Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Annual Colonoscopy

Yesterday morning I had my annual colonoscopy. I can't believe it's standard protocol for sedatives to be given without question. I mean, I know a colonoscopy can be quite uncomfortable for some people, but I'm curious how uncomfortable it is for the average person. Because with a few series of deep breaths, I was able to manage the occasional discomforts. And the bonus was that I was able to go right to work directly after the procedure and not lay around sedated all day.

Oh, I almost forgot to say. Results were NEGATIVE. Everything looked good. My next colonoscopy will be in December 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saw Two of My Doctors Tuesday

I saw my surgeon on Tuesday November 25th and he was happy with my progress. On Monday I realized I am no longer experiencing foot drop and that's very positive. The only lingering symptom is some slight numbness on the bottom of my big toe and the toe next to it. My doctor expects me to be able to return to work two & a half weeks from now. It's a little more time off than I had hoped, but I will do exactly as his says. This is clearly his arena and not mine.

I also saw my oncologist, the new Chief of Hemotology at Guthrie, on Tuesday and he said all my blood work was great, other than an increased white blood cell count. Considering I had surgery just a little over 24-hours prior to the blood test, it would make sense my white blood cell count was up. He also recommended I seriously consider being tested for the genetic predisposition for colon cancer. He said if I do have a genetic predisposition for colon cancer then my son would need to start having annual colonoscopies at age 26 - 10 years prior to the age I was diagnosed. If I do not have the genetic predisposition for colon cancer, then he could begin annual colonoscopies at age 36...I think. I find out more about that at my next appointment.

Considering I was a Stage II Rectal Cancer when I was diagnosed (at age 36), it would seem the start date for my son's annual colonoscopies would be based on when the cancer likely to have started, not when it was found. The cancer probably started two years prior to diagnosis and perhaps a cancerous or pre-cancerous polyp was what preceded the cancer a couple years prior to that. So I think it's more logical to start his colonoscopies at age 32 if I'm not predispositioned or age 22 if I am. Sorry kiddo. I wish you didn't even need to think about it. xoxo

Friday, November 19, 2010

In the Clear

I'm happy to post that the withdrawals were over by Saturday. Now I know if a doctor treats me with narcotics in the future, I will need to plan for a few additional days of recovery to manage the withdrawals. Bummer, but it's good to know what the necessary preparation will be.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post-Surgery Withdrawals/Recovery

On Monday, I underwent spinal surgery. Two small pieces of spinal disc were somehow chipped off of one of my discs and stuck in the nerve canal of one of my vertebrae. The surgery was a success and requires two to three weeks of recovery.

During my pre-surgery meeting, my surgeon told me he would use Dilaudid, which is an opioid and a derivative of morphine, for my pain relief and then prescribe morphine for the pain. I immediately let him know I had previously been on medically prescribed morphine for a year and was not interested in having to manage withdrawals and would prefer something else. He said he would accommodate my request regarding the post-surgery pain management and use Tylenol with Codeine along with muscle relaxants.

Well, I stopped taking the Tylenol w/ Codeine and the muscle relaxants on Thursday morning and have since been experiencing what I can only describe as withdrawal symptoms. I have no concerns about addiction issues. I'm just disappointed that I'm going through withdrawals after being on narcotics for only 48 hours. And perhaps that's what I can expect as a result of a being on morphine for a year. Hopefully the withdrawal symptoms will subside in a day or two and not drag on for 10 days like the morphine withdrawals did.

On a good note, Extra-Strength Tylenol seems to be enough to manage the post-surgery pain. If all goes well, my medical leave from work will only last two weeks at the most.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Life's Purpose

One of the many gifts revealed to me in my cancer diagnosis was realizing my commitment to be a Life Coach. And it wasn't long after that I realized I would coach people with cancer, be that person the one with the diagnosis or someone whose loved one has been diagnosed. Daniela felt the pull as well and, as you know, she was certified while I was still undergoing treatment and together we created Insight Coaching. I have since been training to be a certified Life Coach and I LOVE it. It's a privilege to be able to pay forward the support I received from so many when I needed it.

Yes, Insight Coaching is a business, yet we offer a complimentary sample session to anyone who requests it and has not worked with us before. My commitment is that each person I work with experience their diagnosis with purpose, grace & ease. I am clear that just one conversation will make a difference in the life of a person willing to be coached and I invite you to accept my offer of a sample session and use it to your benefit with no strings attached and feel no obligation to be a client. I want to give back and it moves me to be a contribution in the lives of others.

Our url is http://www.InsightCoaching.US

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Independence Day xoxo

It's been many months since I've posted anything. Well, last week I received my CT Scan results: NEGATIVE. It was July 16, 2008 when I was told I was "cancer-free" (at least as cancer-free as one can be). Come July 16, 2010, it will be two years that I have been "caner-free."

I can say without hesitation that having cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The bonus gift was that I got to stay alive.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Return to Work

Tomorrow, Monday February 22nd, I return to work.

I'm amazed at what has happened since March 27, 2007, the day I was diagnosed. It has been a week short of 35-months since I was diagnosed. And May 11, 2007 was the last day I worked before my treatment began which means it's been 33-months since I last worked.

So, when I was offered a position managing a couple senior communities with my former employer, it was amazing what came up for me. Naturally I was thrilled. I am finally back on my feet taking care of my family. In addition, I love working with seniors and I'm familiar with the company's ways of doing things so I have comfort in that. But what also came up for me was the sudden realization that I am going to be separated from my family and they will be separated from me.

Now that may not seem like much, in fact it's pretty normal for most people. You go to work, you come home. It's routine. However, for what's been almost three years, I have been relatively isolated and we have been in this one little house watching the creek flow by and spending nearly everyday with one another. Fortunately for us, spending so much time together has worked. It's actually been wonderful. Yet that is also part of why returning to work is such an emotional transition. Beau was 5-moths old when I was diagnosed. He's now 39-months old. I have been home with Beau & Daniela everyday for almost the last three years.

It's been an incredible privilege that few couples ever experience and at the same time, our closeness and need to be with one another has intensified as a result of what has kept us here, my well-being. For Daniela & me it was a powerful bond based on our partnership in keeping me alive and providing Beau a healthy and stimulating living environment. At times when it became draining and often emotionally painful, I could turn to Beau, look into his sweet little eyes and be represenced to my motivation to do what ever it took. I believe Daniela has had a similar experience. At other times when I was out in the world, and feeling too vulnerable and anxious to be out in public, probably due to my life and future being so uncertain and thus profoundly precious, I could easily retreat to the house, safely in the nest with my loved ones. At times the vulnerability that revealed itself throughout this experience, created an even closer bond between us.

Honestly, I don't believe I can fully articulate what the process and this transition has been like. What I can tell you is that preparing for me to return to work has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for Daniela and for me. Again, it feels great to return to work and to be a self-sufficient family once again, yet I have been feeling anxious. I have to keep reminding myself that I have had a profound and life changing few years and feeling a bit anxious is to be expected.

Will I miss spending every day with my family? Absolutely. And at the same time I have noticed that Daniela can keep Beau occupied and intrigued throughout the day with ease, where I on the other hand am easily overwhelmed which he tunes into and soon after the chaos ensues. So, returning to work is great for all of us and it will equally be quite a change. Also, considering the alternative, finding my place back in the world is a great problem to have.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Temporary Unavailable

If by chance your attempt to access this blog was denied in the recent past, I had temporarily made it unavailable to the public so any potential employers would not be dissuaded by my recent medical history. However, only days after making the blog "invite only," a woman whose husband was recently diagnosed with liver cancer contacted me via my sister, so she could read the blog and perhaps even speak to me about my experience and determine the best treatment for her husband.

I see this as no coincidence and after some thought I have decided that to share my experience in detail with those directly or indirectly experiencing cancer far outweighs the cost of a few potential employers who decide not to hire me because of it?

Sorry for any confusion. It took me a few days to represence myself to the commitment that we're all in this together. Not just with our health, but with all we are and all we do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Negative is Positive

Last week I had a colonoscopy and blood work done and everything came back negative. It's great to report another exam result as cancer-free. And I was awake during the colonoscopy so I got to watch the screen and see the inside of my large intestine and I also got a little peek into my small intestine. It's amazing what it all looks like. And it was great to not be doped up for the rest of the day following the procedure. There was too much of that too many times. No thank you.

My physical therapy is going well. I continue to make progress. Initially the progress I made was pretty significant. Now I seem to have found my pace and the progress I make is not so significant, but steady. I can still get pretty tired doing anything physical for very long, but I can certainly do more than I could before the physical therapy started.

I was surprised to hear a report from my physical therapist that my disability insurer contacted him and told him they thought I was ready to be off of disability, followed by their asking him if he agreed. He said he responded by asking the representative if they knew I had just had surgery days before they called. The answer was "No." Apparently, the representative suddenly had a change of heart.

I am clear that insurance companies have to keep people in check and not allow funds to wasted, but it seems what's missing is a little common sense when making such decisions or better yet, assumptions. Maybe I was bumped to the new guy's caseload and he didn't bother to read the file. I'm supporting my family on a measly disability income, itching to be healthy enough to get back to work, and they've got the gall to call my physical therapist and tell him, not ask him, but tell him they think I'm ready to return to work. Perhaps if I was claiming back pain and then helping friends move furniture, I could understand why they might tell my physical therapist I'm ready to return to work. But when they don't even know my health status and still try to get me off of disability... Unbelievable.

Okay. I'm done with my rant. Back to what matters. I've passed another round of tests. All results are negative. Happy New Year!!!