Speaking from experience, going to a doctor's appointment convinced you have cancer and being told you do not is infinitely better than going to a doctor's appointment confident you do not have cancer and being told you do. I've done it both ways. Today, hearing the specialist tell me my pathology report came back clear felt like a million pounds being lifted off my shoulders. I have been paralyzed for months anticipating the surgery, having the surgery date changed multiple times, fretting, planning my kid's birthday parties just in case the surgery went wrong, actually having the damn surgery, and recovering. Today is my New Year's Day. A January 1st redo on May 1st. I'm celebrating with bubbly, obviously. Because that's what New Year's Day calls for. Cheers!
My surgeon told me to expect the pathology report within one to two weeks after my surgery. Tomorrow marks four weeks since my surgery and I still don't have my results.
Patience is not one of my strengths. When I want to know something, I want to know now. I don't want to wait, I find no comfort in "no news is good news," and trusting the system is something that's been slowly squeezed from me almost five years into this cancer thing.
May will mark five years since my diagnosis. Five years is a huge milestone in the cancer world. For a lot of types of cancer, fives years means the risk of recurrence drops drastically and life expectancy raises significantly. Five years is a bfd.
The logical part of me knows that having a recurrence now would be terrible, but so would having a recurrence at six years, or ten years, or twenty. A recurrence means cancer and cancer is terrible (even if it's a good cancer DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED).
But the emotional part of me wants to get to five years. It feels like we've been working for it since the day I was diagnosed. I say "we" and not "I" because it's been a group effort. My family, my friends, people who used to be acquaintances, strangers on the internet, so many people have played a role in my recovery. I couldn't even attempt to list the numerous ways people have supported me and loved me as I've flailed my way through this. Not reaching my five year mark feels like I'm failing them as much as my body fails me. (I know, I know. But this is not the logical part of me, okay? It is the stay-up-all-night-the-night-before-surgery-and-watch-my-babies-sleep part of me.)
And so I wait. Practicing patience, or at the very least, honing my fortitude until I finally get the results from my surgery. Laser eyes and positive vibes welcomed and appreciated.
I'm not a doctor or the least bit science-y so I can't speak to the facts of general anesthesia but I can speak to my own experience which is this: general anesthesia is hard on the brain. This was the sixth time I've been put under in the last five years and while the general anesthesia during the surgery and immediately afterwards was the smoothest experience I've had so far, the post-surgery recovery has been tough. My attention span is laughable. My energy is low, my thinking is muddled and slow, and it takes herculean effort to form a complete thought.
It's one thing to tell you my brain feels foggy but I think I can best describe it by telling you what I did a few nights after my surgery. Before I tell you my shame, though, it's important you know a couple things. One: Poppy is not my first child. Two: Poppy is not an infant.
It's a few nights after my surgery. I am struggling to function in the critical thinking department. I am existing in a fog. Shawn and I realize Poppy has a bit of a fever but she's acting normally so we go about our day. Fast forward to 3 o'clock in the morning and Poppy is burning up. She's fast asleep but breathing loudly and quickly enough to wake both me and Shawn up.
We have an ear thermometer but it gives different readings literally seconds apart. Every time I use it I decide we need to buy a new thermometer and then I forget about it again until we go to use it the next time someone has a fever. (NOTE TO SELF: buy a new thermometer.) So I do the ear thermometer thing on Poppy and get a reading of 104.6F.
I decide to call the nurses line. We go through a series of questions and I begin to feel more and more stupid for calling about my peacefully sleeping baby who has a bit of a fever (see above: not my first baby! Not an infant!) And then the nurse asks me if Poppy is lethargic. It is now 3:30 a.m. and Poppy is fast asleep (and has been asleep since about 7:30 p.m.)
Y'all, I woke up the sleeping baby at 3:30 a.m. to see if she was lethargic. (Spoiler alert: after I woke her up she was NOT SO MUCH LETHARGIC as she was pissed right off.)
Anyway, Poppy is fine, she's just got a nasty cold, and I will be fine once my brain starts firing normally (hopefully sometime soon).
PS: I wrote about the less hilarious aspect of my surgery over on VancouverMom.ca go check it out and give some love to the other VM Voices.
I had my surgery yesterday and now I'm home resting. I'm feeling pretty low so here is some aggressive brightsiding to try to lift my mood.
- Heated blankets. I don't know why I love these so much but whenever I'm in the hospital, I make it my mission to have a constant rotation of heated blankets. They're just plain flannel sheets that are folded and stacked in a blanket oven but I freaking love them so much. After my surgery I had the chills and one of the recovery nurses stacked six heated blankets on top of me. It was bliss (apart from all the pain and bleeding).
- I did not have a single panic attack. Not when I went under and not when I came out. It was actually the smoothest general anesthetic I've ever had.
- It only took two tries to get my IV in. I have rolly veins. I don't actually know what that means but it usually takes 3-4 attempts to get an IV going (my record is five. Shout out to the paramedic trainee who will probably never forget me and my rolly, gushy veins.) Yesterday the nurse got my IV in on her second attempt and I didn't even get woozy.
- After my IV was placed, Shawn sat with me for about half an hour while we waited for the operating room to be ready. Our parking expired, and we were told I'd be heading in in the next five minutes, so I told Shawn to go. And then there was another delay and I waited 45 minutes by myself. Normally this would be the perfect time for an anxiety spiral of doom but instead I tried some of the coping techniques my therapist has been working on with me. I was anxious but did not panic. I was able to identify my anxious thoughts and calm myself. It was so gratifying to see my hard work paying off.
- One of the recovery nurses was a goddamn hoot. She's been a nurse for 48 years. She retired years ago but is called in for casual work when there's a shortage. She gives not a solitary fuck. Y'all, she was amazing. She gave the patients identifying nicknames, which is probably something nurses do when talking amongst themselves, but she referred to us openly as "frozen guy," "throat bleeder," and "little lamb," etc. (I was little lamb or lambikins. I don't know why.) While reviewing my discharge info with us, she told Shawn to "take matters into his own hands" when going over sex restrictions.
- We are surrounded by love and support. It has been a huge comfort to know how wide our circle of support is. I am basically one step up from useless right now but my people have stepped up to handle it. It is a huge weight off my mind to know that we've got oodles of backup.