OK OK, I know it’s been a while. I’m up at stupid o’clock to write this. It’s not the lack of things to write about, my mind has been working overtime in that department, it’s the lack of will to write at all. I’ve no idea what’s been stopping me, but far too many times I’ve looked at the laptop and turned away in another direction. It’s part lethargy and part fear. As the last dregs of chemotherapy work it’s way through my body I’m beginning to sense a return to some sort or normality. Maybe that’s what I fear, a return to normality. It seems such a long time ago since chemo began, half way through June, and here we are 4 months later and we’re now entering a period of post chemo, it’s over 2 weeks since my last chemo pump was disconnected and my body should start to clean up, although I was told last week that the effects of chemo should continue for some time, and that’s how we’ve reached this new period of uncertainty and a little apprehension on my part.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks, I’ve not been sitting around. My diary has been full of appointments, and even the odd social occasion. I’ve seen the bowel surgeon, the liver surgeon, the dental surgeon. I’ve had my flu jab, my pneumonia jab, and my line still requires flushing even though it’s redundant, for the time being. I saw Mr. S for my six month post surgery check up. No examination, just a chat about how things have been since we last met, a few weeks after surgery. Things have obviously improved as I recovered from surgery, but I still have concerns over the effects of surgery and the elusive ‘hot spot’ that was previously identified in my upper colon. It was first identified in a PET scan, looked for via a colonoscopy and a thorough search during surgery. The latest scans still don’t show any abnormalities, yet I’m still concerned that there could be something inside me, waiting to get to work on my cells. I’ll continue to have regular scans to monitor the situation, but for the time being, “What’s a hot spot got ?” Not a lot apparently. Mr. S reminded me how lucky I am that he was able to remove the cancer in my bowel, in an almost apologetic way he explained how difficult the surgery had been, and how close he was to just removing what he could and sewing me up again leaving the remains of the cancer in situ. I’m glad he persevered. We discussed the imminent liver surgery, Mr. S’s voice descending to a sympathetic and concerning depth. In effect, The Christie are handing me over now, not knowing how I will return after liver surgery.
The meeting with Mr L (liver surgeon) was very informative. As the detail of information became clearer, so did the level of concern. I saw the scans for the first time, and he pointed out the position of the tumours as we discussed each stage of the surgery and the risks involved at every level. 4 tumours on the right side which will necessitate the removal of the entire right side, I’ll be losing over two thirds of my liver. The single tumour on my left side will be re-sected, hopefully removed in it’s entirety. The liver will re-generate, the right side will be replaced with a new liver, in as little as 4 weeks to be able to work and eight weeks to revert to it’s original volume, if not it’s original shape. What an amazing organ ! However, the risk of liver failure at almost any stage of the operation and recovery period is high. Mr L made this perfectly clear to me, many times. There are other complications that may arise, each of which could be life threatening on their own and I was left in no doubt as to the risks involved in agreeing to surgery. The alternative of doing nothing makes surgery a no brainer. I want rid of these tumours. I still don’t have a date, other than it will be in November. The thoracic surgeon has still not responded. How difficult can it be to view a scan that’s instantly available on his PC? Debbie, the specialist nurse will be chasing him up so we can set a date, that is of course as long as he agrees to surgery proceeding. Mr L also wants me to be free of Avastin ( the monoclonal antibody) for at least 8 weeks before he will operate. He would prefer 10 weeks. The longer the better in his eyes, it poses a risk of complications during and after surgery. I’ve been off 4 weeks already. Mr L left Debbie to discuss all the other issues with me. Intensive care, recovery, physiotherapy and all the other details involved in preparing for and recovering from major surgery. Debbie thinks she can get me in for surgery sooner rather than later, she’ll be doing all the chasing up and booking appointments and arranging dates. I’ve already received the pre-op appointment for next Tuesday, which at least shows things are moving.
The maxillofacial surgeon (dentist to you & me) was understanding and sweet. She thinks she can save one of the two teeth causing me problems, but not yet ! My white blood cell count is still too low and the risk of infection still too high. We’ll wait another two weeks and check blood count again, if OK she’ll proceed and rip the bugger out. It’s not going to take long, it’s barely held in place now. This, combined with a mouth full of ulcers and sores has been making life pretty miserable. The two hourly mouth washes makes it just about bearable, numbing my mouth to remove all sensation of pain, but leaving no sense of taste. Not such a loss when everything tastes of complete blandness anyway. I’m glad to say the ulcers are receding and I think things are getting better now I’m off chemo.
There, I’ve done it. I’ve reached my target word count already. This is why I didn’t want to wrote this blog. It’s just a medical update. As with almost every other area of my life, cancer has taken over. I’ll update the social side in a couple of days, see if I can find some humour in my life.