Since I have been home from the hospital, I have gone through my usual routine of being a hermit – or so I thought. Usually after any of my surgeries, I spend a lot of my time recovering quietly. Sure, I will go out the odd time, but always try not to make those times too social. I am never interested in talking to anyone – I just enjoy the peace and quiet. So this time I have been the same way, except I should be starting to turn the corner by now. I have been in a “funk” emotionally for the past few weeks and could not figure out what was wrong. At first I thought it was the recovery process, and then I thought maybe it is the stress of the wedding. Both of those do play a part in the way I am feeling, but they still were not enough. Yesterday I finally broke down and figured it out. I’m entering into a world of unknown. I have been here before, last summer to be exact. I had a successful surgery and entered into the “monitor” stage, only to find out after my first scan that everything was back. So this time I do not have the same delusions in my head that maybe, just maybe, I have finally beat this cancer shit. After my post op this week I just am left to sit around until October when I will have my next scan. It weighs so heavy on my mind.
I know you are a busy lady so I will try not to take up too much of your time. As the days go by I am being pushed further and further outside of what I like to call the “societal box”. When I refer to this I am speaking to the confined space in which I feel society deems the way everyone should live their lives. The pressure of this, I believe, really begins as soon as high school is completed. Below is a brief run down of what I am talking about:
What university/college are you planning on attending? Oh you chose that one? Well this one has better program…
Ok you have graduated that now, in a reasonable amount of time hopefully. So now go on – Choose your career and get a big person job. I know you make a lot waitressing but that isn’t a job which requires education….
Good, now pick a partner and get engaged…. No, no not him you haven’t been dating for that long….
Ok time to get married….. Have you been engaged for the recommended amount of time…
Perfect, you looked beautiful… the food was ok… Now time to start the house hunt…
Ooo I remember that area growing up… bad place… cheaper housing though….hmmm you only bought a two bedroom? Well its just your starter home right….
I’m sure married life has been great this past year, but everyone is still asking daily when you are going to start having kids…. So get to it already you are not getting any younger….
Just popped that one out.. Congrats… Are you planning on having more?? How soon.. Don’t leave it too long you want them to grow up together right?
From here it continues but now with your children – type of food you feed them, their education, clothes they wear, activities/sports they are signed up for…
So my question for you Oprah is – How did you continue to socialize with all your friends when these points are the leading topics for most conversations? I am choosing not to live my life by what society deems appropriate. I do not feel the need to buy a house just yet, because I do not want to live in the same town for 5+ years. I am choosing not to have children. The thought of a wedding with a full day of all the attention on me gives me anxiety. So I do not want that either. However these three major milestones in people’s lives are all anyone seems to want to discuss these days. I am happy for them. Those are their choices and they are proud and want to share. So share for a bit… but then isn’t there so much more to talk about in this world? You my friend (Is it ok if I call you that now?), are the perfect example of someone who has gone against the grain and is very happy. No one would ever look down on you and think they are better because they have the marriage, house, kids… To this person they think they have it “all”… and whoever does not they almost feel sorry for.
Well I feel sorry for them. Their entire life is being lived in this cookie cutter world and they have no idea what life can be like if you just step outside the societal box for a time. And really who are they kidding… Everyone knows their perfect life on Facebook is a sham.
So maybe this letter isn’t a call for help/advice but more of a thank you. Thank you for living your life outside the box and becoming my perfect example for it to be ok. No one in their right minds would think they have a better life than yours, so therefore they can’t about mine either.
Over the weekend I gave into the temptation – I ate red meat. This decision was not made hastily. During my chemo on Wednesday I spoke to my nutritionist about it and she let me know that it was completely my choice if I decided to continue to cut out the cow. She cautioned me if I did however choose to try it again, to start with ground beef rather than a big steak. Perfect, cheeseburgers are my go to meal anyways! My surgeon also said, “If you want a cheeseburger, have one.” So I kind of felt like they were all on the “Yay Red Meat” train right???
So Saturday night I had one side cut rib. Super small and barely anything to write about. The whole time I was still nauseous and having stomach pains so I chalked it up to just regular old life for me. Then Monday came.
Still nauseous but out and about I thought that after my hard week I deserved it. I have been off red meat since August and I should be able to treat myself. So I went for it. Single patty cheese from good old McDonalds. As I took off the wrapper I could tell – this shit was perfect. It is like they knew my addiction and they made it just for me. Every bite had the perfect ratio of cheese, onion, ketchup and mustard. No dry or greasy piece in site. I raved on about this perfect burger for the next hour. And truthfully if I was not with someone else, I would have stopped at a drive-thru for a second. Sure enough though, no more than two hours later, the stomach cramps began. My intestinal gas pains, acid reflex and debilitating cramps lasted until last night. A full day and a half of pain. Never again. And I mean it this time. The amount of discomfort I experienced is not worth the pleasure my taste buds enjoyed so much.
I do not consider myself a failure for trying red meat again. I never declared 100% that I would be off the stuff forever. (If I did say that in my old post, please ignore then….). I am human – we are not perfect and have set backs. I am just hoping that writing down my experience will help me to remember that it is not worth the agony afterwards. That, and I also need you people to slap me if I ever am tempted again.
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.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet because who really wants to sit and read a post about poop. But seriously, how many times have you watched Oprah or Dr.Oz and they have gone on and on about the importance of your bowel movements. It is very true. Nothing speaks more to what is going on in your body then what is coming out of it. Although it is very apparent I am not doctor, so please do not take this as legit medical advice. I am just going by what I have experienced.
Firstly, if you have sharp pains when you are having a “looser” movement, this is probably not normal. Seeing those commercials on tv where people are holding their stomach on vacation, I thought that was the same pain. Unfortunately what I later discovered is they were just imitating a “gurgling” feeling, where mine feels like a knife coated in acid slowly moving through my intestines. Silly me not to think that it was just the greasy McDonalds and actually the feeling was most likely the stomach acid passing by four bleeding tumours. The scary part is how long I have had these intense pains for. When the doctors told me I have probably had cancer for 5+ years it was hard to believe. Then when I started thinking logically about things like this, the reality hit that they were right.
There are many other signs I could discuss but did not experience first hand. At the end of the day all I am trying to say is have a look before flushing and pay attention to discomfort. As small as it may seem, it could save your life.
iPads look even cuter when they have a little keyboard attached to them. (Is that really going to be my first sentence?)
I find it a tad ironic I am sitting here having a hard time finding a way to start this blog because I am having the worst acid reflex attack. My acid reflex attacks are what started this crazy life I lead today. Returning from beautiful Punta Cana in January of this year, I began having 4 straight days of uncontrollable acid reflex. Being the paranoid person that I am, I immediately thought I must have a parasite. After a visit to the walk-in, he gave me an abdominal exam where he felt underneath my right rib cage. It was tender. “Must be gallstones”, he said as he ordered me an abdominal ultrasound. By end of week I was in for that ultrasound. Laying on the table the tech began her examination. The first words out of her mouth were, “When was the last time you had a blood test?”. “Um, no idea”, and she carried on. Two hours later at home I received a phone call from the walk-in letting me know my ultrasound results were in and the doctor would like to speak to me. Obviously, I was nervous. I have never once received results back in such a timely manner. Heading into the office, all I could think of was that I must be pregnant. That would be the only logical reason why she asked me about a blood test….. which I actually have no idea if that even makes sense, but it did to me.
Hemangioma – a birthmark that most commonly appears as a rubbery, bright red nodule of extra blood vessels in the skin (www.mayoclinic.org)
“That is what I believe you have. Nothing to worry about, but I would like to send you for a CT scan just to be sure.”
I should probably write the entire first part of my story in one piece. I mean, it would make sense to explain everything that happened leading up to my diagnosis in one blog post, but I am not a writer and this is my blog so I make the rules. I have told my story to my friends over and over so many times I truthfully thought this would be a walk in the park. Surprise, I am wrong. I just found my self staring at “April 3rd, 2014 – CT Scan” for the past 15 minutes. Reliving the day in my head with a vivid memory of everything I felt. No thanks, it’s Friday morning and I need to eat something more than banana bread.