A Different Kind of Marathon — Part IIPosted on October 16th, 2013 1 comment
Monday 9/30, I slept from 11:30pm to 5:30am in this quiet MedTele room, and being able to breathe freely again was really awesome. Doctor Tee came to check how my breathing was after the procedure and if I still had chest pain..etc. All the vital signs were good, chest pain was gone, and the oxygen level was getting better, but my hemo was getting low again so she ordered more blood transfusion for me today. Dr. Tee wanted me to get heart stress test and I thought I would be running on a treadmill, but she said “No, not that kind”. Ahha, I could score high giving me running shoes :-p
Dr. Nayak came after reviewing my blood test, ultrasound and CT Scan report, and he explained again that I should consider having the cyst removed sometime soon. That would help the anemia due to heavy bleeding. This time he brought me some paper to read about hysterectomy — an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. And he also wanted me to think about taking out the ovaries at the same time. But again, the priority now was making sure my lung and heart were fine. Meanwhile he would check the availability with hospital and see how soon I could have the operation if I decided to proceed with that. He knew this probably was a bit rush, and it’s not something that ever entered into my mind at my age. I could get a second opinion if I wanted to.
That afternoon got a surprise visit by Proxy after lunch, he brought me a cute teddy bear. He was surprised that a strong and healthy runner like me would end up in the hospital. I haven’t seen Proxy for a long time because he got injured and haven’t run much. We used to run races like RnR San Jose, Las Vegas, San Diego, Surf City Marathon…etc. That evening Lori came with a bag of assorted chocolates! How sweet (literally)!!! So nice of all my running friends coming for support!
The conversation with Dr. Nayak got me worried and I had no one to discuss this topic with. I called my parents and got in touch with my sister-in-law who is a RN. So procedure of removing the uterus is not very uncommon when removing cyst & tumor, but removal of ovaries just to prevent cancer is more to debate especially if there are nothing wrong with them. None of my family member has history of cancer, and I was nervous about “what they will find” inside of my body.
Tuesday 10/1. The nurse and tech came to get me for the cardiac stress test. The procedure was to inject medicine into my vein and make my heart “exercise”, then they can capture imagine of the blood flow prior and after such “exercise”. I was strapped to a narrow bed, then the radiotracer was injected into my body. I had this most uncomfortable rush all over me that I have never experience before, and I simply can’t describe it with words. It’s not painful, but it’s such uncomfortable commotion that it’s almost disgusting and my heart was about to explode. After the test, Dr. Kim, the radiologist, said “You are too young to be here; take good care and get well soon.”
Jackie and Roxanne came to visit after I got pushed back to my room, and Jackie asked what I was craving for. I briefly mentioned the talk I had with Dr. Nayak, and Roxanne gave me some idea how much pain I would face to after the procedure, but none of them had experienced this before. Jackie offered to help with my recovery meal, and I was so relieved that she would help while my mom wasn’t here with me. I gave her a heads up that I might need soup in the next few days.
Dr. Nayak came and told me I could have the surgery as early as tomorrow, and it would be much easier that we took care of this while I was inpatient here. He explained again why it’s important that we have this done quickly, and why he suggested to have the cyst, uterus and ovaries removed at the same time. We needed to stop the bleeding quickly, and remove the cyst before it burst, and also to find out if there were cancer cells in there. I asked “how long will it take?” Usually around an hour and half to two hours, but might take longer if the tumor is bigger and if there are cancer-like tumor in the ovaries. He then gave me a consent form for the surgery, and one more for the general anesthesia so I would understand the risk, side effects and implications — the hysterectomy is irreversible. I told him I would need some time to think about this and would let him know by the end of the day.
Honestly I was more worried about what the surgery would reveal, and the thought of losing any part of my body was very scary. I originally went to my family doctor because I couldn’t breathe, and now I was told that I have a huge mass in me and I would have my organs taken out. I felt I would be incomplete after this. Though I am not a super feminine or girly girl type of woman, losing these organs makes me feel so not-woman. That’s my main holdback — feeling not being a complete woman. But I knew logically I should have this surgery done, especially the cyst was as large as a baseball already.
I wished I had the wisdom to make the right decision. Or someone had gone through this to share her thoughts with me…
Around 4:30pm, I called Dr. Nayak and told him that I signed both consent forms already, and he said he would have the anesthetist coming to speak to me about the risk of general anesthesia. I was half relieved that I finally came to the decision, but also very scared about the operation — I have never had surgery before and now I was about to have the second one in less than one week. I called my parents and told them my decision — it’s better to know what I am dealing with than guessing. Mom worried that no one would be there fore me when I went into the op-room, and no one could take care of me post-op. I tried my best to assure them that I would be fine and I was under good care here.
That afternoon and evening my friends and colleagues came visiting, but I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. I just wanted to remain calm before tomorrow’s big operation. I dimmed the light and played Yo-Yo Ma on my iPad, then posted a message on Facebook asking friends not to text/message me that night as I didn’t want to answer any more questions. I didn’t say anything about next day’s operation to anyone except Anita; I simply needed my peace and calm in the middle of this storm. Of course, I got very little sleep that night wondering how my life and I would be changed.
Wed 10/2, there was no food and drink for me that morning, and the morning shift nurses knew about my operation would take place that day though not knowing the exact time yet. I cleaned myself with the wet baby-wipe, and braided my hair so I wouldn’t look too messy. I stayed away from Facebook or emails as I just wanted be with myself, alone. Anita texted me and wished me good luck; she said “you will gain so much after all this; you will come out so much stronger.” I wasn’t sure if I would be stronger or what I would gain, but I was afraid to about think how upside down my life would turn. Time seemed to be moving very slow but also very fast at the same time. Around 10:30am the nurse told me that I would be picked up around 11:00am to get ready for the operation.
Two nurses came to get me, and I was pushed to the surgery center for paperwork and preparation. By this day I have been pushed through long hallways many times, but trip to Surgery Center seemed extremely nerve wrenching. I met the nurses, anesthetist and the cancer specialist who would be working with Dr. Nayak today, and I considered them my “Pacers” for this race. One of the nurses, Mary, asked me if anyone would be waiting for me while I was in the operation, and I replied “no one.” She held my hand and told me “You will see me when you wake up in recovery room. I will be here waiting for you.” I gave her my glasses, iPhone and that teddy bear Proxy gave me, and she put them in a white draw-string bag and tied it to the bed frame for me.
The nurses put a special kind of compression stocking on my legs, and they were stronger than any compression sleeve I have ever worn before. I made a mental note that I would tell Marcia and Michael about this. Then the anesthetist put an oxygen mask on me and started injecting anesthesia into the IV. He asked for my name and DOB, then asked me “Do you know what we will be doing for today’s operation?” I answered “To remove the cyst and uterus, and my ovaries when necessary.” I can’t remember anything after that.
By the time I came to conscious, I found myself in the recovery room already; without my glasses I could not see anything but I saw shadow of several people working around me. I tried to speak but found I almost had no voice; “what time is it?” I asked in a husky voice. A nurse who was working on my blanket came closer and said “it’s about 6:30.” I recognized that voice and she was Mary. Suddenly I felt so so alone, so I asked “can you give me a hug?” in my tiny voice. Mary came over immediately and gently hugged me and gave me a little squeeze.
Tears streamed down my cheeks and washed out all the fears and worries in me….
My dear, you are a strong strong woman. I can’t imagine being in your shoes. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Praying that this surgery leaves you an even stronger person, mentally, physically and spiritually.
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