To read Part 1, click HERE.
I was playing a waiting game. Waiting for the pain to be gone and thinking that there’s some murderous tumor with a cute name like Dumplin in me, and that I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen over the next weeks and months.
My amazing friend, Amy, came to Atlanta to take family photos for me. We hadn’t done them since our wedding, and thinking I might be losing all my hair or worse prompted me to take her up on an offer to “do whatever you need me to do.”
While we were doing the photos, all my girls from home showed up to surprise me, with their pom poms in hand to cheer me on!
I finally got to see my parents. I know laying eyes on me helped them know I was ok.
The girls went back to their mom’s. They’d been here since March because of Covid. Henry went to Jason’s to stay until surgery is over. We went from a full, loud, insane house to silence in a few days.
It really hit us when we got home to the quiet, just how exhausted we were and how unsettled this had all made us. I slept in. We went to bed early. Eating was hard because of the pain and weight just seemed to be dropping off, almost a pound a day. I felt terrible and really scared.
I made it 11 days between scheduling and the original date for surgery before I had to give in and call the surgeon. The pain was too much. I’d lost 19 pounds. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep.
Dumplin had to be out of me NOW and it couldn’t wait another 9 days. He agreed and moved surgery up to Friday the 24th. I was incredibly relieved, especially since he finally gave me pain meds. For the first time in days (weeks?) I slept through the night.
Pre-surgery, I had to do a small colon prep. It wasn’t as traumatic this go round, because I’d basically been eating nothing for days. Friday morning came and off we went to the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever been so NOT nervous to go to a hospital before. I just wanted Dumplin OUT.
Surgery was a success. Dr. W got everything out that he needed to, including my appendix and repairing a hernia I’d developed. It was done laparoscopically, so I had just one 6″ incision down through my belly button, and two other small incisions about 6″ away from that.
I spent 3 days in the hospital. Everything was great. The Dilaudid pump, the broth, the Jell-O, the nurses and doctors and all the support personnel. As an aside? Why does green Jell-O taste so good in the hospital and taste terrible in real life?
Being in the hospital alone, due to Covid, was one of my biggest worries going into this. But I have to say, it was nice. Don’t get me wrong. Having Brian there would have been way better, but I had the full attention of everyone who engaged with me, from the nurses to the food services gentleman to the billing lady.
There was something really peaceful about being able to leave the TV off, the lights off, the sound machine on, and just doze in and out all day and night as I pleased. I feel like my body just led me wherever it needed me to be, whether that was awake or asleep, or in the bathroom or walking the halls. There was no bickering outside my room by the neighbors’ in-laws about how they were being treated, no loud phone calls outside someone’s room, no foot traffic… just silence. I can honestly say, I hope that in the post-Covid world, there will be no visitors allowed in hospitals, except one person who has to stay the whole time. No in and out at all hours of the day. Just one support person, there for the duration.
They took my pain pump away after about 36 hours. Apparently I was trying to use it too much and my blood pressure dropped too low. That was a bummer, but I lived. For real, the post-surgery pain, as bad as it was, was better than my pre-surgery pain. It was really more of a severe discomfort and that was way more tolerable that anything I’d experienced in the 4-5 weeks prior.
I came home after 72 hours. My husband, y’all, was the best. Is the best. He cooked, cleaned, kept me napping and doing what I was supposed to do. He’s the best caretaker I could hope for. I hope that one day, when he needs me, I can be as good to him as he has been to me during all this.
(side note: I wrote this last sentence a week ago and he has since had a heart attack and now I’m taking care of HIM. That’s a separate post… F OFF 2020.)
The Final Verdict
We found the cancer, removed it, and now I am free of it, in a 12 week period.
Surgery removed everything cancerous – invasive adenocarcinoma. There was none to be found in any of the 38 lymph nodes they removed. Stage 1. No chemo needed.
My doctor will be aggressive with screenings, bloodwork, and scans because of my family history. I’m doing genetic testing to see what else I may be prone to. I’m down 20 pounds and plan to keep going with that weight loss.
Yay for being cancer-free!