It feels pretty crummy to start another blog post by apologizing for not writing sooner. I am so grateful to all of you, a huge circle of friends, who are cheering me on and committed to my recovery. You are invested in my health and you deserve to know the latest news. That is the whole point of the blog! So please know that if I go quiet it's not because I don't want to share but the news is hard to comes to terms with. When I write it down and publish it to the world it get too real and too painful. It takes me some time to process what this all means for my life. So thanks for being patient. (The other reason I was late posting was Nan was visiting for several days. I will post more about her visit soon) [...]
Michelle Kendall - Journal
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Last Wednesday we had our meeting with the head of my surgical team, Dr. Tozzi. I have not done my job keeping you all informed of the latest news; hopefully you will forgive me. Having to write it down makes it that much more real and I have been avoiding that. Not that my 12-inch scar isn't a constant reminder, but with friends visiting last weekend I was trying to forget about all this and just have some fun. The gravity of my diagnosis keeps repeatedly hitting me like a giant Stonehenge sarsen stone. Defeating this cancer feels as enormous as moving those stones all the way from Wales, but I try to remember -- one step at a time. And it helps to remember the small milestones, so on that note, tomorrow marks four weeks post-op. But, back to the doctor's report. [...]
Ovarian cancer (OC) is often called the silent killer. It is asymptomatic in its early stages. The noticeable symptoms typically only occur when the disease has reached stage 3 or 4, when treatment is less effective and survival rates are much lower. So early diagnosis is essential. Looking back to last fall, I did have symptoms, but it never occurred to me it could be something serious. I felt a little bloated and had slower bowels than usual. Most dramatically, I felt full after eating smaller than normal meals. I attributed this to my great dieting will power, since I was trying to lose weight. I had no pain, no bleeding. The last week of November we hiked 55 miles in the Andalusian Mountains in Spain -- I felt great, so how could I be seriously sick?! Take a look at the flyers I uploaded, know the symptoms, and spread the word. [...]
Happy 8th Anniversary, Bruce! I treasure every day with you and I hope there are many, many more. I'm holding you to that trip to Antarctica for our 10th anniversary. And now everybody else knows about it, so there is no taking it back. Thank you to Anne-Catherine for the wonderful massages and Rosa and Peter for the yummy salmon dinner. [...]
Wednesday's blood work came back -- yep, I've got a little infection. So the antibiotics I started were a good call. I had a bath yesterday (thank you, Shelly, for the ride and washing my hair, you are a saint! And thank you, Rosa, for the tub!) While I was lying low and perfecting my napping, Satie and Bruce were out adventuring and enjoying the view from St. Mary's tower. We had soup for dinner, made from spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, onions, basil, garlic, and lemon -- as many vitamins as we could pack in. Thanks, Anne Marie, for the emergency basil delivery. [...]
After two weeks of having my fight-or-flight on high alert, I think my system finally gave up -- a huge wave of peace and being tired deep into my bones has set in. I took a sleeping pill last night, wow! Why didn't I do that sooner? I had a great nine-hour long rest, the most continuous sleep I have gotten in two weeks. As long as I stay on my med regime I am having less pain in my abdomen, making it easier for me to sleep. This is one part of my trifecta of goals for the next few weeks before chemo starts: sleep, eat the healthiest food I can, and keep my spirits up.[...]
Now that I am home from hospital, I would love visitors. It will be several weeks before I am back to my perky self after this major surgery. I will likely need 4-6 months of chemo, so there are many days ahead when company and assistance will be welcomed. At this point a good visit schedule is late morning to lunch time, 10:00-12:30. I want to keep the afternoons quiet for napping, so please, no calls, skypes, texts or visits between 1-4. And as much as I would love to see all of you, please don't come if you have ANY chance of being sick. I need to stay away from germs. I will also need help with shopping, rides to the doctor, meals, etc. Rosa McCullagh has generously offered to coordinate. Email her to be added to the list. She will send out a weekly email with my needs, and you can reply to Rosa with what slot you want. That keeps me from have to do all the hectic back and forth coordinating. [...]
This morning I woke to find about a tablespoon of serosanguineous fluid (the fluid a wound makes) had leaked from my belly button -- gross. The incision, all 52 staples of it, is healing really well except for one staple deep in my umbilicus. With all the creases and crinkles in there it must be harder to get good closure. For anyone who wants to see my tummy prior to and after surgery, here is a link. (Mom, DON'T LOOK!) pre and post surgery tummy In the pre-op picture you can clearly see the tumor. I told Bruce we should name this unwelcome house guest, so with just a minute of googling he came up with "Porlock." "Person from Porlock" -- a perfectly esoteric and erudite name for an Oxford tumor. I told the pre op assessment nurse, thinking I was being all creative, that I named my tumor. She said, most patients do. Well, who knew. [...]
My first full day back home. I am hopeful the OIC is over and done with. Next subject. For the next 28 days I will need a shot of Fragmin to reduce my risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis. This morning I gave myself a shot for the first time without a nurse coaching me along. I had three lessons in Hospital. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I'm sure it will get easier with practice. Bruce changed my drainage dressing for the first time; he may not be "that kind of doctor," but he did a great job. I ate what seemed like an insane amount of food, I added it all up, at least 1200 calories, so hopefully my weight will stabilize. I may lose more during chemo so I'd like to hold steady at 148. I NEVER thought I would worry about losing too much weight. [...]
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