty, and he would never go back there again.  He was stationed in French Morocco, and there, he bought an Arabian Knights tapestry for his mother, which I have on the cedar chest that also belonged to her.

Marshall's father became ill, diagnosed with colon cancer in his 80's, and Marshall was honorably discharged from the airforce to go home and care for his ailing father, and to take care of his mother.  He found a job at Burlington Industries, and there, he met a beautiful young woman named Janice Britt. Eventually, they eloped to Dillon, South Carolina.  He sang to her on the trip, wear my ring on your finger...How romantic.

He had several jobs after Burlington - one, as a prison guard, but he didn't like the way the convicts (as they were called back in the day), so he quit to become a truck driver.  That took him away from home too much, so in the 1960's, he followed in his father's other foot prints and rented a building to open his own store.  And that was the beginning of an adventure for all of us.

My father had vision, and a great eye for opportunity.  He chose a location close to home and on the main highway that intersected with the Ft. Bragg Military Reservation, built his own store with a little diner attached to it, and he was quite successful.  My brother and I worked there in the mornings before school.  Mike pumped gas, and I was the burger slinger.  The store was a landmark, and it was also a gathering place for some in the community.

Looking back, I didn't realize how great it was.  The work was hard.  The summers were so hot, running around the grill, playing waitress.  We used to fight over who got to go the the cooler for more tomatoes. But it was the people who made the place, for me.  I can see them all, still, in my mind's eye..Geech, Berdie and his crew, David, Jack, and Eloise.  Twinkles (because we never knew his real name, and he had twinkly blue eyes), the guys from the military jump school...and I met my husband there (the second one).

I won't go into all of them tonight, because it's late, and I'm very tired, but I will write them.  I never knew I would miss them so much, and often, I wish I could go back and do it all over again, only better.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Matthew

Has it only been three days?

It seems so much longer since the winds whipped and the sky opened up.  I sat on the porch watching the wind tangle in the trees, making its way toward my little corner, trying to rip the umbrella from my hands.  What a foolish thing to have, anyway, an umbrella, in a storm like that. But it was awe inspiring, seeing the trees bend to near breaking, then standing again.

But a mere three miles down the road from my house, eight large pines fell onto power lines.  Less than a mile from my house, multiple trees were downed. Just east of us,  Hoke County was already experiencing high water.  In Cumberland and Robeson Counties, water rescues would shortly be taking place.

We were so fortunate in our area.  We aren't in a flood zone.  The twenty six  hours we lost power and water are nothing compared to what our neighbors to the east and west were going through: major flooding, trapped in their homes, trapped in cars that either sank or were carried away in the currents. Folks are being rescued by helicopter from rooftops, by boat from cars that couldn't make it through, from their homes. In Edgecombe County, the coast guard rescued a labrador retriever that swam and tried to climb a tree.

Ten people in our state, alone,  lost their lives during Matthew, with some still unaccounted for.

Never have I seen the likes of this, and I have been in many hurricanes over the course of my life, have huddled in the house and listened to the roof groan and the walls shudder.  But this rain, this slow moving innundation has all but brought North Carolina to its knees. The flooding and evacuations will continue through  the end of the week as the waters make their way into the Cape Fear River and are fed back to the sea. And even then, it won't be over as the clean up begins.

Gasoline is in short supply due to out of county folks making their way to our area to fill up. Grocery stores are nearly depleted.  Traffic is bumper to bumper in small towns as Florida refugees are detoured through to safer routes leading to I95.

I have frantically been trying to get information about my family in Robeson County, which is now underwater.  The entire town of Lumberton is flooded.  Thankfully, news came this afternoon that they are stranded, but ok for now.  We still have no power, water or phones at the prison, and the atmosphere is tense, to say the least, but we will get through this, if we work together.

I think about Haiti, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, our own southern coast, and as bad as things are,  I am thankful, so very thankful it wasn't worse, because it could have been.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Streaming, or typing just for the sake of emptying my head.

It's embarassing, how long it took me to figure out how to add a new post.  I knew if I clicked things long enough, something was bound to work.

It's the first Saturday in Autumn, a bit warm, but a beautful day after a rainy and eventful week.

On Monday, I noticed the coffee pot in the office wasn't working, tried to track down someone in maintenance to check the breaker, but before anyone could respond, everything electrical on that side of the room started going nuts.  The copier began flashing, the light on the coffee pot got bright, then faded out, and then came the awful sound of something definitely not right, and THEN the smoke started pouring from behind the coffee pot.  Holy crap, it was a fire.

Once upon a time, I was good in emergencies.  Kept a cool head, took care of the situation and only then did my knees turn to jelly.  Those days are gone.  I came out from behind that desk, flew out into the hall calling HELP, MY OFFICE IS ON FIRE.  Luckily for all of us, there were a couple of quick thinking inmates in the hallway.  They rushed in, disconnected the surge protector, and in spite of all the smoke, there might not have been a fire, after all.  I don't know for sure, I was still out in the hall, eyes bigger than saucers, wondering what to say in the incident report.

My supervisor is the classification coordinator.  I asked if she could put the inmates who helped so quickly in for merit days off of their sentence, and she did.  One thing for sure...people make mistakes and pay for them, but when they do something meritorious, they deserve something for it. Both guys were in for nonviolent crimes and are getting out soon.  Another day or two wouldn't make much difference to society, but would mean a lot to them.  I wish them well and hope they make the most of the rest of their lives in a good way.

That little experience left me embarrassed and and with enough adrenalin to run the rest of the week.

The Parks family reunion is today.  All my cousins are gathering somewhere in Moore County, and while I want to go, I have decided to stay home and enjoy some peace and quiet.  A little meditation. A little mindless keyboard prattle.  Me time.  Ain't nothing like it.