Tag Archives: liver surgery

Addiction 

I avoid drugs. I know how easy it is to become addicted to pain killers, so I was always scared to take them. Since I have always been vocal about this to all of my doctors, they are never worried about me and always tell me, “Don’t be a hero and just take the drugs if you need to”. (Well ok they do not use the term “hero”, that’s my ad lib 😉) 

After my second surgery in 2014, I saw first hand how easy it was for my body to become addicted to drugs. Even though my mind wanted nothing to do with it, my body began going through extreme withdrawal when I tried to stop taking the Oxycodones. My skin felt like it was crawling, I was sweaty but shivering, and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I was forced to continue to take them and gradually reduce the dose. Since then I have refused to take anything other than just regular ole Advil – well until recently. 

I was in a lot of pain and discomfort after my recent lung surgery, and when I went in for my post-op, my surgeon told me to just take even a single pill if I think it might help. After discussing it with Chris, we both decided that I will have to try it as the Advil did not seem to be doing the job this time. So I cut the oxycodone in half and took it at 6:00pm. At 9:30pm I still felt no relief so I took the other half. By 10:00pm my whole body was numb and I felt drunk. No joke. I had to put myself to bed. 

The following day I had plans in the morning so I woke up and felt groggy, but I figured that was only because it was 8:00am. It wasn’t until I was half way to my destination that I realized, “holy crap I am SO high right now and should NOT be driving”. I pulled into a parking lot and had my friend pick me up. This feeling lasted till the mid afternoon! 

When I got home I looked at the bottle, my original prescription was 1-2 every four hours!! WHO COULD SURVIVE THAT?! 

Never again – I went back to just suffering through the pain. 

So, this story is not even the main reason for this post…. I will have to write an “addiction part two” tomorrow. 

But to finish off our discussion about oxycodone – or just any pain reducing drug for that matter. BE CAREFUL. The doctor will prescribe you what is the standard dose, but LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Do not just read the label and pop away, see what works for you. I am not advocating to never take a pain pill. Tolerances for pain are different for each individual, and if you are in too much pain then that will actually harm your healing process. All I want to make known is just to be aware of the problems that can come from taking pain killers. It may help with your pain but it may be hurting you in some other way. These drugs are strong so please use with caution. 

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Acceptance 

Even though it may seem sometimes I am a Debbie Downer, it’s actually not the case. 


This was taken in Thailand just 30 minutes after I told Chris that I wish that cancer would just kill me so this crapshoot life can be all over with. Can’t you see it in my eyes? I had a LARGE SCALE breakdown. But with a few hugs and some laughter, I was able to pick myself up off the floor and head out for dinner. I thought to myself – I don’t want to feel this was anymore – but then how do I change it? 

I’m not over here though praying to be “cancer free”. I honestly don’t know if that will ever truly happen. What I am trying to do is shift into the world of acceptance.

That is a big world to use. Accepting the fact that I have, and may always have cancer, and that’s ok. This year could be my fourth summer where I have to enjoy it from inside the hospital walls. Learning to walk again in the humid weather. Watching everyone cool off in the swimming pool while I sit on the sidelines. Struggling to find the strength to move from the couch to the kitchen. Maybe that’s ok? If I just learn to accept my disability then it will no longer have power over me. 

So today, that is what I am choosing to do. Remind myself that it is what it is, and I am who I am. And maybe there is nothing wrong with that. 

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Black Out

No, this is not about to be a hilarious story of some drunken antics I got up to over the long weekend. And for the record, I have never been “black out drunk”. So to all those friends who over the years I said, “I did what? Oh I don’t remember at all” – that statement was a load of bull.

My first surgery of the summer took place on May 2nd and was quickly followed by a second on May 4th. I called my fiancĂŠ on May 8th and to my surprise (and apparently also his), he said “Oh hi – Wow you sound like yourself today.” Um sorry? The weird thing about blacking out in the hospital is that you do not realize you were until it is all pointed out to you. It still hadn’t hit me yet that the past week of my life was all just a blur. A few days later my mom was visiting after work (as she did everyday) and said, “Oh you were so mean on Saturday. You were yelling at me and told me to leave and never come back. I cried to your father about how if this was your new personality, I don’t think I want to take you home.” How horrible is that? I felt awful. I can remember pieces of that week, mainly just the painful things. I remember having to flip on my sides for my sponge bath, and how painful that was. I remember HGTV always being on the television. I remember the day I hallucinated and screamed out to my nurses that I must have a fever (which I was right about). I know one afternoon I was screaming out in pain and begged anyone who would listen to me to make it go away. Besides those few things, I don’t remember much else. 

I asked around and have been able to figure out what I was saying and doing for those days. Here are some stories I was told:

“One day you wanted to pull out the line going into your port. You were so angry when we tried to hold you down and stop you from doing it.”

“You thought I had your phone in my purse and began to throw everything out of it screaming at me to give it back.”

“The tv stopped working and you lost it.”

“You thought I had cookies in my hand and kept reaching out to get them.”

“You thought I had doughnuts and wanted them.”

“Everything on your lunch tray you wanted to put in your coffee cup. Then you got mad when we wouldn’t let you.”

“You walked the halls of the ICU with your catheter, epidural and chest tube in – somehow in no pain.”

“Anything you tried to do you would fall asleep after 20 seconds. Mid sip of a drink – asleep. On the phone – asleep.”

“We were concerned with how out of it you were. We thought you would slip into a coma in the night.” 
Sounds fabulous. 

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The Plan

I’m not sure if it is so much a plan, but more like a “choose your own adventure”. 

Sitting with my surgeon and my oncologist they both let me know I have options, and here are the main two:

– Have surgery in the Spring/Summer 

Or

– Have surgery in late Fall

Without typing for days and boring you with all of the little details, the way I read those options are:

– Less chemo

Or

-More chemo

As you may know by now, man do I hate chemo – so you can guess which option I am going for.

So what will this entail? Well I will have my lovely mid section sliced open again to access my liver. Totally cool. Oh and I will have both lungs operated on. Double chest tube! I am PRAYING that they say I only have to do two more rounds of chemo and then I will get my pre-operation break for all of March and April. However it is more likely that they will push me to do chemo right up until 6 weeks before my surgery. 

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Countdown Is On

Sorry for being so distant. It’s not you it’s me. My thoughts lately have been so scrambled that trying to write them down seemed like a daunting task. My second round of surgery happening so soon after my first really threw me for a loop. The first time around I was more anxious than nervous. This time however I am extra nervous. The days leading up seem to be flying by and I am running out of time.

Since I know what to expect this time around with all of the pain, I am dreading Monday. The complications I had during my last surgery will hopefully be avoided this time however. I found out while reading the surgical notes during my pre-op, that a resident performed my epidural last time. This person had a problem and a staff member had to step in. The needle was placed too far in, and caused a small spinal fluid leak – which lead to my migraines during recovery. The other piece of important information we discovered is that my body cannot tolerate injected hydromorphone. This is what lead to my hallucinations – so again this time it should be avoided.

I am very hopeful now that these two issues should be resolved, and my hospital recovery should run much smoother.

Bring it on extended left hepatectomy.

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Yay Surgery?

I should be happy this morning. The sun is out, most of my back and stomach pains are slowly going down, but still I sit with tears running down my face. Why? Because every doctor visit I realize how scary my life has become. There is never just “good news” when I visit the doctor. It always seems to be good news wrapped up in some sort of bad news.

“We were able to remove all of your colon cancer with large margins – however even on the edges of those margins we found microscopic cancer cells.”

I feel uplifted for a second just to be pushed back down the next. I knew this journey would not be easy, but in the beginning it kind of was. I would joke that other than my chemo days, I felt completely fine. That lifestyle has changed. I am in constant pain because my wound has reopened right above my belly button. I am unable to lift pretty much anything so when my cat has a crazy moment, I am unable to even lift him off the counter.

All I keep thinking is – I have to do this all over again. I will just be getting back to my old self when I will be readmitted to the hospital for surgery. It is a depressing feeling to say the least. I should be thankful that not only were they able to complete the first operation, but the second one is already being discussed. This is easier said than done. Every hour my mood changes from, “Yay surgery!” to “Yay surgery?”.

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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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