Good times

The last two days have been good. Maybe I mean the last two days I’ve felt good. I’ve been existing in this state of increasing anxiety for a couple months now. I’ve never felt as much that a human is just an animal. I’ve had enjoyable times since February, but it is hard for me to connect with happiness. Even in the best moments I feel trapped and in danger and I want to run away, but you can’t when the danger is your own body. Wherever you go, there you are.

But I’m finding myself more at ease. I can attribute this to two things. First, I have lined up a psychiatrist with whom I’ve set a standing weekly appointment. He is going to help me with all the feelings I’m feeling. And he is helping me contain the anxiety with medication. He also asked if he could read this blog and I told him he could, so if you’re reading this Dr. B., hello.

Just the knowledge that I have someone to help me through the mental and emotional side of this situation helps.

The second thing is related to the physical. Back story for those who need it or forgot it: In February 2011, a day after I started chemo, I landed in the hospital with a perforated bowel (related to a post-surgical infection from the previous surgery in December 2010) and ended up with what was called (at the time) a temporary colostomy. I did not cope with this well. March’s surgery was meant to reverse the colostomy. The surgeon was reluctant (particularly after we found out the cancer was back) but I insisted she try. I hated it.

During the surgery, the surgeons decided that repair would be too complicated and require too long a recovery. I need treatment; they saw the tumors. The surgery wasn’t a complete waste, though–my bladder was stuck to my abdomen, so they fixed that while they were in there. And that’s my bright-siding for the day.

Back on point. I couldn’t deal with the ignominy of having to wear a colostomy bag, but I knew ahead of time that the surgery might be a bust. So I did some research and learned there was a technique I could employ to make the bag unnecessary. I won’t go into specifics, but you can ask me in person if you’re curious, and I’ll give you all the lurid details. After some practice and a lot of tips from this guy, I am happy to say that I am done (for the most part) with bags. The willingness to talk about pooping with a slightly frenetic stranger from the internet is pretty amazing. Thanks for bearing with me, Ezra.

(Feel free to share some embarrassing, overly personal information about yourselves in the comments.)

A story related to surgery and such: Last night I went for dinner with friends from my young adults support group. Colleen, Kirk, Elfi, and I followed up the meal by going to an open house at Gilda’s, the cancer support centre where our meetings are held. It’s a new space, finally furnished and fully functional. We’d been talking about our scars over dinner (three of the four of us have had multiple surgeries, and Kirk and I were in hospital at the same time this past March) and Kirk said he would show us his latest scar. At Gilda’s, after we had done the tour, we popped into a room off the lobby where Kirk pulled up his shirt to show his scar. I pulled my dress up and my tights down to show off my scar, and the fact that where there was once a bag, there was now only a bandage.

As Kirk was doing up his pants which he had undone to tuck his shirt in and I was pulling down my skirt, an old woman wandered in the room (the door was open). The look on her face was pure horror and confusion. Colleen ever so glibly remarked, It’s okay, we can do this in here. Poor old lady. I can only imagine what she thought “this” was.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I am on my way to coping. Even if I still feel like I’m about to have a heart attack every second of the day.


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
This entry was posted in Indignities of the human body, psychosocial oncology, Second recurrence, Surgery and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Good times

  1. You are amazing and I am reading. That is all.

  2. You are awesome and I am addicted to Q-Tips.

  3. Heather C. says:

    I’ve been thinking about you! I’ve been sort of AWOL due to my damn unending colds, but if you need anything, I’d be happy to offer my support. Dog walking, house cleaning, dropping off groceries.

    I could tell you the story about how the first day I was on anti-depressants I went to fart and totally shit my pants. Luckily I had had the foresight to stay at home that day…

    • Alicia says:

      HAhahaha, that is just what I’m looking for. Brave little monster, thank you for sharing.

      • Heather C. says:

        My only regret would be if I went to tell this at a story-telling event and everyone was all, “Aw, we already heard this!”

        My other great poo story is better told in person, so maybe I’ll save it for one of those events. 😉

  4. Jen says:

    I am SO curious about the bag-less colostomy, but you don’t have to get in to it here just for me. I just wanted to comment to let you know I read your blog (long time reader, first time commenting) and admire you for writing so candidly. I hope things continue to look up.
    Your twitter acquaintance,

  5. Jenny says:

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while and we are also FB friends although we’ve never met but that seems to be the norm these days. My hubby has Crohns disease and many years ago had an exploratory op to see what was wrong. The surgeon told me they would either find cancer or Crohns and luckily it was Crohns. They said if it was Crohns he would have a colostomy bag. Well it was and they didn’t need to use a bag at all which was lucky for him. They removed thirteen inches of colon or intestine, not sure which or if it’s the same. I’m ignorant!! 🙂 He has had surgeries since but still no colostomy, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

    Anyway, I’m so happy to read that you have more support, it must be so very hard…

  6. Emily says:

    Wonderful blog. Hauntingly beautiful. I wish I could have heard more of your stuff at the Riverdale workshop because you are the real deal. (And, like, totally symmetrical.) 🙂

    • Alicia says:

      Wow, thank you. (Also, “totally symmetrical” is up there on the list of best compliments, right next to “when I close my eyes, you appear as a rainbow on the back of my eyelids”)

  7. Jodi says:

    I am very glad to now know these details even though I am most utterly unglad about most of it. I did not realise you basically knew the situation pre-surgery. Anyway, back to the glad: yay about the new un-bag situation. I will also be asking for details.

    I so enjoy reading this. I would read your daily blog of nothing in the world happening to you except complacency and tedium. Alas. Would that it were a record of wellness. I will look forward to the day, and in the meantime admire how you treat this, the stuff of difficulty.

    I don’t have anything that good to offer. Except that once on a super-busy shift at a shoe store I hurried to the bathroom and, in my haste to get up, peed a bit on my underwear and the inner seat of my pants. And had to wipe up as adequately as possible (not very adequately) and rush back to an 8-hour shift. I was so shocked and dismayed that I just laughed hysterically and kept trying to figure out if I smelled like urine…

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