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.