Adiós Gallbladder

Following up on the previous post The Good News & Everything Else.

As instructed, I completed two more tests that my GI doc scheduled in trying to identify the cause of my abdominal pain and weight loss. The first was an Abdominal Mesenteric Ultrasound w/Doppler. The second was an Upper GI w/Barium. If I never have to swallow barium again, it will be too soon. If you’ve experienced barium, you know what I’m talking about. Nasty.

The following week, I met with a Surgical Oncologist who was going to review the notes, all the tests/imaging (including the results of the new tests) and make his recommendation. I went into this consultation 95% sure those last two tests were “unremarkable” aaannndddd I was right.

However, Dr S determined that based on my complaint of pain, location of pain and weight loss, that removing my gallbladder might solve the problem as my symptoms are all indicative of gallbladder issues. He also said it was entirely possible that removing my gallbladder wouldn’t make any difference at all BUT he recommends removing it anyway.

So, while all the tests said my gallbladder is A-OK, the date was set for July 30th. The Monday after I returned from San Francisco.

My “It’s 6am and haven’t had coffee yet” face

Surgery went fine. I was home by 1pm. Pain from the 4 small incisions was minimal. I didn’t even need so much as an Advil. The only issue so far has been nausea. Horrible, ridiculous nausea. That’s now under control with an adjustment of anti-nausea meds.

On Friday, I received an unexpected note from my Primary Care Doc. She had the pathology report on my gallbladder. Apparently, those little suckers can be sneaky AF and mine definitely was:

Adiós gallbladder, you will NOT be missed.

When “It’s Nothing” Becomes “It’s Something”

If you’ve been following my blog, you’re familiar with my track record of “aches and pains” that turn out to be nothing or have no explanation. It’s become kind of a light-hearted joke between me and my Oncologist. She will ask me how I’m feeling and I usually respond with something like: Does it matter? Because it will end up being nothing anyway. And then we laugh.

At my last appointment she wasn’t laughing. My continued weight loss has now gotten her attention and not in a “you’re gonna rock that bikini this summer” kind of way. When she asked me how I was feeling, I casually mentioned some discomfort I was having on my right side. It’s particularly bad after I eat. It’s not unusual that I go a day or two without eating until the pain subsides. That conversation earned me an appointment at the end of the week with my GI doc.

I like my GI doc. I haven’t seen Dr. C in a while but he listens and doesn’t shrug off symptoms or why you’re there.

He looked concerned from the moment he walked in. He had spoken to my Oncologist. He asked all the typical questions about why I was there; typing all my answers into my chart on the computer. The physical exam was next. He pushed and pressed all over my abdomen. When he pressed on my right side below my ribs I saw stars and the look on my face caused him to nod. He matter of factly told me my gallbladder was inflamed and it needed to come out. Huh?? But it’s always nothing. Now it’s something?

He began writing orders for tests. He wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any surprises for the surgeon. Swell.

Ultrasound, Upper Endoscopy, HIDA Scan and then surgery. They scheduled the ultrasound later that afternoon -no time like the present. Endoscopy is this coming Wednesday. Doctor C isn’t messing around.

Hopefully, when it’s all over with I’ll be more comfortable and eating won’t be a nightmare anymore. I’m not going to lie, if I start gaining weight again, someone’s going to hear about it.

So this year, instead of a birthday party, I’ll be having a “Going Away Party” for my gallbladder! Everyone’s invited!

Be Careful What You Wish For

In 6 days I’ll finally be having breast surgery.

Finally.  *gulp*

I’ve been asking for surgery since I was diagnosed 2 yrs ago. Initially, I was told I needed to get to a stable point and then we could discuss surgery.  Ok. I get that. So I did radiation and started on an Aromatase Inhibitor.

Six months later, I was declared NED (No Evidence of Disease) and I asked again.

I found that it really didn’t matter that I was stable. My surgeon didn’t feel surgery was the right choice. The cancer was already was in my bones so it didn’t matter if the cancer stayed in my breast.

I mattered to me. I hated knowing the cancer that would ultimately be my demise was going to stay there. I wanted it gone. It would keep me up nights wondering if more of that tumor would leak out into my bloodstream and take up residence in another organ. Early stage Breast Cancer patients ALWAYS had their cancer removed. It wasn’t fair.

I was finally coming to terms with the whole ‘let’s not upset the apple cart’ thing when my last MRI showed questionable changes in my left breast. I began to panic. I told them! I knew this could happen. But they were supposed to know better. Fuckers.  Further testing showed I was OK but I began conversations about having surgery again. If the cancer didn’t kill me the anxiety most certainly would.

My Oncologist agreed.  Wait, what?

She finally understood my fears and anxiety and sent me off to the surgeon again.  She would have to agree this time. Right?

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She looked at all the imaging, the notes from my Oncologist and examined me.  She sat me down in a small conference room and began telling me that although there was this scare it still didn’t change her mind.  A mastectomy, in her opinion, was too big a surgery for me. I hadn’t been NED for that long and I should go celebrate and enjoy life. I sat stunned. I was so angry all I could do was cry.

A few days later my Oncologist sent me a note. She was referring me to another surgeon that she felt would be more obliged to operate.  She really did get me. She finally heard me.

The surgeon I saw was cool. She listened to my story, fears and reasons for wanting surgery. When she began to discuss her opinion she started with agreeing with the other surgeon.  GAH!!  Then she went on to say she felt a lumpectomy was the best option to start with. She explained that starting with a smaller surgery would enable them to find out if the tumors were dying and if the surrounding tissue was clear.  She said there could be a possibility that if they couldn’t get a clear enough margins of surrounding tissue that they would have to go back in and that’s when they would just remove the breast completely.

If the lumpectomy went well and they got it all the first go around, in 3-5 yrs if I still wanted a mastectomy and I was still stable she would do it.

So, on Friday, I go in for a lumpectomy on the right side to remove 2 tumors and a lumpectomy on the left to remove a string of 3 tumors. It’s going to be out-patient and should be home that night.

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I know this is the right thing but I’m starting to have that “Oh shit, what did I do” moment.  I’m not changing my mind. It’s just nerves.

Keep me in your thoughts this week. I’ll update after its done and maybe even have some cool pictures.  Kidding!

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Recuperating Sucks

Friday my husband and I flew to NYC for my monthly Oncologist appointment at Sloan-Kettering and for a planned surgery on Saturday (yesterday) to have my ovaries and tubes removed.  Since my cancer is ER/PR+ having my ovaries out was a no brainer. Until I was ready for surgery I was receiving monthly injections of Lupron to put me into a chemically induced menopause and shut down the production of estrogen.

Friday I had to fast. Nothing but liquids and juices until midnight and then nothing until after surgery.  I normally don’t eat a lot but tell me I can’t and I get a voracious appetite.  Every commercial on our hotel tv was food and every store I saw on the way to and from my appointments was a restaurant of some kind. Wtf. By the time Saturday rolled around I was weak and light headed.

We got to the York st location early. I wasn’t sscheduled to be there until 11am but I was hoping they would take me early.  They did. We only waited 10 minutes before they called us back. They must have gone over my history about 10 times.  Then the nurse came to put in the IV.  They really need to figure out how to do that without the excruciating pain that comes with it. “Quick pinch” my ass.

At 1:20 pm it was my turn. I was unable to walk to the OR as I was dizzy so they wheeled me. The poor nurse couldn’t have been more that 110lbs and she got stuck wheeling my enormous ass all by herself.  I felt bad. As I entered the operating room I was introduced to everyone there. The bed I was instructed to get on was beyond narrow.  I was confident I’d never fit but I did. I was afraid to sneeze for fear I’d fall off. I was covered in a nice warm blanket and a squeeze thing on my left leg that I liked. The last thing I remember is the nurse giving me “something to relax me” and I was out.

The surgery went well. They didn’t have to open me up like they feared. There was a lot of scar tissue but Dr. Sonoda made it happen. Once I was able to go to the bathroom I was ready to be released.  I was hungry and sleepy but not in much pain. They gave me a nice healthy dose of morphine before I left and sent me on my way with more to keep me comfortable.

Chinese food and a dilaudid chaser and I was ready for a long night sleep.

I’m hoping to leave the room tonight for dinner but the thought of putting on pants is very unappealing. We leave for home tomorrow so I better buck up and get used to it. The pain is not horrible but I can’t cough and I’m praying I don’t sneeze.

Tuesday I find out if I will be randomized for a lumpectomy.  I entered a clinical trial to see if removing the primary tumor will add to overall life expectancy.  But that’s another blog all on its own.

Time for more meds.