Wednesday, November 26, 2008

[Number Seventeen Looms on the Horizon - Surgery Update]

Greetings, one and all!




Where, oh, where to start?



Well, keeping to my word, I’m sending out this update to everyone on my email list, whether you’re familiar with the situation or you barely even remember I exist. (:)) Disclaimer: if you have a weak stomach for medical stuff, I tend to hold nothing back, so brace yourself.



The Back Story



Toward the end of October, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not had a period in nearly three months. Not that I missed the PMS or anything, but let’s face it, three months is a clear bell that signals that *ding-ding-ding!* something’s not right. So, I scheduled a check-up through the MSU health center. During the examination, the doctor noticed some swelling, and a further ultrasound didn’t even show my left ovary. Yeah, a little creepy, I know. So, here I was, anticipating a possible partial or complete hysterectomy—something that didn’t overly horrify me, as having kids has never been an option anyway, and relief from cramps sounded nice. To be safe, my doctor referred me to a neurologist to make sure that the 11.6 centimeter mass he’d identified was really an ovarian cyst and not the internal meningocele (a rarity, as normally these show up externally and are found at birth) I’d had my whole life. Neither me nor my parents recalled the sac of spinal fluid having been that big before, so our expectations didn’t change.



Lo and behold, an MRI and CT scan revealed that the mass was, indeed, the meningocele—doubled in diameter in just two years (to say nothing of the volume, which had multiplied by something like four or five times). Suddenly, all my symptoms made sense, from my daily migraines to my screwy periods. This thing had more or less flattened everything in my pelvis. No wonder my hormones and digestive system knew no regularity anymore, and suddenly, I understood why I couldn’t sleep through the night anymore without getting up to pee something like four or five times. There’s no room for anything.



As such, on November 12, I had a myelogram run (similar to a spinal tap but without the fluid sample) to identify where everything was and check to identify risks involved in this surgery. After a week and a half of nausea, dizziness, and spinal headaches (distinctly different from my migraines), I tried to make myself grade papers and write essays without keeping a hand on the phone all day to answer at the first sign of a ring. Not that I’m scared of surgery or anything—after that last one, I’m quite immune to that terror. I just hate not knowing. Kind of punches a hole in my reputation for spontaneity, doesn’t it? :)



The News



This morning, I had my follow-up appointment. I saw images. Holy crap, that thing is huge! It takes up more space than everything else that’s supposed to be in there combined! Suddenly, I understand why, no matter how healthy I eat and how much I try to keep in shape, my tummy keeps growing. It’s going to be a relief to be rid of that thing!



Ladies and gentlemen, I have no tailbone. Seriously. That’s why the sac developed. I never do anything halfway, do I?



So here’s the lowdown: at 6 a.m. on December 18 (Thursday), I’ll be checking in at Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Missouri for my surgery. I’ll be in the hospital at least a week (longer if there are complications) and will have at least a month recovery period. I’m less than thrilled about that part, but I’ll just be glad to have it over with. If you’re in town or can come to the hospital, I know my parents would appreciate someone waiting with them. Mom still can’t think about it without her eyes tearing up. I imagine I won’t be feeling too social right away, but by the weekend, I’ll be ready to see some smiling faces that aren’t on bodies carrying needles and meds.



The surgery itself, as far as the doctor can tell at this point, will involve clamping off the area and draining the fluid over the following week. Yes, it will be gross, I know, but it will be a relief as well. It may also involve a follow-up surgery to remove certain parts and to seal up that area. Because what I have is so rare in this form, a lot of things will play out in surgery as needs arise. I have a good doctor, and he’s getting feedback from everyone in the office (Springfield Neurological Institute) as well as getting a second opinion from a well-reputed doctor in Kansas City. I have complete faith in his skill and God’s providence.



Getting everything finished early, though, is going to be quite an ordeal. Forgive me, those of you who see me frequently, if I’m antisocial over the next three weeks. I’ve got a lot on my plate and very little time to finish it up.



Anyway, that’s the low-down at this point, and you now officially know what I know.



Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers thus far, and thank you in advance for keeping my family and I in prayer over the next few weeks. If anything new develops, I’ll let you know as soon as I know the details.



It’s definitely lunch time, which means it’s time to stop typing, send this off, and get some munchies. :)



Much love to you and yours, and a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

[Okay, So, Question...]

Why can there be no Christmas movie without some uber-sappy romance?  Don't get me wrong--I'm a hopeless romantic, so I do enjoy watching it all unfold.

The problem is that it simply does not reflect reality--at least not mine. 

Can we just have a few Christmas movies for those of us with no mistletoe bunny this year--or any other year for this matter?  Must every girl pair up with a boy in a movie, and vice versa?  Huh?  I know films are meant to be an escape... it just gets hard to get out of that mindset.

End rant.

Friday, November 21, 2008

[Surgery Date...]

...is to be announced, actually.




But I did get enough information to know that surgery IS happening. That alone is a comfort, since I was afraid that it would be too risky (darned if I do, darned if I don't sort of thing).



I'll find out the date and details on Wednesday.



If you think you're out of the loop, if you've read my blog entries and this message, you pretty much know what I know.



If you want to get the mass email with the date and details when I get back from the doctor's office on Wednesday, and you've never received a mass email from me at your current email address, send me your email addy and I'll make sure you're on the list.



One step closer,

Niki

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For a long time, I've suspected that the microwave-safe dishes my grandma bought me for Christmas three years ago (at my begging) weren't as microwave-safe as they claimed.  For one thing, if I ever had to nuke anything for more than, say, a minute-fifteen, I had to put on thick gloves to handle the plate for about ten minutes--and the food itself would always be somewhat less than ideally warm. 

Today, I have confirmation.

Hungry, I put a frozen cordon bleu on one of my plates and put it in the microwave for the standard three minutes while I started my daily pitcher of frappuccino.  Just as I was filling the blender of milk with ice, the "I'm done!" beep went off, and I told the microwave to hold on just a moment, knowing that in about fifteen seconds I would hear an impatient, "Hey! Idiot!  I'm done, remember?  Get your arse over here and open me up!" reminder beep--always annoying.  Just as I was closing the freezer door...

POW!

With trepidation, I opened the microwave door.  Supporting my still-whole cordon bleu, half my pretty red plate was shattered. 

Behold, the aftermath:

Don't be fooled by the large shards... there are many tiny splinters to clean up, too. 
Why do I get out of bed?

Monday, November 17, 2008

[The Proverbial Straw]

I just want to quit.  I don't know what--maybe everything.  It's a little thing, finding out that one is teaching English 110 and nothing else for the fourth semester and that said person is the only second-year GA still in that boat.  It's probably nothing personal and simply a scheduling issue.  But on top of everything else, it's just made me snap. 

*I'm so far behind I don't know how I'll ever catch up--and the more stressed I get, the harder it is to sit down and tackle the mountain.
*I didn't hear from the doctor today, so I still don't know if/when I'm having surgery--and I need it.  This damned meningocele has doubled in diameter in the past two years, and it's causing a lot of problems
*The problems having to do with the meningocele... cramps, indigestion, bladder issues...
*I'm still not bouncing back from my myelogram.  My head goes on spnning and my back goes on spasming.
*I still haven't heard from the doctor and I JUST WANT AN ANSWER!
*I worry about my parents worrying.
*I feel horribly guilty for the expenses me, my life, and my health are incurring on my parents.  It's hard enough making ends meet without my issues.

I'm so depressed right now.  I feel hemmed in on every side.  People tell me that they admire my spirit and courage--what spirit?  what courage?  I hate this.  I hate this.  I hate this.  If it were just one thing, I could deal, but it's everything at once.

I want my Sassy.

I miss my mom.

I feel like crap.

I feel trapped. 

Why am I at MSU?  Why am I having another surgery?  Why can't I get an answer and a surgery date?

I want to quit... but what can I quit?  I can't quit school--I'm a GA, so my decision would affect my students.  I have no teaching certificate, so I can't get a teaching job without my master's degree.  I'm not qualified for anything else, and I'm not physically capable of working another type of job, between my back and my migraines. 

I'm at wits end right now.  Intellectually, I know that God is in control.  I really do.  But my emotions aren't getting the message. 

Why didn't the doctor call?

Am I a bad teacher?

I'm tired... and I don't have time to be.

Yeah, that smile?  The result of being trapped.  What am I going to do?  Throw a fit?  What good will it do?  It'll just make people worry without cause.  So I smile.  I do what I must.  But I'm tired.  And I can't stop crying. 

I want my puppy, dammit.  I miss my baby.

Meh, I'll probably wake up in good spirits and everything working out fine tomorrow morning.  But right now, I just want to knock myself out somehow. 

I think I'll go puke now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Surgery Update

I just got back from the neurologist, and I may be facing spinal surgery within the next month. On Wednesday, he's running a myelogram on my spine, a procedure that involves inserting contrasting dye into my spine and taking a CT scan to see if the surgery is even feasible. The procedure is similar to a spinal tap, only they won't be taking any fluid samples. I was born with what is essentially a bag of excess spinal fluid (myelomeningocele) that is located at the base of my spine, internally. Apparently, over the past 25 years, it's been growing and putting more pressure on organs in that area, causing a number of problems with my bladder, intestines, and uterus.  The myelomeningocele measures 11.6 centimeters, which basically has flattened my uterus and certainly explains why my stomach's so distended.

We're hoping that the surgical procedure can be done without risk of contracting meningitis. Needless to say, I'll be on my back the rest of the day, and I can only return to normal activities after 24 hours IF I don't have any complications--and I'm not known for having complication-free procedures.

I was fine until Mom (Mary) freaked out.  Apparently, the fact that this affects my spine and that my mother (Michelle) died from the effects of spinal cord cancer only one year older than I am now terrifies her.  Please pray that she will understand that God is in control; there is nothing to fear. 

Drama, drama, drama...

Friday, November 07, 2008

[Updating When I Should Be Sleeping]

First off, some fabulous Halloween pictures of Autumn Dryad Niki:

In other news, I'm taking the GRE subject test tomorrow morning (hence why I should be asleep by now on a Friday night when I'm so accustomed to falling asleep a couple hours before dawn), and I'm dreading it. Four hours of testing about literature, most of which I've probably never read or scarcely remember. Juuuust fabulous.
I'm also waiting to hear back on whether or not I'm having surgery soon. I haven't had a period for three months, and I seem to have another problematic ovarian cyst... more problematic than before. In fact, taking the ultrasound, the technician couldn't find my left ovary. Not a good sign. There seems to be an 11-inch mass, and on Monday, I'm having an MRI run to see if what they see is the myelomingecele that I've had since birth or a very large cyst that would probably result in at least a partial hysterectomy.
Wait... no more periods? Hey, I can deal with that!
I'm not afraid... I just hate not knowing. Hopefully I'll know more soon. I do have discomfort/pain (nothing severe), and my hormones are completely screwy right now. I've had acne for a few months now, and I never got more than one or two pimples before, usually around "that time of month." Now, I can't win for losing. Maybe hormones are why I haven't been able to focus this semester, too. That would explain a lot... as well as why I can't ever fall asleep before 3 in the morning these days.
Anyway, I would've mentioned it sooner, but I wanted to wait until I had something concrete on which to report. Long-term readers will know how many "tumor scares" I've had over the past few years that came to naught, so I guess I'm getting a little paranoid about being the girl who cried tumor. Maybe I'm just paranoid in general.
I did have me some cider and rum with the sushi I made for dinner, so I should be able to fall asleep here pretty soon.
Oh, and I'm a redhead again:
I'm off to sleep! Good night to all!