Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ovary Update 568

We saw Dr. Horbelt, the gynecological oncologist, in Wichita today. I feel a bit more encouraged. This blog is very detailed and may fall into the "too much information" category so the short version is surgery will be in about two weeks, Dr. Horbelt is pleasant, twitter came up, and I'm so thankful for the medical care I've had to this point.

The long version follows.

He examined me then he had us come in and talk to him. He said, "I am not happy with the radiology report, but your young age trumps that." Apparently, ovarian cancer in women under 50 is rare. I just turned 47 in late December. Another factor is that I was on the pill for a number of years. Being on the pill for more than ten years decreases your risk for ovarian cancer by fifty percent. I also have none of the symptoms - bleeding, irregular periods, etc. - other than the pain. So, that's all good. The CA125 level being normal is good, but there are cancers that don't raise that level. So, it's not a definite.

He said it is 20 centimeters. I've now heard everything from 13-15, to 16-18, to 20. It's big. Obviously. Twenty centimeters is about eight inches.  He said size has nothing to do with whether or not it's benign. Benign can be small or large, and cancer can be small or large.

The incision will be about at my belly button and go down. I have a little hernia in my belly button and they'll fix that too, as a matter of course in how they sew me up. If it's benign they remove it and that will be it. If it's not they will cut further up so he can explore. Obviously, that will affect my recovery time.

If it's cancer, a hysterectomy is a matter of course. If it's benign it's my choice what to do in that regard. Dr. Wesley, my general practitioner, encouraged me to consider that given my age. Although I have no signs of menopause, for most women it would happen in the next 2-3 years. It might well be later for me given that many women in my family have had babies into their 40s, including my mother, and ancestors on both sides of the family. (My great grandmother had a baby at 48 - long before there were fertility drugs!) But, it's going to happen eventually.

A hysterectomy would remove the potential for cancer in all of those spots in the future. So, ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer would no longer be possibilities for me. I'm going to have that done.

It's very odd to think that I've just finished my last period. It's a life passage that I'm not going to experience in the natural way. There will be some grieving related to that. But, I will grieve it a few months from now. This isn't the time for that. I understand the whole concept of how it's not natural to remove those organs and all of that. But I also understand that human bodies were designed for 35 to be a ripe old age. And, frankly, the last week hasn't been a whole lot of fun. I don't want to do this, or anything like it, again. So, I have a chance to prevent a bunch of similar things and I'm going to.

They will call me tomorrow with a schedule for surgery but it will probably be about two weeks. He needs a stretch of time to do it in and he's apparently in surgery every day. I will probably be in the hospital about five days. I'm not sure which hospital yet, either.

Dr. Horbelt should teach bedside manner. Generally I find specialists to be annoyed by the person attached to the body part they're especially interested in. The attitude is, "oh no... it's talking... make it stop talking... it wants me to talk to it... I don't want to talk to it... make it stop."

I'm very spoiled because Dr. Wesley has great bedside manner and I forget not all doctors are that way. But, Dr. Horbelt was wonderful - twitter even came up in casual conversation. I generally steel myself for any encounter with a specialist, but I remind myself they don't have to be pleasant, they just have to be excellent. Today I got both. Dr. Horbelt was charming from the outset. And, what I most care about, seems to be at the top of his game.

Today I've begun to realize how fortunate I am that Dr. Wesley didn't just blow off the pain I was having and insisted I get a pelvic sonogram. And I'm thankful Dr. Neuschafer referred me on when he didn't feel comfortable doing the surgery. It seems this is the right path.

Things can change day to day, of course, but I'm hoping we're on the way to resolving this.
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Ovary Update 497

I swear I've talked more about my ovaries - at least one of them - in the last five days than I have in the totality of my life up until now. It feels like I've had at least 497 conversations, but I'm sure I'm exaggerating. And, frankly, it's nice so many people care about such things.

Here's the latest... I called the Wichita office yesterday and asked if they had a cancellation list. They said they didn't, but to call back every day and see if someone had cancelled. So, about 8:30 this morning I did just that and am seeing him this afternoon.

I'm not sure if there was really a cancellation or if the receptionist I spoke with this morning just worked me in. Regardless, I'll see him this afternoon and hopefully move this process along.

I'm feeling pretty optimistic this morning. Nothing has changed - I still have no symptoms of ovarian cancer, only one risk factor, and my CA level is normal. The only thing that changed from yesterday is that the doctor I saw yesterday was more pessimistic.

And, I am thankful that if he doesn't feel comfortable operating on me - because of the tumor or because of my size or because he didn't like the color of my hair - regardless of the reason, if he doesn't feel comfortable doing it, we don't want him doing it. I always appreciate it when doctors are willing to refer you because they're out of their area of expertise. I cannot argue with his assessment that I should be operated on by someone who deals with gynecological cancer every week, instead of him who sees it a couple of times a year, just in case.

So, that's the scoop.

Sharon and Jocelyn came over last night and made a Reiki housecall, which was lovely. I finally took a pain pill yesterday after being poked around on, and it wasn't kicking in as quickly as I expected. I called the pharmacist who told me it was okay to take up to EIGHT lortab in a day and I should just take another one. I resisted, while reading the "could be habit forming" sticker on the bottle. I expected one to practically knock me out. Fortunately, the Reiki took care of the pain while the pill was kicking in.

I know some think I'm being way too open about this. But, I figure you've been sharing my life on the blog all along and life comes with bumps in the road. This is one of them. So, I'm going to share it with you, too. I will try to label the posts so if you just don't want to be exposed to yet more ovary information you can ignore. Normal blogging will return!

I know some think I am being flippant about all of this. Trust me, I'm not. I'm taking it seriously. But I cannot sit around and wallow, whine and wring my hands about, "oh my God, I could have cancer." Whatever it is, I've got to deal with it and I'm just doing that step by step.

I expect a complete and full recovery, regardless of what the pathology says.
Check www.patsyterrell.com for the blog, art, and more. Friend me on Facebook.com, Follow me at Twitter.com.