first of all, thank you to everyone who is coming to this blog, passing it onto others, and sharing their thoughts, good wishes and prayers. this whole "thing" has been such an experience that has made me take a right turn in my life, that "it" can only be described as one determined by the hand of God. so, here i go.
...today i got a feeling that it was a good idea to share what symptoms i had that lead me to seek an MD appointment, that then lead me on this right turn from my life:
nondescript, really. i had a feeling of a nondescript "thing" in the right lower side of my abdomen. (in the medical field, we call it, "right lower quadrant"). i had thought that maybe i was having problems with my appendix. this nondescript feeling would come and go over the course of a few months...but this time, that i sought advice, it wasn't going away...so, since it wasn't i wanted the MD to check it out and advise. along with going to the MD i also had an insomnia issue, so thought "what the heck"...get this assessed as well.
now a preface to this process, and lee and debbie and diane and some other folk will attest, that i just plain do not seek MD assistance for anything at all, unless i just plain need antibiotics, or the like. being a nurse, we are usually our own worse enemies and don't seek advice, let alone agree to hospitalizations - a hazard of the job. in other words, my going to the MD on this particular day, early december, was a big step. but i go, when i know i need to go.
i told my MD, who is so totally cool...she's actually a nurse practitioner and is totally awesome, sweet, with great presence and people skills......that i had this nondescript "thing" here....she poked around and we couldn't elicit anything...not appendix. she had me do labs and a stool sample which came back with blood in the stool. she explained the next course would be a CT scan, of which i did 2 days later...showing absolutely nothing, except a shadow on my lung. the only next plan of treatment would be a colonoscopy...my first. :( i asked her if maybe we could just repeat the stool sample, just in case that was easier...:) she didn't fall for it.
IMPORTANT!!! i never noticed any bleeding, or blood in my stool. that is because this "thing" (which has not left my "side" since) is located at the ileocecal valve (located at the small intestine as it goes into the large intestine). being so far into the bowel (what's considered the last third) blood cannot be seen by naked eye.....this is an important point for others! besides the nondescript "thing" i was feeling, i would have otherwise never sought consult.
there were only 2 other things that were important in putting a picture together in "this" diagnosis: my bowel habits were loose, and i no longer had an appetite....not usual for me :))
important, of course, is family history: on my dad's side there is so much cancer that it is astonishing to recant. so, please consider your family history.
in case i've not mentioned, the surgery that will occur (still can't wrap my brain around that one) will be a "hemicolectomy"........so, breaking up the word: "hemi", of course means part of; "col", of course is the colon; and "ectomy" is removal of. so the surgeon (who is also an awesome young woman, who only does these surgeries) will remove part of my colon....a third of it.
so, consider your colon.....picturing it as an upside down U in your belly........from the small intestine (right lower side), the colon begins on the right side going up ("ascending colon"), then across ("transverse colon"), then down the left side to the outside ("descending colon"). the surgeon will open my stomach (about 10 inches) and remove the total right side of my colon (ascending colon).
at that time she will check my lymph system, checking for metastasis, and look around in any other organs while in there. the lab will biopsy "this" thing. and i will know what stage "this" thing is once they know (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4 - better to worse). which will then determine if they will give me chemotherapy.
the size of "this" thing is 9mm........and there is a pulmonary nodule on my right lung - 8mm. another CT in 3 months will determine "that" fate.
the surgeon says the prognosis of my having addressed "this" early, is that over the next 5 years i "most likely will not die from it". they consider over a span of 5 years who has lived and who has died from these diseases and assign percentages to them. for a white woman, the percentage of woman who are still alive with colorectal cancer, is 65%.
so, a week from tuesday, i have to do another bowel prep. i'll go to the hospital (which, funny enough, i'm starting to slip and say "hotel"!) :))............the next day is surgery. surgery will last 2-3 hours. i'll be in the "hotel" for 3-7 days, pending complications of infection, wound separation ("deheisance") and all the other things that can happen in a bug enriched environment such as "hotels", and hospitals as well :)) with an at home recovery time of 4-6 weeks: no driving, etc.
my plan is to attend my niece's Race for the Cure, in west palm florida (THANK YOU MICHELE!!!!!) at the end of january...so, please pray for her, as well as my recovery so i can attend and walk with her and my sister, nancy.
anyway.....that's it for now.
love you all very much.....
enjoy this song/youtube vid, that my sweet friend, zita, dedicated to me this week:
p.s....when i mean "nondescript" thing, i mean i had no feeling of any pain.......just something there that was there.