Back on the Table

The Operating Room; and right in the middle, the table.

October 16th, 2015. Today is the day: I’m on my way to MGH to jump back on the table. This time for a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy.

Last weekend I rode 200 mile on my bike, knowing this operation was on the other side, and that rest and recovery would be about the extent of my physical activities for the next few weeks. The Tour de Pink was just as amazing, if not more so this year than last year. Despite my crash 42 miles into day one, I got back up on the bike and completed and full century (100 miles) the next day, and 55 miles the following day. My motivation was to take in each and ever moment, breathe as deeply as possible, and raise as hard and fast as I could.

This cycling swan song was akin to an advanced vinyasa practice and this upcoming surgery and recovery a long, long savasana.Uterus Art

I’m nervous.

The last time I was on the OR table I had both my breasts removed. I remember like it was yesterday, the cold hospital corridors, the revealingly, thin hospital Johnny, and the big clear plastic bags you’re asked to dump your personal belongings into. In the pre-op, you transition from person to patient and then patient to procedure. A nurse eventually comes into your holding area and starts an IV.

Eventually you’re moved from a wheelchair (even though your perfectly capable of walking) to a gurney, which immediately makes you want to simultaneously fall asleep and run away. Good byes to loved ones are said and then off you go. An anesthesiologist will introduce herself and start you on a sedative. You begin to feel disconnected from your body, your eyes start to float in their sockets, and it becomes increasingly difficult to hear the voices of the OR staff coaxing you to slide from the gurney over to the table.

The OR becomes a theater, and the doctors and nurses actors in a play.

You watch with distanced interest as the story unfolds and the air you breath sweetly thickens into darkness. There are a few final moments of awareness; someone puts an oxogen mask over your mouth and nose, a warm blanket over your chest and arms. You feel vulnerable, but cared for. You realize all of a sudden that YOU are the lead actor in the play, and unless it is Shakespeare, you will survive the final act.

Be In Love with Your Life

Every second counts.

Even these nervous seconds, minutes and hours leading up to this surgery. This challenge has brought some amazing people into my life, and brought me closer to others I never would have been friends with other wise. For that I am forever grateful. I have one Hell of a gynecological oncologist and the facility at MGH is the best in the world. It’s amazing to be in such good care.

Check-in is at 12 noon. Surgery is scheduled for 2pm. If all goes according to plan everything should be wrapped up by 4pm. I have to stay in the hospital overnight, and my mother and sister will be next door. We get to go home tomorrow. Quickly in, quickly out. And my mantra, as recommended by a dear friend and supporter will be “back on the bike”, “back on the bike”, “back on the bike.”

Many thanks for all the support, from all of you. And a big, grateful shout out to my friend Larisa Foreman and the Sue de Vries Cancer Foundation, for their kind donation – which will defray our travel costs to and from MGH this weekend.

Love,

Cait

the cancer club

Uterus by eReSaW

I thought that after they cut the port out of my chest, and the breast tissue out of my breasts, that it would be a long, long time before I had to go under the scalpel again. Hm…contrary to what I thought was the conclusion of my cancer story, this is not the case. As I’m starting to realize more and more, once you are part of the cancer club, you are a member for life.

Which is why after a suspicious pap, and a not-so-positive experience with a gynecologist on the Cape, I found back at the Cancer Center at Mass General Hospital a few days ago. If MGH’s Yawkee building is the cancer Club House, the 9th floor is like the Members Only area.  I can’t count how many times I’ve parked in the same parking garage, taken the same elevator up to the 9th floor, and hung a left to 9A. The only difference on Monday was that we turned right out of the elevator and went down the hall to 9E. I have to say, the breast cancer patients got the short end of the stick. The Gynecology Oncology waiting room is much nicer.

In any event, the reoccurring lesions on my cervix have given me reason to expand my oncology team. I now get to put my health in the hands of Dr. del Carmen, who’s got to be one of the coolest MDs I’ve ever met. And even though she put me through yet another uncomfortable exam, she made discussing the resection of yet another body part seem easy (well, easy-ish). She had clearly familiarized herself with my case, had already conferenced with both my breast surgeon and breast oncologist, and spoke to me with great care.

In about 5 more days we will have the pathology results we need to determine the type of hysterectomy I have to have and when I have to have it. If it looks like the unfriendly cells are quickly dividing, I will be looking at the inside of an O.R. this spring. If they are sluggish, I can put surgery off until the fall. Either way, I will soon be bidding my uterus adieu.

I’m not ready to write about the many feelings this prospect is stirring up, or the myriad of ways in which being a patient again is effecting my psyche. But I will. Eventually. For now, I’m trying my best to stay in the moment and recent win. Helen Keller said, “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content”

Though it seems my members-only card has just been renewed, I realize now, it never really expired.

#nevergiveup