There have been so many ups and downs through out the last 8 months and battling cancer is a constant mind game. Being realistic about what is happening as well as keeping it at arms length to not let it consume me is a constant balance. I am usually pretty good at keeping everything in check and am continuing to enjoy my normal life, but on the weeks of my surgeries I start struggling. This week is one of those weeks, Thursday I will be going in for hopefully my last surgery of the four they planned. As soon as the surgeries have been one week away, an under lying anxiety starts creeping in until the day before where I am somewhat of a basket case. The coping skills I have built for some reason don't seem to work as well when it come to approaching surgery dates. Before September 2016, I had never had any surgery, not even a minor one. My liver surgeon who did my first surgery was going over the procedure in his office and noticed the worried look on my face. "Have you had surgery before?" he asked. "No," I said "so I decided to sign up for all of them!". He laughed and assured me he would take good care of me. When I finished chemotherapy and radiation, someone mentioned how great it was that I was on to the next step. I smiled and agreed but in my head thought Yeah but this is the step where they start cutting me open!!!! I had no clue what to expect which is one of the hardest things, the fear of the unknown. I am very lucky that I have amazing surgeons that are not only at the top of their fields but are also very caring and reassuring. Each surgery has been so different and all have had unique challenges that I had to heal through. Since September I have had 65% of my liver resected, a colon resection and temporary ileostomy, left lung wedge resection and this week will have my right lung resected as well as my ileostomy reversed. The most amount of time between each have been 8 weeks and only 6 weeks between my liver and colon procedures. Needless to say I now have the routine down pat.
I wake up at a time that I don't consider morning but the middle of the night. I go in and kiss each of the kids good bye, cuddle with them for a second and tell them I can't wait to see them after I wake up. Their faces are what I keep in my mind and are the ones I think of as I am put under. I always have a bit of a sinking feeling as I leave the kids and shut the door to the house. My mom and dad drive me and it is always a quiet drive, its dark and I wish I was still sleeping. The hospital is always weirdly busy for that time of day and it feels like it just never sleeps. We go up to check it and I anxiously wait for Becca to get there to calm me down. They call me in and I get to change into a very unflattering gown and then get walked to the OR. The OR is usually busy with nurses and residents organizing everything for the doctor to come in. I have had three different surgeons and each one has come in and put my mind at ease that they will look after me. Sydney brings Daryn in, Melinda or Megan meet them there and I am so lucky to have a waiting room full of people who love me as much as they all do. The support that my kids get is unbelievable, Daryn usually gets pretty anxious and I have friends that know how to settle him as well as make sure he is not looked over during the process. After the doctor comes out to talk to them about how the surgery went the kids, especially Daryn get very anxious to see me. Sydney being older has a great calming affect on him and is there to hold his hand and comfort him when needed. Again my kids make me so proud with how they have handled everything with more strength them some adults. As I come to in recovery my kids two faces are the ones I need to see, they always light up when they see me and my heart almost breaks because of how much I love and need them. They can only stay for a couple minutes, and only two people can come in at a time. As mom and dad come in I can see the relieve on their faces that I am ok. Dad usually has teary eyes but mom is always smiling. Mom always squeezes my hand tight and asks me how I feel. Megan and Melinda have stayed with me after my surgeries making sure I am ok, help me move to my room and get me settled.
Here is when the challenge of my support team starts because I am a pain in the ass lol.
The word patient is completely lost on me, friends and family would all agree that I am more of an impatient, which I am sure doesn't help the situation. I hate being in the hospital, even though the staff has been great, I like my bed, my tub and my couch not to mention I like the taste of real food. I find the idea of a semi private room bizarre, imagine you have a flu or are sick in some way and all of a sudden there is a complete stranger in your room that doesn't feel good either. It is just such a weird feeling to me. I have come to realization that the hospital is not a place to heal, they fix me but the lack of sleep, the disgusting food and uncomfortable beds are not a place to heal. I do as much as I can to get out of there ASAP. I am a lover of my own bed, I am not one to stay at others houses often, camping is not for me and even a hotel bed takes a couple days for me to get use to. As trivial as it sounds I think some of the anxiety is actually because I would just rather be home. I will seek out what the doctors and nurses are looking for to "ok" me to go home. I ensure the people around me that I would never leave if it was detrimental to my health but past that get me the hell out of here!
The word patience is better suited to my support team that have to put up with me even when I get home. I find it very frustrating not to be able to do things for myself and show it by being grumpy, glaring and pouting like a baby. I have a clear picture in my head of Becca and Tamara standing in my kitchen after my last surgery getting dinner ready and both yelling at me to just sit down and chill out. I was puttering around my house trying to "help" and they both just had enough of politely telling me to not pick something up, just sit down and relax and leave it up to them. Becca had put up with me for 2 straight days already telling me numerous time to just sit and relax. I worry with this up coming surgery that it is on my right side which is my dominant arm and how much more it will limit my mobility. I have learned that planning for, not the worst, but the likeliness that it will be longer than I hope to manage on my own is better than assuming for the best then scrabbling to find help if I need it. It is a good solid two gong show weeks usually of being in pain, uncomfortable, bitching, being grumpy and whining (this is why they take shifts, I am sure, so one doesn't strangle me). They all talk about me behind my back organizing what I will need for the first week I am home from the hospital, warning each other about what mood or state I am in and what I like to call plotting against me by hiding things like the hospital issued staple remover knowing that I probably would have started taking them out on my own.
As my anxiety of being cut open, being in pain, being away from home, the unknown of what's ahead, and how I will deal with this surgery creeps in I can find ease and comfort that my love ones, my support team, my heros, and the ones I can rely on, know me better than I know myself, love me through the bad and ease my fears by being there for me every step of the way.