Next Stop

Ooooohhhh kay... so here is the update I keep promising and not giving anyone. Apparently my surgery wasn't quite what they had hoped for. Upon going in they saw that my tumor is wrapped around my aorta near my heart and while it seems not to be anything doctors are terribly worried about for now- it DID prevent them from removing it. Instead, my surgeon removed a couple of large samples of the tumor to send off to the Mayo Clinic to have analyzed.
When I was in recovery in the hospital, they told me that they were unable to remove ALL of the tumor and that I would either have to come back (based on whatever my Oncologist decides) for another surgery or else to have Chemotherapy. They had also told me that my tumor was now being considered a Malignant Thymoma, rather than the benign version they had thought prior to my surgery.
By my post-op appointment that I had last Thursday they had my results back from the Mayo Clinic and my surgeon was quite pleased with them. He said that my tumor had proven to be a benign teratoma after all, which is apparently great news. We are moving forward with an appointment with my new Oncologist next week where we will discuss the next step- more likely than not it will be either Chemotherapy or else Radiation Therapy. Neither of these are my first choice but by now I just want to be better. In the mean time I am still taking all kinds of medications and taking it easy. Im not back at work for another two weeks which would be awesome except that I can't drive so it kind of puts a fun damper on things. Oh well! 


For anyone who was curious

See... it's not so bad. Okay, it's still pretty bad but it hasn't started healing yet. Also it goes further down but I spared you the image of my stitches that are right below the bottom of the incision.


Dr. Strangelove

Hello everyone out there! I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while but it's been difficult to sit at a computer for any extended period of time so I haven't really gotten around to it. Mostly I might just be lazy, though! But I figure I owe some sort of an update so I will write as much as I have the energy to here and if I cut out early I apologize in advance.
I've been feeling pretty fantastic (well, comparatively) since my surgery. I know it has EVERYTHING to do with the amount of prayers that have been directed my way. The surgery part was much more of a breeze than I ever expected. I went in on the 13th and we did all of the regular pre-operative stuff... hung out for a bit with my parents and before I knew it I was up to be taken downstairs for my surgery. A kind of fun fact about operations that no one tells you is that they let you wear this crazy plug-in robe that blows you up like a hot air balloon. It looks like a regular hospital gown but then it has these holes in it that you plug a vacuum-looking thing into and it pumps the entire gown full of hot air. I felt like the balloon boy from TV!
Anyways so they wheeled me to a waiting area where I met all of my surgeons and anesthesiologists, the last of whom gave me something in my IV that he said was "a really expensive cocktail" that would make me feel like I'd had a few drinks, and that is the last thing I remember. That was the best part of the surgery- that I don't remember any of it. I woke up a few hours after my 2 hour operation and I was in the ICU for observation (routine). I don't remember the first little bit of waking up or who was in the room, but it felt like almost immediately I was wide awake and calling or texting people with updates on how I was doing. I remember having IV's everywhere and I had to wear one of those funny looking breathing tubes in my nose (the kind you wear at an oxygen bar) for the first night. I took it off that evening against doctor's orders but they realized that I was perfectly fine on my own and let me leave it off. I was also hooked up to a device that let me push a button and have Morphine drips whenever I "needed it," looking back I think I pushed that button more than was necessary but oh well! 
The next few days consisted of visits from friends and family, slowly being removed from tubes, and moving my rooms around. I stayed in ICU for (I think) 2 days before they moved me to another observation area and then on my last day I finally had my own private room where nurses only came to check my stats and give me medicine. I had three decent-sized tubes injected into my upper abdomen for drainage from my surgery and lungs that had been deflated during the operation. Honestly I'd have to say that has been the biggest pain in the ass of any of the stuff post-op. Each tube was attached to a container much like a gas tank and until I had two of the three tubes removed I had to keep a catheter in because getting up to use the restroom was out of the question. Finally they took the catheter out on the third day and I had to have Kenneth carry the gas tank thingy to the bathroom with me any time I had to go. On the morning of the fourth day they took that last tube out and I can't tell you how relieved I was. I will say this: having tubes pulled out of your body is one of the most bizarre feelings EVER. It doesn't even hurt, it just feels like someone is pulling spaghetti out of your belly... totally surreal.
The last day or two was pretty mellow. We just sat around my hospital room playing Catchphrase and watching different Angel's games on TV. They finally released me on Saturday morning. My parents had taken their motor home to the hospital and slept in it the entire time, which was pretty cool because they were there the whole time but got to sleep right outside and kept comfortable. Great idea, Dad! Poor Kenneth was relieved to leave the hospital because he had been spending his nights either curled up in a big armchair or in a cot that was WAY too small for his 6'4" frame. Now that's dedication.
And so now I have been home for over a week, staying at my parents house. My recovery has been going amazingly well, as I mentioned before. No one can quite believe how speedy I have been as far as capacity to care for myself and move more freely. The day before I left the hospital I was even able to take a shower on my own, which is pretty crazy when you think about the train wreck my body had just been through. So far I haven't had many roadblocks... I can't carry anything heavy or reach all of the way up like I used to, but other than that I'm pretty good. Walking around goes alright as long as I don't go too long without taking a break since my lungs are not at their best quite yet. But I've even been out to eat and visit with friends which is pretty crazy since I just had my sternum cracked open 2 weeks ago. 
My scar is healing okay. The bandages haven't fallen off yet, which my doctor assured me they will do eventually and until then I'm supposed to leave them be. I can see the top of the scar and it doesn't look too bad, still swollen though. I don't want to post any pictures until the bandages have come off because they're kind of yucky but once they do I will keep you posted. 
I've been lucky enough to have my sister come out from Colorado for the past week to help me, which has been amazing. I have gotten so lazy this past few weeks it's disgusting. She was constantly asking me if I needed anything or wanted a glass of juice or whatever while she was up... I could get used to that! No but in all seriousness Jill is amazing and I am so lucky that she was willing to tote ALL three of her babies out here just to help out her sister for a few days. What a blessing to have such an awesome family!
I will most likely stay at my moms house for another week or so, just until I feel a bit more capable and closer to being able to drive again. I am supposed to lay off the driving for a month all together but I don't know if I can last that long. I am so independent I just hate relying on other people to drive me around like a child. Blech!
Anyways- I'm starting to get sore from sitting here for too long so I've got to go, but that's the update and I will keep you posted on anything new that comes up. Love you guys <3 div="">

Oh! And I owe updates on the results of the surgery as well. Not quite as we had expected but nothing tragic so I will let you know in my next post.



So I am here in the hospital just getting ready to be released tomorrow. Tuesday went amazingly well. I checked in at 9:30 and my surgery began at 11am. I don't remember my surgery, obviously, but I came out of my anesthesia around 2 or 3pm and was bouncing around back to 100%. I was making phone calls and texting and everything pretty much right away. The past few days have been a blur of tubes being removed and tests being run... I will update you on that later since the laptop battery is low. Other than that everything is great and I have been blessed by a LOT of visitors coming in to show me some hospital love. I'm going to get back to the Angels game on TV, but here are a few pictures for the meantime in between time.Pre-Surgery chest shot. Sorry if this seems a bit revealing, but now that I have a huge scar down the middle of chest, Im glad to have a photograph like this. Steve and I... he wore a shirt to the hospital that read Sternotomys Are Sexy. Love this guy.

I have more pictures to show you but I have to wait until I get to my mother's computer to transfer them. Love you all! Talk to you soon!


Final Thoughts

Well today is my last post on here for a while. At least until I can sit at a computer again which I'm thinking may be quite some time.
I am grateful today for something peculiar. I'm glad that I am not, by nature, a very emotional person. It seems like everyone I talk to is more upset about my surgery than I am. I've just been very cavalier about the whole thing. As far as I can see it- it is what it is and when it happens I will worry or be scared or whatever. But for now I am just very calm and prepared. I imagine when I am sitting in my hospital gurney I will have some very worried thoughts, etc., etc.... but for now I feel like my biggest worry is them putting the IV in my hand again. Past that I will have a gas mask put on and I will be out like a light for the entire surgery. I guess some days in recovery will be harder than others. Sometimes I will not get my pain medication taken in time and I will be in a lot of pain. Apparently they have to give you a special pillow to hold to your chest so that when you cough you don't burst your stitches or something- I'm guessing that will suck. But it just doesn't make any logical sense to me to sit here worrying about it NOW. I will worry about it when it's an issue.
It also amazes me how many people have sent well wishes or offered to come and visit. People I haven't spoken to in years have called me... friends whose lives are just insane have asked when they can visit me in the hospital. I have a feeling the male doctors are going to have a field day with the amount of cute young girls who will come by my room to see me. Should be interesting! My sister is flying from Colorado to stay with me for a week to help my mom take care of me, which is just amazing. I've got Kenneth who will stay with me at the hospital as often as his school schedule will allow. I've been fortunate enough to find this awesome girl, Amber, on the Internet. She is about my age and had a Sternotomy last year so she has been coaching me through what to expect and how to prepare. I would not be anywhere NEAR as calm and ready as I am without her.
So anyways- I have to get everything finished up here at work for my little "vacation" and I can't write out some long memoir. But to anyone who knows me and is reading this: thank you for everything. I am so lucky to have every one of you in my life and I'm not sure where I would be without each of your influence and guidance. I'm sure this will all play out according to plan and I will be fine. But on the off chance that anything should happen I want to emphasize how lucky I am and how blessed I have been to be who I am, where I am, and with whom each moment of my life has been spent with. Lots of love and I will talk to you all when this is over.



I totally left out the vital information there: My surgery will now be set for Tuesday the 13th. But since my tumor is growing they are now saying they might do Chemo instead. I go in for pre-op today. My surgeon said he is going over it with his colleagues and they will decide which it is to be by my appointment today.
Sorry- I am seriously on some radical drugs right now so my attention span is zilch!

Not for the faint at heart

So I got my surgery date moved up. Originally we were waiting for November 10th so that my boss could take a much-needed vacation, but my body decided otherwise. Monday I had to leave work early to have my mom take me to the Emergency Room. I was sitting at work and suddenly had a sharp bursting pain like something had popped in my chest and then kind of like a trickling sensation throughout my right side of my chest. I thought for sure my lung had collapsed. I made it over to the couch and hunched over, unable to even sit up straight or lay down, for about 15 minutes before I was able to call to my boss for help. My boss called my mom, who dropped everything and came to take me to the ER immediately.
After several hours of testing and drugs (which were, by the way, awesome) they told me that my lung was not collapsed but that my tumor had been pressing on my lung... something where he compared the wall to grapes being crushed and popping. This was resulting in my lungs filling with liquid and that's where Im at now. They gave me some medication for Pneumonia and some Percocet for the pain. By the way: Percocet is flipping awesome. I've never been a pill popper and luckily for me I don't have anywhere near an addictive personality or I would be in trouble here.
Anyways... I will try to keep you guys updated as this whole thing goes on, but for now here is a printout of my CT scan and a picture of me Monday night at the ER. Of course I'm Texty McTexterson in the picture since I'm on major drugs. I also, may I just say, look totally awesome.

Haha, the little heart monitors look like funny little metal nipples.

Here is my CT Scan. You can see where my spine is at the bottom, and my heart is the thing to the upper left. The highlighted part is my tumor. I'm debating if I should name it... too far?