Saturday, October 31, 2009

The arrival of fall - transformation

I've struggled this past week not knowing what to share, what not to share, publicly, on my blog. In some ways, it seems like health struggles should be my own personal struggle - one I only share with my partner and my healthcare practitioners. In a week will be Pet Haven's largest fundraiser, our third annual Fall Benefit. Part of me says, I don't have time to get sick -- not now. For a month my body essentially stopped digesting food ... symptoms that led me to see a gastroenterologist this past week. For almost two weeks it seemed like my digestive system was getting back on track, till yesterday afternoon - much to my dismay the symptoms returned. I'm scheduled for an endoscopy on the 9th. The recurrence of previous symptoms may change the course I head down. One thing my acupuncturist and my gastroenterologist agree on is that there's malabsorption going on. The question now is ... is it my pancreas? My doctor didn't feel the need to head down that path as the digestive symptoms had subsided by the time I saw him this past Wednesday. I had a two week reprieve. The symptoms are back ... this time how long will they last? Weight loss, inability to digest fat, fatigue ... the combination of these symptoms are concerning to me; they're concerning to my acupuncturist; to my primary doctor who feels "we are missing something"; and to the gastroenterologist. Add to all of this, the lump in my breast is continuing to grow. My surgeon has squeezed me into her calendar for Wednesday. She recommends I go ahead and make an appt to see an oncologist so she can work collaboratively with the oncologist. I called the oncologist my dear friend Elaine saw as she battled cancer so bravely until the very end. All my records and files are being sent to Dr. Murphy so she can review them and on Monday I call to set up a time to meet with her. After meeting with my surgeon on Wednesday I know that my partner and I will be faced with more decisions.  I suspect there will be more tests and eventually surgery again. I am scheduled to leave for the Philippines with my sister on November 18th so I can go home to visit my mom. Her health is not the best and I want to visit her. My hope is that my own health won't deter me from making the long journey home.

I stepped outside this week to take photos of the beautiful fall leaves. And to capture a squirrel scurrying to the top of a tree. As I took a deep breath I could feel the transformation, the changing of the seasons. Transformation happens every day, every moment -- around us and within us. At a cellular level, I can feel my cells changing. My body is trying desperately to tell me something.

At a cellular level I am connected to my father and my mother. My mother had breast and colon cancer. She's a survivor. My father ... at the young age of 39 started to lose weight. My mom tried to convince him to go to the doctor. He kept saying "honey, i'm fine." My mom says "your Papa was losing weight but he kept telling me he was fine. One day i noticed he was turning yellow and told him he was going to the doctor whether he wanted to or not." It was 1968. She took him to the doctor in Thailand. Liver disease. It was too late. We traveled to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri in hopes the doctors here could save him. After two months, we lost him.

I know that my father would've gone to the doctor sooner if he knew how sick he was. I believe he would've done things differently. I hear his voice when I find myself saying to my partner, "I feel fine." Unintentional weight loss (over 30 pounds) is not "normal" ... and with my body not knowing how to digest fat .... and a lump in my breast growing with a vengeance -- i know there's something going on. It's tough though, because for the most part, I really do feel fine.

I can't imagine how my mom felt when she heard the words come out of the doctor's  mouth, "your husband is dying." She told me this past June when I was in the Philippines, "if only I made your Papa go to the doctor sooner...."

Dear body: I am listening. Please know that I am listening.
Dear Mama and Papa: I feel you in my spirit and I will take steps to take care of myself.
Dear Mary: I promise to be proactive in taking care of my health so we can have a lifetime more of summers at the lake house and beach time frolicking on Marco Island in the winters.


  1. Dear Marilou,
    Thank you for being so courageous as to share your battle. I am sending you warm, healing energy and praying the doctors find the cause so they are able to begin a cure. All my thoughts, and love and energy are with you. If there is any way else I can be there for you please know that I am not only willing but truly WANT to more than anything.
    Anne Hendrickson

  2. Marilou--

    It is quite difficult to know how much to share with the world, or even those close to you. I struggle with that constantly. I do think that some aspects should be private, but the fight...the signs...the manner in how you deal with what you are going through...I believe that sharing those aspects will help others. My experience has been that writing/blogging about things is very...cathartic. I have met so many new, fun, and interesting people through my blog, and I have made some really great friends. I am still dealing with some health problems as well--sometimes it feels like it would be a lot easier to just hide and withdraw, but I know now that doing so is counter-productive. I feel better when I actually make the effort to reach out to others.

    I will be thinking of you a lot, and following your blog. I hope that you find the answers about your health that you seek, and I will be hoping for the best. I will be missing out on the Fall Benefit this year :'( but I hope to see you soon.