6 Months Post “Almost Dead”; What a Long Strange Trip it is…
Tonight at 11:30 pm is the anniversary of Bryan and I walking out the door for the ER at Duke Hospital (well, first to Mebane Urgent Care…thank all of the Everythings they were closed!).
It’s been 6 months since I was almost dead, and I’m learning that this “recovery” is actually a long journey with twists and detours, road blocks and pot holes…. and I have to learn to roll with it, without expectations, the best that I can…
Last week I had an appointment with “my” Ontological Surgeon, for a 6 month post surgery assessment. My Trauma Surgeon (who saved my life) has now fully passed my care onto him. My blood work came back anemic (as always), but otherwise uneventful. My colon is still leaking. My surgical wound is completely healed, except for the 2 small fissures that are leaking the fluid that is still leaking from my colon. The “good news” is that this fluid is walled off from the rest of my abdominal cavity, so the pocket of fluid that is left in my abdomen from the trauma is not increasing by the continued colon leak. So that is finally starting to get smaller. There is still inflammation in my abdomen because of this fluid, but it’s also getting better as the pocket gets smaller.
The “not as good news” is that because the way the scar tissue has formed, Dr Blazer is not sure anymore that my colon is actually going to heal itself. He is going to give me until Aug 2, and then I’ll have a CT scan to see where it’s at. If at that point there is still a leak, he will schedule a second surgery – this time a bowel resection – for early November. It will be a “2 in 1”, where he can fix the leak as well as take the lymph nodes closest to where the appendix was, in order to gain more information about the cancer, and whether it metastasized. But he wants to give me until August to see if it will happen on its own.
IF the scan shows that my colon HAS stopped leaking on its own, then he’s not sure it’s worth putting me through what he called “a difficult surgery” for just the information that the lymph nodes will provide. He believes he may have enough to create a positive treatment plan for my future without the need to put me back into the hospital 7+ days, and off my feet another 4-7 months. I’m also learning very quickly that the “year” everyone tells me it takes to not feel like you’ve been hit by a truck after a major surgery is accurate. I’m thrilled there is a chance that I won’t have to go through a second round of surgery, and that Dr. Blazer is the kind of doctor who changes his plan depending on the current needs and situations of the patient.
There is still pain everyday. I’m taking a non narcotic pain-killer that I can’t yet go without. Most days are good days. Some days are less good, but I’m having far fewer BAD days than I was in the beginning. I”m back to doing yoga, and have started working out again beginning to fully engage my core. *I’ve even FINALLY found tape that won’t pop during deep pose stretches LOL!!* I’m getting stronger and I look forward to being back to where I was before the surgery. I also know that if I must have the second surgery, the stronger I am, the better and faster I will heal.
Last month was also 2 years since I started my weight loss journey. I’m down 75 healthy lbs and feeling good about my current weight. I’m working on eating healthy and making good choices about food. I’m reading all about microbiomes and am trying to resist the depressed bored eating that clutches me as I sit on the couch. I am still being accountable for my food and what i put in my mouth by tracking with weight watchers. I am dealing with body issues about my abdomen and the scar that I never had before– but as I had a crazy story I have a crazy scar. I am working on accepting my body as I am now.
I am slowing taking massage clients back onto my schedule. I am back to about half of what I was before the surgery. I can also only manage to do 1/3 of the work in a day that I could before the surgery, and I”m fully exhausted after. I know working out and getting stronger will help my endurance with doing massage as well. It’s frustrating that I spent 14 years building a client base and this just knocked me out of the park. I’m doing a lot of journaling and working on not beating myself up for this, and for not “doing enough” while I’ve been home and recovering. Let me tell you, being creative was not as easy as I wanted it to be.. in fact in the early days just getting off the couch was a challenge.
The current bill is around $35,000. We are still working with an attorney, as well as the insurance company to bring it down. Duke is refusing to be helpful at this point, so we may have to escalate things… but the https://www.youcaring.com/estherrodgers-691283 page is still active. It’s helped with my not being able to work, and now not work more than part time, as well as saving for what will ultimately be a large bill.
SO.. visualizing to actualizing continued healing. I’m working on accepting things as they are now, as not a “normal” but as a “currently.” I haven’t reached a “normal” yet…so I have to accept this limbo space of healing and recovery. As frustrating and disappointing as it is, it’s also positive, and creating opportunities for growth. I need to accept things as they are, not want things as they were- what they were will never be again, and I don’t know what they yet will be. Living in this “now” is difficult because the now is difficult– but I know it won’t always be. And I will get through this, because I made it through the first part.. and that was the hardest of all.
I appreciate everyone’s continued support, encouragement, prayers, wishes and vibes. There are good days, and less good, but there are not so many bad…so that is indeed progress. I am grateful to be alive – the rebirth of Spring brings an entirely new meaning this year.