Archive for March, 2011

So now what?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

This is a question that is at the forefront of my mind almost each and every second.  This question lives right beside the other biggie that I deal with… will cancer return or when will it return?

I have been silent in my blogging for  bit, I honestly don’t know why.  I guess because maybe I am at a crossroads?  Does that make sense?  I don’t think so but it’s the best reason I can come up with at the moment. 

I am now 4 weeks post surgery.  Both incisions have healed nicely on the outside.  The inside healing is still a work in progress.  I realize that I will never feel the same in my abdominal region and will always struggle with certain internal feelings that I really can’t describe other than tightness, soreness, fatigued or tired muscle feelings, it’s just plain weird and I feel different day to day.  I am not complaining at all, I am alive and at the moment cancer is un-detectable.  This is the greatest gift of all. 

So now what?  I guess I just put on my big girl panties and adjust best I can to normal life.  Here is another question.  What is normal?  I don’t think I ever knew what normal was even before cancer.  My brain has always been in work mode.  The term “work” has taken an entirely different direction though.  Work now consists of research, reading and more reading, health books, internet articles, other survivor’s (and non-survivors) personal blogs, etc.  I am focused on working hard and earning a huge pay cheque.  That pay cheque is payable only in good health points!  I have an appointment with a naturopath doctor next week.  My intention is to work on prevention now.  Kind of doing things backwards… stage 4 diagnosis and then prevention, but I don’t believe it’s ever too late to fight cancer.  I’m just taking the long hard path like I do most other things… but I don’t make the same error twice.

Next week I also go to visit my oncologist for a check up.  I haven’t seen her for a few months.  I imagine she will take a double take look at me, like many other people do lately.  I just look so different.  I still surprise myself each time I look in the mirror.  I say… ooh.   who is that chick?   I actually think I look healthy.  Wow that’s hard to admit.  But why?  I have worked so hard to get to this point.  To date my hair is growing nicely.  I got a free natural perm with chemotherapy.  It is growing in quite curly… I joke and call my head my own personal chia pet.  It’s coming in thicker (some stubborn greys have re-appeared) and of course it’s my natural colour.  Dark brunette.  I was a blonde before chemo.  I am told I look younger now too.  Okay, I’ll take it!  I learned yesterday that my weight loss of 52 lbs so far is exactly what my nephew Austin weighs.  I think when I am strong enough I am going to try to piggy back him around the block in my neighbourhood.  Just to give me a reminder of why I should not seek solice in a bag of Doritos any more. 

I wonder if we would use our health cards more often if every time we swiped our cards we earned bonus points for air miles, or free product or special discounts?  We are so lucky here in Canada to have access to practically any test we need… for free!  All we have to do is ask a doctor to make us an appointment.  Colon cancer in particular is 90% preventable and curable if caught early.  I just can’t wrap my head around how colon cancer is the #2 non-survived cancer?  It’s simply because we aren’t getting tested.  I feel I need to do something to bring awareness but what can I do as one single person with a sad/happy story to share?  I wish it was as simple as making it a “mandatory” test at a certain age no matter if you have family history or symptoms or whatever.  Just think… how many lives would be saved?  I too am guilty of not getting tested.  At age 39 cancer just wasn’t part of my vocabulary.  I had my whole life ahead of me.  SURPRISE!  However if I knew someone who battled the disease personally I may have booked a screening and paid more attention to it.

Please share this…

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Please share this link….. one of my friends just dedicated this video clip to me because for some reason she thinks that I am amazing.  Just when I thought my eyes were all dried up for a while…. I viewed this….. take a look by clicking on the you tube video link below.

For all my amazing women friends!
A Flash Mob Dance Video was organized by Kim MacGregor. Kim created this as a tribute to her best friend Erika Heller who died of colon cancer last year. Each and every telephone conversation they ever had, Erika would end by telling Kim “You’re an amazing woman”! Well, Kim wanted to do something special to honour her friend and this is the result.

Kim’s goal is to reach 1,000,000 viewers – please help her reach her goal and pass this on to all the amazing women in your life.


Getting better daily…

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Day 4 was pretty uneventful other than the fact that I finally got out of bed and starting walking the halls of the surgery unit.   One lap at a time, moving very slow but it sure is nice to be upright again.    Most of the day is spent in bed but I try to get up every 2 to 3 hours and walk a lap and then back to bed.  I have received several visitors and the TV has been the biggest company.  I graduated to popsicles.  Still technically a large ice chip but at least the popsicles have flavour. 

Day 5 — If I had a dollar for every time a nurse or doctor asks me if I have passed any gas yet… I would have a nice handful of bucks.  However, my body has not been co-operating.  I thought for sure that this would have happened shortly after surgery, so did my doctor.  When I had my colostomy, passing gas was not an option.  It just happened, no holding it in, no control of how much or how little noise you make, nothing.  Sometimes out in public it could be embarassing (but only around people that didn’t know my situation).  The noises didn’t happen very often because I learned really quickly a year ago which foods created problems with my plumbing let’s call it.  I have been waiting for a year to be able to be normal.  Who would have though that farting would be something that a person would miss?  Well I did miss it. 

Mid afternoon of day 5, my surgeon met me while I was on my little walk in the hall.  He was happy that I was out of bed and being active.  Again the usual question… any gas yet?  I said no.  This patient is starting to get inpatient.  He said he was starting to get inpatient too, but suggested we wait one more day before getting excited.

Well I made it back to the room, back to my bed… oh nice new fresh bedding, the nurses are so great to me… I manage to get in and out all by myself now.  I just breathe through the pain and discomfort (remember I declined pain meds) and once I am horizontal I am happy, no pain.  I feel a little feeling…. could this be happening?  Am I actually going to make some noise down there or am I going to mess up these clean sheets?  Oh heck… I am going to try, my dignity left the equation a long time ago!  I DID IT !!!   I am making music now friends!  The way it’s supposed to happen.  The operation was successful !   I immediately sent some text messages out to some family members and only a few close friends… the message read “toot toot”.  Everyone replied with some sort of funnier reaction.  Who would have thought that being able to fart would be something so huge to celebrate?  Too funny.   Well “the music notes” kept playing for some part of the night and before I drifted off to sleep I sent off one more text message… “wanna pull my finger?”.  I was having too much fun laughing at myself… but everyone was celebrating with me.  The nurses were keeping track too, on my dry erase board, everyone was in great spirits.  Now maybe we can graduate to pudding or clear broth tomorrow?   Then the next test starts.  Potty training at age 40.   Who would have thought?

Day 6…. my first real food.  I ate half of an egg salad sandwich at bed time.

Day 7… doc says I can go home.   I am a bit nervous only because I have not been able to have a bowel movement yet.  He said not to worry.  Things are happening a bit slower with you, but remember you have been through three major operations to your abdomen within a year, give yourself a break, let your body heal on it’s own terms.  Rick came to pick me up early afternoon.   The fresh air felt so fantastic.  I couldn’t wait to get to my own bed, my own home and especially to see my dog again.  We have some catching up to do.

Spread the word…

Friday, March 18th, 2011

A punky day…

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Punky is my made up word for when I feel just yuck.  I made up this word during my chemotherapy treatment.  It describes how I feel nauseated, funky, dizzy, and just overall yucky. 

Day 3 after surgery was the token punky day.  Oh boy, I thought I was going to sail through this.  Surprise smart ass, you are human, remember?  Talk about being taken down a notch or two or three.  I feel awful.  Where is that blue little kidney shape puke bucket?  My bed is too low, I can’t quite reach the bedside table because I am not moving much in bed yet.  Uh oh, here it comes.  I am starting to gag and hold back what I am dreading is going to happen in the next few seconds.  Brace myself, things are going to get ugly right away.  Yep.  That was bad.  All over me.  I learned a new word.  I am told that what I am experiencing is called wretching.  Sorry this is gross, but this is what happens.  I have had nothing in my tummy for 4 days now and there is nothing to throw up, but somehow the body goes through the motions anyway and some yucky stuff comes out your nose and mouth anyway.  I am drenched and making involuntary noises that I didn’t know I could make.  I laugh about it now but at the time I have to admit that wretching (a chunkless vomit?) has got to be absolute torture especially when your abdomen has been spliced open vertically from ribs to private area and being held with 80 staples.  OUCH !  

So I was so disoriented and concentrating on keeping my guts and body parts together that I couldn’t multi-task and hit the nurse call button.  Poor Joan, but what  a great roomie, she hit her nurse’s button for me so someone would come to help me.  There she goes taking the heat for me again.  Thank you!   Nurse comes right away (I was so out of it that I don’t even remember which wonderful nurse helped me out, I was also very disgusted with myself).  I get all cleaned up, new designer hospital gown, some clean bedding (a blue blanket instead of green, good because I don’t care for green).  My best comfort was a warm blanket covering my tummy and a cold washcloth on my forehead.  The entire day was like this.  I hid under the washcloth, had the nurse pull my curtain, I am out of here.  Lights out.  I want to just escape inside my head to my happy place, the beach. 

Later that afternoon when my surgeon came in to visit during his daily rounds, I think he was expecting to see the usual happy smiling me.  Nope.  The cranky sicko appeared.  He asked how are we today?  I raised my washcloth so at least one eye could see him and replied “not so good”.  I joked with him and said “you know, these miracle things are A LOT of work!”.  He smiled and said “well I never said it was going to be easy”.  I told him that I wanted him to take me off of the morphine drip.  No more drugs for me.  Stop them right away.  I need my marbles.  I don’t like feeling sick at all and I want to get out of this bed.  And please can we take the catheter out too?  I really need to start potty training to check out your handy work.  He gave me his usual look.  After the look he says, “you know you don’t have to be a hero in the pain department”.  I said don’t worry, if I feel the pain is too much, I will ask for a tylenol or something.  He shook his head and wished me a better evening and likely thought to himself that this girl is so stubborn.  Yep, he would be right.  Let’s get this show on the road.   Say adios to my new friends, the ones that I hallucinated with.  The green faced man with warts all over his face that would appear from time to time from under the right side of my bed and mess up my IV pole and make it start beeping.  He would also give me a raspberry and then go hide under the bed.  Also goodbye to the old man that would appear from his special opening in the far wall.  He came to visit when Rick was visiting me.  I told Rick he was there to say hello to him.  Also goodbye to the beautiful white doves that appeared up in the ceiling.  I wonder if someone sent those to me.  It certainly wasn’t the green faced guy.  He was weird!  Let’s hope this is the last time I have to experiece morphine.   See ya later punky friends.  I have some recovery to get on with!

Back to bed…

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I do apologize for my silence the last several days.  For some reason I just seem to focus on tomorrow all the time because I naturally want to move forward.  I am so eager to get back to normal… well my new normal anyway.

Where was I?   Oh yeah… I am in the darn hospital bed still. 

I am told I will likely be here for 10 days to 2 weeks.  Yikes.  My goal is to get out of here in 7 days.  We will see.  My bed side mate is Joan.  She is a very nice woman and we are sharing a semi-private room.  We chatted often even when we both had company.  Between my family & friends and her family & friends, we all got along just great.  Joan is th woman that I initally met down at registration before the operation and she is also the same woman that was ready in the pre-op area before me because my veins were not co-operating.  I found it kind of ironic that we ended up sharing a room especially since we had become friends earlier that morning.

This surgery was all about the number two for some reason.  It kept appearing everywhere and of course I took notice of it and looked too deep into things.

We were in Room #222

I was the 2nd operation that morning.

I was given 2 years prognosis.

I was having 2 surgical procedures in one.

I had 2 guests on surgery day.  (Rick & my Mom)

Okay so I am looking back at my notes, and must remind you that I was heavily pumped with morphine.  So much that I was hallucinating big time so my notes are only kind of making sense, but here goes.

My legs feel great.  I have these massage things strapped to my calves.  They will be on for a couple of days.  It’s for circulation and blood clot prevention.  Can I take these home?   The odd nurse pops their head in the door and says to me.  Karrie, do you know that word on the street here in the surgery unit is that you are a walking miracle?  Wow. 

So of course I know that I am one very lucky woman at present.  I have been beating the odds.  I can’t help but think to myself… if I am so friggin’ special, then why can I only get ice chips?  No water to drink, nothing.  Just me and ice chips.  Oh well, time to stop being a pain in the ass, I have to let my bowels heal before I can let them do their work.  (good thing that I didn’t know on day 2 that I would be chomping on ice chips for 5 days straight)  It was not fun to smell Joan’s meals get delivered to her 3 times a day.  I would joke with her and I would insist that she describe each of her meals to me.  She would say right now I am having such and such.  Oh this is good, or yuck this isn’t very good.  She was honest and I enjoyed my pretend food with her.  What a good roomy!   Joan also took the heat for things when the nurses came in to the room.  I blamed everything on her.  We both joked about it.  Since I was unable to get out of bed yet and she was walking on her new knee, it was easier to blame things on her.  Like too much noise, ringing the nurse’s bells all the time, the IV poles needing attention, and so on.

I have this contraption that I have to blow into.  It’s a way to bring lots of air and oxygen into your lungs.   I blow on this tube (well I have to suck air in).  I have to inahle enough air to get these 3 plastic balls to rise up.  I managed to get 2 balls up by the time my hospital stay was over. 

I have lots of good channels on the t.v. to watch and I can focus enough to send and receive text messages on my cell phone.

Tomorrow my goal is to try to roll onto my side and get my butt out of this bed.  My back is aching.  I am a side sleeper.

Rick surprised me a few weeks ago with an authentic Survivor bandana for my head. (from the reality t.v. show)   I am wearing it today along with my wonderfully stylish blue hospital gown.  I am starting to embrace the term survivor.  I think I may just be one.   Rick also surprised me with some of my very own business cards.  They are beautiful.  They are black and show the picture of me taken during chemo but I do not look sick at all.  I am wearing my long hair wig and a black bandana.  The business cards promote fighting cancer with my efforts in raising money for the Relay for Life and my Earth Angels team.  Thank you so much Rick !!!

Ok… so on to tomorrow, let’s get out of bed and get on with recovery so I can get out of this place.

A special day…

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Today is a special day for 3 reasons:

1.  I am alive to complain about laying around making sure the couch behaves while recovering from surgery.

2.  It is Rick’s birthday today.

3.  It is the first anniversary of

It has been exactly one year to date that I entered my first post on this blog.

Just to show you what a generous kind man that Rick is (and how very lucky I am to have him in my life)…. he was the one that created this blog for me.  A gift from him to me on his own birthday.  SO VERY SPECIAL…. and so is he.


I am awake…

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

I just opened my eyes.  Boy it’s bright in here.  Where am I?  Oh yeah, I just had an operation.  I am so warm, I feel really good, just sleepy, I am at peace.  I am surrounded by blankets, I am comfortable and I feel no pain.  My head is the only thing outside of the covers.  I am awake so this means I did not see the light and I did not go to the eternal shopping mall.  I made it through the operation!  I want so badly to feel by abdomen to make sure the colostomy area is no longer, but I can’t mentally go there yet plus I don’t think I can feel my arms, or can I?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I feel completely at peace.  I feel great. 

I am in the recovery room.  The side rails of the bed are up.  In enters Rick and my Mom.  I am trying to focus on their faces but it’s difficult.  I know their voices.  I don’t even know if my eyes are open while they are talking to me.  Am I even talking back to them?  I remember something being said about the two of them sharing lunch together and a food fight?   Huh?  I must be drugged up pretty good.  Wait a minute… lunch?  What time is it?  Last I knew it was 8:00 a.m…. boy I have been here  a while, I hope everything went well, I am concerned for only a second and I drift out.  Or am I dreaming all of this?  Are Mom & Rick really here?  I am so confused.   My eyes are open again.  My surgeon is beside my bed.  I have no idea how much time has passed.  He gives me a high five and tells me the operation went very well and that he also took out my appendix and some other part with a long name that I cannot make sense of because of my highly drugged state.  He said it’s nothing to be concerned about.  He took the appendix & this mystery part as a safety measure because of all the scar tissue he saw he felt it would be beneficial to remove them now as I will be very prone to hernias now and he wanted to save me from having any future surgeries.  I am thinking to myself, what a great guy and I say thank you out loud.  This is all that I can remember about the first few hours in the recovery room.

Oh.  I am now in my room.  How did I get here?  Room #222.  That’s weird.  I am seeing a theme of two’s today.  I was #22 down at registration.  I was the 2nd operation scheduled for the morning.  I was now in room #222.  I had 2 visitors when I woke up.  I had 2 procedures in one, my head is spinning, those are some good drugs.  Am I sleeping or am I awake?  I am so very itchy, from my toes to the top of my head.  Why am I so itchy?  Yikes. (I learn later that it is a side effect of morphine and that I don’t have bed bugs crawling all over me) 

I do not feel any pain at all.  I think it’s night time now because it is dark in the room.  Rick is in the room with me.  Hi buddy, sorry was I sleeping?  Looking back I realize now that this is all I remember about day one.  However Rick says that I was very funny.  Throwing out one-liners left and right and cracking funnies and just being comical.  (I don’t think of myself as being a funny person so I am even more confused now)  He said that I told him that I feel great and that I am ready to go home.  I vaguely remember Nurse Tracy and Nurse Mike tending to slim jim (my nickname for the IV pole, my dancing partner).  The humm of the IV pole while it fills my body with nutrition and medicine is so comforting, it has a soothing rythym to it.  Are my eyes closed or are they open?  Am I sleeping or am I awake?

Inhale, exhale, repeat…

Monday, March 7th, 2011

It is present day, Mon Mar 7.  It is 4:00 am.  I expected this to happen.  After the other two operations my sleep pattern was all messed up so I knew this was coming.  Anesthesia can do this, apparently it’s a side effect.  (I am able to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep at a time and it only lasts a week) I know it’s not because of medications because at the moment I am completely medicine free, not even a tylenol.  I am not trying to be a hero in the pain department as a doctor would say, I just know that for me, it’s better to feel.  It keeps me on track so that I don’t overdo things and it forces me to listen to the cues from my body.  I do not want any set backs with this recovery, I’ve worked way too hard to get here.  I have made myself a green tea, I am comfortable in my lazy girl chair, the house is dark except for the glow from the t.v. that is muted, my dog is snoring near me, it’s a perfect time to continue my journey with you.

Let me take you back.

My name is called, my bed is moving.  It’s a very short ride until the double doors open and I am parked along side a wall and a new nurse introduces herself, asks me all kinds of medical questions again.  This is done for safety.  It’s about a 10 minute wait here and now my bed is moving again to the premium parking spot, right outside the operating room.  Operation room #3 is on the door.  There is another patient in front of me and she is parked in another premium spot, she is discussing the operation with a doctor.  In enters a nurse with a lovely cap for me to wear, I happily tuck in my hair to hide how ugly it is, so you know how much I hate it if I think I would look better in a shower cap type cover.  In enters a new face.  She introduces herself as my aneasthesiologist.  She is young & pretty.  She asks a few general questions and says don’t worry, I will be there to take care of you throughout the entire operation,  you are in good hands.  Phew.  I feel good… I think.  

Oh boy, my bed is moving again.  No turning back now.  I hear tools clanging, nurse chatter, things are being prepared in an efficient manner.  My bed is rolled right against the operating table.  I am asked to slide over to it.  The nurses make sure that I remain draped with gown, blankets, warming inflatable duvet, etc.  I am nice and cozy except for my back.  The operating table is cold.  The room is cold, but I am not.  I am not shaking anymore.  I am told that they keep your body warm now because it reduces infection rates.   Interesting.  My arms drape over the sides of the table for a brief moment because it is very slim.  A nurse pulls out these extension arms just made special for arms, now I am comfortable.  I am too busy looking around the room and listening to the nurses ask me a few questions and chat with each other to do the last preparations that my nerves are now okay and I know there is no turning back now.  I am going to be just fine. 

Okay says my surgeon.  Everyone (about a dozen nurses & doctors) are standing at attention around the perimeter of the room.  All I can see are their eyes.  Their faces are covered with masks and their heads are covered with caps.  They are ready to get this show on the road.  My surgeon says, you already know me, and this is doctor so & so, and introduces a couple more doctors and then he approaches closer to me with his hands behind his back and begins a few questions for their new safety checklist that is done verbally out loud so that we all know what is going on and what the plan is.

Tell us your name.  I tell him.   Tell us your date of birth.  I tell him.   Tell us why you are here today.   I don’t know where this came from, but out of my mouth comes this reply…. I am here for a breast lift and a tummy tuck.  I am thinking, boy am I in trouble now.  Well, the saying goes that if you don’t ask you don’t get right?  I could hear the tension in the room drop immediately with the giggles that instantly happened after I said it.  I obviously couldn’t see them smiling behind their face masks, but their body language and shrugging shoulders confirmed they found my comment humourous.  Even my surgeon who is a very serious man, seemed to smile just for a second with his eyes and then we focused again.  Okay, now tell us the real reason why you are here.  I reply, I am here for a colostomy reversal.  I wanted to add this to the end of the sentence… “F–K  CANCER, I’M BRINGING SEXY BACK”.  Not that I ever had it to start with, but oh well.  I feel the colostomy “equipment” on my body to the left and just below my belly button, and think to myself, thank you for keeping me alive this past year, but good riddance, I could have easily lived with you forever, but I am so excited to become my old self again, my new old self. 

My new old self.  The oxygen mask is being placed closer and closer to my face, inhale.   Deep breath in, exhale.  The story stops here for now. 

Inhale, exhale…. repeat.

I wish the operating room staff could continue this post, I am curious what they talk about during the two/three hour surgery.  I am sure it’s regular chatter like have you tried those delicious new chocolate chip caramel sauce infused muffins at Tim Horton’s?  What did you do last night?  Any plans for the weekend?

Inhale, exhale… repeat.

Share the experience…

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I was going to completely shut off the blog plans during my hospital stay because honestly at first I didn’t think it would be appropriate or even the slightest bit interesting.  Who wants to read about someone’s boring stay in a hospital bed? Then I got thinking that one year ago I personally had never been admitted to a hospital for anything and practically never went to the hospital, only when my grandparents neared the end of their lives.  What could possibly be interesting to share?  I decided to bring a pad of paper and pen anyway, just in case something interesting happened, I didn’t want to forget about it.  So I am going to blog about my operation experience, even though it’s the 3rd one and getting to be old news.  If sharing my experience helps just one person to see things in a more positive light, then it makes this whole blogging healing process worthwhile for me.  Whether that person is an ill person going through a similar experience, or a friend that doesn’t feel comfortable asking questions when they really want to know the answers, or even a nurse or other professional friend in the hospital environment.  This is my experience and I will share it with all from a patient’s point of view.  Here goes… just a little teaser to start things off.  I am only going to share the hours just before the operation with you today… they are so profound & meaningful and need to be displayed on this wall with the most beautiful frame.   Please step into my shoes…

Awoke at 5:15 am as we have to report at registration for pre-op at  6 am.

No fluids at all.  No lotions, deodorant, no pretty smelly girlie stuff.  My hair is let’s say, gross!  No mousse, it has no style to it yet, I feel so ugly.  Rick loads my bag in the car while I give my dog C.J. a kiss good-bye and assure her that Mommy will be home and not to stress herself out.  Off we go.

Rick drops me off at the front entrance of the hospital because I was wearing flip flops, which are not snow friendly. I wear flip flops because they will be my hospital slippers during my stay.  I meet a lady (who I will see a bit more in the days to come… more on that later).  Her name is Joan, she is 80 yrs young, but I do not know this yet. 

We get myself registered and off to pre-op we go.  I am so glad that Rick is right by my side.  I am trying to look calm, cool and collected but I am screaming inside.  This is scary stuff, but I am not going to let him know what I am feeling, I am a big girl, I’ve been through 2 operations already, done this before, I can handle this… internally.  Strip down to gown & footie wraps, now I feel even uglier and my body temp is cooling. I am cold.  Warm blankets on the way.  Rick is still right by my side. Nurse’s questions answered, time to set up the I.V.  The veins in my hands and arms have disappeared because I am cold.  Brace myself this is going to smart. I suggested to run my hands under some hot water to see if these veins will come to the surface.  We see Joan again (the lady in registration area).  She is getting prepped too.  I joke to her that she is ahead of the race, we share smiles.   Rick & I wait for my veins to cooperate.  In enters Nurse Mike on a mission that he is looking for something or someone.  Mike is the first nurse I met a year ago when I was first admitted to hospital before we were aware that I had cancer.  He is my age, super nice and has the same quick wit & humour as Rick so we both feel comfortable with him.  He was walking quickly with another nurse, right beside where we were sitting, I wanted to make sure I said hello to him so I called his name.  He stopped and sat beside us and said “oh there you guys are”.  He recognized Rick first, yep like I said I look and feel ugly.  I look nothing like I normally do.  Did I mention no make up too?   He was actually looking for me to wish me good luck.  He works up on the 2nd floor in the surgery wing and he said he noticed my name on the list so he decided to come and see us to let us know that after the operation he will be around and that he was working today.  What a nice guy.  Truly a nurse that has that special gift of “caring”, not just “providing”.  He, Rick and I spoke briefly, my mind was away from the pending big event for a few moments, we smiled, laughed a bit and time to get to business.  See you later Mike, thanks so much for coming down to pre-op to say hello.  I am so blessed.  I hop on to the bed now, and my other nurse puts this inflatable blanket infused with warm air on me and then a heavy blanket.  I look like I am in a space suit and headed for the moon, but I am warm!  Now we wait until the operating room calls for me.  Okay… anxiety is building and a few tears escape my eyes.  Rick says “what is wrong with you?”.  I told him I don’t know.  I should be happy that my body is being put back together.  No sooner did I think this, he says to me “snap out of it, think about it for a second, a year ago you were told you are dying and look at you now”.   He always keeps me on track, never babies me and tells things as they are and how he sees them and this is what I love most about him.  I never have to guess about what he is really feeling, he let’s it known.  He keeps me grounded and focused.  Thank you Rick.

My name is called.  Good-bye Rick. 

Flash forward to the present moment, today, my first full day at home as I work on this post you are reading.  I was on Facebook this morning to see what my friends had been up to last week while I was in hospital and I see this beautiful, most tenderful post from Nurse Mike on his Facebook page.

This is where the beautiful wall frame comes in… I am hanging this on a special place on my wall and sharing with you all.

Here is his post.

 (the time stamp on his post was an hour after he left Rick & I and I was in the operating room yet again)

“…today that person came back into my life. she had that big infectious smile, and still laughs at my stupid jokes. good luck today and i will be there for you when you come to our floor. you will have your angels there and i can already see the wings on you. the cry i had for you was well worth it. good luck karrie….”

There a few reasons why I decided to share this.  This is the main reason.  You see we get so wrapped up in what we are going through that we fail to see sometimes what is right in front of us, what other people are going through.  I had no idea that my cancer journey affected Nurse Mike in this way.  

He cried.

He cried for me.  

I barely know him.

 I thought that he just wanted to say hello to us and good luck.  I come to find out that he has lost some family members to cancer.  Thanks for not running away from me Mike, I appreciate you.

Now I wonder.  Does Rick hide feelings just to be strong for me?  I may never know. 

One of my most beautiful things in life is when a man allows himself to cry. 

I am now in the operating room, stay tuned.