This is a first-person account of having a 25-30 lb. tumor removal operation.
Perhaps this will help others, particularly women, who may not even know they have one; I sure didn’t!
I thought I had gained a few pounds; I tried all kinds of diets, and it seemed that a few even worked. But I never totally lost all the weight; eventually I chalked it up to the fact that sometimes you DO gain weight over any period of time.
And so I coped quite successfully. For several summers, my left leg would swell up like crazy; I always attributed this to the heat or “that time of month.”(During winter, I never even noticed any change. I stay bundled up 99% of the time!)
One particular day, it seemed that my left leg had ballooned and the bloating had now occurred in my left foot. I thought it was unusual, but since I didn’t have any pain, I didn’t worry.
My mother, however, was a different story! Through the early part of the summer, Mom noticed the leg and started nagging me about getting it checked out.
I finally and reluctantly went to see a doctor. I was so sure it was just a bloating condition; I was confident that I’d be given an oral solution, everything would clear up and life would go on as usual.
Wrong! I explained what I thought was a minor problem; after a series of initial tests with no results, my doctor decided to thoroughly check my stomach. And from there, a diagnosis was made. I had a large tumor!
I was shocked and stunned, yet strangely relieved. At least it wasn’t a weight problem!
I was referred to an area hospital for preliminary X-rays and cat scans (the first of many) and then referred to a specialist who confirmed the first diagnosis.
I was definitely going to embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure. Thus began for several weeks a seemingly endless round of X-rays, cat scans, exams, and shots (always a shot!) with the longest needles I’ve ever seen.
The three days before surgery were particularly grueling ones; I had to go on a liquid diet and use an enema (these procedures clean out your bowel and bladder; if you’re having abdominal surgery, it’s a necessity.) The enema was easy, but not eating for three days really makes you edgy.
I would gaze longingly at other peoples’ meals and contemplate grabbing their food. But I controlled myself. I had to.
Finally, the big day. I thought I’d be in a heightened state of frenzy and terror, but I wasn’t. Three days of non-eating had just left me numb; I didn’t care anymore! (I was nervous, just not as much as I should have been.)
I went into the pre-surgery section first; here, you’re prepped (you get naked, but you’re given a hospital gown; and your private parts will be shaven. I strongly suggest removing your body hair yourself at home first.
Nair is an excellent product for this; it’s easy, you’ll be smooth as a baby, and your surgeons will be impressed!) and you’re asked questions about your pre-surgery preparations (they want to make sure you did them) and you in turn, can ask your operating team any questions.
The time came; I was wheeled out on a gurney to the operating room, the entrance to it, actually. An anesthesiologist came up, spoke to me, and gave me a shot of something that he said would relax me. It sure did!
The last thing I remember was talking and pausing a moment to check out some overhead lights. I heard a chorus of voices, then I was OUT! (It wasn’t a gradual process at all; you’re talking one minute, the next, you’re just unconscious.)
When I woke up, I was so groggy. A nearby nurse assured me, “It’s over, honey. Your operation’s done.” I then recall asking my mom if I had colostomy bag attached on me. (There was a possibility that I would need one if I had my bowel couldn’t be saved. I really didn’t want one; if I had awakened and found one on me, I would have ripped it off immediately. Damn the consequences!) I passed out again; when I came to, I was in this tiny hospital room.
And yet they somehow managed to squeeze an additional bed, TV, etc. in the cubbyhole. This was to be my home for a week. What a long one that turned out to be! I didn’t like being around total strangers or sick people. No home cooking, familiar sights, or smells. No homey touches. (But I hung in there, adaptable slug that I am!)
On the plus side, I did get some rest, except for those constant shots. And an emergency blood transfusion. And a continuation of that liquid diet (for another week!) And my roommates’ nearly 24-hour running of the other TV. And the hollering and screaming from the other rooms. (But I did have constant morphine!)
Finally, I was allowed to go home and was released. There was still at least six weeks of recuperation, but I’d be at home!
Those first three weeks, I didn’t feel like doing anything; even eating’s a chore! (You’re so tired; it takes mighty effort to simply wash yourself. I had to rest after each meal or cleaning. Sink wash-ups. No showers or baths right away!) I couldn’t even go up and down stairs, work or anything.
There was a catheter tube attached to me and a stint inside me (the former, to aid and ease my urine flow; the latter, to repair damage to my left kidney. Eventually both these devices were removed.)
By week four, I had regained some strength back and was taking tentative trips up and down stairs. By weeks five and six, I was outdoors, and was authorized to return to work by week six; I actually returned by week seven.
I’ve since discovered that many people have large tumors in them and aren’t aware they do; the common reaction, if there’s no pain, is “Oh, I gained a few pounds. Oh well, I’ll just diet or do more exercise.”
I’d like to help those in a similar position; that’s the purpose of all this. Eventually I’d like to start an international foundation.
There were several connected tumors all attached to one central one. Amazing, isn’t it? And the whole thing was 25-30 lbs.!
My particular situation was actually life-threatening; my kidneys were shutting down. (Still no pain, though; go figure, huh?)
Had I not had the surgery, I’d be on a kidney dialysis machine, or just plain dea. My first hospital roommate was a woman on kidney dialysis. I didn’t know the origins of her condition, but it didn’t matter: This was my future right across from me! (And there was still the death option.)
She had large black marks all over both arms. Why? As a result of requiring constant shots almost around the clock. Several of her veins had already collapsed from all this. She advised me: “Honey, you don’t want all this. My husband’s on kidney dialysis, too. (Whoa!) Our whole life is now this.”
As I left the hospital, I ran right into the same lady being wheeled back in (she had no strength to walk; were they now giving shots in her legs? Or other places?) She practically lived in the hospital; she had to be on the machine three-four days a week, several hours a day. Ouch! Ick! Great Googa Mooga!
Basic Medical Info
A tumor is a swelling or abnormal growth of tissues in the body. This occurs whenever anything interferes with the reproductive control of cells. The cells multiply and gradually build up a mass of tissue. (They can go wild, as mine did.)
Tumors have their own growth patterns independent of the surrounding tissue and are characterized by gradual development.
A cyst is a tumor; tumors are also called neoplasms. Some tumors are caused by viruses. (I don’t think mine was.) The word itself means “to swell.”
Tumors occur more in women than men; this could be due to there being more fibroid tissue in women. (One woman in four may have a tumor, but recent research has indicated a higher figure; more than three in four may actually be affected.)
Men tend to develop lipoma, a tumor made up of fat tissue that grows on their side.
Some tumors are benign. They usually do no spread elsewhere in the body. Once benign tumors are removed, they usually do not grow again.
Malignant Tumors (cancer) that are not completely removed can spread throughout the body, often destroying other tissues. Only doctors can determine if a tumor is benign or malignant.
Tumors may grow from any kind of tissue in the body and may develop in the skin, in muscles, nerves, bones, or any organ.