February 17th, 2016
Today is sort of an anniversary - and Iím still alive. About a year and a half ago I had a CT scan to make sure that a previous cancer had not returned - it hadnít for which I was thankful. But then, a day or so later my primary care doctor gave me a call to tell me that there was an unusual anomaly in my pancreas. Over the next six months, after they went down and took a biopsy and then did an MRI - they were certain that I had pancreatic cancer and a Whipple Procedure was needed.
Thatís ok, I thought, a couple of weeks and Iíll be up and running. Not so fast - the surgeon said that this was one of the most aggressive surgeries done. The Ďliteratureí said that 5% died while on the table and only about 25% lived longer than five years after. Months of recovery and Chemo.
It was an all day affair, me opened up for about 8 + hours. Then three days in ICU and another 7 days in the hospital with three tubes plugged into my belly. Today I now have one long scar from my sternum down below my belly button and three small scars where the tubes were in place, two to drain off fluid and one a feeding tube connected to my small intestine.
To complicate matters, while in ICU I had an attack of Atrial Fibrillation that fortunately kicked back into sinus rhythm about 4 hours after it started.
A few weeks after I was out of the hospital, my wounds healing well, I had six months of chemotherapy. My blood count went haywire, but I finished it and was so glad when that phase of the treatment was over.
It has been an up and down year since last February 17th. My usual walking routine was pretty much completely stopped. My biggest problem, once all the tubes were removed, was not pain but eating and depression. I lost about 25 lbs since the operation and have not gained any of it back. This doesnít count the weight I lost because of the Pancreas problems in the previous year.
Since Iíve been home over the past year - I have had 4 follow-up Atrial Fibrillation attacks and been in the ER and ICU for a couple of days for each. About every two or three months. The medicine they first gave me to help control my heart like to have done me in - for a month, by noon I was back in bed - just like I was totally worn out.
On the brighter side - I was well enough to drive up to my wifeís class reunion in Virginia; and then later on drove out to see my brother in Dallas for a couple of days and then to visit a friend in North Carolina for another couple of days - away for home for a whole week. When we were returning about 75 miles from home I finally had to give the driving up - just seemed to want to fall asleep at the wheel. The heart medication was beginning to do a job on me. I was changed to another medication which has not been so devastating.
I am back up and able to get out and about with the camera to take photographs, just donít seem to have the energy, though, to create any new art. I can hike a couple of miles - maybe three - but nowhere near the 16 miles a day I used to stroll on my hikes. We go out for a drive most every for an hour or more - just hate sitting in the house.
One thing for certain though - at times I would get so depressed over things that I no longer had any control over - until one day - I turned it all over to God. I quit worrying about it; if something came up in my mind I would just hold out my hand and say, ďItís up to YouĒ. I have not been a religious person in years, but turning my whole life and whatís left over to Him has freed my spirit and made me grateful for his love and watch-care over me. I now do what I can and try not to complain about the things I have no way of taking care. I do my part as best I can and then turn to Him to take care of the rest, having faith that Godís will will be done. It has done wonders for my depression and the way I go through every day.
And so a year has gone by, Iím still here and life continues for as long as it will. I no longer worry about tomorrow - God will take care of it.