Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur - not fasting!

Today is Yom Kippur. A day of fasting, reflection, and asking for forgiveness. I, however, am not fasting, although will eat lightly. I figure, I fasted for 23 days (more or less) during my stay in the hospital. I also had a lot of time for reflection, and did a lot of asking for forgiveness. I figured I must have done something wrong to have landed in the situation I was in. I know that is crazy, but given the number of hours I lied awake in the nights, this did cross my mind. So, anyway, on this quite and solemn day, I am reflecting a lot. Mostly, I am feeling incredibly GRATEFUL - to each and everyone of you receiving this email. I cannot tell you how much you have helped me get through these past 6 weeks. This internet thing is amazing. As I have said before, the outpouring of love and support overwhelms me. How can I thank you all enough? For everything. Thank you especially for the donations you have made in my honor to Swim Across America. Team Susan Survives! has raised over $40,000 so far - isn't that unbelievable?

To those of you observing this day, may it be a good day for you in all ways, and if you are fasting, may you have an easy fast. And, may all of us (Jewish or not) be "inscribed in the Book of Life".


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Stronger

There seems to be a disconnect between my brain and my body. Nothing happened to my brain 5 weeks ago (except for a ridiculous amount of morphine getting to it, but once that went away, my brain was, once again, fully functioning). But a lot happened to my body. Six and a half hours of surgery, many tubes, drains, fed intravenously, a huge incision across my abdomen, rewiring of my entire digestive system, unable to do the simplest bodily functions, a lot of vomiting, 23 days in bed with a few walks here and there, and the list goes on. But these days, when I awake, drug-free, my brain goes into full gear. I think of the million things I need to do, and then I stop. Wait! My body is healing. I'm not going to do 1 or 2 of those things, let alone a million. My body needs to rest and my brain needs to learn that. This is the hardest thing about surgery. Learning to slow down so your body can heal fully.

But I am getting stronger every day. Today I swam 300 meters - in the warm pool at the Claremont (I never swim in that pool unless the cold pool is closed). It was wonderful. As difficult as it was, it felt heavenly. Much better than on Saturday, when I felt totally demoralized. I felt as if I could have swum more, but I heard all of the voices in my head, telling me "don't over do it". Everyone seems to be telling me that. The truth of the matter is that no one knows what "overdoing it" even is. My surgeon told me I could do anything except sit-ups! Duh!

I'm off to bed. I look forward to going to sleep every night because I know I will wake up a little bit stronger the next day. I have a lot to look forward to.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Four laps!

Today - one month and 2 days after my Whipple surgery - I did it. I was nervous and scared - but I did it. I got into that pool - thought I would just jump in and be like my pre-surgery old self - OMG - was I wrong! I will say that it felt GREAT to be in the water - but when I started to swim I felt like a little old lady - my body failed me - it would not stretch out the way I wanted it to. I swam 2 laps - Richard was waiting for me at the end of the pool and I burst into tears. (For those of you who remember, this is exactly what happened to me when I tried to swim after my lung surgery - only Richard tells me that it was even worse then, because I couldn't breathe or stretch!) This time, the breathing was no problem.

After my 2 laps, I put on a pair of fins and swam 2 more for a grand total of 4 laps! I should feel good about this, but for some reason, I'm a bit demoralized.

So, here I am. Not sure when or if I'll try again so quickly - but I wanted to share my first swim with all of you. I've got a long way to go, but I'll get there.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Out of the hospital!

Good news! I'm out of there! I could not have lasted one more minute. I'm not great, and still feel nauseated, and all systems are not functioning 100% - but who cares? I'm home, and it feels wonderful to be here with Aly, Richard and Daisy. (Of course, I'm missing David!) If I went from the bed to the chair, from the chair to the bed, then strolled around the hospital corridor one more time, I think it would have been over for me. Now, I can go from my bedroom, to the kitchen, to the living room, to the family room and do it all over again. It's the simplest things in life! Thank you all for following my blog. More in a few days when I have some more strength.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

09-09-09 - a lucky day!

Today is three weeks since my Whipple. Have any of you looked up just exactly what this operation entails? It is rather extraordinary. I can't believe I actually had this done to me. Although, given the way I feel now, I believe it.

But, today is a better day. Actually, yesterday, 09-09-09 was the day - my NG tube came out - for the 4th time, but I think this time it is for good. They still aren't letting me eat yet, but I know that is the next step. Once I can eat, (and, of course, poop), I think I might actually be released. I feel like I have been here forever. You may all be asking, "What have you done for the past 3 weeks"? OK, this is a good exercise for my brain. Hmmmm, what have I done during my stay at Stanford University Hospital? Well, let's see:

  • I've spent many hours feeling very sorry for myself
  • I've counted my blessings
  • I've watched a ton of really stupid TV and a million infomercials
  • I've appreciated (so much), visits, cards, emails, phone calls and gifts
  • I've met about one hundred nurses
  • I've gotten about 8 accupuncture treatments
  • I've had a massage just about every day
  • I've had two sessions with ancient Tibetan "singing bowls" (amazing!)
  • I've had a Jin Shin Jitsui treatment
  • I've had a ton of foot reflexology
  • Richard, and my wonderful friend Susan Meadows have spent hours sitting with me here in my lovely room
  • I've heard from so many old, old friends on Facebook (many of whom have been incredibly generous by donating to my swim:
  • I've watched hours of programming on the FoodNetwork because the doctors told me that if my brain got stimulated by food it might inspire my gut to start out, I just might become a gourmet cook after this!
OK - that's all the psychic energy I can muster up for this blog. More will follow - with photos, I promise. I'm doing better, hour by hour, day by day. There is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Thank you for reading my blog and for your interest in my cancer journey.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

12 Days Post surgery

While things seemed to be going smoothly in the beginning, it seems that my recovery took a turn for the worse a few days ago. When they took out the NG tube initially, I did OK, and then proceeded to throw up continuously. I have since had 2 more NG tubes inserted (yes, while awake), and I'm not healing according to plan. It looks like I'll be in here at least until the weekend. I have so much to write about, but so little energy to work with. I know I'll get well soon and will out of this hospital with a renewed optimism about my health and recovery. To be continued soon.