Saturday, November 28, 2009

seoul preps

I got into a tour sched, with a group of peeps from work, to South Korea. So far, I'm doing all of the preparations for the group's trip: from booking, re-booking... to setting the itinerary.

It would be my first flight, and of course, my first foreign trip. It's just odd for me to think that albeit going with a couple of non-first-time-fliers, I'm the one who's doing all the preps. Maybe I just want to make this trip as hassle-free as possible. That being said, I'm even going back on learning Hangul, the Korean language, because I've learned that street signs in Seoul rarely have English translations. Although I've heard that people in Seoul are very friendly and speak some English, it would help a lot if I would know how to read signs. Anyway, I got time until March (the tour schedule) to learn the language, and I've heard that it's quite easy to learn unlike Nippongo.

As per my last research, and our group's latest agreement, we would spend the 4-day trip as follows:
  • Day 1 - Manila to Incheon: get to Seoul and check-in to a hostel immediately. Get a ticket for KTX (bullet train) for a trip to Busan the next day.
  • Day 2 - Get up early in the morning and hop on a trip on the KTX to Busan, spend the whole day there, and then get on a KTX trip back to Seoul before nightfall. Go to Namdaemun market for souvenirs.
  • Day 3 - Get around Seoul on-foot. Stroll early in the morning at the Cheonggye stream, see the palaces, visit Hongdae (where Coffee Prince is), and go to N Seoul Tower.
  • Day 4 - Hop on a train trip back to Incheon, go to Sindo Island to visit the Full House filming location, go back to Incheon airport. Back to Manila.
It would be a fully-packed trip, but we would actually be missing some places that we would like to see like the Korean Folk Village (filming location of "Jewel in the Palace"), and Nami Island (filming location of "Winter Sonata"). If I can have another opportunity next year, I would go back on September to visit these two places in time for autumn. Nami Island would be gorgeous by then.

I'm planning to get my visa this December, and then book the hostel accommodations for the group. Something tells me I make be a good travel agent. :P

I'm even researching the weather, and what clothes do wear on March. :)

surgery schedule

Went to the doctor this afternoon and had my surgery scheduled. It will be on the 7th of December, so I will have to be admitted to the hospital on the 6th. The doctor advised me to eat a lot until 10PM on the day before the surgery. After which, I should go fasting.

I asked a little more questions from the doctor, which got me scared a little bit. For one, she told me that if the cyst would be very difficult to remove, they would have to take the ovary with it. So I'm praying that it won't be the case. And then, she confirmed that the incision would be vertical, like in an appendectomy. Another thing she told me is that they would still have to biopsy the cyst before they could determine whether it is endometrial, if so I would have to have injections for six months to temporarily stop my menstruation.

I went from relaxed to a bit nervous. I'm so worried about the possibilities. And I'm praying and hoping for the best.

So far, my facade is holding up although I feel like cracking inside. I need a lot more prayers. I need to strengthen my faith.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

scared and all

Sometimes I see myself as a strong person - whenever I get into a difficult situation, I cry but then I force myself to go through it. I've lost count of how many times I've psyched myself that "this too will pass," "this is just a phase," and "I'm just being too negative." I create a hard shell to protect the person inside that only wants to cry.

Prayers really help. I pray a lot especially during tough times like this. Like this time, that I have cysts in my ovaries: four little ones in the left, and one, 5cm., blood-filled cyst on the right.

How did I find out? I've been bleeding in between my periods lately. Normal spotting doesn't look as red as the blood coming out of my body at a time that it's not supposed to. At first, I thought it was UTI, which also worried me a lot because it could have meant something somewhere in my urinary tract could be majorly bleeding basing on the amount of blood that's coming out. But I don't have the severe UTI symptoms, like burning feeling when you pee, or severe pain on the flank area. So, I gathered my guts and went to the hospital for a consultation. Good thing I did.

The OB-GYN first interviewed me about my symptoms, and then asked me to lay on the bed then she pressed on my lower abdomen, searching for a lump. She asked me if I felt any pain, but I didn't. That's when she recommended me for a trans-rectal scan.

You read it right, it's trans-rectal. As in right up the arse.

I went back after a day to have my TRS. And boy, was it painful, if not uncomfy. I would have opted to spare the reader the details of this, but I've decided I'm gonna document this. If you, the reader, feels queasy about this, skip this paragraph. Okay, so a probe, bigger than my thumb was stuck up my arse. The doctor told me to push, but the shy and uncomfy me wasn't able to do so. Next thing I knew, the probe was already in and I felt a tear. (I know, ew!) I had to endure that for about 5 minutes. I couldn't decide on which to focus my attention to: the discomfort and the pain, or hearing that I have cysts in my ovaries. Then the doctor said, "okay, just a little bit more and this is gonna be over," to my relief, but then again the phone rang and the assistant said, "hold on, I'm gonna have to answer that." I wanted to grab her arm and yell, "No! Stay here and let's get this over with!" But even if I tried to, I wouldn't be able to do so, since she zapped off to get the phone. I was so thankful that the phone conversation didn't take long.

After the scan, I headed immediately to my OB's office, but I was informed that she's yet to come at 1PM. At it was only a little past 11AM.

I decided to go home for the meantime, because I didn't want to wait and contemplate at the hospital. I called my boss and informed her that I'm gonna take half the day's work off so I could have the follow-up consultation. I didn't tell her about the cysts, so I think it was the reason why she asked me if I could have the consultation on another day. But I insisted and told her that my OB only comes to the hospital in the afternoon. She agreed.

At home, I got to contemplate and go anxious about what I heard from the doctor who did the scan. I refused to read the printed result that she gave me. Negative thoughts bombarded my head and I went to tears. I prayed, begged, pleaded...

And then my Mom called, asking how I was. I haven't told her about me going to the doctor yet, at the time. And so I told her, but spared her the details. I told her that I was yet to have my follow-up consultation and that I would be telling her about it after.

It broke my heart thinking about the possibilities and me not telling her everything. I worry about my Mom too, since she has a heart condition. I didn't want her to worry about something that I don't even know the answer to. If I'm gonna tell her anything, I had to know exactly what I'm having first.

Before 1PM, I headed back to the hospital. My mind was further screwed while waiting for my turn at the consultation. I kept on praying. I prayed for good news.

Consultation time. I handed the scan results to the OB, and she read it before she spoke to me. And then she explained to me the anatomy of the female reproductive organ. And then, part by part, she explained the scan results to me.

She told me that aside from the cysts, my right ovary is filled with blood. One of the theories that they, doctors, are looking at at such conditions is that part of the flesh in the uterus that turns into blood during menstruation had slipped (or somehow found its way) into my ovary, hence the blood. And the blood doesn't go anywhere. The ovary just gets filled up, menstrual period after period, and the risk in that is that at some point the cyst could burst. (Another doctor told me, another risk is that the cyst could twist along with the ovary.) She told me that there's a treatment where I could get injected with a drug that would stop my menstrual cycle for 6 months, until the cysts would disappear. But for cysts more than 4cm in size, the drug would have little to no effect. The drug can only help me with my smaller cysts in my left ovary. But for the one in the right, I would have to undergo surgery to have it removed. It has to be removed in order to save my ovary.

My hands turned cold and sweaty at that instant. The doctor tried to make me laugh, but I forgot what the joke was. I laughed a little and she seemed to be relieved. I must have looked awful to her.

And then I asked if I need to undergo surgery immediately. She told me, "The sooner, the better. But it's all up to you. You have to get yourself ready for it." I had to pick the date.

First, off I was told that I was going to be opened up. And then I have to choose when they are going to do it to me. If that's not pressure enough...

I couldn't believe myself while I watched me utter these words: "Sooner or later, I'm gonna have to have it removed, so I think we should do it within the month." I said that I'm gonna wait till my parents arrive from the province, and then we will schedule the operation.

So what's the good news? There's no mention of the "C". And my prayers might have been heard because I didn't shake and cry upon hearing what I did. I realized all that when I left the hospital and played the scene again in my head.

I told my friends whom I got to talk to, about it, right away. I wasn't seeking for sympathy, I was looking for a hand to hold and an ear to tell my concerns to. And it helped because I got to laugh while telling the whole story. And then I had the guts to call my parents to tell them about it.

I was laughing and (probably) sounding confident while I talked to my parents. My Dad even said, "I'm not worried because you don't seem to be afraid of it." I told him, "I'm actually nervous, but I know that I have to go through surgery sooner or later, so I'm choosing to have it the soonest possible time so the risks are lesser." What can I say? Though I worry about them worrying about me, lying to my parents has become a difficult thing for me to do.

I talk about it to my friends whenever I could, so I would feel less stressed about it. Although I'm thinking that I might be talking too much about it already. Anyway, nobody has complained about it yet.

I try to rationalize. I keep remembering why I should undergo surgery. I keep on praying.

I'm so scared. The last surgery I had was when I was nine, when the tip of my left index finger was amputated after getting caught in a doorjamb. I had surgery twice for it, because after the first operation (the emergency procedure) the bone was trying to protrude to they had to remove a bit off it. That entire experience wasn't pleasant at all. And then I'm having this.

Part of me is melting with fear, and part of me is trying to stay tough. I cannot be weak, at least for the sake of my family. One who has gone through the same thing might think that this is not at all a big thing. But for someone like me who go nuts at the slightest illness, and has never had a surgery in the abdominal area... this is major. Especially that I was told that the procedure is similar to a caesarian operation. My abdomen is going to have a scar. (That's one thing I'm being sentimental about, too, as absurd as it may seem. I plan to take a picture of my tummy before the surgery.)

Right now, I'm battling fear. There are times when I stop and think and couldn't believe that this is happening to me.

Apart from the surgery, I'm going to have to go through temporary menopause for six months after the operation because of the medication that I will have to go through to temporarily stop my menstruation. The doctor said that my hormonal cycle is one of the things that feed the growth of the cysts, so it has to stop for a time. The cache? Menopausal symptoms. And according to the literature that I read, there are 35 symptoms. Among them are: mood swings, hot flashes, sweaty nights, insomnia, depression, and all the things that we've witnessed our mothers went through at middle age. Menopause twice in life. Go figure.

I have warned my officemates of how I might be next year once I undergo the treatment. At this point I'm already asking for their understanding. I'm already explaining things to them so that they would know that whatever mean thing I do, it wouldn't be me, but the lack of estrogen. I'm even researching on ways to ease the symptoms.

Of all the symptoms, I fear depression the most, as I have had bouts twice before already. And it wasn't a pleasant thing at all. Talk about wondering what use there is trying to live life. You wake up in the morning and find no enthusiasm to do anything at all. And then you're constantly bombarded with bouts of anxiety. At some point I didn't know who I was. I questioned my very personality. What was the me within these flesh and bones. Good thing, I love life too much to give up. Again, prayers helped a lot during these episodes.

I've been through depression, and I know how painful it is in the mind, in the heart, and in the spirit. I fear going through it again. I hope that my prayers will again be heard. I pray that I don't go through depression again.

Here I am, scared and all. To think, that vain people purposely go under the knife to change the way they look. I wonder where they draw their courage for that.

So this is me, psyching myself for that surgery. It only feels okay when I think of holding on to The One Above for strength.