Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts From the Couch

Here I lie, side mildly aching, feeling like I should feel guilty for being so lazy except that I am too tired to actually do anything about it. My battle with effective pain medications continue as everything that helps the pain makes me sick, and being sick is worse than the pain so here I sit.

And so I give you my thoughts from the couch. I might be lazy but I am not too lazy to blog.

#1) Thinking you are going to die in surgery is normal, apparently. This was my innermost, deepest fear. The reason for the family photos, the reason for the sleepless nights, the reason I was mostly scared about going to the hospital. You know how when you are pregnant everyone around you is pregnant? Or when you're in love every song on the radio is about being in love? Or when you are fighting every song reminds you of your anger?

When when you are "sick" there are ALOT of songs out there about life, and final choices, and dying, and missing a loved one. Apparently this was NOT God's way of passing on a secret message to me that I was going to die. I know this NOW because, you know, I didn't.

Everyone - from the front desk nurse to my extremely amazing surgeon - took it upon themselves to reassure me that being nervous was normal. I wish I would have voiced this fear earlier because maybe reassurances from others would have helped me. Instead, I just imagined that God was using Top 10 Hits to let me know my time was short. Which brings me to my next point ...

#2) No shame in using medications to get through. (I realize based on my previous list that some might think I CONTINUE to need additional medications, but please remember I am posting while under the influence of pain meds and cannot be held legally responsible for what I say. SO THERE). Sleep medications = good. Ativan = good. Maybe it's a pride thing, but relief did come when I finally caved into the fact I had these little pills hopping around in my purse and shaking for eight hours straight is no fun so TAKE THE MEDICATIONS. Apparently there is no shame in this. Who knew?

#3) My two BEST items at the hospital were ear plugs and eye shades (I have no idea what they are actually called but you know the soft, silky eye things that you imagine Divas wear when they sleep until noon.) Hospitals are NOT the best places to sleep and these two items when finally acquired gave me two good nights. Of course, I was also robbed of all my cash my last night in the hospital and its a bit freaky to me to realize that SOMEONE ill-intentioned was in my hospital room during the night going through my drawers and I didn't notice, but you know with the amount of pain meds I was on, I wouldn't have stopped him anyways.

#4) Some friends rock. Some friends suck. You just never know who is who until push comes to shove. Many of my friends (and family) were absolutely unbelievably supportive through it all, before, during and now after as I sit on a friend's couch and ruin her May Long Weekend as she waits on me. On the other hand, I have a friend I know cares deeply about me and would probably give their life for me if need be. This friend disappeared the week before surgery and during the week of surgery leaving me shocked and reeling from their notable absence at a time when I expected their support. Reappearing only, tearfully, regretfully, after I survived. The reasons for how people react to stress are complicated and my friend now carries more guilt than I could have ever heaped upon their head.

#5) Pathology results suck, even when you think you are prepared. There is no easy way to say this and no matter my brave face and stoic attitude, the words "renal cell carcinoma" written down on a piece of paper sent me reeling. I still am actually. I KNOW I am lucky. I KNOW my chances are very, very good. I KNOW others face worse every day. But still, it's cancer and it's me. ME. Jen. Cancer. Real cancer. There is no answer to the why questions I have. I have NO RISK FACTORS. Not one. How then can I keep myself safe? How can I prevent it from coming back?

It was growing in me. A bright orange little ball of lethal cells trying to kill me and I did not know. Growing, spreading and caught, but still was there. So secretive and lethal.

Everyone else took this news in stride, not remotely shocked because we knew, chances were, it was cancer. But for me that ever present hope that the tumor was benign was carrying me through. I was forced to process the reality of "CANCER" alone in a hospital room. If you are ever in a position of expecting pathology results, it would be best to not be alone. Ask my very supportive nurse, she will concur.

#6) Back to the pills. Stool Softeners have dosage guidelines for a reason. It is not wise to quadruple this number because you think its a good idea. Remember when making such decisions that the anesthetic makes you COGNITIVELY IMPAIRED. Be wise. Trust me. Just trust me.

#7) I am not super human. Despite my personal expectations, surgery does HURT. I am TIRED. Recovery has not happened in a week. Duh.

Back to the couch to take a nap.


Anonymous said...

Take your needed rest and get well!

That sucks about someone stealing your money in the hospital!

Jennifer said...

Love you Jen. Glad you're on the mend. Many hugs.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jen. Get lots of rest while you can... remember that over-worked, over-tired feeling about 6 months back?? Well... don't feel guilty about resting now. Looking forward to seeing your smiling face (or maybe still grimacing yet) in church again!!


OAM3 said...

You said it Jen!!

For me, the item about pathology results sucking was the most poignant. That was the only time I completely lost it - hearing the words "invasive ductal carcinoma" sent me into a swearing, screaming, sobbing fit that lasted a whole 10 minutes. Sadly, we moms don't get time to wallow. But those 10 minutes were the angry motivation I had to kick the crap out of cancer.

If you get a chance, check out Then let me know if we should create one of Kris Carr's posses and round up some other survivors for support. Yeehaw - take THAT cancer!!


Dana K said...


I'm so glad to see you still have your sense of humor and your deep perspective even while medicated, in pain and prone on the couch. Thanks for sharing how scared you were, I had no idea!

You are in my thoughts daily and I was praying for you. Enjoy this rest, feel no guilt! Read a book or a magazine, watch some crazy TV, visit with friends, surf the net. You won't be down for long so take full advantage of it!

Love Dana

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to hear that your surgery went well and that they caught it so early. Try and enjoy the peace and quite of the couch. We will see you this summer. Until then give yourself a hug from us.

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad you are finally home! you have so much to process, and it's normal to jump all over emotionally with this news...even with the great prognosis you have. continue being kind to yourself.