The Whole Story

Disclaimer: this will be long. No one has to comment because I'm just documenting for my own sake. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a picture update. No one will let me touch anything, get up, do anything more strenuous than watch TV, etc. so maybe I'll have time to upload pictures and blog. ;)

Wednesday, May 9
Signed the lease for our TX apartment.

While eating supper, I was struck with crazy pain in my back. The kind of pain that had me laying on the floor, trying hard to breathe and calculating in my head how long I could make it if the pain didn't stop soon. It eventually eased a bit although I continued to be very uncomfortable (despite the prescription pain meds). My parents arrived in town about 6:30 and were staying at Liz's. I called them and asked if they minded to keep their phones on in case I needed to call them to come stay with the kids in the middle of the night.

Thursday, May 10
I finally couldn't take the pain any longer and got out of bed about 3:30, took a shower, and called my parents. They arrived at the house a short 15 minutes later and Brian and I headed to the E.R. As we pulled out of the driveway, I told Brian that I sure hoped God hadn't arranged for my parents to be in town because I was going to be in the hospital and we'd need them. I only wanted them here to help pack.

They immediately did blood work, pain meds (hello, morphine!), and x-rays at the E.R. In a stroke of luck, I had the same ER doctor as in December and he remembered my situation. The blood work came back crazy high so they started working on admitting me. I also did a 3 hour Hida scan. By the time I finally had a room up on my old familiar 6th floor, it was 3:30, and I was feeling completely fine. As in no pain at all. Dr. T (my surgeon from December) visited me and decided to keep me overnight, redo my blood work in the morning. 

Friday, May 11
I had a horrible night of non-sleep but was still feeling no pain when Dr. T came back Friday morning. My blood work was slightly better and he decided that he couldn't declare me an emergency so it would be Tuesday before I could have surgery. Tuesday. As in one week before we were supposed to move to Texas. 

Because he's fabulous and because I remind him of his 36 year old daughter who also had cancer, he and Dr. W decided they could work around the system and declare me emergency surgery for Friday afternoon to give us an extra couple of days before moving. He really has been incredibly kind to me. 

My mom, dad, and Addison came to the hospital and spent several hours with me Friday afternoon. I was literally not scared/worried about surgery at all. Clearly, I had blocked out the incredible pain and discomfort from last year. Well, either that or I had alot of people praying for me.

You know you've had alot of surgery when you recognize the pre-op nurses, transport, anesthesia doctors, etc. Because of my surgery 2 weeks ago and the MRSA infection last year, I'd been in isolation since being admitted to the hospital. Basically that means they make you feel like a leper. Before surgery, I was placed in a holding room all by myself. They must have given me good drugs because I don't remember leaving that room (and in my previous 3 surgeries I always remember everything). 

When I woke up, I was once again alone in the isolation room, in horrible pain, and vomiting. I also knew right away that the NGO tube was back. I cannot even tell you how much I hate that thing. I continued to vomit and feel awful even as they took me back to the room. It was shift change, and I'm pretty sure they brought me back earlier than they should have. Poor Brian had been waiting for hours (the surgery took over 4 hours). After my surgery last year and waiting for hours only to hear that I had ovarian cancer, I am sure that waiting for surgery to end cannot be a good experience for him.

For some reason Dr. T doesn't like nausea medicine so he put in the NGO tube instead which is supposed to prevent vomiting. It did not, and I continued to vomit until the nurse finally called a different doctor to prescribe nausea meds. I think Friday night and Saturday were probably the worst days of my life. Do you know how much it hurts to vomit after major abdominal surgery? There is just not enough pain medicine in the world for that.

Saturday, May 12
Saturday morning I had surgery to remove the gallstones and sludge from my common bile duct. While it just added something else to hurt, they removed the NGO tube so I cannot really complain. Mom and dad spent a couple of hours at the hospital Saturday afternoon, and it was really good to be able to talk to them. My friend Andrea also stopped by. I should probably apologize for how I looked/sounded. 

At this point, we were feeling pretty good about my health situation. Obviously, a 7 day hospital stay was going to put a major damper on packing/moving, but my CA125 was good and my parents were getting the job done at home.

Gorgeous flowers from Clearview arrived, and my room smelled so great. Everyone thought they were entering a florist shop from the beautiful lilies.

Sunday, May 13
I slept really, really well Saturday night which was fabulous, but it also meant I was SO stiff and did not stay on top of my pain meds (I had a morphine pump). I hurt so bad Sunday morning. Awful. 

I got to see mom and the kids late afternoon. Brian brought me hydrangeas for my room and the kids brought all their cute little crafts and cards. They were so excited to see me. As in bouncing off the walls, but I loved it.

Monday, May 14
I've mentioned before how much we like Dr. T, but I have certainly learned over the last 2 weeks that he is a drill sergeant to work with. It was comical the way my room came to life before Dr. T came to see me Monday morning. He apparently has a very specific way of doing things (including using a very specific pink tape) and my room was a flurry of activity as the nurses got everything prepared. He also travels with an entourage, which just cracks me up. Dr. T came by and prescribed more pain meds, and by the end of the day I could not believe how much better I felt. 

Oh, and no more catheter. That's always a good thing. Except it kind of stinks to have to get up and down as many times as you need to when they're pumping you full of fluids.

Brian washed my hair in the sink. Pretty sure this was a new experience for both of us. He drew the line at shaving my legs, though. He says he likes taking care of me, and I almost believe him. Camden and Rory, you should know that it just doesn't get any better than your daddy.

Bought plane ticket to Texas.

Tuesday, May 15
Dr. W stopped by first thing in the morning and sat down in the chair. I honestly don't remember the words he used or how he told us because it's all a blur, but I still have cancer. I am not especially surprised. We've always known that the word remission has never been used for me. But it doesn't mean that it was easy to hear. Brian and I both sat in shocked silence for most of the morning. We're still not sure about details. I see Dr. W again Tuesday and I hope to know more then.

Dr. T came by to change my dressing (yes, he does this all himself), get rid of my drain (ICK). By this point, I still have not had anything to eat or drink since May 9 and he clears me to drink some liquids. Thank heavens. I am also walking laps approximately 12 times a day. The nurses all laugh at me in the hallway because I'm walking so much. 

I should probably mention that I am the youngest patient on this floor by a solid 25-40 years. So not kidding.

Wednesday, May 16
Finally. Finally some food! Toast has never tasted so good. At this point, I'm unhooked from everything and then I *really* starting walking laps!

A major God moment happened to us this morning. The news of my cancer kind of floored us as I mentioned. We feel very uncertain as to what God is trying to do in our lives. We keep trying to say yes to what He wants us to do, and we keep being thrown these huge curve balls. Honestly, I don't know what He's trying to teach us. Maybe we're really stupid and just can't get it. 

But Wednesday morning, Brian's friend called and asked if we could talk on speaker phone. He's the youth pastor of a local church. His dad is the associate pastor (and one of our college professors). The pastor is an old college friend, and we've been attending their church for the last several months when not traveling for TX fundraising.

They knew our situation and had found a house to rent. One without a lease, ready to move in immediately, reduced rent, and the church wanted to *adopt* our family and take care of us for the next few months in order to give us time to rest, heal, and try to determine what our plans should be going forward. It's kind of amazing when the body of Christ comes together. I hope I'm learning to help others in this way.

Thursday, May 17
OF COURSE, when you're hoping to go home, the doctor doesn't do his rounds first thing in the morning. ;) Was discharged and home by noon. It always feels so good to be home, and then you also realize that maybe you didn't feel quite as good as you thought now that you're out of the hospital cocoon. 

I laid on the couch Thursday night and had so much fun watching my mom, dad, and Brian pack. Brian and my mom made me laugh so hard. For hours. Which hurt, but in the best possible way.

Friday, May 18
I directed the packing/yard sale work from my bed. Giving orders is what I do best. I also work hard on gaining back the 6 lbs I lost while at the hospital.

Brian went to school for the last day and discovered his friends had packed up his room for him as well as got his report cards finished. They also dropped off cards and gifts Thursday night. Why are we trying so hard to leave here again?

Saturday, May 19
Oh, my poor parents and Brian. They have worked so hard. It is insane how much work it is to not only move, but have a yard sale at the same. I am resolving to stay decluttered, cut down on what I buy. Simplify. The excess in our house kind of disgusts me.

Well, until, I manage to put shopping back into my regular schedule.

The yard sale was mostly a success; my parents were able to get on the road. They didn't have to cancel their 40th anniversary trip after all, for which I am SO grateful. Just as we were settling down to supper and some family TV the power went off and stayed off for the next 6 hours. Good times. It was actually a great excuse for Brian to go to bed early. I stayed up, sitting alone in a very, very dark house reading The Passage (for my literary friends, I'm re-reading this in prep for the sequel) on my iPad getting very freaked out. ;)

And that brings us to Sunday, May 19. Brian and the kids are at church. I'm still in too much pain to sit up for more than a little while at a time. Not to mention this stupid binding/girdle thingy I have to wear for 2 weeks. It kind of holds the incision together I guess and just makes the whole area a little more secure. My incision this time is only about 6-7 inches long and there are no staples. In fact, it is a very neat straight line and the old skin with the old scar was removed. Something Dr. T was very proud of. I told him he was definitely winning the contest of prettiest work. 

I cut back on pain meds a bit this morning and hopefully can start weaning myself off. My sister Elizabeth says my words slur so I should probably try to stay clear headed from now on.

We're moving to the new house Tuesday. I have my appointment with Dr. W so I'll be away from all the action. Dr. T allowed me to go home only with Brian's promise that he would not allow me to be involved in the moving process at all. Literally, no one will let me get up off the couch. And, honestly, I'm still in alot of pain although it's getting better. I also can't drive for another couple of weeks or lift more than 5 lbs so I can't even hold Addison!

Anyway, I think you're all caught up, and I've got this journaled for our family. Thank you so much for the prayers, emails, and calls. Maybe I can get back to regularly scheduled blogging soon.

And kudos to anyone who actually managed to read this whole novel.


Joan B said…
Melissa, I think of you several times a day and have been checking my google reader to see an update. Perhaps the gallbladder attack is a blessing in disguise. I certainly don't know, but wonder. I hope you heal quickly and are continued to be surrounded by love.
Amanda said…
So glad to read an update. It's crazy and probably borders on stalkerish how much I keep checking :). Glad you are home. Missed seeing your pretty face this morning at church with your husband but hoping you are getting much needed rest!! Brian did such a wonderful job this morning. I have never heard him speak to a group like that and he is such a wonderful speaker. Praying for you and Brian and Camden and Rory. If I can help with Camden any next week just let me know. He is more than welcome to come play with Tre' if you need him to while ya'll are moving.
Louise S. Lewis said…
There are no words to explain how my heart goes out to you and Brian. God surely has a purpose for what you two are going through. Maybe by blogging, you are touching someone that needs reminding who God is and why we trust him. Prayers for you all, parents are hurting as you are. You are a child of God, and of your earthly parents. Prayers will continue for a precious and wonderful family. I, too, check your blog numerous times a day. Thank you for sharing.
Danyelle said…
Been thinking and praying for you often this week. Every time I sit down at the computer, you come to mind and a little prayer is sent up. Thank you for sharing your have inspired me to be a better mom, and I'm also getting a front row seat to see God working.
Wendy in Indiana said…
Your story is certainly inspiring and humbling to those of us living healthy ordinary lives. I am praying for you and your family and your parents and your church families. I know God does not give us more than we can bear, but you deserve a break! Take care of yourself like the doctor said, and keep us informed of your progress.
Owlhaven said…
Whew...praying for you Melissa!

Karen said…
I keep checking for an update! I read the whole post and am happy to "hear" that it sounds like you are progressing, even though having had major abdominal surgery myself, I can guess you are downplaying the pain part! I will keep praying for you... So relieved you have a house to go to. I totally cried when I read about the church you've been attending "adopting" you. God is good!
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I am one for getting the details--so thank you even tho it was painful while doing so, I'm sure. Hey, I'm anxious to see more of the house when you are up to it.
And yes, listen and sit. ;)
Love, Gma E.
Shelly said…
Thanks for the update.... what an amazing testimony of God's provision for your sweet family. Will continue to pray for you all and for your continued healing. Love and prayers from Washington!!
Whew!!! Okay, is the new house you are renting in Tennessee or Texas??

Okay, The Passage--I was SO excited about this book. I'm all about superviruses and vampires and last days, etc., but I could NOT get into this book!!! What am I missing here??
Anonymous said…
I'm glad you're home and doing better. Let me know if you need any help at all. The kids are welcome to come over here anytime to swim and play. The boys would have a ball playing video games and Beyblades and the girls would reaffirm the disaster that is Sabrina's room by getting out even more of the dolls and artsy stuff. We've even got bunk beds if you need them to spend the night. Praying for you!!
Vicky said…
Wow, you lived a "novel" in a short amount of time- and I say that with reverence and appreciation. I so clearly see and feel God working in you and through you... I know what the cost must be to you. Truly honored to watch you continue to step forward with such grace and honesty. Praying for all those surrounding you to continue to hold you up and love on you! You are never far from my thoughts...
Paula said…
Way to go Melissa! You are such an inspiration... love your attitude. Hang in there! Praying for a smooth move and clear answers from God.
Wow! What a roller coaster you have been on. I'm not sure what to say... but I really enjoyed (?) reading this. The details make it easier for me to understand how much you are handling, and appreciate your grace under pressure even more. I've been thinking of you... I will certainly be sending up a few extra prayers for you tomorrow! Good luck WATCHING the move!

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