A new lease on life

Today is the eleventh day post surgery and I still cannot believe how well I am doing and all the things that I can do!! Tiredness does creep up more often than I would like which is why it has taken me so long to write something again.

In my last blog, I had written about the surgery that I had before me. What I did not mention  was that I had been told there was no way to know how big the growth was or if it had spread till the surgeon opened me up. I was well aware that that even if the surgeon managed to remove the entire growth with the hysterectomy, I might have to go in for some radiation later to ensure that everything DSC_0560-1was “taken care of”. I had spent the weeks before reading up on the best and worst case scenarios and trying to prepare myself for them. Although there was no absolute certainty that the growth was malignant, the experienced surgeon had told me I should prepare for both options. I had read up enough about the type of cancer that spreads as quickly as it appears and can take a life within a span of six to eight months (my growth appeared to belong to this type). All this was not something that I had been prepared for in any way, which is why I decided for a surgery date end of January
because I wanted time to “deal with it”. As always, I faced all these fears of mine all alone; reading up on material late evenings, praying, questioning and crying out to God during many a sleepless night. It was only the night before the surgery that I thought it fair to tell my mother that she should be prepared for the fact that they may not be able to remove everything during the surgery. Interestingly she mentioned that she had had a hunch about it all and she assured me that if things didn’t turn out well, she would come to be with me and ensure I wasn’t alone to face what might be before me. Mothers do sense a lot even if we don’t tell them everything, especially when they are close to their children like my mom is!

We drove to the clinic early in the morning on the day of surgery.  I was supposed to be there by 7am which meant a very early start since the clinic is an hour from where we live. Check-in went smoothly, the young lady at the reception was extremely nice and caring. I was assigned to my room, the surgeon came by personally to see me and informed me that I was the second in line for surgery. And then the waiting began. To say that this was not easy would be an understatement. All the anxieties and fears that I had been dealing with in bits and pieces over the past weeks came crashing down on me. This is when I IMG_1957again read through all the comments, good wishes, prayers and encouragement that I had got from all of you when you read my post about the surgery.  Thank you once again for reaching out to me through your comments, WhatsApp and other messages – they were a huge source of comfort especially in this hour. And then it was time to go into surgery.  I was picked up from my room by a very kind male nurse and Bernd could even walk with us to the doors of the surgery area. Then I was wheeled into the preparation room and the anaesthetist and nurses started preparing me for surgery. I must mention here that the entire team was extremely nice, professional, kind and empathetic (nothing like the experience I had had two years ago in a clinic in Munich). Just before they put me to sleep, the anaesthetist asked me if I had decided on a dream that I wanted to have when I fell asleep. I told her I didn’t, to which she said she would give me two minutes to quickly decide on one. To be honest I couldn’t think of anything since the only “sudden thought” in my mind at that moment was a feeling of sadness that my uterus was soon going to join the two unborn children that I had lost years ago and never seen. When she asked me again, I told her without thinking even for a second that I was going to dream about sleeping in God’s arms and that He was going to care for me. She actually stopped doing what she was doing, looked me straight in the eyes, told me that in her entire career she had never heard anything like that before and that it was the nicest dream that one could possibly have. And then I fell asleep.

I woke up very groggy, confused and had no idea how long the entire procedure had taken. I wasn’t dealing too well with the anaesthesia, threw up and fell asleep again. This continued for a while and then after some time, I was well enough to be rolled back into my room. I vaguely remember Bernd waiting there and asking me if I was ok. I don’t IMG_E2335recall what I answered because all I wanted to do was sleep. Some time later I woke up to a lot of pain, managed to say that I felt pain and the nurses immediately increased my dosage of painkillers. It was at that time that I realised what was hurting me in my lower region was a catheter but that I didn’t appear to have any bandage over my stomach. It slowly dawned on me that it appeared I had no external cuts, that the surgeon had managed to remove my uterus and the growth without cutting my stomach wall (which he had promised to do!) By evening the pain killers were working, I even ate some salad and heard then from Bernd that I had been in surgery for over two hours, twice as long as had been expected.

The next morning, the surgeon was at my bedside shortly after 7am. The first thing that he did was to assure me that he had managed to remove the entire growth with the uterus. So I did not have to worry anymore, the growth had not spread outside and

IMG_E2322
The view from my hospital bed

hence there would be no follow-up radiation or even medication (other than the painkillers that I was on!) Surgery had not been easy at all and had it been another patient, he might have reverted to key hole surgery but in my case he wanted to try to do it without. He was aware that without any external wounds, I would heal faster and be back on my feet doing lighter sports and exercises soon. He knew I needed that to get well soon. So he didn’t give up. All I could do was thank him profusely, had I been able to get out of bed I would probably have hugged him!! I was bit worried that he wasn’t smiling (since he had always smiled and joked with me) but he was concerned that I had had pain the day before and didn’t look too good. He told me that he thought I could go home in two days. That didn’t sound good but I was too glad to have it all over and behind me.I spent the day being thankful, drinking a lot and glad that the catheter and tubes were removed. I had a lovely room and Bernd was allowed to stay with me in the room – something that is not usual at all in normal German hospitals. I spent the day resting, getting up to go to the bathroom, trying to walk around a bit since I was pain free and was just so thankful that it was all over. By evening I was feeling much better.

The next morning I was up early, showered and brushed by the time the surgeon came

JIAA9562
This prayer is on the wall of the surgeons office and talks about humility!

by. He had one look at me, smiled, saw my phone lying on my stomach with Jaden’s picture on it and asked me if I was already missing him. I replied that I had been missing him since the afternoon before. He looked at me and asked me if I wanted to see Jaden that afternoon. My eyes must have lit up so obviously that he smiled and said he would tell the nurses to send me over to his office to have a look and see if my wounds were ok. A few hours later I was sitting in his examination room and he told me I could go home the same day! We had a long talk then and he explained in detail how he removed the growth, the complications that had been there etc. since he knew that I was interested in knowing all about it. We talked again about how very few surgeons operate without key hole today but he still tries to do so even if it sometimes takes longer and is more complicated, because he knows it helps the recovery process and is the most non-invasive method for him.  While talking to him, I realised again how blessed I was that my gynaecologist had insisted I go to him. He is not only one of the best in his field but he is also very humble, empathetic and kind. When I asked him about the precautions that I should take, he didn’t mention any.  He told me he wouldn’t tell me to take it easy because I wouldn’t do it any way 🙂 He said I should walk as much as I can and it would tire me so I would then automatically rest. The only thing that he insisted on was putting me on sick leave for the rest of the week and the next. He told me I could work from home if I wanted to but that was my decision – he insisted on writing me sick for the next 10 days!

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With the surgeon Prof. Anthuber on Day 2 after surgery

So I went home two days after a major surgery, grinning from ear-to-ear! My gynaecologist called me that evening to hear how I was doing and was shocked to know that I was home already!! I then heard more about my surgery since the surgeon had called my gynaecologist from the operating room (he does that with patients that my gynaecologist sends him). It had not been an easy case and as my gynaecologist mentioned too, any other surgeon would have resorted to key hole. I also learned that I had left a lasting impression on the surgeon when I first visited him in December and he was determined to ensure that he did his best to get me back on my feet as soon as possible.

On the third day post surgery, I even went for a 3km walk with Bernd and Jaden!! On the fourth day I had a surprise visit from a dear friend who lives in Vienna and another friend from Munich. Seeing this dear friend from Vienna it finally struck home that I had been given another chance at life, that it seemed I had been given more than six months to live and that God had been very gracious to me.

Recovery after that has been amazing. I stopped taking painkillers from Day 4 post IMG_020090B0F6D7-1surgery and haven’t needed one since then. I was out walking with Bernd and Jaden every day, increasing the distance since I was already walking at my normal speed very quickly. And exactly one week after surgery, I went for a 7km walk in sunny weather! I sent an Email to the surgeon to inform him about how well I was feeling and even he was astonished. He tried to tell me it was because of my positive mindset but I told him I thought it was a combination of his excellent operating skills, his patience and God’s goodness and mercy. The surgeon has asked me if he can talk about my case at the next Gynaecology-Cancer conference, if he can show them my picture and my Runtastic screen shot with the 7km. I of course told him to go ahead 🙂

I started to work again last week itself, I worked a few hours the first two days but by the third day I was working “normally”. I am glad that I work from home and can hence participate in conference calls, answer Emails etc and lie down if I want to. I have to say here that neither my manager or my team expect me to do so, on the contrary they are trying to “slow me down”. However I enjoy what I do and this is also part of my work or moral ethic if you like to call it that. I do not see my job as something that “has to be done”, I see it as part of my life and one of the things that God has given me to do here on this earth. So I will do it to the best of my ability and if I feel well enough to work, I will work.

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Day 3 post surgery I was out walking with Bernd and Jaden!

I do tire easily and don’t have much energy to do a lot of things physically yet. I enjoy my walks with Bernd and Jaden but I don’t take over the leash i.e. Bernd has Jaden on the leash. Jaden is a very strong puppy and tends to think every pheasant, rabbit or cat that he sees invites him to chase them! I cannot yet risk him running into the leash and me using my stomach muscles to stop him! I am also not going out much at the moment, resting as much as I can so that I am fit for the weekend in Stockholm coming up very soon!

Thank you once again for all your prayers and wishes; the beautiful messages and flowers, for thinking of me and checking in on me. It means more to me than you can ever imagine. I am acutely aware of the fact that I “got off very lightly” this time, that God has His protection and plan for me; that life is very precious and I have been given a new lease on life. As I had mentioned in my last post, I had already begun making some changes to my life before I got the news about my growth before Christmas. I will IMG_E2412continue to make these changes because one of the things this experience has also shown me is those who stand by me (and my mom for that matter) and those who don’t; those who reach out and those who talk about praying and don’t bother to reach out in any way whatsoever. I am still overwhelmed not only at God’s goodness but also at the love, affection and care that I have received from dear friends all over the world (not to mention my mother who has been a solid rock for me in this very trying time too, even though the day of my surgery was a very difficult one for her where she was very alone too!).

I will continue to passionately do what I did before – be it to stand up against injustice and abuse of any kind; to fight for those who don’t have a voice; continue to distance myself from those that are only interested in superficial and shallow relationships; try to be transparent and real even if others call me a fool for being so; break taboos and refuse to live up to other peoples expectations of what “I am supposed to do because culture demands it”;  enjoy every moment with dear friends and not take them for granted; seek God’s will in all that I do and try to hear His voice above all the clamouring voices….there is so much that I want to do and I am very grateful that I have been granted more time to do it in.

Above all I am very grateful to God for carrying me through it all; for His infinite Grace, Love, Mercy and Goodness!

Deepest waters

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