Monday, March 31, 2008

A note of Thanks.....

Next Step

I got a call from Dr Vaughn's office today. That was fast. They've scheduled me to remove my staples on April 8th. Didn't say anything about the oncologist referral, and I didn't ask.

Gavin's Email

Last night didn't feel so good. We rented "Dan in Real Life", which is a good movie. Parts of it made me laugh and that hurt quite a bit. I also had trouble taking deep breaths. Ouch.

Today, not feeling so great either. I'm tired. I'm not doing terrible. I think it's getting better - by the end of the day it's not so hard to breathe.

But something else happened today that made me really happy. I got an email message from Gavin Prout (captain of the Colorado Mammoth) today. I think most of you know that I LOVE the Mammoth and that he is my favorite. Anyway, I guess Mondo had been working on that since Tuesday, contacting people who contacted people and today I got an email from him wishing me a speedy recovery. Sweet huh? (This picture was taken after the January 26th game at the BlueSky Grill - I was way happy.)

From: Gavin
Date: Mar 31, 2008 5:33 AM

Hi Tommy, I heard you were having some serious surgery at the end of March. I hope it was successful and that your recovery time is minimal. Thanks for supporting the Mammoth by being season ticket holders. All the best, take care of yourself and I hope to see you back at the Mammoth games soon.

Gavin Prout

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Last night I was able to eat some 'real food' - Chinese, yumm. Mondo brought over some Griff's cheeseburgers this afternoon. mmmm. Food is so good. I was discharged today at 2pm. All set up to rest on the couch upstairs, which is a good plan. Already have visitors. I love visitors.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The C-Word

Starting Wednesday, I spent most of my time in the visitor's waiting room. We kind of took it over the whole time we were there because I didn't want to disturb any of my roommates and there wasn't a lot of space for visitors in my room anyway. Also, the doctor's wanted me to be sure to get up and walk around, so it was easier for me to do this from the waiting room. Plus, there was a great view from there. Too bad, I didn't take a photo.

Anyway, when I finally got to my room on Wednesday evening, I found I had a new roommate. Vanessa came in with a complication after a surgery she had a couple weeks before. Her mom Linda was with her. They talked to me a bit through the curtain. Asked how I was doing and all. Linda ended up staying the night, sleeping in a chair next to her daughter's bed.

So, Thursday was the day. I thought I had pretty much prepared myself to hear the results, but I don't know...

I was anxious about it. Woke up at 4am - I wonder what time Dr Vaughn will be here. Another doctor came in to check on me early in the morning, maybe about 6am. He said that they should have my results today, but didn't have any other information.

Dr Vaughn came into my room at about 7am. I had fallen back to sleep and the room was dark. I opened my eyes as Dr Vaughn leaned over my bed and asked me how I was doing. Again, this is how I remember the conversation, which might be completely out of whack.
Dr V: Well, we got the pathology report and there is cancer.
Me: okay.
Dr V: There were 20 lymph nodes and one of them was cancerous.
Me: okay.
Dr V: What that means is I will give you a referral to an Oncologist and they will likely administer chemotherapy. It looks like we got the tumor out completely and I didn't see any other masses. But there is a lot of inflammation and you will need to follow-up to make sure it doesn't spread. You will also want to let your brothers and sisters know that they should go in for a colonoscopy as they may be at risk.
Me: What does that entail, chemotherapy? Will that be during my recovery, after? More time off? Am I going to lose my hair?
Dr V: There are so many types of chemotherapy. You'll need to discuss with your Oncologist the what's and when's. You'll need to do some healing with this surgery before you can start that.
Me: okay.

He walks out and I sit there, with just a dim light above my own bed. Not sure what I am supposed to be thinking. Not sure how I am supposed to be feeling. I have cancer. I don't feel like I have cancer. But I'm pretty sure he just said I have cancer.

Kim, my awesome nurse walks in and asks me how I'm doing. "I got my results back." "And, what were they?" "The tumor was cancerous." And I start to cry. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do or say." She comes over and hugs me and says, "It's okay. Do you want me to call your mom? You should have someone here." "No, I don't want anyone here yet. I'll call my brother." And then Linda comes over and gives me a big hug too. People can be so nice. They don't even know you, and they can care about you right at the time that you need it most.

I call Mondo and tell him I got the results. He asks if I want him to come over. "Um, I don't know. I want someone to tell mom. I want her to hear before she gets here." I can't imagine what her reaction will be. How would I feel if someone told me my child had cancer? No matter how I feel about it, I can't expect that her feelings will be the same. I call Karen and Mario too. And give Karen a list of people to call and give the news to. Mondo will call the others when he gets here. I just want to make sure that people who might stop by to visit, know before they get here.

The rest of my stay is completely uphill. More visitors, more cards, more calls, more emails, more prayers - and yeah, more flowers. I am completely immersed in love. I am not stressed or angry or bitter. I don't think life is unfair. I just am. I am happy to have all of these people to keep me company at this time. I spend alot of time laughing - and it hurts to laugh, but at the same time - it feels so good to be able to laugh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Big Day - Part II

When I woke up in recovery, it was to a lot of pain. I was trying to move and figure out where I was and what happened. I was reaching out, I don't know what for - and crying... and asking "what time is it?". Where is everyone at? Did they leave me? I don't remember how long I was in there, or what order things happened in, but they adjusted my medication and the pain lessened enough for me to get ahold of myself. After some period of time, I was able to move to my room.

Mom & Dad, Mondo and Mike Norris came in to see me. They stayed through the whole surgery and recover time.

It was such a blur. Dr Vaughn came in. "Not diverticulitis... Removed the tumor... Sending to pathology... should get results in two days... possibly cancerous... oncologist... chemotherapy..." What?

My evening continued to be a blur. More visitors. I'm sorry, I know I wasn't able to have coherent conversations. I probably tried. I remember talking to Sammi and I think I probably dosed in and out, but she said that if I lost my hair through chemo, she would shave hers off too! God love Sammi and so do I! Kristie had brought Darren back - she had picked him up while I was in surgery and taken him to the zoo. I really don't remember what happened that evening. All I know is that it was just the beginning of such an incredible week. I had so many visitors. So many calls and emails and messages of "we're praying for you and your family." AND, lots of flowers and goodies too!

The Big Day - Part I

I'm not really nervous. Not as nervous as I would think I would be. The day is finally here and I am actually happy.

Mom is not ready, so Mondo, Darren and I head out on our own. Mondo's back went out last week, so he is limping and can't drive. Therefore, I am driving myself to the hospital - again. This time, I think it's really funny because we pull up to drop the car off at Valet Parking and I jump out to rush in to be on time for my check-in at 8:15am. Mondo is behind me, wriggling himself out of the backseat, barely able to walk. And I think, the valets probably think Geez lady. The guy is having surgery today. The least you could do it wait for him.

I see why they ask me to come in two hours early for a surgery that is scheduled to begin at 10:15am. I waited at least a half an hour until they called me to complete my registration. Thank goodness I had done most of it by phone already. By this time, my mom and dad had got there, and so had Pastor Pat and Mike Norris. We all go up to the surgical floor where they're directed to a waiting room and I am taken to Pre-Op. Hugs and kisses from all but Darren. He's already run ahead to the waiting room. Talk about hurry-up and wait.

It's about 9:40am and I'm just putting on my last piece of surgery garb - an aluminum looking puffy hat, that looks like one of those popcorn tins that open up real big when you heat it over the stove. Before microwave popcorn, I don't even know if they still make them. When my family and friends are brought in, Linda Chisholm is here too. They surround me and take turns saying a prayer. My dad is crying. I have a tear or two in my eyes as well. Not for any nervousness now, nor for any fear. Just for the thankfulness and amazement at being loved so much.

At 9:50, I am in the surgery room. Scooting over to the surgery table. Here comes the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist is making small talk. I can't really respond. I look up at the clock. It's 9:58am. Guess we're starting early.....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Last Meal

Today, some of the family is coming over to dye Easter Eggs and to have a pre-Easter dinner. Since I can't eat tomorrow, we're having ham, potato salad and asparagus today. It's one of my favorite meals. Yumm!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Did he say "possibility of cancer"?

Thursday, March 20th was supposed to be my last full day of work before I was going to take a couple of vacation days and then go out on short term disability for the surgery. On Wednesday, March 19th - in the evening, my abdominal pain came back - with a vengeance. I didn't know how I was going to make it to work, but there were a few things I had to get done. Ugh.

Right away, I edited my vacation response for email and recorded my voicemail. I closed up open issues and I think just in time. I had to leave. I was in tears. Called Dr Vaughn's office, who immediately sent another prescription for some more antibiotics. Had Mario walk me out to my car and managed to drive myself to Kaiser to pick up new meds. Went home and spent the rest of the day and the next vacation day in bed.

Dr Vaughn called me on Friday, March 21st to see how I was doing. This is how I remember the conversation, it is definitely not word for word.
Me: A little better. It seems like the meds are working pretty fast.
Dr V: I got your results from the (Pre-Op Procedure) and there is an abnormality. If you were older, I would be concerned of the possibility of cancer. The technician would like for you to come in for an Endoscopy, but I don't think I want to put anything into your body right now to risk a (lesion?). I don't want to risk the infection. I recommend we stay on schedule with the surgery.
Me: Sounds good to me. Did he say "possibility of cancer"?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pre-Op Consults

Pre-Op Consult with Verhonda

The first nurse who did my intake was funny. She spoke with a really animated voice, like an exaggerated airline stewardess. Or like a mom in a 1950's tv program. She was sooooo nice! They both asked me basic questions like my medical history, current medications and stuff like that. I found out that day that I couldn't have energy drinks prior to my surgery. Darn! I just bought a case of Monster! I also found out that I wouldn't be able to eat 48hrs prior to the surgery, which meant Easter Sunday. Biscuits! Everything else was basic.

Pre-Op Consult with Dr Vaughn

Me: My tummy is feeling okay. Had some recurring pain on Friday, but only three "episodes" that lasted about a minute each. Today is my last day of antibiotics.
Dr V: Well, you might have to get back on antibiotics if the infection comes back. If you start getting the pains again, call me right away. Your (Pre-Op Procedure) will get me some detailed x-rays of your abdomen and we will know where the diverticulitis is the worst. That's the portion that we will remove. The surgery will consist of tiny incisions around your belly button and up here (across my rib cage) and then a larger incision about (holding his fingers apart about 4 inches) below your belly button.
Me: Sounds fun. No, I don't have any questions

Actually, I hope it doesn't sound like I don't, 'cause I like Dr Vaughn. He seems like a nice guy. He speaks softly and to the point. And he makes things pretty easy to understand.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Surgery (and other misc appointments) Scheduled!

Dr Vaughn's office called right away to schedule me for surgery.

Tosh: April 2nd is open.
Me: Yikes! Darren's birthday party is supposed to be April 5th and there is a Mammoth game on April 3rd! Can we do it the week after?
Tosh: No, Dr Vaughn wants you in as soon as possible, no later than the first part of April and we don't have any openings in March.
Me: Well, I guess I have to. April 2nd.
Tosh: I will keep and eye on the schedule and talk to Dr Vaughn. If we can get you in sooner, we will.
Me: Thanks Tosh! I would really appreciate that.

Next day... I receive a voicemail.
Tosh: Tommy, we have an opening on March. I will schedule you for March 25th. Give us a call.
Me: Yay! Wait, that's two days after Easter. Ah, Yay!

Other appointments:
March 11th, 3pm: Pre-Op Consultation
March 11th, 4pn: Pre-Op w/Dr Vaughn
March 17th: Pre-Op procedure (I'll spare you the details, but I couldn't eat that weekend!)

Publish Post