10 years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. My greatest fear come to life.
I found the lump three weeks earlier, but the mind is a funny thing. I rationally knew it wouldn’t get better and would eventually kill me, but I still couldn’t force myself to do what needed to be done.
So. Last time I made a personal post, my daughter looked like this…
Now… she looks like this
Needless to say, it’s been a while. I started this blog back in 96/97 before the term “blog” existed, and it served it’s purpose for a good decade. But as I mentioned last time, the facebooks and twitters and other social media outlets have largely eliminated the reason for having a personal blog, at least if it’s a personal “journal” as this one has been.
So, I’ve got another personal post or two to write in the next month, but after that my plan is to transition this into more of a professional blog and cover tech issues in my areas of expertise – web, digital media, streaming, my adventures in programming and so forth.
Not that I won’t ever make personal posts again, but they’ll be the exception rather than the rule.
So I’m awake at 2AM for the second night in a row. It’s not due to insomnia, but kidney stones.
Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer over seven years ago, I’ve become quite the hypochondriac. I am acutely aware of everything that goes on in my body, and anything out of the ordinary immediately sends up the metaphorical red flag in my mind.
So about a month ago, I was having odd discomfort in my abdominal area. I knew I had a very small kidney stone due to a CT scan a couple of years back. But what I was experiencing wasn’t the searing, I-wish-I-could-die pain that I’ve always heard associated with kidney stones. I went to my doctor, and he couldn’t find anything wrong. In fact, my health is the best it’s been in a while thanks to losing 20 pounds over the past six months.
I thought I was in the clear, and any discomfort was due to my active imagination. Last Sunday I was proven oh so wrong. We were over at Mom’s for dinner, when I suddenly got very ill. It was certainly painful, but the worst part was the fear – I have never felt anything like that in my life, and it wasn’t anything I could isolate – it hurt all over.
So Mom took me to the ER, and sure enough it was a kidney stone – a large one. They doped me up and sent me home after several hours. A follow-up urologist visit showed that the stone probably wouldn’t pass on it’s own, so I was scheduled for a lithotripsy (shockwave) procedure the following Monday.
The last week passed uneventfully. I was on Percoset for two days, but eventually stopped taking anything due to minimal pain. Monday I went in to have the stone blasted, and from all accounts it was successful. But I have been in fairly significant pain since then, mostly at night. The on-call doctor suggested that the stone wasn’t completely obliterated, and I’m still passing some larger fragments. It’s certainly not unbearable, just annoying, as I’m in more pain now than before I had the procedure! Percoset doesn’t seem to help, but it does make for some crazy dreams. The heating pad seems to be the best source of relief at the moment.
Speaking of which, I need to go pass some more bits and pieces of that stone now…
In other medical-related news, Emily had quite a time with our last round of in-vitro. We had to stop the initial series of injections due to it being too effective. We started again in late September, and once we got to the progesterone shots, it was miserable for her. The last two times were not exactly walks in the park, but this time was worse. Emily herself is in fantastic shape after nearly a year of exercising daily to get rid of the baby fat. Unfortunately the progesterone has to be injected directly into the muscle, and this time there was much more muscle to deal with, and made her that much more sore.
To top things off, one night I managed to hit her sciatic nerve, which was unbearably painful for 48-72 hours. Thankfully, she got better after a few days. But even after all that – we transferred three embryos and none of them worked. We still have two left, and we’re praying for the best, but it has been rather discouraging.
But even if the remaining two embryos do not work, Colleen continues to be the light of our lives – she is walking, talking, and learning more and more every day. I can’t imagine my life without her now. This Christmas in particular will be so much fun – she already oohs and ahhs at all the Christmas decorations in the store. Though it remains to be seen if she’ll deal well with Santa this year!
Seven years ago today, I was an emotional wreck. I knew something was wrong. The thing I had dreaded and feared since my dad got sick and died a few years before was now a reality.
I didn’t have an official diagnosis yet, but I knew. A few weeks prior I had been at the Y, really pushing myself. What felt like a good workout quickly turned into a severe pain in my lower abdomen. As I was poking around trying to figure out what was wrong, my hand grazed something hard that shouldn’t be there. I immediately recognized what it was, but didn’t want to admit it to myself.
It took a couple of weeks of sleepless nights before I made an appointment to see the doctor. Even then, I was too afraid to bring it up, instead asking for something to help with my insomnia.
Finally, the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend, it came to a head. I could no longer ignore it – I either had to face the truth, or it would kill me.
I don’t generally believe God speaks to us in an audible voice – at least I’ve never experienced that. But as I prepared to call my mom to let her know what was going on, I felt His presence in a way I haven’t before or since. If I could put words to that presence, it would be “Don’t worry – I am with you. We will get through this together.”
I won’t go through the whole ordeal again, as I’ve blogged extensively about it in the past. But I feel compelled to document where I am around my cancer anniversary every year. While there are other days I could celebrate – the last day of chemo, the first day my tumor markers dropped to the normal zone, the day I was given the all-clear by the oncologist – I choose to celebrate the anniversary of my diagnosis. It’s the day that changed my life permanently – I became a cancer patient, and eventually a cancer survivor.
Going through a serious illness has a way of bringing your life in laser-sharp focus. The week after my first round of chemo, I was at a neighbor’s pool (oblivious to the fact that chemo makes you much more likely to get sunburned… but I digress). As I was trying to relax and ignore the waves of nausea and heartburn, I was thinking about my life and what I wanted out of it. I always wanted to be a husband and a father, but at that moment it became my primary goal. As I am realizing more and more every day, life is short. But it’s too long to go through alone.
I think back to that day, and look at where I am now. Seven years later, I’m a couple of weeks away from celebrating my first Father’s Day. I am blessed with two of the most amazing girls one could ask for – my wonderful wife and my adorable daughter.