Friday, August 15, 2014

Listen, seriously, listen to what your body is telling you

I'm grateful that I've had arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, since I was thirteen. It has made me quite a neurotic person, tuned in to my body. I've been off medication for the arthritis since I was 18. That's when I almost had an ulcer from the NSAIDS that the dr. prescribed. I had orthoscopic knee surgery at 15 and found the recovery process quite frustrating and limiting.
So, neurotic. Yes.
This isn't a pretty sight following for gentlemen to read, sorry. Close and move on to a different blog.
Thanks. Now on to listening to your body.
I've been taking chances, risks and going on adventures for the past year and a half since my family decided we'd be risk takers and move to another country. This was due to a job opportunity that I had and a huge leap of faith that our family had moving overseas.
I've worked hard to enjoy and adapt to a new country and had a steep learning curve adapting to a new culture.
So. Listening to the body.
Here were my body's stages of saying, something is really wrong:
1. I was really fatigued, a lot in June. Couldn't figure out why.
2. I started spotting a little bit in June and worried.
3. I had an extra period at the end of June and was frustrated.
4. Went to the dr. after that and she said it might be fibroids. She did a pap smear- it was clear.
5. I went on a family week long adventure that included fun hiking, scootering and more... and continued spotting.
6. Quickly we turned around and went on another family adventure to learn kung fu. Part way through the week I started my period 2 weeks early.
7. I went back to my doctor and she sent me to get a transvaginal ultrasound that revealed that I did have fibroids. Discussed with doctor about options, she suggested an IUD which I considered.
8. I went back to work. Within a week, I started having the heaviest, scariest period I ever experienced. My body was screaming that something was wrong.
9. I went back to the doctor who put me on hormones to try to stop the bleeding..
10. The bleeding lessened quickly. Two days after taking the medicine a finger on my right hand started hurting terribly. The next day, the other hand had a finger that hurt. Then my wrists and shoulders started hurting. I decided it was the medicine. I went back to the doctor and scheduled the procedure to get the IUD put in. I also got permission to quit taking the main hormone medicine but continue the other so that the bleeding didn't pick back up. I was listening to my body, it was still trying to tell me something was terribly wrong. I went to three sessions of Chinese Traditional medicine treatment including acupuncture and mustard seed packs on my wrists and shoulders, no alleviation of pain until I got off the medicine.
11. I went to a specialist who quickly scheduled the IUD procedure for that Saturday. I went to the procedure a little nervous but hopeful that this would address the problem.
12. The procedure went fine until the doctor who was using a video scope noticed a large growth on my cervix. He took a biopsy and told me immediately following the procedure that he didn't put in the IUD because he needed to find out more about the growth.
13. I waited over a week to get results, that was terrible. I called, the doctor was out and then wanted to schedule an appointment to talk in person, emphasized that it wasn't a worry. We went to a family weekend fun trip which I'm still grateful we did... last time I had energy for excitement.
14. My doctor met with my husband and I to explain that I had cervical cancer, in what he suspected was early stage 1. He was concerned with how large the growth was and suggested I see a specialist. He explained that pap smears and a transvaginal ultrasound wouldn't reveal anything about cervical cancer and shared that this was a really lucky find.
15. After juggling doctors to sort out what would be covered by insurance, I went to a specialist... who sent me to another specialist within a days time. That specialist scheduled a radical hysterectomy with some lymph node removal as well.
16. The specialist warned me that I might need to get radiotherapy after the surgery since I had such a large growth.
17. The surgery went well. My employers were generous, kind, and supportive and I was approved for paid emergency leave.
18. I've been off work for four weeks, recovering from the surgery. Quickly after the procedure, my doctor came and confirmed that he wanted me to see a specialist and have radiotherapy...
19. I went to a cancer radiologist who decided to treat me with six weeks of Tomotherapy sending radiation to my entire pelvic region.
20. This radiologist gave my husband and I heart attacks when he pointed out that I have a rare form of cervical cancer with no known confirmed treatment but with a 40-50% survival rate without having radiotherapy. No choice in our opinion, getting radiation treatment. There was slight discussion of getting chemotherapy as well but my other doctor said "no" quickly since I had a biopsy of all my lymph nodes and had no signs of migration of cancer cells.

So now... still listening carefully to my body and dealing with Tomotherapy. (Radiation treatment, 30 days, Monday-Friday for 6 weeks.) Not fun but important.

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