Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Journey to The Edge

On August lst I was admitted to Methodist Hospital for what was thought to be a bad case of intestinal flu. They did an ultrasound that night. The next morning I awoke to a man peering over me, with the word “oncology” on his lab coat. Gulp. He said they had seen what appeared to be an ovarian tumor, and that they would operate that afternoon. The tumor was cancerous. A couple of days later he waltzed in the room with a huge smile on his face, saying “Kathy, I’ve got the best news. The tumor was stage one, grade one and you won’t need chemo. I have every reason to expect a full recovery.” I rejoiced in the good news and thought there’d be smooth sailing ahead.

A week later, I had a heart attack. There was a blood clot in my lung. Two days later, I had another. I then sank into acute respiratory failure, and was put on a ventilator. This was a very dire situation. (My primary doc now tells me that there was doubt that I’d come out of this.)

But, I hung in there. I was still on nasal oxygen and there was little hope that I’d be able to be free of it. I was transferred to a smaller hospital, Regency, in Golden Valley. By then I was more aware of things. Although I could not move due to weakness., I insisted that they turn the oxygen level down each week. And, finally, I was free of it and my levels have been great ever since.

At the same time, however, another challenge presented itself - my kidneys crashed. I have been on dialysis 3x per week for kidney failure.

I was transferred to the Walker Methodist center about 6 weeks ago for final rehab. At first I could walk no more than a couple of steps. I could not hold my head up or turn over in bed. I had lost my swallow reflex and had to be fed through a tube in my nose and could take nothing by mouth. My tongue bled from the dryness. But, once again, I recovered, and the first sip of water was another victory to enjoy.

Once I regained strength, the physical therapists became like drill sergeants and pushed me to the limit. I would return to my room after a 30 minute session exhausted.

Finally, the day came for me to go home. The biggest challenge has been not to overdo things and pace myself accordingly. It was great to sleep in my own bed and not on a pillow with a plastic case.

Due to the dialysis schedule - 3.5 hours/3x per week, I will not be returning to work. It is very sad for me to refer to people as “a former co-worker”, for I enjoyed everyone I worked with.

In a fit of insanity, I got all of my hair chopped off. The quintessential bad haircut. But, what can I say, except “it will grow back.”

I have much to be thankful for - my insurance, which covered a whopping big hospital bill; my friend Elaine, who picked up my mail; my sister Joan and husband Merle who ran errands; my sister Jane who brought Esther to see me on Halloween Weekend in her jellyfish costume; everyone who sent cards and well wishes’; my oncologist, Peter A, who is a prince of a man and a stellar physician; my primary care doc, Steve B, who calmed me during several meltdowns.

I can’t wait until the sidewalks are clear so that I can walk outside. Alas, I guess it will be awhile.

Greet each day with joy. Do something nice for someone else. Pray for peace.


Major Bedhead said...

Good grief. I am so sorry for all that you've been thru and I am sending you healthy, healing, good thoughts. Hang in there, lady.

meanderings said...

You are a strong woman and we'll keep you in our prayers.
Hugs - lots (if they don't hurt...)

meanderings said...

PS - glad you're back with us!

Zazzy said...

I'm so glad to see you again and sorry that you've been through so much. I hope you keep getting better and stronger each day. Many hugs!

manny hernandez said...

Amiga, MarieBe from TuDIABETES pointed me to this post.

On one end it saddens me to see much you have been through the past few months. On the other end I admire you so much and feel inspired by your courage and strength.

Would you mind sharing your mailing address with me? You can email it to me at manny at diabeteshf dot org.

Please receive a big hug from all of us!!

Anonymous said...

Hi K,
I have been reading your blog and others since I was diagnosed myself (as a middle-aged adult) 3 years ago. I am not much of a commenter, but I have found much solace, info and comfort from reading about the experiences of others. I would like to think that I might be able to offer my experiences to others one day as you have been doing.
In the meantime, I send you my best wishes for a rapid recovery, and serenity while you are healing. It's amazing how much we can find to appreciate when we are faced with challenges we weren't expecting. Thank-you for all the inspiring words you've shared over the years.

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

So good to hear from you again, and I am hoping 2011 brings better things your way. Don't know what else to say but I know we've all missed you.

I wish I had the nerve to lop off all my hair--!(:-)

sugabetic said...


J.B. said...

Kathy, what an incredible series of challenges and I hardly know what to say except that I am happy to be able to read this post, because it means you are here with us to share it.

Know that the DOC force is with you for whatever it's worth. Keep up the good fight. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

- J.B.

Carol said...

Wow, that was a scary ride you had! No such thing as routine surgery. I'm so glad you made it back from that edge. Sorry to hear about the dialysis and your job, but I'm really glad you can devote the time and energy to devote to feeling better.

Molly said...

I'm so sorry to hear about all that you've been through in the last couple months. Scary how things can change so quickly.
Dixie and I send (((hugs))). Please email me anytime if you need some help or want to chat.

Molly and Dixie

Karen said...

Oh Kathy, what a long and grueling road you have been down. I'm so sorry for everything you've had to go through, but I'm so glad that you are on your way back! I'm sending good thoughts and strong vibes to you!! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you!

Kevin said...

Oh Kathy, I'm sorry to hear about all the hurdles you've had to clear, but incredibly pleased to hear that you've cleared them.

I hope you're continuing to improve and that the snow melts soon so you can get out for a nice walk.

Big Hugs to you.

~Suzanne~ said...

I cannot believe that I missed everything that you have been going through!! You are such an amazing, strong and truly inspirational woman and I am so happy to see that things are looking brighter. I have really missed all of my diabetes friends and hope to stay in better touch... now if only that two year old understood that computers are for more than just Elmo videos ;)