Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back in the saddle

Today was my first day back at work since being told I'm not alone on the inside. I'm getting much better at talking with people about it and it's nice to get out of the house for a bit. It's funny...for all the time I spent at work today, there wasn't a lot of actual work that got done. Today was dedicated to clearing out a swollen inbox and getting all of my ducks in a row for this trip. I met with an Absense Counselor today. We discussed what time can be used for sick leave and what has to be taken out of vacation. Mickey was her name and she was wonderful. (And a Packer Fan to boot! Go Pack Go).  I also talked with another benefits specialist about what happens if I should...move on. So it's good to know that many of the decisions that I've made throughout the years have been prudent and have set the stage for my family's care should I be hit by a bus tomorrow ('cause I ain't plannin' on leaving for any other reason). 

Now it's time to finish all of the other morbid planning. Lots of little things that you just don't think about that really need a plan, even a simple one, to make it easier for those "left behind". Again, I view all of these as worthwhile exercises that should be done by all of us in health as well as sickness. So don't think that I'm focusing on the crappy part of this.  I'm not.  I'm simply making a list and checking it twice. (If I think of it that way will it feel more festive?)  

I suppose I could make a guide for all of the little things that need attention in a situation like mine. Probably a bit too ambitious at this point. I am reminded of a book that I just finished, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth". It's authored by my hero, Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. During his time preparing for his missions, they would run death simulations. Tabletop exercises that involved all primary and supporting agencies, the astronaut and even their families in some cases. It really revealed where the gaps in both professional and personal planning were. Ever since getting this diagnosis, I've been meaning to go through my own death sim. Just to make sure. No one wants the unthinkable to happen, only to find out during the grieving period that something senseless happened like the Internet getting shut off or the car registration coming due. Then all of the pain is dredged up again just to fix something that could have been caught much earlier. I know. But my analytical side has justified all of this and doesn't find any emotional harm in it at all. 

I'm headed back to work tomorrow to clean out a bit more inbox bloat before I'm out for another week. I also want to get some real progress on a couple of projects accomplished in my last two workdays before my treatment starts. I'm making progress in taking in more calories (more on that in tomorrow's blog) so I'm able to make it almost through the day without a nap. Although, as Tami will attest to, I looked pretty ragged by the end of the day. I didn't feel all that great either. I try not to take pain meds, but last night and tonight it was unavoidable. But it was just one right before bed. I can feel tonight's dose kicking in and turning the raw, stabbing feeling in my abdomen into a gentle murmur (that still screams if I move wrong). The problem with taking the pain meds is that they are a contributing factor to the pain I'll be feeling tomorrow. 

It goes like pain is being caused by Glisson's Capsule. It's the protective capsule that surrounds your liver and has a bunch of nerves in it. Since my liver is growing it is putting stress on the capsule. In a couple of areas I have tumors that protrud into the capsule making it very painful to put any additional stress on it. Well, when I laugh, cry, cough, sneeze and, it puts stress on these sites. This is why eating is very difficult for me. Food takes up space and creates gas which takes up even more. The more pressure, the more pain. This becomes a big issue when you can't get rid of what you ate. Yup, constipation makes me crumble and moan and generally have a really bad day. Pain meds constipated you. Sick cycle huh?  It's the reason that I'm buying stock in Miralax (seriously though, this stuff is a life saver). It's also the reason that the day I start chemo will be a day of celebration. 

It sounds so strange to be excited about starting treatment. So many people have a lot of anxiety about it. I find my attitude to be exactly the opposite right now. I can't wait for Wednesday. I may be sick as a dog but I'll be doing something about the pain in my gut. Once these tumors in my liver start to shrink, a world of possibilities opens up. And so does my abdomen. I'll be able to eat more than half an apple without excruciating pain later in the day.  And with more calories, comes more strength. And more strength means better chances. I see nothing but win in this. (Read my blog on my chemo day, or the day after and see if I'm still singing the same tune...)

It's pouring outside so I'm going to close my eyes and enjoy the sound of it now. 

Find something small to appreciate today. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Jake, for opening this window into your life. You are an amazing person and a great writer. I will continue to pray for you, Tami, and Myah.