Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Musings

I went to church this morning.  I really needed it.  The first song the praise band was singing was one of my all time favorite songs "Blessed Be Your Name"


My favorite words are
"Blessed be Your Name
On the Road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed Be Your Name".
I am reminded again and again that God never promised any of us an easy life - He only promised He would be with us in the midst of it if we asked Him to.  So yeah - cancer - still dealing with that.  Don't like that word - don't like what it means.  And not really having the best time the past few days with all that having a kidney removed from your body entails.  But I look at these words and I am reminded of many who have gone before me dealing with much more than this and how they continue to Bless the name of the Lord.  And so even though there may be pain in the offering - I offer up my praise.  You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say Blessed be Your Name.

So ... back to what I'm thankful for and what I am blessed with:

  1. I was diagnosed with cancer - but it was caught in an early stage and removed from my body in it's entirety.  So kiss my lilly white butt Big C!
  2. I have a really great mom who is really great at taking care of me and I am so fortunate that she is so close by!  :)  I am sure this will come back to bite me in the butt at some point.  But that is what family is for, right?  :)
  3. I have some really great friends who are also really good at taking care of me - not just physically - but spiritually and emotionally.  Friends I have had for ages that never leave my side even though they are miles away - and friends that God has deemed to put in my path just recently.  Friends I know more about than I should - and friends that I hardly know at all.
  4. Apparently I needed some time to lay low.  I'm not great at that, but it is needed.  I have a great job that allows me the opportunity to do so.  I may complain about a lot of things at my job (I'm sure they will all come back to me just as soon as I go back to work), but having a full time job with good benefits is truly a God-send during times like this.  And I truly love most (wink, wink) of the people I work with.  They are a fantastic group of people.
Monday is coming!  I better go prepare for that onslaught.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I can't explain it

So many people have told me they just can't understand my need to get back to running.  I hear ya - I really do - it's like I'm talking in third person - I can't believe that I'm saying that.  But I just do.

A friend of mine recommended that I get the book "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall to read while I was recuperating as a way to keep me inspired during my convalescence.  Today I read  a section that summed it all up for me!  I just had to share:

There's something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure.  We run when we're scared, we run when we're ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.

And when things look worst, we run the most. Three times America has seen distance-running skyrocket, and it's always in the midst of a national crisis. The first boom came during the Great Depression, when more than two hundred runners set the trend by racing forty miles a day across the country in the Great American Footrace.  Running then went dormant, only to catch fire again in the early 70's , when we were struggling to recover from Vietnam, the Cold War, race riots, a criminal president, and the murders of 3 beloved leaders.  And the third distance boom? One year after the September 11 attacks, trail-running suddenly became the fastest growing outdoor sport in the country.  Maybe it was a coincidence. Or maybe there's a trigger in the human psyche, a coded response that activates our first and greatest survival skill when we sense the raptors approaching. In terms of stress relief and sensual pleasure, running is what you have in your life before you have sex. The equipment and desire come factory installed; all you have to do is let 'er rip and hang on for the ride.

I just had to share this. He has totally encapsulated the running experience for me.  Fear and Pleasure.

A Great Gift

My next door neighbor is a surgical nurse at Rex Hospital.  I was fortunate that she was on duty in the OR Holding area on the day of my surgery.  It was nice to have a friendly face during a very anxious time.  Shortly after I got home she came over with a lovely gift.  It was Amy Grant's newest CD.  I have been listening to Amy Grant since I was a little girl and I was wanting her latest CD.  There was one song in particular on it that I really was loving.  But what I have discovered is that there are a lot of great songs on this CD.  So I thought I would share the words to a few of them here.

This is the song I was longing to hear.  I love it - it's called "Better Than a Hallelujah"

God loves a lullaby in a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
God loves a drunkard's cry
the soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries, of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

A woman holding on for life, a dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
Tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Better than a church bell rining
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

I remind myself of this lesson over and over and over again.  Y'all know I don't do the patience thing so well - and yet God is telling me time and time again - if it happened overnight - you'd never learn to believe what you cannot see.

So you've handed in your resignation
Contemplating why nothing turns out right
A little fed up with all the disappointment
So what's the point in wasting any time

It's only temporary
So what's your hurry
No need to worry don't you know that

If it all just happened overnight
You wouldn't know how much it means
If it all just happened overnight
You would ever learn to believe what you cannot see

I feel like m pace is at a standstill
Do I wait 'till it falls into my hands
A long highway ahead geting started
Steady hearted is what I think I am

There's something to be said for experience
Who knows what's ahead keep on going
Take it a day at a atime
One foot in front of the other
Take it a day at a time
No need to hurry
Take it a day at a atime
It won't happen overnight

Have a little faith
You must appreciate every single day
Don't give up no

This next song really cuts to my heart.  As most of you can attest - I live my life out loud - no real secrets here.  :)  But someone I love dearly does not.  This person does not open up to many people at all about what is really truly going on deep inside.  But recently this person did open up to someone other than me.  I know it's frightening for this person to do so - but I so want this person to realize that people do want to come into their world and that it's OK.

This song just sounded so much like this person I love.  It spoke to me so loudly and so clearly.

Come Into My World

Come into my world
Come crashing through the ceiling
And find the messy rooms, the scattered pearls
If you are brave then come into my world

Come into my world so lovely from the outside
So dark in here the demons dance and twirl
And find their pleasure frightening this girl
If you are brave then come into my world

Cause I never saw the changes come
or knew enough to run when this old house had come undone
And now I'm buried in the walls
And no one comes to call but you
Come into my world

Come into my world
I can not find the doorway
It's overgrowin with vines that twist and curl
If you are brave then come into my world

Come into my world
There'll be no other invitation
Not another sound another word
Nothing more than you'v already heard
Please be brave and come into my world

And some of the best lines are the simple choruses in some of the songs

Somewhere down the road
There'll be answer to the questions
Somewhere down the road
Though we cannot see it now
Somewhere down the road
You will find mighty arms reaching for you
And they will hold the answers at the end of the road


Cause there's so much in the worst of us
So much bad in the best of us
It never makes sense for any of us
To criticize the rest of us
We'll just find what we're looking for
We'll find it and so much more

So thanks for letting me ramble - just had to get some of that out - kinda cathartic.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My scale is in shock!

I think my scale is in shock!  It registered the lowest weight EVER when I got on it this morning!  I had gained 10 pounds after surgery from the IV fluids and such - it was quite disheartening.  So I have lost that 10 pounds and an additional 7 pounds since that - just over a week past surgery.  I'm hoping that it's not a fluke - I guess the coming days will tell.  I have just 8 pounds to go until I hit the weight that my bariatric surgeon had set for me.  If I can hit that and stay there for a while I will be draggin' my butt straight to the plastic surgeons!  This extra skin has proven to be a major issue.  The small incision that Dr. Jalkut made was where my c-sections and hysterectomy were - all the extra skin has made healing a bit hard.  I won't get into the graphic details - but I'm hoping this actually helps my case for getting the abdominoplasty (read ... tummy tuck!) covered by insurance.  And it's great encouragement to continue my walking while I can't run!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just thought I would share this massive bruise I have still 1 week post-op from my a-linem

Plan of Attack!

I am now more determined than ever to do the half marathon in Myrtle Beach in October.  The doctor has said that I am not allowed to run for 6 weeks post surgery, but that I can walk as much as I can tolerate.  So I am determined to walk every day - adding a little bit more distance to what I'm doing every day.  Yesterday I was able to get in just under a mile.  For my birthday this year I got new running shoes and I finally pulled them out yesterday and tried them out.  It is still a bit exhausting for me.  Doc had cautioned me that I would start to feel better physically pretty quickly because of the laparoscopic surgery, but that inside there was still quite a bit of adjusting happening as a result of my body getting used to having just one kidney.  So I get tired really easily right now.  But as I said - I'm determined to still do the half marathon in October.  So once I get to the point of being able to run in late July I will have to get very serious about my training plan in order to have my mileage up for that race.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Great Quote

I have seen this quote before - I love it and think that it applies very well to me.

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOOHOOO" what a ride!!!!
I'm pretty sure I'm using this body up in a hurry!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pathology Results

Dr. Jalkut called at the end of the day today with the pathology results of Elvira.  It was cancer.  It was a type of cancer called clear cell renal carcinoma.  It was staged at T1b.  Basically that means it was greater than 4cm across but less than 7 cm across (just barely) and was contained to just the kidney. There is a only a 10% chance that it will occur again.

As I said before - kidney cancer is generally resistant to chemo and radiation.  The bone scan and pulmonary CT have not shown a spread to anywhere else - so removing the kidney in it's entirety is the treatment of choice.  If it had spread to anything beyond the kidney - like to lymph nodes, etc... there might be some discussion of additional treatment in the form of chemo, but since there is no evidence of that we will just monitor things for the next few years.  It is widely believed that if you can make it 5 years without re-occurence your chances of it re-ocurring at all drop drastically.

So I see Dr. Jalkut 2 weeks post-op to check incisions, etc...  Then again at 6 weeks post-op where we will discuss the plan for monitoring.  The monitoring will be via x-rays and ct scans.  The first couple of years it will be more often - then will stretch out to every 6 months and then to once a year.

So I'm torn.  Of course, not happy that it's cancer, but glad that we got it all (or so it appears).  So does this mean I'm a cancer survivor?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home Again

So not even 48 hours after having my kidney removed I was sent home from the hospital.  Kind of amazing to me.  I am very sore and have to be careful of not over-doing it.  Doc has put a moratorium on running for 6 weeks but is encouraging me to walk as much as I want.  I was warned to be careful in this heat, though - it would take it out of me much quicker than before.  I was walking the halls at the hospital as much as I could.  I just went up a couple of houses up the street a little bit ago with the girls.  The smallest things just totally wipe me out right now.  To be expected I guess - just have never been very good at laying low.  I don't have pathology results from Elvira back yet, but hope to by tomorrow.  Doc said he would call me as soon as he had them.  So now to get to the business of healing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So I made it through surgery.  Dr. Jalkut was able to do it laproscopically.  Such a blessing.  He didn't see any spread to the areas around the kidney and was able to get the entire kidney out.  The tumor seemed to be contained in the kidney.  That is all we know now.  Will take pathology a while to do what they need to do for us to know anyting more about the tumor.

I have been on clear liquid diet today and am being moved to full liquids for dinner.  Hopefully will be at soft foods by morning.  We shall see.

I'm pretty sore - as can be expected.  Have had some visitors today which is always a thrill for me - makes the day go by much faster.

So thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers throughout all of this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

1 more day to go

So it's the day before surgery.

I am tired.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  I just want this all to be over with.  I have been keeping myself busy with the day to day and with trying to plan for the weeks ahead.   The house got a deep clean this past weekend so that when I come home from the hospital I won't be looking around at everything and wanting to get up and clean. Of course, I have 3 small children and a husband - so chances are I will still want to get up and clean, but oh well. Working with my mom on plans for the kids this week so that she and my husband are free to spend as much time as they would like to at the hospital with me (see - it really is all about Pam).  In general - just keeping busy.

But at night it's hard to fall asleep

On the bright side - I've gotten wonderful phone calls, cards, even flower deliveries - from friends and family around the country.  I am a blessed and fortunate woman to be surrounded with such love.

So here is my most recent blessings post:

  1. Fantastic doctors who take their committment to their patients seriously.
  2. Family to take care of me.
  3. Friends to love me.
  4. Chest pain that lead the doctors to discover Elvira - hopefully early enough to remove her before she did even more damage.
The big question over the next 24 hours - how will Elvira be extracted? Will the doctor be able to do it laproscopically, or will he need to convert to a larger incision?  I will try to update the blog as soon as I can with details.  The earliest it will be will probably be Wednesday as the surgery on Tuesday is not until later in the afternoon.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers over the next few days.  I covet and treasure them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I had my pre-op appointments today.  One with Dr. Jalkut to go over what they will actually do during the operation (lovely discussion on how they move my colon out of the way and such), and one at the hospital to meet with the anesthesiologist and have blood work done, etc....

Friends and family are taking bets on whether or not Dr. Jalkut will have to convert my laproscopic surgery into an open surgery.  I told Dr. Jalkut this and he says never to bet against the doctor.  He feels confident that he will be able to do it laproscopically.  Yeah - so did Dr. Yerby when he took my gallbladder out and I ended up with a 6 inch scar across my rib cage and a 5 day hospital stay.

But assuming he does do this laproscopically I will spend 2 nights at the hospital.  The surgery will likely be 4 hours long.  It is not scheduled to start until 1pm - so Tuesday could be a long day for all involved.  After surgery I will spend 2 hours in recovery before being taken to my room.  They will have me sitting up in a chair at some point Tuesday night.  Could be late, but they will have me up in a chair for a bit on Tuesday night.  Wednesday I will be expected to walk the halls at the hospital as much as I can.  I know from experience that walking - even a little bit at a time - really helps with recovery.  If the surgery is converted to an open procedure - I can expect a few more days in the hospital and it may take me a bit longer to become mobile.

The anesthesiologist (who I fondly refer to as The Candy Man) has arranged for me to have some good anti-anxiety medication while in pre-op waiting.  Yeah me!  Rex hospital has a policy that I am not to be fully sedated until Dr. Jalkut is in the operating room and all have witnessed him initial my right abdomen as the side where the kidney will be removed.  The anesthesiologist did say that I would need an A-line to monitor my heart rate during the surgery.  I had an A-line when I had my gastric bypass surgery.  That hurt something awful!  I asked if it was at all possible to have that put in after I was under.  He said yes.  I asked if he could be sure to write that down cause seriously - don't want to be awake for that again.  It's kind of like an IV - but much much worse.  It goes in a vein at your wrist and the catheter for it is very long and large.  They try to numb you before hand, but it really really really hurt when they put it in before.  I'm fairly sure I swore at the guy who put it in - he just smiled.  I'm pretty sure he enjoyed inflicting that pain.  The anesthesiologist today also said they may be putting in a central line IV after I am under as well.  They may be able to find an appropriate vein somewhere in another hand, but because of the position that I will be in during surgery (on my left side with the table lifted in the middle to kind of push my kidney up to where it can be more easily accessed) that may not be feasible.  Again - Yeah me!

I'm sure this has totally either bored or mortified half of you.  This is the kind of stuff that I tend to obsess over.  After having as many operations as I have had - I have to know all these kinds of details.  I think it feeds my need to feel some sort of control in a situation I have absolutely no control over.  If I can know and understand everything they are doing - I don't feel like I'm just being blown by the wind - I feel more like I'm participating - even though we all know I'm so not participating.  I'm unconscious on an operating table.  But I think that knowing all the ifs and buts about a particular scenario help me to not be overwhelmed and to feel more calm.  I know it would be the opposite for others - but for me - I thrive on this stuff.

I have also learned that it may be a bit difficult to put pants on for a while after surgery.  So I have been on the prowl for some cool sundresses to hang in afterwards.  Shop away the pain, my friends!  :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Peace ... Or .... Denial ...

I have been getting lots of comments about how brave I am and how I am handling this so well.  What I can't figure out is if I am just at peace about all of this - or if I am so deep in the land of denial that I can't find my way out.

Sometimes I think I am just at peace - I just have this feeling deep in my soul that everything will be OK.  I probably have cancer and I am going to have my kidney out - and that's all OK.  God's in control.  I have another healthy kidney - it's all good.

And then there are the occassions ... which are few and far between ... where I am scared ... where I let myself cry ... where that word won't even come out of my mouth.

Is it possible to be both at peace and in total denial?  :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Holding Pattern

I know - I was a blogging fool there for a hot minute and then kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a few days.  I am just in a holding pattern.  It's driving me crazy.  I know there's a lesson in here for me somewhere, but I have yet to discover it.  Just waiting for the surgery - waiting to evict Elvira - waiting for more unknown.

And while I am consumed by this - I find myself utterly sick of discussing it - and yet at the same time - unable to discuss anything else.

I took advantage of some of the extra time by cleaning my house.  Of course, with 3 kids, a husband, and 2 dogs - I will just have to do it again before the 15th.  :)

I am still trying to focus on my blessings through all of this - so here goes.

  • Friends - coming out of the wood-work - to love on me, pray for me, support me and my family through this.  I am constantly amazed by how truly blessed I am in this department.
  • School is out!  I am enjoying a somewhat slower pace of life with the kids - not having to worry about homework or reports or projects that are due.  June keeps the kids pretty busy with various mini camps and VBS and I'm hoping that will be helpful when surgery comes up - to keep them pre-occupied with other things and not really having to deal with mom having another surgery.
  • I know that something good will come of all of this - even this holding pattern that I am loathing at the moment.  God has something in it for me and for my family.