Right Here

On my way home tonight I realized that 9 months ago today I was at Virginia Mason hospital, peeing in a tube, watching TV without the sound on yet I for some reason could tell what was going on.  I was in my own hospital room.  I trying to come to grips with not being able to drink or eat anything.  Being told that I’m going to have to remain in the hospital for at least 7 days when I originally thought I would only be there a day or two.  I was in the hospital trying to figure out what I missing and what was wrong with me now.  What the hell happened to my voice?  Why couldn’t I breathe through my nose?  Why do I feel like my right eyelid is droopy?  Why am I not sweating on one side of my face?  Why am I unable to move my head that easily?  Why didn’t the Filipino nurse bring me some lumpia?  Damn.  Why do I have to use these sponge covered sticks in order to moisten my mouth?  Am I peeing?  I can’t tell.  Why do I have this tube in my nose?
The day started out on the wrong foot.  The scheduler told me that my check in was at 10:30am.  I get a call from the hospital at 9:30 asking where I am, my surgery is supposed to START at 10:30!  What the…?  I took this picture before I left the house 11/29/2012;
Luckily, my Mom and Step-dad weren’t too far away and we ended up being about 10-15 minutes late to check in, when we got there they told us we weren’t first ones that had this happen.  Now I go over and sit down to wait my turn.  I think I posted a quick note or something while waiting.  I get called back and my Mom came along.  Get changed into my gown, and the nurse starts plugging everything in, next thing I know we’re talking about cars and how she recently did an Audi lapping day! That was pretty cool.  Get the IV going and finally they start to roll me into the operating room.  I remember having to get myself onto the table and looking around the room.  Next thing I know I remember waking up to a choking feeling as they were putting in the breathing tube down my throat.  They told me to relax, and that it’s in, don’t worry. It took them two tries to get it in correctly.  Bam, I was out.
Next thing I know I’m waking up in a different room begging the nurse for a glass of water.  Pretty sure my eyes were still closed.  He went and got me a glass of water, I was able to get one sip down until another nurse came in and took it away from me and scolded the guy for getting it for me.  I know my Mom and Step-dad were there as well as Jason and John.  Still confused as to why I can’t drink anything while my mouth is super dry…  I had no idea what time it was, but looking outside it looked like evening.  I asked for a desk fan, needed to get some air moving!  Little do I know that my 2.5 hour surgery turned into 6+ hours.  Again, what the…?
I believe I took this picture the following day 11/30/2012
Friday was a fairly interesting day.  My Dad and Step-mom got into town and came to check on me.  John, Jason and Mike stopped by too.  The nurse said today’s the day the catheter has to come out.  That is not something I’d ever choose to have done again.  It was kind of interesting not having any idea when I was actually peeing.  She told me that I HAD to pee in the toilet shortly after.  A few hours later I still didn’t have to.  I was then informed that I was being moved to a different floor/room as the one I was on isn’t open on the weekend.  Eventually the nurse told me that she was going to lock me in the bathroom until I peed.  It didn’t take long after that…  My Uncle Pat and Aunt Kayleen had stopped by to check on me that evening as well.  They get me back into the bed for a while, what seemed like a couple hours went by and a different bed arrived for me to transfer to.  Had to lay in that bed for probably another hour or so as they were getting the other room ready or something.  I could tell that the nurses on this floor weren’t very happy that it was taking so long.  Finally get into the other room
This became one of my favorite places to go.  Multiple times a day.  This was my place to escape everything.  Think about what I’ve been through and the road ahead. 
Several days and many, many visitors over the weekend and week, I eventually became known as Mr. Popular.  I figured out what buttons to use to turn things off when I needed to go to the bathroom, how to fix problems on the machine that was giving me my nutrition when the tube got kinked. I sounded like Christian Bale Batman.  The nurses wrote my name as Batman on the board.  I was able to go home the following Friday.  I put my new NikeID custom made green AF1’s on,

cleaned up my area, John picked me up, took me to Costco to get my prescriptions and home I was.

Several weeks after being home I took this picture of my scars.
Christmas time came and I received these from Mike and Greg.  I will wear these.  Someday.  These mean a lot to me.
Sometime in the spring, I think it was May I ended up getting my first tattoo.  I never thought I’d get a tattoo.  But I wanted to have something to remind me of what I’ve been through and hopefully get others to think about their own health at the same time.
Many doctor appointments, radiation treatment, isolation, terrible low-iodine diet, tiredness, confusion, CT scans, whole body scans, aches, pains, ultrasounds, urgent care visits, blood draws, blood draws, and more blood draws.  An awesome, heartwarming fundraiser (I’ll never forget each and every one of you), an awesome birthday get-together during that damn diet that included low-iodine food at Myra and Kenji’s place, support group meetings, and here I am, 80+ lbs. lighter and Cancer Free.  9 months later.
I’m still struggling daily with all of the complications and learning many other things along the way.  It’s been a strenuous, depressing, intense, sad, happy, introspective 9 months and certainly not something I would ever want any of you to go through. 
September 1st begins National Thyroid Cancer Awareness month.  Please remember to get your necks checked!


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