Hiccup, belch, hiccup.
Time to eat. But, I don't want to. To eat means to bring on, within minutes, the stabbing, debilitating pain in my guts that comes from attempting to nourish this ol' body. I time eating with taking a pain pill in hopes to minimize the discomfort; but it takes an hour for the pain pills to kick in.
The beginning of an end? I hope so.
After my last post about my gut issues, I felt that things had maybe stabilized a bit and I was feeling better. I regained some strength and was able to get up and about and start living again. I had to be careful of some things, like being sure I was within a close vicinity of a bathroom at all times and I had to eat when my body demanded it, but things were looking up. Almost. I kept losing weight, and a lot of it.
Toward the end of December of last year, I yelled "Uncle!" and went down to see the gut specialist again. He ordered a CT and a few other tests and came to the conclusion that, on top of a biliary obstruction, I had malabsorption going on. Hopefully, the CT would show where the obstruction was and then it could be treated. I hadn't heard anything back on the results of the CT, so I assumed all was well. But, I kept losing weight. I called back again in March, and the doc ordered another CT - a spot on my pancreas had shown in the first one, and it was time to see what it was doing. The new CT showed that the spot had grown 3 cm! So, a CT assisted biopsy was ordered, and it came back mixed. It showed positive for pancreatic cancer and negative too - inconclusive. Another CT assisted biopsy was ordered, and again the results were inconclusive. This time, the doc referred me to the head of cancer surgery for a laproscopic biopsy, and by this time, the pain had become excruciating. This growth, this alien growing inside me, it surrounding nerves and blood vessels and causing all kinds of trouble.
I had my first appointment with the cancer surgeon July 1, that's how long it took to get this far. As soon as he sat down to talk to me, he said, "We'll go in and take out what we can of that tumor, nerve block the involved nerves, rebuild and bypass your common bile duct to get rid of that biliary drain and take your gallbladder out. We'll take care of everything all in one shot." He explained that this is a major surgery that will take 2 to 3 hours and I will be in ICU afterward for 3 to 5 days. Bam. I burst into tears. Oh, and there's a hernia around your bellybutton we'll fix too. Hernia? Who cares!
"I hope those are tears of joy," the doc said.
"I don't know. I'm terrified." And I was.
My mind flew in every direction possible with more of what the doc was telling me poking through every now and then. There will be 3 surgeons. They won't know until they get in there how much of the tumor they will be able to remove, which is why they are doing the nerve block. They have to be careful because of all the nerves and major arteries around the tumor. They will have a preliminary biopsy right away, but it will take over a week for the final to come back. If it's pancreatic cancer, nowadays 30 to 40% of people now respond to treatment and last another 3 to 4 years. If it's a type of lymphoma, that's very treatable.
Peppered in with all that were my own thoughts: Good, I'll be in less pain right away with the nerve block. The surgery will hurt like hell, but it will heal. Besides, the drugs will be good. ICU? What? Why? I'll still have an airtube in my throat when I come out? Why? ICU?
Back in March, when I first learned about the tumor, I started working through the stages of grief and tried to help Tim through his work through them as well. I started throwing things away, simplifying, cleaning things out, getting things in order. I don't want Tim to have to deal with a mess when I pass over. We talked about my death, what to do, and what he wanted to do after. We've both gone up and down over the last few months so many times that it's now hard to tell where either of us are emotionally.
Now, with this major surgery coming up - it's scheduled for July 17 - there are even more immediate crises to deal with. On the top of the list is, you guessed it, money. I've been looking for work, and not getting hired even in retail. No surprise - it takes one look at me to see that I am far from healthy and will be missing a lot of time if hired. And, with unemployment, if you aren't able and available to work every day of the week, you aren't eligible to draw unemployment insurance for that week. I have no idea how long this surgery is going to have me down and out. Tim works at Walmart, for heaven's sake, and doesn't make enough to float our household.
So, it's time to move forward with something I've been wanting to do for years. I am going to hang my photographer shingle and fly it proudly. Yep, what's been holding me back all these years is confidence. After years of study and practice, I'm ready to go. Besides, I can't see myself asking for loans or begging for donations. How paltry! I have something to offer, and here it is:
I now have the beginnings of an extensive collection of photos for sale as digital downloads and prints at tkomorphoto. You can choose various sizes and print medium and whether it will come to you mounted and framed. You can download a copy of a photo for your personal use. I've taken care that all prices are reasonable and affordable. I describe my style like this:
"Theresa Komor specializes in capturing the moment. Instead of studio poses, subjects are captured in their natural environment doing what comes natural. Landscapes, animals, people, flowers and wildlife stay alive and well in these captured moments."
I've gone through thousands of photos and picked out the most spectacular photos that will look good in a small frame on your desk to give you that moment of escape as you glance at it or in a larger version to hang on your wall. I'm sure you'll find something that "speaks to you" and you'll want it for your own. I'll be adding more photos daily.
I hope you enjoy looking through the photos in my gallery. Please, share, share and share some more! You can "like" and "tweet" each photo, which makes sharing easy. And, look for the tkomorphoto Facebook page coming soon where you will find regular updates and happenings.
Thank you, dear reader, for your help and support during this trying time. Let me know what you think!