No Worries...Everything is Going to be Okay!

I am back from my wonderful vacation that I took with my daughter to go see my sissy, my parents, brother and Aunt Mary Carol. It was a wonderful relaxing time and the pain in my right leg and butt cheek seemed to ease to bearable levels over that two weeks. I had almost convinced myself that I was on the road to pain relief without a narcotic or needle in sight. Sigh. I went back to work this past Monday and within a few hours of driving around the familiar pain reared its ugly head once more and by the evening the troublesome "golf ball" in my right butt cheek was back. I was glad that I had an appointment the next day with my neurosurgeon (and hero) the good Dr. Grundmeyer. I was going alone to this appointment but I knew there would be no needles this day as this was only a consult to decide what to do about this nagging pain. I dug out my trusty notebook so I could write down all he said. As I headed over to his office on what definitely was one of the most gorgeous mornings that Wichita had to offer in long while I was unaware of what significance lay ahead. I had to really focus to locate his office as, interestingly enough, this was only the fourth time that I had been here over these last couple of years. I really hadn't needed him much until now. I pulled into the parking lot grabbed my notebook and headed in. The waiting room was full. Actually, the waiting room was packed. As I waited in the short line to check in I noticed several people wearing neck braces, people sitting that were obviously uncomfortable in some way (you could see pain etched on their faces) and others sitting and reading or watching the television which had CNN on it. These were the spouses or friends that had come along in support of their loved ones. It was finally my turn at the window and as I said my name the gal behind the desk recognized me as one of her former supervisors from the hospital years back. We chatted a minute as she grabbed my chart and took my insurance information. She handed me a clipboard with a small packet of paper and said that it had been so long since I had been there that I needed to fill these papers out again to update my record. "Ugh!" I think. "Okay." I say and I take the clipboard and turn to find a seat. The only seats I see available are along the south windows. As I approached the seats with my paperwork and sat down a wave of "déjà vu" washed over me. I was sitting in these very seats with my husband, bestie and daughter on a cold January morning in 2010. It was the day before my birthday and the day my life changed forever. The waiting room on August 22, 2012 sat in stark contrast to the one of January 30, 2010. The one in January was empty, devoid of bustling staff behind the admission desk and the waiting patients in the many chairs. Instead of air-conditioning blasting from the ceiling vents the chill was provided by the stark winter morning and the "weekend settings" of the neuro centers heating system. As I was filling out the paperwork I noticed it hadn't changed since the last time and I quickly worked through it. When I got to the "previous surgeries" section I started to write with my earliest surgery (an umbilical hernia repair when I was 18 months old) and automatically listed through every thing I have ever had as I have written it so many times I know it by heart. When I started to list the one that Dr. Grundmeyer had performed himself my mind flashed back once more to that January morning when my innocence was ripped away in this very office when he told me of my tumor. Tears popped into my eyes. I didn't realize I was no longer writing, but crying until a tear dropped onto the page bringing me back to the present. I was conscious of the fact that my vision had blurred and felt the eyes of the people sitting next to me staring at my quiet little melt down. I wiped the tears away and looked at them directly. They looked away. I finished the paperwork, returned it to the desk then resumed my seat in the waiting area. I had my new notebook so there was no ability to go back down "memory lane" and look at the entries from that appointment. But to be honest, that visit is forever etched in my mind. I had to remind myself that this time was different. I was here for other reasons and I was a much smarter girl now and I was remission now and that was owed in part to the very doctor I was seeing. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that everything was matter what. Right at that moment my name was called from the door of the exam area. I follow the gal back to, oddly enough, the same room where the initial terrible blow was delivered. She asked me a few questions and then said "You are obviously in pain. I can tell by the way you are sitting." I laughed because although the patient chair had a pad on it I was perched carefully on my left cheek so no weight was placed on its twin. I asked her if I could stand and she laughed as I rose for comfort. When she left I wandered the small exam room and debated whether or not the reading material had changed since my last visit as I glanced through the Ladies Home Journal on the window sill. On the consult desk where the doctor would sit as we talked there was a spine model complete with nerves. I hadn't waited more than 10 minutes when he knocked and strode in with a NP in tow. He looked rough and I could tell he had been up late most likely saving someone’s life. He talked to me about all my symptoms and then he popped up my MRI and we went through it slice by slice. I, carefully documenting all he was saying in my notebook. When he got to the offensive spot he told me that he was confident that it was not tumor regrowth but scar tissue. He explained why an epidural injection might not be helpful and suggested a piriformis injection instead. (I’ll explain that when the time comes) We talked about my first experience with my epidural and he said that we would be using a completely different pain management center and a different doctor. Reluctantly, I agreed to the referral. He turned to his NP and said he wanted to start me on Neurotin in the meantime. He also instructed her to order something for stronger for my pain. I interrupted him and said "Um, no thank you." "You don't want any Oxycotin or Percocet?" he asked his voice thick with surprise. "No way!" I told him. I then went on to explain that I had not taken narcotics since my treatments and had had to be weaned off them due to the addiction that resulted from my desperate need of them. I didn't want to do that again and I told him I did not even have any in my house. "I was thinking narcotics are a last resort for pain." He acknowledged my concerns and agreed with surprise in his voice. I assured him I was not being a martyr here by any means but some day I may need those drugs again "for real" and I was saving them for that. "Who would have thought I'd be in here complaining about quality of life?" I asked. "Not me!" he replied. "I can't believe you are here!" "Neither can I." I said. He popped my MRI disk out of his computer handed it to me and said “You’ll need this for your visit with Dr. Parks. Mona Lisa will set it up and give you a call.” I placed it safely within the pages of my notebook. I then reached in my bag and handed him a copy of my book that I had signed earlier for him."What's this?" he asked. After I had explained and then expressed my gratitude for helping to save my life he modestly smiled and said "The pleasure was all mine!" then he was gone and on to the next patient lucky enough to have him as a doctor. I let myself out of the exam area and into the lobby. I waved goodbye to my friend behind the desk and I left the office stepping out into the sunshine. This departure from the neuro center also stood in stark contrast to the one on that fateful day in January. First, it was a good visit and a good plan. Second, I felt hopeful, not lost. Third, and finally, I felt no strange desire to go to the Humane Society and adopt a dog like last time. I already have my Smokey and he was waiting for me at home. I sit in the car, text my husband, my besties, my sissy and my kids. The message was long and wordy but the underlying tone was the same as always….no worries, everything is going to be okay!
Jeanne sent you a hug.
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Hi Michele, Wow, you are such a good writer. We have quite a few on this blog. wish I had that talent. In reading your post, it was as if I was experiencing everything with you and remembering my journey, too. We are very closer in our diagnosis date. I was diagnosed on 2/8/10,started treatment on 3/1 and completed treatment on 4/28/10. I find different things cause me to remember that awful time of life. Like you, I am so happy to be alive, but still worry over little aches and pains and ongoing bowel issues. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Take care, Cherie
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Sorry for all my typos, I am typing on my iPad.......
 I too have am iPad that eats my lunch with typos. Thanks for the comment. I like to write it as it happens. My tumblr blog started right before my diagnosis. I find it cathartic but don't know how I would rewrite my experience from memory. I don't think I could lol. Too much chemo! Take care, Michele
Michele, I have just come from the local foundation's cancer survivors conference, where Dan Goodwin spoke about his survival from Stage 4 colon cancer, an subsequent scaling of the Milenium Building (at age 54)...He is very courageous, but not more so than you. I am awed by you. Sending hugs and good karma...I hope you have hugged that husband, dog and kids (not necessarily in that order!) XOXOXO
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Hi Michele, I am so happy to hear that everything is good and I truly hope that you get rid of that pain. I agree with Cherie you are a good writer. I wish I were. Take care and keep us updated. Nancy
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Michele, I'm so very glad this appt. went so much better than the fateful one that put you on this journey. I love that you share your experiences with us and can put us there with you with your words. I thank God for giving you such a gift. I am most thankful that you are doing so great! Hugs-- Martha
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It sounds like you are in such a good place. I'm very happy for you.
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Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.


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