Monday, 24 September 2012

Cheers to another trip around the sun ~ The GP..

Isn't that always the way.. 

Just about ready to sign off the end of the post and there's a click, a whirr, and the monitor blue screens. (Sigh).  So where was I.. 

Ah Yes.. 

18 years..  Where did the time go?

It has been many months of going for a test then waiting 3 weeks to get the results. I'd finally been put in queue for surgery but was in a holding pattern waiting..  that last morning I'd been up all night, I couldn't eat, couldn't drink for getting sick and I was admitted through Emergency instead. Spent that first day in the hallway, so great to be sick and feel like you're on display. 

I don't think that I'd allowed myself to really think about things. In fact, it wasn't until I was lying in my hospital room that evening; my dad and aunt had arrived to visit and the surgeon thought that despite my best objections that it would be a good idea for me to tell them the news.  I hadn't admitted to anyone, not even myself that I was scared, and no tears had fallen up until the point that I had to tell Dad the news. I didn't want to tell him, I didn't want him to worry - in hindsight I think too that the idea of telling Dad made it REAL.  Thankfully the surgeon stayed, because once I dropped the initial bomb, she was able to explain the rest - I don't think I could have at that point. 

I remember being on morphine and trying to explain to a nurse how that "nice lady" that had come to visit with my Dad was *not* my Mom and after having revealed that, well no I didn't know where she was.  The nurse had come in talking about my Mom and Dad and was ready to call the doctor because she thought I was tripping on morphine - meanwhile I was trying to figure out how my mother had been there and I hadn't seen her, and who had even told her I was there.  I cannot help but think of Dad's laugh when I told him that the nurse thought that Auntie Eileen was my Mom and how he'd laughed even harder when I told him that I'd told the nurse that she was his sister and that was just gross..  

I was thinking of Auntie Eileen this morning too. God I wish I could call her and celebrate this day with her too. I have to believe that somewhere up there she's looking down and smiling ~ she was there ~ she'd remember. 

5 1/2 pounds of cancer and my right ovary they removed that day. I recall piling pounds of hamburger individually wrapped on my counter and realizing just how BIG that really was. 

A second surgery the following year took a pound and a half more of me, and most of my left ovary but turned out to be non-cancerous in the end. Just one more snatch and grab for this year's body part donation I guess. 

Ovarian Cancer - Germ Cell Tumor - Chemotherapy - just the start of the new medical knowledge I would come to learn, that I never cared to know. Lymphedema, PCOS, Diabetes II among the treasures to follow. Years down the road I would come to call this journey, "My Life As A Guinea Pig"...  

All in all I find myself looking back over most of those years as much of a learning experience. In some areas it was a real crash course in the way things are. Amazing how you find out who your real friends are - and I'm every-so grateful that I have a few. From Jim and Matt who 
came down and brought me a Pumpkin bucket with "real food" inside ~ back in those "Young" days when we still called McD's "food"..  That pumpkin bucket lived on my IV pole for the whole 13 days I was in hospital ~ it gave quite a few a real chuckle and along with the big teddybear slippers my Dad bought me as an early birthday present helped earn me the nickname "Sunshine" because I was always smiling and wandering the halls as though I was there by mistake.  

I still laugh when I think of Jim "babenapping" me with a group of friends to go for coffee just to give me a break, and how grateful I was that the nurses were willing to cap the IV port and let me leave for a little reprieve.  There I sat with balding head, wrist bracelet and my port-o-cath as my friends told everyone who came by that I was out on a day pass.  People must have thought we were crazy, but we had so much fun!  

I still have the bulldog that John left on my TV when he'd arrived to find me gone, bed and all for a test.  He'd gone out to his car trying to think of how he'd let me know he'd been there, and came in with a stuffed bulldog that he'd had as a mascot in his car that I always teased him I was going to pilfer..  He knew that if he left that behind I would recognize it instantly. He was right!  

At that time, Tequilla Sunrise was still in full swing, and there was a whole host of friends that lived in that little box, including great new friends like Mary, Dallas and Ardith that I'd met in the Carcinoma and Survivor groups that I'd talk to regularly.  Never underestimate the value of hearing "I know how you feel", from someone who actually does. I never realized how often we say that particular phrase just trying to empathize without really having a clue. It became one of my biggest pet peeves..

I spent a lot of of my time in hospital in a room across the hall going through my phone book phoning friends. I never wanted to disturb my room-mate. It was so much better than sitting in my room, and you could only pace the halls or watch SO much tv.  The rest of my time was spent writing, and listening to CD's or the radio passing the time.  

I never thought I was in denial, but I always marvelled at how whatever person I ended up bunked with each time was always so much worse off than I, and wondering if they did that on purpose.  Dad used to call it my holiday because I'd go in with a bag of my clothes and personal effects, and the other bag (read anvil) packed with notebooks, books to read, CD's and a ghetto blaster that Tom lent me (and then later told me to keep) that was a constant reminder that I had friends who cared. 

Another awesome friend John, came to my rescue just a few days after hospital release to help me move unexpectedly. I never thought we'd get so much stuff moved in his car, but it would have rivaled National Lampoon's vacation.  We never did take any pictures but let me assure you it was quite the sight! 

I remember having a conversation with one of the nurses at the cancer agency. She wanted  to know which of these guys was *mine* and she'd been so surprised when I said none of them. I never told her that there was one that I'd hoped would one day be mine, but there were very few that actually knew that information.  I didn't want to jinx it, I guess. 

Made me laugh to think that the nurse thought I was such a player because I was single and had "all these guys" coming to call.. the truth is, that I've always had more "guy friends"  that girls.  Maybe it's because I grew up in a single parent home with my Dad and my little sister, I always related to guys better than girls ~ who knows.. but it is what it is.. I'm not complaining.. 

Even now, after spending most of 2008 in hospital, after having my gastric bypass and having complications relating to my asthma and wound care afterwards - having to stand and walk again, nerve damage and a leg brace ~ and more recently adding a gall bladder surgery to the mix If I look at it rationally I can see many good things that came out of all of my medical drama. 

I am ever amazed at how being faced with a serious surgery puts you in a mode of personal reflection, looking at where you've been and where you're going and often where you *thought* you'd be by now.  I cannot help but think that someone up there has a twisted sense of humor and is trying to remind me that life is short and that I need to work on my bucket list. 

I found myself marvelling this morning that when our youngest was being born I was well into my planning for my surgeries. She turned 18 in May ~ it really doesn't seem like it has been that long..  in so many ways .. when I became her Stepmom, she was only 2.. wow.. time really does fly. 

Some of my biggest memories of that time period are of me berating myself for not having attained many of the things I'd wanted for myself in this life - at least not "yet". I remember one journal entry from my second cancer surgery where I started out with "Here we are again.." seemed like rather
my anthem at the time.

We all run through this life as if today is the first day of the rest of our live and there is an unlimited supply remaining for us to draw on.  The truth is, that nothing is certain. We could  walk outside and be run over by a bus without a moment's notice or a routine check-up could uncover something we weren't even aware we had.  Nothing is promised. Cherish every day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. 

There are things in our lives that we all wonder after-the-fact if we should h ave done them differently - should I have said yes to that date, or passed up on an opportunity, but let your friends laugh as they may at your choices.  Every one of those peaks and valleys in the road was something you wanted at the time, and each one of them helped to shape you into who and what you are today. 

I used to spend a lot of time in "What might have beens", wondering if I had done this or that differently how things might have been different. What could I have changed in myself to create  a different outcome - though I've come to realize that while in some cases that might have made  a difference, for many more it wouldn't have done a thing because it was never about me in the first place. My biggest regret in life is not giving myself the credit and support to pursue the  goals I wanted for myself.  I spent way too much time worrying about what others thought, and how things would be perceived and it cost me much. 

The same could be said for my apparent affinity for chasing the wind.  Like a dog with a bone there were times when I just would not let an idea go.  Ironic that the best things in my life came to me when I stopped looking, and he found *me*.  

This last round of med-drama seemed so much different to me somehow.  I wasn't at all worried, I went in confident that this was just a speedbump and tomorrow we'd carry  on right where we left off. 

Maybe it's just that I finally feel like I'm on the right path.  I have the man of my dreams - my teddybear - and the 3 (not so) little (anymore) bears that he shares with me.  So many trials and tribulations that that cuddly ol' bear has seen me through ~ I cannot help but feel grateful.  I'm not sure that any other stand-in in his place would have done the same. 

I am working in local media - a life-long dream finally realized - there are some truly remarkable people doing awesome things in our communities if only you take the time to look.  I am fortunate to be among those that get to seek them out and shine a little spotlight on them.  

I am an active volunteer in our community working with a variety of tasks, groups and organizations - some in just a brainstorming capacity but I really enjoy that.  

Not everything is exactly as it could be or perhaps should be, but so long as there is room for improvement or advancement there is much left to do.  At least the toes are pointing in the right direction for a change. 

In true "Me" fashion, I didn't go about getting any of it the way that I planned, or even in the order  I thought they'd get here.. but I suppose the important part of the message is that I'm not that 24 year old little girl anymore dreaming of what could have been and what might be, but this 42 year old is taking it one day at a time, and plodding ahead. 

I didn't take the easy way out, or the direct route - in fact I definitely took the long way around but in the end the only thing that's really important is that I finally made it HOME and for once I'm right where I want to be. <3

Hang on tight ~ The best is yet to be.  <3

If you've been around for a while you know that this is the time when I normally announce what my not so RAK of this year will be.  Every year I've tried to do something a little different, last year we had the vendor
fair (for example) to benefit the Food Bank.  

This year with all of the med drama in our lives - not just with me but with our Dads also, as well as the basement reconstruction I decided to keep it a little more low key ~ however tradition is tradition. 

So be sure to check my blog/Facebook/G+ for both Epicure and Stampin' Up! from now until my birthday ~ there will be a variety of specials and promotions running.  The biggest perhaps is that for every purchase placed through my demonstrator websites from today, September 24, 2012 until Oct 9th, 2012 - I will donate my commissions from all orders placed to the Canadian Cancer Society. There will be other promotions in addition to this, but you will have to watch for those..