Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sleeping through the apocalypse

Feeling like ass, I came home from work last night, fell into bed and proceeded to sleep through the next twelve or so hours.  Given the circumstances of receiving a cancer diagnosis and facing major surgery, I feel like should be exempt from having to deal with stupid piddling shit like periods and the common cold, but alas here I am, couch-ridden, coughing up gross stuff and generally feeling like my limbs are going to fall off.

I had dreams last night of the end of the world. I don't recall much, just that at one point the temperature dropped and snow fell in globs the size of cookie dough dropped on a freshly pre-greased baking sheet.  And then someone screamed something about the apocalypse so that's when I figured the world must be ending.

Upon partly waking an odd thought occurred to me.  Could it be possible to sleep through the end of the world?  

Think about it.  Going to sleep, snug in your duvet, and waking up to complete and absolute destruction.  Or nothing.  Floating in space, like the ivory tower in the Neverending Story. I think I might be inclined to roll over and go back to sleep.

I might actually do that now.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I saw my own rectum. They call this "progress."

As of Friday I had my shit figured out.

So, naturally, everything had to change, because reasons.

I got a call from my surgeon Saturday morning, informing me as i sat, dazed from just waking up and not yet having had coffee, that she had contacted another surgeon friend of hers in Toronto, who is, and I quote, both a "guru" and a "godfather" of colorectal surgery and is willing to find a spot for me ASAP in order to perform a restorative proctocolectomy and ileo anal pouch. In laymen's terms, he can take my colon out and make me an internal pooh-pouch in one fell swoop, which means a longer downtime (4-6 weeks at least) for this surgery but less surgeries overall. 

It also means changing the date of my surgery, my surgeon, the hospital it will be at AND my plan of action in regards to work, so I'm going to be dealing with EI and insurance companies and all that fun stuff.  But apparently this guy is a colorectal rockstar who has been doing these reconstructive surgeries since they could do these reconstructive surgeries, who will be doing the surgery in one of Toronto's biggest, swaggiest, gastro-specializing hospitals (Mount Sinai) so I'm thinking all the chaos of the past couple days and the on-coming weeks may be worth it.

It also meant, however, that I had to go in for a flexible sigmoidoscopy today to make sure that my rectum, upon having this pouch built, isn't about to erupt in little colitis-babies.  

Unlike its more invasive cousin, the colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy involves a camera about as long as that thing they use to suck the saliva out of your mouth at the dentist, with no anesthetic and no prep involved.  I was freaking out a bit at the no-anaesthetic bit, but it was only vaguely uncomfortable.  It was more comfortable than when the receptionist, working with 10-year-old contact info, mistook the Well Travelled One for the Ex-Hub.  Yay outdated records.

Did I mention a camera? And a monitor. I've officially seen the inside of my own ass.  Cross that one off the bucket-list.

My now-former surgeon, having been informed, my myself, of my history with random blood clots is also quite adamant that, Doppler or not, I should be put back on anti-coagulants, not just because I'll be laid up in hospital, but because did you know what else ups your chances of blood clots?  Give yourself a hand if you said Cancer.

Before that, I had to have a blood-work up this morning that I am pretty sure consisted of every possible test for things that could result in a predisposition to clotting.  After 20 minutes of waiting while the attending nurse entered the requisition, she came out with a strip of vial labels as long as my bloody arm and more vials than she could hold in one hand.

And I didn't even get a cookie.

So I'm being put back on anti-coags of the injectable sort for the next several months (at least) which means I'm going to look like a smack addict or a victim of domestic violence but at least I won't need weekly blood tests like when I am on Coumadin.  Also, Coumadin is essentially rat poison, so there's that.

So I'm enjoying my last couple of drinks before I go pick up my script tomorrow and wait to hear when my new pre-op appointment is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

These poop jokes keep writing themselves.

I went to consult with the surgeon who will be performing my colectomy yesterday and she told me I was booked for October 29th.  So I'll be missing Halloween, which blows since it is my very favourite time of year.  I made the decision then and there that I would NOT cancel my pending Halloween party, which has kind of morphed into a Halloween slash "Farewell to my colon" party.  I toyed with setting a theme of "medical malpractice horror stories" but I thought that might just be in a wee bit of poor taste.  Besides, I barely have time to plan the party let alone think up a new costume, especially when I had mine all planned out before this shit hit the fan.

A weird side effect of my upcoming surgery is the tendency to snicker at any reference to shit or butts in my day to day language.  In fact, just now, when I typed "any" I SWEAR TO GOD that my iPad tried to autocorrect it to "anus".

The well-travelled one made a joke tonight about telling people at work that I was having my "Give-a-Shit" removed and I nearly freaking lost it.

It's funny cause it's true!

I'm glad I can take some of this lightly (stage six: inappropriate humour) at least some of the times.  Don't fall under the impression that it's been all good.  Some of the bad days, the waking up terrified and angry and full of despair, have fucking sucked.  This past Tuesday I wanted to curl up under my duvet and sleep until I woke up and this whole bloody nightmare was over.  I could barely function. I sobbed as I attempted to have my morning coffee and when I got to work I stayed in my office and tried to interact with people as little as possible, especially since I am one who cannot remotely hide when I am upset.  Generally, if i have been crying it couldn't be more obvious if someone wrote "Holy Fuck Am I Ever Sad!" on my face in black sharpie marker.

Demi Moore with her single tear I am definitely NOT.  I cry the ugly cry.

At any rate, Tuesday night, at my nephews 5th birthday dinner, I was able to surround myself with family who respected my wish not to talk about everything beyond a simple update on where we were at, schedule and doctor wise.  By the time I got home my mood had lifted somewhat. Since then I've been feeling more optimistic, or at least too busy to dwell.

I'm kind of stoked that my surgeon is a woman, after dealing with a lot of older, male doctors.  Don't get me wrong, they've all been doing well by me and are quite competent, but my rah-rah feminist side did a little fist pump when I found out I had a lady surgeon.  I was a bit nervous by how young she looked (yes, Google is handy) but I believe that sometimes in medicine, what one lacks in experience can be offset by up-to-date training.  Also, you don't generally get to call your self a surgeon if you're just getting off the bus.

My consult yesterday assuaged my fears as she seems like a competent, confident but not cocky, doctor who was very good about answering all my questions while being patient about my inability to answer quite all of hers.  Like I can actually keep track of the times I've been hospitalized!  Chronology is not my strong suit.

Now I have a party to plan, preparations for the kids while I am in hospital, getting my stuff sorted out at work, and I am hosting karaoke next Friday.  So yeah, some time off will be nice.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mama's got a brand new bag.

I hope you'll forgive me the cheesy and obvious joke in the title of this post.  It's been one helluva week, with more doctors appointments, good news, bad news, ambivalent news and just kind of up and down, emotionally.  There's been a lot of tears, and a lot of anger.  Also a lot of people being supportive and awesome.

The good news! I got my CT scan results back, and there's no signs of metastasis (oh, Gord, I hope I'm using the right word there) so pretty stoked about that, but at the same time it's made me extra impatient to have the tumour removed.  Get it out while the getting is good.  Everyone involved has been doing well at getting the ball rolling but at the same time, it can't be fast enough.  

But at the same time I want to hurry up and get this surgery done, I'm dreading it. Herein lies the bad news.  After discussions between my internal medicine specialist, my family physician, and about 25 surgeons at a conference in Barrie (I'm a fucking medical anomaly, yo) the general consensus is that the whole damn thing is going to have to come out - my colon, that is - leaving me with iliostomy bag (..and there's the punchline. *rimshot*) until some restorative surgery can be done down the line.

I'm told it's my "choice" but in that way where, yes I have "options" but that my options are not really options.  Shit in a bag or have reoccurring tumours and a greatly shorted lifespan.

Cake or death?  I'll have the cake.  Thank you for flying Church of England.

This is where I start to wonder why can't i get breast cancer like normal women my age?  Not that breast cancer is not a horrible terrible thing to have to deal with in and of itself, I am sure it sucks on all levels and far be it from me to imply that breast cancer patients have it easy and honestly i'd rather not have to deal with any of this, but at this point in time, if i had to make a choice, i could pretty easily live without my boobs.  They're pretty much ornamental.  My colon, other the other hand, is pretty fucking useful, even if it has been quite literally, a HUGE PAIN IN MY ASS over the years.

All this shizz here got to go.
Which brings me to the more kind of ambivalent news.. This surgery, will, effectively cure me of my colitis.  Since you can't actually have colitis without a colon. Durr.  I won't ever have appendicitis either, since in removing the colon, you pretty much have to remove the appendix as well, otherwise it'd just be bouncing around in your abdominal cavity, attached to nothing.

Also, I will apparently no longer fart.  Which pretty much blew my mind.  Like,that's weird, right? the Kids thought that was hilarious and replied with some exaggerated replies of "Thank GOD!"

So, at this point, just waiting for the surgery date.  They're telling me at the end of the month.  They're able to do this laparoscopically now, which is good, I guess.  Means a lot less downtime than open surgery, but the scars won't be as badass.

I'm hanging in, for the time being.

Monday, October 7, 2013

There's no business like...

Today I am on the set of Big News From Grand Rock, an independent movie being filmed locally about a newspaper reporter from a small town who, in an effort to save the floundering local publication starts making stuff up in an attempt to make the local news a little less coma-inducing and get people buying papers.  Hilarity ensues.

On a whim, I went out for the local casting call, figuring hell, why not? I was rather nervous, but it was really cool seeing and hearing about all the other locals who came out to participate.  

No speaking roles were available, but I was invited to come and be an extra in one of the restaurant scenes.  So I counted my remaining vacation days, booked the day off and said "I'll do it!"

It's been pretty exciting for our little community, with all the local business and people taking part.  The restaurant where my scene is being shot is the same one I worked at for a year, pre-babies.  The same owners are here so I have had a few minutes to catch up with them while waiting for my turn on set.  The wardrobe woman was here, checking what I was wearing and taking pictures.  Being scrutinized so closely and having a stranger adjusting my collar is a bit disconcerting, but I suppose it's a part of the process.

There's a lot of waiting involved.  I've really only done a bit of light theatre in my time, and filming is an entirely different beast. Unfortunately, I lack the foresight to bring a book, but the restaurant has Wi-Fi hence the decision to blog a bit about my experience.  It's a bit lighter than yesterday's downer post (although many thanks for all the support). 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I'm blaming Bruce McCulloch for this one.

So, this week has been the downer to end all downers.  September 30th, 2013 has officially gone down as the worst day of my life

"The worse day of your life so far." - thanks, Homer Simpson.

Worse than September 25th(ish), 1998 when I was rushed to the hospital with a leg the size of a deli salami and a colon that had been bleeding my life away for months. Worse than January 13, 2003 when a very pregnant me saw her marriage shatter (a blessing in disguise if you ask me).  Worse than April 19th, 2005, the day I watched my home go up in flames.  Worse than that random day that summer when I was fifteen where everyone was fighting and we were broke and everything sucked and I hated life (I don't remember the exact date, but it was pretty craptacular.)

Nope, this was worse than all of them.

As you may recall, I had a colonoscopy a few weeks ago, to follow up on one that the doctors couldn't quite figure out.  Turns out "there's something here and we don't know what isn't is"  IS kind of, tangentially, similar to "holy shit, look at all this cancer," since that's what they found, this go-round.  A malignant tumour in my colon that will need to be operated on as soon as my internal medicine guy talks with surgeons and finds out which hospital is comfortable with taking my case.  You see, it is apparently rare to find colon cancer in one as young as myself.  *flutters eyelashes becomingly*

Go me.  You know, I've never wanted to be a record breaker.

So, this week has been a regular whirlwind of blood tests, CT scans, emotional breakdowns, and inappropriate dark humour.  Actually, I'm pretty sure the five stages of grief need to be adjusted to include inappropriate dark humour as one of the stages.  When I split with the ex, there was a Kids in the Hall sketch that helped me get through it.  Whenever I was down, my friend and I would recite the Hotel LaRut sketch and dissolve into giggles.

Now, once again, during times of trouble, Dave, Mark, Kevin, Scott and Bruce give me solace.  Mainly meaning that I can't get this damn sketch out of my head.

So, thanks a lot Bruce.  You always were my least favourite.

Ahh, but yeah, aside from the awesome healing powers of Canadian sketch comedy, I'm also quite grateful for the ridiculous amount of support I have been recieving, from The Well-Travelled one, who has been marvellous in listening to me freak out and letting me break down, to my family who have offered help in any way possible.  Not to mention friends and the management at work.

I'm not gonna lie.  I'm pretty terrified about all this.  But so far i am functioning on a day to day basis while I wait for more answers.  At least I feel okay.  Which is kind of messed up.  I don't feel sick, like, AT ALL.  I'm gassy and bloated and have occasional stomach cramps.. All that is pretty much par for the course for me.  It's rather surreal but at the same time, I'm glad at least right now I'm not feeling like crap, physically.

I have a rough go ahead of me.  But I will fight.  In the words of Aunt Becky, I'm going to go EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER on this thing. I will win.