It’s been a long year, and I’m tired, of everything. When the cancer bomb dropped back in April it was VERY optimistic of me to think I could be back at work in 3 months. After surgery, my wife noted that she hadn’t realized just how much chemo took everything out of me until I had started acting more like myself these past few weeks, a good 10 weeks after my last chemo treatment. It does seem as though we are actually getting to the light at the end of the tunnel, with one of our doctors at Mayo telling us those wonderful words: “You are in remission.” Which is to say, you are cured, the cancer is gone, but we are going to closely watch you because it could come back.
At this time last week we were nearing home, having split the trip from Rochester into two days, feeling it would be easier on my body. When there is 18″ of visible slicing through your core, and a little more under the skin we can’t see, everything you do is felt. When you’re driving down the highway, G-Forces are very apparent. It’s been so nice to be back home and feeling a little bit better every day, though there is still a long road of recovery to a ‘normal’ life.
The doctors sliced me open, from my chest to a few inches below my belly button. Once opened up, they cut just a bit further underneath the skin. They then moved some organs off to the side so they could get to the tumor and lymph nodes they aimed to remove. This was an hours long process that took patience and more organ moving so they could get to all the spots and ensure everything was cleaned out. A great relief for me was they were able to remove the tumor, which was pressing against two major blood vessels, without compromising the vessels. Had a synthetic patch been required I would have been on an Aspirin diet the rest of my life, and I don’t like taking any more drugs than I absolutely need to. The amount of pill bottles we have accumulated this year is disturbing.
Coming Out Of It
It seems anyone that’s been under anesthesia has something funny that they do. My previous surgeries had me dropping movie quotes. This one was more intense and I don’t remember much about it. I have vague memories of being very thirsty, but the ice chips they gave me kept triggering vomiting (hence the not eating for hours before surgery). I also recall asking for elbow pillows because my shoulders hurt, and there were tidbits I caught from doctors visiting my room, but all of that was later repeated to me when I was coherent.
My recovery has involved a lot of Tylenol to help keep inflammation down, some oxycodone to help with pain relief, continuing use of blood thinners, and walks to promote blood flow and general movement. Every day it gets a little bit easier, but it’s still a challenge. I’m also on a 10 pound (just a bit more than a gallon of milk) weight restriction for 6 weeks. One of my doctors also suggested a low fat diet for awhile. There is an extremely low chance of a complication developing if the body has to process too much fat through your system, and the low fat diet helps it just a teeny bit. I hate that diet every day, because it doesn’t take a whole lot of flavor to exceed the 40g a day that we’re trying to stay under. However, I also don’t want any more time in the hospital. I’m over it and want normal life to resume, so here I am, dealing with not eating the things I want to as my poor wife tries to keep my hunger contained.
Assuming we don’t encounter any further complications, we’ll begin 3 month checkups and all that those entail to make sure nothing comes back and I remain in remission. As years go by those will get spaced further apart, but early detection on this is key. It is not a battle I want to deal with again.
- Self-Functioning. I’ve worked several weddings where the bride and groom wash each other’s feet. This is symbolic of the attitude of serving each other needed in marriage. My wife has gone above and beyond all year. Currently, she has to help me in and out of bed, sometimes getting situated on the couch, and helping me shower and get dressed. I would really like to do all of those things sufficiently well on my own that she feels better about leaving to do things she needs to do, and also so she can sleep better at night.
- Pain. My cousin lent us a foam wedge pillow, which has been wonderful. It makes it easier to sleep and also sit on the couch. Last night I attempted to sleep without it and it didn’t go great. There is a lot of skin and muscle to heal, and until they do it’s hard to move around without feeling things tug, as well as hard to stand up straight. The standing up is further complicated by a lower back that flares up as the day goes on, a good nights sleep helps a lot with that, but 2 out of 3 nights are less than great. Hopefully I can see a chiropractor this week to help with that.
- No Complications. I would like smooth sailing the rest of the way. No more surprises that put me back in the hospital or set back recovery time. I’m in remission and would like to stay there.