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January 26, 2023 - Becoming My Mother
My parents were “old” when I was born. My mother and father were 40 and 45 years old respectively. Back in the day, it wasn’t common for women in their forties to have babies. Growing up, I was always the kid with the older parents. Many people thought my parents were my grandparents. I remember being so embarrassed as a preteen. I so wished my mom was young and hip as my other friends moms. I even vowed that when I had kids, I would have them in my 20’s or early 30’s. I promised myself that I would never be an old mom.
Fast forward. Remember, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Mason was born when his mother and father were 40 and 45 years old. That would be me and Jamie. Oh, the irony. Jamie and I don’t feel like old parents. Technology has certainly helped bridge that gap. Although, Jamie has been mistaken for Mason’s grandfather at times, but we just chalk it up to his gray hair. For some reason, I find it funnier than Jamie.
As I continue to age, I feel like I’m turning into my mother. Not really, but then you can’t escape some of the similarities. My mother was plagued with health issues beginning in her late 40’s until she died. There were times when my brother, Rick and I seemed to be visiting her in the hospital a lot. She had a hysterectomy, a heart attack which resulted in a triple by-pass, two aortic aneurysms, multiple stents placed near her heart, and she had her gallbladder removed.
Well, I don’t share in her malady’s, as I have enough of my own. Or so I thought. That was true until this past Sunday, January 22, 2023.
It was a beautiful day on Sunday. Mason and I had returned from grocery shopping at Publix. As I was putting groceries away, I started feeling unwell. I needed to lie down. It was only 2pm, but I started to feel intense pain in my abdomen. At first, I thought it was something that I had eaten. Could gas pains be this intense? I spent the next four hours writhing in pain. I managed to vomit twice, but neither time offered relief to the pain I was feeling. As I was “dying” in the bedroom, Jamie was “dying” watching his beloved Buffalo Bills lose in the playoffs. I couldn’t even watch the game with him. Around 6:30pm, Jamie convinced me to go to the ER at Mayo. I was worried we were going for nothing. It was a school night. It was probably nothing. I was wrong.
After a CT scan and ultrasound, they confirmed that my gallbladder was angry - very angry. I had a gallstone stuck in a bile duct and a few more hanging out in my gallbladder waiting to wreak more havoc. Of course I did! I always say go big! Thankfully, the scans gave them a path to load me up on pain meds. Boy, did I want them. I’ve never felt pain that intense before. Never. Needless to say, they admitted me to Mayo. I didn’t get settled into my hospital room until 4AM. Not that anyone is ever “settled” in the hospital. It was a long night. It would be Monday morning before the surgeons, internists, GI docs, and oncologists could confer on my case.
As it turns out, I’m tricky. I suppose that is not shocking. Not only am I on daily blood thinners, I am also on daily chemo meds. Both of those should be stopped days, if not weeks, before surgery. To complicate my “case”, I have a mesh surgically placed over my abdomen. Remember in 2019 when I had my double mastectomy, they did a Pedicle Tram procedure for breast reconstruction. That mesh makes it a little messier for the surgeons to determine best entry points for their instruments. For example, I don’t have a belly button as an entry point. I mean I have a belly button, but it is fake, handmade by my plastic surgeon. I digress…
So we spent all day Monday waiting on the doctor’s decision. Now mind you, I am hooked up to IV drips, antibiotics are flowing, as well as pain meds. And, I’m on NPO orders, which means “nothing by mouth,” from the Latin nil per os. In Renee’s language, it means no food or drink until surgery - not even ice chips. My last food was at noon on Sunday, which I elegantly barfed up, twice. I know, I mentioned that already.
My last sip of water was at 7pm Sunday night before I entered the fateful ER. By Tuesday I was parched and starving. The silver lining is this new Mayo Diet may help me drop 5 pounds. One can hope. How much does a gallbladder weigh? Ha!
At times, there were a few procedures presented to handle my gallbladder situation. The gallbladder would have to come out, but when it would come out was the question. They were considering performing an Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP. It is a procedure to use an endoscopy to travel to the bile duct and remove the stone causing the pain. If they did that, they would still need to remove my gallbladder, as it is just a matter of time before the other stones in residence want to painfully exit that pesky organ. The doctors were considering doing the ERCP and having me come back a few weeks later for the gallbladder removal!!! Nope! I was having none of that.
Finally logic prevailed. Enough time passed without having blood thinners in my system and oncology relented. On Monday night, the surgical team confirmed they were going to perform gallbladder removal surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy. The surgery was scheduled for 2:30 PM on Tuesday. So, I had about 20 or more hours of continued NPO to endure. Bring on the pain meds!
The surgery was a roaring success. It took a little longer than expected, but the docs had to figure out the mesh situation. After they removed the gallbladder they flushed out my bile ducts. I know, TMI. I have five tiny incisions that should help with a speedy recovery. Thank goodness they could do this laparoscopically. I’ll be good as new in a few weeks. Unlike my mother, when she has this procedure done, they had to make a 6 inch incision in her abdomen. Needless to say, her recovery was a bit slower.
I couldn’t help but think of my mother this week. Our paths are transparent footsteps over the other. My dear mother went to Heaven in 2019 at the ripe old age of 90. I’ll take that. I can only hope to walk that far.
OH! In other important news, I had my Brain MRI last week. The scan was clear! Cancer meds continue to work. Next up is my PET scan. I just need to stay on the well-worn path already trodden by my mother.