5K at the finish line!

5K at the finish line!

8 months after a serious health crisis, I ran my first post-op race. My time was not great, but I enjoyed this race more than many of my longer, faster runs. The course was hilly, and there was a sustained wind of 20-30 mph, often blowing in our faces. It was in the low fifties so it was a bit brisk… but it was WONDERFUL. I was told due to the significant damage done by the tumor that it was not likely I would run again. They were WRONG. My next race is a 5 mile one, and although I am fighting an flare up of an achilles tendon injury, I will be running it in less than 3 weeks.

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Looking forward… 2014 and beyond

Most folks that know me well know that I have a broad, eclectic, arguably an ECCENTRIC taste in music.  I love opera, alternative, hair and glam bands, classic rock, blues, jazz, rap, pop, classical… 

The one thing that is not usually on my playlist is country.  Generally,  I am not the biggest fan.  But I heard a song the other day that stopped me in my tracks.  It is an older song (nearly ten years old- released in 2004) by Tim McGraw that I had never heard before.  I only heard it now because apparently one of the radio stations that I used to listen to often is now a country station.  I was not paying much attention as I was focused on the road and my navigation app, but somehow…  I heard it.  Truly heard it, and it gave me goosebumps.  The song is titled ‘Live like you were dying’.  Mr. McGraw is speaking to an older gentleman that had a serious health crisis in his early 40′s.  

Lyrics and information on the song can be found at http://www.lyrics007.com/Tim%20McGraw%20Lyrics/Live%20Like%20You%20Were%20Dying%20Lyrics.html

He said 
“I was in my early forties 
With a lot of life before me 
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime 
I spent most of the next days 
Looking at the x-rays 
Talkin’ ’bout the options 
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time” 
I asked him 
“When it sank in 
That this might really be the real end 
How’s it hit you 
When you get that kind of news? 
Man, what’d you do?” 

He said 
“I went skydiving 
I went Rocky Mountain climbing 
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu 
And I loved deeper 
And I spoke sweeter 
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying” 

And he said 
“Someday I hope you get the chance 
To live like you were dying” 

Like tomorrow was a gift 

And you’ve got eternity 
To think about 
What you’d do with it 
What could you do with it 
What did I do with it? 
What would I do with it? 

I pulled to the side of the road, downloaded the song from iTunes, and listened again.  And again.  One more time before I pulled my little sedan back out into traffic.  I cannot say that I have often had a song ‘hit’ me that way, and it was like a physical strike.  

In late July, I had the scenario Mr. McGraw sang about.  I was in the eye of the health crisis tornado.  I went into the ER with a complaint that I thought was no big deal- although uncomfortable and needed intervention- and walked out at 3:30am with my first appointment at 10am, and that set things into motion with lots of tests, a visit to surgeons and oncologists and the like.  I was in surgery approximately 70 hours later to remove a massive tumor that was on my Fallopian tube.  Somehow, this 11 pound monstrosity did not kill me by rupturing, and I beat the odds, it was not malignant.  However, if it would have ruptured, death would have been almost instantaneous.  I had from the wee hours of Tuesday morning through the early hours of Friday morning to prepare for surgery, to talk about the potential for cancer, chemo, poor 5 year viability projections, a colostomy… and somehow I dodged all that.  THIS TIME.  I had a long and hard recovery, repeatedly passing out, dropping to under 110 lbs and some other issues that may or may not resolve.  I have a very, very scarred belly.  A skirmish was fought there in 2007, and an all-out-battle occurred in 2013.  

I have had near misses before.  But I did not learn the lesson, and many folks have apprised me that you will be provided the lesson over and over until you ‘learn it’.  Now, I am not sure about that, but I am sure that with this just happening 5 months ago, and with the change of the year from 2013 to 2014… I am READY.

I am doing more for myself.  Taking more time off, working a bit less, and doing things outside my comfort zone.  A couple of days ago I did something I would have NEVER have done since my hysterectomy in 2007.  

I scheduled a spray tan to utilize a certificate I had been given before it expired.  I was apprehensive about looking like an oompa loompa from the Wizard of Oz, and I also knew from friends that spray tans, even the best of them, really enhance scarring.  And I have a ton of them… scars, that is… but only one area caused me anxiety…

Standing before a young woman in my bikini underwear and bra, exposing what I call ‘Frankenbelly’ is something I would not normally ever consider doing.  And honestly?  I just wanted to throw up and die.  My intention prior to this experience was that no one, NO ONE save essential medical folks would see my abdomen.  I had no intention of ever, ever EVER letting someone see my belly casually.  And dating?  Not been interested in a long time, and it is certainly not happening now…  Or that was my self dialogue in the early days of my recovery.  Someone seeing me intimately, naked?  NO WAY.

The technician was kind, and sensing I did not want to talk, did the spraying quickly and gently, and had no reaction to ‘Frankenbelly’.  No reaction to the weight I was ordered to gain back, plus the 5-7 pounds I gained in addition to the 15 lbs I was to gain.  It hit me at that moment… being obese in the not too distant past due to health issues, losing 134 pounds over 4 years, then losing 20 without wanting to… that I have a lot of body image things to sort out at the age of 44, almost 45.  I have lots of ‘self talk’ that is not affirming, and I would not talk to my worst enemy (if I had one) about anything like I often speak to myself about my body, my strength training goals, my running goals, my weight, etc.  I have got to walk the talk.  I will wade into someone for body shaming, but I do it to myself.  No more.

As the days have turned into weeks, and weeks have turned into months after my near miss, I am realizing that all of the awkwardness about my body is unnecessary, and drains focus from the important things.  ‘Frankenbelly’ is a badge of honor, that I did not succumb to something that could have ended me.  Now as a reader of this… you are probably thinking… so you have a scar?  GET OVER YOURSELF!  

And I am doing my best.  I am not looking back, I am staying in the present.  Thus far my life has been a progression of wonderful, terrible, affirming, frightening events that continue to whittle away at the things that are simply not important.  And I received a second chance that I cannot even begin to articulate…  Where I am now, it is a true gift.  I damn near did not make it to 2014.  Returning to work?  Uncertain to unlikely.  Returning to the gym and training for races?  Definitely not likely.  And I did not lose those things…

BUT…The important things in my life are not things.  They are my friends, my cats, and the relationships that make life worthwhile.  It is not about how many miles I can run in a minute, how many pounds on a scale, or how scarred and marred my abdomen is.  My work is important to me, but I am working to find balance.  I used to live to work.  I now want to honor my work in the way it deserves, but work to live.  I am still figuring that out currently, but I will continue to keep my head up and eyes on the horizon… when it comes to that.  For everything else… I want to, I have to, be here in this minute.  

None of us know the future.  We know we might have 70, 80, 90 years or more… or we might have 44 1/2.  I never had a ‘bucket list’ … finding the whole concept contrived, Hollywood, and honestly, a touch silly.  I cannot say that I now have a bucket list.  But I am determined to do several things and soon.  Some are easy, like skydiving (which terrifies me to the depth of my being, but I will do it!) and ziplining… and some are more difficult, like finding work life balance… and in doing so… perhaps opening myself to the possibility of a romantic relationship again.  

Onward and upward… I am living this life the way I want to, and I am done with the expectations of others playing in my head.  I will do this my way, and I want to make whatever time I have COUNT.  I never have been one to keep to the sidelines or the safe space, and I do not intend to do so now.  I just intend to be a little kinder, a little gentler, and a little more accepting of me.  I constantly remind myself that what used to be is no longer.  What I have is now.  

Best wishes for a fabulous 2014.  Thank you for reading.

 

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Thank you, Anti-Jared!

To understand this blog, please take a peek at http://theantijared.com/2013/11/dear-luluemon-founder-chip-wilson-rip-pants-size-20.html

This gentleman began questioning Lululemon’s founder’s assertions that their clothing does not fit all bodies and blames ‘thigh rub’.

They are YOGA PANTS!!!! Why would you make something ‘sheer’ that is meant to be used on the floor, on a rubber mat, working yourself into positions of assorted difficulty, convolution, and dare I say it? Rub????

To the ignoramus/misogynist/fat shaming jerkwad that made the comments about ‘thigh rub’.

I bought some yoga pants on Group-on, and they were lulumon.

At the time I was a whopping 112 lbs and wore a size 00/XXS or smaller. Thigh rub? My thighs do not touch from knee to … Even now at 115. I wanted cheap workout/running pants as I try to recover from surgery and regain my physical shape/physical conditioning.

So. I get the 3 pairs of yoga pants. And for the most part, they fit, which tells me they run smaller than other ‘Misses’ sizing.

And they promptly self destructed in a record time. Now, even at my heaviest, at around the 250lb range, working out hard, with SIGNIFICANT thigh rub, my compression running pants and yoga pants held up for years, and years, and years… Being worn 2-3 times a week, washed as much.

I have noticed in my travels from a 24W to a 00 that the materials used are sheerer, often tissue paper thin. The seams are not sewn in the same manner as other clothing, or with the same care/quality.

Much of the clothing is disposable. Including lululemon.

My purchase has long since hit the dumpster, and at $9 was not a huge financial loss, but the message sent by this a$$hole to women is damaging. And unacceptable.

He is actively promulgating misogyny, and fat shaming is an effective method of that. (Keep in mind that their largest size appears to be a 10 or 12, a la Abercrombie and Fitch, and those with ‘thigh rub’ are not included in those sizes.)

In the mid to late nineties, Dr. Jackson Katz released a video ‘Tough Guise’ that is an unblinking examination of enculturated/institutional misogyny and gendered violence. In this film, he points out that hyper masculinization of men is the societal norm, and as men take up more space, women are expected to take up less and less.

This is not just an example of a rich, privileged person acting badly, it is a true reflection of the larger problem.

The gentleman writing the blog? He got it. And hopefully, will continue to use his privilege to cast a spotlight on this.

And we have to do our part too:)

Rant to the woman who was going to give out nasty, fat shaming notes to ‘overweight’ trick or treaters…

<Rant on>

Whether this is a contrived stunt or not (I am seeing some chatter it may be on some discussion threads)… Sadly, there are mean spirited people everywhere that have no problem shaming a child, or ANYONE that has a weight higher than they personally find acceptable.

It is disgusting. If this caller exists, she is a bully. Seriously… if you are that concerned about health, give out healthy treats, or better yet, turn your light off and keep your miserable self in your home.

Weight is merely a measure. It does not indicate worth. When folks ‘fat shame’ and hide behind ‘health concerns’ they are making a couple of ignorant assumptions about the person they are ‘shaming’. They are assuming:

1- That the person does not realize, every second, of every day, that their body falls outside what our media, our advertising, our clothing, makeup, and sporting industries tells us is ‘the standard’. They are unable to notice in the mirror that they are overweight. Obviously they have never attempted to maneuver through/sit in an amusement ride, an airplane seat, a movie theater seat, a booth at a restaurant, a chair in a waiting room with arms. They do not realize from their peers, attempting to date, going to the doctor, and fat shame random asshats like this that they are heavy. THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS! Or is it Captain Ahole?

2-That they are inherently ________. Fill in the blank. Lazy. Undisciplined. Gluttonous. Selfish. Many will make statements to the order of:
“Just eat less and move more… it is not hard.”
“He/she is more likely to have [insert health condition or conditions HERE]…” and they will either offer pithy statements of concern, or outright disgust that ‘they’ should not have to ‘pay’ higher insurance rates, etc.”
“Just try to [insert obvious strategy here, that if I Google right now I can find 120 strategies that differ or conflict- and I guarantee that many folks who struggle with their weight have tried them ALL].
Or my personal favorite that I hear quite often…
“I used to be heavy… and I did [insert the strategy used that worked in your case].”

Each person’s journey in this life is not the same. Even family members who live in the same house. Each person’s relationship with their body is not the same. Reputable studies show that shaming and similar tactics are NOT successful long-term, and often result in additional challenges. The two assumptions above trumpet two basic arrogant errors. One is the person is oblivious despite being bombarded every second of every day from every direction with messages of what is ‘socially acceptable.’ The second is the person is too lazy, unmotivated, stupid… to do anything about it.

Losing weight, if that is the person’s choice, is not an easy, linear journey. Many folks struggle with the side effect of medications (antidepressants, steroids, etc.) that make weight loss so difficult. Or health problems that are real, and are not excuses. PCOS, Lupus, Renal failure, Organ Transplant, Fibro, MS… I could go on for days. To look at the person, they look ‘fine’. Again, check your assumptions!

I love the young woman who writes the ‘Adulting‘ blog. She quoted a friend that stated “If you cannot touch it, you should not comment on it.” This friend was referencing body shaming and objectification.

As a person who was painfully thin until my early twenties, and struggled (and still struggle) with weight, especially at about age 30, when my PCOS went into full swing. I spent a good part of my 30′s overweight or obese, lost weight, kept it off for about 2 years, received a treatment/implant that caused my diet/exercise to fail and gained it all back, plus… and lost it again. Now I am on the too skinny side due to a serious health issue that I am recovering from, and will I ever be morbidly obese again?

I hope not. But… if I am, I will continue my striving for health at any weight, and the body comments? Do. Not. Want.

These are my feelings as a 44 year old woman who is pretty damn self confident. I cannot imagine being under the age of whatever age children and teens are when they trick or treat, and having an adult pull a cruel, asinine trick like that. A cruel act that would ruin not only that night, but possibly trick or treat forever.

And to those that read the last paragraph and thought, “Good!”

Your lack of compassion, and your self-righteous self-deigning as the food police makes you at your core, an ugly human being.

<Rant off>Image

 

Thank you to Beverly Diehl for her using this in her blog, Writing in Flow.  You can check that out here at http://writinginflow.blogspot.com/2013/10/happy-fat-shaming-halloween-bodyimage.html 

My newly quoted quote on body policing… “If you don’t get to touch it, you don’t get to talk about it.”

I am an avid blog reader.  Ms. Kelly Williams-Brown’s Adulting blog is one of my favorites, mainly because she is smart, and has no problem calling out ‘isms’ of any type.  Although I am 20 years her senior, she is who I want to be when I grow up!  On July 23rd she posted the title referenced quote made by her friend Kim, and has it been timely.   Here it is if you would like to read it- you will find it here… http://adultingblog.com/post/56261745066

So- as some may know, I have been on several concurrent ‘healing paths’ in my life.  The past 4 years I have been working hard to remedy the damage done to me after several serious health issues occurred in 2006, and other issues added to the weight gain I experienced.  For the first time in my life, I became an emotional eater, and as a result… I was simply the largest I have ever been in my life.  And I was aware of it every second of every day.  And although I had a lot of confidence, I did not feel like me, and I did not look like me.  The misuse of hormones and the steroids started it and my life blowing apart gave me the vulnerability to add that much more.

After losing approximately 80 lbs I stalled.  I was running, lifting, doing cardio, burning butt…  I was eating decent, and keeping my intake low carb, low fat, and at 1500 calories net.  I was plateaued … losing and regaining the same 10-15 lbs over and over for many months.  Although I was not longer morbidly obese, or obese, I was still overweight,  Meeting with endocrinologist, we discussed options and after testing and lots of discussion, it appears that I have entered the metabolic slowdown that happens for some women post menopause.  Makes sense, since I went through medically induced menopause in 2007.  I reduced my calories to 1200 a day gross, and the weight began coming off.

But, and there is always a ‘but’ in my life it seems… I had a massive medical crisis that threatened my life.  (You can find that here:  http://tlhamrick.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/a-lesson-learned-just-in-time/ ).  I had reached my goal weight and goal BMI.  I was at a BMI of 20, and I was training, and was ready for, a 1/2 marathon.  For me, my journey was not about a magic number on a scale.  I just wanted to be at my best form, whatever that may be.  Arguably, I was in the best physical shape of my life… but I was not.  And I was very near death and did not know it.  Long story short, I had an almost 11 lb tumor in my pelvic cavity… on my Fallopian tube.  The cancer scare notwithstanding, if that THING would have ruptured… it would be like and ectopic pregnancy, and the septic fluid from the tumor would have also ensured that I would not have survived.  After very invasive surgery to remove it, and a hard hospitalization full of gains and setbacks, I have had 6 weeks at home, pretty much just in veg mode trying to heal and deal with some of the lingering issues.  This recovery has not been linear, and has been physically and emotionally difficult.  The fall out emotionally and mentally from what happened… the  physical toll… not knowing if certain things will ever return to pre-tumor function.  Low blood pressure that results in dizziness and fainting.  And, I have continued to lose weight.  I am now at size that rivals or is smaller than I was when I was in high school or college and did not break 100 pounds.  And even though I am 115-ish right now, I am a US Misses size 00.  And I look rough.  I know this… any time I catch a glimpse of myself I see it.  When I am undressed I see my muscle mass leaving more and more each day- if I actually look… as I am often averting my gaze to avoid my horrendously disfigured stomach (thankfully colostomy free).  I see how prominent my cheekbones are and that you can clearly see the lines of my jawbones.  Even now as I type… if I stop to think about something, and prop my head on my hand under my chin or on my cheek… I feel it.

What I am finding really difficult is the reactions of people who mean well, who care about me… but after you hear something umpteen times a day, it is demoralizing…

“Are you done losing weight?  I don’t think you should lose any more!”

“Well you look great, but you are way too thin!”

“Look how gaunt your face is!”

“Do you eat?  Here … eat <this>!”

“What does your surgeon say about this?”

Yesterday and the day before I was at a work related membership meeting (I am transitioning back into work the past week and a half) and saw nearly 70 folks I have not seen for a while, some not since March, some not since my surgery.  And to get the above nearly 40-50 times (I wish I were exaggerating) is hard at best.  I am starting to simply dread large gatherings of people for this reason…  But- we were in King of Prussia, that has the US’s second largest mall.  Thursday night was ‘Ladies Night’ and a perfect night to pick up some clearance discounted clothing to get me through this period until I can build a bit of muscle mass again.  When I was in my favorite store, they had a pair of petite pants in a size 00.  I was so excited to get $70 pants for $15.  As the sales associate was ringing them up, she commented she wanted to purchase those pants, and they would not pull up over her hips.  I thought she was really, really tiny… and I was not sure why she said that to me.  Was that meant to be a complement?  Or some sort of insult?

Yesterday I was wearing a form-fitting dress, and was leaving my hotel.  I passed a smartly dressed, middle-aged woman and she muttered, “Eat a cheeseburger” as I walked past her.  Now, I had experienced something similar in the dressing room of the Limited, right before I got sick, and I had called the people out.   I had a sales associate tell me in the most flip manner possible to ‘try the children’s section’ when I was looking for a wool coat.  On my way down, especially after I had entered the single digit sizes, I am treated differently.  I am no longer invisible to men, and I am apparently perceived to be part of the fat-shaming club.  After all, my thighs do not touch.   I was thin as a young person, and received really, really wrong/size-ist messages… and it was not until I spent over a decade in the world of the fat/obese that I understood how harmful and MEAN those messages really are.  They are laden with loathing and shaming, all masquerading as ‘concern for health’.  My absolute tipping point is the people who shame children for weight, and I have had friends who have struggled with their weight cruelly confront a young female relative because the child ‘needed to know she was fat’.  Let me tell, you… the child knows.  Every second of every day.  And if she did not, I guarantee many of her classmates, teachers, and others around her have pointed it out.  The clothing sizes have pointed it out.  So has TV, radio, and social media.   I have seen the memes that also shame skinny/thin women… that urges them to eat, that ‘real’ women have curves.   I received an email on my birthday that a friend was avoiding me because I made her feel like a failure when she looked at me.  And she was trying to pull two others into the conversation.

I have news for you.  EVERY woman is a REAL woman.  And those who will angrily and quickly jump to the same old, tired arguments that still do nothing but shame the person who dares not, or simply cannot due to genetics or health conditions, meet the ‘socially acceptable size and look’.  And those who are outside the ‘beautiful people parameters of appearance’ also jump into the fray, attacking anyone who expresses uncertainty about their appearance, who dares to share some of the things I have shared in this blog.  I was jokingly told by a friend that I lost the ability to talk about this when I dropped below the ‘overweight’ status.  I have had folks jokingly say they wish they had my problem (that I am so thin, and keep losing weight even though I do not want to and it is causing me issues).

Really?  You would like to find out on a Tuesday that you have a huge Ovarian tumor, and with your particular situation parameters, be told that the chance of it being benign are almost nil to nonexistent and that 5 year survival rates are extremely poor?  You would like to be told on Wednesday that if it ruptures prior to surgery, the outcome is most likely certain death?  How about on Thursday that you will wake up with a colostomy and have an incision that bisects you from public bone to just under your sternum? Watching your friends’ fear and tears?   I am not even going to go into the past several weeks of the hell of recovery.

The message is clear.  Especially as a woman, our bodies are not ‘ours’.  We are objectified, and we are policed.  What we eat, what we don’t.  What we wear and what size it is.  Our value is conceptualized by our appearance… and there is an ugly side to each space you can occupy.  Whether you are thin, underweight, overweight, obese… there is a role that can be unthinkingly played to be covertly aggressive to others.  And the only people who can stop this is US.  Again, for the smug/indignant who loudly protest that it is not a form of misogyny, elitism, lookism, or any other form of discrimination or bigotry… this is the use of power and control.  This appears to be one the last bastions that it is okay to hate on…

Oh… wait it is not.  Marriage equality… Rape culture and institutionally propagated misogyny… racism… classism… need I go on?

ENOUGH.  Once again, if you cannot touch it, you do not get to have an opinion on it.  And my body is just that, MINE.   And I will actively call this out from this point forward … each time.  My worth is not defined by the scale or the mirror.  No one’s is… or should be.

You cannot win any way you go...

You cannot win any way you go…

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Related to my last post…

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A lesson learned… just in time…

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It is a good thing that I have had some of the more unpleasant ‘learning experiences’ lately.  A coworker advised me the other day that you will keep encountering the same issues until you learn the solution.  Maybe the realizations from the past 2-3 posts were preparing me for what could be described as one of my most challenging tests of all.  I hope I have passed it…

Sunday morning, just over a week ago, I got very ill.  I will spare you the details, but it was most unpleasant and painful.  After dealing with said issue for nearly 36 hours, I relented and went to the Emergency Room.  (And I also did not repeat the sins of 6 weeks prior, and allowed a friend to take me, and be with me at the Emergency Department.)  What I learned hit me out of left field, and even later and multiple doctor visits/consultations, an emergency surgery, and a hospitalization I am still gob-smacked.

I had a massive tumor on my ovary.  And it was originally estimated to be cantaloupe size by the CAT scan… and pressing on my bladder, other things, and filled my pelvic cavity from the pelvic floor to the umbilicus.  The ER physician called the head gynecologic oncologist at my gynecologist’s office at 2am on that now Tuesday morning, and I had an appointment mid-morning.   After meeting with the doctor, I was referred to a Cancer Center in my town for expedited and emergency surgery to remove the ovaries, the tumor, and anything else that is necessary as deemed by pathology when the tumor is removed. 

We did not know if it was, or was not malignant at this point, but several things- the size, the aggressive pace of growth, the type, and the fact I am post-menopausal does NOT work in my favor.  It appeared pre-surgery there was a less than 20% chance of it being benign. I understood the probability that it could be malignant, and I also understood that I have a gift at current.  My chest, lungs, etc. are clear, and the tumor appeared to be contained.  As long as they got it out without rupturing it, even if it is malignant, I should have an extremely favorable outcome… As favorable as something of that sort is.  A memorial had just happened the previous Saturday for a friend who lost her fight to ovarian cancer.  I know all-too-well the survivability statistics for 5 years.  I am a realist, yet I continued to be hopeful.  According the the oncol/gyn I saw on that Tuesday merely 7 hours after my discharge from ED, they planned to remove anything remotely female (ovaries, fallopian tubes, that sort of thing) that I had left there, and planned to take lymph nodes, and to take the round ‘fat pad’ that acts to ward off infection.  Depending on what they found, again, IF there was malignancy, would determine if chemo/radiation is necessary.  

The original game plan was to reopen my hysterectomy incision, and with that scenario… recovery at longest should be 4 to 6 weeks.  I expected to hospitalized for a few days, and working from home after the first week via laptop, phone, etc.  I anticipated returning to work before September 9.  

Then the Cancer Center called.  They had cleared Friday morning first thing, and recommended strongly that I schedule my surgery for that time.  I agreed, and I was so scheduled.  I would be having surgery roughly 75 hours after first learning of this… this… THING’s existence in my body.  

First- the surgery schedule:

•           Leave for the hospital at 4:45am

•           Have to be there by 5:15am

•           Surgery is at 7:30am

•           It was estimated that I could be in the hospital 3-6 days

Thursday I met with the Oncologist at the Women’s Cancer Center,  Wonderful folks all the way, I am and was in excellent hands.  I received some more information… and the more I am prepared, the better I will be with the outcome.  I learned that:

•           This oncologist offered hope, and urged me to continue to be cautiously optimistic that the tumor will NOT be malignant.  That is the outcome I am/was most focused on!!!! 

•           We hoped that the removal of the tumor will go well, and it would not-

o              Rupture or burst, sending septic crap into me, or worst case scenario… send malignant cells through me and tumor crap

o              Have damaged my colon/bowels permanently- right now they are pretty well not functional due to the sheer size and pressure of the tumor- the doctor prepared me that I might wake up with a colostomy… and most likely, except in the most DIRE of situations, it will be temporary

 I had a couple of additional pieces of information that reinforced the need to move as swiftly as we have, and those included:

•           The impact of a non-malignant rupture

•           My incision will NOT be reopening my past one, it will be a mid-lateral incision, and quite a large one… being due to the next point

•           The tumor is larger than a cantaloupe now… it is the size of a large honeydew melon or a medium balloon fully inflated, and it is now pushing on my diaphragm and the pain is now starting in earnest.  I was just relieved that it is going to be out of me in under 24 hours at that point.

•           Due to the unpleasant discoveries above, my recuperation would be a bit longer than originally hoped… I hoped to return at the beginning of September

o                      NOW- I will be working from home after the first few weeks, and I will go into the shelter on a limited basis when I get the blessing from my doctor

o                      If it is malignant and the other structures that protect me from infection are removed, I have to be careful (that will go double if I require chemo)

Folks have asked how I was/am doing otherwise, and I have to say that the whirlwind had consumed me, and I am pretty numbed out, but focused on the next steps to regaining health.  I have a half marathon to run in my future, you know!

I was determined, am determined, to beat this, whatever it turned out to be.  Failure is simply NOT an option.  Although this saga only started in this direction a mere few days ago it seems like a lifetime.  I am so ready to think of other things… like Grumpy Cats, my diva cats, and ending interpersonal violence.  

So- surgery day.  I did not sleep at all, and my friend picks me up and takes me to the hospital.  Other friends join us, and it is very clear that everyone in the OR knows why I am there… And as I slip under, I know that for me, the hard part has paused, and now my friends are who are the primary folks waiting, anxious, and scared.  

I woke to searing pain, and a voice saying that ‘it’s not cancer Terri, you are okay!’ and I immediately reached down.  No colostomy.  I got my three wishes.  The recovery room nurse told me as I started to wake that it sounded like a party when the doctor told my friends, the laughter, the crying, the happiness, and the doctor was so relieved as well.  Now- I still have to await the final pathology report (hopefully at my follow up appointment next week), and I am now a few days post-op.  My recovery in the hospital was rough.  My pain was not easy to manage, and I had to have my IV reinserted and my foley reinserted for 2 days.  I was in the hospital until Monday afternoon, and have been home now about 48 hours.  During the surgery, it was clear that my tumor arose from my right fallopian tube, and I naively thought that was why the outcome was so positive.  I later researched it, and realized that made the stakes that much higher, and worse.  I had a less than 16% chance of the tumor being benign.  Dear gods…

Now for the lessons learned.  I have finally figured out that I tend to be a bit reserved and ‘close to the vest’.  I decided to do things differently this time.  Step out of my comfort zone, and be open about what I was going through, seek my friends’ support and assistance, and also be open to my staff, to my Board, to my stakeholders in my work community.  It felt foreign.  It felt WRONG… like I was allowing folks to penetrate the boundaries of Terri.  And… it was the best thing I could have done.  I received amazing support.  I was stretched by watching my friends, staff, and others share their concern, their fear, and grieve for me.  That was the hardest of all… but I am glad that I walked with them through that, rather than just dropping the bomb after it was all over.  As I normally do… when I am forced to disclose.  If… IF I disclose at all.  

I do NOT make myself vulnerable easily.  And although it broke my heart that folks were so scared for me, I was able to stay with them and move through that, rather than not allowing them that space.  I had many wonderful things shared with me, and in some ways, it has been draining, enlightening, and helped me to realize that I have an impact, albeit small, on others.  And denying them the opportunity to share my journey would have not given them the consideration and honor due them.  To all my friends, family, loved ones and those who share different spheres in my life… THANK YOU.  I am most humbled, and I hope that someday, I will be able to repay your kindness in a meaningful way.  Onward and upward.  I continue my difficult physical recovery each day.  And I grow stronger each day.  And I prevail….  I think that my affinity for cats may rise from the fact I seem to have many lives.  I suspect I may have used several up this last episode, and I may be on my last one.  And I want to make it count… 

 

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