Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I "should" just relax

I'm feeling deflated and very anxious.  It kind of feels like an emotional hangover.  Like I was trying to be so positive about everything and now I don't have any left.  I'm still trying it just feels like a lot of effort. 

I'm panicking that they'll find more than what they thought.  That it's cancer.  That it's going to be worse than what I'm already imagining as the worst.  And I'm pretty good at imagining the worst.  I'm almost an expert at it since I've practiced my whole life.  So I think my "worst" is pretty bad.  So far my worst has never come close to happening.  So, that's good.

I know I "should" stay positive and I "should" think of the bright side.  And I want to, but psychologically and emotionally I just can't seem to get there right now.  Plus I hate the "shoulds".  I HATE THEM.  Who says?!  Who says I "should" do anything.  Screw whoever those people are and their stupid rules.

This sucks.  And I've only recently gotten to the point in my life that I've really been able to live without caring what other people think. I'm finally as close as I have ever been to the "f&#k it - I'm going to live my life, my way" mentality.  It really felt good.  And now I'm back dealing with thinking about how I "should" be handling this.  

I want to count my blessings.  I really do.  And I know there are a million of them.  But right now I just want to mope and not make any effort with anything.  

I was yelling at the girls last night and felt horrible about it.  So today I apologized and explained that I'm feeling nervous and a little scared about having to deal with this thing.  And the first thing Olivia says is, "I would feel that way too."  And then they all gave me a hug and said it was okay. 

So maybe it is okay - I'll go and distract myself by cleaning something.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adjusting my sails

I received so many thoughts and prayers today from people wishing me well.  Which simultaneously made my heart full and made me incredibly self conscious.  I'm sharing this publicly (somewhat depending on how many people really want to read blogs anymore), not because I want sympathy but because through my new career in wellness and interest in vulnerability and emotional flexibility, I believe that I will manage this better if I share.  So really it's for selfish reasons.  Sharing is hard because what I really want to do is hibernate in my room and google until I get the exact information that I want about this whole ordeal.

What is the exact information that I want?  Well - quite honestly I would like to see the future.  I would like to know exactly what's going to happen and see myself getting through it and then also - if we're requesting superpowers - to just go ahead and jump to the end when everything is all worked out.  But that's not going to happen.  And if I think about it, I do know that I really wouldn't want it to. 

I have to learn something here.  There's always something to learn.  I like the philosophy that "life happens for you, not to you."

Throughout our move back home I have had to learn patience.  Big lessons in patience.  I wanted this house renovation done immediately.  Well, here we are 10 months later and God willing, they are starting Monday.  But looking back at it, these past 10 months have brought my family closer together, given me the time to build a strong relationship with my mother-in-law, and helped us figure out our priorities.  For one - maybe we don't need to add an addition to give us a house bigger than the one we came from, because quite honestly cleaning 3 bathrooms is the last thing on my list of things to do ever again.  We have discovered that this space suits us and provides everything we need to live how we want to live.  I don't know if I would have learned that lesson if I hadn't been forced to wait and be patient. 

I'm guessing that the lesson that will come along with this pancreas thing is about control.  The irony that I'm trying to determine which lesson I will learn and making it the control lesson is not lost on me. 

I know that we don't have control over anything, except our own reactions.  I'm going to have to let go a bit here.  I'm going to have to rely a lot more on faith and love.   Which have never failed me, and yet I still try to manipulate.  So we shall see.  For now,  I am so thankful for all the love and support you have sent my way.  It honestly makes me feel stronger.   

Friday, June 24, 2016

Not good news - but not super horrible news.

So - the news.  2 or 3 weeks ago (who can keep track of time anymore?) I went to the doctor for just feeling nauseous and fatigued and overall "not right" (actually thought I could have been pregnant - I'M NOT – just that kind of feeling).  I kind of felt like a hypochondriac because I really didn't have anything specific to tell her.  Thankfully she believed enough that I thought something was wrong and ordered an abdominal ultrasound just in case like gallbladder or whatever. 

So I go to the ultrasound on a Wednesday morning and get a call around noon that same day from my doctor telling me I have a cystic mass in my pancreas.  No idea what it is, but it's there.  And why do they have to use the word "mass"?  Terrifying. Proceed to leave work and freak the f#$k out, call Jim, and meet him at home.  We're both terrified.  He's upset and I'm trying to pretend I don't have emotions.  However, I also feel somewhat validated as he is now very sorry for ever calling me a hypochondriac. 

We then talk to my sister-in-law who is a radiologic technologist and sent her the report.  She said it doesn’t sound like cancer, which made us feel slightly better.  Had an urgent MRI that same night.  I was feeling pretty okay because everyone who looked at it or read the report didn’t think it was cancer.  Waited for the MRI results until 10:30 at night.  The doctor said it looks like a fluid filled mass – so likely not cancer.  But it’s big – like f$#king golf ball size or something.  They recommend an upper endoscopy to biopsy it and find out what it is for sure.

Two days later go to a gastroenterologist to basically just schedule the next procedure because no one can tell me anything without doing that testing.  But the doctor does say that if I need surgery then they won't do it there – I’ll go to Penn or something. Which amazingly enough the hospital system I work for just partnered with Penn Medicine.  So I couldn't get the scope here until July 1st. I proceed to shake with anxiety until one of my wonderful co-workers helped me come up with a plan to meet with a Penn doctor since I would likely end up there anyway. 

Called the specialist at Penn - the main surgeon in charge of the whole pancreatic cyst program.  Had an appointment this past Tuesday.  My mom went with me as a second set of ears because I tend to hear one thing and forget the rest.  He was awesome and this is all he deals with.  He walks in the room and introduced himself by his first name, asked some "getting to know you" questions for a few minutes and then said, "just to set the tone here, I want you to know I'm not worried about you."  Which was pretty great to hear and made me feel so much less anxious while talking to him.  He sat with us for like 40 minutes.

He thinks it’s one of two things.  Both can be pre-cancerous, but he thinks very, very, pre, because otherwise I am completely healthy.  All of my organs are completely healthy!  Even my f&%king pancreas, except that it has this mass sitting in it.  If it comes back as one of those two things it will have to be taken out very soon.  If it comes back as benign I could wait a little longer, but likely it will still have to come out because the protocol for watching cysts is 3cm and mine is already 6cm.  Of all the times to be an overachiever... 

So I find the fact that this is growing in me and it's a mucinous (bleh) cyst pretty unnerving.  But interestingly enough - if it is the type he thinks it is - it developed because when I was a fetus and developing, a small piece of uterine tissue got left near the pancreas and boom.  I may be simplifying it somewhat.  But how random and weird?

So anyway, the plan changed to now have the upper endoscopy down at Penn next Wednesday so that his whole team can take the case, review the results, and figure out what the best plan is.  Then Jim and I will meet with him again on Tuesday July 5th and decide if/when surgery.  

Because when it boils down to it I’ll ultimately end up having surgery.  It’s called a Whipple Procedure which is pretty much the f*&king superbowl of surgeries.  And they can't just take the cyst out because of where it is and what surrounds it.  They have to remove like 1/2 my pancreas, and gallbladder, and a bunch of other shit.  Which totally blows.  How come I’m a completely healthy person that has to have this done!?!?  But if the choice is this or cancer later in life...no question.

I’m trying to stay ahead of the depression and anger.  I can feel it creeping up, like, why me?  But I’m trying to focus on thanking God and being beyond grateful that it's me and not one of the girls.  I’ll take whatever is thrown at me as long as it’s not them.  I’m strong and can handle it.  

Why am I blogging again?

It's actually more of a journal that I'm sharing with whoever cares to read this. If you're new to my life then here are the top 5 things that have happened in the past 4 years (since my last post)
  1. We got a big dog (Ozzy)and two more cats (Buddy and Ruby).

  2. We moved back to Pennsylvania (Lititz, where Jim grew up).

  3. We left our old jobs and found new ones that align more with what we value in our life (we both are truly loving our new jobs).

  4. We bought my mother-in-laws house and are renovating and building her an apartment on the back (holding my breath that they start next week - we're all anxious to get settled).

  5. Our girls have been growing up.

It's a pretty simplified top 5, but that's the gist of it. Hence the new name - "building the new." Which as you see comes from the quote underneath it. I feel compelled to start writing again because so much is happening right now.

My entire life I have been blessed with the ability to look back and see why things have happened the way that they have.Maybe it's just stories that I tell myself, but every single thing - good and bad - that has happened in my life has turned out for the best. So I figured I'd share this next part of our journey and hopefully look back in awe of how well it all worked out.