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Archive for November, 2012

So tomorrow is the day.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past couple nights, so I doubt I’ll even bother trying tonight.  We have to get up about 2:00 or 2:30 in order to get everyone out the door and to Ochsner by my 5:00 a.m. arrival time.  Maybe I’ll sleep on the way down there…maybe I won’t.  Regardless, I’ll get all caught up on my sleep in the next few days LOL.

I’m not really nervous, not yet.  I’m dreading it though.  I know its going to hurt like the dickens and that the recovery is really gonna stink.  Previous surgeries, I’ve had my big blue recliner to recuperate in…and sleep in for the first couple weeks back home.  But, it finally bit the dust, and the recliner I have now, when new, was comfortable, but it was extremely cheap too and now ITS getting broken down.  Ahh well, I’ll figure something out.  I may just have to get someone to drag me out of the bed every morning 😉

My cats won’t leave me alone.  Gilda is shy and somewhat anti-social…I have to pick her up to get her to sit in my lap at all.  Even she is hovering around me.  I can reach out right now and touch any three of them at a moment’s notice.  I’m sure if Perry were inside he’d be hovering too.  They know something is up.  Maybe I’m more stressed and nervous than I realize.  I’m going to miss them while I’m in the hospital.

I’m choosing to look at this as just another surgery, and I’ll come out on the other side just fine.  The alternative still worries me a little, but I’m doing all I can to pray and get back to where I need to be…I can’t do much else about that because what will be, will be.  I do feel good about the surgery…just not the recovery.  In one sense, knowing pretty much what to expect as far as the pain goes kinda sucks.

So anyway, I’m just trying to get things ready to go, but I know I’m forgetting at least a dozen things in the process.  I was lying in bed at 2:00 a.m. last night, making a list on my iPhone of what I need to take.  I’d be lying if I said I wanted to do this, but at the same time, I do want to get it over with so I can get busy with recuperation.  I just want it all over with so I can come home and enjoy what’s left of the Christmas season.  Its my favorite time of the year.  And yes, if I end up with a protracted hospital stay, I WILL have a Christmas tree in my room.  Lights too.  I’ll make it happen…Amazon is an amazing, wonderful invention 😉

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All of you who are Christians know the old saying…”If you died tomorrow, would you go to heaven?”

Since getting the first news of my cancer returning, I haven’t cried.  I haven’t stressed.  I’ve felt like its all going to be ok.  The stress I’ve had and the few tears I’ve shed so far have been for my kids, mainly, but overall, I feel like everything is going to be ok.  I’ve talked to my girls, who are taking this diagnosis really hard, and reassured them that no matter what happens Monday, I’m going to be ok.  I told them even if I don’t come out of that operating room, I’m going to be just fine.

The truth is, I don’t know what to believe anymore.  I lost my faith for a time after my stepdad Jay died.  I was so angry at God that at times I even questioned His existence.  Deep down though, I always *knew* I was just acting like a pouting child, trying to get my Father’s attention by denying Him.  The anger really didn’t last long, but it was still there, and something I still feel guilty about.

When I carried Ruby, I never got mad at God.  I prayed like I have never been able to pray before or since.  I had a lot of trouble praying for her at first, because I felt like it was a selfish prayer, but I got over that and prayed and prayed, cried, begged, pleaded with Him for my baby.  After she was born, and I could see evidence around me of how she’d touched people in her very short life, I was sad, even depressed a little, but I was ok.  However, along about what would have been her first birthday, I wouldn’t say I got mad exactly, but I was extremely bitter.  My health was continuing to decline, I couldn’t do any of the things I used to be able to, I could see the babies born around her birthday crawling, walking, cooing, looking oh, so adorable, and I wanted my baby.  I started realizing that when I went to church, I couldn’t focus on the message, all I could do was think about how much pain I was in sitting there, wondering what was for lunch, just weird stuff that would pop into my head.  I kept having to force my attention back to the pastor (who is a very good pastor by the way), and I was getting frustrated.  I couldn’t pray anymore.  I didn’t feel like I could ask for anything for me because again, it was selfish.  When I’d try to pray, my mind would wander.  I realized it was Satan trying to keep me away from God, but I couldn’t seem to do much about it.

I began to slip…I started letting swear words drop more and more often.  I got mad easier, at little things.  I deliberately got into arguments with my mother when she tried to preach to me.  For the most part, I quit “praying” altogether, although looking back, I realize that I never failed to thank Him every day…when I was able to climb out of bed, I’d say a quick “Thank you, Lord,” or something similar.  Whenever anything good happened, I would do the same thing.  So I always felt like He was still in my life, if not directly in front of me.

Since the cancer returned, I haven’t really been able to pray much.  I’ve said a few, “Thy will, not my will” type prayers, and a couple times I actually prayed that He would deliver me from the surgery and everything would be fine.  But I felt guilty…not worthy.  I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be.  People have assured me that it doesn’t matter, that He understands because of what I’ve been going through, that I was truly saved, therefor I’m going to Heaven if anything goes wrong…but honestly, its not the way I was raised.  I believe people can and do backslide.  I’ve been told that if you backslide, you were never truly saved to begin with.  I beg to differ.  I KNOW I have been saved in the past, and I KNOW that I have backslid, more than once.  I believe in God wholeheartedly…I try to do what’s right with my life, and I try to be a positive influence to my kids.  But I make mistakes…sometimes big ones.  This whole past year and a half haven’t been pretty.  I can’t seem to figure out what I really need to do to get back to where I need to be.  Justin thinks I’m holding myself to an impossible standard, but I’m not…I know I’m going to make mistakes.  I can’t explain it, but I almost feel as if God has turned away from me with my inability to pray and focus on that prayer, to the exclusion of all else around me.

Its something I’ve struggled with for months, but I pushed it aside because I was still firmly believing in God and his ability to answer prayer and provide miracles.   This morning however, I got scared.  I had one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had, but recounting it, its so rediculous.  I believe it was a message from God, although not as powerful a message as I received in 2006.  Perhaps it was more of a warning, a reminder, I don’t know.  All I know is that at the worst part of the dream, I told myself, “This is a dream, wake up now,” and I woke up.  The first thing I did was thank Him that I’d woken up.  The next thing I did was wake Justin up and ask him to pray with me.  As he was hugging me and waking up enough to pray, I managed to mumble, “I’m afraid for my soul.”  That man, I do not deserve him.  He prayed for me for over 30 minutes.  I was mad, because while I was praying along with him, my mind kept wandering.  I looked at the clock several times.  I cried a couple times.  I again had trouble focusing on the prayer, the nightmare, whatever message God may have been sending me…my brain started to rationalize the whole thing.  I started coming up with excuses, and that made me madder, and being mad made me have even more trouble praying.  I know I’m ADHD but dang, I’ve always been able to pray until about 3 years ago.

Basically, I’m not sure where to go from here.  I’ve been staying out of crowds because I can’t risk getting sick, and flu and everything else is ripe this time of year.  I’ve been hesitant to go to church, because I think that people will say “She’s only coming because she has cancer again.”  My brain will NOT let me stop thinking all these things.  I just want peace.  I think part of my problem may be that there’s a part of me that hopes I WON’T come out of that operation, because I’m so tired of constant pain, constant disability, constant nausea, constant weight fluctuations.  Its all just getting to be so much.  Everyone thinks I’m so strong…after every surgery, I don’t cry, I don’t even complain much.  I grit my teeth, get back on my feet ASAP, and do everything they tell me to do.  Admittedly, I do ask for the strong drugs after surgery.  I’m afraid to take too much pain medication here at home because of the history of addiction on both sides of my family, but in the hospital, I give in to the relief because its controlled.  I’m sure it doesn’t make sense, but it does to me.  Anyway, I’m not strong.  I’m very weak.  I don’t like this…I don’t like not being able to enjoy my kids and my life.  But…I deal.  Still, it makes ending it all a very attractive prospect.  I would never commit suicide (there’s the whole “hell” thing), but drifting away on anesthesia, well, it doesn’t sound all that bad.

So, I’m all over the place.  I need prayers, lots of them.  I want to be able to find peace with God, with myself, with my health.  I want to be able to “pray without ceasing.”

I know we can’t always get what we want, but I feel like that’s something I need.

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I’m not exaggerating here when I say that since June, things have been so tight financially around here its not even funny.  We were scraping by, getting the needs met and sometimes having a little extra for something nice.  Then over the summer, we got underwater when we helped some family out, and we haven’t been able to get our heads back above water ever since.  There’s nothing extra…nothing.  I haven’t been able to get my hair cut since the summer because the money just isn’t there.  Renting a movie and ordering a pizza once a month are pretty much the only extras we’ve been able to do.  My mounting medical costs are not helping matters at all either.  The hospital wants me to pay more money when I go now…no longer just the copay, but fees the “new” insurance plan doesn’t cover either.  The money just isn’t there.

Justin decided to round up our cows today (we only have a few), and is going to take them to the stockyard Monday to sell.  We’re that desperate for cash right now.  We would get $3-400 if we’re lucky for the lot.  Out of the blue, a young man shows up knocking on my door, wanting to buy Justin’s old truck that has been sitting in the yard for a couple years due to something electrical we can’t quite get figured out.  He offered $300 cash.  We wouldn’t be able to get that at the scrap yard.  SOLD.  I’m not sure yet if Justin is going to go ahead and sell the cows, or wait now, but either way…when we least expect it, God will provide.

I have to say, its a little bittersweet.  This is the truck Justin was driving when we met and started dating…I have many fond memories in that truck…my favorite date was to Vicksburg, to the Civil War Cemetery there, and it was such a wonderful day…”I love you” was said for the first time that day.  It may be 16 years old, but it was a good, solid little truck.  I can’t watch it leave…I’m sentimental that way.

God is Great.

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Really trying to stay positive, but every little thing that goes wrong really sends my mind whirling. For instance, I passed out yesterday…first time in a long while. I’ve been having dizzy spells for months. This morning I fell again…didn’t lose consciousness, but it was a close thing…lot of roaring in my ears, felt hot and flushed all over, massive headache out of the blue, dizzy and gray around the edges of my vision. After I got up off the floor, I was real wobbly on my way to my recliner. I hadn’t had a full meal yet, but was in the process of eating when I went to my room to get my glasses. I fell on my way back. So I sit here, trying to figure out why I’m having trouble staying on my feet. I checked my blood sugar…yesterday it was a little high when I fell, but my test strips were over a year out of date, so I’m not sure exactly what it was. Justin brought me some new strips last night, and about 3 hours after eating, it was 211. Not bad. When I fell today, I tested it about 20 minutes later, and it wasn’t bad at all…183 and that was during my meal. Now, over an hour later, its 111. Totally normal.

So of course, my next thought is, could this be the tumor?  When I saw Dr. C a couple weeks ago, he said that it was almost completely blocking my inferior vena cava, if not blocking it completely.  He said it was hard to tell for sure on the imaging, but that the size of it indicated it could be blocking it.  He said the veins around the inferior cava were all enlarged, compensating for blood flow.  When I start passing out, it makes me wonder if those veins can’t handle the load.  It makes me wonder is that tumor growing?  It makes me wonder if it can come loose and start traveling up the vena cava.  My mind will NOT stop.  I keep telling myself its fine, its just stress, etc etc but my stupid mind won’t listen to me.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night…a lot of things going on here in the home that just stresses us all out.  Everyone is reacting to the upcoming surgery a little different…Dr. C really stressed how dangerous the surgery is, and explained that its a surgery they’ve never really done before, so they’re basically going to cut me open and wing it.  I have complete confidence in him, but its a little stressful.  I’m having to take more pain pills to sleep, and that bothers me too.  Everyone thinks I’m so strong and handling this all really well, especially because I haven’t cried about the surgery and the possibility of dying yet.  I’ve cried, but its mainly frustrated crying when I’m in a lot of pain, or can’t do something I feel like I should be able to do, that kind of thing.  But as far as accepting the reality of this new tumor and its location and the difficulties in getting it OUT…I don’t know, I guess I’m just numb to it all.  Its almost like I don’t even care at times.  I keep asking myself “why me?”  Seriously…I know that God won’t give us more than we can bear, but honestly Lord, I think I’ve had more than my share.  Sure, there are people out there who’ve had it much worse, and I try to empathize with them, but I’m so sick of this roller coaster ride I call my life.  When things start to go well again, suddenly there’s a new twist, bend, loop, etc.  I’m tired, so very tired of it all.  I told my friend that I felt like death would be a relief, but I don’t know how sincere I was.  There are times when I truly feel it would be a relief just to drift away and not be in pain anymore, but there are other times that I WANT to be here, no matter the disabilities and curve balls life keeps throwing my way.  I want to see my children grow up and be happy and successful.  I want to grow old with my husband.  I don’t want to miss a thing.

And yeah, I have a call in to the doctor about the passing out and falling.  I almost didn’t call, because I don’t want them to think I’m freaking out about every little thing, but the falling bugs me.

How do people who have the worst parts of cancer…the chemo, the radiation, etc, deal with this?  I don’t want to know…and I feel selfish for that thought but its true.  I have to deal with the pain and discomfort and other physical things, but honestly, if I had to deal with chemo or radiation, no one would say I was strong, because I would be in tears all the time.

Ten days…I have ten days to go, and it can’t come soon enough.

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I know I haven’t updated the blog…its been too difficult to sit still and focus.  On the one hand, I’ve got so much to get done before surgery…on the other, I don’t WANT to do any of it…as if it will delay the inevitable.

The board of doctors finally decided that they want to do the surgery.  The oncologists were the lone holdouts, because this tumor hasn’t been diagnosed as malignant, and won’t be until its biopsied.  However, a needle biopsy could do more harm than good…IF the tumor is encapsulated (all but one of my tumors have been), a needle puncturing it could release cancer cells into my blood stream, which I don’t have to tell you would be a bad thing.  Even if its not encapsulated, that wouldn’t be good.  Its almost completely blocking the inferior vena cava, so regardless of whether its cancerous or not, it has to come out.  The problem, as Dr. C explained it, is that this is a first for them.  The size and location present problems that they’ve never had to deal with.  He explained that instead of having Plan A and Plan B, they need to go in with Plans A, B, C, D, E, etc.  So much can go wrong on the table.

I asked him what was wrong with me, because I’m not terrified.  I told him I’m more worried about the painful recovery than the possibility of not waking up from the surgery.  He laughed a little, and said that I might be a little numb to it all because for me, its just another surgery, that I’ve been dealing with it so long, been sick for so long, that its hard to put it into perspective.  I suppose he’s right.  Still, I look at everyone freaking out around me, and wonder what the heck is wrong with me because I’m just rather blase’ about it all.  I know from experience that about 30 minutes before the surgery, I will get anxious and nervous, but for right now, I’m more laid back about it.

My surgery is scheduled for November 26th.  I have to be there at 5:00 a.m.  All three of the kids are going to miss school to go…they want to be there until its over, however it may turn out.  I’ve decided that they can be…if they go to school, they’d be pulling them out of class to tell them I was in recovery and ok, or heaven forbid, to tell them I’d died…either way, when they get called out of class to find out, they’d be worrying themselves to death, so I think its best that they be with family, whether it be good news or bad.

It still bothers me that my status as a cancer patient knocks me off the organ transplant option.  Even with a family member willing to donate, they won’t do it because the cancer makes me a bad risk.  The problem is, my cancer isn’t that huge a deal…when its metastasized, its been small tumors that they caught quickly and removed.  Its not a situation where its spread and I’m sick from chemo or radiation.  The only organ impacted has been my liver, and its healthy as can be, and had no recurrence of tumors at all in over six years.  I did have a tumor on my right adrenal gland last year, and it and the gland were removed, but my right kidney itself was fine.  I guess I’m a little biased, but I don’t see that I’m a bad risk for a transplant if the blood loss during this surgery stuns my liver or kidneys to the extent they don’t “come back” after the blood flow is reestablished.

People look at me, and they don’t see that I’m this sick.  Other than the protruding belly and the liver spots on my face, I look good.  When I wear makeup and cover up the spots, I look REAL good.  I get around fairly well most days, and I don’t sound weak or anything unless I’m having a really bad day.  If it weren’t for Dr. C, they probably wouldn’t have caught this for that reason alone…I don’t “look” sick, so I must be fine.  Dr. C has been with me every step of the way over these past six and a half years though, and knows my history, so he’s stayed on top of things.

I’m not afraid, not yet.  I’m not even really all that concerned.  Maybe its blissful ignorance, but I’ll take it.  I do get stressed out, thinking about the recovery.  I know from experience how painful its going to be, and Dr. C telling me this will be my worst surgery yet doesn’t ease my mind much.  He stressed again at our last appointment that they may have to crack my chest…that until they get in and see where everything is situated, scar tissue is, and the ease of access, they just won’t know.  I”m not a really tall person…I’m only 5’6″, but my height is in my legs.  I have a very short torso…another thing that may make them crack my chest.  Ugh.  I’ve seen Dad and friends recover from heart bypass surgeries…it looked really painful.  I do NOT want to go there.

I’m doing a lot of praying, but I feel hypocritical about it.  Why do we pray so hard when we face something that might kill us?  I pray all the time, sure, but I don’t think its as ernestly as I’ve been praying the past couple weeks.  I don’t really know what to pray for.  “God, please heal me” seems so shallow and self-serving.  Asking Him to see me through this trial also seems selfish.  The truth is, I’ve forgotten how to pray for myself.  I’m very self-conscious and always feel like everything I’m saying is for affect, and not sincere.  Then when I start over, trying to be more sincere, I feel like I’m not fooling anyone.  My mind never stops, it never lets me have any peace, but constantly fills me with self-doubt and loathing.  I’m trying to place it all in God’s hands, but letting go of that control is a very difficult thing to do.

I don’t understand why these things keep happening to me.  I made a lot of mistakes in my younger days, true, but do those mistakes warrant this?  Its been one thing after another, ever since 2006.  It just never stops…I never get any peace.   I don’t know what its like to just relax…my brain is always working overtime, I’m always stressed and worrying about something.

This is one reason I haven’t updated my blog.  I feel like I’m constantly whining or complaining.  I feel like maybe I’m talking about it too much, making myself the center of attention too much.  Boy, those “friends” several years ago really did a number on me…when I worry about whether to update about my health and ask for prayers or not because it might make me look like an attention-seeking drama queen, even though I KNOW that I really do need those prayers…well, it just sucks.  I shouldn’t care anymore, but for some reason, its something that I can’t seem to let go of.  Yet another thing I need to pray about, if only I could find the right words.

So that’s it…this is where I am right now.  Where I’ll be in a couple weeks…I guess we’ll see.

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