Wednesday July 4th, 2018 – This is me (Kate) and my wife (Jenn) in the 2018 Ypsilanti Fourth of July Parade (I am Santa). Yes, we are dressed as Santa and Mrs. Clause and we are riding 1986 Honda Sprees. It was 94 degrees out.
You may ask – Why are we doing this? Because my wife wanted to and I love my wife. It also helps that crazy moments like these make the stories we get to tell on this journey of life even better.
This particular story (and my life) took a hard turn about 24 hours later.
Thursday July 5th, 2018 – Mid afternoon I called my wife having left work early with abdominal pain. She asked if I wanted to go to the ER. I replied no. I called back ten minutes later and said yes. The pain was becoming unbearable and unexplainable.
No wait for us in the ER which usually that means the case is more serious than we would like it to be. Luckily I was in so much pain I didn’t think about that much in the moment and I didn’t care much at that time about the doctor who stuck his finger up my bum. After a brief chat I was send for a CT scan and admitted with a severe bowel obstruction. Soon after being admitted I was given drugs to relieve the pain. Blood was drawn, tests were done and then the surgeon arrived. We chatted briefly but not much was said other than they were waiting to get all the tests back.
Side note: I am very thankful for my training in pain management as a childbirth doula for the past 17 years. I utilized my vocalization techniques like a boss in the ER (both times I was there. More on that later)
Friday July 6th, 2018 – Later that day after many pokes, blood pressures, and being asked to state my name and date of birth (Catherine Stroud 7-9-75 became my hospital mantra) my surgeon came to see me. After a bit of small talk he eventually got to the point and kindly said “You are not getting out of here without surgery.” This is one of the moments in retrospect that I say “Thank the heavens for narcotics!”. Under the influence I was not scared or anxious, I just wanted it fixed and it sounded like they knew how to do that. At this point they said cancer was a possibility but my tests came out in the normal range so we still didn’t know what was going on other than I had a blockage.
In preparation for surgery I needed an NG tube. Unfortunately the narcotics didn’t numb the uncomfortable experience of getting the NG tube placed. I hated that so much. I am very thankful I really liked my nurse that put it in with my wife assistance because I was being a bit difficult (and my wife is a paramedic/fire fighter/fire inspector/and used to be being stubborn). The NG tube was to drain the contents and gasses of my system before surgery. The scan showed that below the blockage my colon was 3cm and above the blockage was distended to 10cm. For surgery to reattach things they needed my distention to go down, so I pouted with the NG tube in place.
Saturday July 7th, 2018 – I had surgery to remove 14 inches of my colon, surrounding tissue, part of my visceral peritoneum and 45 lymph nodes and I was given a stoma for the ostomy bag that I will be wearing for awhile. I remember nothing of that day but it was discovered I had advanced stage 3 colon cancer. They removed it all.
Sunday July 8th, 2018 – I remember a narcotic blur and the compression boots. I loved the compression boots.
Monday July 9th, 2018 – My 43rd birthday! Not what I planned for my birthday but the nurses were amazing and decorated my room for me while Jenn took me for a walk. It was amazingly lovely.
Tuesday July 10th, 2018 – I discovered I love Ensure – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. After not eating for days Ensure was my happy place. I also discovered hospital food is really terrible.
Wednesday July 11th, 2018 – I was sent home! I took an amazing hot shower and was tucked in for a nap while Jenn and our friend ran some quick errands. Unfortunately I started to feel warm and got up to take my temperature and I had a fever. I called Jenn home and we went back to the ER as my pain came back hard and fast. It was scarier this time because I was post surgery and who knows what was going wrong. I was readmitted for a blockage. They want to do another NG tube but I adamantly declined especially since I had vomited the contents of my belly earlier. They were able to unblock my stoma and I was back on track although back on ice chips.
Thursday July 12th, 2018 – I still loved the narcotics and the compression boots. Although the narcotics were giving me crazy disturbing dreams I really loved being able to sleep. It was a real catch-22 but sleep won.
Friday July 13th, 2018 – Same as the day before. Although there was talk of the lower segment of my incision being infected.
Saturday July 14th, 2018 – Snuggle morning with my amazing wife! We both were in the hospital bed watching the movie 13 Going On 30 and 10 Things I Hate About You. It was a spectacular time we were having until the residents and a new doctor from the surgical team showed up and within seconds our love and snuggle fest in bed turned into the doctor removing my lower staples and sticking her finger up in my would to extract puss! That was a bit jarring. The first really happy place I got to since I arrived and then KAPOW! Luckily it was quick but left me with a new gaping wound of which I am still waiting for it to totally heal as of August 6th. The upside of the day was that I was allowed to eat again but the food was still pretty crappy. I did end up eating out of one of those small peanut butter cups with Frosted Flakes – kind of like chips and salsa but different.
Sunday July 15th, 2018 – I went home, stayed home and got to sleep in bed next to my wife.
This is the origin story but there are many stories before this story, inside this story, after this story and stories not yet made. I started this blog to share all these stories and the all gifts to be found in the stores. The gift from this origin story is that I am alive and so thankful for modern medicine, my kick ass and fierce medical advocate wife, my family, my friends, my support team that I didn’t even know existed and my strength to role with what life throws me.
I hope you join me on my journey through this life – leaving the light on or turning on the light to illuminate the darkness.