From 2010 to 2012, I blogged about my experiences (hate saying "journey") following a gastric bypass. I feel like it helped me process a lot of the emotional baggage that kept piling up.
It's now 2017. I still struggle with weight and still lug around all that ridiculous baggage, but now I am facing a new challenge.
On February 22nd of this year, I started getting itchy. Like, all over. I thought I was having an allergic reaction, and so I did all the standard stuff--antihistamines, wash everything in perfume/dye free detergent, see if I was using any new products, etc. The itching got worse and worse, to the point that I was scratching my skin open in spots (gross, I know). I finally broke down and went to my doctor. She asked if there was anything else she needed to know about and I told her I felt like I must be dehydrated, because I had dark urine (double-gross). That was the clue that tipped her off, and she sent me for testing. Turns out I had jaundice, which led to more testing to figure out why.
An MRI showed I had a mass that was blocking the bile duct, and causing the jaundice. They couldn't see it clearly, and couldn't do an endoscopy to get to it because of the gastric bypass, so they scheduled me for surgery on May 5th to remove and test the mass. Meanwhile, I was scratching like a tweaker and starting to turn the color of a character from The Simpsons.
The week before my scheduled surgery, I started getting a lot of pain and went to the ER. They admitted me that night to control the pain until my surgery date, but luckily (for me) the person who was next on my surgeon's schedule was not able to have surgery and I was in the right place to skip ahead into the surgical line.
They performed what's called a Whipple procedure. Apparently it's more complicated than open heart quadruple bypass, slightly less complicated than brain surgery. In my case, they removed the mass, along with 1/3 of my pancreas, part of my liver, my gallbladder, the rest of my duodenum (early part of the small intestine) and part of the jejeunum (the next part of the small intestine). Then they have to reattach everything and reroute a bunch of stuff.
When I came to, they told me that the tumor they removed was large, and that it was cancerous. Pancreatic cancer.
They call it the silent killer because usually there are no symptoms until the cancer is too far progressed. Lucky for me, they caught it at stage 2, they got clear margins all the way around the tumor, and none of the lymph nodes they tested showed signs of cancer. They thought they had gotten clear margins and the entire tumor, and didn't see any lymph nodes that were affected out of all they tested. But they did recommend chemotherapy and possibly radiation.
It's now almost 3 months later. My digestive situation is still touchy. I've lost nearly nearly 40 pounds and my hair is falling out. I was allergic to one kind of chemo, and the other caused borderline liver failure. I've had 2 additional ER visits and 1 additional hospital stay for ulcers (probably from the chemo). Now they are going to try the chemo again, and add in radiation treatments for good measure.
So, like always, it's good news/bad news. Good news it was caught, bad news is that it could still kill me. Some days I have a positive outlook, and others (like today) the thought of dying takes my breath away. My brain is on overload and I just can't process it. That's where writing it down comes in--the good, bad, and the strange. More to come another day...