A family member used to respond to, "How are you?" with, "Well, as long as I'm six feet above ground, I guess I'm doing pretty good!" I always thought that was a pretty low bar, but I sort of get it now.
It's been over a month since my February 11th surgery and it's taken me this long to gather my thoughts about it; and sometimes just not think about it at all. And when I choose the latter, there are just as many times as I snap back into real life and remember and it's jarring. I'm hopeful that writing out the experience will purge some anxiety over it all. If not, whatever, I have weed gummies.
I rolled into UCSF at 5:30am and went through the motions that took me to a pre-op bed. What I'll remember mostly from that is the nurse who asked if I'd had this type of surgery before and when I replied in the negative, said, "Oh. You're so calm."
Then my surgeon walked in, took my hand to his chest and said, "We got this." Which was quite reassuring and made me tear up. Then he told me they'd come get me soon, it really depended on how long it took for him to eat his breakfast sandwich.
Nothing to see here, folks, just ripping my body open in a few, see you on the other side.
I gotta say, you guys...I woke up great. I mean, there was a hell of a lot of pain. But Dilautid (blessed jesus juice) was kicking in and I wasn't dead. Two thumbs up from this girl. My surgeon had called Ben right after it was complete to talk to him for 40 minutes (!) about the procedure. Who does that?! Dr. Corvera does. And I wish I could keep him forever.
So what did I lose (besides a little dignity and my ability to cough for a while)? Once they got in there, they realized that the tumor was clinging for dear life to my inferior vena cava. I've referenced that here before. It's your largest vein running from your heart to your feet. They decided to remove 10 inches of that vein. I don't know where they put it, but that just seems like a lot of vein to me? They replaced it with a Gortex vein so now my vein can go out into a rainstorm and feel protected. My tumor swallowed my adrenal gland. I mean there's no other way to say that except that they couldn't even find it, poor little guy. The kidney wanted no part of life without its corresponding adrenal friend and so it smacked itself up against the tumor and went to the bright light, too.
(I seriously just paused and had to remember what else they removed. That's where I am now). Gall bladder! Honestly, I think Dr. Corvera just thought, "Well, the gall bladder look fine, but hell, while I'm in here."
If you're wondering yet whether I lean toward my left side now because there's nothing remaining to hold down the right, it's a good question. Answer is no, but still, it's a good question.
I had a seven-day stay in the hospital that involved a lot of figuring out how to walk without feeling like the rest of my insides were going to fall out onto the floor. Ben drove to San Francisco every.single.day to see me. An hour and a half there and staying until the end of visiting hours. And then an hour and a half back to Sacramento. Tears are falling on my keyboard because I still can't believe someone did that for me. Thank you, Ben.
The recovery is slower than I wanted. It's really hard for me to accept a temporary lack of mobility; it's hard for me to accept that pain and fatigue right now may slow me down a bit; and it's hard overall to realize that this is my new normal. But I'm walking a few miles a day. I'm cooking again. I'm making stupid puns and getting mad at Married at First Sight and overworking, just like before.
So what's next? Well...UCSF does a "500 Gene Report" pathology on tumors. You're likely thinking what I thought: that with 500 genes being reviewed, they've gotta know where it came from and exactly what it is, yes? Well, no. They're still calling it unclassified and of unknown origin. This makes it hard to determine next steps with no real target. It's like when you're concentrating on something else while you try to take a drink and you keep missing the straw. Who here is surprised that I've baffled three doctors with this thing?
I guess that means stay tuned. ::shrug::
Most importantly: THANK YOU. Thank you to those who have texted, called, sent gifts, sent cards, AMAZING meals, asked to visit (I'm sorry about this: it's really hard to schedule visitors when each hour is a different pain level!), thrown vibes out to the universe, asked Ben how I'm doing, and so on. I honestly am floored at the outpouring of love I've felt. I hope I can return it to each of you in your times of need. This experience has provided me with new friends (hi, sarcoma peeps!*), shown me the depths of love, concern and understanding from many existing friends, and also has been crucial in helping me realize some relationships are over. It's made me closer to Ben, to my family and hell...even to my cats.
Hm. I was right. Writing it out did make me feel better. <3
*sarcoma peeps: email me at Faith6780@gmail.com for gory details you want. And pictures. ::devil emoji::