Monday, November 30, 2009

I Have Been Deported!

Interestingly, as I entered the surgery waiting room this morning, I felt overcome by a wave of emotion. I immediately went back to the morning of July 16, 2008 - the morning of my resection surgery. Then I saw images of Beau playing in the waiting room with Daniela & me in the late Spring of 2008 when we had been there together for one or two of my pre-treatment procedures. I felt my love for Beau and at the same time the profound of livig this precious life. I wiped a few tears from my eyes and sat down and waited to be called.

After a short wait, I was in the pre-surgery department and the nurses began my preparation - checking my blood pressure, my pulse and asking me for my name, date of birth and why I was there today. I asked the nurse if the sedation was required for the surgery. The nurse told me it was not and informed me I would have to speak with my surgeon if I was didn't want the prescribed sedatives. He and I spoke and he agreed to do the procedure with no sedatives - only the local anesthetic as was already planned regardless if I accept sedatives or not.

At this point, after as many procedures as I have had that required sedatives, I am more than happy to tolerate temporary pain or discomfort, in exchange for clarity of mind. First, because the local anesthetic is supposed to make the procedure relatively painless. Secondly, because I have no interest in spending hours after the procedure stoned from the cocktail of pharmaceuticals routinely prescribed for outpatient surgeries such as the one I had today. And third, because their sedative of choice is Versed which has an amnestic property and I am genuinely uninterested in having amnesia for the duration of the procedure for which I am sedated. When at all possible, I actually prefer to be conscious for whatever it is I'm doing.

Just before the surgery was about to begin, one of the surgical staff asked if I was certain I didn't want a sedative. I told her I was certain and she said no more about it. Shortly after, my surgeon showed up and asked he asked if I was certain I did not want a sedative. I told him I had been up to this point, but now I began to wonder if I hadn't made the best decision. So he and I discussed the reasons and he made clear to me that sedatives can provide a minor reduction in pain, but they are primarily designed to keep the patient relaxed and relatively unreponsive during the procedure since the patient is awake the entire time. Sedation keeps the patient from getting anxious or nervous which will cause a patients' blood pressure will rise, which will make things more difficult for the surgeon and staff. With that understanding, I told him to go ahead and skip the sedative. They reassured me a sedative would be immediately available should I change my mind. From what I understand, even when a minor outpatient surgery is performed, the patient is on an intravenous line - just in case something goes wrong, there is instant access to the intravenous system.

Well, everything went perfectly. The surgery was simple and successful and I no longer have a port. Or as my friend Jacquie said, "I have been deported!" Plus, I got to experience the procedure conscious and sober and even got to see the port after it was removed from my chest. I was amazed at how big it was. It looked somewhat like a two-sided stethoscope only not as broad but a little thicker (over one inch thick). I'm amazed the port sat almost an inch deep into my chest muscles. I had no idea.

Today I got one step closer to closing this chapter and it feels great.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

48 Hours From Now

On the morning of Monday November 30th, I am scheduled to have my port removed. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to the removal of this foreign body from my chest. Not much else to say.

48 hours from now, it will be gone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Negative Scan Results

Today was a great day. I saw my Oncologist and he informed me that my PET Scan was negative. Then he informed me that I no longer need to be on Coumadin effectively immediately, which allowed for two procedures to be scheduled: out-patient surgery to remove the port-o-cath from my chest & a colonoscopy, both of which were postponed until I was off anti-coagulants. So, not only did I receive good news about about my scan my I am finally able to get a little closer to the end of this chapter. Or so I hope.

I felt no anxiety about the PET Scan because I believe there will be no reemergence of cancer in my body. However, I did experience a surprising, yet very short moment of anxiety while I sat across from my Oncologist as he looked on the computer for my scan results. I was convinced the results would be negative, but for the five seconds I waited to hear it form him directly, I must admit my stomach fluttered with anxiety.

The negative scan results were good news. Being told my port-removal surgery and colonoscopy were going to be scheduled was great news. I am tired of having a foreign body (the port-o-cath) attached to my chest directly under my skin. And the colonoscopy can spot pre-cancerous polyps, which I would be surprised to have this soon following chemotherapy, but could still exist. And obviously, I (or anyone else for that matter!) would want them removed. Really, for me the colonoscopy seems like the final step in knowing without a doubt that I am 100% cancer-free.

And that brings me to the emotional side of this. I am still not out of woods. Physically, I still have a significant amount of physical therapy before I can be back to normal. And emotionally I am also still finding my way back to "normalcy." It seems it's still a bit of a roller coaster ride. I imagine as time goes by I will return somewhat to "normal." And for all I know, "normal" may not be what it once was which is fine too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PET Scan

Wednesday November 11, 2009 I have a PET Scan first thing on the morning. I don't have any Scanxiety. Feeling good about it. My doctor will inform me of the results during my appointment next week.