Skip to main content
#
Feeling Ostomistic
Monday, March 21 2016

Reading that heading, are you thinking "Wait did I just read that right?".

Well my friend, you certainly did.

Firstly, let me start by saying this is nothing sexual. Not that I am judging anyone who is into that sort of stuff... but my doctor advised me I needed to start fingering my stoma for medical reasons not sexual.

You might recall me complaining and sharing the recent experience of my new stoma here on my blog and on social media, and if you've been following from home you'll know that this new stoma is a bitch and is tricky and is very leaky!

One of the problems with the stoma, is due to the remaining tumour being completely adhered to the stoma it is pulling the stoma down from the surface and making it retracted.

Imagine a cone or a funnel, how you have a bigger and wider opening towards the top but at the bottom/base it is a smaller and more narrower hole.

Now imagine that small hole is under a lot of pressure and is getting smaller and smaller because it is being pulled down. 

Imagine that hole getting so small and closing up that passing any sort of waste through the stoma would become rather painful... That smaller hole is the part of my small intestine (small bowel) that USED to be stiched to the surface of my skin, and is now sitting some 5cm below the surface of what now looks like a belly button hole.

.. well this is what I am facing with my new stoma. There is a high chance that I could need corrective surgery (which might only make things worse) if it gets to this last stage.

But my doctor told me I can avoid this by doing one simple thing each time I do a bag change or at least once a day... and that is fingering my stoma!

It doesn't have to be rough or anything, but if I put my finger down into the stoma and just sit it there it should help to stretch it out. It does kinda hurt, it does bleed a little and there is often a huge gush of waste coming out.

But as much as I hate doing it I also don't want to be in the position where it will close over an become painful (or I should say more painful).

I just wish I could go back to how things were with my old stoma... I am really missing it!

disclaimer: please don't go stretching your stoma hole willy nilly without the guidance of your bowel surgeon or stoma nurses, I am simply sharing my recent experience in the hopes of helping someone in a similar situation feel less alone or feel empowered enough to ask if it is something they need to do to help their own difficult stoma.

Posted by: Talya AT 06:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, February 20 2016

For those who have been following my facebook page would know of my struggle the past several months involving a rather aggressive and fast growing Desmoid tumour that was causing me issues and making me sick.

I haven't blogged much about my tumour and experience, just been mirco blogging on my facebook page. But today, I am wanting to write about my most recent experience which involved having the tumour removed and having  a new stoma created.

According to the Desmoid Tumour Research Foundation a definition of a Desmoid Tumour is that these "... are tumors that arise from cells called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are found throughout our body and their main function is to provide structural support and protection to the vital organs such as lung, liver, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, skin, intestines etc. and they also play a critical role in wound healing. When fibroblast cells undergo mutations they can become cancerous and become desmoid tumors (also known as "aggressive fibromatosis")..."

These tumours can be slow growing or extremely aggressive (which mine are) and can become life threatening when they locally invade or restrict on structures, organs or blood vessels.

I had two tumours (now I have one) both in my mesentery and one is also deep in my abdomen compressing on my kidney and also presses on my stomach and back often causing me pain when I walk short periods or am standing for a few minutes. Hell, even having a shower can quickly become rather painful and tiring! For those at home wondering how big this beast is, it is the size of a watermelon... but this one won't be surgically removed (too risky) and is the one that I have been told will eventually kill me over the next few years and the aim of the chemo is to try and shrink it or stop it from growing before it causes too much damage.

The tumour that was removed last week was the size of a rockmelon (see image below of side on view of my stomach) and has since left me with not only a huge cave-in of my stomach but a new stoma which I am trying to adapt to but it is proving to be a challenge.

Surgeons are usually reluctant to remove these tumours due to their aggressive recurrence and because the more surgery you have the more chances for more tumours to appear, especially when you have a genetic pre-disposition to these tumours caused by FAP.

But, the reason my tumour was removed was because it was dying inside (turning necrotic) and was causing infections, ulcers and fevers and it was decided that it was best to remove the tumour now in hopes of preventing further issues and to make me better enough to FINALLY resume chemo to work on the other beast.

So I have been in hospital since New Years Day back home in Coffs Harbour with the exception of a week where I got to go home, but then I was readmitted there for 10 days while I waited for a transfer to Sydney to have surgery. So I got to Sydney via air ambulance on Tuesday the 9th of Feb and had my surgery on the 15th of Feb.


Me the day after surgery with my trusty Redkite blanket

The surgery went well and I was up walking the next day and had impressed the doctors so much (and myself for that matter) with how well I was doing that they were ready to send me home last Thursday. But my swelling went down on my stomach, and my stoma changed too and my bags no longer were sticking and getting a good seal so it kept leaking.... and leaking... and bloody leaking!

In a 24 hour period from Thursday to Friday I had experienced about 8-10 bag changes, I lost count, and my poor skin was so raw and sore it was quite uncomfortable. Then Friday to Saturday I had almost 24 hours without a leak, then the last 24 hours have experienced about 6 bag leaks and my skin is so sore I just want to cry!

It is so hard adapting to this new stoma, especially when it is so different comparitatively in size. My old stoma I miss so much as it worked and very rarely leaked, where as this one is so small and it is now sitting in a crease in my stomach where I never had a crease before the surgery, but worst of all it has become retracted and is under my skin.

As I said, I am REALLY missing my old stoma and struggling to like or adapt or feel confident with this new one. I know I needed my tumour removed and I know long term it should prove beneficial, but I am struggling to see the ostomisticness right now... which I feel like such a fraud as my blog is called 'optimism with a stoma'... 

I know I have gone through this before, it was 8 weeks of constant leaks before I found the bags that worked for me and then I fell in love with my stoma and the new life and freedom it gave me... but I miss that freedom and confidence and just hope I can perservere and one day will fall in love with this new stoma too.

It was almost three years that I had my first stoma, it had become such a huge part of me and who I am and I know this will sound strange but I do feel a little bit of grief and loss over my stoma. I am not only grieving for my stoma but my independence, dignity, confidence and freedom.

If my tumour hadn't attached itself to my small bowel and stoma I wouldn't have lost such a HUGE chunk of small bowel, and they would have had more bowel to work with to create this new stoma rather than opening me up to dig more bowel out and opening me up for more risks of tumours and complications.

I know it is a process of trial and error, I just have to get through this next bit to fully accept my new stoma.

Posted by: Talya AT 08:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 04 2016

NB: Some images of my stoma and ulcer might be confronting, proceed with caution view at your own risk

For the past month I have been dealing with a new challenge in relation to my stoma.... not that changing my stoma bag isn't enough of a challenge but I have had to deal with an ulcer that had formed mere centimetres from my stoma and required a lot of attention.

I was in hospital early January (the day after New Years) with an infected portacath, and I did a bag change before I went off to surgery and there was this giant ulcer which just more or less appeared near my stoma.

Boy was it sore!

It was fairly deep and over the first week or two was painful to touch but thankfully 5 weeks later, the ulcer has almost fully healed.

But it was certainly confronting and I learnt some new techniques and products (which have become a lifesaver).

I also owe a lot of thanks to my stoma nurse, without her advice and knowledge I would not have known what to do, and luckily she has had plenty of experiences with ulcers near stomas and knew what to do.

I don't want you to feel alarmed or worried that you too will get an ulcer, mine just happened to be caused from a necrotic tumour that is dying and causing an infection under my skin, and that infection was trying to break out to the surface and the pressure formed an ulcer. I hope you aren't unlucky and don't endure this, but hopefully I can share my experience and tips that might help you too.

Some of the products I recently learnt how to use and some application tips:

#1 - Prontosan
This was introduced by my stoma nurse and she gave me a bottle of prontosan to use for when she came to my house for a home visit and stoma bag and wound care change. It is a solution that is great for wound irrigation and has an anti-bacterial property that helps your wounds to heal. It doesn't sting either.

Application: We soaked some cloth in the solution and then placed the saturated cloth over the wound for around 5 minutes, letting it soak in

#2 - Kaltostat
This is a wound dressing that is known for helping to inhibit heamostasis (the body's process to stop bleeding).

Application: A small piece was cut to the size of the ulcer, initially there were two pieces layered on top of one another then as the wound began healing only one piece/layer of dressing was required.

#3 - Coloplast stoma paste
I haven't used stoma paste before, but as we really needed to ensure there was protection of the wound from my stoma output the paste was used to form an added barrier.

Application: Squeeze out some of the paste over the dressing so that it is a line going over it. Using a cotton bud that has been wet, spread the paste out so that it covers the Kaltostat and has formed an extra barrier. It is best to wet the cotton bud to prevent the paste sticking to it and helps the spread of the paste easier.

#4 - Eakin Cohesive seals
I hadn't used these seals until recently, and I love that the seals are big and round and provide a lot of added protection to your stoma and the skin around your stoma.

Application: With these seals you can stretch out the inner circle (looks like a donut) to the size of your stoma. You simply place it over your stoma and press down so that it adheres to your skin. I found this helped to provide an added barrier between my stoma and my wound. You can also cut a line and then wrap the cohesive seal around your stoma and cut a piece from a new cohesive seal if you don't want to stretch it out and want it to be more sturdier.

-----> Now I applied my stoma bag and secured it with the elastic tape seals and now I was ready to face the world

If you're in Australia, these products (minus the prontosan and kaltostat) can be ordered through your ostomy association if you need some assistance be sure to ask your stoma nurse.

I highly suggest if you do get an ulcer or experience skin breakdown near your stoma that you seek the help and advice from your nurse or doctors. My blog is merely a sharing of my experience and tips and I am not a healthcare professional.

Images:

    
Left: stoma and ulcer first day it was discovered approx 2cm. Right: Two days after it was discovered approx 3cm

 
Left: week 4 slowly healing over. Right: it is almost all healed (week 5)

Posted by: Talya AT 11:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 17 2015

November (like October) involved not as much chemo as I would have liked and meant more time spent in hospital.

NOV 3RD, 2015: Had chemo today, was the first day in 3 weeks that I have had it was also Melbourne Cup day. I felt rather seedy the following day(s) and rather tired. Even the blandest of foods I couldn't stomach and wasn't until a few days after chemo that I actually ate something. I actually ended up being admitted into hospital on the 5th of November with fevers and suspected infection somewhere. I had a CT scan which showed my tumours haven't shrunk but they hadn't grown much.

Was a little traumatic on the Monday(9th) when a doctor came to tell me that I had a new tumour and I spent hours crying and hyperventilating, only for my other doctors to come and tell me it was a tumour I already knew about.

After that incident, I asked to be transferred to the Private Hospital and had a few days of rest to let me recoup.

NOV 10TH, 2015: No chemo today as I was in hospital


Me before chemo - lunch at Mangrove Jacks

NOV 17TH, 2015: Had chemo today, was the first day in a fortnight I had chemo. My mum picked me up early and we went and had lunch by Mangrove Jacks, it is this really lovely restaurant situated on Coffs Creek and is majestic.. such a tranquil spot! Was rather funny at lunch there were these seagulls in the water being chased by big fish, the poor birds were paddling their little legs as fast as they could to get away!

 My port bled today for the first time in ever, which had me excited that maybe all the issues of my port were behind me. I did wake this morning to a bunch of sweet texts from my sister (14) and brother (18) wishing me best of luck for chemo. I am loving the family support recently, it is reasurring knowing you're not along in this huge battle.

I started some new medication today, my oncologist prescribed me lorazapam which I am to take the night before chemo, the night after I have had chemo, and the day after I have chemo which will hopefully help keep my body calm and works well with my other medications he gives me during chemo like ondanzatron.

I had fevers a couple of days after chemo, but with some panadol I was able to manage the fevers at home, but have been sufferring bad with kidney pain and migraines.

NOV 24TH, 2015: Didn't have chemo today, they tried to use my port but it wouldn't even flush saline through! I went and had a portagram done, which is a scan of your port to see if it is working and turns out the thing is blocked! I have to come back on Thursday (26th) and have a procedure done to unblock it.

I decided to wear my storm troopers headwrap to chemo today along with my Dior lippy I got from Look Good Feel Better workshop (loving the pink!). I got a lovely compliment from the volunteer today, she said "you always look pretty with your hair wraps". A compliment from a stranger always makes you feel better.


Me all ready for chemo in my storm troopers head wrap

NOV 26TH, 2015: Today I am having my port unblocked. It is a surgery that requires the doctor to make an incision into my groin and going in through the artery he can feed a cable up past my heart and chest and to my neck where my port is and unblock it. The surgery went well and was a success and the port started bleeding back. The surgeon also was able to reposition the port so it wasn't sitting so high up.

I woke up half way through the procedure and it was rather bizarre just laying there not able to feel anything but know that you are being poked and prodded.

Once I was awake, I had to stay in bed for an hour to reduce any complications post surgery and then I was allowed to sit in a chair, have a sandwhich and wait for a couple of hours before I could be discharged.

The incision site was rather sore for a couple of days and chemo will be scheduled for next Tuesday (1st Dec).

Even though it is month two of this chemo saga, it is only something like 4 days (cycles) I have had of chemo because of all the interruptions such as surgeries, port not working and being in hospital. Here's hoping things go a bit more smoothly next month... I am a bit anxious about Christmas and hope to be able to spend it with my family.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 01:41 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, November 16 2015

Hi and welcome to Chemo Diaries: My experience, which will be a monthly series of posts written like a diary about my experience as I undergo chemo. This is the first month post and is also for the month of October, 2015.

Thankfully there is heaps of information out there to help understand the type of cancer treatment you need and how it will effect you. I have found CanTeen have some great resources for helping me to understand what to expect from my cancer journey (even booklets on fertility after treatment). Other great places of information I have found are from the Cancer Council as well as the chemo education sessions I attended at my local cancer centre. 

As I read in the Canteen booklet "Your guide to dealing with cancer ages 16-24", chemotherapy (chemo) is one of the more commonly used methods to treat cancer and it works by using drugs called cytotoxics to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. As explained in the booklet (and from my own experience) chemo also kills your good cells too, making you feel very sick, fatigued, and also why you lose your hair (I am yet to experience hair loss). I also experienced really painful mouth ulcers recently (was so bad I couldn't eat, read more about that below).

Initially I was planned on having monthly doses of Caelyx but after a severe (almost-died-reaction) to it my oncologists decided on weekly doses of Methotrexate and Vinblastine combination to try and shrink these tumours, and as my oncologist explained "to help give me relief to enjoy each day".

I didn't go into chemo with the expectation that one day I will be cured and tumour free, I know that isn't my reality and I don't want to have unrealistic expectations. But I just want my tumours to shrink enough so I can FINALLY be pain free and enjoy what is left of my short life. I have so much I want to still do (read about my happy list here) and I hope to be well enough one day to travel. 

My experience so far:
29.09.2015:
Met with surgeon to discuss portacath surgery. I had to drive down to Port Maquarie (roughly 3 hours south) as the surgeon here in Coffs wasn't available until the end of October and my chemo was to be started sooner rather than later. I really didn't want to have a PICC line to have chemo and I am so glad I advocated enough to let me go to Port for a consult and surgery as I got a Purple portacath. My doctor thought I was strange for being excited about a colour of a device implanted under my skin... but purple is my favourite colour and it made me feel so much more positive about the whole experience.

02.10.2015:
Today was the day that I had my surgery in Port Private Hospital (their sandwiches still don't beat Baringa Private at Coffs... in fact no where yet does) and the surgery went well. I was in a lot of pain and in pain for days afterwards but you can read all about my experience over on "Portacath and What to expect when you need one for chemo".

07.10.2015:
My first day of chemo, 5 days after my port was put in and I am feeling hopeful about this treatment. It was like it was a blessing and everything fell into place, it was like it was meant to be. There was something hopeful about this one bag (below) of chemo Caelyx that was worth $6000 AUD for the bag that made me think that this would work.

The day involved getting there early to start chemo, then I had to have my port accessed and blood taken. While waiting for the blood tests to come back (to make sure I was well enough to have chemo) I had some bags of fluids to keep me hydrated and a nice toasted sandwhich.

It was about 2PM when I had my first try of chemo, and beforehand I was warned that this chemo has side effects of a reaction (in rare cases) that results in feeling hot like you're on fire, sometimes pain in your back and heavy chest with inability to breathe. It was about 5 minutes (if that) into the infusion when I started feeling warm in my face, then it radiated to my whole body. I stayed calm and thought "this is okay, a little bit of heat never hurt anyone". Then it intensified around the same time that it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. My chest felt so heavy I couldn't breathe no matter how hard I was trying. Then the pain started in my back around my kidneys and was rather pulsing, it was so painful and then pain shot down the nerves in my legs and my whole body was going into spasms and my heart was racing.

By the point that my chest was heavy I had called the nurse over and they were frantically trying to stop the infusion. They called over the doctors who advised an ECG was needed and to give me anti-reaction meds to try and control the pain and slow down my heart rate.

It was then decided after an hour that we would try it again, but this time at a much slower rate, which the same symptoms (despite the anti reaction meds) started about a minute or two in.

08.10.15:
I spent the night before in hospital under observation after the reaction yesterday to ensure that I was okay and ready to try it again this morning. Except even with the anti reaction medications and slower rate of infusion (would have taken 6 hours to complete) I still reacted and realised that I am allergic to Liposomal Doxirubicin and that it is not the right chemo.

The doctors consulted with my Sydney oncologist who decided I would try the weekly over 52 weeks regime of Methotrexate and Vinblastine.

14.10.15:
Today was the day that I started the new chemo regime of Methotrexate and Vinblastine (a low dose weekly course of combination chemo that has had success in clinical trials). I was pretty nervous about starting a new chemo given how horrible the experience was last week when I reacted and could have died to Caelyx. The day started off getting there early to meet with the doctor and to have my bloods taken. While we waited, I was lucky to be in one of the rooms with a bed so while I had fluids infused through my port, I just napped. I got very little sleep the night before as I was too scared and anxious.

Due to the high toxicity of one of the drugs, when the Nurse has to manually push through the drug she has to sit there with me the entire time to monitor my port and make sure that it doesn't leak into my skin as it can cause nacrotic skin tissue like a chemical burn. She became my chemo buddy. I didn't feel any side effects and even felt so fine that I was able to drive home.

17.10.15:
I found an hour after chemo I started feeling the nausea and felt rather seedy like I was hungover, which I didn't feel like eating for days, for someone who loves food even the thought of it made me feel sick! I ended up feeling a bit sick all day with fevers then had a 39'C temperature, which I was told anything over 39'C means a trip to hospital. Turns out I had excoriated skin between my butt cheeks like big raw ulcers.

I spent the next 2 weeks in hospital and my chemo (was to be on the 20th and 27th) were postponed as I needed all the healthy cells possible to heal my wounds. I had twice daily applications of zinc (sudocreme), Rectinol (creame for heamoroids it has a numbing agent in it) and another gel based cream that was also an anti fungal but had local antiseptic. The most horrible part of having raw skin was when it needed to be scrubbed clean and washed. It was excruciating and while I have a high pain threshold I was screaming and often in tears. It wasn't very pleasant. They think it was a combination of chemo and my immune system was down and it was the reason for this. But I lost all dignity when many people were looking at my bum and cleaning it and poking it... I felt so embarrassed that this happened even though it wasn't my fault. But the nursing staff were great and while I felt embarrassed they did good at making sure I was okay.

This concludes my first month of chemo experiences ranging from my portacath surgery to starting two different chemo regimes and as my husband said to me recently, "I know it is horrible right now, but the sad thing is you will get used to feeling like shit... just imagine when chemo is all over and you will look back and think 'It is good not to feel that crappy'. If anyone can do this, you can".

I love that he has so much faith in my strength, although I constantly wonder and feel like I am not strong enough to do this.... my husband is like my own personal cheerleader! I don't think I could have done this without his support...

One month down, just 11 more to go!


 

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 04:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 10 2015

One thing that I am learning more and more each day as I progress through my chemo regime is just how much fatigue I have and how little energy. I am realising the need and importance for energy conservation and working on improving this for myself and hoping to share a blog post to help others too, afterall being chronically sick is exhausting.

Another thing that is exhausting is dealing with the emotional side of living daily with a chronic and terminal illness.

I realised yesterday, that in order to help conserve my energy and to prevent just how exhausted I am feeling today, that I should try and keep my mental breakdowns and panic attacks to a mininum or at least save it for the times that need it most, or best yet to wait until you have all the facts and a confirmation from your primary care physicians before freaking out.

This is what happened yesterday and the lead up to it.

Friday 06.11.15:
I went for a CT scan of my abdomen for a suspected fluid leaking into my abdominal wall and possibly the reason I had fevers and have been in hospital since Wednesday night. The scan was to also compare my tumour growth and check on the tumours to ensure that those hadn't yet turned septic and were the cause for worry.

The doctors confirmed that either there is a new tumour to the right of my stoma or that it is a cavity that is filling with fluid from my bowel or stomach and needs to be drained. Surgery was discussed but they decided to do an ultrasound on Monday to get a better view of what is going on.

Monday 09.11.15 1PM AEST:
I went for an ultrasound and the radiologist came in and said "that isn't a fluid cavity that is a tumour and without knowing this patients prior history I suspect it is a desmoid tumour". He turns to me and says "I am sorry you have a large tumour 10cm x 11cm".

I left there trying to hold it together as I was hoping it was a fluid cavity as that could be fixed with a surgery and drain, but a new tumour I couldn't handle.

So I broke down I couldn't stop crying and I was freaking out that there is a tumour somehow in between two other tumours and my stoma and where on earth is it fitting and is my stoma going to be okay, will I be okay, does this mean my death is looming nearer than I expected? These were all questions running through my mind then the biggest freak out of all was "I can't die just yet, I am too young".

I was howling (literally) uncontrollably and couldn't stop crying. I needed support I needed someone to tell me I was going to be okay... I called my husband at work and my mum who came and sat with me and brought me a drink and some lollies.

Monday 09.11.15 3PM:
My doctors came in, first my bowel surgeon who was talking to me about my tumours and explaining how sometimes they can die from the inside out when chemo is involved and that the centre is liquid and can become septic.

Then my oncologist and his team came by and he asked what had me so upset. When I told him he replied "I am so sorry for all this upset caused but someone told you the wrong information, you don't have a 'new' tumour you know it is there it is the big ball under your skin at the top of the stoma". I was all confused and said "Wait whaaaaaat?"

He replied "it is new on the scans you've had here at the hospital, but not new on the scans that you had back in August which is why I asked your husband to bring them in, I am so sorry someone told you you had a new 4th tumour but you still only have the three."


My tumour the "new" one. To the left of the image is my belly button, my stomach normally would end there but that is how big the tumour is.. see it resembles a ball!

I felt like the biggest dickhead ever and felt horrible for causing my family further heartache, but my heart was broken as I was told the wrong misinformed information and I hadn't yet seen my primary doctors to have it all confirmed.

They saw how fragile I am and have transferred me over to the private hospital for a few days respite to help me recover, regain my strength and collect my thoughts again.

Lesson learnt... don't freak out until you know all the facts

To my followers that were supporting me yesterday during my freakout, I am so appreciative of your help and sorry for an undue stresses caused for worrying about me... It was not a cry for attention I legit thought I was on the brink of dying (so scary).

Much love to you all x

Tell me in the comments below, a time where you freaked out before knowing all the facts

 
Posted by: Talya AT 10:57 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 16 2015

Earlier this month on the 2nd of October, I travelled the three hours south of Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie where I had an operation to put in my portacath (port for short) for ease of use/access during chemo.

I just realised how funny that I had to go to Port to get a port (HAHA).

I spoke with a couple of friends who I met through Canteen that have gone through treatment and I asked them how they got their chemo. One said she first had it via a drip in her arm then got a port put in and loved it, and my other friend had a Hickman line.

I had met with the vascular surgeon and he showed me the port I was getting, which was this awesome metallic purple Power Port and given purple is my favourite colour I thought that it was the coolest thing ever, although my doctor thought I was weird given that you won't see it as it is under your skin... but knowing it is there and that it is purple is all that matters!


This is the Purple Power Port

On the day of the surgery:
I stayed at a motel close by the night before and a friend picked me up to drop me to the hospital at 7am ready for my admission.

Once at the hospital I was admitted by the nurses and then was called in to see the aneathetist, where he had decided I would need to be intubated during the procedure (means a breathing tube down my throat due to sleep aponea).

I was called around to theatre and had a drip put in and went off to sleep and woke in recovery an hour or so afterwards.

When I was ready, I was wheeled around to the area where you sit and have something to eat and be monitored before you're discharged and spent a few hours there. The nurses had Cat Stevens playing and the Eagles which were two of my dads beloved bands he listened to, so it was rather comforting in a way.

I was really stiff and sore from the procedure and having had the tube down my throat so I tried not to talk too much and sought comfort in icecream and cold drinks, which rather soothed my throat.


Me after my surgery

The night after surgery:
I found it so hard to lie down and sleep, given that I sleep on my right side and my port is on my right side, and it also felt like it was pulling a lot when I walked. So I slept seated/reclined on the lounge.

It reminded me of my thyroidectomy surgery and how my head felt all stiff like it could just fall off.

I was in a lot of pain as well, so I had some pain medicine to help keep me comfortable.

How is the port accessed?
On the 7th I had my first (unsuccessful) attempt at chemo. It was the first time my port was accessed and I was given a numbing patch to put over the top of my skin above the port. It was still really swollen and sore so they had to use a 1 and 3 quarter needle to access it.

It was a little tender having the needle put in, but the numbing patch helped a lot!

I had to do a lot of different tricks to get the port working and eventually it worked. Tips and tricks included:
-Turning head as far to the left as possible
-Taking deep breaths in
-Coughing
-Putting my right arm above my head
-Laughing
-Talking
-reclining right back and trying all the above methods
-Sitting up and trying all the above methods again


My first attempt at chemo and port accessed

It turned out the needle was defective, so they tried a new needle and it worked using the head turned far to the left and coughing tricks.

I have since had my port accessed multiple times during chemo, but also for fluids when I have presented to the Emergency Department with dehydration and fevers.

For more information on ports and if it is best suited to you or your chemo regime speak with your oncologist or your chemo nurse who can provide you with booklets and information.

 

 
Posted by: Talya AT 07:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 26 2015

NB: This post contains raw emotions

I am sitting here writing this approximately 3 days out of having my first round of chemo, and if I said I wasn't shitting myself, I would be lying and quite possibly with my pants alight.

You see, even though I have known for a while now (little over 3 weeks) that I would be needing chemo I thought that I was okay with it and had accepted it, and that I was ready, but the more meetings I have with my oncologists and chemo nurses and waiting for vascular surgeon to put in my portacath and the more involved this process gets, the more overwhelmed I get.

It all started earlier this month, I went to Sydney and met with my oncologist to review my beastly desmoid tumours, and it was concluded that it was time to try chemotherapy to shrink these tumours after all other options had been exhausted.

My oncologist told me I would be needing to have a drug called Caelyx, which is predominately used to treat breast cancers but has had some clinical trials where it has been effective in the fight against desmoid tumours.

So I left the Sydney appointment with the relief of knowing that I can have chemo back home and would need to organise a local oncologist, which I first met with on the 17th of September. In this meeting I was blown away with how thorough he was and he knew EVERYTHING about my history and I was really impressed with how much research he had done into my rare tumours and disease.

It turns out that the chemo that I NEED to save my life comes at a price. You see, the drug currently isn't on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and is $6,000 AUD per dose of chemo, meaning I would be needing to come up with $36k, which I don't have.

So I called my Private Health Insurer, who told me that "we only cover chemotheraphy if done as an inpatient and if it is on the PBS, unfortunately we can't cover your chemo". I was so upset and started considering what my options were.

My oncologist presented three options to me, these were:
1. I somehow come up with the money for treatment (and was considering taking my friend's up on their offer of a fundraiser)
2. That my oncologist could apply and advocate on my behalf to the chemo manufacturer for compassionate grounds and see if they would approve all or part of the drug to be subsidised, or
3. That we try a more toxic and lengthy chemo that would require WEEKLY rounds of chemo over 52 weeks

By this point it was a Thursday and I was told that I had until Monday to make my decision.

After talking at length with my husband and family, and writing a pro's and con's list I decided that we will go with option 3.

...........

Then .......

I got a phone call on Tuesday morning from my oncologist to say that the drug company has responded and approved 3 initial treatments and pre-approved a further 3 more, so 6 treatments in total!

I was so relieved I was crying and calling my husband and family to tell them the great news, I felt like I had won the lottery! Honestly!

Because of how rare my disease and tumours are, if this drug works for me then it might help other people with the same disease and options, and might provide some hope to those who feel all has been lost.

While I am so appreciative for the chemo being supplied, I am trying not to get my hopes up ..... if it doesn't work I really don't know how I could cope if I felt that all hope is lost, as it stands I am petrified of my future and what my life will entail for the next 12 months, and I am just praying that this works.

My husband and I have attended chemo education sessions, so we know what to expect and what is involved, just being only a few days out of starting chemo I am shitting myself, and finding myself feeling rather anxious, angry and scared.

... If I click my heals together 3 times and imagine a secluded beach in paradise, with Ryan Gosling serving me cocktails while topless, will I be transported there?

...CLICK....       ......CLICK.......      ......CLICK......

Maybe it only works if you're wearing glittery red heels?

Bugger!

P.S I need your help! While my chemo is being generously supplied, I am struggling financially with all of the other medical costs (scans, medications, specialist consults) as well as getting to and from chemo and trying to manage life in general, things are a bit tight..

I entered the Heritage banking savvy blog competition earlier this month, in the hopes of trying to win a share of $11k to help alleviate some of the financial stress I have had recently, and needing your help!

Please click here to vote for Feeling Ostomistic, and be sure to click the confirmation email they send you (otherwise it won't count) and please ask your friends too, I need all the help I can get to win most voted, and if I indeed won it would mean so much.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 07:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 04 2015

Recently, I was filling in one of those online question surveys that was for a cosmetic surgery company (I really wanted to win the cash prize) and while there were the usual questions about if you have considered cosmetic surgery before, there were also questions about your self esteem and self worth.

One question that stumped me, was "if there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be and why?"... and the answer may surprise you, I know it surprised me! 
                                                                                                        

I have never been someone who has considered undergoing cosmetic surgery in order to change how I feel about myself, and while I don't judge those who do, I just feel if you're unhappy with who you are now that it might not necessarily change after you've spent thousands on surgeries... it might make you feel worse if it didn't have the desired effect.

But mostly, I have already had so many surgeries and medical procedures because of the cards I've been dealt with that personally, I just don't want to put my body under the knife if it isn't needed. I have wanted a boob reduction, but that is mostly because my boobs are like a double J or something (no exaggeration) and it gets harder and harder to find bras and is so uncomfortable... but that isn't the one thing I would change.

I gave this answer some serious thought, and I thought about all of my physical "flaws" and imperfections and which one I would change.. I thought about my boobs and while they are huge and heavy they keep me warm (I do get cold very easily)... I thought about my eyes which are so wonky that my husband never knows if I am looking at him or around him (and I have to tilt my head slightly in pictures so you don't notice one eye is bigger than the other)...

My endometriosis crossed my mind, and I felt the all too familiar pains that it (like my FAP) has taken a lot from me... I thought about if I didn't have my endometriosis if I would have had a family by now and if I would make a good mum, to imagining a life where each month I'm not crippled with pain from the endo... and I even imagined what it would be like to have sex and ACTUALLY enjoy it... as opposed to how it has been for me the entire time I have been sexually active.. it not only is extremely painful during intercourse but afterwards it feels like there are thousands of knives stabbing at my insides (so you can imagine how hard it can be for your husband to know that while it brings him pleasure it is torture for you to endure... and then he can't help but feel bad about it... then you feel bad for making him feel bad... it is a horrible cycle).

OR is the one thing I would change about myself, my desmoid tumours? I am in constant pain everyday and finding it harder to enjoy things as I am just so exhausted from being in pain and worrying about my tumours. I am scared of what will happen if these tumours don't respond to chemotherapy this month and what this means for me... My kidneys are starting to go into renal damage, my tumours are pressing on my spine/stomach and sciatic nerve, and then there are two tumours which are close to strangling my small bowel and I haven't any large bowel (if my small bowel dies I might too).

OR would I want to change my weight because apparantly if you're overweight you can't be happy within yourself... while I am trying to lose weight it wouldn't be the one thing I changed about myself.

I thought about all of my scars that I have from my various surgeries and how they make me feel... and they mostly make me feel empowered like I am a tough bitch and it is almost somehow like proof of that time that I had to face an adversity but before I could get through it I had to first climb the huge mountain that was blocking me from it.... each of my scar bears a story to be told... and some of my scars show a sign of the battle faced.

Like the scar under my chin, which I got on the last day of Kindergarten in 1996 when I was so excited for losing my first tooth the night before. I had gotten $10 (the tooth fairy was rather generous) and I was skipping along not noticing the water overflow from the bubblers.. when... spalt! My head greeted the concrete and was taken to hospital to get stictches.. I was such a brave girl I got 6 stitches, a story to tell ANNND I got to choose a toy as a 'what a brave girl you were' gift...

Or the scar that runs from just under my breasts to just above my hoo-ha.. a daily reminder of just how lucky I was to have my bowel cancer detected early and underwent a total colectomy.. a scar that while it is huge and bumpy (and growing tumours attached to it) that it is a HUGE part of who I have become and a testament of how far I have come in the last 2 years...

...Which brings me to my ileostomy.

While some might assume that I might loathe my ileostomy everyday (albeit some days it gives me the shits), my ileostomy is something I can't imagine living without, and am so appreciative for it stands for. Prior to my total colectomy, trips to the toilet were agonising and often I spent hours on end just sitting in the bathroom in a lot of pain and often house bound... leaving the house meant that my trips needed to be carefully planned around where the nearest toilets would be, or avoiding eating foods for the horrific, painful and explosive events that were to follow.

The thing I LOVE the most about my ileostomy is that it had given me my life back and a quality of life I haven't had in about 10 years or so.. it meant I could now eat and enjoy foods without being in agony.. it also meant reducing one of my many cancer risks.

So if my ileostomy ISN'T the one thing I would change about myself, then what must it be?

Simply put, I would like to change the expectations, standard and pressures I put on myself because I need to remember that I'm not a superhero and I AM doing the best that I can... I need to give myself a break and be kinder to myself.

Something to remember...

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 
Posted by: Talya AT 09:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Sunday, August 30 2015

There is something about being chronically sick and told you're essentially "a ticking time bomb"  that really helps to put things into perspective.

When I was first diagnosed with FAP in 2010 (I was 19), I was told that I wouldn't be at risk of bowel cancer until I was 30. It made me realise just how much I wanted to do and achieve while I still could.

Then in late 2012, I found out the polyps in my bowel were turning cancerous and that I only had a matter of months to act and have all of my bowel removed. You would think that this would cause more of an alarm and prompt me to want to do a lot more with my life, but as the bowel cancer risk was removed, I naively thought that my risk of cancer would be removed and I could get on with my life..

But boy was I wrong.... My cancer journey didn't end there. In fact, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier this year too which thankfully was successfully removed in April while it was still in the stage I phase, remained contained within my thyroid meaning it hadn't reached nearby neck tissues.

It wasn't until a year ago that I had this drive and motivation to want to do everything I have ever only imagined in day dreams, was re-ignited and has been a continual driving force (and distraction this past year). It made me realise that while I was content with my life and my accomplishments so far, that I didn't feel entirely happy, and I knew that there was more I wanted to do and see.

So I decided I would write a happy list, as opposed to a bucket list for one of two reasons:
1. it sounded more positive than saying bucket list
and
2. it would be a list of things I want to do, that would truly make me happy within myself.

What was the changing point for me, was when I was in hospital for pancreatitis when the doctors did a CT scan that revealed there was this new and rather large tumour and suspected it was a desmoid tumour. These types of tumours are really rare, but they can also be rather deadly and life threatening and these 'aggressive fibromatosis' can cause death.

To put it bluntly, when I was first diagnosed with FAP my doctors said that they "hope that you don't develop desmoid tumours... if it isn't the cancer from the FAP that kills you the desmoid tumours will".

So while I am only 24, I have come to terms with the fact that this condition will kill me, I just don't know when. Some doctors mentioned up to a year if the tumours continue to grow at the rate they currently are (thankfully last lost of treatment is keeping them at bay and no new growth) but others have said 5-6 years.


So it helps me to have a list of things that I want to do, that will make me happy but also offer my life more meaning. 
My 5 reasons for having a happy list as opposed to a bucket list is:

#1. Happiness
It was a no brainer that happiness be one of my reasons for wanting to have a happy list, as the word happy was in the title of it. Now, I'm not saying I'm not happy at the moment because I am but I want to be more happy.

For me a big part of my happiness has always been results driven and I am more happier when I feel like I have accomplished something, which brings me to my next point.

#2. Sense of accomplishment and fulfilment (purpose/direction)
My husband always seems to be getting cranky at my when I mention how I feel like I haven't accomplished much and want to have more of a purpose or direction of where my life is headed. The comparison thief plays a big part of this, but no matter what I do or try to do I still feel that I need to do more and often meaning bigger things.

And this has only gotten worse over the last year as there is still so much that I want to see and do and I don't know how to achieve it all. I want to die knowing that I made the most out of every day and I want others to see me as this amazing and successful person as opposed to "that girl that was really sick".

I want to be known as more than what my illness defines me as, as I am so much more than that girl that's really sick. But I also don't want my family or friends to say I was a lousy person because sometimes I was too unwell to make it to social events.

#3. Is more empowering and motivating
I find having a happy list helps me to feel more positive and optimistic about my future plans, as opposed to being depressed at the thought that I want to do things because I could die.

For me it is more empowering to see it as a positive of things I have dreamed of, and motivating to help me want to do it. I find other's are more accepting of my happy list of things to see and do as opposed to it being my bucket list.. which brings me to #4.

#4. Offers inclusion of others
Through being more positive about things I want to do and especially things that involve others (like my family and friends), I find they are wanting to join in and get excited about the activity or goal at hand, as opposed to being depressed that I am only wanting to do these things as I might die.

I also find that through having a happy list and being more positively about things that I hope this helps my family to remember the times shared and make memories with me and link these memories with happiness and fulfilment rather than sadness and loss.

#5. Works as a distraction
If I said it was easy knowing you have a chronic illness that can kill you is easy, I would be telling a major fib... and that isn't what my blog is about! Some days it can be extremely hard when I have new progression or diagnosis' or travelling the 16 hour round trip to see specialists in Sydney. Some days it can be too much and I easily feel overwhelmed, and not wanting to get out of bed to face the world.

But I find that my happy list serves as a distraction tool, and while I don't think I can ever completely forget the reality I am faced with every day, I can use my energy to focus more on the things that are important to me and that I want to see/do... and for me keeping busy is the ultimate distraction and one of the many coping mechanism I have.

Things on my happy list include (in no particular order):
☐ Being tumour free
Have confidence to be the real me and show others who I am
☐ Finishing a counselling course
Making a difference to someone's life
☐ Writing a book and telling my story
☐ Come up with a kick-ass start up idea
Win an award
☑ Have my product in a national newspaper
​☐ Travel around Australia
Have my own house
☐ Have a Japanese garden where I can escape my reality
☑ Get a kitten preferably a Ragdoll
☐ Have an office where I can be inspired to write and create
☑ Go on an all expenses paid business trip for my blogging
Do motivational speaking
☐ Be an entrepreneur and make at least $100k in one year
☐ Become a successful blogger, so successful and influential that I would be given a car (if not free, at a huge discount)
To have a family and my husband to have a child of his own 
☑ Have a celebrity receive a product you made (Ellen received one of my Santa Keys last year!!)
☐ Being there for my siblings when they need me
☐ Reaching 1 million views on my Made With Love-Cards and Crafts blog (currently at 390k)
☐ Reaching 500k views on Feeling Ostomistic (currently at 285k)
☐ Have my own magazine column
Start an online magazine
☐ Start a Not For Profit
☐ Do something newsworthy
☐ Lose a lot of weight, and be healthy enough to start exercising
☐ Become rich enough to have someone cook for me and drive me around
☐ Finish a university degree
☐ Go on a cruise
☐ Travel the Great Ocean Road (Melbourne- Adelaide)
☐ Travel to Kangaroo Island
☐ Vist Tasmania
☐ Visit the Pink lake in WA
☐ See a sunset from the West Coast
☐ Visit Coober Pedy

☐ Learn photography
☐ Meet Ellen Degeneres
☐ Have my own TV show making crafts... be the next Martha Stewart (without being in prison)
☐ Write for a big blog

I know some of these may sound over the top, and I admit they are but if you're going to dream you might as well dream big as well as being realistic... now if I could just find the next multimillion dollar idea, I will be well on my way to taking over the world (not quite literal).

So tell me, do you have a happy list and what is one thing you want to mark off your list? Feel free to comment below.

 
Posted by: Talya AT 05:50 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
LinkedIn
Email
Add to favorites


~  Living with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis - Effects of FAP  ~

FREE Pattern

With thanks to Harley B for this
FREE pattern. Full tutorial is on
my blog
. Have fun creating!

Pattern ©Harley B Handmade 

 Latest Posts 
 Categories 

Have you heard about our new eZine? CLICK HERE to learn more!

 

Talya Goding - Feeling Ostomistic   talya@feelingostomistic.com.au  |  0447 426 860

Thank you for stopping by Feeling Ostomistic. It has taken a lot of courage to share my story and I ask that you show me and my site/blog respect and courtesy. Views expressed in this blog are my own and I am not a nurse or a doctor. If you need medical advice please seek your medical practitioner.

Copyright © 2017 Feeling Ostomistic. All Rights Reserved. Logo by Made by KaleWeb Design by SiteFresh