So yesterday we did an experiment by stopping the stomach suction to see whether my intestines had rested enough to unblock and therefore begin to be able to process normally. I was off suction for about four hours, and unfortunately began to feel the pressure and discomfort build again. So back on to suction I went. It’s kind of amazing to see what gets sucked out. An article I read by a surgeon called it pond-scum and they are not wrong. Just normal gastric juices that are created, and in my case were backing up and causing discomfort.
So the gyn-onc team consulted among themselves, and I got a report back at the end of the day from one of them, Dr. Wheeler, saying that likely, that would mean three things, depending on my choice of how far I want to take treatment:
- The need to install a stomach drainage port, they call it a g-tube. This will accomplish by gravity the same thing as the suction pump that is currently pulling things out of my stomach via the NG tube. And I won’t be attached to the wall at all times.
- The need to install a PICC line (I think they also call it a port) which is a more permanent IV installation in my arm, in order for me to feed myself daily with IV nutrition at home. (So far, two years into this journey, I’ve managed to avoid that.)
- The need to restart chemo.
I will likely be here in the hospital until early to mid- next week while all this happens.
Dr. Wheeler showed me on the CT scan where the blockage in the small bowel is. The write-up just said “left pelvis.” Well, that’s not very specific. But when she showed me, I understood her earlier concerns better. It, like the stricture on the sigmoid colon, is right in the vicinity of the original tumor. So her, and presumably their, understanding, or perhaps presumption, is that what is causing the blockages is cancer progression.
So all this time, though the pain has been higher up in my belly, the problem has been lower down. So it’s less likely that it is bands of scar tissue strangulating intestines. Or at least increases the likelihood that it is cancer rather than scar tissue. Although really, maybe that’s not true. Because when they removed the tumor they had to peel away the tumor from the surface of the intestines right there, which could have, probably did, create scar tissue. And my CA-125 number, while elevated a bit, is not that high.
But in any case, they are currently operating under the assumption that cancer is causing it. And that because of that, any surgery would be risky, and potentially pointless, as, in their worldview, the cancer will just continue to progress its way through the bowels and they can’t just keep going in and cutting out problematic parts. Wheeler is compassionate and has a lovely bedside manner, and she apparently values what she probably calls “being realistic” as she again basically inferred that this is the beginning of the end. “In ovarian cancer, unfortunately, the bowels are the first to go.” Well obviously having no bowel function makes staying alive a lot harder. So she advocates calling in the palliative care team, has mentioned getting hospice on board, etc.
Well, I’m finding myself not ready to go there yet. In standard allopathic gyn-onc, or really any onc, world, they have three tools: surgery, radiation, and chemo, and if those don’t work, then you’re doomed. I know, from all the research I and we have been doing, that there are a lot more tools out there available to me, such that even if this bowel obstruction is caused by cancer, and even if the cancer is not responding as well to their chemotherapy agents as it once was, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. I actually feel a little sorry for them that they have such a limited and sad world view. Radical Remission and the new book, Radical Hope, are all about people who went on and survived and thrived past when convention was able to help them. So it is very possible.
A cancer coach once said to a radical remission survivor, “In your town, you seem like a ‘cancer unicorn’—rare because you beat the odds by surviving so-called incurable cancer. But in my line of work, I see thousands of survivors. I wish everyone could know there are fields full of unicorns just like you.Turner, Kelly. Radical Hope (p. xviii). Hay House. Kindle Edition.
This right here is what I’m talkin’ ’bout.
Not having bowel function does complicate things a wee bit, as a big set of pro-health, anti-cancer tools involve taking good nutrition and supplementation orally, which now I can’t do, or at least can’t do as easily, for awhile. But I sat last night and wrote a long list of all the things I know I can do that don’t require intestinal processing. So I’m going to be on it. As they say, “On it like white on rice!”
I’m so blessed to have Grant by my side in all of this, as I know he’s right there with me. He and Montana drove down and brought me more things to keep me busy and entertained. We had to meet at the main entrance, all be wearing masks, and keep our physical distancing due to COVID-19 concerns. Visitors are not allowed at the hospital. But it was very good to see them, and to be seen. And now I won’t be twiddling my thumbs so much.