The New 10

When the dust had settled a few hours after my visit with the cardiothoracic surgeon it was decided and confirmed that my surgery would take place in two days. I like this because it will be a full week before Thanksgiving. There were tons of details to take care of but it seemed best to just get it done. Fortunately my parents were available for the holiday and my father made hasty arrangements for my mother to come early so she could help me when I was dismissed from the hospital and he would join her here later. We were planning on a low key Thanksgiving at home and the timing seemed perfect. No time to worry or have much angst build...just do it. Wednesday came quickly and I had a check in time of 6:00 am. I had slept restlessly despite my sleeping pill and with just Jerry and I heading to the hospital in no time we were on the familiar route to Via Christi. I checked in right on time at 6:00 sharp. By 7:00 I was all admited and feeling quite proud that I had advocated for myself and convinced them to access my port for use during this hospitalization. It wasn't long before a wheelchair was dispatched for me to take me to radiology for "part one" of my procedure. I must admit I had done some worrying about this part, knowing that I would be awake and it sounded painful. One of my besties arrived just as the wheelchair was being rolled into the room. I took a seat and my husband and bestie fell into step beside me as we took the trek to radiology. We joked in the elevator about how my "watch party" in the waiting room would start to grow exponentially as the day went on. My daughter had school and I had convinced her that her attending class would not change a thing that was about to happen. She could come after. My eldest was coming after work that afternoon although it was only because I had failed to convince him that it was unnecessary. My middle son, he lives far away and him being here would not change one single thing and because of the distance this argument I won. As we started down the long hall in radiology our little posse runs smack dab into BDM himself. He smiles at us broadly says he needs to sign my right shoulder and does so with a purple surgical ink pen. He hands it to me and says "This is yours." and then says he will see me upstairs shortly. Within a few seconds of him being gone and just a few paces down the hall we run into his resident. He informs me that I must be marked for surgery. I laugh and reveal my freshly inked right shoulder. He looks disappointed and I offer up the marker and my shoulder and he signs it too. "I am never going to wash this off!" I gush like a starstruck teen. He chuckles and walks on. I am wheeled into the room with the CT scanner and I am reminded what I am doing here and my heart leaps into my throat. It isn't long before they separate me from my support system not even allowing my bestie to stay inspite of her scrubs and credentials. The nurse is nice though and assures me that I will be receiving versed and fentanyl (a lovely cocktail) for the procedure. I lie on the table on my left side and they carefully position me with both my arms extended over head. I feel vulnerable and a chill of fear goes up my spine as they clean and prep my right chest. The nurse speaks to me in quiet tones and administers my "cocktail" when the radiologist enters the room. The fear disappates as the drug circulates and I grip the nurses hand. Strangley this procedure, with all my concerns that surrounded it, did not hurt that much. He numbed my skin, took a picture, slid the needle in (it makes a disconcerting "pop" as it punctures the lining around the lung), took another picture and then glided that wire into place - dead center in that damnable spot. Tape was used to secure this marker wire to my skin. I tell them I am allergic to tape and the nurse assured me that this tape was only temporary. Before I knew it they were sliding me onto a gurney for transport to pre-anesthesia. We stopped by the waiting area and collected my posse and headed up to surgery. My husband and bestie each kissed my forehead when we arrived there and I was wheeled through the doors. My plan was to ask for my bestie to be allowed to come back and stay with me until time to go. The pandemonium that ensued upon my arrival to pre-anesthesia was like none other that I had experienced before. I was greeted by three anesthesia personnel, two doctors and a CRNA. One doctor started asking me questions while the CRNA started strapping my left wrist to a board so an arterial line could be started. Meanwhile my nurse started an IV in my right wrist in case I needed a transfusion. They had just sat me up on the side of the gurney to start an epidural?!?! for pain control postoperatively and I felt the first seeds of panic taking hold when through the far doors I spot a familiar face. It is my good friend Barb Connell. She works at the hospital and slipped into the area unchallenged. She immediately slipped a warm hand into mine. The tears had started to slip out of my eyes and in a barely audible voice I spoke her name. She saw the fear in my eyes and stroked my right arm promising to stay with me until I was OK. The epidural was started pretty quickly and they all seemed pleased when they did the pain control "test shot" through the newly placed catheter. That is the last of my memory. I don't remember the ride to the OR suite or any of the folks in that room. My return to consciousness is marked by bright white lights and a white hot pain in my right side. I feel dizzy and nauseous. The room is spinning and I am aware of many people around me asking me questions and untangling the many tubes and wires that all felt attached to me. They had to be connected because everything they touched and moved created pain where it was attached to my body. I feel desperate and find it difficult to do anything but moan. The mere vibration created by my moan or voice sent painful shock waves through my chest. Each breath representing a stab of pain in my ribs. Next thing I know my bed is rolling and I feel sick. I don't want to vomit because I know it will inflict the searing spike of pain again. I hear my family and besties talking around me but keep my eyes closed against the spinning world. I manage to get the words "I'm sick" out and sense a puke basin being tucked under my chin as we "bump" off the elevator. We pause at the doors of the ICU and wait for them to swing open and I feel it coming and puke uncontrollably into said basin. I hear my daughters voice angrily rebuking some passer by who must have been staring at me in my helpless vulnerability. My next memory is of my family at my bedside. I see my husband, son and daughter. I am feeling extreme pain and nausea. I immediately know that the pain is causing the nausea. I cannot wrap my brain around the pain I am experiencing. In front of the pain is a question though. Not just any question...THE question. "What did he say?" I whisper. My husband comes close to my face and looks in my eyes. "He said it was your cancer. He went and looked at it himself under the microscope." I nodd and say "I knew it." He then went on to explain that it was bigger than we thought but the doctor was confident he had gotten it all - confirmed by "clean margins". I nodd and grimace. Now that I know I go back to focusing on the pain. How can I miss it? What follows turns out to be the longest night of my life. All the things put in place to alleviate my discomfort seem to be failing me. I have that epidural and they keep increasing the dose and giving me boluses but it barely touches the pain. I just keep repeating that I am not okay. I focus on the clock in my room and every minute drags by. I cry out to God in my mind begging for relief. I am not granted relief despite my desparate prayers. All of the pain relief attempts are rated on a zero to ten scale. Zero being no pain and ten representing the worst pain you have ever experienced. Not one of the measures is able to get my pain below a five even for a brief amount of time. I have a new perspective on pain and what now ranks as the worst I have ever experienced in my life. Looking back now it all seems so surreal. I am not really able to articulate it well. There really are no words to describe the new 10.
Nora sent you a prayer.
Annabelle, Dakota sent you a hug.
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I am so sorry about the pain; by now, I am sure it is better, but how harrowing!
A true ordeal. I'm sorry that the pain was so terrible. Hopefully this will be the last of your ^x*&%* cancer. Sending you healing wishes.
Michele, One would think there would be better pain control. I hope you are feeling much better by now. Ron sorry you're in so much pain. I pray it goes away, that you heal fast, and that this be the last time you hear that it was cancer. God bless. Mari
What a terrible ordeal, beautifully described. May this be the last such ordeal...
Michele, I am so sorry to hear of your extreme pain. I think all of us has endured our own sort of pain but your description gives me chills. I hope they got it under control but I am sure it was not soon enough! Please keep us posted on your recover and what the next plan of action is. I will be thinking of you andsending good energy your way. (have you ever tried energy medicine? I am finding it very helpful for my pain and fatique..let me know if you would like more info) Always, Maya
My thoughts and prayers are with you Michele and that they have gotten a handle on the pain. Hugs, Linda
Oh my gosh. In reading this I got sick and nauseous too.... and tears welled up in my eyes over what you have gone through You handled it with grace and share with us your experiences in a way that vividly shows a very personal page in your life. Thank you. And, take care and remain strong.
Michele, Hope you are feeling better by know...also glad you know your body well enough to push and be proactive...Jeanne
Michele-- I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced. How awful it must have been. My hope is that you are now feeling much better and that the pain has subsided. I am so happy that your surgeon was able to get those clean margins! The beast has been removed and I hope your healing continues without any speedbumps. God bless you for posting all of this and sharing your experience with us. I'm sorry that you, my friend, have had to go through all of this, but I thank you for sharing. None of us knows when it might be our turn. I wish you swift healing and may you never have to deal with this ever again! Hugs-- Martha
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Oh, Michele, I'm so sorry to hear of all the pain you've had to endure in this surgery. Your description is harrowing. Now that it's over, and the cancer is gone, I hope your recovery proceeds quickly, uneventfully, and as painlessly as possible.
Let's hope the new 10 brings with it the end of your beast. Hope things are feeling better for you. Reading your blog I was with you every step of the way and "felt" all your feelings & pain. Hope it has now gone and you are more at ease. Annabelle
Michelle Hang in there!I am so sorry for your pain and the experience. I had "my cancer" removed from my lung also. I am greatful the cancer was surgically removable for you.
Pain and Gain...What an incongruous pair. But then again, I guess it's a good pairing for pain because your great pain means great gain for you. I hope that the terrible pain you had is like childbirth (for some, at least) in that you just remember the gain. On an aside, like you and others apparently, I say "my cancer", too. I don't know why I say that, why I seem to possess "it", but I know "it" creates discomfort for me when I hear those utterances within my thoughts or out of my mouth. Whatever "it" is that mutates my cell reproduction to become cancer cells is a foreign force, a cruel vagabond, that I hope to kick to the curb. "It" is not mine. But, for some unknown reason to me, I have to wage war everyday against making "it" mine.
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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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