Thursday, 26 September 2013

Three weeks, two days post-op

I'm slowly getting stronger, but tonight I'm feeling like I have so much more to go. It could be that seasonal allergies are bringing me down, and all of the antihistamines aren't helping me feel energetic.

I have one incision that is still sore and not healed. Hopefully that will heal over soon.

The doctor's office hasn't called with a pathology report, which I take as a positive sign.

This week, I started working from home. I really appreciate that I can do it, because I know I don't have the stamina to deal with my commute. I could only do it with a handicapped sticker so I could park at the station and not walk two blocks, and also I'd need a guaranteed seat on the train, which will never happen. But at this point, I'm not even allowed to drive. I can start driving next week.

I miss seeing my coworkers, and being able to talk face to face. They've been very kind about reaching out to me and the situation is as good as it can be. I know I'll feel stronger soon and then I can back into my normal routine. Hopefully I'll remember how to put on make-up when I do finally get back to the office. ;-)

Friday, 20 September 2013

I finished a knitting project!

Finally, I can show you a knitting project that is finished - because the recipient is me! So I won't be spoiling myself by posting the photos. ;-)

This is Megan Goodacre's Montgomery Scarf pattern. A good one for beginners - it has a variety of textures without being complicated. The yarn is Bernat Roving.



This project on Ravelry.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The kitty intruder returns

Charlie growled at the back door again tonight. I turned on the backyard light - the intruder was back, standing by the door and looking very friendly. She has a very sweet face, very clean and fluffy fur, and a collar. She's also smaller than Hermione and I just wanted to pick her up and snuggle her.

BUT. That's not how things work when you already have three cats. Especially one that is doing his duty as Alpha Cat and telling the intruder to buzz off. So I opened the door a bit and she ran to the back of the yard. I opened the door some more, because I realized I'd left my clippers outside, and she left the yard entirely.

One minute later, she was back by the door so I had to scare her away again. I patted Charlie and told him what a good guard cat he is and gave him treats. He was on duty so he didn't eat the treats.

Part of me is worried about the other cat, because the temperature is dipping low tonight. But she really looks like she has a home. And putting out a cat bed for her, one that she could climb into for shelter and that my cats don't use, would probably be the wrong thing to do in the long-term.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Keep your religion out of my business

When I open an eagerly anticipated package, the first thing I want to see is not:

Unwanted Christian propaganda while ordering lego

So I'm posting about this and have left a note on their Facebook page that I won't be ordering from them in the future. I ordered a Lego set, not a Bible.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Backyard intruder

I've suspected for a while that animals have been visiting the backyard. There was that one night where Charlie got growly at the back door, and I found flattened grass between a trellis and the fence the next morning. The water in my fairy garden pond keeps disappearing, even after a good rainfall. My pepper plants look nibbled on. There are no peppers.

Tonight I was in the backyard playing with the Google Star Maps app on my phone. I felt something soft brush against my left ankle, like a breeze. I continued with the app a little bit, then looked towards the house.

Outlined against the light of the kitchen, I saw a cat sitting on my steps, up against the patio door. Looked like a young Hermione with grey fluffy fur from behind. Inside the kitchen, I could see Hermione slowly approaching the door, crouched to the floor.

I called out to Mom, who came to the door and clapped her hands, scaring away the cat. The intruder ran away, squeezing between the gap between a fence post and the neighbour's fence. She thought the cat was pretty, and well-cared for, her fur looked clean and fluffy.

Charlie yowled and patrolled the patio door until we closed it. We told all of the cats how brave they were, defending the house. :-)

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Home again

I spent one night in the hospital and came home last night. I'm sore but okay. Today I rest!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Quick update

Surgery went well. I'm resting .

Monday, 2 September 2013

Steps for future health

Tomorrow (Sept 3), I'm having laparoscopic surgery. This isn't urgent or life-threatening, it's something that needs to be done sooner than later.

Warning - this post is about women's health, what's going on with my health, and discussion of lady parts. I won't get explicitly detailed unless necessary.

In the last few years, there has been an alarming increase in cancer amongst the women on my mother's side of the family.

In 1986, my mother's identical twin passed away from breast cancer. A few years ago, another of my mother's sisters was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. At the same time, I was having some post-menopausal irregularities. I went to my family doctor and he referred me to an OB/GYN. I had an ultrasound which showed ovarian cysts. My following ultrasounds showed that the cysts shrunk. I also had an endometrial biopsy that found a benign polyp.

Last year, another of my aunts was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. One of the oncologists suggested that the women of the family start looking into genetic screening. I wrote up the family history of cancer, took it to my doctor, who immediately agreed to refer me.

Here in Calgary, I was referred to the genetics clinic at the Children's Hospital. If I were a character on a TV show, I would've been tested and had my results already.

In the real world, genetic testing is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The clinic needs to know what to test for - so one of my aunts with cancer would have to be tested first. Then I could be tested. Both of my aunts signed consent forms to share their records with the Calgary clinic. Aunt A had already agreed to be tested.

(There is another way for me to be tested - if I were exhibiting clear symptoms of having cancer, I'd be tested. While I have irregularities, I don't show distinct signs of having cancer. So yay for that.)

Many of us in the family started sharing medical information. I found out that another aunt and a cousin had hysterectomies after pre-cancerous cells had been found.

My arrangement with my OB/GYN was that I would see her every time I had a period. I entered menopause fairly young, so it's been possible that there are a few eggs left. I have yet to go twelve months without a period - the record is eleven months.

(Blood tests since 2010 confirm that I am in menopause.)

So I diligently saw her each time, and she diligently sent me off for another ultrasound. I had another period in March, then followed up with my OB/GYN. It had been over a year since my last biopsy, so she did another biopsy in her office (ouch!).

The pathology report showed simple hyperplasia in my uterus - the beginning stage of pre-cancerous cells.

So my choices were - treat it with progesterone to try and reverse the hyperplasia and have frequent biopsies to monitor the situation. Or - have a hysterectomy, and remove my ovaries at the same time, given my family history. It didn't take too long to choose surgery.

This appointment took place during my lunch hour. I went to the nearest Starbucks, and while standing in line, started to wonder what had just happened. Had I really just agreed to surgery?

So I walked out, and around the block, and freaked out. Then I pulled myself together. I have been very diligent about getting checked out so that I can avoid cancer. Now that something had been found, it was time to eliminate it. My friends and family have been very supportive.

The only negativity I've experienced was at an energy sharing meetup. One woman told me at length at how her daughter also has pre-cancerous cells but has been holding off surgery. Then she lectured me at length about what I should be doing, including herbal cleanses and eliminating all sugar. It was really unpleasant. (As are herbal cleanses - I tried one once, and had to stop it, because my energy dropped dramatically.)

By the time Aunt A's test results came in, her grand-daughter had a hysterectomy. Cousin J's pathology reports show uterine and ovarian cancer and she is about to undergo treatment.

Aunt A's test results showed a mutated BRAC2 gene. I was worried, because while waiting for my surgery, I didn't want to have to consider a mastectomy too, if I had the gene.

My genetics counsellor spoke with her colleague in Halifax who did the testing - and reported that the mutation is not directly linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. (Whew!) It is a VUS (Variation of Unknown Significance).

So now the genetics team is waiting to see if Cousin J will undergo testing. They think Lynch Syndrome may be the genetic link between all the cases. Lynch Syndrome carries an increased risk of colon, uterine, and ovarian cancer at a younger age. Cousin J is about 10 years younger than I am. If she has it - then I'll be tested for the gene.

Right now ... I'm nesting. Preparing the house for me to just sit around and heal after the surgery. My sister will be with me at the hospital, and my mother is flying in to stay with me after. The cats will be happy to have me home, at least.

Tonight I read something on Cheryl Richardson's Facebook page that helped ease my anxiety. I commented about that, mentioning I was about to undergo surgery. She wrote back with this bit of loveliness:
Affirm: Every hand that touches me is a healing hand. I wake from surgery feeling peaceful & calm, I am cared for by a Divine Loving presence every moment of every day. I'm adding you to my prayer list. You are going to be fine.