For those of you who haven’t seen me in a while, I’ll warn you that I look much different than before. My hair has come in enough to go without a hat – Hooray! – and it is almost completely white. And, it probably goes without saying, it is also quite short. Surprisingly, I’m happy with both. I’ll probably be sporting a pixie ‘do for the foreseeable future.
In other news:
1. The sinus surgery was a breeze. I had surgery on a Tuesday and was well enough to go to work that Thursday. No pain, no swelling, no problems! I saw the doctor on Monday, and he said everything looks very good.
2. I can add another health malady to my list. I now have two incisional hernias in my midsection around the area where I was cut open for liver surgery. (Thank you, Dr. Amy Rosine for correctly diagnosing the problem and referring me to a surgeon. You’re the best!) When I saw the surgeon on Tuesday, he said I’m a prime candidate for hernias because of the past surgeries and all my time on chemo. Thankfully, he also said they are not dangerous and no surgery is needed at this time. Not so thankfully, they bulge out in the middle of my abdomen, so it looks like fat. Perhaps I can get lots of hernias and look like I have sick-pack abs!
3. My breathing problems continue. I saw the pulmonologist on Tuesday – yes, that’s three doctor’s appointments in two days – and nearly scared the nurse to death at how low my blood oxygen levels dropped in a short amount of time. She checked the level while I was sitting, and it was a comfortable 97. Then she had me walk with her around the office. After two laps around, she said we’d go one more lap and asked how I was doing. “Fine,” I said, just before she stopped to check the oximeter, which showed a dangerously low blood oxygen level of 83.
With a frightened look on her face, she quickly took me back to the exam room and had me sit. The good news is my blood oxygen levels return to normal very soon after sitting down, and they did that day as well. To manage everyday activities, I just do as much as I can and sit down for a minute or two when I get too short of breath. It sure beats going on oxygen, an option I’ve turned down multiple times already.
The bad news is we still aren’t quite sure what’s causing so much trouble with my breathing, other than the fact that I have half a lung on one side and a radiation-damaged lung on the other. I’ll soon go in for another echocardiogram to see if there is still fluid around my heart, which could be part of the problem. If the fluid has increased, there’s a chance I’ll have to have a procedure to remove the fluid. If it’s the same or less, we’re able to rule out one possible cause. My pulmonologist, Shannon Byrd, comes very highly recommended. I trust she’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.
4. Unless a lightning bolt moment makes me change my mind, I will not be going back on maintenance chemo. Having been off chemo since early March, it’s easy to see the toll it was taking on my body. I feel so much better already, and I’m again hearing that little voice saying it’s time to take a break. I know it didn’t work out so well last time I took a break, but I feel good about it, and David and all my family support me in the decision. Colon cancer is very slow growing, so we can keep a close watch through blood work and scans to be sure we don’t miss any dangerous changes and go back to hard chemo when and if it becomes necessary.
I believe God confirmed I can trust that little voice in a couple of ways this week. The first instance relates to a nudge I got to visit a former neighbor when I was spending time reading the Bible and in prayer last Wednesday morning. It truly felt like a voice came from heaven saying, “Go see Faye Nolen.” So, I called my mom and suggested we go see Faye. That afternoon, we had a wonderful visit with this precious lady and her sweet daughter. She died on Tuesday. I’m so glad we got to see her!
Also, the surgeon and pulmonologist asked about future chemo plans and agreed with my decision to forego maintenance chemo. I’ve been on and off chemo for 7 1/2 years now, and they can see that it’s taking a toll on my body. In fact, the pulmonologist thinks my breathing will improve as the chemo gets out of my system.
Sorry for such a long post, but there was much news to share. As always, I can’t thank you enough for your concern, kind words and prayers. I am blessed!
Out of breath but not out of hope,