BIT BY BIT

After all the scans the doctors decide the next step is a liver biopsy because there is too much showing on my liver scan that is indecisive. So I get prepped and draped and drugged although I am awake for the entire procedure.  My husband is standing at my head, which is draped. At one point I ask for more meds to relax me. The biopsy is quick. Unfortunately the wait for the pathology report isn’t.  It’s grueling.  I keep logging in to the website but there is nothing.  Finally I call hubby. He is hysterical.  The results are terrible.  And he hangs up on me! I call back and I am told he is doing a procedure.  Later, I learned he was having a meltdown after learning about the pathology results.  He didn’t want to tell me over the phone, but I insisted since he already said it was bad.
CHOLANGIO CARCINOMA.  A rare cancer of the liver, sitting close to my portal vein, about the size of a fist, with very poor statistics regarding response to treatment.  I call my brother.  He already knows! ! Hubby called him and told him before me. I had to tell Sam. Then I had my first meltdown, along with a resolution to FIGHT.

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POP A PILL

GLEEVEK. Where and how do they come up with these names? There is no glee in taking a chemo pill even with minimal side effects.  Then the tests start. MRI and CT scans. Finally there is a PET-CT scan. Oh it’s nothing…just like a CT scan.  I have to take a nuclear dye and sit for an hour alone in a tiny room. In Tampa.  My husband suddenly can’t /won’t take off time from work to drive me there. Bless my dear friends who do take off time from work. The test turns out to be a combination of MRI and CT. I freak out because I am completely claustrophobic and always need sedation for the MRI. I need to keep both arms overhead. I have a torn rotator cuff.  It is an hour of agony. The results come back days later showing a fist-sized tumor in my liver and a scattering of smaller tumors. It is not the news we wanted.

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HOLD EVERYTHING. ..

I felt like I was back in Anatomy and Physiology class, Biology, Microbiology.  I stared at a chart showing me that the little ball clipped out of my abdominal area was multiplying a little too quickly for comfort. Over my head two doctors  were talking about mitosis and stages and whatnot. It was an aural blur.  I finally raised my hand. “Does this mean I have cancer?” Well, yes it does. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors. They are unwelcome little invaders and I will start chemotherapy pills and a bunch of scans to see if the tumors are elsewhere. I am stunned into silence.

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Putting things in Motion

I probably shouldn’t have planned anything sneaky. I was awake early because the dog had to be at the vet by 8:00. It was the perfect chance to sneak off to Cracker Barrel and buy the big owl I’d spotted the other night when hubby and I went to dinner and I knew he’d huff and puff if I purchased it. So that was my plan. Sunny would go to the vet and I could make a beeline for the owl. EXCEPT  a low grumbly pain in my abdominal area continued to make its presence felt. By the time I arrived at the vet I was barely able to walk. I drove off knowing when I got to the intersection I should turn right and go to the Emergency room.  Stubbornly I turned left, for home, but never made it. I pulled into the fire station, called my husband, and wound up in the ER after all. Before I knew it I was scheduled to have my gall bladder removed the next morning. No owl. No warning about what unbelievable events will follow.

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WAITING GAME

Labs are back, the IV is gone, I can have Jello and broth for breakfast and finally wash my hair. Anything to distract me from the waiting game…waiting for the pathology results on the tumors discovered during the not-so-routine surgery. Diet can advance slowly as tolerated and I can be discharged. Cover my stomach in Press and Seal wrap to shower because my skin is covered in steri-strip sutures. I can never get it to adhere properly. Nine new umber scars. Mental joke-there go my bikini days. Finally the pathology report is available. The tumor removed from my stomach is benign but that little tiny satellite is troublesome. It’s spinning around and the cells are duplicating and maybe some are flying out into other areas of my body. So I need another doctor to see me. A specialist with a scary title: oncologist.

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CUT AND PASTE

As a writer, revisions are always the toughest challenge.  So why should my surgery be any different?  My gall bladder surgery-technically called a cholecystectomy -was scheduled first thing October 2nd as a simple laparscopic procedure. Punch a few holes in and yank the offending bladder out. EXCEPT there was a trickle of blood that didn’t belong. So the surgeon punched a few more holes and discovered a tumor lazing on my stomach and a tiny satellite tumor floating nearby.Time to revise the surgery.  Both tumors were removed, my stomach was stapled and I was back in my room. The extra surgery bought me extra days in the hospital and a continued diet of IV fluids.  That gets tiresome. Even Jello sounded good.  What I tried to carefully ignore was mounting anxiety about the strange tumors and the significance. Pathology reports take time. Lots of time…

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SOMETHING IS ROTTEN

The Emergency Room ruled out a heart attack, thankfully, but the doctor decided to send me for an ultrasound of my gall bladder.  Sure enough  I had a nice little collection of pebbles rattling around my gall bladder.  Time for admission, an IV and a date with the surgeon.  We decided that a fresh start in the morning was better than surgery in the evening and the morphine and ice chips were keeping me comfortable.  Who needs a gall bladder anyway?

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