21 scars and all out of love for sloth

Just when I thought it was reasonably safe to put the operating theatre behind me…

2 out of 4 news scars, 21 in total

a bunch of symptoms showed up with plenty to contemplate. Upper right quadrant pain before breakfast, at random points through the day and resistant to over the counter pain-killers. An intermittent feeling of fullness beneath the ribs or a hard area towards the sternum, with pain, sometimes radiating to the right shoulder blade. After a run-in with grade 3 HER2 positive cancer, metastases couldn’t be ignored. The only way to find out was further tests. At the end of last year yet more blood tests and another ultrasound ensued. There are protocols around ultrasound and the sonographer isn’t usually at liberty to say anything but on this occasion he was more forthcoming and said the liver looked normal. I guess he knew no-one wants the thought of liver mets hanging over them like the darkest of dark clouds.

The source of the problem was identified quite quickly and completely non-invasively: a large gall stone.

Fast forward six months and there are four new scars to add to the previous seventeen littered around my torso. Although these are small in comparison to some of the cancer-related scars the after effects of gallbladder removal (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) have been more painful and recovery seems slower. Perhaps it’s because my body was already a human pin cushion and there’s only so many holes that can be made through a single belly button without repercussions? Strangely the scars in the area where the gallbladder used to be don’t hurt and the one in the midline, just below the sternum, is barely noticeable but the belly button and whole lower abdomen is another story. Maybe that’s because it’s been used before for other surgeries or maybe it’s because this surgery involved pumping carbon dioxide into the area leaving my whole abdomen distended like the alien in alien autopsy. Almost a week on and it is still out of shape.

In the recovery room where it took some time to recover (and was a little worrying at first) they showed me the offending gall stone. Just one but of sizeable proportions and certainly enough to have caused all the previous symptoms. The consultant came to visit on the ward and said “it was nasty in there.” I’m still not sure exactly what he meant and didn’t have the heart to tell him it felt pretty nasty living in here post-surgery too. It’s the one time when I’ll gladly declare opiates have been my friend.

Since parting company with the gallbladder and its unwelcome occupant all the unpleasant feelings and malaise thought to originate from there have gone away. Early days but with luck those problems are gone for good. As for the scars, they are healing well. (That purple stuff is medical super glue and it flakes off in 5-10 days.)   One of the worst things about surgery is recovery. It can’t be rushed which means being careful, nothing strenuous and giving things time. But time is precious and aside from piling on pounds when I sit around, every day spent in inactivity feels like an opportunity missed. It’s frustrating. Twenty-one scars in a 30 x 50 cm area is more than enough so hopefully this surgery is the last. Precious days are passing and I’m all out of love for sloth.

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14 thoughts on “21 scars and all out of love for sloth

    • Hi Suria, Im doing OK. Still have some long=term side effects and still hoping that I stay cancer free but overall I’m fine. Thank you for thinking of me 🙂

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  1. Take care of yourself! Funny you mentioned you like art, as I would’ve sworn your photo was a painting of the scars, not the actual scars. I was more into the arts & crafts once the stronger painkillers wore off. I think it’s because you actually do need some decision-making ability to choose colours & what-not.

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    • Sorry I haven’t replied sooner. Life is zooming along and before I know it another day is done! Those strong painkillers are a blessing and a curse, definitely not to be taken when important decisions have to be made! I hope life is treating you more kindly now

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  2. Turns out I had the exact same procedure just a year ago. The initial symptoms were less than pleasant. I’m happy to say, though, that once the incisions healed over there was no further pain. I certainly hope the same will be true for you. One thing to look out for–now that you no longer have something to hold bile until it’s needed, the steady supply of the stuff to your digestive system may make it necessary for you to occasionally sprint to the nearest rest room. I’d encourage you to keep a pair of runners in your purse 🙂
    As for the fact that recovery is enough to drive you batty I can tell you that while my doctor strictly forbade lifting anything heavier than a carton of milk he was just fine with walking. Perhaps yours will say the same if pressed.

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  3. Sorry to hear you’ve been poorly, Well you seem to like Hospitals! Strange world we enter when we know are way around them almost better than Sainsbury’s! Hope you are doing exactly that taking it easy. Time to catch up on some good reads by the sounds of things. I have managed my first flight to Estonia for work, strange looks at passport control, my fluff head looks nothing like the pic inside, worst still the passport is about to expire and clueless if I should have it re-newed with a constant picture reminding me of fun days of chemo baldness! Keep your chin up! xx

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    • Take care of yourself in Estonia and don’t worry about the strange looks, people soon get over it and especially if you tell them “its cancer treatment, I’m not following a new trend” 😉 My work security pass was taken before my hair grew back properly and I can honestly say I dislike the constant reminder so much that I always wear it with the back (photo-less side) facing forward. If you have more time to go on your passport it might be good to put off renewal until you look the way you want to rather than the way you have to. Wishing you good health and renewed post-chemo energy xoxo

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  4. Do hope you recover soon, you seemed to be doing so well. Life is cruel what it throws at us. But remember you body need time to recover . At times like this we need a hobby like painting, sewing what about computing your fec this into a book. I do find mindfulness MBCT CA helpful I was sceptical at first it was the Marsden that recommended it as I was suffering greatly with fatigue and all the other by products of FEC-T. It provides coping strategies.

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    • Thanks Liz, I love art but in the first week the discomfort meant even the slightest movement was painful. It’s improving now so yesterday I was able to prune a few dead twigs in the garden, feed the birds and do a bit of photography. Patience is the key I think… Good job our minds have a way of rewriting history as this is definitely one op I’ll want to forget about!

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