We made our annual "end of summer" trip out to Lake Chelan this weekend. A friend's family has a few houses out there. We stayed at her place on the Columbia River and swam off the huge dock at her aunt and uncle's house on the lake. We even picked apples straight off his tree. He bought several acres back in the 1980s and I can't even imagine what that property is worth now. Anyway, a great weekend with gorgeous blue skies.
I jumped off this dock into the water and it was freezing. I also realized that I have not used muscles in 9 months and some have been cut in half during that time. Let's just say that I stuck close to the dock for fear of drowning. Ouch. It was some clear, beautiful water though.
I had a scan on Tuesday. Prior to the scan I had to medicate because I was freaking. Lots of crying and lots of feelings. It's a nerve-wracking thing knowing they could tell you something has come back and you're sick again. Also, the whole PTSD/vomitting/worst pain of my life/ambulance thing that happened with a previous scan.
I had the follow-up appointment today, but first thing yesterday morning my phone rang with the caller ID coming up the cancer clinic. SO not something you want to see a day ahead of your appointment. After a small heart attack, they just needed to move up my appointment a few hours. Don't they realize?
A clean bill of health today. I feel like I need another giant nap coming off the energy of the last two days. Everyday this week I've walked in the door from work, eaten and gotten in bed. I'm SO tired. All I can think about is when and where I can lie down next.
p.s. I think I'm going to order these glasses? What do you think? Not too hipster-ish, right?
I want to talk about my surgeon still. I've looked at the picture of us an embarrassing number of times this week. I think my mom, sisters, and I all came out of this experience with small-medium crushes on him and his South African accent. I'm not sure if I got special treatment because of my boss, but I like to think he just really liked me. Shoot, maybe this is how he treats all of his patients and I'm not special at all, but either way I'm so, SO thankful that he was my surgeon. I'm going to just write down a few Gary stories so I can remember them.
- The first time he walked into the SICU he kicked out the resident who was breaking the cancer news VERY badly. He told me I just went from here (hand at his thigh) to VIP status (hand above his head), because my boss was talking to all the right people. Then he proceeded to walk through my options and I asked him who would make the decision. "You", he responded. Talk about the most overwhelming moment of my life. Shortly after that was the first "holy shit, I have cancer" meltdown with Leigh, Bill and Steph surrounding my bed. The saddest.
- He came to see me the next day and at the end of the visit I cracked a joke as he was walking out of the room. He turned and asked me to repeat myself. He laughed and said, "Good. You are going to need that sense of humor to get through this."
- His surgery schedule is booked out months in advance so when I ended up in the hospital in early May and they decided I had to have surgery, they worked hard to find open OR time and he came to work on his day off to perform my surgery the next week.
- When they wheeled me into the OR he held my hand and talked to me as they put me under anesthesia. He asked if I wanted him to email my boss after the surgery because he knew that he was worried.
- The surgery was a little over seven hours and when he came to talk to my family, he asked my little brother to stand up, so he could sit. He was exhausted. I'm so thankful for such dedication.
- I think he was always a little shocked at how well I was doing post surgery, even calling me a superstar at one point. In his email to my boss (yes, I read it), he warned him on Monday that things were going well, but it was still too early to tell. I think he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Probably because he wanted to keep me around longer ;)
- I wore my hair in a top knot during surgery on Thursday and then didn't look in a mirror or touch it again until Tuesday. He came in that day during rounds and was like, "You look SO much better." Thanks.
- He came to my room one afternoon and talked to me about several things and then told me that the pathology had come back with good news. I was like, "Way to bury the lead, Gary!"
- During post-op check ups, he'd examine my abdomen and then just rest his hand on my lower abdomen and pat it as he talked to me. It was such a kind/weird thing to do since most every other doctor would barely touch me during this whole process.
- Last month when I was crying in his office about getting the feeding tube out, I told him I was taking the easy way out using it to hydrate. His response, "well, at least you can admit that you're being lazy." Ha! I told my oncologist this story and she asked if I kicked him for that.
Clearly, I've got the opposite of Florence Nightingale effect happening. I feel like people are infinitely more attractive when they are good at their jobs. I was talking to an anesthesiology resident and when she heard he was my surgeon, she was like, "oh yeah, he's the best." Girl, I know. I love him. I'll get over it and move on with life, but he's my #MCM (man crush monday) right now.
This morning I had the last appointment with my surgeon. I hope and pray it's the end of the road for him and me. I love him and will weirdly miss him, but I don't want to see him again as a patient. He works just down the hall from me, so hopefully I will run into him once in a while.
They took out my j-tube (feeding tube) so I'm on my own for food and water now. That was a scarier prospect last month, but I'm feeling a lot better about it now.
And now a word about residents. In all my experiences the last 8 months, I've liked/respected exactly 2 residents. They are the worst and have said some really awful things to me. His residents always see me before him and ask a round of questions. Today, the girl had the audacity to ask me if I was trying to lose weight. Uh no, I don't have a stomach so it's a little hard to maintain my current weight. Annoying. Then she was concerned that I was taking a pain med for discomfort after eating. I think if my oncologist is ok, then you, as a resident, can get over it. And Gary didn't even mention it when he came in, so I like to imagine that he told her to stuff it. I've been through a lot and a little pain medicine is fine.
Anyway, so incredibly thankful for smart, talented, caring people who are good at their jobs.
On my way to work this morning, I turned a corner and saw a little redheaded boy around 4 years old crying in his pajamas. He was standing there looking really lost. I went around the block and he'd walked a few houses away. I pulled over and got out of the car. I asked him where his mom was and through his tears he said, "she said she was just going to the school, but I can't find her." SO sad. I asked where his house was and if anyone was home - his 7 year old sister. His house was down the block with the door open. I grabbed my phone and started to walk him home with the intention of sitting on the porch with him until his mom came home again.
She came around the corner as we walked towards his house and she asked what was wrong. "I told you I was just walking to the school", she said.
YEAH, but he's four in the house with no adult. I told her that I found him on the corner looking for her. She seemed to shrug it off and walked into their house. No thank you, nothing. I mean this lady is lucky that I hadn't called the police.
So I ask you - would you leave a 4 and 7 year old alone even to walk five blocks and back? I'm all for free range parenting, but he seemed a little too young. Why not just have them walk with you?
The slowest three hours of the week - 2:00pm-5:00pm on Friday afternoon.
Sharon and I went to see The Hundred Foot Journey last night and I really loved it. It wasn't groundbreaking by any means, but it was so pleasant. I don't need a million explosions and 20 minute fight scenes to be entertained in the summertime.
Sharon, who is in her 70s, and I were also dressed as twins - both in navy and white striped sweaters. Stan, her husband, got a big kick out of that.
My Aunt Kathy and Uncle Dean were in town last weekend. They know Sharon and Stan from 40 years ago and let me tell how awkward it is to be standing there with two women who are telling each other how great they think you are and crying about it. It's very kind, but so so embarrassing.
I've been sucked into MTV's Awkward and while I don't necessarily recommend it, there is a mean girl who insults you and then says "you're welcome" as though she's doing you a favor. It is my very favorite thing right now.
I've been back on chemo for just over two weeks and had a blood test yesterday. My hematocrit had just crept back up into the normal range for the first time in 7 months, but back down it went. It dropped 5 points in two weeks. Explains that fatigue. I also feel like my oncologist has been lying to me a little. She has been implying that 200mg would be the max dose, but it was a different story yesterday. So that's annoying that she's going to try and push the dose as high as she can to see what happens to my blood tests. Blah.
I also had my first therapy session yesterday. She feels like a have some mild PTSD since the only time I get emotional is in doctor's offices where bad things have happened to me. She was just a consult and told me to find someone outside the cancer clinic because she thinks environment will be important for me. So I'm on the hunt for a regular therapist. I thought it was interesting that she said therapy would basically be a luxury for me since I don't need medication. I'm not sure it's a luxury I need need, but I'll give it a few tries.
I think the PTSD thing is real. I bought tickets for the upcoming opera season, but the idea of going back there makes me kind of anxious. It was where this whole thing started back in January and I wasn't able to make myself return for the next two operas last season.
So that's where I'm at. I'm loving my massage and craniosacral therapy. It is helping a ton with getting my body back to a normal state. My abdominal scar isn't dictating how my body sits, stands, and walks anymore.
It's supposed to be 94 degrees today. I'm over it. Currently 80 in my office with mild nausea. Good times, y'all.
This weekend was filled with two weddings, a trip to Costco, church, the supermoon and two naps. Chemo = long naps.
The weddings were good fun. Friday's was at a zoo and there was an Elvis impersonator and bingo. On Saturday, we danced the troika and had a lovely view of the lake. I'm obsessed with these Fuji mini polaroids. My first camera was a polaroid back in 1987 so I might need to purchase a new one.
Last night we watched the Super Moon rise over Lake Washington and boy, was it pretty.
This morning I went to my second massage appointment and she specializes in craniosacral and Reike therapy. There was a lot of talk about chakras and parasympathetic systems. All very interesting. My insurance pays for 16 sessions and I will be taking full advantage. I've only been twice, but I'm already a believer. If you gotta have cancer, you deserve a few hours of relaxation.