well peeps...this has been one long haul...one year ago today i noticed blood in my urine...when i got in to see my urologist, the first thing he asked was " did you ever smoke?" the answer is yes.. i started in 1963, my freshman year in college.. in fact, the way my parents found out..i had to have emergency appendectomy surgery near the end of the year.. my parents drove to pittsburgh from south bend and didn't make it in time but they were there in the recovery room.. as i was coming out of the anesthesia, the first thing i said was "does anyone have a cigarette?" oops!...and i was a good smoker.. i loved to smoke.. in fact,, i would go home from parties if i was running out of cigarettes.. i smoked through pregnancies (we didn't know better back then..), illnesses, flus..back then we smoked in restaurants, air planes..you name it..
and then on october 23, 1983, almost 20 years from the day i started, God had another plan for me..i developed something called palatine neuritis..(i can still feel the sensation today)..i was visiting my mom in south bend..the nerves in my palette got inflamed.. may have been staying up late the night before doing "elephant calls" with two of my best friends.. may have been the scotch, the cigs, or the chocolate donuts i had the next morning..but i, for the first time in 20 years, was actually physically incapable of smoking! pretty sure God had other plans for my life..(my mom died in 1985 at age 62 from heart disease)..so here's the cautionary tale.. i smoked for 20 years but i quit almost 40 years ago...didn't matter...smoking is probably the main causative factor in bladder cancer!
i'm sorry... but this may get long...trying to make a long story short, then...i had a biopsy both in october and again in november..they showed carcnoma in situ in the wall of the bladder.. not having progressed to the muscle.. so i underwent 6 weeks of immunotherapy called BCG..they instilled a TB bacterium into my bladder..i had to hold it there for three hours..rolling around so all sides of the bladder would get their fair share.. then every time i peed, i had to drop 2 cups of bleach in the potty and wait 15 minutes before flushing.(dangerous stuff, TB..)..then i had to wait another six weeks to let my bladder die down .things seemed to be looking good.. in the meantime i was consumed by my roving indiana project..(sort of life-saving actually..)painting sheep, sheep and more sheep.. and some alpacas, of course...many of which i posted here earlier this year..so i had a check up in april.. it actually was NOT good. they found the cancer had progressed to the muscle.. so i had meetings with my oncologist, had a port placed to facilite blood draws and chemo.. i started chemo in july.. was scheduled for four rounds but only made it through three because my kidneys' weren't tolerating the platinum-based chemo that worked best against this type of cancer..so my surgery was moved up by about a month..september 24th. we missed some of the best fall weather ever!!). i had what amounted to three radical surgeries in one 5-1/2 hour surgery. they removed all my lady parts that could conceivably cause me any trouble down the line..then they removed my cancerous bladder and 36 lymph nodes in the area.. THEN they fashioned a new (neobladder) our of a portion of my small intestine. i was in the hospital for nine long days..some of them in excruciating pain due to the harvesting of all those lymph nodes.. i had two nerve blocks to try and ease that pain..and i still had a recurrence the day i got home on the 3rd of october..so i've been home since then.. very slow going i have to say..i nap a lot.. i'm supposed to be up and walking several times a day..i do stairs when i can..i'm down to using just my own leggers.. no cane or walker.. i DO use a walker at the airport where we take the girls..(our two goldies) every afternoon at three..(they seem to wear watches!).. i am quite the sight hobbling around for what started as one lap and now i'm up to two and yesterday two and a half..very windy yesterday.. i had visions of myself being blown up into the trees and trying to make my way down.. did i mention i've lost a good deal of weight?.. they warned me it could be 20 pounds..and my hubby is feeding me like a queen!!..
anyway..my surgery was three weeks ago today.. seems a lifetime ago.. and there were times, we've both admitted to each other, when we weren't sure we'd ever be back in our home together.. but here we are!..it's going to be a long road back..i have follow-up appointments scheduled with both my local oncologist and my surgeon at Simon cancer center in indianapolis. hope to be getting my catheter out then but in the meantime we need to irrigate it 4 times a day,,.now that i've posted this..(and i will NOT post to facebook).. maybe i can keep you a bit more up on what's happening.. i also have a caring bridge site ..www.caringbridge.org/visit/susiegregory i also am far away from getting back to my studio..and i have some projects i know i need to get done.. but my clients have been very understanding..i WILL be back and we will look back on this as just a really bad dream!! .love you all and thanks for listening!!