Monthly Archives: July 2015

Six month increments

I had my post-op with the surgeon on Tuesday. After waiting over an hour for the appointment (it’s almost criminal, seriously, wth?), he came in with a big ole smile.

Everything was clear, “negative” pathology, and we’re good to go. He talked a little bit about the cancer again, then asked if we had questions. I asked what the final stage was, and he said 1A, which is the lowest stage with a cancer finding in the uterus. So then I said, “Um, okay. What do I do now?”

Nothing. “NFT” — no further treatment. Every six months I go in for exam and pap (to check for cells on the vaginal cuff, which he said is where recurrence is most likely to happen), every year I get a follow-up CT…for five years. I try to pay attention to any new symptoms (pelvic pain and/or bleeding), and I go on with my world. Make sure to get my mammograms (these estrogen based cancers “travel in packs” he said, so breast and colon cancer are issues…). Good news, I get to do mammograms and 6 month exams during my birthday month. Happy birthday to me.

On his way out of the room, the surgeon asked if I was having any hot flashes or other surgical menopause symptoms. I said I didn’t think too much was happening yet, that most of my hot nights were probably from the fever from the infection. He nodded, said he’d see me in six months, and left the room. I’m still cold a lot and then get overheated when I try to stay warm, but I’m handling that. But again, I think because of my weight, the SM symptoms might be delayed for me. We’ll have to see.

I’m a little numb. It’s good news, I know it is, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. I worry about missing recurrence symptoms. I worry about cancer popping up somewhere else. End result, I don’t really feel like my worry is gone, just pushed off and moderated a bit. Ugh. I wanted to feel elated. I wanted to feel relief. Instead, my brain just found something else to worry about.

On top of ALL that, my mom was checking on our dogs while we were at the follow-up appointment. She let them out around lunchtime and Butthead flew off our deck (not unusual) to chase a rabbit (not unusual) and came up lame on her back leg. She’s been having some mild limping after laying down, but upon movement, she seemed to be fine. We’d been monitoring her, but it seemed to be getting better. Mom told us Butthead laid in the yard for a bit, then when Mom called her back, she tri-podded it back to the house. Not good.

When we got home, she was still pretty bad. Within an hour of being home, I was on the phone to the vet, because this looked BAD. Our regular vet (my uncle) is out of the country, so we saw one of the other vets in his practice. She was barely finished with a physical exam when she gave us a grim look. It was as we anticipated…she tore her cruciate ligament in that back leg. And that means surgery. Which we would ONLY allow my uncle to do…and he’s not home for another two weeks. And Butthead is an active, restless, young dog. So we have to keep her quiet for these two weeks, then 4-8 weeks AFTER surgery. It’s so horrible to watch her limping around. It just breaks my heart.

And on Wednesday I go to get my baby toof removed. Which I’m freaked out about. On Monday we go to get the results from my mom’s follow-up PET scan after her radiation treatments.

So my brain has plenty to worry on. Woo.


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1 degree of madness

This recovery has not gone well at all.

The surgeon told my husband and mother in the hospital (while I was in post-op recovery) that the surgery went “perfectly” — it only took 30 minutes versus 90 and I lost no blood.

When I woke in recovery, I felt awful and dizzy and nauseated. They moved me to a cube where my husband and mother were waiting, but I couldn’t open my eyes and there was some kind of goo all over my face (forehead, cheeks, nose–which later I was told was from the tape from the breathing tube, but I didn’t have that issue last time). I was so dizzy that I couldn’t open my eyes. I hurt all over. I stayed in the hospital longer this time than the last time. They took me into surgery early (like 8:30am) but we didn’t leave until 5pm. That was over an hour more in recovery this time.

On the way out, the nurse handed over prescriptions. We were both horrified to see the surgeon was sending me home with injectable blood thinner. I had to inject myself in the stomach once a day subQ for fourteen days. I HATE NEEDLES and Hub is so terrified of needles that when he has to have his blood taken for testing, he has to go to a specific lab that has a gurney because he has to lay down because he has passed out in the past. Hub tried to get the injections from the hospital pharmacy so the nurse could demonstrate the first injection, but when he got there they were closing. FUCK.

So we came home and he went back out to put the prescriptions in. The prescription said to start the shot the next day, so I tried desperately to ignore the thought. First night, Hub helped me clean the area with alcohol and I gave myself a shot while he was looking in the other direction. The shit burns…for like 20 minutes afterward. It’s bad. I hate it. I have four more to go.

Saturday night I went to give myself a second shot, but I was really cold. But my face was so hot. So I gave myself the shot, Hub gave me an ice pack for my face, and then he put a blanket over me because I was shivering uncontrollably. And then I had a full-on anxiety attack. I was lying prone on the bed, head covered with the ice pack and a towel, body covered with a blanket, feet up on a pillow, crying and shivering and it was terrible. TERRIBLE. Overnight that night, I was SO HOT. I was sure it was from the surgical menopause. I didn’t sleep, I sat up all night feeling hot and sweaty and miserable. The next day, Sunday, I was pretty miserable. I was able to do my shot that night without another anxiety attack, but I was so hot all the time. I finally started taking my temperature when I couldn’t sleep again. I have 3 thermometers… two oral and an ear one. Two of them were new because I thought my old thermometer wasn’t working right so before this surgery I ordered a new oral and decided to try the ear one. By 1am, all three were reading 101 or over. The surgeon said if I had fever over 101 to seek attention. I woke Hub and we had a long conversation about what to do…ER, walk-in clinic, wait for the morning. He HATES the ER because no matter when we’ve gone, it’s always been mobbed and we end up having to wait forever to get out of the waiting room. It’s a terrible process there…they always seem overcrowded and understaffed. Our choices were limited and I was so freaked out about the fever, that we headed out, leaving the dogs alone in the house because I didn’t want to wake my parents and scare them if we could get in and out at the walk-in clinic. So at 1am Monday morning we headed out, but the walk-in clinic was locked up and closed down, even though the hours showed them as being open.

So at 1:50am, I checked in at our local ER. My temperature on their unit was 100.8 and my pulse was high. I felt like I was burning up. The triage nurse offered me ibuprofen or tylenol but I said no because I had just seen the terrible new report on NSAIDs and heart issues (also the reason why I’ve taken NO pain killers after this surgery). So we sat in the ER while I was hot and cold, waiting for someone to call my name. They took me back for blood and urine and an IV, then sent me back to the waiting room. By about 4:30am, when the triage nurse came to take my temp again and it showed 101.3, I took the tylenol. It was another hour plus before they took us back to a cube. The nurse came in about half an hour later and took my vitals again…the fever went down somewhat and my BP was low. About twenty minutes later, the PA came in and said my bloodwork indicated an infection…probably a UTI. She did a physical, then decided to send me for a CT (with IV contrast) to make sure I had no abscesses from the surgery. Went for CT after giving more pee for a culture (which the next day came back inconclusive), then waited around for IV antibiotics. CT was negative, so they gave me the IV antibiotics and by 8:30am they sent us home with a week of oral antibiotics. Hub and I both went home and straight to bed. He slept

For two days I suffered with the fever, taking tylenol every six hours to keep it below 100 degrees. I’ve never had a UTI before, so I had no idea about the symptoms, even though the PA asked me and the surgeon’s office asked me (when I called to report in Monday afternoon). I thought I was just recovering from surgery and the pain was from that. I thought the fever I had was just hot flashes and night sweats. I just had no idea.

Did I mention also that my baby tooth and the surrounding gum has been irritated since surgery? Even though I told them about the tooth, I think he bonked it. And I don’t have the energy (or the immunity & stamina) to go to the dentist and have them rip it out. Plus, I’m on blood thinners, still, so I suspect going in to have the tooth removed right now is probably not a good idea.

I’ve been SO tired during all this. I assume it’s not just the (second) surgery, but also recovering from the infection. And also the antibiotics are making me nauseated 24/7. I get out of bed and within an hour or two, I can barely keep my eyes open. Then the rest of the day I’m struggling between trying to rest and being exhausted. I am not moving around nearly as much as I did after the first surgery, so despite the fact that I DESPISE the injectable blood thinner, at least it has helped my anxiety somewhat about the blood clots.

I’m also struggling from nightmares about the cancer and tomorrow’s follow-up appointment with the surgeon. I know he’ll have the pathology report, which will set me forward to the next step in this journey. At the very least, I made it through yesterday (Sunday) without a telephone call from him (which is how I heard about the cancer initially, with a phone call from him on a Sunday during lunchtime). It was harder than I thought to go through the day yesterday, as every time the phone rang, I was sure it was going to be the surgeon with bad news…

It has amazed me at how I could tell the different between 98.6 on my thermometer and 99.1. I can feel the heat start, I can feel the chills start. It’s not even a full degree difference, and yet I could tell when it was time to check my temp and take more tylenol. It’s the same with the house thermostat…there’s a major difference for me with 1 degree whether it’s the heat or the a/c. Is everyone else so sensitive? (this was the reason behind the title of the blog post, so I figured I’d better explain the non-sequitur.)


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Once more into the breech

Tomorrow’s the day (again). Seems I’m first on the list, so we need to be at the hospital by 6am. That means I have to be up around 4am to shower and get myself together. Seriously, I’m considering not going to sleep at all, because I can’t imagine I’ll even be able to sleep. Did I sleep last time? I can’t remember. I was second on the schedule last time, so I had an extra hour in the morning to work with.

Yesterday I started with what felt like a little sore throat, which upset me. But from all the reading I’ve done, they won’t make you reschedule unless you have a fever or lung involvement. I have no fever and no cough. This morning the throat thing is much less scratchy, though my nose feels a bit stuffy. That’s nothing new for me, though, because my allergies have been crappy this year and I’ve had stuffiness on and off since early spring. I’m hoping that’s what the scratchiness was from my throat yesterday, too.

I’m trying to read and distract myself. I had an early breakfast (per instructions) and after that I’ve been sitting around. Later I’ll go up and change my sheets so they’re clean and fresh. Later, I’ll be making a path to the bathroom. Bleh.

I’m nervous. I felt this way last night, too. I feel like I’m breathing funny, but that could also be because my nose is stuffy. Either way, that’s making me more anxious. I want to pay better attention to my breathing so that it is slow and normal, but I feel like if I pay attention to it, that’ll make things worse. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

Stuff hurts. Arms, legs, back, neck, head, jaw, ears. And I’m tired.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow, I’ll be in recovery, bitching and moaning about…something. And maybe by dinnertime, I’ll be home.


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Rinse and repeat

So here I am, just days away from surgery number two. I wrote about my pre-surgery nerves in this post last time. I’m feeling pretty crappy these days, some of which is because I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been having nightmares and I’ve felt overheated at night. I’m terribly heat intolerant, so it keeps me away and/or wakes me up when I’m too warm. And of course, if I’m warm when I try to go to sleep, then I can’t fall asleep. So it’s been sucky sleeping lately. Not a great way to go into surgery, I’m sure. Also, my throat has been dry in the mornings and my nose feels stuffy. I’m hoping it’s allergies, because I can’t take the thought that it’s a cold, which might (or might not) postpone my surgery. No fever, so I feel like just a cold won’t be an issue, but my anxiety makes me worry about it. Repeatedly and often. Woo.

In my previous post, I talked about all the prep work I was doing in advance of surgery. I re-read the post and feel kind of embarrassed at how much I was doing. I made all that food and ate none of it. I got all that yarn and used none of it post-surgery. I borrowed all those books and it was over a week (or more) before I could read anything. I used almost none of the things I packed to take the hospital. Even so, some of it was worthwhile. I’ll be changing and washing sheets in advance, because I like the comfort of the laundry detergent when I get into bed. Hub will be getting me deli turkey and making me gluten free biscuits because those were the two things I ate for the first two weeks, almost exclusively (great diet, eh?), along with plain water. So no soup, no lemonade, no mushrooms and cheese…that was all a waste of time the first time.

I’ll pack my small bag for the hospital with pain medications (leftover from the first surgery, so we don’t have to pay for them a second time), my gluten free chewing gum (peppermint, to get my stomach working again), and my pillow for the ride home. I’ll have my lip balm and my cell phone and my advanced directive (again). That’s pretty much it.

I’m still going to the library tomorrow, so I don’t have to go soon after surgery, but I know now that reading will be nearly impossible the first week. Even watching television was nearly impossible, because my brain just wouldn’t focus.

And on top of things, I’ll be worrying about surgical menopause. Woo hoo. There are horror stories about this, and I’ve been trying really hard not to read them. I talked with T about them at my last session, but I’m not sure I can be reassured about this. I’m mostly worried about the insomnia…and then the possibility for increased depression and anxiety. There’s a whole host of new symptoms for SM that I’ll have to learn, and that my health anxiety will have to feed on. I’m wondering if acupuncture might help. I’ve been trying to read about it, but I know full well that acupuncture doesn’t always work for everyone.

I finally saw the massage therapist last week. It was so nice to have her work out some of my muscles. I wasn’t able to lay on my stomach, but she was able to work most everything while I was on my side. I can’t say how much it all helped long-term, but it felt really good during (with the exception of the trigger points which generally hurt like a mofo). I really hope I’ll be able to get back to her more quickly after this surgery than after the first. My muscles really took a beating after surgery.

No matter the fact that I went through this surgery (basically) once before, I’m nervous. I know now how it is going to feel to wait in pre-op…and how I felt in the post op, and how gross and out of it I felt in recovery. And on the way home. And the immediate days following. I made it through, obviously, so I get that, but it doesn’t mean it was easy and/or no big deal. In the back of my head, I’m also thinking about actually making it through the surgery. I’m afraid. I don’t know another way to be at this point.

My PVCs have mostly dropped off in the last two weeks or so. I had some last night, but they were mild and didn’t last very long. I hope that continues, because I can do without those.



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