|November 29th, 2016, after a grueling two weeks at Foothills Hospital, Bill takes me home|
Posting further about The Friendship Tour and any summer/autumn art adventures have been pre-empted by major surgery. Three weeks ago yesterday I had a tumour, along with the part of the colon it was in, removed along with a radical hysterectomy. Oh and they took my appendix as well.
In mid July my bowel movements became abnormal. Blood in my stool prompted the colonoscopy on September 19th. The scope couldn't get past the mass in my Sigmoid colon. A CT scan (October 6th) revealed a 4cm probable malignant growth. The pathology report was a month in coming back. Although the growth was in my colon its cells were from somewhere in my reproductive system. On October 25th, at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (Foothills Hospital, Calgary) we met with an amazing team of women at gynaecology oncology - everyone but my surgeon.
October 28th I was given November 15th as my surgery date - a date which is my mother's and my brother's birthday (both deceased). I met my surgeon, Dr. Glaze, ten minutes before my operation. In the OR she asked "Would you like a hand to hold?" I fell in love right there. She held my hand until i went to sleep. At the time of surgery my colon was so inflamed it couldn't be reattached to my rectum so I awoke with a stoma and an ostomy bag. This is temporary and will be surgically reversed in at a later date.
As if the surgery, with a general anesthetic, wasn't tough enough there were countless complications. I contracted pneumonia. My breathing was difficult and shallow so I was put on oxygen for a few days and was given two units of blood.
A chest x-ray revealed a small clot in a lung. For that, and for six months, I'm daily self injecting Tinzaparin, a blood thinner.
Fluids built up under the incision. Day five, most of the staples had to be removed to drain the fluid. There was no infection and the sutured fascia deep down in the wound was clean and intact. After that the incision, a great crevasse some 3" long x 1" across and 1" deep was dressed (unpacked and repacked) daily. I was most impressed that both Denise and Laura (Bill took a peek as well) witnessed hospital dressing changes without gaging, flinching or fainting. Since being home a home care nurse comes in daily to change the dressing. The wound will slowly heal from the inside out.
When I'd been in hospital for nine nights Laura, with the nursing 14-month-old Everett, flew in from Manila for five days. That was the very best tonic, I really started to improve once I held our baby in my arms.
|November 24th, Laura and Everett arrived from Manila|
Bill and Denise visited every day. Larry and Avery came often. Hospital food is so abysmal that the family made and brought me delicious soups, breakfasts and suppers.
|Most of my crazy kids at the end of my bed. Missing are Adam and Amira|
The final complication was a lump in my esophagus. The first throat scope couldn't get past this. I was given antibiotics and, for three days, was put on a clear fluid diet while the lump reduced. A smaller scope was used the second time. They were able to reach down into my stomach. The problem is simple but annoying - acid reflux. I've never had that before. I’m on a proton pump inhibitor to keep stomach acid from erupting up into my esophagus.
Without trying I lost ten pounds from June to surgery and a further seven in hospital. My energy levels are low and I tire easily but my appetite is good, I am eating larger meals which will no doubt fatten me up. For the first couple of days I confess to not caring if I lived or died but after enduring those I wasn't going to cave in. My relentless spirit was back and I'm committed to being completely healed.
|Visiting out of the Lilliputian double room|
It was mid afternoon when we left the hospital under a clear blue Alberta sky when the mercury was at a happy plus 7º celsius. I wanted to get a hit of Christmas, to enjoy the decorations at Market Mall. On the short drive to the mall, like a dog with is head out the passenger window, I sucked in the fresh air. At the mall the big girls had borrowed a scooter so I could get around with ease.
|The mall wasn't busy and we enjoyed just touring the aisles, doing a little shopping|
|I'm not sure who enjoyed this more, me or Everett|
Something I really wanted was to have the family photographed, not with Santa, but at his court ...
|Look at all those happy faces|
We've been home a week now which has made me and Bill feel so much better. Even though winter has struck with snow and frigid temperatures (yesterday's low was minus 27º celsius) we get out walking most days. Although my energy levels are low I can feel my strength returning; every day is better that the last.
The love and energy pouring in from everywhere can literally be felt. To everyone who paid hospital visits, sent healing vibes and prayers, cards and emails of support, gifts, flowers, and mountains of food we are incredibly grateful. Special thanks to the friends who sent in the amazing energy healer, Verna. She's coming to see me at home tomorrow.
Onwards and upwards. I just know the next adventure will be a great deal more fun than this one!