Saturday, 13 April 2019

Surgery for Hubs & Scan Results for Me

2019 has been off to shitsville. It’s not a town I’d ever choose to’s one you get thrown into and try to escape from but this is life, right? With that said, things could be MUCH worse so I'll continue to remind myself of that.

Just a quick recap from my last post; January 1st started with my hubby ending up in emerg due to excruciating back pain. Long story short, he had a badly herniated disc in his lower back. In the past, physio typically would resolve it but this time was definitely not like the previous times and surgery ended up being warranted. Going into the surgery I think we were both “excited” (that’s really not the right word cause surgery is shit regardless of how you want to paint the picture) but more so ready to be DONE and to start the recovery so we could get back to our usual life.

Surgery itself went great! He went home the same day, followed the instructions of his surgeon to a damn T. Well, I’m sure as many may have guessed it our lives never go as planned. When I talk about being in a torrential downpour, ya we’re past that and moving into hurricane season.  

I had my quarterly scans. I had an early morning brain MRI so I got up before the hubs and let him sleep as he was still recovering himself from surgery. When I got home he didn’t look good. He was complaining of a dull headache, was super diaphoretic, febrile, and was pale as a ghost. He then told me he felt like his back was “wet.” Sure enough the top part of his incision was suddenly leaking quite a bit of fluid. I knew at this point none of this was normal so we headed to his GP to have a look. From there they were worried he had spinal sepsis. Ya, not the words you ever want to hear, so from there we headed back to the hospital where I had just finished up my brain MRI.

I swear everything in our lives always likes to occur at once. It’s like a lightening bolt striking you, whilst you’re already being electrocuted🙄. Scans are stressful in and of itself, BUT this week I didn’t really
even have a second to think about it as I was more stressed about the hubs and whatever was coming out of his back! It literally looked like purulent mixed with serosang drainage. I guess this topped my “regular” level of stress to the point of universe-just-stop-because-I-don’t-identify-with-the-energizer-bunny!!!!!! I’m a turtle or a sloth. Both with physical stamina and mental stamina. My brain just goes nope. I don’t know but this year it’s like the universe decided scans weren’t producing enough stress, sooooo let’s create turmoil in every other aspect of your life😁. Perfect universe...just f^ck*n perfect. 

I should call this post, “the series of unfortunate events,” as when we got to emerg it was busy but we didn’t think the wait would be too long as they were made aware of all that was going on as his GP sent a letter ahead of time so they knew we were coming. At triage, I noticed they had categorized him as “urgent” to be seen, but were told to just sit in the waiting room for a few minutes while they got a bed. The few minutes rolled into an hour of my hubby pacing as he couldn’t sit and well...yes, I started to get seriously mad when I saw someone who simply needed some sutures in his hand go in before my hubby!! I could write an entire post about the abuse of emergency services with minor nothings that should NOT be there but I’ll leave that for another day. If you can sit in emerg, chit chat, play on your phone, and complain, ya you don’t need to be there!!!! At this point, we went back to the triage desk only to learn that their computers had crashed, and they had completely misplaced his chart and were actually shocked that he was still in the waiting room (insert face slapping emoji here). From there he got a bed, was quickly assessed, and neurosurgery was called. Once neuro came they decided to admit him because they were a bit perplexed by all that was happening.
The next day I had my PET scan, and joked with my hubby that I should have bought a weekly parking pass for the hospital as we were there every day that week! I will say that the PET scan was an hour of sleep I desperately needed and actually wished I could’ve slept a little longer. From there I went back up to see the hubs man and was told they were going to take him back to the OR as even 24hrs later his back continued to leak a significant amount. He went in that evening for an irrigation and debridement as at that point they were querying between an infection or a CSF leak. An infection in that area after spine surgery can be a massive disaster. Like google it and the two most common words to pop up are: paralysis & death. I didn’t want to scare my hubs anymore so I kept that bit of info to myself.

With all honesty, that week seemed to have melted together as I lived off of coffee for days and went a couple days without eating anything at all. The day he went back to the OR I got home after 11pm, had a shower and fell into bed, only to repeat it the next day. Correction: I had to lay down on the floor before ever making it into my bed as I physically couldn’t make it. I laid there for 5min before finishing my voyage that extra two feet into
bed, lol. I was doing a shitty job adulting. It always amazes me how much we can go through, reach a point of exhaustion we didn’t even know existed, and yet we continue to still be able to just deal with it and move on! It also happened to be my off week of chemo which in theory sounds nice, but in actuality that’s when side effects peak so the exhaustion was intense. I found as long as I didn’t actually stop I would stay awake.  

Post-op I spoke with the surgeon and he stated everything looked quite good when he opened him up which was such good news, and that he wasn’t quite sold that it was an infection but wondered if it could have possibly had been the very start of one but assured me that this would be the end of it as they also instilled some powdered antibiotics and gave him a few doses of IV antibiotics. You have to understand one thing. My hubby wanted to leave the hospital the moment we got there, complained the whole day about not being able to eat, lol, & his birthday was a mere couple days away. I asked the surgeon what the odds of him being in hospital on his bday or this happening again and he said: “If he’s here on his birthday I’ll shoot myself in the head.” Ok, that made me more confident and I finally exhaled that this was finally coming to an end, the problem was solved, and he would come home the next day!! At this point, he’d been in recovery for a little while so I went back up to his room to wait, which turned into an a hour long conversation with his super sweet, elderly roommate who really was the kindest, spunkiest, & loveliest little lady.

As I waited and ten minutes turned into an hour my phone rang and it was his recovery room nurse who was thoughtful enough to ask me if I wanted to go into the PACU to see him as it was pretty much empty as he was done at the end of the day. Shout out to this nurse (you know who you are;)) whom I realized later I actually knew because let’s be real every nurse knows a nurse who knows another nurse, etc... it’s like six degrees of separation. I will say it’s these little things that nurses do (call me and let me see my husband instead of sitting and waiting and stressing) that really mean the most. So THANK YOU for your kindness as it truly was beyond
This is how I felt once he was out of the OR and got the all clear!!
appreciated & I did enjoy shoving ice chips in his mouth, hahaha. From here we truly felt this was the end of the madness that had turned into this week. The hubs would get to go home the next day and we could put all this behind us.

The next day I went to get my scan results. I actually didn’t even have a second to stress over them and made my hubs stay home as he himself was recovering. Overall, my scans are still stable-ish! The radiologist hadn’t sent the official dictated report but my onc had read it. The area that is lighting up and showing increased metabolism is growing and spanning a greater portion of my sternum than even 3mo ago.  Essentially, my sternum continues to be pesky & active so we discussed stereotactic body radiation (SBRT). He told me that there’s some newer studies that have shown a survival benefit to doing such. Listen, anytime you say increased survival I’m all for that game plan but in the same token I want to know what the risks associated with it are. The thing with cancer treatments, whether it be radiation or systemic therapies, is they’re all toxic in some way. I don’t make these decisions lightly. We decided to have a consult with a rad onc who specializes in stereotactic radiation specifically to discuss this further and see what the best approach would be moving forward. Systemically, we are staying the course and I will continue on with my current chemo (Xeloda), Herceptin, etc... The only other spot that was noted was one on my rib that wasn’t there before but I think we collectively came to the conclusion that that was a healed rib fracture from a couple months earlier, and NOT cancer. Overall, it was good news as my brain continues to be clear and all my other bone mets are dormant. Always a big yaay and relief to hear that! Now maybe with SBRT, I can get complete control over my sternum which does have a great deal of appeal to me for the obvious reasons: Less active cancer=longer life.

The conclusion of the week with scan results felt like we could all exhale and finally just relax. Really we were both excited to sleep and I was excited to celebrate, low key, Chris’ 39th Birthday. I would’ve typically had baked a cake, but despite sleeping I felt like I was behind a week with sleep and so I turned to buying a cake. I had to let go of my perfect idea of what I wanted that day to be and accept that this was ok, and honestly the hubs really didn’t have any expectations for the day because he was just happy to not be in the hospital.
As this story continues, I’ll remind those that read this blog that I typically take cannabis oil in the evenings prior to dinner so that I can actually eat and then sleep at night. I got the cake earlier in the day, had ordered a pizza, & was literally just getting super hungry, and high, and was about to call the hubs to come for din din when he yelled down to me to come upstairs as he felt something running down his leg. I went up, pulled his shirt up and saw that the dressing on his back was completely saturated with blood. Fu*k. Let’s just say I’m not
My brain is similar to dial up internet: very SLOW
a rapid mover once my medicinals kick in but I was calm as a cucumber, & I instantly knew that this was once again NOT normal. I could actually see the blood actively coming out from the bottom of the dressing and I knew I didn’t want to repeatedly expose the site so I grabbed what 4X4s I had left and put it on his back and reinforced it with tape. I couldn’t drive him because...well...we likely would have ended up at a 711 for snacks
🙄, and with how much it was actively bleeding we decided to call 911.

Hubs told the medics my precarious reasoning as to why I couldn’t drive and they were lovely and completely understanding & I was horrified. I got in the passenger side of the ambulance and thought I need to pull it together as my medicinals were in full effect at this point & I longed for the pizza we left at home. As we left I realized we were not exactly headed the way I would go to the hospital, so I quietly asked the medic driving: “Can I help you get to the hospital. I don’t want to overstep but do you know how to get there, lol?” She was lovely and quickly chimed in by telling me; “absolutely I don’t usually work in this end of the city so I’ll take any help.” As much as those medicinals had kicked in I knew I had to pull myself together by the time we got to the hospital as I know the trajectory of where I’m headed after taking cannabis and that’s typically towards munchies, food eating, laughing, & ending with comatose sleep. Right now, NONE of those options were feasible or bloody appropriate!

We ended up being seen quickly, thank goodness, and neuro came and saw the top part of the darn incision had opened up and felt there may have been a hematoma below the surface which possibly burst, and with the top part open that was an outlet for it to get out, hence why it kept on draining. They decided to restitch the top portion of the wound and reassured us that that would be the end of it. We got home after midnight and decided to celebrate with cake and all the next day.

Overall, I can’t believe it’s already April. I think we are ready to get back to a slower pace and to have some more mundane days in our near future. I suppose the last month made me acutely aware of how non-linear life can be. I mean it's not like I wasn't acutely aware before any of this. We learned that even when something is supposed to be a simple surgery, in actuality, don’t ever let anyone tell you a surgery on your spine is “simple.” It’s not. I am happy to say the hubs is now doing great and his incision finally looks nicely healed! Big shout out to both our families for all your help & for taking care of our wild pups during this time. Here’s to a new month that is MUCH quieter than the last!

This was right before the hubs went into the OR. Now let me give you a little background on this pic. Firstly, since he hasn't been able to work he currently looks like a lumberjack with his bushy beard, hahaha. I may be smiling but I joked I would smother him as he was HANGRY and if I needed to hear it one more time I may have sedated him myself (i'm not mean, but remember I hadn't eaten either)! He was in the midst of telling me for the tenth time, both how much he just wanted to get outta there and how hungry he was.

The typical scan pics when you're going on minimal sleep and just trying to stay afloat as an adult

We kinda just quickly lit the numbers as the #3 was broken right in half. Honestly, it was a fair representation of his 39th birthday and all the cracks and complications that week had in it

Where that crane is, is where they are currently building the new cancer centre here in Calgary. With that said, this city has needed a new cancer centre for probably two decades at this point!! It will be nice to see it come to fruition because seriously we can do SO much better for this population of people impacted by cancer

Just for good measure I had to post a pic of our dog Lola because she always makes me happy:)