It has been almost a year since I had what some call the Mother of All Surgeries (MOAS). Whether it truly deserves that title or not, its extensiveness and seriousness cannot be argued.
I have certainly written a lot about the weeks and months that followed my surgery on 11/10/15. It seemed only fair that I update everyone on the situation since then.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that after two CT scans and one MRI, everything looks great. The oncology surgeon is very happy. Tumor labs are back down to "normal" levels and the rest of my routine labs look good. Instead of having scans every three months I can now wait six months.
I am so grateful for such a positive outcome. Dr. Foster and the rest of the staff at Nebraska Medicine were amazing, and I really appreciate all of the support that both Rose and I got from everyone, via phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages/posts, etc...
Of course, with something like this, it is never really "over." I will have to continue to keep my eye on it, and hope that it doesn't come back. But for now, I celebrate the life that I have in front of me.
THE MYSTERIOUS PART
With the cancer variable set aside, I continue to investigate my breathing/fatigue/low strength issues. I think I have mentioned before that I suspect a number of things, and I am guessing that, in time, we will find that there are a number of different variables at play. In the spring, my pulmonary function tests revealed a surprising asthma type thing happening. I have never had any type of asthma issue before, so it stands out as highly unusual. I also still experience what feels to be some physical restriction in my diaphragm (and other respiration related muscles).
My pulmonologist is extremely perplexed by the situation. He deems it a "very interesting case." After trying two different steroidal inhalers, neither of which seemed to improve my condition, his next step is to put me on a prednisone trial. My N.D., who is helping me investigate a potential mold/mycotoxin/other issue, just reported that my labs seem to indicate that there is something going on (high TGF-Beta 1, low MSH, low B12, high non-ceruloplasmin bound copper, plus others).
So I will follow through with those two plans and see if something makes a difference.
As for the restriction that I feel, I know that being hyper tuned in to what I am experiencing might lead me to believe that there is something happening that isn't really happening. But as someone who has spent so so many years paying attention to my breath (via sports and pranayama and martial arts, etc) I feel confident that there is some structural piece to this as well. Whether it involves a psoas-diaphragm tie in, or some organ/fascial positioning, what I know is that different body positions allow me to get a different quality of breath. I have been saying for years that I can't get my normal inhale, that something feels pinched off, especially when I am standing up. Given that, it makes sense that I notice it even more when I am running; not just because my need for oxygen is higher but because of the position my body is in.
And whatever may be true with that, it is probably even more so now that I have had major abdominal surgery.
Sooooo....the search continues. In the meantime, I am happy that I am able to get out there and run and hike and lift and all of that. I just do it slower and with a higher heart rate than normal. :)
Throughout the last seventeen months, so many people have written to me, telling me how inspirational my positive mindset and optimism has been to them. I know that there are others who seem to be nauseated by it, or who think it is not genuine.
But their opinions are really a reflection of their own lives and their own states of mind, not mine. I could care less about what they think because I fall asleep every night with the peace of knowing what is in my heart.
Being human means we all experience the highs and lows of the human experience; and that includes a very wide range of emotions. Of course it is not always possible to be "happy" all the time. To think so is a bit naive. There are plenty of things in life that might cause us to feel unhappy, and we are entitled to the full richness and expression of that feeling.
The question, however, always remains, "How do you want to feel?" You really have a good deal of choice in the matter.
So my parting thought is this: There are those in life who, for whatever reason, like to linger in and relish unhappiness and fear and anger and resentment. That is their (and all of our) right to do so. But many of those people also like to use their own darkness to diminish or extinguish the light of others.
If you are not one of those people; if you are someone who experiences those aspects of life but then makes a conscious choice to rise out of it and move onward with the most positive mindset you can manage; ignore those who would try to bring you down or get you to shine less brightly.
Their judgements are about them, not you.
So shine on, and help be a light to others.