What's Really Important!

I know many of you have been waiting on an update from me on one of my lung “unmentionables”. So, here it is. Late in May my husband and I hit the road and took the familiar route back to Houston, Texas. We had decided to take our new truck because it only had 4,000 miles on it and the trip would be “good for it”. The plan was to have a biopsy via bronchoscope to my hilar node area in my right lung. It was Memorial Day weekend and we had planned to use holiday weekend to have my bronchoscopy and see all the doctors that needed a look at me. We left Wednesday morning and the drive down was uneventful. I was scheduled for lab work, and two appointments on Thursday with anesthesia and my pulmonary doctor. I was delighted to know that the same pulmonologist was consulted that did my first biopsy. I love him for his direct, but compassionate care. We had a very nice visit with him discussing the “spot” in question, scar tissue and risks of the biopsy. He told me I was first on the schedule for Friday. This was exciting. At a very busy medical center it is always good to be first.

We went to bed early because it was rise and shine at 5:30 for my 6:00 check in. We were so early that the lights in the waiting room were not even on when we got there and I checked and rechecked my instructions that we were where we were supposed to be. It wasn’t too long before the receptionist scurried in with a luscious looking Starbucks drink in her hand, with a slightly askew messy bun and a pair of red glasses perched on her nose. She motioned to me to come to the desk as she fired up her computer to check me in. I have to admit that I stared at the Starbucks cup so intently and awkwardly that she noticed and slid it out of my view just under the counter. It was everything in me not to lean over her “space” and look at the cup that was emitting the aroma of a vanilla latte. Which, by the way is my favorite. Once checked in and my arm band was firmly in place things went quickly. We were taken back to the holding bay and I changed into a hospital gown. My vitals were taken, an IV was deftly started and fluids were hung. I was given a couple of warm blankets and when they asked if I needed anything else I mentioned the latte. They just laughed. I did not. Soon I was kissing my husband goodbye and was wheeled back to the procedure room where I encountered my anesthetist from the day before. I consider him the most important guy in the room because I anticipate remembering NOTHING from what is about to happen to me. Dr. Jimenez arrives, my oncology pulmonary genius doctor, whom I trust implicitly. I see my anesthetist push in the white milky substance that will render me unconscious and I close my eyes and let it lift me and give to me a blissful unawareness. The next thing I know I am in recovery, eyes wide open, shivering slightly under a bed of blankets with my husband’s hand on mine. I realize I have peed the bed. I should have remembered that happens to me. Oh well, another pair of underwear awaited me in my purse. The doctor comes in and rolls a computer screen to the bedside and tells us both hello. He doesn’t looked pleased and I feel a familiar ache just below my rib cage. I think of it as the “bad news brick”. He pulls up two images and explains to us that the one on the left was my bronchoscopy photo from my very first biopsies in 2013 that he did. The tissue looks pink and light red and soft. The photo on the right, from today, revealed tissue that appeared white and rubbery. It kind of reminded me of calamari without the breading on it. He explained that it was all scarred in there and he could not negotiate the turns to get to the area that was lit up on my scan. He said it was simply too dangerous just to poke through it and he needed to talk to Dr. Eng and perhaps a surgeon if she felt a biopsy was critical. He promised to call by days end with a plan. Ugh...it’s Friday. 

We left the hospital and went back to the hotel for me to sleep off the residual anesthesia a little disappointed, but it really wasn’t bad news. Later that afternoon, as promised, the doctor notified us that I would be having a CT of the area on Sunday so they could really look at the dimensions of the inflammation and that Dr. Eng would have a plan for us on Tuesday. Fair enough. Our plan was to enjoy Houston for the holiday and do some shopping and piddling around. We hung out at the pool, ate at a few good restaurants and all was fine until 3:00 AM on Monday morning. I was startled awake by the room phone ringing. I answer it with a groggy hello. It was the front desk asking me if we owned a Dodge truck. My brain snapped to attention and I said yes and spoke aloud to my husband what they had said. He opened the curtain in our room and saw flashing P.D. lights on a patrol car below. After a few expletives he hastily dressed and went out to see what had happened. To make a long story short, someone had broken out the drivers side passenger window and went through our truck. They had opened every compartment. Taking nothing. Not even our Oakley sunglasses or our garmin, most likely in search of a gun thought the police. Kansas tag plus pick up truck equals “gun owner and carrier” I guess. They got the owner part right, but we don’t keep weapons in our vehicle. They came over the back wall which we were parked up against. Boy was my husband upset. His new “baby” had been violated and damaged. He had to find a store that was open and get that window taped up. It was a holiday and here we were trying to find a business that could replace the window. Then there were the questions of when could it be done? What about the tinting? Would it match? What about the cost? What a mess! My husband was able to find a place that could come to us at the hotel on Tuesday morning, which was good. My appointment was at 1:00. We made the best out of our Monday after that, but it threw a wet blanket on the day. My husband alerted many of our friends and relatives of what had happened. He didn’t rest well Monday night, even though we were parked out front this time in a very public, well lit spot. Not a fence in sight. Still, the truck sat with a mere layer of plastic and duct tape against the humid elements of Houston. 

We awoke early Tuesday. There was breakfast to be had and preparations to check out of the hotel and the all important phone call from the window replacement team. The call came in at 10:00. The window was replaced in short order for a mere $160 AND they had a factory tinted window in stock. The perfect match! My husband was so happy that he tipped the guy $20. When we finally checked out and headed over to the hospital my husband was in great spirits. It eased the slight tension I feel before appointments that we get results at. My appointment went right on schedule. We only waited a few minutes before my oncologist was before us. I held my breath not wanting to hear that a surgeon needed to get involved just yet. “Ya know”, she said, “We all discussed this and we think we should just have you come back in few months and we will check another chest CT only and see what it is doing.” To me this is fantastic news. I ask if I can get my hip replaced and after apologizing to me for the long term side effects of pelvic radiation, she told me yes and that we would return at the end of August for the next scan. We all hugged goodbye and she told me not to worry and then we hustled right to the parking garage.

As is our routine, I wait until we hit the north side of the outskirts of Houston before I start notifying family and friends of the results we received. There is a lot of traffic to negotiate. I draft a text that will be copied and pasted and group texted. I also draft one that my husband dictates to me for his staff at work and close friends. I send them off and the return texts come in like lightening bolts one after another. They all started with some response like “Well at least you have a plan.” or “Drat, wish we had more answers.” but it was the conclusions at the end of these text that were so, so, well, different this time. Most went something like this “And how’s the truck? Is Jerry Okay?” or “Did Jerry get his truck fixed? How is he doing with it? Does he like the new window?” or “You guys have really been through it, what with the truck and all. How’s Jerry feeling now that the truck is fixed?” As I read the messages that came in response to my mixed results, the unknown of my condition, the angst of “not knowing” if my spot is my cancer returned I started becoming a little annoyed at first and then just couldn’t help but laugh as I recited each one aloud to my husband. They came in steadily over the next couple of hours. He started cracking up more and more with each one I read. I just looked at him laughing and said “Well, I might have cancer, but let’s talk about your truck and if you are okay honey, because that is what’s really important here!” I think it’s just what we needed for the long drive ahead. Because in the end it’s not about lamenting what you cannot control. It’s accounting for not only the patient but the caregiver closest to them. For the first time ever, we had an event in Houston even bigger than my failed biopsy, CT scan and unknown results. Our truck was broken into. Nothing was stolen, but my husband especially felt violated and a bit unnerved. The good news is the truck is mended and my husband is doing just fine. And that my friends is what’s really important!

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I found myself laughing out loud by the end...thanks for the beautifully written update. And here’s to a “different” experience in Houston next go around...a much brighter one where no one feels violated afterwards! 🤗
Cleo likes this comment
Just had it 2 weeks ago. An update is coming. I can only crank it out so fast and I’ve had a grandchild and a new hip before that! It will take me a few days. I’m glad this one could bring a chuckle!
Kim, Sara like this comment
Congrats on that precious grandchild AND the new hip!
Michele likes this comment
OMG, I thought you were kidding about the new hip! That's great.
Michele, Kim like this comment
But, but, are you sure that the window tint is an exact match? Nothing like a test run, but at least you got who you expected- when I got my port-out it was somebody- I know not who- they wouldn't speak to me before the procedure, they wouldn't gas me, and they put up a "curtain", so as far as I know, and alien removed the ole port! I'd say the good news is that you didn't start your story with "Houston, we have a problem..."
Take care, and take care of you too...
MGBY,
John
Michele likes this comment
WOW!!! And after the truck, your hip will be the main subject of messages...enjoy it! How cool to have cancer not the biggest event!

HUGS for this wonderful post!
Michele likes this comment
What a saga..great story writing.
Hug to both of you
Michele likes this comment
So love your writing. Hope all is good next time!
Michele likes this comment
Congrats on the baby and the new hip - hope it heals quickly so you can hold that baby on it for many years to come! Thanks for the update -I hope the next scan doesn’t show any change and you can resume normal life with a new hip, grand Baby and truck👏🏼👏🏼
Michele, Kim like this comment
Wow! Did you go out an get a vanilla latte the next day? I have to say that with my daughters home for the summer, I've become accustomed to my almond milk lattes every morning. Now I'll have to add some vanilla. Looking forward to the next update.
Got one later that morning!
Great post!! You are the best!!
Michele likes this comment
Wonderful, that you can get that hip! It's so wonderful that you and your husband have such a connection and bond, and grandchild! I'm looking forward to the next update. Hugs
Michele likes this comment
Oh Michele, I just cracked up reading the last part of your post. LOL! As a "car person," I can relate! :) I guess "all's well that ends well" applies here regarding the truck.

I know you were hoping for more definitive answers about the spot in your lung and I'm sure you wanted a plan of action to get it removed if it was deemed to be a thread to your health. Waiting in limbo is not a fun place to be. I am happy to know that you got the okay to go ahead with the hip surgery and I wish you all the best with that. I will certainly be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers that all goes well. Hugs to you!
Michele likes this comment
A wonderful read. Hope all goes well with the hip replacement and with your next scan, which I'm sure it will. :)
Michele likes this comment
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Vital Info

Posts

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

No

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. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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