Cancer! That is what the doctor said, but what she heard was DEATH! She couldn’t believe her ears! “There has got to be some mistake!” This just can’t be happening to me, she kept thinking over and over…I am just getting used to living with Lupus…I can’t do cancer! But here she was…just beginning to deal with “The Big C!”
It was found during a routine pap smear. The yearly test women despise. It was stage 3. Fairly advanced. But encapsulated to the cervix. They recommended a total hysterectomy. She was fine with that. She hadn’t intended to have more children. It was scheduled for the next week. This was all happening so fast! She still hadn’t wrapped her head around all of it when she was telling her family. They all had so many questions, to which she didn’t yet have the answers. Being an analytical type, she of course got right on the net to research this new monster that had invaded her body. Afterwards, she wished she hadn’t. So many sad stories. So many bad outcomes. She was scared. She lay on her bed in the fetal position and cried…and prayed and prayed and prayed.
She and her husband showed up at the hospital at 7:30am. The surgery was to take a couple hours. She could go home tomorrow. She was on the stretcher, donned in the beautiful hospital gown and cap. Feeling very, very vulnerable and fearful. She jokes around with her husband and the staff…hiding her fear. The doc came in, the three of them held hands and said a prayer. She was wheeled into surgery…she looked deep into one of the nurses eyes…and squeezed her hand, as the general anesthetic was pushed into her IV…a tear slid down her cheek.
She awakens, she feels heavy. Her mouth feels dry…something is lodged in her throat! She tries to move her hand to her mouth, but she can’t move her hands! They are strapped to the bed! She looks side to side…her husband is there. “What is going on?” She wanted to scream…but she couldn’t. She was on a ventilator…the hissing sound as it pumped air in and out of her lungs was audible. She goes back to sleep. The next few months are a blur. She is heavily medicated. She has multiple hallucinations due to the medications, some were horrifying. She remembers trying to climb out of the bed. She has unbearable pain in her abdomen…pain like she had never imagined! It feels like her belly is on fire. She is in and out of consciousness and being unconscious is preferable to be certain!
When her mind is finally clear enough to figure out what has happened to her, she can not believe it! Her luck! Evidently the surgeon had made a surgical error and punctured a hole through her intestine, this is a complication that can occur with any abdominal operation, but it’s rare, and when it does occur…it is usually noted rather quickly and measures are taken and recovery is generally speedy. Unfortunately, it was not noted quickly and by the time it was diagnosed, alot of internal damage had been done. She was septic. Her intestines had become so infected they were like wet tissue paper when the next surgeon went in.
She would end up losing a large portion of her bowel. She would end up with an ostomy…but not a normal ostomy…it couldn’t really be done in the normal fashion, so the bag wouldn’t seal properly and therefore there were always leaks…this caused major skin breakdown and irritation. She had peripheral lines it seemed everywhere! In her clavical area, her armpit, her hand…the catheter for her urine…she felt like an alien.
She couldn’t stand to even look down at her own abdomen. Therefore she could not perform her ostomy bag changes or empty the bag. She would have to put her call light on and have the nurses come and do it…some of them would get rather irritable with her. They felt she should do it herself. But it looked horrid! Her bowel was sticking OUTside her body! She was in so much pain and had grown so weak from laying in a hospital bed, it was also just physically hard on her to do anything…she was doing physical and occupational therapy twice a day. It wore her out…physically and emotionally. Some days she would just feel like giving up. She felt like she would never be the same again, would never be useful again…couldn’t imagine living with this pain everyday!
Her husband was there at the hospital with her everyday. She lived for the moment he walked in the door. She knew when he was there she could rest. Or have someone to talk to. She wasn’t allowed to eat, and could only drink limited amounts. She was so thirsty! The commercials for food and drinks on the tv would just about drive her bizerk! She was too weak to read, she couldn’t hold the book up. The only thing she had to pass the time was tv and when her family visited. She felt somedays as if she was going out of her mind. She felt like a caged animal…an ABUSED caged animal at that! To add insult to injury, her hair started to fall out in huge clumps! She had bald spots throughout her scalp…she had always had extremely thick and wavy hair…now she is going bald. Also, she was going through menopause due to the ovary removal…the hotflashes where awful! She felt like she was having a heart attack frequently. Alot of the nurses were not sympathetic to her physical complaints. They acted like she was being a whiner or something! One evening she complained of being short of breath. The night nurse took her time coming into her room, even after she had told the cna about being short of breath and having chest pain. When the nurse did finally come in her room, and took her vitals, she said”Oh, you’re fine! You just need to work harder in therapy! You’re getting lazy!” She could not believe this. She knew something was wrong! She was having a heart attack! “I need help!” She told the nurse…the nurse left her room…she was scared to death she was going to die right there!
To be continued
Breathe, Believe, Be