Second surgery

The problem with time is, that over the span of a few days the mind’s focus is on something else and not being able to take notes, things become a bit blurry.

I missed a couple of key points with the first surgery. Of course, important news was, that there is no new cancer growth.

The other strange thing happened was, one night, when I was in extreme discomfort and pain, I’d rung the bell. It took 25 min to get answered. I fleetingly thought, I was glad I’m not having a heart attack. I asked the nurse’s aid to tell nurse I need pain meds. She trotted off. I was holding my expanding belly, moaning, crying in pain. Nurse came after many more minutes passed, only to tell me she had to call Dr. H. Came back and said, I was not getting any meds because : Dr. H. had said, since I’d taken morphine prior to surgery, the pain imprinted on my brain and this was NOT a real pain I felt. I looked at her in disbelief and said, it didn’t even make sense.

She left the room. I was doubled over at this point just crying helplessly and wondered whether I was in TWILIGHT ZONE!

I rang the bell again and again nurse’s aid came after a while. I said :’ I need pain medication right now!  After no one came, by now it’s 2:30 A.M and I had no pain meds in nearly 6 hours, I rang the bell again. This time I said:’ This is a hospital and I am in distress. I am hurting very much. If I do not get any pain meds, I will call my son, my daughter, the administrator.’ Finally, I was given Dilaudid.

(In retrospect, this was the time my abdomen was filling with bloody fluids.)

Next morning,  Stuart came on durty. He was there when I was in recovery at the first surgery and witnessed how very sick I’d been. I’d requested that the nurse from previous night not attend to me again. I am grateful for his excellent care.

After walking in the hallway and going to bathroom by myself, it was decided that I could go home. That belongs to first part. ———–

Back to Montrose Hospital and being told that I needed Emergency surgery and needed to go back to Grand Junction. This time, by ambulance with flashing lights. The road to Grand Junction is really, really bumpy. Of course, my main worry, in the ambulance was, that I either get sick, or have to use the bathroom.

Nice EMT Rick assured me and talked with me. Made me as comfortable as he could. Gave me a big hug  when they unloaded me and wheeled me to surgery. This time, a woman anesthesiologist. I pleaded to give me something different than her peer had. She said, not to worry.

I woke up, sore, in pain but not sick! What a difference. When I saw my abdomen, it looked like a trussed turkey. I had staples, stitches AND a red, plastic hose woven through. WOW. Dr. H. said, she was not taking any chances.

By now, I had not eaten anything in 5 days. ( I.V. fluids don’t count.)

I’d given anything for a hearty, nice, wholesome, home made chicken-noodle soup. But, nothing but the same awful, unhealthy choices.

Finally, I was allowed to come home a second time. My good Julie came to stay with me.  I still had nausea and pain. I was still dealing with constipation. I was so scared of THAT, that I didn’t take anything stronger than Ibuprofen.

One very early morning, I felt like I couldn’t breath. Could not get my breath nor breath deep. That scared me. Off to doc for H2O saturation test. I had to walk around the office with and without oxygen. Level fell to 86 (should be over 96).

Went to get oxygen and for 2 days, it helped a lot. Next morning, I breathed easier on my own again. Whatever the obstruction was, or swelling due to tubes, was gone. I could not envision my life on oxygen. Can’t travel.

My son Cameron had called and he was going to drive to Colorado to help me. Julie had to go back as her Grand father had passed away while she was here. Cameron arrived Friday evening and Julie left early next morning. I really appreciate that he would interrupt his life, yet again to help me.

On Friday, Julie took me to Grand Junction to have the whole stitchings out. The incision burned like hell. Felt like the scalpel slicing through. THAT had memory! The nurse said to use Orajel. We got some and indeed it helped some. It’s been a few painful days and slow walking. Each night, I pray that when I wake, it’ll be easier and better.

The BEST news of all of that is, that my Oncologist and Gyn/onc/surgeon both have said, I DO NOT NEED CHEMO!! I am doing so well with my lifestyle and cancer is growing sooo slow, that I can MANAGE it without chemo. It took a few days to really sink in. That I had won! The whole, long journey, the ridicule by some medical professionals, the head-wagging from acquaintances and some friends. The loud, sarcastic exclamation from Dr. Giggles:’ YOU CAN’T CURE CANCER WITH FOOD!!’  Well, perhaps not ‘cure’ but certainly we can help ourselves doing the best we can for the Immune system.

I have been told by doctors, that I was in very good shape and how it made all the difference. Once I am recovered, I will then continue this lifestyle.

Now. I want to count my miracles. One: Camino de Santiago. To be able to walk all that way and NOT have any pains (other than normal ones). TWO: Even though the cancer is not gone, it certainly has not moved or grown since I’ve returned, last October. Three: That my body responded to this healthful way and is healing itself. Thank you God.

Yesterday, was the first day that when I woke up, there was NO pain. At all. I layed in bed and cried grateful tears. I get a few more years. I can travel. I can function. I can visit and interact with my friends. I can do normal, every day stuff.

People just do NOT know how precious health is. They moan and complain about silly, un-necessary things.  Forgetting the wealth they posess. Or, stuffing themselves with enough junk food and toxic crap. In time, the body repays this horrible treatment and falls apart.

I am most happy to end this chapter with a heartfelt : CAMINO NOT CHEMO. Hard work and faith.

Surgery….part I

The day of surgery my friends Inge and Monika picked me up and off we went. Lovely day but I was somewhat apprehensive. (I was also already hungry.)

First stop the Cancer Pavilion to check in and complete paperwork, then across the street to St. Mary’s Hospital, Surgical Unit.

We didn’t have to wait very long before they came and got me for surgery prep. Had a little problem finding a ‘workable’ vein for I.V.  Then the anesthesiologist came in and we discussed anti-nausea meds in my IV so I wouldn’t get so sick, as I had been on previous occasions. One more hand wave to friends and wheeled into OR.

I remember voices, saying ‘take a deep breath’. I was in a LOT of pain and asked for pain meds. Was told again, as soon as my Oxygen level was alright, they could give me something.  Then, I was wheeled into the room.

Suddenly, one huge wave of nausea hit and I’m coming up into sitting position, in spite of my just incised belly and vomited. On and on. I was SICK! I tried to hold my belly and its stitchings but also had to hang on to Basin. At one point during retching, I heard this sound: “drrrrrrd”. I knew I had busted a staple but was also concerned about the noise-feeling.

I had told the nurses and my surgeon as well. Since my incision was doing well, no one thought of anything else. (I’d asked one nurse’s aid to measure my belly as it seemed bigger to me.)

Dr. H. told my friends and me that I had one of the worst cases of adhesions (scar tissue) that she had ever seen!! Also, my urethra had been totally encroached and choked with this stuff. There was one tiny place where urine could seep out but I was very worried at that time. Only a short time later and I would’ve been unable to void!!

I had the catheter removed and could do other functions (except one vital one). Was given uniform discharge instructions and a friend came to pick me up and bring me home. We stopped at a Cafe, so I could have a little breaksfast. Hospital Liquid and soft food leaves a LOT to be desired.  Their “fluids” are made of canned soups! Beef, Chicken, Vegetable. Salty like all get out! They do have low salt but the taste of canned made me nauseous.

At home, walking in, the house looked so very nice as it was cleaned and waxed and polished. Had all my friends lined out to come in and help while I’m in bed.

As the first day went on, I became bigger and bigger. My belly was extended to about 8 months pregnancy size. I thought, at first, that I was stopped up. Constipated from meds. Discomfort became such that I asked Connie to take me to the Emergency room. Nice, young Lady doctor, who then had the job to help get me started. Undignified procedure, to say the least. Also, at one point, when she advanced toward me with all the periphenelia, for a second I was that 8 year old child again, being manhandled by a nurse. That’s when I started to get teary. I didn’t want her to think that I was being difficult, so I told her what had happened. Sure is funny, how long any childhood trauma can linger.

I had also received a small bottle of Citric Magnesium. To help clean me out. This is the very stuff they give you for a colonoscopy. Came back home and for the rest of  that day, into the night I would take small swigs from that bottle, plus suppositories. (I know. I know, it’s really indelicate but I can’t find a way around it.)

I had started to have severe pains and asked Connie to take me to ER. Got pain meds per IV and after that felt well enough to go home. (I kept thinking, that something was wrong with the size of my belly. Friends suggested that this was ‘swollen’ and due to having surgery.) As did the ER crew. Everyone looked at the incision.

About 4:00 A.M I had an 8 lb Alien and then went to the bathroom twice more. Totally clean!! I was so elated that this was working.

As Connie had to leave in the afternoon, I called my friend Berle and she came for shift-change. Barely had changed my bed when I got my second BIG wave of nausea. I was so sick, I thought I’d die. Projectiles, wouldn’t stop and then, painful, dry heaves.  I also had to use the bathroom and when I came back to bed, I thought I had missed the pot as I was soppy wet all the way down but upon checking, my GOD, bloody stuff running out of my navel wound.

I looked up at a worried Berle, who couldn’t keep her concern in check and started crying because she was so scared for me..  I declared that I need to go to the hospital and be admitted as I could not keep coming back to ER and SOMEONE needed to help figure out what had happend.

I was admitted and put into a very nice room. My friends came, as I had put the call out. Dr. T. came and looked and requested a surgeon to look at me. Handsome surgeon came. He took a long Cotton Swab and put it into the belly hole and there was no bottom. He figured that I had ripped every INTERNAL stitch. I showed the nurses how, with just a little bit of pressure, a whole lot of bloody-water came out. Took a video of it so no one would blame Montrose Memorial Hospital. Surgeon called my surgeon and she wanted me back in Grand Junction to repair this herself. Since she knew what all was there and needed repaired.

(There is a picture and video on my Facebook, caminonotchemo page.)

I would like to say a BIG thank you, to my camino friends in Canada. (Sorry, I accidentally deleted your wonderful e-mail. Please send your e-mail address.)