Friday, 26 August 2011

A Day to Celebrate!

We are now at day 8, and I had my follow up with Dr. Black.
We met him in the clinic at the hospital, and while waiting in the exam area, he peeked in and said "I'll be right back. I have good news."
When he came back, he said that all the test had come back negative - no cancer of DCIS cells. After a moment of smiles and laughter, he went on with a further explanation.  It seems that the two spots with suspicious cells were actually very small, and would have been able to be removed with minimal surgery. However, as with this whole experience, nothing was that simple. It seems that the lab found two more separate spots - neither of which was seen on the other diagnostic tests. This means that had I just went with the minimal surgery, these spots would have been left behind.  They would have eventually become the fast-moving, very, very aggressive cancer that he feared. These are the cells that would pop up and spread through my body with very little time to find them and treat them.  (i.e. - the person who is diagnosed with cancer and given 3 months to live) YIKES!!

So it seems that we did make the right decision after all!

When I saw him today, he removed 9 stitches, the drain, and told me that I can drive. He also is referring me to the cancer clinic in London (a standard procedure) so that they can confirm everything he said. I go back to see him next Friday for removal of the 31 staples that are left.

As for us, we are heading to the St. Thomas Iron Horse Festival to have some dinner and a pint of beer.  I think the best word I heard today came from Katie when I texted her about the results.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Surgery +1 day

As I promised, here is my latest update.
I went into surgery about 12.30 on Thursday. By 3.00pm I was out of recovery and in my room. Even though our insurance covers a semi-private, the only bed they had was the 4-bed "constant observation room". I was next to a window -  YEAH - and had no one on the same side with me, so it was like a private room.  I had one pain pill, a tamacet, but as of now, that's all I've had. I've got a horizontal suture line from mid chest to even with my shoulder. There's also a drain for a few days that runs on a vacuum system. I was discharged this morning after meeting with the Community Care Access Centre (home care) nurse. I'll have someone come every day until I see the doctor on Friday. They will check my dressing and my drain and keep records for the doctor. I was home and in my comfy chair by 2pm.
Since I've been home, Robby has made me a bowl of soup, and John cooked dinner with Robby cleaning up. John went to get Katie at Fanshawe, and she's been full of talk about her week of Residence Training.  She brought her dirty clothes home, so the kids are now doing laundry for us.

So far ... things are good.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

the Countdown has begun

Surgery update
So I've made it to Tuesday night. I'm scheduled for surgery sometime on Thursday at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. I will get a call sometime on Wednesday with the exact time that I'll need to get to the hospital. I had my pre-admission work last Friday, and it included a chest xray. (I mention this now, but keep reading to the next session.) I meet with my family doctor on Wednesday after lunch for my pre-op physical to make sure that there is nothing that the anesthesiologist needs to know. If all goes well, surgery take about an hour, then an hour in the recovery room, then into my room for the night. Dr. Black (my surgeon) plans for me to spend part of Friday and be home by dinner time. I have a picnic scheduled for Saturday with my SCA/reenacting group, and I really, really want to be able to make it. After surgery, it's 2 weeks of no driving, then another week of "quiet", then I should be back in form. Unless something unusual happens, this will be the end of my experience with cancer!
Fort Erie - continued
In the meantime, we got unpacked and the canvas tried out from Fort Erie. We got the dishes and cooking pots cleaned and could find the living room again.
Tents drying in the back yard - Our tent, Jeff's tent, the company dining awning.
Next in our list of life was getting Katie packed for year 2 at Fanshawe College. She has a job as a Resident Advisor and has 2 weeks of training before the student body arrives. She took a small amount of things with her on Saturday, gets her permanent room on Friday, then moves the remainder of her things up on the 21st.
Our Immigration update!
We finally have something to report on our continuing work to become permanent residents of Canada.
The quick version - in August 2010, we submitted our forms and tons of documents to Immigration Canada (ImC) to become permanent residents. This would allow us to stay and work for as long as we want.  Right now, John has to reapply every 3 years to stay and work, Robby and I cannot work, and Katie can only work on campus on her student visa. With PR, we have all the rights and responsibilities of all Canadians except being able to vote. (we can still vote in the U.S. as American citizens)
Mid October - Our packet was return.  We forgot to put our names on the money order, forgot to check the box that stated that Katie had never served in the armed forces, and required that John take an English Literacy exam.  He took the next available test in November, we got the test results back in January 2011, and shipped the packet out.
Then we waited. And waited.  And waited.  And waited. With no way to contact anyone.
Last Tuesday, we got a package form ImC with the forms for our physicals.  After some manoeuvring, we got our physicals at the government approved physician in London.We all had blood texts for HIV and syphilis and John and Katie got there chest xrays because of her working all week (long story) Then on Monday Robby and I got our xrays, and John and I got creatine tests because of our hypertension. If all goes as the doctor plans, she'll have all the results back by the end of this week. She can then send them to the Ministry of Health in Ottawa; they will review the tests and agree/disagree with her findings, then send everything on the ImC.
Then we wait again. The next step will be a request that we send out passports in for the visa to be put into them, then the final crossing of the border for reentry as landed immigrants.  What a neat Christmas gift that would be for us. (we initially came to Canada on December 13, 2007.)
Our Family Staycation
John's vacation ends today. He, Robby and I went to Kitchener on Monday for lunch with Joe and Wendy and a trip to J&J game store. Robby got a great deal on a Warhammer Wood Elf army, and John got some neat figures for D&D. We also got some neat things for Katie that she'll get on Friday.
John and I got in a tabletop game of Napoleonic era Italians (mine) vs Austrians (his). We'll finish it tomorrow evening.

Next update - Post surgery.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Some good stuff and some good times.

Since my last entries have been less than positive, I decided to share some good stuff.
John has been on vacation since last week, and we've been having a "staycation".  Last week was full of prep work for our annual trip to Fort Erie, where John and Robby took the infantry line as part of the 17th U.S.Infantry during the War of 1812. Jared and Nick from our unit, The King's Company .  Joining us was our friend Andy and his son Steve, who are part of an American War of Independence unit. Andy wants to be part of the bicentennial of the War, so he'll be along with us for the next two or so years.
We broke with tradition, and went out on Friday afternoon.  Most of the official activities didn't take place until Saturday morning, but we had Friday to get set up, and just visit with friends. Since Pooka is now an "only" dog, we packed up his stuff and his cage and took him along.  He's never been camping, and we set up his cage in the canvas tent with Katie and me. John and Robby were in a borrowed canvas tent next door.
Katie and I were in charge of meals, and keeping the unit dining area organized. We tried to have a campfire, but    we were having trouble lighting a fire due to the wet, damp wood. So we just had a nice chat and were actually in bed early.
Saturday morning, we were woken by the sound of a fife and drum corps at 6.30am. The fort opens at 10am, and we have to be up and ready to meet and greet the civilians. The guys had to be ready to accept the British Surrender at 11am, and get on with the day.  Katie was working to complete her internship with the Ontario Visual Heritage Project, this time as a location scout.   She spent a part of the day behind her camera and making notes on the size of rooms and places in the fort.
The downside was the heat. In the middle of the afternoon, the humidex was 41C/104F.  We did get a fire going, and had a great beef stew for dinner.  The evening battle is the British forces storming the U.S. held fort, with the culmination of the battle being when the British blow up the powder magazine. In year's past, this was 3 or 4 large fireballs, but this year we only had on ok-looking fireball. What a let-down.
We had some light rain overnight, and got up Sunday morning to heat at 8am, high humidity, and not a breath of air. And this is combined with wool jackets!  We had a quick unit meeting over breakfast, and decided to pack up and head for home before the predicted storms rolled in that afternoon.
Pooka was the unit ambassador.  Often people will stop by our camp, but will seem hesitant to "interrupt" us. Pooka would start wagging his tail, they would move forward to pet him, and voila, we have the beginning of a conversation.  He was wonderful!  Most of the area didn't even know that we had a dog anywhere near.  He was quiet a night, and during the day only started to bark when a dog would come close, then he'd quiet down very quickly.
In spite of all of this, we had a good time. Lots of fun with friends from other units, with our unit, and as a family.  I have some trim work to do on John's wool coatee before our next event on October 1/2 at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London. (Most of you in the area have already received a facebook invite). We also have a few SCA events coming up that I hope to get to after surgery recovery.
I'm adding some pics, some from this year and one or two from last year.  Enjoy the picture show!
Pooka in his uniform. The men's uniform coats are blue with white, and we're the 17th U.S.
(the tail is blurred - it seldom stopped wagging)
Katie as a 1812 hipster.

The U. S. campsite.

Our tents.  John and Robby (far left), Beth and Katie (centre) and Jared (right)

The British scaling the wall.  The smoke is from the musket fire! 

This is what our unit shelter looks like. (this picture from 2010)  

The explosion of the powder magazine (from 2010)

An upcoming date with the surgeon

For those of you who I haven't talked with lately, I have a date of Aug. 18 for my surgery.  I won't know what time until the day before, but I do know that I'll have to show up early the day of, and I'll be staying overnight until at least Friday. I'll have a nurse come for 7 to 10 days for follow-up care.
According to Dr. Black, I won't be having muscles or lymph gland removed, so my recovery time should be minimal. Two weeks without driving and another week of "quiet" with no excessive physical activity.

so far, so good.....