Clean bill of health

January 23, 2013

Yesterday was a crazy kind of day.

The cold wind stung my face when I went out the front door and made my way to the car. I actually put my purse in the back seat and went back in to grab a different, warmer coat and thicker gloves for the drive to the Stephanie Spielman Center in Columbus. I was tired. The last time I saw the clock on my tablet was 3:47 a.m. Rob woke me up at 4:32 a.m. I got cleaned up and dressed and we were on the road by 5 a.m., headed to Strasburg for gas and then down 77 to catch 70 to get into the heart of Columbus during morning rush hour as my appointment was at 8:30 a.m.

I slept a good bit of the way thankfully but was awakened by some sudden stops and jerks of the car that sent my pain level  up to 10 a few times. The traffic was bumper to bumper. I am not sure I wanted to awake to that. Rob seemed cool and collected behind the wheel despite the idiots and going from cruising along to absolutely standing still for a minute then going 10 miles and hour only to come to a dead stop. We made it there in one piece and giggled about the sheer amount of salt that was on the parking lot. Apparently they were thinking there would be a lot of snow too!

We got inside the warm confines of the Spielman Center and checked in to wait for our turn with admissions. The process went quickly and easily and as luck would have it the same person who registered us on our first visit checked our insurance information etc yesterday. She was very kind and sweet. Soon we were on our way up to the second floor to Dr. Salani’s office. We checked in at 8 a.m. for the 8:30 a.m. appointment. I left my coat and purse and folders with Rob so I could get some hot chocolate and calm myself. When I came back, I sat down to wait. Within five minutes the nurse was there to escort me back for my vitals and to a room. I was excited that despite the lack of activity I had only gained four pounds. Woohoo I said to myself.

I was in a room in no time at all and talked with a nurse about the various aches and pains and how I handled the side effects of meds and such. My blood pressure was sky high. What does one expect after going through rush hour? However, she rechecked it a bit later and it was a bit lower albeit not my normal numbers, but then again who is totally calm when you are in an oncology office?

The nurses said the doctor would be in soon and they ushered in my husband who did his best to quell my nerves. A student doctor came in first to ask me 20 questions and we chatted for a bit. She left and came back with Dr. Salani in what seemed like just seconds. She gave me a hug and was so warm that I almost immediately started to cry thinking the absolute worst. She asked how I was feeling and listened, really listened. She said she was shocked that I have come as far as I have at this point. She couldn’t believe that I went back to work in a week. She congratulated me for championing my own recovery and kicking the narcotics as fast as I did. I told her it was out of necessity as how the meds made me feel was far worse than dealing with aches and pains.

We talked about all the glue that is still on my stomach and how taking it off often leads to bleeding because one has to scrub so hard. She sent the student doctor in search of adhesive remover in the cabinets. Dr. Salani sat down next to me and held my right hand and I almost lost it thinking this is going to be bad. Its the realist side of me. I stiffened and tried to stay calm with my ears open and listen. She said, “you don’t need further treatment.” I shook my head in disbelief. She said it again and went on to explain that the cancer was just 6 percent deep into the muscle itself and treatment isn’t event hinted about until you get more towards the 15 percent marker. The cancer that was there was slow moving, almost docile. However, there was a carcinoma found in a polyp that was inside the uterus itself. It was a nasty, fast-growing cancer that was completely confined to the polyp that was not ruptured in taking out the uterus. My lymph nodes were completely clear on the left side. She explained I would need check ups every six months for a bit just to make sure everything is okay.

She checked the lump in my left breast and declared it to infected hair follicles — probably from the surgery process itself where hairs were pulled out because of various leads that were in that area to monitor my heart. I took a big deep breath.

She checked all my incisions and after a quick look at my inside healing progress, told me I was doing great. I sat in some shock while they worked to see if the adhesive remover would do the trick and they agreed it would and gave me some to bring home to finish the job.

Dr. Salani sat down again and we talked about medicines. She gave me suggested doses for Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Calcium. Those will be supplements for sure at 1800 milligrams for calcium alone. However, we all know clumsy is my middle name so I need strong bones. She told me estrogen would stop the hot flashes but estrogen causes this cancer, so giving it to me is not an option. She offered an anti-depressant that in 80 percent of women stops the hot flashes. I took a deep breath and agreed. My hot flashes are more like hot days and last anywhere from 12 to 36 hours at a time. One started during a banquet last night and even the brutal cold of the night didn’t give me relief!

She left me to get dressed and I almost cried. I was a bit clumsy but got dressed and was soon walking down the hall towards the scheduling office with the student doctor and Rob. I stopped in my tracks and asked the student doctor, “When can I vacuum?” She thought about it and we stopped in Dr. Salani’s office and talked to her for a few more minutes. She said I could start with a small corner but not to overdo it. I do my best thinking and brainstorming while vacuuming. Rob joked he would need to wash the filters first which makes the vacuum unusable for at least 24 hours.

For the record I got the vacuum out this morning and just getting it out gave me pain, so I put it back in tears. I am frustrated with things like that. I terribly want to make a batch of cookies or a cake but those motions hurt. The simple things like making a meal for my family is painful. I can make calculated movements and really simple stuff, but more often than not there is pain involved or I need Rob to put things in and out of the oven because I haven’t perfected bending and lifting anything at all. I know it takes time and I keep reminding myself — you had major surgery one month ago. You’ve come a long way baby…but I want “normal” and it is taking all the patience I have to remember and to go slow and to accept there are still a long list of things on my “not gonna happen” list. Even lifting my camera bag for work is technically on the do not do list because of the weight.

We made an appointment for July 23 and we were back in the car in a flash. I started making calls and sending texts and posted to Facebook. The responses made me cry. I too, have thanked God over and over again. I get a second chance at life. This has been a heck of a ride. I look back to this time last year I was having my 6th blood transfusion in three days to ready me for surgery to try to figure out why the bleeding wouldn’t stop. Look at me now — I’m sitting here, breathing and taking a deep breath and thanking God for getting us to this point. I feel good. I’m not great but there are a lot of limitations on my abilities at this point. I know my body well enough to know when to rest and relax. I won’t be pulling my 60 hours in the office for a while and am thankful to be able to work from home where I can be in my pjs and slippers and be reclined if need be so I can write and get done what I need to do.

Somehow we got lost in Columbus and not in a good way. Rob kept driving and eventually we got to a where we could get back on 70 and head out of town towards home. The pain was getting intense so I asked if we could stop to eat so I could take some pills. I have learned taking pills on an empty stomach will cause more pain than it relieves — the hard way. We stopped and enjoyed a nice breakfast for lunch together — the first in quite some time. It was quiet and the food was good. We sat and talked about things to do because we didn’t plan much for the coming months as we weren’t sure how radiation and I would react and what the schedule would end up being. Now without that in the picture, our focus is getting me back into shape and getting Jason better because there is an aquarium I have wanted to visit since it opened and haven’t done so because of all the fears of travel and the pain and the bleeding and such.

We drove home, picked up my new prescription, Effexor,  and I started reading the side effects. I hope it works and that I don’t experience the effects. Time will tell. I took one last night and nothing at all — no relief. I think, however, that drugs like that take time to build up to provide relief or at least that is my hope. Jason was happy to see us. We spent the afternoon just relaxing and breathing. It has been a week since I’ve really been able to sleep so I’m thankful to have slept a little bit on the car ride down yesterday as even last night sleep wasn’t within reach.

Soon it was time to get ready for the annual Tusc. Chamber of Commerce Banquet and Rob and I got ready. It was still cold outside but we drove to New Phila and enjoyed a wonderful evening. I got to see so many of my favorite people and wished I could have hugged more of them. I learned that my one armed hugs may have to do for a while because two armed hugs are possible but leave me a bit sore later on…but its a sore I wouldn’t trade for anything. There are so many people to thank that the list would be longer than I can imagine. I have to say thank you to everyone who prayed with us, hoped with us and has lent their help and support to us. I don’t know that I can ever repay you guys. I know there is a still a road of recovery ahead so I have to go slow. Be proud of me that I haven’t gone back to my crazy schedule every day. I’m doing my best to moderate.

So here I am, getting ready for a few hours at the office and then home to relax and rest.

Love you guys.



One Response to “Clean bill of health”

  1. Carol Worrell Says:

    We love you too Bev and all of us are so happy that prayers were answered and you are on your way to a clean bill of good health. Here’s hoping the new medicine kicks in soon and you can kiss that pain good-by.

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