Thursday, July 22, 2010

A little better all the time

I'm beginning to get anxious calls from friends, so it must be time to update my blog once again. Coming home from the hospital was a big deal for me. I'd always heard that hospital was where you caught stuff, and with a big incision in my tummy, I was feeling vulnerable. The ride home was rough, with each bump shifting my insides. It was lovely to be eating real meals outside, to be sleeping in my own bed and to be taking slow walks around the neighborhood. I had learned that keeping to a strict schedule of Tylenol and Naproxen was important, and I was feeling pretty good.

On day 12 I went to my family doctor to have my staples removed, and to touch base with her. It felt good to have a snag-free tummy again, and no, my belly didn't pop open once the metal was removed. Just having a doctor to chat with about all sorts of things was nice - she explained a lot about the healing process to me, and said that I was progressing very well. She thinks that I could begin to cut down on my pain killers, since I am feeling so well.

Day 13 I went to see a naturopath who talked a lot about dietary treatment that could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy or after chemo is over. It would be nice if the MDs could work with NDs, but that isn't happening yet in Canada, so I left with a list of supplements to run by my oncologist to see what she will allow me to take during chemo. If nothing, then I will get back in touch with my ND when I have exhausted my chemo options. I am taking only 1 Tylenol every 4 hours now, as well as the Naproxen.

Day 14, yesterday, I decided to stop taking the Tylenol, and in typical Super Woman mode I decided that I was ready to shop at Costco. Bad plan. First of all, the half hour car ride was about all that I could take - I only managed to get to the frozen food section before I was on my knees, and I spent the rest of the hour sitting on a bench in the food court while JP and Malle finished shopping. I couldn't get back home fast enough and take a couple of Tylenol. So my lesson has been - 1. listen to the experts - 2. it takes about 6 weeks to heal completely - 3. pain killers are your friends - often (lie down) during the day.

Day 15 and I am back on track with the Tylenol. I had a couple of visits from friends this afternoon, and a couple of mid-day naps, and am feeling great now. Miriam will be here tomorrow with Viva, so the house is being super cleaned and healthy food prepared in advance. We are all aware that her critical eye will soon be upon us!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Post Surgery - days 3 and 4

Saturday (day 3)I got out of bed, washed myself, dressed in real pajamas and had a short walk around the corridor. How nice not to have to have hospital gowns floating around me! Was served "breakfast" and couldn't face the jello. PASSED WIND!!!

The doctor came around and pronounced me ready for real food, and I lay waiting for lunch to arrive for the next couple of hours. My first real meal was a creamy soup (yum!) and a dry egg salad sandwich. I ate the inside bit of a half sandwich, then drank my milk. Most of the afternoon I lay in bed feeling digestion taking place, new pressures in my gut, getting up, and passing wind. Our room was full of my family and the other Anne's, and there was much cheering going on from both camps when there were audible digestive changes. I was feeling a bit worse than yesterday, probably because they were reducing my pain meds prior to dismissal. They dismantled and took away my drip station, but kept my lines in, in case I became nauseous.

Supper was sausages and instant mashed potatoes, covered in brown gravy, along with steamed carrot strips. You have to wonder if they know who they are feeding when they fill the trays, but my meal was different from my roommate's, so I guess that there is someone at the helm. All my nurses were saying that I would be dismissed in the morning - not soon enough.

Sunday (day 4). Washed, dressed in civilian clothes, had my first bowel movement (apologies to the squeamish), and felt like I had won an Olympic Gold Medal. The doctor on call came round and pronounced me good to go. Nurses removed my lines, and JP and Cathy came to collect me. I was moving less well today, and got my pain meds a little off schedule. Seems that these regular interruptions by nurses night and day serve some purpose after all.

We arrived home to a clean, bright house, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, and a wonderful meal. My challenge now is to eat less than I want in order to keep the pressure in my bowels down and pain at a minimum. I took one narcotic pill (oxycodone HCL), but didn't feel a whole lot of difference. The risk of constipation from it helped me decide that I would rather just depend on the anti inflammatory (naproxen) and extra strength Tylenol for pain control for the next week.

I am sleeping wonderfully, have no trouble negotiating the stairs, and am reasonably pain free. I wish I had snagged me one of those hospital gowns though - I cannot wear anything around my waist because of risk of snagging one of my 31 staples, but think I have found a solution by wearing a long tee shirt under a shift dress.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hospital - days 1 and 2

My operation was a bit like my first chemo - it was in and out, followed by "what was all the palaver about?" On Thursday morning I woke up at 7:00, showered and dressed, and by 7:45 we were in the car and on our way to Sunnybrook. I was admitted to hospital, peeled away from my family and prepped for surgery - clothes bagged, lovely gaping gown put on, laid out on a gurney in a little curtained area and covered with an inflatable heated blanket. A drip line was inserted into the back of my left hand, and blood was drawn to cross check for typing. Then JP and Miriam were allowed in and rode up to surgery with me. They kissed me goodbye and went off to the waiting room, and I was wheeled in the other direction. In the hall outside the OR, I met with 6-8 doctors who would be with me inside - My surgeon and his assistant, the anesthetist and his assistant, and others I can't remember now. I was told what they expected to do, and it was my chance to ask last minute questions. I have to admit that for once my mind was blank. When the room was ready, I was wheeled inside the OR. Things began to happen quickly - I was given an injection of antibiotics and was attached to a drip. I was given an oxygen mask to suck on for several breaths, then asked a series of very interested questions about where I had lived and worked recently. I remember getting to Italy - and then I woke up in Recovery about 2 hours later. I stayed there till about 4:00 pm, with people fussing about. I discovered a sausage shaped bandage running from above my navel to the top of my pubic bone, and I felt amazingly comfortable.

At 4:00, I was wheeled off by the same nice nurse. As we entered my floor, I could see Miriam, Eric and JP at the end of the hall, and we waved to each other in relief. My room was a double, even though I had signed on for a triple ward - the good luck of the draw! - and my roommate was another Anne who had had surgery just previous to me. She too had peritoneal cancer, and it turned out that we shared both oncologist and surgeon. This gave us an immediate sisterly bonding, and her good natured wise-cracking, easy to get along with nature, and wonderful family made it the best possible environment for healing.

Thursday evening (day 1) I was able to sit up on the side of the bed for 5 minutes, with the help of a morphine pump. A couple of hours later, I pumped again and sat up for 15 minutes, till once again I felt nausea. I slept deeply, in 2 hours chunks - interrupted for pills and taking of vital stats.

Friday morning, my surgeons visited on rounds, and told me that they had removed my appendix as well as the female stuff - there was a cancerous cluster there - they found studding on the pelvic floor, but it seemed to be inactive (don't remember if it was removed or not) - that everything that remained was microscopic, and that they were pleased with the operation and the results. I was still feeling no pain, sat up for half an hour without nausea, and took a walk down the hall before lunch. Calling it lunch is being generous - it was just like breakfast - juice, hot water, lemon jello. Miriam and Cathy brought me wonderful homemade broth that tasted soooo good. I took another walk around the halls in early afternoon, and another with 3 laps around the unit later that day. By evening they were letting me trot around without human support, dragging my drip station with me. By this point I was not using the morphine as the other drugs were fine alone, and I suspected that my little bouts of nausea might be traced back to the pump.

Time was measured by meals - supper was like lunch/breakfast - and I was told that I could not have real food until I had passed wind (farted, for the less cultured). The nurse told me that there was lots of noise in my bowels and that walking would eventually work the air out, and once there was proof that food would not just go to my bowels and stop, they would let me eat. I went to sleep that night to the sound of "The Shrieker" an elderly gent with dementia who lived two doors away because there was no bed for him on a more appropriate ward. I was filled with compassion for his roommate of one week...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Surgery Day

We are very pleased to announce that Anne has come through her surgery in good shape. An unexpected appendectomy was performed in addition to the scheduled procedures, and she is presently resting in hospital.

Jean-Paul and Miriam went with her to Sunnybrook early Thursday morning for an 8:30 check-in. She was then admitted around 10, and was experiencing little to no anxiety. She doesn't remember falling asleep, but only answering a bevy of questions from the anesthesiologist about her early life.

The surgery was completed and Anne was transferred to recovery around 11:45, where she remained in a state of semi-consciousness for several hours. It was during this time that she overheard some staff talking amongst themselves about her appendectomy.

At a little before 4 p.m., Anne was moved to the bed where she will complete her hospital stay. She was greeted there by Jean-Paul, Miriam and Eric (her favourite) with much relief and emotion. Amazingly, she was very coherent, felt good and was all smiles. The family stayed with her until about 7, during which time she dozed a little, made and laughed at jokes, and even sat up (to the amazement of all present). Based on the events of this afternoon, a quick recovery is expected.

Cathy and Anne-Marie were not at the hospital as the number of visitors was very limited today, but will come tomorrow.

Many thanks to everyone for your support, attention, and good wishes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Countdown to surgery

Monday's appointment with Dr M was very good - we had her full attention and she answered lots of my questions before I asked them. She was concerned with the rise in my CA 125, and wondered if that would compromise my upcoming surgery (not an issue says my surgeon). She says that I am to let her know when I feel strong enough for another chemo (she wants another three) after surgery. I'm not looking forward to that, but then, I wouldn't want to not have them.

The past week was busy with lots of work on the house and in the garden. We biked to the Spit (I rode from home to the lighthouse and back)- I was exhausted by the end - too long and with strong wind - and arrived back at home ready for a long rest. In the evening we walked to the beach to sit in the sand and watch the Canada Day fireworks - splendid! Today, Saturday, we drove to a friend's house near Peterborough, our first foray outside the city since December. The weather was beautiful, and it felt great to get away for a few hours.

Tomorrow begins my countdown to surgery - I take the first of 5 daily disinfectant showers and fanatical clothes changing to help keep super bugs out of the hospital. Monday will be my last day of solid foods. Tuesday and Wednesday I will be consuming only clear liquids - we've stocked up on Jell-o, fruit juice, Gatorade, clear broth and popsicles - Yum!! Nothing at all for four hours before I'm admitted, except for my thyroid pill.

I'll get the call Wednesday afternoon that will confirm the time of my check-in and operation on Thursday. I have opted to stay in the 3-bed ward, rather than the semi-private, more expensive option. I wasn't given a private room option, and can't see the difference between sharing space with 2 people or 3.

The troops are gathering - Cathy is here, Anne Marie has just flown in from Paris (she has a cold, so will probably be sleeping at her dad's house), Miriam arrives Tuesday evening. It seems a waste that they will be here while I am in hospital, but it will nice to have their visits, I am sure.

My next posting will be post surgery - not sure when I am going to feel like having my computer on my tummy. I'm feeling very good, looking forward to the surgery, and trust that all will go well. Thanks for all your good wishes.

My New Boubou

My New Boubou
Boubou with handy pocket

Getting better

Getting better
Wilson and Me

Due to Popular Demand

Due to Popular Demand
I'm a Redhead

I still love my chemotherapy

I still love my chemotherapy
Who needs hair anyway?

I love my chemotherapy

I love my chemotherapy
walking to Princess Margaret