Once again I can't believe that I haven't had a chance to update this blog since my last infusion. Funny how it seems to take a waiting room at Stanford to give me enough time to sit down and write! So I have some exciting news, yes I am DONE WITH CHEMO which is amazing, but honestly, this reality it hasn't really sunken in yet. I think that I'm so used to having the week off after chemo before the next that it just feels like this is my week off before another dose..but it is not, I'm done—come on silly brain, it's time to celebrate!
So what is the good news? I have 10 more days until my last surgery! Woo Hoo! You might be wondering how surgery/ being in the hospital can be good. Well I think that it is finally time for me to share one of the most humbling, humiliating and utterly human parts of this journey. It all goes back to my surgery on January 4, 2012. When I came to, and began coming out from under my drug-induced fog, I realized that something was not normal about my stomach area. Amid the tubes and IVs hooked up, I found that there was this crazy bag taped to my stomach right next to my belly button. I remember not really caring about this new appendage until about 4–5 days after surgery, which shows you what a fog I was really in. When I asked my surgeon about this new contraption he explained that because my surgery went so long, and because of all of the reconnecting that they had to do with my unique and oh-so-lovely colon, He felt that it was best to give me a temporary ileostomy. Now, I would not be one bit surprised if you are like me and many people of my generation that have absolutely no idea what this ileostomy thing is. Well, if you are really interested—you know what to do, Google it, right?! That's what we did! Despite what Google has to say, here is the quick low-down from someone who has experienced this humbling, embarrassing, life altering, bathroom hogging, anatomically amazing procedure that can be done to the human body. Basically the surgeon pulled a piece of my small intestines (the ileous) out of my body so that it pops out of my abdomen, ready to poor out liquid waste. Yes, it is true, all of my (now liquid) poop has come out of this little hole for the past 4 months. So this is where that crazy bag that is taped to my stomach comes in, you can guess what it is there for and how fun it is to have this attached to your skin, 24/7.
Back to my hospital stay in January. As I started experiencing all of the challenges of this bag I start asking my surgeon why he could have possibly done this to me and how soon he would be able to reverse it. He calmly told me that it was for my safety and that it would help give my newly reconnected colon time to heal. He said that if they had not done it there was the risk of my resected colon leaking gross stuff into my body and they were not willing to take that risk. "Okay," I said, "I understand." Inwardly I accepted that this was necessary, even though I was pretty depressed about how I would live with this thing for the next few months without dying of embarrassment or self-disgust. When I asked him how soon I could get it reversed, I'll never forgot what he said. In his kind but matter-of-fact voice he said, "Well I could reverse it tomorrow, but I wouldn't recommend it." He then explained that it would be best to give my overworked colon rest and that it would be unwise to do the reverse surgery until I was done with my chemotherapy. Alas, when I left the hospital in January I knew that I would get a chance to reconnect with all of the fabulous nurses that cared for me because I told them, "I get to have this thing reversed, so I'll see you in a few months!"
It has been quite the journey. I won't go into all of the horror stories, but you can probably guess some of the fun times that I have been through since January. I know that I would have felt so much more depression and pessimism if it were not for my amazing husband, Josh. He has sat up with me in the middle of the night so many times, just being there for me as I've experienced pain, sleeplessness and frustration with my condition. I thank the Lord that I married a scientific guy because when I ask he says that it doesn't gross him out, it is just a medical necessity to him. I often respond, "but it grosses ME out," and he just says, "one more month", "two more weeks" and now "just ten more days."
So there you have it. My good news= reversed ileostomy. No more bag! No more...(I'll spare you all of the details!) So, why share this ileostomy lesson? I guess I just decided it was time for a few reasons:
- No matter how much I'd like to avoid it, I have to deal with poop.
- Now that it's time for my surgery, I'd love your prayers for wisdom, understanding and steady hands for the surgeons and anesthesiologists.
- I'd also love your prayers for a smooth, and fast recovery. Even though this surgery will only be a one hour procedure (nothing compared to my 11 hour surgery in January), I will have to stay in the hospital for 3–5 days just to make sure that my digestive track can start working normally again.
- I want to encourage, support and cheer on anyone who was had to deal with crazy body-altering issues. As I have walked though all of this I have felt a growing passion to use my experience to encourage others on their journeys.
- I prefer honesty and openness in every area of my life. That's just who I am, thank you for loving me through it all!