Monthly Archives: July 2014

Abdominal Muscles

You are never fully conscious of how often you use a muscle until it is in pain. I can tell you now from experience, we use our abdominal muscles for EVERYTHING. The common uses, I was able to brace myself for – like sitting up (although this is still one of the worst things), bending over, etc. The little pains I was not expecting were opening a door, turning on a tap, bumps on the road while in the car – these and more all caught me off guard. Since our core really is essential in our stability, having a good grip on a water bottle even became a challenge. Then I dropped one, cap off. My first reaction was to grab it but to my surprise, instant lighting pain from my core. I had no choice but to watch it all pour out while my mother got up to clean it.

Sleeping is and continues to be the hardest part of my healing. I am only able to sleep on my back. Laying on my side, all of my insides shift and put pressure on my wound. My staples feel like a buttoned shirt that is 3 sizes too small – all just holding on for dear life. So as morbid as this may sound, I now sleep like I am in a coffin. I should not really even call it sleep, it is more like a doze for a few hours if I am lucky. Then I wake up in pain because my back and neck want a break. A few nights ago I awoke with a tickle in my throat (Did I mention how much I now hate to cough?) – I had to first roll over and slowly pull myself up, and then cough. The word “cough” also does not accurately describe the action I am performing. In order to suffer the least amount of agony, my coughing is high-pitched and shallow – a perfect Zoolander impression.

A piece of advice to anyone who may help someone with abdominal pains in the future – pulling them up is worse than them sitting up on their own. The act of force causes my muscles to tense up more then if I slowly ease into a position. Someone should teach the physiotherapists this at the hospital. On the day after my operation they forced me to sit up by yanking my arms. It hurt a little.

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War Wounds

This surgery has been by far the hardest thing I have experienced in my life. I was nervous the morning of, but more for the needle in the hand. When it came time to take me in to the operating room, I was a crying mess. Said goodbye to my parents and then walked in to a room full of doctors. They said all the things they could say to try and calm me down, but it was not working. I think they tried to give me the drugs to shut me up as fast as they could. The rest of Monday is blur, I remembering seeing my parents I think? I was so doped up who knows what I was dreaming.

Tuesday to Friday afternoon I was in a doped up state. I would come in and out of consciousness. Wednesday I even hallucinated all day which was so scary. A combo of all of the drugs they had me on was giving me a reaction. They luckily figured it out before I was in a psych ward. Tuesday they also went back in for 4 hours to block the vein in my liver. I was awake for this – do not worry I was heavily doped up. The nurse who was with me came to visit on Saturday night and I asked her – “I vaguely remember singing ‘Come On Eileen’. True or False?”. Very much true. She said I was singing and trying to high five doctors while open on the table – so my hands had to be restrained.

Friday afternoon out of no where, my brain turned back on. I was finally myself again! The good news was that I could actually now do things such as read, look at my phone, etc. The bad news was that when people were not visiting it was just me, myself and I. Hospitals are extremely boring. It is also hard to sleep when a nurse comes to take your stats every two hours. Friday night my surgeon visited and let me know I was free to leave on Sunday.

Now at home, life it so much better. I am in constant pain and it is hard to really do anything but I push through. Day by day I am getting better. Sitting on a chair, no one would be able to tell what I have been through. Underneath my shirt however, now tells a story. *Warning: the below picture may be graphic for some. Viewer discretion is advised*

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Tomorrow

I am so hungry. If you have done a colon prep before you can relate to me. Eating popsicles and drinking chicken broth does not replace wonderful food. I think I am missing it more this time because I have no idea when solid food will come back into my life. Since they are removing a portion of my colon tomorrow, I suspect I will be on a liquid diet for a couple days to allow for healing.

Since the day I found out I was going to have surgery, I have been more anxious than anything. I just want this process to get started. Get this stupid cancer out of me already! Today however, my nerves are starting to set in. I am paying closer attention to the small things I am doing, as they might not be as easy starting tomorrow. Driving my car, cuddling with Charles, getting in the bath tub – all things I will have problems with post surgery. I am quite confident that everything will turn out ok, but there is that seed of doubt. How can there not be? I just try to push it out or turn it off when it enters my mind.

I may not be able to write for the next few days. Do not stray too far though, I will back – just with less cancer 🙂

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Thank You

These two simple words are a part of my vocabulary multiple times a day. They always have been. When someone passes me a napkin, opens a door, hands me change, I always say “Thank You”. Over these past few months, these two words have taken on an even greater responsibility. They have to represent how immensely grateful I am to those who have helped me in any which way, throughout my cancer journey. I am having a hard time with it. I am used to saying thank you in a bigger way if someone goes above and beyond. Maybe buy them a gift or a card, treat them to lunch – just something that lets them know I really appreciate what they have done. I have hit the point however, that if I did that for everyone now, I would run out of time and money. The kindness of not only those close to me, but also others who do not even know me, has been overwhelming. I am continuously surprised by how many kind hearted people there are who are coming into my life.

So because it has been hard to individually thank each and every person, I would like to use this space to do so.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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G.I. Jamie

Friday was my hardest emotional day so far. I knew shaving my head would be hard, but I did not expect a full day event. In the hairdresser’s chair I could not stop crying. We started with a longer pixie, and slowly went shorter and shorter. Since I was not handling it well, she suggested we leave it as a super short pixie, and allow myself the weekend to let it all sink it. For the rest of the day the slightest thought about my hair would make me cry uncontrollably. Then like nothing happened, Saturday I woke up fine. I was now starting to become comfortable in this new skin.

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I knew the pixie was just a transitional cut. Underneath the headband was all bald patches. I had a feeling shaving my head would be so freeing. Getting over the hurdle was what I was scared of. It seems easier to other people. Everyone says, “Oh it’s just hair, it will grow back.”. That is very easy to say when it is not your hair. My sadness was over the loss of control. This was something I HAD to do, not something I chose to do.

A few weeks back by buddy shaved his head for me. He messaged me on Sunday letting me know he liked my pixie and that his head was due for another shave. I told him the pixie was not sticking around, so he said “Ok, why don’t you shave mine and then I will shave yours.”. Sounded like a perfect plan. So tonight, in his backyard, we shaved our heads.

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I now feel back in control. Also, the breeze is wonderful. 🙂

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Real Life

My rational thinking kicked in when I was crying on Monday over my hair.

“If all I can do now is wear a headband to cover up the bald spots, what is the point of keeping it at this length? Also, when I am in the hospital and at home stuck in bed afterwards – I do not want to worry about washing my hair.”

So I messaged my hair dresser and told her it was time for a buzz. She countered back with, “Let’s try a pixie first, if it does not work then I will buzz.” So that is the game plan for Friday morning. Most of you will be at work counting down the hours till the weekend starts. I on the other hand will be counting all of the hairs as they fall by my feet.

For those of you who say, “It’s just hair…. it will grow back….. I would shave my hair too….” Yes, staying positive for me is great and I welcome it, but also you try waking up everyday, looking in the mirror and seeing this…

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Now, maybe you will understand why shedding a few tears or a lot of tears is well called for.

I am not worried about what people who know me will think of my shaved head – I can tell them to F-off if they stare. It is more the reaction in public that I am not looking forward to. My cancer to me is personal. By that I mean I can be in a grocery store and no one would not even give me a second glance. With a shaved head I feel like I will have the words “CANCER” tattooed on my forehead. I am not ashamed by this, but I would like to not be labelled day in and day out. Imagine you had a yeast infection and had to have that tattooed on your forehead. Not cool.

It’s ok though, I will just learn how to play up my cheek bones and look fierce with no hair.

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Hair Be Gone

It is becoming harder and harder to stay in a happy place daily. Who would have thought I would miss drinking this much? I was never a big drinker, maybe had one or two beers/cocktails every week. However when the girls get together with some wine, and I am drinking and ice tea, it makes me sad. Even at the cottage, sitting outside without a beer is kind of depressing. My hair is another thing dragging me down. Although my last chemo treatment was June 11th, it continues to fall out. My hair is now so thinned out that it looks dirty the same day I washed it. I am beginning to think that shaving it may make me happier. That way I would not have to worry about the hair all over the ground. It would also be much easier when I am in the hospital, not having to worry about my hair. Having people come to visit the last thing I should be thinking is if they can see how patchy the top of my head is now. I have less than two weeks now to decide.

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No More Rules

My surgery is now 17 days away and I still have not come to terms with the fact that I am sick. I should probably start working on that. My therapist says it is normal, which is good I guess? I know waking up in a hospital bed with multiple tubes coming out of me will be a rude awakening. Therefore I would like to wrap my brain around my illness before that happens. I feel like once I accept my cancer, I will be able to live my life better. Does that make sense? Since I am still partially living in denial, I feel guilty over doing certain things. Such as when people speak about work, I feel guilty for not only not working, but also do no feel like I can speak about how my day consisted of naps and swimming. Even though like most females I love shopping, I feel guilty for even spending a dime.

“That’s not what your money is for Jamie. It is for parking, hospital bills, medication and so on.” – This is the thought that runs through my head every time I buy an ice cream.

That is so boring though.

My therapist also says I should stop thinking this way. That I should do whatever makes me happy. My life should not consist of any more rules, but only life experiences. If I want to experience two McFlurry’s in one day, so be it. If I want to go to California, plan it and go. So that’s the new rule I live by, the “no rules” rule.

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Operable

The one question I forgot to ask my doctor last week, “How do I go from inoperable in April to operable in June?”. I mean, it is exciting to say the least, but still that question looms in my mind. I just do not understand what is so different? They did say that my chemo was working and the tumours were shrinking, but I cannot imagine it was by a large significant amount. I have only had 4 treatments. I am going to ask him that question on the 16th, however I have a feeling I know his answer because the surgery I am having is very risky. On that note, let’s break it down:

Surgery 1
The doctor will first go in and remove 9 tumours on the 20% of my liver he would like to keep (You only need 20% of your liver in order for it to function. Also, a healthy liver will regenerate itself.). He will then block the portal vein that is suppling blood to the other 80%. This will cause that side of my liver to shrink. During the same surgery he will also remove the 4 tumours from my colon. He has also half promised he can do this without leaving me with a colostomy bag *fingers crossed*. It would not be the worst thing, but if I can avoid it that would be nice.

Surgery 2
The doctor will go in an remove the 80% of my liver that he has shrunk. Although this procedure seems smaller, it is actually the most complicated and the most risky.

Excitement and nervousness are the two emotions that I drift back and forth with. By the time I have my first surgery on the 21st of July, it will be almost 6 weeks since my last chemotherapy treatment. The paranoid part of me is worried that my tumours will have grown or multiplied during this time. There is no set plan yet for what happens in between the two surgeries. I will either jump from one to the next, or have a blast of chemo in between. Stay tuned for updates.

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