2017 has been an “interesting” year for us, to say the least.
I’m not here to complain.
But I feel as though I owe you an explanation.
For those of you who don’t know, we live in Sitka, Alaska. Sitka is on an island. We have 14 miles of road. And less than 10,000 residents. The reason this is noteworthy, is because no matter where you go or what you do, you see someone you know. I want to apologize for those of you I have seen in passing, at the grocery store or on the sidewalk, and only said a couple words to. This is not me. This is not typical “Nickie behavior”. I LOVE my neighbors and my friends. This is also why I have hurried away with only a few words spoken.
Friendly Nickie doesn’t do well as “the complainer”, or the “negative Nancy” (I guess that would be “negative Nickie” in this case, LOL). And I wouldn’t be negative on purpose. But the latter half of this year hasn’t brought us much “good” to talk about. If you haven’t been “in the know” on what’s going on with us, it’s because we don’t want to trouble anyone with our problems. It is not because we don’t want to chat and catch up with our friends.
My excitement this year started when a large man spat in my face at work in the spring. Little did I know, that due to that incident, I was incubating Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Infectious Mononucleosis. (ew!) My doctor’s office confirmed the Mono diagnosis in June, and EBV shortly after. I have been off of work since July. Among other things, the fatigue was enough to knock me flat. The headaches have lasted for months straight and led to migraines, and brain fog has been unreal.
One thing I learned when I do start to tell anyone what’s happening, is that almost EVERYONE has a Mono story, LOL! The second thing I learned, was that NOT ONE Mono story that I have encountered, did the person contract it at age 37. This seems to be the biggest difference between the kids who bounce back, and me. I am not shaking this extreme fatigue. I’ve literally had a headache for months. And if I thought my memory wasn’t so hot to start with…this brain fog added on top is making the simplest of tasks (like writing this blog post) extremely difficult, and much more time consuming.
I love my husband, we are each other’s rocks. He’s also been pretty much my only social interaction over the past months. There are times when I go days without leaving our apartment. And when I do, it is not for long. A trip to the grocery store is still a big outing for me at the moment. So, if I pass you in an aisle, and just say “hi”, it’s because I don’t want to bring you down with this bummer of a story! It’s not because I don’t love you!
A couple weeks before I started feeling my fatigue kick in, Ken fell out of a truck at work during a super rainy day. He is also still attempting to recover. In his months of Physical Therapy, there has not been improvement of his pain in his left arm (which is also his dominant arm). This pain has come with a loss of feeling in his ring and pinky fingers. Kind of a bummer when trying to hold ANYTHING in your dominant hand…and really makes the simplest tasks a challenge, like typing or eating, for example.
Several months after the fall, Ken’s doctor sent him in for MRIs of his arm and spine due to his continued pain and lack of improvement. The MRI of his arm showed UCL damage. This allows him move forward with proper treatment. He is now able to see orthopedic specialists, and discuss his options, which unfortunately looks like surgery, and will put him out for another 4 months.
In the MRI of his spine, a “mass” was discovered on his left kidney. Don’t you just hate that word?! A “mass”. What does that even mean, right?! So, back in the chamber for another MRI of his guts to see what was going on. The “mass” was 3.5cm, on the front of his left kidney. Ken’s physician recommended seeing a specialist down in Seattle. In his experience, we were looking at cancer. (“Cancer”, the word we hate even more than “mass”!)
Ken was able to get an appointment at the University of Washington Urology Clinic right away. We were able to see a urologist who also specializes in oncology and robotic surgery. The specialist also confirmed what Ken’s primary physician said, “renal cell carcinoma”. His advice – get that thing out ASAP. The specialist at UW ensured us that the mass was caught early enough, and isn’t embedded too deep, so most of his kidney can be saved. This also means, less invasive surgery! Instead of doing a full open surgery, Ken will get to have his surgery done with “the robot”. He’ll get about 6 incisions instead of 1 huge one through muscle. This also means a much easier recovery after surgery, 4-6 weeks vs. 6-8 weeks. Luckily the robot had time to fit us in his busy schedule. (Yes, that robot is in high demand!) Ken’s surgery is scheduled for 11/27/2017.
We know that “everything happens for a reason”. And we are so thankful for the screening that led the doctors to catch this early! This is a growth that could have had no symptoms for years, and who knows where that road would have led. Thank God you fell out of that truck, Ken!
Here’s a link to the gofundme started for Ken’s medical expenses:
It’s Not You, It’s Us!
If we’ve been distant, or non-existent, I hope this can shed some light into “why”. We feel like the note-worthy topics of conversation for us are our doctor’s appointments and recovery. This is not normal for us. And while we know we are on the road to recovery, it will still take a while before all of this is past us. Thank you for understanding!
May 2018 be immensely better than 2017! Happy Holidays, and here’s to EVERYONE’s health!