I saw my oncologist on April 11, 2011 after avoiding him for three months.  When he saw the condition I was in … emaciated, full of fluid, gray skin, sunken eyes … he told me I had to get down to the hospital right now.  I resisted.  I did not want to go to that hospital!  I’ve seen it way too many times with friends I’ve lost.  They would be holding their own, albeit ill, but then they’d get an infection of some sort and that was it.  They were gone.  I didn’t want that to be me.  I knew what they would do to me in that hospital.  I know how they treat blocked bowels.  Watched it with an ex and decided right then and there, I never wanted that to be me.  But now it was.  And way worse.

So down the mountain we drove and got me checked in.  I didn’t consciously realize that I was dying, but I knew I was in big trouble.  My younger brother, Brooks, had arrived for a visit two days prior and I don’t even remember him being there.  That’s how sick I was.  John was leading me where I needed to go but, for the most part, I laid on the couch with a bowl nearby cuz God knows I couldn’t get to the toilet in time if I got sick, which I was doing a bit these days.

Anyway, they got me all settled in and sequence of events became a blur after that.  I know what all happened to me, but I don’t have recollection of what came when.  I only know I was there for two weeks and it was horrible.  I had reached out to the people I considered my community, the people I had met through Karen, for prayer.  But Karen emailed me to tell me to stop spreading negativity to her group. Suddenly, I was dying and had lost the support of this community of which I had been a part for the past eight months. Negativity?  Yeah, I guess what was happening to me was negative … and no one knew that more so than I … but there was a big difference between telling people what’s going on and intentionally trying to spread negativity.  Not to mention, I was on too many drugs to hardly remember my own name, much less spend time thinking about people who didn’t even care.  But thankfully, though I felt abandoned and scared, I wasn’t alone.

Thank God for my husband, who lived right there in that room with me for the whole time.  Thank God for my bestie, Diana … who is also a CNA and was able to stay with me so John could go shower and get food … and who lovingly tended to my personal needs.  Thank God for my daughter who was there after work every single evening, without fail, even though our relationship was fragile at the time.  Thank God for my younger brother.  He expected a visit filled with fun and laughter, but instead watched his sister almost die … the strain on his face … but because he was here, my man could stay at the hospital with me because Brooks was tending to my dogs at home.  Thank God for my neighbor who sat with me and brought me pudding when I was too sick to ingest anything else.  Thank God for my former pastor and his wife … and the wonderful worshippers who came to me on Easter to give me an Easter even though I didn’t feel resurrected.  Thank God for the women who so selflessly made me hospital gowns and cleaned my house and brought food to my man.

So the first order of business was a naso-gastric tube.  That was the thing I had been dreading.  When one has a blocked intestine, nothing can pass and your intestines can rupture.  Much like a water hose with a kink in it.  So they have to put a tube through your nose, down your throat, into your stomach.  It is attached to a pump that sucks everything you swallow right back out again.  I was so scared to have that thing down my throat but I didn’t exactly have a choice.  To be fair, they did as good a job as they could have.  They numbed my sinuses and throat up really well.  That took the longest.  Probably about a half hour.  Then the tube was in in a matter of minutes.  No fun, but it didn’t kill me.  Then trying to relax with a tube stuck in your throat all the time is no easy task.  But that’s where I was.  Then the fun began.  Can you imagine vomiting around a silicone tube in your throat?  That’s not supposed to happen … that’s the point of an NG tube … to stop the vomiting from the backing up in your bowels.  But here I was puking my guts out for a good day before they decided something was amiss.  Since the anti-emetics weren’t working (yeah, no crap), they took me down to xray in misery.  Guess what?  The NG tube wasn’t in far enough!!!!!!  Reckon they could’ve figured that out about 12 hours ago and saved me a lot of pain????  Five minutes later, all was well.  Jeez.  Such a simple thing but no one took the time.

Next task was to get that fluid out of me so we could see what’s what.  They drained me and, once again, got seven litres of fluid out of my belly.  This was my fourth paracentesis.  Two the first time, and this was my second one this time.  After the fluid was gone, they were supposed to send those seven one-litre bottles of cancer juice to pathology so we could know exactly what it was so we’d know exactly how to best treat it.  Was it estrogen sensitive?  Progesterone?  Her2neu?  All these

Small intestine

Image via Wikipedia

come into play with treating breast cancer.  So my life depended on it because metastatic cancer can change its prognostic indicators in about half a New York minute.  The next day, two gals came into my room to inform me that somehow, some way, every bit of that fluid had been lost!  Gone, kaput, zapped, poof.  Just like that.  Now we had no idea what we were treating.  Their solution was a liver biopsy.  Yeah, I just had all that fluid sucked out, I needed surgery to repair my multiply blocked bowel, and now they wanted to take a piece of my liver?????  Thankfully, my oncologist and I were on the same page with that and decided against it.

Meanwhile, we had that pesky small intestine to deal with.  So off I went to surgery that was supposed to take a while.  Thirty minutes later, I was done.  ‘Scuse the language, but *ucked is more like it.  It was just that serious.  I had cancer everywhere in there.  In the peritoneum, on the small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and liver.  Blockages in multiple places.  The surgeon took pictures and closed me back up.  I was still unconscious, but all my loved ones dismissed to the parking lot, crying and smoking, certain Mom was a goner because there was no way chemo was gonna go down with me.

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