I haven't posted any updates for months. I guess "no news is good news". Exactly one month to the day after surgery, I got my second Jackson Pratt drain pulled. That wasn't a lot of fun because about a mile of tubing was inside me and had started sticking to my innards! Dave was on the road, Shaun was sick and Lani had to go home, so thankfully, Barb Tinsley went with me to the appointment. Barb is a nurse and one of the most caring people ever! She held my hand while the tubing was pulled. The Dr. said, "you're going to feel a bee sting". I've never had a bee sit and sting for several long seconds, so I disagree with that description, but it was one more step toward normal and I had more freedom with it gone. About two weeks later, I had the last drained pulled and was completely free.
I was still tired and run down at 5 weeks. I even talked to Dave about taking early retirement because I didn't think I was ever going to feel "good" again. Eating and drinking was actually a chore. At six weeks, I felt better and actually could start discussing a date to return to work. Friends from work told me not to come back too early because "once you're in the door, you will be expected to be full speed". So I waited until Sept 18 to go back. It was exactly 8 weeks since surgery and I thought I was doing okay. I worked 3 days that week and left for our annual church convention at Blackwater, Missouri. The time at Blackwater went well - Dave and I stayed in a little cabin and it was so comfortable. Shaun went to Blackwater, too, but he stayed at a hotel in Booneville at night and rested in our cabin during the day. It was a tough week for him but he did pretty well given the circumstances.
After Blackwater convention, I went back to work full time. I know that my coworkers covered for me a lot and I was dead tired by the time I got home every afternoon, but things were going very well, My stomach was back in working order and my appetite had returned with a vengeance. I had a CT scan, scopes, and blood tests done in December. Dr. Al-Rajabi (who is oncologist for Shaun and my sister, Kay) said it was up to me, but there was really no literature suggesting chemo since my cancer seems to be completely removed. I chose not to do chemo, but be diligent in surveillance. He wants to do scans and lab work every 3 months and reassess after each scan. On the scan in December, the radiologist commented on "non-alcoholic fatty liver". Dr. Al-Rajabi said it was probably due to rapid weight loss, but sent me to a liver specialist for a second opinion. Dr. Dunn, the liver Dr. said there was no liver damage and he would suggest checking liver enzyme levels yearly. One less thing to worry about! I had a upper GI scoping done, but with everything below my stomach being completely rerouted, the scoping wasn't really successful. So I was given a pill camera to swallow. That got lodged in a corner someplace and the 4 hour battery ran down before we got any good images of my small intestine so that didn't tell us anything. I had another CT in March and was told that everything is healing really well. Dr. Grisolano - GI specialist - still wants to see the inside of my small intestine so next week I am scheduled to have an MRE. I guess it is similar to MRI.
And so, things are pretty much back to the way they were a year ago. I can eat pretty much whatever I want. I work full time and take a nap after work. Best of all, I can go to Dalton and run after, play with and carry the grandkids around. They are so precious. Kay and I went to school to be "Room Grandmothers" for Rhys and Rhylen's valentine parties. (Sorry, Kay, I guess you were a "Room Great-Aunt" . . . . if that sounds better) ;-)
Thanks again to everyone for all the support. Our family certainly has the benefit of wonderful friends.We had meals sent to us, lawn mowing done, rides to appointments, mood altering visits (I had to use my laugh pillow often), some new clothes and so many prayers. Shaun has said so many times that life isn't fair and that is certainly true. I feel guilty for feeling so good when he hasn't been well. We have lost 2 very close, dear friends to cancer and know of many more who have bravely finished life sooner than they should have. I pray for the strength to deal with whatever hits next.
All our love and thanks, Lori
P.S. I added pictures of the Valentine parties!