Since I can remember, our family has always been competitive, especially when it comes to David and I. I can still remember the days in my Aunt Bonnie’s basement for Thanksgiving having the Super Bowl of ping pong tournaments with our family, but it would always come down to David and I. The winner was always allowed to walk around the room with a number 1 proudly displayed and then David sniffing the air demonstratively as he would say, ” Do you smell that?? The smell of victory!!” Just for the record, I believe I beat him in that tournament as many times as he beat me, David, ” You taught me too good!” (in the words of Rock Balboa!)
When I was alert and coherent enough to understand that I was actually in my gorgeous private room at the hospital, I found out that I had broken a new family record, my surgery had left me with 34 staples!! This time, I do not think anyone wants to compete for this record, I will probably hold it for quite awhile, or I hope so anyway! Dr. Mahdi was over joyed that I did not have to come out of surgery with a colostomy bag, so was I. He was able to take the tumor out of my bowel and then reattach it, what an encouragement that was. Finally, my family was able to explain to me what had happened in the surgery though… Dr. Mahdi did the full hysterectomy, removed my spleen and appendix due to cancer being in them, I had tumors ON, not IN, the wall of my pelvis, diaphragm, lining of my abdomen, pancreas, wall of my bladder and right kidney. The unexpected news was how much the cancer had spread, the good news was that it was all in the walls, linings, film, and outsides of these organs so he was able to get everything visible to the human eye. (anything 8 mm or larger) The little bit that he left in my lower bowel should be wiped out by chemotherapy.
I had two drain tubes, a catheter, a pain pump and a couple IV’s. My family surrounded me, even when I was not very approachable. Apparently, the pain medicine and anesthetic was not a great combination to bring out my happy side. I was not able to eat anything but ice chips for the first two days, then I was able to add jello, broth and cream of wheat… finally on Saturday, they added a soft diet for me. I actually ate a few bites of chicken and mashed potatoes, some oatmeal as well! I was not left alone even one night, my family was so amazing! My brother had taken off the entire week to stay at the hospital, so they stayed in a near by hotel and was there everyday. My brother got the “most thorough nurse” award, he recorded each and every step I took, etc… Actually I had amazing nurses at the Cleveland Clinic and wonderful over night guests via my family. I cannot thank each of them enough, the hospital was overwhelmed by the support that I had!
On Saturday, it was Leisha’s bridal shower, everyone had to go back home to attend and support her on her most special day. I have to admit, I was pretty down that day, tears were shed and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself (NOT what I want to do!). David had arrived to take over for Mer so she could head back to Fremont, I felt badly for him as he had to deal with my emotional swings of the day. Then Jayne came in… she had brought gorgeous balloons and all sorts of decorations which matched Leisha’s shower. She even brought a Mother of the Bride sign to place beside me, unbelievably amazing! David and Jayne decorated the entire room, it looked festive and perfect. Mer, David and Jayne worked tirelessly until they got a perfect connection via Skype for me to “attend” the shower. I was able to see and communicate with almost every person there! I am so thankful for the amazing support system I have had from the beginning of this until now! Leisha looked so beautiful and happy, I was so thankful to be able to be there, even if only by iPad.
Each day in the hospital brought new accomplishments and improvements, Dr. Mahdi was thrilled with my incision. Each nurse that came in said the same thing, ” Your incision looks great, but wow, it is huge!” Finally after 3 days post-op, I was brave enough to look at it. It actually resembled a large braided rope, it was pretty impressive. The NCAA tournament was in full swing and I was so grateful, that gave us something to do for hours on end, sometimes it is the little things!
I found out that I was going to be able to come home on Tuesday, 1 week after surgery. I was a little afraid of that transition, I somehow felt “safe” in the confines of my hospital room. I was fortunate enough to have both drain tubes removed before I was released, another big blessing! I cannot say enough about the nursing staff at Cleveland Clinic, they were nothing short of amazing! My last night in the hospital Leisha was supposed to come up to relieve Nate of his “duties”, she did come up, but she brought a surprise visitor with her, Luke! It was so nice that last night to laugh and talk with both of my kids, it was a little bit like “old times” and even some normalcy in a week that had been anything but, normal.
Family records, moments, memories and bonds mean so much more now than ever before!