Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A la hospital

I was on antibiotics for 1 week post surgery as a preventative measure, but after they ended just before Christmas, I wasn't feeling quite right.  I rang the doctor this past Friday and told him my symptoms, and he called in a prescription right away to fight what we expected was an infection.  What we didn't expect was as to how serious an infection it would become!

I called the Cancer Clinic Monday and they squeezed me in for a checkup at 1pm. I was in a tremendous amount of pain, could hardly walk and no sitting of any sort was possible, it just hurt way too much.  I lay my head on the console between mom and me as she drove us to the clinic. I was crying but in true mom fashion she calmed me by gently rubbing my cheek & her fingers through my hair saying "we're almost there".   We arrive at the clinic and I wobble with my cane to the check in desk.  Pleasant lady says to to take a seat in the waiting room, and with tears rolling down my cheek I told her I could not sit.  There  were other cancer patients in the waiting room but all eyes we're on me as I was the days token "I'm glad I'm not her" girl.  There's always one worse off patient and on Monday I carried that honour, just with no trophy or sachet!

I was quickly taken to an evaluation room where I could lie down and wipe my tears.  I always forget to bring my own kleenex to the clinic or VGH cause their Kleenex is like sand paper..better add that to my next visit list!   I was evaluated by 2 lovely doctors and told I have a severe infection and will need to be admitted to VGH.  I was totally on board to do whatever it takes to make me feel better but I didn't bring my overnight bag.  The horror!....but I shall survive for 1 night without trashy magazines, iPad and charger.  Cousin Steph lives around the corner so when she and Su visited, they brought along a toothbrush and toothpaste which is a necessity!  

The cancer clinic & VGH are connected via underground tunnels so off I went on a gurney for a bit of an adventure. My porter was a nice man but whistled the whole time adding to the ambience.  It was cool but also kinda creepy with pipes and neon lighting and random staff appearing out of random hallways like you'd see in a haunted house at Halloween!  The robin blue coloured elevator finally brought us up & we set out for my room. 

I've now been a la Hospital for 2 days receiving antibiotics & pain medication via IV. I can already see improvement but got a way to go yet. The doctors will keep examining me & will decide if a trip to the OR is needed for what they call debridment which removes infected tissue.  A CT scan has been ordered to ensure infection just in 1 area. Let's  move on shall we....

I've had lots of visitors and wouLd appreciate more. Seeing happy faces and hearing jokes that make me laugh & smile makes the wearing of this gown all the better!  Please keep coming as I'm here until at least Saturday.

Tonight is NYE so expect no visitor so decided to have a party with solitaire...oh ya...wild night!

Talk to you next year & thanks for all the support & love 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ugh!

Hello all!  Hope you had a lovely Christmas with your family.  I had a great day & laughed so much I literally busted a stitch.  I'm now back on antibiotics to rid the infection & pain caused by Christmas...thanks Santa but it was worth it!

We played a card game called Cards For Humanity and the laughter was loud & furious. As cards we're being passed around the table, a few glasses of wine were spilt either from bad aim or just too much wine being drank.  I couldn't sit for long periods of time so I'd go back & forth from the couch to the table with super brother playing my cards as needed keeping me in the game.  

I'm now glued to my bed as the infection & swelling is quite painful.  No where near the level of pain I felt from the type of radiation I received but enough pain to have me back on hydromorphone.  Hopefully the antibiotics do their job & I'm feeling better in a couple of days.  Not feeling too humorous tonight (could be the morphine) but wanted to post the latest.  

New are pics showing either on this blog or via my Instagram.  Christmas sweaters and a signed Bonino jersey gave me huge smiles to say the least!

Don't forget I'm looking to hear from you if you can partake in my packing party. Good people, good times & maybe a few paper cuts from the packing paper, but you need not worry I got band-aids ready to go!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bah, humbug!

I'm hoping by the time I finish writing this blog my bug bite is gone, the Bah Humbug bite that is.  

Christmas is such a magical time, a time I usually love & all that comes with it.  I'm usually the photographer (have loads of albums to prove it), decorate, wrap presents, send cards...you name it I love Christmas.  I did send cards this year and put up some decor in my apt but today I got bitten. It's Christmas Eve & I feel sad and angry.  As I feel sad and angry I try to change my emotions because I know 2 families mourning the loss of their loved one this Christmas as a result of cancer.  

It's hard for me as I'm not 100% and won't be for a while.  I couldn't go to the mall and shop for gifts and I attended no Christmas parties.  It sucks and today it hit me hard. 

Cancer has taken a lot from me in 2014 but gosh darn it I won't let it take my Christmas spirit.  Christmas Day has always been a day us Allen's are together and tomorrow is no different.  In my 39 years I think only twice have I not been with my uncle, dad, mom and brother. Christmas is our day, like an unspoken rule.  We're not cheesy "love you" folk but it's always entertaining whatever we do!

I'm going to wake up Christmas Day and "Shake it off" as Taylor Swifts hit song says.  Tomorrow is my day with my family and I WILL enjoy it.  I might be sitting on a cushion or laying on the couch but I'll love every minute of it.

Merry Christmas everyone .... Bug bite is gone!

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Knowledge is power

I've kept researching more and more each day.  I've found loads on Instagram and a couple of blogs to read.  Most of the colostomy stories I've seen are results of colitis, inflamed bowel syndrome or chrones.  The result remains the same just different stories of how we all got there.

I appreciate the suggestions of names and hashtags y'all submitted for my upcoming bag and new way of life. Here are the results...

My bag will be called "Winnie" and my hashtag will be #carlysbaglife
An example "Went shopping today but Winnie was a bother so had to come home" #carlysbaglife

Winnie was submitted by cousin Crissy and her husband John who took their inspiration from Winnie....The Pooh.....get it!

Yesterday was a good day as I was able to prop myself up and drive my car.  I journeyed back to my apartment and spent the day with Simba and had a visit from Cindy who's been cat sitting when I can't go home.  Simba loves her and I might have been a little jealous but then he jumped on me layed down purring and all was soon forgotten.

My knowledge is widening as to the things Winnie and I will go through.  I can already tell she will be a fashionista and will need her own outfits.  Lucky for me I have family who sew, who I think (wink wink) would be happy to create a fashion line for Winnie.  I don't know her measurements yet but as soon as we do let the sewing begin! 

I've been reading some blogs and most women say the dating part isn't so bad.  Most guys are in the know more than ever before and seem not to care but more interested in its mechanics.  I guess everyone has some sort of baggage, mine will just be carried around with me everywhere I go!

I'm resting up these next few days before Christmas.  My Christmas wish isn't for material things.....I'd just like to be healed enough to sit!!  I'm off anti-biotics so can partake in Christmas cheer (there is a god!) and will obviously have good makeup and nails at a minimum. The odds are looking good that I can get my hair done on Tuesday which will brighten me up in more ways than 1!

Canucks won last night ending a losing streak so hopefully we're both on a winning path...for a while anyway!  Oh PS if you receive my updates via email it's great but visit the site on your laptop or iPad to see my pictures.  They're mid page right. 

#carly2conquercancer #carlysbaglife

XOXO

C

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Research

It's been a few days since I learned of my new fate with "the bag".  I just hate saying "the bag".  It's real term is colostomy bag so I could call it CB but that's kinda blah.  I need your suggestions to come up with a nickname and hashtag.  Looking for clean & witty but catchy.  #carlysbaglife #bagass  
Feel free to comment on here or message me any which way; Instagram, Twitter, FB, email or text or a good 'ol phone call.  I'm very reachable! Let's see what we can come up with!

Today as I snuggled with Simba at my apartment, I decided it was time to do some research. To see some pictures and get a sense of my new reality.  I took to Instagram as Google just gets the worst of me!  I typed #colostomybag and loads of pictures came up.  I was so shocked at how many young women who appear to be in their 20s were posting and owning their "bag".  I saw one quote that stuck with me all day.  "Scars are like tattoos but with deeper stories".  As Oprah would say that was an ah-ha moment.  I followed a young lady and sent her a comment and she wrote back "be strong". She doesn't know me but that helped me a lot today.  At that very moment I decided to be a face any way I can for awareness and self worth for others.  I've got lots to learn to get there but I'll share my learnings along the way. A picture is worth a thousand words.

I've been maintaining my apt throughout my illness but I just can't do so any more.  I need FT help so therefore I've been at mom & dads, but as of Feb 1st I'll be moving in with them and putting my belongings in storage.  This means a packing party weekend will take place.  Jan 17 & 18 I seek aid from anyone who's willing.  I'll make it a lot of fun with music, refreshments and laughter.  It's also a good excuse to get people together and I'm fairly organized so you won't be finding stuff from 1998!  Don't worry I'll have movers thereafter so you won't have to strain any muscles.  If you're able to help please email me at carlyallen75@icloud.com

Trying my best to stay upbeat and positive but I've cried often.  I think anyone I spoke with today heard a tear or two.  In order for me to stay on the right path I need to stay in control whenever I can.  I'll continue to fight and remain the boss of me. 

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Embrace life

When I write my blogs in pink it usually means I'm happy about something.  I wouldn't say I'm happy with my new path, but I can tell you I will embrace it and love life again, although I don't think I ever really stopped.  

I woke up this morning and sent this text to many of my groupies:

"Yesterday was tough.  Not gonna sugar coat it but woke up today in better spirits.  Think I might be more scared of surgery & pain than the bag itself.  I look forward to not having to run to a washroom once this all happens.  Maybe I can get the bag in pink or other colours to match my undies!  I am lobbying to get a tummy tuck/lypo. Why the heck not if I'm already getting abdominal surgery.  Don't know the facts but I'm gonna ask.  If I got to go through all this hopefully I can look hotter than ever."

I had a post-op appointment at the cancer clinic this afternoon but with a different doctor as my amazing surgeon (love her!) was elsewhere fighting against cancer.  Seems that I'm healing from the inside-out...maybe that's why I feel so much pressure but my question to the doctor was when I'm off the anti-biotics can I have a drink....it's Christmas and I hurt...I just want a drink!  She chuckled and explained the proper practices of alcohol and medications but I got a smile and the go ahead.

On the way out I asked the nurses at the desk if I could leave a note for my surgeon since I didn't see her today.  The note was hand written with 3 questions that came up since yesterday's call.  I think you know question 1 & I hope she laughs but also knows I'm totally serious!

My spirits are higher today but it's because of other people who have set a bright path before me.  I have close friends and family who have gone through their own pain so I follow their footsteps to a cancer free life...a better life. 

#carly2conquercancer 

XOXO

C

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Overtime

Tonight Florida & Washington set an NHL record in the shoot out.  They went 20 rounds before the Florida Panthers finally won the game.  So far in my "hockey game" of cancer I've gone 4 rounds; lymph node removed, chemo, radiation and surgery #1.  Well fans get ready for round 5 as surgery #2 is headed my way this Jan/Feb 2015.  I will not be selling tickets to this overtime event however I will gladly take an audience as visitors when able.  

I received a call from my surgeon this afternoon that the margins we hoped for just aren't there.  A good margin is 8mm and mine are 1mm & 2mm.  Even though we had great results with the shrinking of Big Kahuna and considered to now be cancer free, all would be short lived.  If I stayed as I am today I'm almost guaranteed to get cancer again and soon.  The only way to give myself the best possible outcome is with a colostomy. 

I meet with my surgeon for a full information session about what's to come on Jan 21st.  Plastic surgery will be involved as skin will be removed from my thigh and used to create what she called a flap.  My incision will go to my belly button so I've requested a tuck while they're in there.  It's like the lottery..ya never know.  At least that could be a benefit for me to look forward to.  Gotta ask right!  Who doesn't love a 2 for 1 deal!

This surgery is much more extensive than the one I just had.  Abdominal surgery added in to the mix means recovering over a longer extended amount of time and needing a lot more care.  I expect to hear the exact time lines in January but was given a rough estimate of 2-3 months. 

With all this bad news I saw such strength in my family today.  My brother was at my apartment within 20 minutes, dad followed in another 10 and mom arrived soon after with auntie Shely in tow.  I didn't even call them to come they just knew this was my biggest fear & came.  We sat in my living room as I read out my chicken scratch notes...my penmanship was a mess and too much paper was used but pretty sure I got most of the facts.  Some tears were shed but also had some laughs as Shane is now to be called Super Brother!  Once we settled things up Shane and Dad went back to work, I collected my basics and auntie Shely drove me and mom back to my parents. 

I have a lot to think about and figure out over the next couple weeks but feel confident I'll come out on top.  With family and friends like you how can I not.


#carly2conquercancer 


XOXO

C



Monday, December 15, 2014

Box of chocolates

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get" -Forrest Gump

I think I need to start watching movies about those who overcome adversity and see the better side of life again.  I need something to dry my tears.  I need purpose for all this pain.  I need to inspire myself more than ever before.

I've never climbed a mountain, not even the Grouse Grind (shocking as a YVR local but so not me), I don't ski or snowboard but let me tell you I've climbed & leaped other types of mountains this past year.  I want to say I'm done....I'm sick of it...but that just doesn't seem to be the cards I was dealt.  I've got a crappy hand right now and I'm asking for a re-deal STAT!

I cried a lot tonight, my dad listening while sitting on the bed telling me I could use the Kleenex to it's full potential...such a Grant comment!  I sum up our long conversation like this...I need all this pain and suffering to mean something...I need it to give back to me...I can't be the victim I must be the victor.  This won't just happen, I need to take the lead.  I'm a leader so I can do this.  

I feel guilty when I have my sad moments as I know there are people out there with no support, with nobody sitting on their bed listening to them cry.  You can't control disease like you can your calorie intake and that is so frustrating.  So how I deal with that is my future.  It will be the giving back I seek. 

Never say never but I don't see myself taking up skiing or climbing the grind.  Sweat and cold...2 things I dislike more than the Toronto Maple Leafs!  I will however pack a picnic for you and I'll always be willing to be the cute ski bunny in the lobby!

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scoreboard

I'm calling cancer a game.  Like a hockey game.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Sometimes the big brute from the other team beats you up, other times you knock him out.  That moment when you look up at the scoreboard to see how much time is left.  Will the game go in to overtime? 3-2-1......

My recovery seems to have followed the Canucks success on their recent Eastern road trip, not fun!  Not that any of this is meant to be fun but I feel beat up.  At this stage of the game I'm tired and it's hard to move.  I just want to get back to the old me, or the new me I should say, since Big Kahuna has left the building...he was given a game misconduct!


During the healing process they say it gets worse before it gets better.  Is this the worst and the end or will I get a rest and start overtime?  Perhaps my best season will be in 2015.  Either way I'll win the game and my trophy is life...much more grand than any Stanley Cup...well sort of! Go Canucks & go Carly go!


#carly2conquercancer


XOXO


C


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cinderella

The newest version of Cinderella is being released in theatres March 13, 2015.  I can't wait to see it...it looks amazing!  Who cares that I'll be just shy of my 40th year lining up to see this film no doubt with girlfriends in tow, we grew up with Cinderella and love her.  

I've often dreamt of the tale through my cancer journey. My cancer plays the role of evil step-mother holding me back and causing me pain, the mice are my friends & family rooting me on and of course my mom is the fairy god mother who gives me strength and hope. 

Cinderella isn't just about meeting her prince, but also about how to conquer what's been put in front of you.  When you want change I truly believe there are always people there to help you. Sometimes those we least expect are those who touch or help us the most.  Over the last few months I've made new relationships I didn't see coming, strengthened ones long forgotten and seen why certain people are in my life.  I've conquered in 2014 and it feels better than any fairy tale....it's my tale.

2015 brings forward my Cinderella story of change.  How can I be a better person, how can I mean more to myself and to others, and how maybe I'll find my prince along the way. 

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Adios Big Kahuna

I'd made up several scenarios in my head over the last few weeks regarding the removal of Big Kahuna.  I woke up Monday morning in good spirits, put all those scenarios behind me, and mom and I drove to VGH to get the show started!

I couldn't have painted nails or wear any makeup so instead went for comfort wearing royal blue lounge pants with my oversized & overworn Canucks hoodie.  The comfort was short lived as once I walked through the pre-op doors I was given a gorgeous gown, cap and booties.  I lay in the bed & answered the usual questions....is this your DOB?  Any allergies? On any medications?  I met with my operating team and off I went waving goodbye to mom as I headed to the OR.

In the OR I spoke of hockey and celebrity gossip before going to la-la-land and woke up in recovery 2.5 hours later.  I was told the first thing I said was "big kahuna gone."  I don't remember saying much of anything but apparently I provided some laughs.  I had to stay in recovery until 730pm as there weren't enough porters to get me to my room.  I was well taken care of and feeling no pain.  I was allowed to call mom to have her come and give me my glasses so I could see properly.

I finally was taken to my room and had 2 surprises.  My cousin Stephanie was going to stay with me so mom could have a break and that the room that holds 4 was empty.  I got the bed with a view by the window and had a private room until midnight.  My dad came to visit and had me smiling although I wasn't feeling too hot. Not too long after dad left I started to shake and couldn't stop.  My stomach was empty, I just had major surgery and my body was pissed off!  I was shaking so bad Steph had to hold down my legs as the nurse injected meds to my IV calming me down.  At midnight Steph set off for home, I put in my custom ear plugs and fell asleep just as new roomies arrived. 

The next morning my surgeon woke me to share the surgery news.  Big Kahuna was gone!  A biopsy was done of the margins and in 1-2 weeks I'll hear the results.  If the margins are clear then all is done, but if not I'll have a 2nd surgery resulting in a colostomy. Knock on wood the margins are clear. 

The rest of the morning and afternoon had a few speed bumps including me having to self-administer a post-op blood thinner shot in my thigh.  I'll have to do this everyday for the next 10 days, hope my aim remains good!  With support from my nurse & doctor I was discharged at 6pm just 27 hours after surgery.  Pretty incredible.

The next few days will no doubt bring some pain and discomfort but this pain is nothing like what I felt during radiation. Doctors often say "on a scale of 1-10 how painful is it". Radiation was an 11 and this an 8.

Thanks to my friends & family who came to visit me in the hospital and for everyone's messages. I'm blessed having so many great people in my corner.  

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Time announced

Just a quick blog as I now know a little more. 

I get admitted to VGH tomorrow, Monday Dec 08, at 1030am.  When I actually start and finish surgery is not known but I'd guess show time would start around noon. 

I've packed my bag and included a plush leopard print robe, red sock-like slippers my grandma Allen used to wear and my Canucks touque should my ears get cold.  I always have to have something Canucks near by or on!

Between my mom and my friend Cathy you should hear updates via email, text or Facebook.  As soon as I'm able to see straight and complete a sentence I'll be sure to blog. 
XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

C

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pretty girl

It's with sadness that I tell you on Tuesday I had to say goodbye to my cat Nalla.  She's been in & out of the vet since February and took a turn for the worse these past 2 weeks.  We spent 11 years together and she was a 7lb fireball!  My other cat Simba is 12 but in good health and seems to be OK with her departure.  They weren't the best of friends, I had to separate them often so this change hopefully goes smoothly.  It's hard saying goodbye to our pets but I take peace in knowing we can help them not suffer at the end of their furry lives.  RIP pretty girl!

Yesterday I visited with a nurse and anestheleologist at VGH to go over surgery procedures.  Nothing of surprise came about.  Pretty straight forward.  Start to finish surgery will be about 3 hrs and I'll be staying over night Monday.  What happens after that is TBD per my surgeon.  I came home for a few hours and then had to be at the clinic at 615pm for another PET scan.  I had this scan when I was first diagnosed so now they'll compare them to see what's different.  This is a nuclear medicine scan where they inject dye via IV that lights up any cancer cells.  I sit in a room for 45 min pre-scan so the dye makes if way thru my whole body.  There is no pain, just boredom and listening to music.   I've started listening more to the beat as song lyrics can be depressing.  Light at the end of the tunnel, I will survive, Freedom....like seriously!  

I've been feeling a lot better emotionally this week compared to the train wreck I was last week.  I think every stage reaches it's "peaceful" time and I'm there now.  There's no sense in getting angry, depressed or drunk to cope.  I just gotta cope.  Not saying I'm not anxious or scared of Mondays main event, but I hope to come out the winner.  I'll be sure to update this blog as soon as I can but thank you in advance for all your well wishes. 

XOXO

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO




Monday, December 1, 2014

Pre-Op

When I saw my surgeon on November 5th, I signed a few papers and was told I'd receive a call a week before surgery to review procedures and expectations.  Some of the papers I signed were regarding surgery do's and don'ts and the others were about donating tissue for cancer research.  I hit 2 chords signing those papers, the proud and scared chords.  The proud chord is hoping my cancer tissue samples can help someone in the future, perhaps help with advancements towards a cure.  The scared chord should be quite obvious.  Holy shit....I'm going to have major surgery and some sort of ending is coming.

Today marks 1 week pre-surgery to remove Big Kahuna and so came the call.  I expected this pre-op conversation to happen over the phone but was informed I must visit with a nurse and anesthesiologist for 1.5 hours on Friday.  I'll review medical history and hear how I'll be sedated and be able to ask any questions I may have.  

In recent conversations friends & family are inquiring about how they'll remove Big Kahuna, how long surgery will be and my recovery time.  To be perfectly honest I have no clue.  I decided early on in this journey some information is just not needed, at least for me anyway...or to save me from becoming an alcoholic LOL.  In the "ask questions" segment on Friday I will ask how long surgery will take but I need not know how Big Kahuna will make it's exit.  Maybe  after this is all over I'll find out but I'm dealing with enough emotionally right now.  I do know I'll stay at least 1 night post-surgery recovering at VGH but the rest will tell it's tale once they operate.

I've cried a lot since March but most of it was as a result of pain.  I never cried with my doctors or at any treatments, just at home with those who love me.  Now I'll cry just talking about this surgery.  I organized my closet and all my drawers to have my thoughts distracted.  I'm excited to say I feel like I have new clothes and shoes along with matching handbags long forgotten.

#carly2conquercancer

XOXO

C






Fairytales

I’ve been doing some soul searching and digging a bit deeper of late, looking for  inspiration in all aspects of life and from those around ...