Saturday, December 18, 2010

Time Slips by and so Much to Tell

I can't believe it's been over 3 months since I last wrote a post. Sorry to all of you who may be wondering all this while what's going on. To pick up where I left off, my surgery on September 29th was a success. So much so that the tumor activity, or CEA levels, measured in blood tests tested normal. This means that they successfully removed the tumors they were after in my liver and right lung. They also reversed my ostomy bag, so I'm using the toilet for my bowel movements once again. And have I made up for lost time! It's safe to say that I have had more BMs in the past 3 1/2 months than most people have in 3 1/2 years! When they removed my rectal tumor last year, they also removed my entire rectum. The rectum is used as a holding place for stool, and the colon pushes stool through. On a good day, I only have 10 to 15 BMs. Other days I have 25 to 35 of them. Initially the later was every day. After 3 weeks, I was in so much pain, I checked myself back into the hospital and was there for 2 weeks while the doctors pondered over ways in which to slow my BMs down. They even gave me liquid nutrition for about a week to give my bowels a rest. You might be wondering, "Why would a doctor remove the entire rectum?" I've learned that this is not such an uncommon procedure, and that the body in most patients miraculously adjusts. Usually in several weeks, the colon learns to adapt the role of the rectum. And in a couple months, a patient will have 5 to 10 BMs a day, with the ultimate goal being only 5 BMs. But in some patients, like me thus far, the colon does not adjust. That's not to say that mine will not, it still may. The decision is mine as to how long I am willing to live like this, on the toilet all day long, and sometimes all night, while I hope and pray for my colon to adjust. If it does not, then my option is to choose an ostomy bag for life. Needless to say, I will not make that decision hastily. So now you might understand what has taken so long for me to add a new post.

If that isn't frustrating enough, to say the least! I had a new CT scan last weekend, and the results aren't what I hoped for. The spots in my left lung turned out to be cancer, as I feared. Fortunately, they are very small and seem to have been controlled by the chemotherapy. As you may know, a patient can not be on chemotherapy while undergoing extensive surgery and the following recovery. And they delayed mine a bit longer due to my bowel issues, as chemo causes diarrhea, to complicate matters. So in all this 3 1/2 months without chemo, the spots grew a bit. And it's not just two spots in my lung, it's four. And another two new spots were found in the liver as well. I found this out on Thursday, and needless to say, I'm freaked out.

My surgeon called me yesterday to discuss what all this means. He's not concerned about the liver spots at this time. Liver tumors are slower to grow and easily treated when small. He'll burn them out. But not before I go through more chemo, as the chemo seems to have kept the small lung tumors at bay before I had surgery. So the plan now is for more chemo. I'm in my oncologists hands. What a helpless feeling it leaves. A faithful person would write that they were in Gods hands, and intellectually I know this to be true. But my heart comes through in my writing. When facing possible death, saying, "Lord, your will be done" is not easy, to say the least. I'm more like Peter after the rooster crowed, denying I know Jesus, than I am like Jesus in the garden, submitting to God's will. If I were in my Bible like I should be, maybe that would not be the case. I don't want to accept either outcome of my cancer. I just want to get well. That's where you, my faithful friends can help. Pray for my faith, as well as the obvious.

On the bright side, nothing has shown up in the right lung or rectal area. Let's pray it stays that way and that these spots are contained and eventually disappear. Also, I discovered that I am eligible for disability. I collect about $700 a month after taxes. Not a lot, but it will certainly help this Christmas. I'll be in VT with my sister-in-law and her kids. I haven't visited them in about 5 years, before my brother Scott's passing. So I'm really looking forward to it. To withstand the travel, I have to resort to an enema before flight. It's the only way I get a break.

There's actually a lot of other medical stuff I could share right now. Like how the radiation messed me up internally. I have all this scarring inside that needs treating. I have an appointment with an oncology gynecologist next month to start that process. And how the scarring from my rectal surgery is complicating the bowel issues. But I won't go into detail about the internal scarring. I'll let you all use your imaginations on that one for now. Let's just say none of it is pleasant.

What I would like to share about is the Army and church support I've received. For about 3 weeks, women from the JAG FRG, and some from my church, lent their hand to feed my family. We had so much food in the house, I had to give some away. Thank you to the JAG wives for your love and support, and to those in my church who also gave. It was a great comfort and lift to my spirit.

I'll leave you all with wishes of a Merry Christmas. Though that seems a bit flat after all I've just wrote. But I do hope you all have an amazing holiday. And that you enjoy each others company. Be kind as you shop out there, for you don't know what others might be going through! And cherish your loved ones each day, not just this season. And give thanks to God for what you have.

With much love,