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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at www.debilynsmith.com

Friday, May 6, 2011

Contact Your Doctor ASAP



(Watching the sun come up at the Houston Texas airport. Part of the 29 hour trek to Costa Rica)


My eyes are crossed from lack of sleep and there's a large kink in my neck. We have been travelling all night but here we are in San Jose, Costa Rica. The heat slams you like a hot wall the second you step out of the plane. We become sheeple following the persons in front through the customs line-up, afterwards to the suitcases, then to the line-up of taxi drivers and shuttle drivers with names written on white sheets of paper they flap in the air like flags. We see our name and feel the relief. We meet Jose from Hermedia who packs us into his van before whisking us off to his hotel for the next two nights. We whiz past palm trees and flowering bushes, past signs in Spanish and I feel the flood of words from past trips to Mexico come back to me.
Jose is a good guide and sends us down the street to the university quarter for cheap cervazas and seafood cerviche once we get settled in.

Tomorrow will be an all-day tour which includes a coffee plantation, a waterfall park with a zoo filled with long, nasty snakes, poisonous frogs and white-faced monkeys and the highlight- a hike to the live and smoking Poas Volcano. This is a dangerous and exciting country.

My lap top refuses to co-operate and give me my mail so I use the public computer supplied by the hotel. I see a letter from the technician at the Finlandia Pharmacy where I had the thermal imaging done on my breasts two days ago. The results must have come back. I don't realize I am holding my breath until I read the words "please be advised that you should contact your doctor as soon as possible." The air trapped in my lungs comes out in a loud "ooof" like I have been hit by a baseball bat. I bend over for a second, wondering if I am going to throw up.
It passes. My brain starts hollering I knew it, I knew it! This isn't over. The nightmare continues!
I fire off a letter to my girlfriend, the doctor. It reads "panic, panic, freak-out, distressed, over-stressed, what now, why me, panicked and frightened. Love Deb."
I then fell apart.
What did they find? Has the cancer spread? Is it in my bones, my brain, my organs? Will it be quick? Should I go home? Should I go to the hospital here? Will I have time for a shot of tequila? Do they have tequila in Costa Rica?
My husband thankfully points out I should calm down a bit, possibly with a glass of red wine in my hand?
It takes more than a glass.
Okay. Back to the world of cancer. So what am I afraid of? They've already put me through every thing they could dream up, except a torture rack, which maybe will come next. So I'll be taller. But thinner, I quickly add!
Come on, Deb.This will be dealt with the same way as last time. Analyze, cut, poison and nuke. I can do this. I will do this. In fact, I absolutely refuse to go anywhere, if possible, before I have grandkids. And at the rate our kids are moving, that may take years. We will just have to deal with this. I'm almost back to full steam again. I have enough energy to kick some more cancer butt!
And look at the positive side. Here is another license to go ahead and eat multiple pounds of chocolate bars again. Yeah! Like a five-year-old. What...go through all that cancer crap again? But I can eat lots of chocolate again? Okay!"
And just like that, as I prepared to hit the little mini super beside the hotel, a message appeared from Sandi. Like two arms coming from the sky to wrap around me and whisper, "shhh, shhh, it will all be okay." Sandi went searching for more information on thermal imaging and told me that any results the imaging company had was not a diagnosis. Only a biopsy after a mammo, ultrasound or an MRI could give me that. And there were lots of false negatives and positives with thermal imaging, not to mention my breasts were still healing from surgeries and radiation. Healing promotes rapid cellular growth which would look similar to a cancer growth. She assured me we would book more tests after my holiday. She also said she was sure there wouldn't be a recurrence that fast. Along with other very re-assuring things.
The breath comes out. The breath goes in.
The chocolate stays on the shelf at the store.

I have been back in Canada for two days now. The test results from the Thermal Imaging was in the mail, and contrary to what the tech wrote, it says that the findings seem to concur with the surgeries and radiation. It welcomed me to return, no charge, to establish a base line from which future thermal imaging will be compared to. There was a list of vitamins to consider which I see I am already taking. Again it said to try and keep an alkaline rather than an acidic body and to drink plenty of fluids at all times. Cancer likes acidic, dehydrated bodies.

Not to create a panic, but I think I'd like to head out and find some seaweed to chew on. I can follow it with a big glass of BC's finest water. And possibly a teaspoon of baking soda just to be on the safe side. Those grandkids seem like a really long ways away.

Holidays Start With Some X Rated Photos

Booking a holiday on points at the last minute has its problems. But they seemed small in the face of my life, lately, so it was with this frame of mind I booked the nine times we would take off and land seated in the very back of a weaving overgrown metal bread box. Welcome aboard Air Canada, Continental Air and United Airlines. Go straight to the last row of seats, get as uncomfortable as you can, try to ignore the spontaneous regrowth of the line-up to the bathroom in the aisle beside you making the claustrophobic noose even tighter. Jump at the sonic sound of the toilet flushing fifty times an hour. You got this flight for free and we are going to make you very, very sorry about that.
But at the time, that sweet moment after you've booked everything and all you can imagine is the white sand between your toes and the smell of palm trees and salted green water, deciding what to wear seemed the hardest thing I faced. What can a 3000 watt woman wear for 28 hours of travel? From snow covered tarmac through an eight hour stop-over in Vancouver before three more airless seating procedures, the blazing sun through the secure airport windows in Oregon, Texas and Costa Rica, through the shuttle and suitcase-dragging ordeals? A bathing suit would be my first choice, a space suit with regulated air conditioning a high second. Yet it was my hiking zip-off pants with socks inside sandals (yes, I know, how gauche but at least I wore some the same color as the pants), that finally won, with a base tank top beneath a sweat-wicking long sleeved t-shirt. About as sexy as a grave-digging uniform. To combat this, I put on the "good" new underwear. I bought a softer, more forgiving sports bra with yes, an underwire, but it's well padded and does not rub anything the wrong way as the rest of my old bras still do. Add some matching bikini wear and at least I feel a little less manly (as I absent-mindedly pull at the visible growth of white peach fuzz on the sides of my jaw!).

Vancouver was only beginning to see a few daffodils and tulips popping their heads from their dirt beds when we got scooped up by a best friend who whirled us downtown for my appointment with Finlandia pharmacy. I was booked for a 3PM thermal imaging of my breasts- the first test I have had since surgery in August. In luck with a half price special on ($142.), I was seated in a small room facing the thermal imaging camera, told to strip to my waist and instructed on how to pose, arms over head in five different positions. My own porn shots for Barry. Good enough for a Fathers day gift, although the final photos are very psychedelic in greens, oranges and reds? The camera picks up any hot spots which may indicate a cancer growth as cancer accelerates and grows so fast that it causes friction and heat. This will show as a certain colour on the final imaging which will be sent to a specialist who can properly read the the photos and send the findings to us.

I am very emotional during the entire procedure. Possibly because I am terrified they will find something. This comes from the past year when every test I took seemed to end with more bad news. I have no faith in anything and so wait with bated breath for that carpet to once again be pulled out from beneath me. I'm like a beaten dog that cowers at the sight of a raised broom, at another professional administering a "test."

The woman helping me explains she was a doctor in her country (which I think is Latin America) and indeed wears a white lab coat and doesn't flinch at the sight of my battle-scarred breasts. Her English is passable but loses credibility after she spends twenty-five minutes asking me questions about the surgeries and treatments- some that do not make sense. After she hits the wrong button on her lap top and loses everything, I offer to help and together we re-fill in the on-line form. Reading the information myself helped me realize what the form was needing so it was a much more detailed and accurate second attempt that was eventually sent away with my photos. The results would be mailed to me but I explained I would not be home for the next three weeks and would be holding my breath with fear for as long. I managed to extract a promise from her that when she received the results, before mailing them out, that she would read them and send me a personal e-mail on the bottom line. Clear or not.
It turned out to be a very silly thing to do. It almost ruined our holiday.
But that is another story for the next blog!

I Resemble That Volcano





I never thought about having anything in common with a volcano before, but this picture is proof. We are both smouldering hot! The smoke behind me is actually leaking out from beneath my armpit. Between the hot flashes and the humidity of Costa Rica, I could give the phenomenon in the background a run for its tourist attraction ratings.
I am writing this on my new lap top. I got my wallet out after three weeks being incommunicado on holidays. My previous lap top was so jammed full it couldn't even defrag. At 6 years old it had developed Alzheimers and getting more memory was going to be a battle for something so "obsolete" (I still wonder if the salesman was talking about me or the computer?). I couldn't pay for a new one fast enough after having dragged that ten pounds of useless metal on and off of nine flights. It's a wonder it didn't take a flight of its own, except that I am currently able to use the two lap tops at the same time here at home. Maybe now I can get some work done! Once I get all the bugs out of the new guy who doesn't seem to want to publish the blogs I write. Sigh.
Costa Rica is a fine country. Extremely laid back. We never saw one calendar, only a few people wearing watches and even less free computer use. Phoning home required the deposit of a first born child, so when in Rome...I sent postcards that might reach my friends and family next month, with any luck?
I went to Costa Rica to put the past eight months behind. To regain my strength, renew my spirits and get ready to come back swinging (or typing as the case may be). So I rested, relaxed, ate, swam, hiked, thought, remembered, cried, mopped up and came out eager to get my old life back. Correction: my old life with some very important changes. More water, less booze, more anti-oxidants, less red meat, more stretching and yoga classes, less pounding myself into the pavement jogging three times a week.
The new pill I was given two days before we left (Zoladex which stops the production of estrogen) hit me hard at first. It is a small pill that is injected beneath the skin over my abdomen and it works on a slow release over a month before having to be replaced.
The initial reaction feels like I haven't slept in days. It's all I can do to stay awake! This morning I received my second shot. I drove home and as soon as I reached the driveway and put the truck in park mode, I sat there for a minute and before I knew it, I was waking up! I had fallen asleep. Now that's scary!
If I can recall this right, the next thing is a drop in libido, which is a listed side-effect. Of course that didn't last once in the land of palm trees, king sized beds and half naked bodies walking around everywhere. We'll have to see what happens with this second dose. At the moment it's not like I have anything against doing "the nasty", I'm just not sure I can stay awake through the whole thing. I'm writing as fast as I can so I can hit the sheets and finally close my eyes.
This might have something to do with us arriving late last night and not getting to bed before 11 pm. Then up at 6 for circuit training before running with Sandi at 7. But no, Barry remembers I went through this the last time. I am totally exhausted. Not like the old me. Not even like the "new me" which I guess I am still finding out about.
Hopefully I get the blogs caught up this next week. I'll take you through the highlights of the past 20+ day's adventures and hair growth as quick as I can without boring you to death. I need to get a new schedule going of writing the blogs and repairing the books. It's going to take some diligence, and a bit of ignoring the Skype, FaceBook, e-mails, phone and house cleaning (not that I have any problems with that!) Let the dust bunnies roll! Just don't leave any dust bunny poop behind on the carpets where others might see, please.
Now I really do need to go to bed. At least I got this done. Score...one for Deb, none for procrastination.

One small step at a time!
It's good to go away, but it's also good to come home!