Monday, May 13, 2013

Catching Up

Wow. I don't remember the last time I did a real post about real things going on in my real life. It feels like years.

But things have changed.

I've spent the last two years in a torturous hell with one of my children making some very bad choices that have put him in trouble with the law and made him very difficult to live with. It sucked my energy and ability to write for a very long time, and then things got so bad I had no choice but to write or I was going to go insane or kill the kid (not literally).

That's where everything changed. And yes, I do know I just said things changed twice, but this shift in my life has been so incredibly huge that I am no longer the same person I once was. My heart, that was so focused on the misery of my life and how awful things were, now weeps at the beauty of a cherry tree blossom, and is so full of gratitude I feel as if It is oozing from me like an overflowing ice cream cone on a hot day, when you can't catch the drips fast enough and end up with a delightfully sticky hand.

It began on a Sunday. April 28th, to be exact. I woke up in excruciating pain. My back was on fire and in spasms, like it has done on many occasions, but after a back rub and 600 mg of ibuprofin, I still hurt. Not my back, but my lower right side. I thought perhaps it was just a gas pocket or something. I'm so used to pain that I frequently blow it off and don't do anything about it. But that day my husband told me that if I didn't call the doctor the next day he was going to kick my butt. In other words, he was going to nag me until I got it done.

Having experienced his pushiness with my health before (much to my benefit), I called the doctor Monday, but couldn't get in until the following day. The pain continued to increase and by Monday night I thought Gary might actually be right to push me to the doctor's office.

Tuesday I went in and within five to ten minutes, the doctor said I showed all the classic symptoms of appendicitis, though I didn't seem toxic as of yet. He sent me over to our local hospital, having called ahead, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt a little foolish walking into the ER and telling them my doctor told me to come in because of possible appendicitis. Silly me. I had no idea how serious this was about to be.

I spent most of Tuesday in the ER having tests run. The CT scan was particularly interesting as the tech told me sometimes it makes you feel like you wet your pants, but you didn't. It just feels that way.

He was right, and it made me laugh. I was very grateful for his warning!

It was getting close to five o'clock when the doctor came in and told me I could either let my appendix grow, get more painful and infected and possibly burst, or we could do surgery and take care of it right then. Of course I elected for immediate surgery. I'm not stupid. Foolish, sometimes, but not stupid.

I was prepped for surgery, and I remember going into the surgical room and being put on the table and everything. It was interesting, and they were very nice and comforting.

And then everything went black.

I woke up three days later.

It's taken a week to piece together all the pieces, but evidently when they sent in the camera for the surgery, they passed a huge mass on my colon. That put a big, screeching half on surgery until the doctor got my husband to the hospital so he could talk to him. Thankfully it's only about fifteen minutes from home and Gary got there fast, even bringing the kids with him.

After seeing pictures of the mass and being given his options, Gary had to make a decision, one that is never easy for a spouse to make, but I believe it was the right one. He chose for me to undergo major surgery to remove the mass, take out at least twelve to fourteen inches of my colon, have everything shifted over, and reattached.

Of course I had no knowledge of any of this until I started to wake up. I was on a constant morphine drip so was a little out of it. Okay, a lot out of it. My friend's daughter came to see me and told me later that when she asked me how I was doing I slurred, "I'm sooooooo stoned!" I didn't remember until she reminded me. I feel like I've lost a month, though I was in ICU for 4 days and regular rooms for another 4.

I've got at least a foot of staples running up the middle of my belly, plus a few down lower and two where the laparoscope initially entered, and yet I've felt hardly any pain. The nurses asked repeatedly for my pain number, and aside from a couple days in the beginning that were a 5, my pain has been between a 0.5 and a 2 throughout this ordeal.

I remember one evening when a nurse and a CNA stood on each side of my bed and wanted to inspect my staples, since I have a metal sensitivity. They wanted to be sure they weren't infected (which they weren't--just red) and they looked at the staples with something akin to awe. One of them said, "Look at that. They are perfectly straight. He (the doctor) does such beautiful work!" Then to me, she said, "You're hardly going to have a scar. You are so lucky you got Doctor Hansen!"

I agree. I am lucky. But much, much more.

I am blessed. Doctor Hansen and my husband saved my life.

The biopsy came back cancer free, but according to one of my friends who is a bit of a colon cancer expert, the turnaround time for a mass like that to go from benign to cancerous is 6-7 years. They believe it is an endometrial mass that stuck around after my hysterectomy 6 years ago. The timing there is insane.

Twice now I have dodged the cancer bullet (or cannon ball, it feels) because the man upstairs knew more than the doctors and guided their hands to eliminate possible cancers before they had a chance to invade my system.

It is one of the most humbling things I have ever experienced.

Things are still hard. My son is still being a pill and making bad choices. He goes to court this week. I'm tired. Weak. But oh so grateful for all of it. When I first saw my troubled child I hugged and hugged and hugged him--and this growing fifteen year old let me. I hugged them all. I find myself saying all the beautiful things to people I was too scared to say before. Compliments on scarves, and clothes, yes, but also just when someone looks beautiful, which EVERYONE does.

Like I said, I've changed. I'm still me, but I suddenly see the importance of family, of true friends, of every beautiful thing God has created for us. I see the beauty I was blind to before, and all I can say is thank you. Those are probably the most important words of all, and so very simple. Thank you for life. Thank you for beauty. Thank you for gifts and friends and family.

Just--thank you.


L.T. Elliot said...

Karen, this is beautiful! I'm so, so happy for you! What a miracle! That truly is the Hand of God, right there. I'm so glad you're okay! :D God bless you and your family and keep you well. Love you!

Brigitte said...

Oh my dear friend. What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for all you're going through and thankful you're able to share the blessings you're getting with us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and blessings with us. Hugs.

Eaglehavenwest said...

So sorry that you had to have surgery, but so grateful that God has a plan and steps in to help us. You have inspired me to be more grateful and let my family know how much I love them. Thank you for the inspiration.

Unknown said...

Glad the recovery appears to be going well. It's great to see your positive outlook.

Unknown said...

This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Wishing you the speediest of recoveries, friend -- hugs to you!!

Why Not? Because I Said So! said...

So grateful for a loving Heaven Father that was watching over you. You are one of the most loving and kindest people I know! Your post meant a lot to me today. Thank you for sharing your experience. Love you, Sheila

Unknown said...

Blessings come to us sometimes in the strangest ways. I'm glad you are feeling better. Life is definitely a beautiful thing (especially when it's hard.) And you are one of the most beautiful people I know.

kbrebes said...

Hi Karen. I'm glad you shared this post about what's going on in your real life. You have AMAZING strength to endure. Keep on hanging in there. I had that same endometrial mass in my colon and had to have it cut, too. I had no idea about the cancer turnaround time! Whew--for both of us!! So sweet that your son let you hug him. Many people have told me that there's a turnaround time on our kids, too. Usually late 20's, so hang onto that thought and hope. Lots of love to you, K

Unknown said...

Karen ~ it was so great to meet face to face and talk about books and even a little about life.

I didn't know what you'd gone through, but I'm so glad you're okay.

(((hugs))) ~ I should've done that at the conference. =)

Angie said...

So,glad you are okay! Love you tons!

M. R. Buttars said...

You are so awesome, Karen! I'm so glad you made it to Storymakers this year! Thank goodness for pushy husbands, and a loving Heavenly Father. Best of luck on your recovery, and with your writing and life!

G. Parker said...

I'm so glad they found all of it!! ARGH. You just never know. Life is so precious. Thank you for sharing. Take care!!

Lisa Swinton said...

really happy for you! heal well!

Susan G. Haws said...

Thank you for sharing. A painful miracle but I am so glad they found the mass now instead of after it turned malignant. Teens are a tough time. I hope and pray things get better for you and your family.

Taffy said...

Wow, oh wow, Karen! I'm so glad things worked out. PHEW. You're awesome.

Monique said...

Thanks for sharing--I know it was/is difficult-- but I want you to know I admire you so much. Your kindness, your courage, your ability to express gratitude and understand that even in the midst of so many trials, you can count your blessings. That in itself is a great blessing! May you be receive many more. I love you, my friend and pray that your burdens will be lightened.:)