As most of you may know in late November I had a persistent cough. I had it checked a couple times, but finally the doctors did a scan and found a lung tumor. The treatment was 15 radiation sessions at Stanford, and I found the treatment easy most of the time. I was supposed to be done in early January. Very scary, but not as big a deal as I thought it would be. Then over the holiday vacation, I started getting very sick, constantly dizzy and nauseous. I checked myself into the emergency room to get some fluid and immediately out again, multiple times. I didn’t realize how instinctively independent I was and didn’t communicate the extent of my illness to anyone. And some of it I don’t remember at all. For over two weeks doctors and the family thought I had a bad case of the flu. On January 1st, Diane happened to be home and realized something was very wrong. She took me into the emergency room, which admitted me for dehydration caused by extreme nausea, believed to be from the flu. I have a two week brain gap here I cannot remember at all, so much of this is pieced together from family. After five days on five of the strongest anti-nausea meds (Phernegan, Reglan, Zofran, Ativan, Kytril and Scopolamine) I managed to keep down some jello for most of a day and was discharged, with all believing my flu had blown over and I would finish recovering at home. Two days later on Friday January 8th I was readmitted, and at 3am on Saturday (Jan 9th) morning I got a MRI. The MRI revealed two brain tumors. One of which, located on my cerebellum was causing my symptoms. Among other issues the tumor interfered with potassium regulation. The doctor’s put me on a constant IV of potassium, which burns out veins after a day or two, and scheduled brain surgery for Thursday, Jan 14th. Memories from this period are very fuzzy, but I do remember feeling like I was dreaming a science fiction story. According to my children my condition varied widely over the next two days. Sometimes I would be awake, ill but seemingly recovering, and then become violently ill and hazy again. On Tuesday I went from very ill to worse. Luckily my brain surgeon stopped by to check on me and decided I really could not wait for surgery. On death’s door they did emergency surgery between 8pm and 1am on Tuesday removing most of the symptomatic tumor. The day after surgery I was even sicker and I was ready to let go. Diane convinced me to swallow a little bit of Gatorade and my stomach kept it down. My sister Ann stayed with me making me feel loved, touching and improving everything including the nursing care.
Once I started getting better, I magically kept improving literally hour by hour by hour, to the point where I walked a wheelchair a mile and a half around the hospital on MLK day. I was well enough to feel cooped up and wanted to prove I could leave the hospital. The doctors agreed, and I was released at 5pm on MLK day. Every day more brain function returns. They are planning on doing non-invasive radiation treatment for the remaining brain tumor (and a small piece of the symptomatic brain tumor they could not remove). This will complete on January 29th, and my parents will be up to celebrate that weekend. Short term prognosis is very good. I will be out hiking and appear healthy by the end of January.
Having already spread from my ovaries to my lungs to my brain the cancer is very likely to return again, and I will face it when it does. There are no handles to grab on it or try this therapy, so the game of Whack a Mole is my best picture. Sometimes I let that scare me. Most of the time I let my enjoyment of life and happy plans move me forward.
We have all been totally scared and the family has been loving and supportive. I felt like I was surrounded by a loving, nonrestrictive net. We went quiet because we didn’t know what was going on for the longest time and it was better not to answer questions we had no answers to. Today, life is good. I can walk and talk and text and enjoy life. Each day more of me returns (like pins numbers) and being able to move post famine victimhood. I’m looking into PT because I under and then over used muscles and I’d like them to both heal soonest and quit cramping.
Tuesday I gleefully took my first shower in two weeks. (Embarassed the RN’s with my sheer delight.) I lost significant weight when I was in the hospital and am enjoying eight meals a day of whatever I want as I build myself back up to a normal body weight. Life is good.
This is my life the last month and a half. It’s pretty grim, and I’m glad to put it behind me. I’m still fiercely independent and would love to hear how you are doing. I will briefly answer questions if I must, but I REALLY don’t want to look at my life. I will be busy with many doctors’ appointments in the next few weeks (and months) and would be happy to talk about your lives and get together in Mid February and later as the winter drives me crazy.
And if I NEVER see any Gatorade or juice drinks, it will be too soon.