Reflections ~ On My Surgery Day

The morning started early at six a.m. yet everyone lagged along in an effort not to get ready. Perhaps it was dread of the day before us, anxiety or just fear but gloom definitely filled the air of my home.

Traffic to the hospital was horrendous, maybe this is GOD’s way of telling me to go back home. I pull out my cell phone and click on Twitter. I catch up on reading a few posts: @JuliaRobers1 (Firing My Pediatrician), reading about the exclusion of @JessBWatson daughter from the Soccer Team and I checked in with @addyeb about her vacation. My anxiety is starting to rise and my fear is I won’t make it on-time for my registration check-in.

***

My Mom left me at patient drop off and I made a mad dash up to the third floor for my Hysteroscopy. I’m feeling afraid and anxious as I enter the elevator and arrive at my floor. I find the registration desk and I see the clock.

I MADE IT WITH ONE MINUTE TO SPARE!

At the desk a nurse named Kathline was there and in the background softly playing I heard I HEAR THE SOUND OF VICTORY (one of my previous Song Of The Week posts). GOD is a comforter and healer I tell you. I know I’m gonna be just fine!

***

I’m all checked and dressed in my Bairpaws Hospital Gown that has a heater attachment – how cool is this! Pre-op Nurse Neila begins verify my name, birthdate, type of surgery that I having today and we go over my consent forms prior to me signing them. My Mom has joined me now and I tell her that she has been nominated and will be honored as Mother of the Year by a local sorority. She is surprised and thrilled at the same time, she deserves this honor and I am so proud of her!

My surgical nurse named Joseph comes into my room and introduces himself. He verifies my identification, goes over my consent forms and tells me we are going to walk over to the ambulatory surgery wing. I say goodbye to my Mom and I head over to the ambulatory surgery waiting room and my Mom goes over to the Surgical Waiting Room.

Once I arrive at my surgical prep pod, I meet my anesthesiologist, surgical intern, the ultrasound radiologist and of course my gynecologist to briefly discuss my surgery, answer questions, and get the party started in the operating room. I wait another two minutes or so and Joseph (my surgical nurse) walks me into the OR.

***

The room is freezing, green tiles are on the walls, the overhead lights are extremely bright and a there is a hole in the middle of the table and I am told to place my bottom above the hole so that when the table is lifted and my legs are raised the surgical team will have access to my “womanly parts.” I hop on the table and get into position. My teeth begin to chatter and Joseph hooks up the heater attachment to my Bairpaws gown and cover me with blankets. The anesthesiologist inserts my IV and we talk a little as the medicine kicks in, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that my anesthesiologist, gynecologist, and general practitioner/primary care physician were interns together at The University California San Francisco (UCSF), and that they all currently have surgical privileges at California Pacific Medical Center, which is where I am having surgery. I relax and quit fighting my drowsiness knowing that I am in excellent hands!

***

I wake and find my gynecologist standing over me giving me the thumbs up sign. I am still drowsy and in the recovery room. She proceeds to tell me lots of information about the surgery that she tells me that it is okay if I do not remember but there is one thing she wants me to know, “It appears to be a fibroid embedded deep in the ablated wall of the uterus. The mass is hard and cancer cells tend to be soft. We have to wait for the official biopsy results, but it appears not to be cancerous.” She again offers me her thumbs up and I smile and cry and offer her my thumbs up and I ask her to call my husband and tell my Mom who is waiting.

***

I have a wave of cramping come on and Jane, the Recovery Room Nurse administers additional pain medication. I begin to get drowsy again and I stay in the recovery room for another hour and a half before moving to my post-op room where my Mom is waiting for me. I am cognizant of where I am and my Mom re-explains what the doctor said. I remember it all too well and I smile! I start reading text messages and sending responses and I let my oldest son, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and “sisters” know that I am out of surgery.

***

I am home now. I have minor pain and a slight headache from the anethesia wearing off. One of the women from my Bible Study group supplied us with dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised when Waiters.com delivered Pasta Pomodoro for my family. My family is glad that I am home and celebrating my successful surgery and the preliminary news that it appears that I do not have cancer.

I still have to wait for my official results but I feel a great sense of relief knowing that half the battle is done. I have my follow-up post-op appointment on April 3rd and I have schedule my surgery date for my hysterectomy. I will keep you updated. Thank you so much for your prayers, thoughts, concerns and love! I truly appreciate each and everyone of you!

Love,
Sammie

Reflections ~ Waiting to Find Out If I Have Uterine Cancer

20120307-175622.jpg

Today is March 7th and my long-awaited biopsy date is here. I am sitting in the hallway of the Medical Building. I am patiently impatiently waiting to get this show on the road.

Yesterday my doctor’s office called me at 6:30am to see if I could have my biopsy done, but I had no one to drive me back from the appointment so I declined and stayed with my original appointment. So here I am today, sitting, calmly waiting, anticipating the results of this biopsy that hasn’t even been taken yet.

My husband’s full with nervous energy. He is carrying so much weight on his shoulders. He is the sole bread-winner of our family at this time, the guy who tries not to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He has failed today. His focus is non-existent as he tries to mask his fears. His energy is bound up tight and ready to explode. I don’t need or want to be nervous now. I have been really good at keeping my anxiety at bay through this process and I’d like to keep it that way.

***

My oldest son came and stay and visit with me and we talked about how excited he is to start at his new college in the Fall. We got his tax paperwork together and he left for his appointment to get his taxes done.

I went by my youngest daughter’s school to pick up her report card. She is doing well in her classes, in fact she made the honor roll with a 3.33 GPA. We have managed to keep her and her other brother unaware of this current health scare, but today she really wanted leave school with us. She begged to come with me to the doctor ~ in her little mind she knows something is not right. I decided not to burden her with extra stress unless the results come back positive. She and her brother will be allowed to enjoy their childhood as much as they can for as long as they can and if this result is negative then the less they know about the process the better.

***

It’s 3:29pm now and I am waiting in the office now. All checked in and ready to rock and roll! The ladies in waiting are gone from the couches and they smiled politely as they lovingly pat their bellies after their OB/GYN check ups. But I sit here reflecting on the many times that I was excited to walk into this office, yet today I sit here dreading the music, the magazines and the cheerful staff. The pregnant bellies remind me of happier times, times before my body revolted against me.

My name was just called, so I am now in the outpatient medical suite. My blood pressure is 114/70 and I’ve lost 6 pounds since my doctor told me that she thought I might have uterine cancer on Valentine’s Day, believe me I didn’t see that coming! It must be stress weight loss because I have certainly been eating a little naughtier than usual.

The walls are thin here or either the ultrasound machine in the next room is against the wall. I can hear a baby’s heartbeat and I begin to calm down and then I remember I am over 40 and there will be no more babies for me! I have had my time and I have had my kids. It’s time for the next phase in my life. I hope that this phase will begin as a non-cancerous pre-menopausal phrase. Based on the results of this biopsy, I will either have a full hysterectomy if these cells are cancerous or I will have a partial hysterectomy if these cells are not cancerous. Either way, I am entering the post child-bearing phase of my life and I have to be okay with that.

My doctor greets me and goes over my 3D ultrasound results from the hospital, which identifies a large area of abnormal cells in the uterine wall. She goes and tell me that since I have had an ablation previously scar tissue may prohibit her from getting a clear biopsy today and if that is the case I would need to reschedule and be checked into the hospital for a Hysteroscopy.

“WTF,” I think to myself.

So I sit on the table and get two shots in my cervix and a rod to dilate my cervix.  She adjusts the rod which is supposed to help my cervix dilate and no luck.  She gently (gently according to her my cervix begs to differ) readjusts the rod and again no luck.  She smiles at me after this 10 minute adventure and pats my leg and she tells me that I will have to go to the hospital to have the Diagnostic Hysteroscopy to be done and I will be put under general anesthesia.

FML!

Her assistant comes in to re-check my blood pressure while I lay half-naked on the table with tears flowing uncontrollably now as I ponder yet more waiting to determine if the beast known as cancer is back. My blood pressure is 124/76. I am fine to get dressed and go home. I’m sent home with Motrin for cramping and pain.

My doctor says I will be contacted within the week to schedule my appointment for my outpatient Diagnostic Hysteroscopy.  I leave the Medical Building in complete frustration and I begin to laugh through my tears as I think about all of the things that are at my fingertips.

I reflect on how we live in an instant society. We make choices on a daily basis so that we do not have to wait to satisfy our desire for information. Patience has truly been lost within me and waiting is unbearable. In an instant I can have the latest music, breaking news, iBooks, the internet.  I can have it all after a few quick key stokes on my computer or iPhone but yet I have to fucking wait for 2-3 more weeks to find out what the hell is wrong with me!  Yet for me, at least for the next few weeks the waiting continues.

FUCK CANCER!

Post Script: I know that some people will view this post as too much information, but I am writing these posts to encourage others to make sure that they stay on top of their health and hopefully this will help inform others about this type of cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I am at risk to other types of cancer. Seven years ago I had a uterine ablation done to treat fibroids, so effectively I have no uterine wall for abnormal cells to adhere to, but I currently have a mass of abnormal cells in my uterus ~ go figure huh? I think this post script brings you up to date if you wish to follow along with my story.


Song of the Week — YES by Musiq Soulchild

Music has the power transcend you from your current mood and transport you to a magical place or carry you away to a great memory from your past.  Music’s influence and power are so profound in my life that I am truly honored to pay homage to the songs that have influenced me, carry me through difficult time or plain just make me forget my age and make me shake my tail-feather!

Enjoy as I begin to take you on an eclectic musical journey.

Love,

Sammie

I just saw this video this morning and I was absolutely floored! I always loved the song but seeing this video through the eyes of a woman who has lived with cancer — it is just mind-blowing.

The intimate relationship between partners dramatically shifts once cancer enters the picture. It is not just a journey for the woman with breast cancer, it affects everyone surrounding her — but most especially her partner who usually silently struggles with her while battling their own fears, insecurities, feelings of loss and uncertainty. Some relationships don’t survive cancer but for those that do, it is truly a blessing to know “The answer is yes, I’ll still think you’re beautiful…”

“Yes” Lyrics by Musiq Soulchild

Let me get this out the way
so there ain’t no complications
later on for us, no
Look, I know things don’t stay the same
People grow and seasons change, but
when it comes to love
don’t you feel like
you ever gotta worry about
my feelings changing for you all the time
’cause when I say I’m here
girl, I mean it.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

‘Cause I love you
All I care about is your happiness,
so the answer is yes.

People just don’t stick around (no)
build you up and let you down, but
I’m not one of those, no (girl)
I understand that you’ve been burned (before)
Honesty is what you deserve (so much more) yea
and so that’s what I’m giving you, girl.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes
When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.

I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

Now, if you ask
will I go (no)
when you need me most (no)
the answer is no
I’m dedicated to what we have
but will I be here
the way that I promise
I’ll say with no fear
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes, and
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess
The answer is yes.

As featured in MomMagazine.ca

After forty-two years I am finally comfortable enough with my life’s experiences to embrace all of my scars. Scars that hurt me to the core of my being to remind me of what has happened or what could have been.

There are two types of scars. Those that are visible and those intangible scars that live within me but are hidden from public view. It is these type of scars that could have mentally crippled me for my lifetime or help me to form who I have become.

My life has been tragic to some or triumphant to those who know my story. It has not been easy but no one ever said it would be! I battle with my feelings and emotions everyday but at the end of each day I know that my scars are my testimony that I am a cancer and rape survivor.

At the age of forty-one, my left breast waged war against me. The same breast that nurtured and nourished my three children planned a coup d’etat to overtake me. An irregular mammogram required me to take a second mammogram, which revealed a calcification and a suspicious mass that required me to have a surgical biopsy. Upon selecting my surgeon and meeting with him, I informed him that I wanted any and all suspected masses removed from my body. On the date of my surgical biopsy, I awoke to discover that a lumpectomy had been performed. I was relieved to have the surgery completed but I truly was not mentally prepared for what that actually meant. I had gone into surgery prepared to have a small circular scar from a needle aspiration and awoke with swelling and a four-inch scar across my breast. Three days later when my test results came in my surgeon called my home at 9 PM to inform me that all of my Stage One cancer had been completely removed. “Whew” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over.” But as I removed my bandages the following morning I realized that healing from this scar had not yet begun.

The visible scar on my breast was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t even imagine if I were to have lost one or both of my breasts. While I was thankful that I was okay, I cried each morning as I put on my bra. I had always loved my rack. It had been my favorite body part and my most treasured asset and now it was scarred. I became self-conscious about my clothing. I avoided all of the v-neck t-shirts and blouses I had with low plunging necklines. My husband being the amazing man that he is, looked at me no differently and loved me even more than before but I became sad and withdrawn as I suffered silently becoming angrier and angrier at my scar.

Around this time my intangible post-rape scars began to resurface. The thing about being raped is all though you learn to cope with the trauma certain things can trigger an emotional response and within seconds the mind can take you right back to that terrible experience. All of the insecurities from my past, my distorted body image, emotional eating, Post-Traumatic Stress, sexual expression and sexual repression resurfaced with a vengeance. I silently grieved my scars and suddenly I mourned for the nineteen year-old girl that I’d lost when I was raped. I mourned for my lost innocence, for my lost security and for my uninhibited desire to truly love someone with my entire being. I’d never known or felt that I lost so much until I stared at the scar on my breast, so I did what I had always been good at — I pressed on.

Faking it until I was making it.

I looked so put together. My work life was successful. My family life was doing well, but inside my scars had reopened into gigantic craters that engulfed me, and the sense of happiness and pride that I had established with therapy over 15 years ago was completely gone. I never looked in the mirror. I pulled back from hugs. Compliments all felt insincere. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely broken by my deep-seeded scars. I became mechanical. Going through the motions functioning on 2 to 3 hours of sleep and the rest of the day I ran on autopilot.

Determined to snap out of my Post Traumatic Stress funk, I pulled my copies of The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant back off of my bookcase and re-read them. I started journaling about my feelings, writing out my dreams, and creating short stories, blogged about my walking journey to better health and then one night when I was writing I wrote an erotic story that inspired me to reclaim my sexual power. A dear friend read it and said, “This is good.” He submitted the story to a website and within an hour, it was accepted and published as an online story. Talk about being shocked! I went to the site and set up a profile and joined a writer’s community within that site. I met an amazing group of friends. I read stories that were posted and I decided it was time to heal.

How my online life helped me heal

Accepting my scars began with a conversation with a new online friend. There’s something about the anonymity of speaking to someone online that allowed me to voice my deepest fears without self-imposed judgments. He asked me, “What do you like?” Sadly enough, I couldn’t answer! I’d become so disconnected from my own thoughts and desires.

I couldn’t answer that simple question. It wasn’t just about my hobbies; it dawned on me that wasn’t even in touch with what I wanted from my own husband in bed. I had never thought about what I WANTED! I know this sounds strange but most of my sexual “firsts” occurred during my rape. The involuntary nature and violation of it all left me in a less than adventurous state of being. There were and are things that I still do not enjoy, things that still freak me out completely and things that I have learned to love. I had discovered yet another area of my life that needed to heal and I began writing erotica to explore my desires and I began to finally connect with myself sexually.

My husbands love and support helped me to put my desires into physical actions and we made a pledge to make love everyday for ninety days. It might sound crazy but the intimacy and connections that we shared during that time is something that I will always cherish! The unconditional love that I’ve received from my husband and online friends during this difficult reawakening process has been phenomenal and so much more than I could have ever expected! My sexual re-awakening has been both a blessing in my relationship with my husband and at times a curse that required us to look long and hard at our relationship and our expectations of each other. But with the encouragement of close friends and my family, I returned to therapy to help me process some of my unspoken needs and to help mend some of my reopened wounds.

There was only one thing left for me to deal with and that was my scarred breast. So I took a shower and took a long look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t just look at my face as I had done for the last fourteen months. I looked at all of me! I sat in my bathroom and looked at my scar and reminded myself, that I am scarred but not dead and right then and there I embraced my scar! Not just that one, I decided to embrace them all! I cried and celebrated my scars as I looked at the mark on my breast.

Later that week I called my dear friend Chloe Jackman, a professional photographer (www.chloejackman.com) and I decided to reclaim my feminine power, embrace my scars, and celebrate my life by having a professional naughty girl set of portraits done for my husband. The highlight of that shoot was the photo in this article where I am embracing my scar.

I am not healed from my past but I am embarking on a new path towards a happier future, embracing my scars and enjoying who I am right now. Tomorrow is not promised and I have been given the chance to start over again! I acknowledge that everyone does not survive all that I have been through. But whether you have or have not experienced my life circumstances, I ask you to embrace your scars because they are what make you uniquely you. Reach out for help if you feel like you are sinking. You might be surprised at who is ready to help you heal.

For more exciting news about Mom’s check out MOMmagazine (www.MOMmagazine.ca)

Be brave and be well,

Sammie Love


SEATTLE (delayed post 7/18/11)

I’ve always loved Seattle!  It’s a beautiful city with beautiful people and all, but the thing I love most about it was the time I spent there for a one week family vacation that turned into a three-week journey to truly meeting my Father.

My Father was always in my life.  My Mom and Dad were married and he lived with us until his death. But he was the quiet type.  He quietly supported me.  He quietly disciplined me with a look that stopped me dead in my tracks!  Even though we lived together I never really knew HIM until that trip we took to Seattle and then Vancouver.

I was 18 when we went to Seattle and I had just finished my freshman year in college.  I hadn’t wanted to go on the trip but my Mom said I was going and staying with friends for that long was out of the question and our family all lived outside of California.  I grudgingly went, I cried as I said goodbye to my boyfriend and off to Seattle we went.

I learned so much there about my Dad I could write his biography!  He really opened up there and we found forgiveness there. The trip really made me think about my life differently and my faith differently. I truly began to see all of the struggles that he’d overcome, and I understood the determination that he had to do things differently for his family. GOD opened our hearts on that trip revealed a masterpiece to me and it was my Dad!

REPOST: The Resignation Letter Everyone Would Love To Write!

Well, I’ve done it! I’ve finally done something that I’m sure will ultimately come back and bite me in the tuckus.

I have really advanced in my 40 Day FEAR Cleanse and I am no longer afraid that I will not get what I deserve out of life.

Now faced with underemployment, I decided to take time and reflect on my job of the past year and write a resignation/fuck off letter that will go down in infamy. It has always been my secret desire to do this but I never had the nerve because I cared what people would think, I guess because I didn’t know my own worth. Well now I do, and I am not willing to settle for less than the best for me or my family! This letter serves as my reflection on: the crap we endure to feed our families, the ways we work to stay viable in our society, the courage to say enough is enough even in hard economical times and a comical way to leave a job. Without further adieu …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is with great joy that I write my formal resignation letter from your fine establishment. I have always done the politically correct thing and provided my employer with a minimum of two weeks notice and I considered doing that but I reflected on that practice and I decided against it because, well, I honestly don’t like you and I would never use this Micky Mouse organization on my resume or request a reference from you! So effective today, at the close of business, my slave status with your organization will be formally done. I hope you understand this decision is “only business” and I decided to start earning more money at a respectable company tomorrow instead of helping you out.

I have spent the last year of life during my employment with your company acting as if I was not smarter than you and placating your insecure ego by not letting my brilliance shine. I offered only the smallest amount of advise that your egos could handle and quietly taught my classroom of children and completed none of the management work that you compensated me for but prohibited me from doing. Your offer to reduce my pay and hours in order to pay for your new truck and corvette was insulting!

I would like to personally thank you three for the opportunity to learn first hand:
1) How not to run a business, how to under-utilize the talented staff that you have,
2) How to intimidate employees as you selfishly flaunt your “profits” as you come and meet with your minions (oops, I meant employees), and
3) How to dedicate a lot of time staring at video tape and claiming to be a marketing guru that is too cheap to advertise your own business.

I have already informed the parents that I am leaving. I also let them know how much I will truly miss them and their children because they have truly been a joy and the only reason I showed up at this hell hole of a job everyday.

Please send my final paycheck to me at me home address, which is located on the envelope of this letter and in my personnel file.

Good riddance,

Sammie Love

Follow-up as of 9/20/11

When I originally wrote this letter to my employer, I took a HUGE RISK with my reputation in this field. As I mentioned I had never done something like this before, and I am sure that I will never do this again. I ultimately still believe that I needed to speak up for myself and speak out against my mistreatment. While some may view what I did as career suicide, I firmly believe that cream always rises to the top! Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say I am worth more than you think and trust that things will turn out fine. Of course we were financially challenged and my husband carried a lot of the weight but we will get back on track and in the end my happiness and home life has improved and that was worth the price of leaving that job. I did wind up staying for two weeks after I submitted this letter as a courtesy.

I have accepted a new position as the Director of a full inclusion preschool. I can not express how truly blessed I am to be working with children and families that have special needs. I am now employed by owners that have experience running a school, understand the needs of families that have special needs children, and truly value their employees and strongly encourage and pay for their employees professional development.

Fighting Fear

Oh, LORD you are great sending reminders! Thank you for my friends and family that remind me of your promises and your love! The enemy placed the seed of fear in my heart this morning because he knows that I have vowed to fight fear. Fear is a complete lack of FAITH and I am not willing to accept it anymore. You have promised me more than fear and I am ready to accept your abundance. In JESUS’ name I ask accept and pray. AMEN!