Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Unknown

I've been pretty calm about the whole surgery thing. That is, until today. Today I've been freaking out a little bit. Not of the surgery itself, really.

I'm not an anal planner and I can typically--as they say--go with the flow. But with surgery scheduled for Friday, and me having ZERO knowledge of what is going on or what to expect, I am in the middle of a meltdown.

My parents are flying standby. (Their choice. I've had offers for people to BUY tickets for them--did I mention that my friends are amazing, generous people?) With standby tickets you DON'T KNOW if and when you will arrive to your destination.

So come Friday morning, my parents may or may not be here for the surgery. But that's fine because I DON'T KNOW when my surgery is. Just that it is on Friday, some time in the morning. I also DON'T KNOW how I'm going to react to the anesthesia. Or how long I'm staying in the hospital. Or how long recovery will take, or how worthless I'm going to be while recovering. Or how I'm going to be affected by the surgery physically or emotionally.

I DON'T KNOW what I'm going to do with myself for two weeks while I'm off work. Or how much this is all going to cost me in the end. (Twenty percent of a most outrageous sum, most like. . .) I DON'T KNOW if there is still fluid in my lungs, though I suspect there is since my cough isn't gone; which means that I DON'T KNOW if that's important or not. Because shouldn't my lungs be in full working order before they put me under and do unmentionable things to my insides? I guess out of all the things, this will be answered tomorrow, since I'm headed back up to the doctor to have it all looked at again. Yippee.

I'm so clueless about all of it, and it is making me batty and moody and emotional. And, I don't like it all already. I didn't realize that I was so scared of the unknown. I mean, I have mini panic attacks every once awhile about the future and how things aren't going exactly as I thought they should. But those usually pass... Usually.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alumna Failure

In July, I moved from Salt Lake City to West Jordan. With the move came a ward change, naturally. Matti and I had the fellowship committee stop by our house . . . twice. In one night. It was fine, really, but anyone who knows me knows that I am not good at the small talk. Last night, I went in for a "get to know you" interview with one of the bishopric members. 

He was a pretty nice, but it was all small talk. He asked how many singles wards I had been in. I never thought to take the time to count--but I guess it's something like, nine? Ten if you count the home YSA ward, though, I wouldn't. Since I attended that ward more when I was 17 than when I was 18 and never actually had my records transferred there. Nine different wards in the ten years I've been in Utah. That's more than I would have thought, considering I lived in The Neighborhood ward for nearly three years. . .. 

Anyway, when I told him that I had gone to BYU, he was like, "Oh, really? You went to BYU and you didn't leave with a husband?"

"Nope. I didn't," I said in order to say something.

"Did you try?"

What?

What kind of question is that? And how am I supposed to answer? "Well, I stood on the corner with a billboard sign every night, but no one was really responsive." Not really knowing what to say, I felt the need to explain or defend myself, which afterward, I was kind of ticked about. Because there's absolutely no reason to feel ashamed about how my life has turned out thus far. 

"I did try--or I tried as best I could while working full time and going to school full time. And trying to find a chance to sleep somewhere in between." Honestly, my social life in college never really picked up steam until the final semesters when I lived at the Omni and actually had time to make a friend or two. My dating life has yet to pick up, but, there's only so much I can do about that.

So, just to be awkward, I told him, "Besides, gay guys love me. My friends' husbands tolerate me. But single guys? They don't seem to like me much."

He didn't know how to respond to that, so we talked about his son instead. . .. 

Over all, the ward doesn't seem a bad sort. Everyone seems friendly. The ward is run pretty efficiently--we already have visiting teaching assignments and home teachers and they are working on getting us callings. There are plenty of activities. He asked me if I attended activities often and I told him that I didn't know how to respond to that. If I said yes, they might put me on the activities committee because I like activities (I don't, really) and if I said no (the truth), then they might put me on the activities committee in order to try and force me to come to things. I did not see a winning answer. Luckily, he changed the subject. 

*          *          *          *

In other news, a lot of people have been asking for updates. I'm--still--a little torn about how much detail to put out on the web. But it is much more efficient to just tell everyone at once here than individually. 

I have no problems talking about the fact that Ab, the tumor, is on my right ovary. But as soon as I say "ovary" people feel like they have overstepped, or I worry that I'm over-sharing. I'm sure if I talked about Ab being on my right elbow, no one would bat an eye. Including me. (Although, let's be honest, a 10 cm, baseball-sized tumor on my elbow would be really gross.) Regardless of delicacy, Ab and said ovary are scheduled to come out on Friday, the 19th. That's a week from tomorrow. 

The waiting is what is killing me. 

Everything else is fine. I'm trying hard not to think about what it means to be one less ovary. Like, it probably doesn't matter, but it's still different than having your tonsils or gallbladder removed. I can function fine without one ovary. I can even--theoretically--still have as many babies as I want with one ovary. (But only if I can do it by myself, since my insurance doesn't cover "infertility" treatments.) Still, there is a sense of loss that I'm largely ignoring and not thinking about more than I have to. I'll deal with it all once it has finally happened. Maybe when they cut into me, they'll see that Ab wasn't as destructive to my ovary as they thought, and it can stay. Maybe this particular ovary is what has been the bane of my very existence since I was 13 years old, and the removal will solve all my other problems. Maybe this is God's way of prepping me for what is shortly to come! Or maybe, this all just really sucks. Or it could be a combination of the two or whatever.

In the meantime, I've been trying to research what exactly my recovery is going to entail. Since my parents are flying in, I want to be up and moving and doing things. I want to show them the mountains in the fall! and have my dad fix up my house! And, I'm not sure how it will all be accomplished, given I'll likely just be in bed. Boo. That doesn't sound fun at all--except for right now, I wouldn't mind climbing back in my bed and taking a smallish nap or two.

Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts, prayers, and support. Y'all are more worried than I am most the time, so... you know, chill or something. :)
 


Friday, August 29, 2014

News to Start the Weekend

Got a phone call and then this email:

Shelli,
Pathology results on your pleural fluid are: No malignant cells identified.
Enjoy your weekend.
Audra

That's good enough for me to go off and enjoy my Labor Day weekend. I'll have to wait until next week to find out about surgery and options and what's next. But for now, it is enough.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why are you at the doctor so much lately?

Unintentionally, I've been posting a lot of pictures and quotes from doctors and their offices, and the question has arisen, "What the heck is going on with you?!"

I've been posting these things, not to be coy or cryptic, nor for the attention. But it has been at the forefront of my mind and my time these last few weeks, so it's all I have to post about. I've been debating about writing up anything or announcing it while I don't know anything. I really don't want people to think that I'm posting for attention or as a WOE IS ME! post. And I always hate when people give constant updates about their health, because it's supposed to be kind of private. You know? Like, there are laws in place to keep things private. Still, I've posted the few things that I have and it's got everyone's interest and worries piqued.

So, at the same time, I really don't care who knows. As long I'm not inundated with super sympathetic and outpourings of over-positivity. I need everyone who reads this to understand that I'm fine. I do appreciate the support--the really amazing, loving, awesome support--I've been getting, but I am positive that things are not only going to work out, but they are going to work out in my favor. I feel calm and untroubled about most of it. The hardest part is the waiting in between every test; and, on occasion, doing everything on my own gets to be a little overwhelming. (Doing things on my own, though, is largely by choice. As I've had plenty of offers to have someone accompany me to appointments and things.)

So here's the update:

Two months ago, I was working long hours on my first week at a new job. I spent the majority of my 10-12 hour days on my feet and talking to hundreds of people. So I was tired, and coughing, and noticed a "tumor" that was weird, but not surprising. Why not surprising? It's just one of a long list of things that I have come to expect.

But, it didn't go away like I would have expected after convention was over. I waited until I got my new insurance card and scheduled an appointment with my doctor because I was still coughing--the annoying, dry cough that just doesn't go away--and still had a giant "tumor" and...well, a thing or two more to discuss with the doctor. My doctor is a PA, though, and so after she ordered an ultrasound for said tumor and other things, and the radiologist commented that I should probably see an actual gynecologist instead of a PA.

So off to the gynecologist I went. Unfortunately at the time, the ultrasound results hadn't made it to him, so he went off what he could tell. He thought the "tumor" was probably a cyst and left me to make the decision whether or not I would drain it, or have it surgically removed. Just to be safe, though, he also ordered blood work. The blood work came back with an elevated CA125, so he ordered a CT scan and a chest x-ray. The "tumor" was in fact a tumor, and it has to come out. The CT scan also showed that the tumor was alarmingly big. (The ultrasound had too, but if you've ever seen CT scan images...let's just say, they put things in a terribly different perspective.) And that there was free floating fluid around my lungs, in my lungs, and in various other gutters and all sorts of other medical terms I had to Google.

He also recommended that I go see a gynecological oncologist.

The gynecological oncologist that he recommended only sees patients that meet certain criteria. He also only sees patients at the hospital covered by my insurance once a month. At first the office tried to schedule me with a different doctor. It was a little stressful, because from what I could tell, these other doctors did not have the same qualifications as the recommended doctor--in fact, they didn't have different qualifications from the doctor I had just left. They were just regular gynecologists. Luckily, my stress was resolved within a few days, because the office called me back and were able to schedule me for an appointment with the other gynecological oncologist in the office who had reviewed my blood work, ultrasound, and CT scan, and had determined that I needed to be seen right away.

Since the cyst draining option was taken off the table almost as immediately as it was put on the table of options, I've known that surgery was looming. But I haven't known when or how extensive or anything of that nature. The not knowing is really the hardest part. After a quick exam (the exam was quick, the waiting for an hour to be seen was not) and discussion with the doctor, I know still only that surgery is imminent but nothing else. He sent me down to have the fluid drained so that it could be tested for cancer cells--but was very confident that whatever I have it is not cancer--and then the decision would be made.

So after about three hours of waiting, they got me in, drained about a liter of fluid from my lung/around my lung and sent me up for another chest x-ray. As painful as it sounds, it really didn't hurt. They numbed my back and didn't let me see the needle (psychological warfare is a real thing, and everything about going to the doctor for something like this is seriously emotionally exhausting, so I am sort of grateful that I didn't see it--I did look at the fluid after, though) so I just felt some tightness and pressure, and then it was done. I got to go home after the all clear.

So what now?

Once the test results on the fluid is back and cancer is ruled out, I will have surgery and Abner, the tumor, will be removed along with my right ovary and tube. You can still function and theoretically get pregnant with only one ovary. If, on the off chance that it is actually cancerous, they will do a round of chemotherapy to get the tumor shrunk and keep it from growing, and then they will do surgery and remove it, the ovary and tube. Depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer (it's not cancer) will determine whether everything else comes out as well, though, the doctor made it a point to say that they would save everything they could.

So, I'm waiting again with a hole in my back and two band-aids--and I'm not sure how I'll get them off. The results will take something like three to five business days, which means, Tuesday at the earliest? And we'll go from there.

I will continue to keep everyone updated. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, concerns, and magnanimous displays of generosity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Picky Eater

So... I'm not really a *picky* eater. (Some call me a food snob, but not picky.) But every time Matti suggests something to eat, I find myself saying, "Ew. I don't like that!"

Honorable mentions are the following: pizza (most the time), eggs--especially hard boiled, grapefruit, celery, beets, maple bars--maple flavoring actually, chicken Parmesan, vanilla bean ice cream, bananas that do not have green on them, and...the list continues to grow.

McDonald's is at the top of the list of terrible places to eat. I mean, I don't even consider that food anymore.

Weird. I really thought I ate just about everything. I mean, I've eaten pig skin tacos, and bone marrow, and I genuinely like Brussel sprouts and other weird delectables.

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