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!


Luke said...

We'll be praying for you Niki. I'm glad they were able to figure out what it is and that they can take care of it. Sounds like you're in fairly good spirits about it. I hope things go well.


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Sarah said...

Dang! Who knew that something so weird could cause so many problems! It sucks that you have to deal with all this, but it's awesome that they know what's wrong with you and how to fix it. Hopefully you'll be feeling WAY better once you're done with surgery. I'll be praying for you, my friend. God is right by your side. :) I love you!