Sunday, January 22, 2017

December 1, 2016

Today was the big day - heading to the specialist's office.  I was full of emotion.

I found my way to Duke Hospital's Campus.  It's a huge campus full of different buildings and garages.  I found where I was to park and began the long walk to the clinic.  I was actually surprised by the beauty of the place.  It's all spires and dark brick like a fantasy castle, but the most modern of interiors.  I followed the detailed instructions (follow corridor to the beige elevator, up the ramp, past the first clinic to check-in).  Soon, I found where I was supposed to be.

I began the check in process and started to cry when the attendant asked me how I was today.  I responded that I was checking in at the Cancer Center, so I wasn't doing too well.  He handed me a box of tissues and told me to take what I needed.  I sat and waited.

The nurse was so nice.  She took me back and did all of the standard preliminary examination things - took my temperature and weight and checked by blood pressure.  Then, I waited in an exam room.

Duke is a teaching hospital, so the next person I met was a resident.  He was very kind and asked me a ton of questions.  He did a clothed physical exam of my abdomen.  I joked that the radiologist said it was like I was 18 weeks pregnant.  He said it was more like 28 weeks.  That was pretty shocking.  He left and returned with the doctor - a woman younger that I expected.  From there, it was time for the physical exam.

It's always a weird thing to be naked in front of other people.  It's especially weird to be splayed out on a table in front of 3 people (resident, doctor, nurse) with 2 of those people examine your insides.  They could not find my cervix at first.  My uterus was so distended that the cervix was up and to the left.  They felt around, made their mental notes, and told me I was done.  The female doctor said she did not believe in talking to people about the prognosis while they were naked, so they left me to dress.

When they returned, the first thing the doctor said was that she felt it was a low probability for cancer.  Phew!!  She believed it to be a fibroid - a very large one.  It would have to be removed surgically.  Was I available the following Friday for surgery?  Everything went so quickly after that statement.  She went over the plan - remove one ovary and have it checked for cancer while I was still in the OR.  It would be a quick exam, followed by a complete pathology later.  If there was cancer, the uterus would be removed as well as the lymph nodes.  My mind was flooded and I couldn't think straight.  I asked what it would mean for my job.  She said 6 weeks of medical leave.  How could I leave work now?  We were just starting our fiscal year end and the auditors would be arriving the next day.  I really didn't have a choice.

I was signing release forms and reviewing the surgical plan.  I was receiving pamphlets about how to prepare for surgery and special drinks to take the day of.  I was getting phone numbers and being told when different departments would call me.  I was told what to bring to the hospital - something I had never needed to know.  I was quickly dismissed from this exam and sent to get my blood taken.  It was done.

I returned to my office around noon.  I had to tell my supervisor that during the worst time of the year, I would be out for 6 weeks.  I had to check with HR and find out what needed to be done.  I had to call my husband and tell him he needed to take next Friday off.  It was all a blur of action.  I tried not to think too much about it and just keep moving.  There was much to do in just 8 days.

Monday, January 09, 2017

November 29-30, 2016

I was waiting.  Waiting to hear about the appointment with the specialist.  I am very good at not thinking about things.  It worked for the first day.

I finally got the call from my GP.  I had an appointment for December 1.  That left 2 days to think about it.  The first day I went to work and it was business as usual.  The second day was harder.  I started to think about what was inside me.  It seemed to be growing so quickly and was already large. Could it be a tumor?  What would happen?  I could not imagine leaving my family.  I was so worried what would happen to my husband if I had to leave.  It brought me to tears more than once throughout the day.  I was trying to be strong, to not imagine to worst scenario.  All I could do was wait until the next day and see what would happen next.

Friday, December 23, 2016

November 28, 2016 - Part II

Today marks 2 weeks post-op for me.  But, we are not quite there yet in this story.

I arrive at the radiologist clinic for my ultrasound.  I am still a bit in shock as to how quickly everything has moved.  I really wasn't expecting it to go like this.  I thought I would go in and Dr. Marum would know exactly what was wrong with me.  I would get a prescription and go home.  Things were getting a little bit scary.

The radiology office knew I was coming.  I checked in and they said there was an appointment available at 1 pm.  At this point, it was about 11:45 am.  They said the 1pm appointment would work perfectly.  When had I last eaten?  I had a bowl of cereal at 8am and missed my morning snack.  Perfect - I had to fast for at least 5 hours.  With over an hour to appointment time, I had a chance to drink plenty of fluid to get my bladder full - another requirement for the procedure.  I had already missed more work than expected for the day.  It was 2 days before our fiscal year end and I had plenty of work to get done.  They offered to re-schedule me, but I was already there.  I texted work and started drinking water.

The wait was horrible.  I didn't bring a book because I hadn't expected this to happen.  There was no regular TV in the waiting area - it was a stupid professional channel that flashed information about the practice interspersed with 5-10 clips from various TV shows.  It was hardly entertaining.  I did have my phone, but after a bit I just closed my eyes and tried to meditate.  I had a full bladder and an empty stomach - I was ready to be done.

After what seemed like forever, the tech called me back. I got settled on the table and the hour long ultrasound procedure started. The tech noted that I had been in 10 years ago for a quick version of this ultrasound.  She said they had found fibroids in my uterus - a very common non-cancerous growth.  I remembered that appointment.  She began the current ultrasound with great humor and friendly banter.  One of the first things she said was that I still had a fibroid, but this one was "the size of Texas."  I peed, moved in different positions, and was checked out all over my abdomen.  As we continued, it seemed that she became quieter and quieter.  I wasn't sure if she was concentrating or thinking, or worse of all, if she saw something truly scary.  She seemed a bit confused, too, especially while looking at the sides of my abdomen.  Finally, it was over.  I dressed, and she asked me to wait in the lobby per Dr. Marum's request.

My doctor wanted the ultrasound read immediately and requested I wait for the results.  After a few minutes, the tech came out just as my phone rang.  It was Dr. Marum.  She had already been appraised of the results and was calling to tell me she was going to refer me to a specialist at Duke.  She wanted me to see an oncologist who specialized in gynecology cases.  She would have her office set up the appointment as soon as possible and have them contact me.  I thanked her and prepared to check out.

The tech brought me a CD copy of my ultrasound to give to the specialist.  She half laughed and said that the radiologist didn't know what it was either.  Great - what a wonderful thing to say to a person after going through all of the things I had on that day.  Nice parting shot.

As I do with most things in my life, I shoved the worry to the side - to a place in my brain where I don't think about things too hard.  I called Bill and told him there was some sort of mass.  He was so sweet and caring and asked if I needed him.  I said I was going back to work and I would fill him in on the details later.  I went to the nearest fast food place for a late lunch (it was about 3pm), and went back to work as I said.  Thinking about it anymore would have to wait until a later time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

November 28, 2016 - Part I

Something extraordinary has happened to me.  Something crazy.  I have decided a good way to deal with it is to write about it.  I could journal it, but it seems OK to write about my journey on this blog. Here is the story.

I had been feeling bloated for a few weeks.  I noticed by stomach was rather rigid at times, and it was sore when I tried to lay on it.  It didn't really get in the way of doing anything - I still exercised, slept, worked, and played.  Life went on, but it didn't seem right.  I was finally ready to have it checked.  So, I did what anyone would do - I made an appointment with my general practitioner.

When I called, they tried to stick my with a nurse practitioner at the practice.  She is great - I had gone to her earlier in the year for a different issue.  Of course, I had to go back several times and see a specialist to get it resolved finally.  I was leery of seeing her when the receptionist said my doctor did have an available space on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  I made my appointment with a sigh of relief.

I told her it was for an annual exam, but that I was also having issues with my abdomen.  I guess Dr. Marum thought that was the resin I was there.  It was good to see her - she has always done right by me.  She is overly cautious, but she is also very smart and very thorough.  We began the appointment as normal.  I told her about my abdomen issue and she felt my tummy.  She could immediately see what I meant.  Initially, she was not going to do a pelvic exam (I was not due for a pap smear), but she was a bit concerned by what she felt.  She also decided to take a pregnancy test.  Wouldn't it be funny if I were expecting?  I certainly hadn't planned for that in my life and I wasn't acting like a pregnant person should.  I was a little scared that could be the issue, but deep down I knew it was something else.  I was right.

After the pelvic exam where she decided to take a pap smear just in case, she left the room.  Before that, we had gone over my family history and I relayed that my paternal grandmother had uterine cancer.  It was like I had forgot about her cancer until the moment I told Dr. Marum.  I started to wonder and to fear if that could be what was happening here.  She returned to the exam room and told me to immediately go down the road to the diagnostic imaging office.  She had called to schedule a full ultrasound for me.  I was a little confused - right this minute?  Yes, right now.

I had taken an early lunch from work to go to my initial exam.  Now, I was heading to another office. It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Do strangers really have candy?

It has been a long time.  I have really neglected my blog, but life has been busy.  There never seems to be enough time to get anything done, but that might be a topic for another post.

It's funny to me that I find that it is often easier to be nice to strangers rather that people I actually know.  It really doesn't apply with my close friends, but to my acquaintances.  I realized it just the other day.

I was in a clothing store and was able to strike up a great conversation with a fellow shopper and a store employee.  I really enjoyed talking to both of them and I felt so great about the conversation.  It wasn't a deep conversation by any means - we just chatted about the items in the store, how to put outfits together, and the discounts we received for our birth month.  It just seemed so much easier to carry on a conversation with these two random people. I felt like I was free to smile and just enjoy being there.

No, of course, it could have something to do with the fact that I was off on a work day and out shopping.  Maybe I was just in a better mood for that very reason.  Maybe it was easier because these two people did not know me at all.   They had no history of me and made no judgments toward me.  I could just be the person I wanted to be in that very moment - a normal, happy woman out for a day of shopping.  If only life could be so easy breezy all of the time. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Golden Globes 2014

Well, it certainly has been a long time.  It has been so long that I wasn't sure if I would even remember my password to login.  It certainly does not look the way I remember it looking.  I guess I just need to post more often.

Let's talk about The Golden Globe Awards this past Sunday.  I love award shows because I love the glamor of all of the wonderful dresses.  I also love to see my favorite stars win and hear their speeches.  This show was wonderful for me because I really think The Hollywood Foreign Press celebrates some underrated actors.  It is always a nice surprise to see who wins.  Several of my favorite actors were surprise wins -  to me at least.

I was thrilled to see Amy Adams win for American Hustle.  She is one of my favorite actresses and it is really nice to see her be recognized.  I also loved seeing Robin Wright win (Buttercup rules!) and Amy Poehler get long overdue recognition.  Amy P. is so great on Parks & Recreation.  I was also nicely surprised to see Matthew McConnaughey win for Dallas Buyer's Club.  He gave a great speech, too.

I am so fired up now.  I have a long list of movies to see: American Hustle, Dallas Buyer's Club, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, and so many more!  Bring on the Oscar nominations tomorrow morning.

I would be remiss to forget to mention my favorite dress of the night - Ms. Amy Adams again.  Love the color combination on her as well as the great necklace.  Gorgeous!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lack of Motivation

Well, it should not be a surprise that I am suffering from a lack of motivation.  It has been nearly 21 months since my last blog post!  So much has happened between then and now...

Bill has become an Ironman finishing Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June 2011
I am a 2 time 70.3 triathlon finisher with Beach 2 Battleship and TryCharleston
I was supposed to do the New York Marathon in November 2012, but it was canceled due to Super Storm Sandy

Ever since the cancellation of the New York Marathon, I feel like I haven't been able to get myself together.  I took the entire month of December off.  I did nothing even though I never ran a marathon.  I was supposed to get back into running and training in January, but here it is March and I am still having issues.  I can manage to get up and go to classes (muscle conditioning and spin class), but it has been hard to run.  I don't know if it has been the cold or the dark, but I just haven't been able to run in the mornings. 

I am rather ashamed to admit this, but I am not going to do the Tobacco Road Half Marathon next weekend because I have not trained.  I knew it was coming, but I couldn't get myself out to train.  My next chance is the Tar Heel 10 miler coming up in April.  I can't blow off this race.  Maybe that will be the motivation I need. I hope it is.