Cancer insomnia

My friend, Tracy, who writes “Is Anybody Here?” is obviously sharing my brain.  I’m sleepless tonight or should say I’ve been sleepless this week and have been taking melatonin in an effort to sleep through the night.  It’s time for my kidney cancer yearly checkup and here’s the paragraph in her blog I just read.

“For most people, I would never presume to speak for all, but for most thinking people, once you have cancer, you have it for life. It is always in your thoughts somewhere. Some days it is closer to your forehead, some days the thought is far back in your mind. Some days it’s shooting the word cancer out of your eyeballs like the Bat Signal.”

Spot on!

Two years ago March on my 59th birthday, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer while in the E.R. for a particularly bad case of diverticulitis.  Kidney removed the following June after the diverticulitis was  finally healed.  I’ve heard so many times that if you are going to have cancer, kidney cancer is the one to have because once the kidney is removed so is the cancer.  BUT…I have a chest x Ray once a year because I’ve been told if the cancer is going to return, it likely returns in the lungs.  For the past two years it’s frequently in the back of my mind but  the days before actually coming face to face with the reality of the cancer check, the word shoots out of my eyeballs like the Bat signal.  It’s also something my family and I don’t discuss.  I tell them that I have the doctor appointment and that’s the end of it.  I realize it is hard for them to think about too….and quite honestly what is there to talk about?  It’s probably mentally healthier all the way around.  So here I sit at 3 AM.

Until next time….

Four Months

As I was poking around my scar this morning, I realized that today is the 4 month mark post nephrectomy.  Palpating the skin around my scar has become a weird obsession for me.  Since he mentioned this little ritual to my gorgeous urologist a couple of months ago, I mostly do it in private.  The sensation of being totally numb on the medial side of the scar is similar to having your mouth numbed with novocaine…I was told that eventually most of the feeling will come back once the nerves connect again.  No pictures this time but I have continued to use frankincense only on the upper 1/2 of the scar as my own little experiment to see if it really works.. It works so I’m also putting it on the lower half of the scar.  My own little experiments like when I was around 12, I used two different deodorants in my armpits…and so I would know which was which, I marked an S for Secret and the first letter of the other one.  S apparently worked the best because that is what I regularly use…but the point is, it so happened I had a doctor appointment – he asked me what my letters meant and when I told him in my 12 year old shyness – he laughed.  I get it now but at the time I was crushed with embarrassment!

My other experiment has been with essential oils by do terra along with their vitamin regime and turmeric.  I have taken one tylenol in the last 4 months for arthritis pain/headache.  I was very, very skeptical of the vitamin program but I am totally convinced it works for the betterment of my health.  I have no pain!  It is amazing.  I use the essential oils other than frankincense as needed.  Peppermint essential oil should be on every one’s list of must haves.  Temple, forehead and sometimes under the nose for almost instant decongesting of the sinuses.  I found oregano and black pepper also good for muscle and skeletal pain…perhaps not a plus for cuddling.  The other night, we were watching TV by candlelight.  He mentioned that all he could think about was pizza.  uh huh!

Every single day I’m thankful for diverticulitis…otherwise there would still be cancer growing in my kidney and I could be on the paved road downhill to the end.

Until next time….

Frankincense and the scar

Now just over 3 months out from kidney cancer surgery, I wanted to update my scar after using frankincense on it every day

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For the last two months I have been using the essential oil on the top half of the scar and nothing on the bottom half.  The difference is remarkable.  Here’s a 3-fer picture.

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I’m pretty impressed.  I use it neat..aka without coconut oil..a couple of drops on my finger.

Until next time.

Frankincense

I no longer question it!

Frankincense

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I’m almost 3 months post nephrectomy and have an impressive 3 1/2 inch scar that I look at daily.  It’s my lucky scar!!

I had started using Do terra essential oils a few months ago at the insistence of my daughter and my niece.  I started off marveling at how the peppermint opened up my sinus congestion and lavender helped with bug bites.  After doing quite a bit of reading…I decided to blow the budget and buy the expensive stuff.  Frankincense.  Here’s what it has done for me.

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The top of the scar is topical use of two drops of frankincense a day.  The bottom of the scar I leave alone so I could see if it really works.

It really works.

Until next time….

That’s one way to get rid of me…

But actually it was a fail!  While this kind of dream may seem quite negative….I woke up feeling stronger than I have in a few months….

Memories of the dream are sketchier as the morning awake progresses but hang with me here a bit…

I had a huge argument – yelling argument – with Sheriff V.  In real life he was an asshole I worked for…I was so surprised in the dream that the next day he offered me and 3 co workers a weekend away in a hotel.  I was skeptical.  We checked into the hotel…I was with Lynnette; and, Craig and Marsha roomed together.  I was immediately back at work and walked around the corner and He  (the real husband-correctional officer) whispered that I was being set up.  In order to find out what was going on, I participated in some flirting with the sheriff and then came upon a box containing a brown paper sack and list of the 4 of us employees and what hotel rooms we were in.  I stuck my hand in the sack and it was full of cocaine.  I showed him my hand covered with the cocaine and told him I knew what his plan was and I then called the local newspaper.

….and that is all I remember….I woke up feeing strong, empowered and in control of my life again.

I have had several “therapy” conversations with Jenny as to why I just can’t seem to get back to feeling at peace – I had kidney cancer, I had surgery, the cancer was contained in the kidney and when the kidney was removed…so was the cancer…but I couldn’t seem to get my peace of life back again.

It takes awhile when we encounter struggle in our lives…it takes time to work through it.  Once we think we have dealt with our own particular life struggle, we expect to get a high role on the dice and jump back into it.  It takes time…sometimes we just have to wallow in our struggle until we get more strength to continue the climb.

….and for those of you reading this who know the characters in the dream…and perhaps will disagree with my description of this Sheriff V.  Disagree…that’s your opinion…and by putting it out there in MY blog in black and white – I’ve had the courage to put it out there the way I lived it and stepped up one more rung on my ladder.

Until next time….

Kidney cancer and living life

It’s impossible to generalize the facts of living life through the kidney cancer diagnosis and treatment.  But the one thing that I think is a sure thing:  It changes us.

We fight the devil!

Through reading blogs and comments on social media sights, I’ve found we all have one thing in common…we want to live!

Personally, I want to live differently.  A suggestion in someone’s blog (sorry – can’t remember who) stated the fact that once we are diagnosed and once we go through the emotional and physical trauma of treatment, we are one step ahead of those who have not been diagnosed.  We know.  We’ve been there.  We know how to fight….and the majority of us fight until the bitter end whether it is cancer that gets us or something else…because no one is going to make it out of this life alive .. forever.

I had no symptoms prior to my diagnosis.  I hear this from so many.  The kidney cancer was found “by accident”.  I can’t say that i’ve always taken care of myself. I did worry that my lifestyle would some day cause me to decline faster than my peers.  But, I also must say that I expected a little warning that things were going south.

It’s different now.  I’m a survivor!  I have twinges of fear about this pain or that pain!  But I have a new hope for my life and a new perspective…I’m cured for now…but I also now how quickly and without warning that can change.  Whatever my  circumstance I have this moment…this minute in time…to live and to love.

Until next time…

Nephrectomy….today is the one month mark

…and today I am finally feeling almost normal.  Looking back on the ordeal, I have these little tidbits of wisdom.

  • an organ was cut out, cut yourself a break and rest
  • keep ahead of the pain with the narcotic pain relievers once you get home
  • use a stool softener
  • ice, ice, ice the incision sites (I had my kidney removed laparoscopically  and have 3 punctures and a 3″ incision)
  • if you have a recliner – use it.  Sleeping the first few nights in the recliner is a pain saver
  • drink lots of plain water to keep the plumbing in good working order
  • walk as much as you can.  It does make a difference!
  • have a pillow handy to grab for sneezes, coughs and unexpected movement
  • get a velcro belly belt and wear it!  I wore mine for almost 4 weeks and it helps!!!
  • know that you will heal…the pain does not last forever.
  • If you do not have a good support system nearby, find an online group with which to participate.  It helps to compare notes and know that you are not alone in your misery.

I hope this helps someone…I know a lot of people are asking questions and seeking information because the fact that we have kidney cancer is scary enough.

Until next time….

I’m not a victim in this kidney cancer scenario.

I believe I am a victim of my own circumstances and my own making…there are perhaps some genetics at play in my life because after all – and I quote my mother, “you come from a long line of big women”.

Oh = holy mother of God…what a great excuse!!!!

Heard it many times…said it many times.  If I had known I was going to get old, I would have taken better care of myself.

In every thing we do, we make choices.  Sometimes we feel we don’t have any choices or we feel that the choices before us are not ideal…but we make choices…if we choose one little Y in the road different, everything else will turn out different.

I had my followup appointment with the urologist on Wednesday.  I cried internal tears of joy when he told me that he got it all within the kidney, the tumor was between 6 and 7 cm in size.  He advised me to followup with the pulmonary specialist ref the noted teeny tiny nodules in my lungs but said he was pretty confident that even if there were something there, it would not be a metastasis of kidney cancer.  I will see him again in 6 months for x rays and blood tests and again in a year for a ct scan…….I’m the luckiest person alive!!!!!

Later that night, I read up on my particular clear cell RRC.  While there are cases of family history and genetics at play in some cases.  I do not fall into this category.

Smoking tobacco is the #1 reason I probably developed kidney cancer…google it if you want the particulars….and if you are a tobacco smoker, for God’s sake STOP.

Obesity is the #2 reason I probably developed kidney cancer.

and on and on.

So…I’m not a victim in this scenario.  I made very bad decisions.  But the early warning siren to clean up my psych and live and eat healthy was received loud and clear.

Until next time….

I woke up sleeping on my left side….

Two weeks and 5 days since my nephrectomy, I woke up in my favored sleeping position – on my left side.  It was just two days ago I whined to myself that if I could just turn over on my left side I could go to sleep.  This past week I’ve also been waking up in the morning a little nauseated and with no appetite…throw in a little dizziness throughout the day, I may be dehydrated.  It seemed I was drinking a lot of water but when I got on line I realized that I was not drinking 1/2 my body weight in ounces…and there is no way I’m going to share with you how many ounces that should be.  So…to my fellow nephrectomy peeps…drink up.

Against my better judgement, he and I went to the auction Friday night.  I was pretty tired from doing mostly nothing but wanted to get out of the house.  I realized just taking a shower, doing my hair and face that  I was tired but there were things to buy in my future!

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I got two of these.  Made in Italy…I’m assuming tole…candle holders…I love them so much I can’t stop looking at them….and I got them for a fraction of what they are worth…It is probably going to require a wall redo…but so worth it…and I just know he agrees.

and this huge brown crock.  This thing is huge and heavy.  I could probably use it to make a year of sauerkraut for the family…hahahaha…or I could use it for a decoration.

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He’s golfing today in a tournament…I have the house to myself…need to get laundry done…he worked hard on the camper yesterday – it is clean and ready to go.  I’m content.  Life is good.

Until next time…..

The Belly Belt…..

Please excuse the outfit in this picture…it is the retirement look on a blistering hot day in Missouri.

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I’m 2 weeks and 2 days post nephrectomy!

This belly belt is amazing.  Jenny got it for herself after her pregnancy and loaned it to me for after surgery.  I am not kidding when I say that I wasn’t sure it would go around me with all of the air bloat and swelling when I left the hospital, but I”m not sure I could have made the 4 hour car trip home without it. I wear it every day now and only take a couple tylenol in the morning.  When I go out, I wear it under my clothes!  It holds the innards in so you don’t have to worry about feeling that feeling of things moving around and also is wonderful when you don’t have time to grab for a pillow for a cough or sneeze.

Just wanted to pass my joy on to help others…

Until next time…..