I wrote this a week before surgery and never posted it! To be chronologically consistent I will post it now even though I am post surgery and recovering very well. Here’s some more tension and encouragement to what’s becoming a very long and adventurous tale!
It’s pretty amazing what humans are capable of. Nothing has exposed this better than the pandemic! I know ALL of you know what I’m talking about! We have been placed under the external stress of finances, work, and child care, while adding additional emotional strain of uncertainty, depression, and anxiety! It’s a lifestyle shift for everyone. 2020 has brought down the hammer of turmoil, social unrest, political strife and natural disasters in a culmination unlike anything humans have seen in loooooong time! The way that we process and struggle looks different for each of us but we’re all in the trenches of uncertainty right now and, if nothing else, we’re feeling the discomfort. Two weeks before my surgery was an outward manifestation of my version of this tension. I coached and trained a lot of athletes. My days were long and tiring. Earlier in the week I got to add to the stress of programming, coaching, and managing small group classes my pre-op work up. The pre-op work up was stressful because any of it could deem me a poor candidate for surgery and cancel the whole thing!
In chronological order, I had a pulmonary function test (PFT), surgical consult, CT-PET, blood draw, EKG, more blood draws, and a Covid test to be done forty-eight hours before surgery. I had a full day of appointments and tests (where I wasn’t allowed to eat) that was eight hours long! The PFT looked at my lung capacity to make sure my lungs could handle and recover from a lobectomy. I consulted with the surgical oncologist who specializes in intra surgical chemotherapy to see if I was a good candidate for that. I had a CT-PET scan to make sure there were no surprise tumors anywhere else in my body. I had an EKG to make sure my heart was healthy enough for anesthesia. Finally the multiple blood draws to check my cell counts, tumor markers, and blood type. All that is good and fine but exhausting. Plus I had two migraines and the not eating all day thing… really makes me upset.
But let’s be real, all that stuff is the external. Schedule of hours and hours in the gym, going from one test to another, staying up late to do online programming and coaching, discomfort from migraines, being hungry, smoke from wildfires, wearing a mask… external external external. I’ll talk about that stuff all day. But what adds that true level of difficulty, isn’t my schedule, bodily discomfort or fatigue. The real struggle is in the unseen, it’s the internal stuff. Maybe it’s that way for you too?
The truth is I’m worried about my personal training clients with other coaches or training on their own. I’m worried about my coworkers stress level when I’m not there to support them. I’m worried about the emotional stress my surgery will add to my friends and my family. I’m worried about spending time with people before surgery. I’m worried about how much I’m worried and even more than that my mom internalizes all this even more than i do so, naturally I’m even more worried about my mom’s worry (she’s handling things so well by the way). Then on top of all that, this week I got to add the emotional stress that goes along with all the tests and procedures. I was worried my PFT would show my pulmonary system was actually not where it’s supposed to be and the surgical plan would change. I was worried my immune system was too low and that would affect surgery. I was worried I wasn’t getting enough sleep which, for me, almost always ensures I’m going to get even less sleep. I was worried because my counts were low and I wasn’t getting enough sleep that I would get sick and that would delay surgery. But most of all, I was worried the PET scan would show there was a new tumor somewhere else. That would mean surgery would be cancelled and I’d have to try some new chemo which leads to a whole plethora of rabbit trails of worry.
I think we can all agree that external stress is one thing but it’s the emotional undercurrent that really makes it tough. And emotional undercurrent combined with uncertainty is ALWAYS THE WORST AND MOST INTENSE. Here’s the kicker, send those scary “what ifs” packing! Do not let that worry shape your life or take up more space than it should. The best way to do that is to invite a larger, loving power into your life who can reframe that fear and worry in love! All this is to say, you’re doing great in your life. Battling it out, getting out of bed, making breakfast, managing your schedule, their schedule, work’s schedule, feeding the kids, feeding your dog, putting up that shelf, reorganizing your fridge, folding your laundry, buying groceries, wearing your mask… guys, we’re doing IT!
I could have had all my interactions with athletes strained by my worries. When I was coaching my classes I could have been distracted by my worry. I could have stayed up all night running my worries over and over in my mind (and I have!). My worry could have stolen my joy when I was with my friends, or isolated me from the people who support and help me. Here I am on my soap box again! Guys, the reason it didn’t is because I can trust that loving power outside myself. It’s not the universe, it’s not mental discipline, it’s not even CrossFit. It’s Jesus. Believe you me, if He lets me down in this, you’ll be the first to read about it because I will be irate. Even though I have feared Him failing me many times during this scary, dark, uncertain tunnel of a time in my life, He has not let me down yet! It is my STRONG belief and experience He can reframe your worry and let you have some peace too, if you’ll let Him.
I’m off my soap box now. Annnnnyway, as exhausting and hunger stimulating of a day as my day of tests was, it provided me with some very good, confidence inspiring news! My EKG was normal, blood work normal, PFT above normal (thanks crossfit), and COVID test negative. But the real kicker was the PET scan results. You may recall my tumor markers have been slowly going up, despite chemo, the last several months. Tumor markers have been a very good indicator of cancer activity since my diagnosis. When they go up that has always meant somewhere tumors are growing. With CT scans that show my lung nodules are growing slowly were suspicious that it means there’s cancer somewhere else. That’s why my PET scan could have been a nightmare! High tumor markers could also mean the cancer is trying to spread. It’s never a good idea to go off chemo (like I have to do to recover from my surgery) that suppresses cancer growth when you’re growing cancer. The day of my PET scan, my oncologist text me that my tumor markers are starting to trend down. Finally. Took long enough. That my fear of cancer spreading while I recover from surgery down a notch. Even more so, my PET scan showed no cancer in my colon, liver abdomen pelvis, heart or brain or any other unknown random location. Yes, my left lung lit up like a Christmas tree, saying that the nodules are certainly cancer. With how much it lit up, we can say the cancer is very active. That all means we can confidently the lung nodules were causing the upward trend of my tumor markers. All this reinforces out plan to get the lobe out of there!
My surgery was confirmed for the Friday, September eighteenth. I am thrilled!
PS Expect a surgery post soon!