Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007 - Chit Chat

Dear Blog,

Well, it does seem that I am slipping as I've noticed Tuesday was my last entry and it's now Saturday. Yikes! Where does the time go??

Let's see if I can remember back a few days... you know the memory is the first to go!! LOL! Wednesday was a shopping day... Mimi and I went out to Ikea in Richmond and (sigh) that's a very dangerous store!! I picked up some lovely cranberry material to make some new bedroom curtains. The curtains I had were a light, pale blue and, well, let's just say they had served their time. Also, because they were so light, it meant during the day the bedroom was always very bright. This normall is not a problem since I'd be at work and who spends time in the bedroom during the day, anyways?? But, I'm looking at the foreseeable future and IF I should need some quiet time for napping, then I would like one room in the apartment to be able to be darker and quiet... and that room will be the bedroom :) I also bought two gorgeous duvet covers with matching pillowcases. I don't know when I last bought a duvet cover, so the two or three I have are getting a little long in the tooth. It's soooo nice to have new ones... and soooo pretty!

Thursday, I had a meeting with some of the Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) gang. TUTS is going to be doing Oklahoma! and Grease this summer... and they have a new board and staff with lots of ideas. It could be just what TUTS has needed... energy and new blood.

Friday, Steve O. and I went out to Richmond to Chapters early before we went to a play that evening. Oh oh.. more shopping! Thank goodness I had some gift certificates that I had received at Christmas, but even so, I spent more money that I really meant to. I am reading a terrific book right now... "At Home in Mitford" by Jan Karon. It is the first in a series of about 6 books, so I picked up the second and third one, as well as one of the Shopaholic books by Sophia Kinsella. Hahaha... I still have books that I had bought before going into the hospital that I haven't read, so now I have LOTS of reading material that should keep me going for a few months!! I also picked up two kits of lovely scrapbooking paper... even though I promised myself I wouldn't by any scrapbooking supplies until my friend, Bonnie, comes up here on Monday from Seattle. Hahaha... and I picked up more Suduko... just to drive myself crazy.

After doing sufficient damage at Chapters (Steve got away with buying only two books, but he had been at Chapters earlier in the week so that all counts as sufficient damage too), we then headed out to Cambie Secondary High School. The drama department, headed by our friend Patty Silver, was putting on the show "The Dining Room". It was directed by another friend (our friendship goes way back to high school), Karen Kelm. The play is a fabulous script! There are approx. 60 characters in it which makes it a really good script for a high school production, but it normally would be cast with 3 females and 3 males and they would do all the parts. After the play, we went out for something to eat, just like the old days!

Today, the weather people, unfortunately, were accurate with their forecast. RAIN!! But Bridget and I managed to get out on our morning walkies before the monsoons hit. We got a nice 2 mile walk in... we walked to Second Beach in Stanley Park and back. It was wonderful because there were not that many people out and about at that time of the morning and because of the threatening weather. We got about 2 blocks from home and it started to rain. Talk about good timing! It has been raining ever since. This afternoon I went to the seamstress and picked up my new bedroom curtains (yes, I took the lazy way out and had her cut and hem them) ... then came home and hung them... all by myself!! I was going to get Mimi to come down and help since it meant standing on the bed to hang them and my balance isn't the best.. but I got going and managed to take the old blue ones down and then got the new cranberry ones put up.

I've been puttering about in the apartment ever since and am thinking of heading to bed soon. But first... time to change all the clocks to an hour ahead! Don't forget... Daylight Savings Time hits at 2am :)

Tomorrow, Steve, Jo and I will be heading out to his parents' in Maple Ridge for Turkey Dinner!! It is the March birthdays for their family so big family din-dins! Now let's just hope this rain stops!


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 -- Colonoscopy

Dear Bloggy,

Yes, today was the day... the day of the dreaded colonoscopy. Not only was I a tad bit anxious because of the past two experiences with the sigmoidoscopies (read: PAIN during the prepping and PAIN during the procedures... not to mention after the second one, that's when there was the start of the strong suspicion of cancer), but this would be the first full colonoscopy that I had and it would reveal if there were any more tumours throughout the intestine and/or polyps (pre-cancerous growths). Now, I have been putting my power of thought and visualization to work since we found out that I DID have that large cancerous tumour and kept visualizing and thinking that once Dr. Brown did the surgery, then there was no doubt in my mind that he got the nasty cancer and the rest of my intestine would prove to be clear, fine, and healthy. Of course, we had to wait at least 8 weeks from the surgery before we could do this procedure because the surgical area needed a good headstart on healing... hence, we had it scheduled for today.

Well, for starters, the prep of drinking the phosphate soda last night was not nearly as traumatic as it had been the last two times. No pain, no fuss, nothing. I was just fine... sure makes a huge difference not having a tumour and infection in your intestine to make things difficult :) The worst part of the prep is having to be on a clear liquid diet, no solid food. I didn't notice that as being a problem last time, but then I wasn't eating at the time. Now I'm back to having a healthy appetite, so going without food is hard!

It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day today, but I decided to play it safe and took the bus up the hill 9 blocks to the hospital. Normally, I would walk it, but after having had the phosphate soda last night and this morning, I decided not to push it (grin). That's all I'd need is to be 5 blocks from the hospital with no loo in sight and that's when I'd need one (grin).

They were running a tad bit behind time, so luckily I brought a book with me. I was content to sit in the waiting room with my book and while away the time. I was still feeling great... totally different from the last two times I was there. Those times, I was in so much pain, was dehydrated and by then, malnutritioned.

Finally they call my name and in I go to get changed, then the nurse took me to the room. She was busy trying to find a vein for my IV, when Dr. Brown came in. Have I mentioned how much of a hero this man is to me?? He is not like any other surgeon I've ever met... other surgeons have been good at their job but have absolutely no bedside manner, which can really make a patient feel uncomfortable. Dr. Brown was genuinely happy to see me again and couldn't get over how good I looked, my colouring, and overall signs of health. He then checked my surgical incision and said that he was super pleased with how well it is now healing. He told me not to worry... that stubborn two inches that has done a lot better but still isn't closed up yet, not only will it close up nicely, but with time it will end up being a very thin scar (hahaha... as if I am ever going to be wearing a bikini or anything to show off my gut!) LOL!!!

He had such a big smile on his face and told me that, without a doubt, I'm the strongest/toughest woman he has ever met to have overcome the pain, surgery and complications I had thrown at me... and my attitude was beyond anything he ever expected from a patient who has gone through what I went through (do you see why I love this man??) He said that he wasn't sure I realized just how sick I was back in December, that even he was surprised at how large the tumour was and that I was still walking and functioning. I questioned that the surgery was longer than he had planned, wasn't it, and he said "Oh yes... much longer! There were some challenges that we hadn't counted on and we certainly put you through the wringer." Hahaha... I told him I had thought so because I can really remember the agony I felt when I woke up in recovery... and then the next day. He apologized and said he was concerned about that, but that I did handle it like a champ... and blew the whole team away when I was up and walking within 48 hours of the surgery and able to go home a week after the surgery. He thought I might be at the hospital for 3-4 weeks after the surgery. Now, seeing me walk in, even though it is two months later, he says I'm a whole different person from the person he met when I was so deathly ill. I asked about a few pains I feel now and again deep inside my gut and if those are normal for this long after surgery and he said that he's amazed I don't feel more... that it will take some months for the insides to heal totally... so that was reassuring.

Anywho... once the nurse finally got the IV in (it was being difficult of course), our little chit chat had to change to the procedure at hand. I asked if there'd be some sort of sedation... after all, it's not like I invite pain or discomfort. And he said of course... and put two syringes of meds into the IV. Ha! Here I thought I was going to get a free trip to lala-land, compliments of the government... but darn ding it... just like when I had the PortaCath put in, the sedation did absolutely nothing for me (grin). I wasn't anxious so maybe it helped there, but while I was talking with Dr. Brown any anxiety went away anyways... so, yes, I was wide, wide awake and totally coherent for the whole procedure.

Well, I guess that's a good thing because I got to see the whole thing for myself and ask questions. Not a polyp in sight... and not a tumour to be found!!! YAYAYAYAYA!!! The whole large intestine was totally clear and all healthy tissue!! This is the big relief I have been waiting for... and what I've been visualizing since I was told I had cancer. I know a lot of you out there have been praying and visualizing the same thing and this just goes to show it does work!

After the procedure, I had to go back to the "recovery" room... normally it would be the assistant nurse who would roll the bed from the scopy room to the recovery room where the nurses' station is. But, I had my own personal chauffeur, Dr. Brown! We had a good laugh over that. I thanked him for all he's done for me and he held my hand and said that it was his pleasure to help such a wonderful patient and he'd be more than happy to do any of my followup work. I won't need a colonoscopy for 3 years now (yayayayaya) but will need a smaller procedure in 6 months. Where the intestine was rejoined is a vulnerable area with this kind of cancer. If it is going to recur, then this would be a high risk area, so he will check it in 6 months (and probably every 6 months for a few years). We had a good chuckle over, although it would be nice to see each other often, in reality, let's not plan on it!! LOL!!! I love a doctor with a great sense of humour!!

Anywho... all the other patients around me, who had the same procedure, really looked out of it. Some were still out of it, others were feeling sick, some moaning... one would almost think that we were in a sick ward or something!! The nurse came over to me and said, "Well, you are bright eyed and wide awake... did you have sedation for your procedure?" I said yes, but I don't think it took (grin). She said, "Oh well, policy is policy... you are going to have to stay in our care for half an hour for it to start wearing off, even though it looks like you haven't had any, and then you can have a snack before you can go home. Do you have someone coming to pick you up?" I told her that my friend, Mimi, would come, but that I told her someone or I would call her when I was ready to go. Mimi and I had already decided that she would walk up since it was a beautiful day and then we'd take a cab home. This was when I thought I'd be groggy and out of it. Ha!! I was totally fine... and it was so mild outside, when Mimi got there, the two of us walked home. I laughed and told her that, just like after the PortaCath insertion, I thought I could drive myself home and now after this procedure, I could definitely have walked home on my own. I just don't seem to be able to respond to drugs/meds the way others do (grin).

Anywho... I'm home now and have been since about 3pm. I cancelled my neighbours taking Bridget out for her afternoon walkie, because I was doing just fine. I told them that I'm not going to abuse the privilege and I'm sure there will be many days in the future when I might need their Bridget walkie help... so I took the little Diva myself.

Now, tonight is a night of American Idol and House... and I can enjoy them knowing that I'm off to a good start before we start the chemo and radiation therapies. The way I am looking at it... if I am just not responding to meds like the "average expectation" I visualize being the same with the chemo and radiation. Oh sure, I'm not being unrealistic... there will be some rough days but I plan on there being way more GOOD days than bad days. I just refuse to be one of the average stats :)


Monday, March 5, 2007

Monday, March 5th, 2007 - Broken Loo

Dear Bloggy,

It's Monday... the beginning of a new week! Well, I've alwys considered Monday to be the beginning of the week but is it? Or is Sunday the beginning of a week? Such a deep thought to contemplate (grin). I leave it with you, the reader to determine what is really the first day of the week and why you think so :)

Hahaha... well, this is kind of a funny story, but only funny in hindsight (grin). This morning, my toilet, the loo, decided to go on the fritz! Now, that is not a world disaster by any stretch of the imagination, so how do you think I'm going to make you believe that this is such a monumental event?? Welllll... let's just put it this way. Tomorrow (Tuesday), I have to go to St. Paul's Hospital for a colonoscopy... today is the prep day which means I am on a clear liquid diet all day (let me tell you, this is NOT as easy as it was before when I had no appetite!) and then this evening I do the intestinal cleanse. Does it now make sense why I need to be near a working loo tonight??? (grin)

Soooo... I call the landlord, but first I have to empty the bathroom vanity because it sits over top of the back of the loo, so it has to be emptied and then dismantled. Ron, the landlord, comes over to replace some kind of little pipe thingie that has rusted out... but finds he can't do it. Yikes! So he calls the plumber and we are told that they will try to get the plumber over today, but since they are really busy, it might not be until tomorrow. Uh.. but, but, but!!! (eeek!)

I do put my SECRET concept to work and I picture a plumber coming to the apartment today, either before I head out to my doctor's, or else after, when I get home. With that, I put on my coat, set up the walkman, grab my umbrella and I walk the 9 blocks to my doctor's. Today I get the staples removed from the PortaCath incision :)

It does feel good to get those staples out! It was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable because the skin was folded and stapled. But Dr. Fay is pleased with how well the incision has healed... no signs of wound issues at all :) We then discussed a few pains I've been feeling and he explained that with this surgery there are many, many layers that have to heal, so a sharp pain, especially when I do certain movements (like getting into bed, or into the car) is actually a good sign that the healing on the inside is doing just fine. Yayayaya!

I breathed a sigh of relief and told him that every now and again, when I get too much information from all the various specialists, I have to come see him so that he can reassure me that I'm just being paranoid. He gave me a big smile and said, "No problem! Anytime you need reassurance or an explanation of some procedure, you know where my door is."

EDIT: I forgot to finish the Loo story. When I got home from the doctor's, the plumber showed up about an hour later. He had some real problems getting the broken piece of pipe out and then decided that all of the innards (including the handle on the outside of the tank) had to be replaced. So I guess he was here close to 2 hours, but he got the loo fixed! Yayayayaya!! Alls well that ends well :)

Soooo, tomorrow is the colonoscopy that Dr. Brown (surgeon) will be doing. Let me tell you, I'll be real glad when this procedure is over and I'm at home! Hahaha.. first thing I'm going to do is eat something solid (grin)... and not a liquid beverage!! Mimi will be coming to the hospital to pick me up and we'll be coming straight home... in time for a nap and then getting ready to watch American Idol and House! (grin)

Talked to Steve tonight. His back has gone out on him, so luckily he doesn't have to work right now. I sure feel sorry for people who have bad backs, or back injuries. Back pain has got to be the worst!

Okey dokey... that's it for now! I'm not even sure what's on tv tonight... it may be a good night to just read!