I've been struggling with an inaugural post truly written by me for this blog. Do I first write about my feelings, fears, things I've always wanted to do but haven't, or do I take a step back and start from the beginning of this whole cancer thing and tell whoever is out there reading this how it began.
The 'About' section has a rather good synopsis, but it doesn't capture the entire story from the start, so perhaps the beginning is the perfect way to enter (or rather, re-enter as the case may be) the blogging world.
To say that I am a stubborn person (as...well...anyone who knows me will tell you) would be a gross understatement, so when I started having pelvic pain and a spot of blood in my urine on December 13th, 2021, I chalked it up to a UTI and called my PCP for a prescription to "fix me up." The next day, when my menstrual cycle began, the pain took my breath away. Once again, I chalked it up to my cramps simply returning after not having them in over 3 years. Though my husband Mike wanted me to go to urgent care, I told him I was "totally fine," and that I would "push through the pain."
Fast forward to Thursday, well....technically Friday at 4AM, and I am wide awake. I cannot sleep and I am on the floor SOBBING begging my husband to die (we'll see the irony in that later). The pain is worse than birthing two children. I desperately want to sleep through the pain, so I take OTC pain meds and manage to go back to sleep for a few hours. It's not even remotely restful. I should probably mention that by this point I've missed work because of dog emergencies early in the week (they're okayish!) so I was absolutely determined to go into the office Friday and catch up on my work.
I hobble into the office after a not great night of sleep, in a ridiculous amount of pain and wear a heating pad while I work. I'm not doing well, but I'm absolutely hell-bent on getting my work accomplished. I spend my day getting lectured about going to urgent care by literally everyone. I promise to leave early and take care of my health, and I do! (30 minutes counts as leaving early, right?)
I get to urgent care, wait about five minutes and they tell me my case is too severe for them and they cannot help me, I need to go to the ER immediately. At this point I'm actually a little nervous, so I call Mike and ask him to meet me at the emergency room. I get there and with Mike by my side get checked in, on an IV thankfully get magical pain meds that make some of my time there a teensy bit hazy, but also evidently makes me hilarious, so win/win?
These are some of the things that I do remember.
-I had a complete blood workup done
-I had some other blood tests done
-I had an ultrasound done to look at my ovaries
-I had to have a Covid test done and it was by far the WORST one I've ever had. It wasn't the long Q-tip style, it was a fuzzy little thing and it goes even further back and stays up there for 20 seconds. My nurse, though very sweet, didn't explain it was different from every other Covid test I've ever had, and I wasn't expecting my brain to get swabbed and the swab to stay there, and she may have been slapped. And then there was a profuse amount of apologizing.
What they found from the ultrasound was that I had a massive cyst and possible ovary torsion. They needed to do exploratory laparoscopic surgery immediately to find out if that was the case. So, they did. It was terrifying, both for me and for Mike.
When I woke up, I found out that they had removed my ovary (leftie) because, while there was no torsion, the cyst had ruptured and was leaking fluid (ew) and inflaming everything around it. While they were in there, they also did a "cleanout" of my pelvic fluids (which they took a sample of to get information of what was going on in there), one other thing which I've sadly forgotten the name of because that was now forever ago, and they biopsied that stupid ovary (hey, it tried to kill me, good riddance I say, good riddance).
I recovered two nights post-op in the hospital and was allowed to go home on Sunday (December 19th, 2021). I have to say, I have always had a huge amount of respect for C-Section moms, but after my surgery (which was minor in comparison as mine was laparoscopic), I have even more respect, because holy guacamole did that hurt and take a long time to heal from. I can't imagine how much it hurts to heal from a Caesarean. Respect, Mamas. I spent the majority of that week cool as a cucumber, happy to be pain-free (except for the surgery, which was to be expected).
Two days before Christmas a MyChart result popped up on my phone. (MyChart is our portal for everything healthcare), so of course, I popped on and looked at it. It was the result from the pelvic fluid slide. I didn't really expect anything interesting to be on it, especially since the doctor always calls before anything bad comes up...
I looked at the result and it was very clinical. Clinical enough that I didn't understand it. So I googled it. Again, what most people these days. And google says, from a verified site: "this protein is only found when cancer cells are present."
My brain, for once, went silent. I didn't know how to process this. I didn't know what to do.
I messaged a friend moments before hysteria set in and showed her the results (she's an APNP). She told me not to panic, it might not be that at all. My brain started going through all the tests they ran, the biopsy, this, etc....I called to Mike, crying, I tried to show him the test result, but it was no longer visible to me on the portal, like it had been recalled. He told me not to panic until the doctor called and said it was cancer. It was too late, I was already there. Twenty five minutes had passed at this point. Mike started to walk out of the room to attend to the boys, and my phone rang.
"Hi, Browen? This is Doctor X, your OBGYN Surgeon. How are you doing?"
"I would be doing a lot better if I hadn't googled my MyChart results." *insert forced laughter*
"Ohh, I'm so sorry you had to find out that way"
"F*cK I'm sorry for swearing, but F*cK F*cKF*cKF*cKF*cK Mother F*cKe*, oh gosh, I'm so sorry for swearing."
"You don't have to apologize, can you get Mike on the phone and we'll talk about the results?"
"Yes....sh*t...sorry, oh f&c*, sorry"
Honestly, I don't remember most of the conversation, besides her telling me I had colon cancer cells in my pelvic fluids which meant that it had metastasized. I remember that she was kind, and empathetic and I can tell she hated making that call. I know that that phone call resulted in her ordering a bunch of bloodwork and a CT Scan and referring me to my Oncologist, whom I would meet a week later, however we'll get to that in another post.
I mostly had Mike talk to her while I cried. I don't know if I was crying out of anger, fear, sadness, or all of them, all I do know is that was the tip of the iceberg of being overwhelmed. It was just the beginning. More was coming and I was not ready for it. None of us were.