Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Do They Really Put That in Your Belly?; Chapter 6; Coco's Journey

By Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

Chemotherapy, Ovarian Cancer
The cavernous room was intimidating. She wanted to run away, but couldn't realistically escape. This was that place and that day she had been dreading. And her confidence was unquestionably wavering from her vivid imagination.

Coco stood there considering the day—and the room in front of her—the chemotherapy suite. She wished she was anywhere but here. Inhaling deeply, she thought, you can do this. Panning the room, she forced enough resolve to tiptoe back towards her designated spot for the day. As she trekked across the room, she wondered about what the next eight hours would hold—and about what her chemotherapy experience would be like. There was that word again—chemotherapy. What would it be like? She couldn’t recall many of the side effects that her doctor had mentioned—except one. Abdominal pain. How bad will it be?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Wigging Out; Chapter 5; Coco's Journey

The Journey of Coco By Larry Puls @Larrypulsauthor

Chapter Five

Ovarian cancer, Hair loss
Coco spotted her out of the car window, wishing in some ways that it was dark outside. Her best friend Jennifer drove up from the traffic-laced street to offer some needed advice. And she needed some advice--and maybe courage as well. She knew it would take her friend to find that courage.

A kaleidoscope of thoughts were flooding her mind. This trip to the store was just kind of surreal in some ways. A wig. Really? And yet this trip was important--and she knew it. The cancer was not her fault. Some things in life couldn't be overcome. It was simply time to purchase a wig--and she knew she needed to get over it.

What kind of wig would she get? She wondered about that. I could be a blonde. But then she laughed and realized that was not who she was. She was a brunette. Always was. Always would be. And that is what her husband married. 

Looking around the parking lot, no other familiar faces were around. With sunglasses and her wide brim hat, she climbed from the driver’s side and headed towards Jennifer’s car.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Will Coco Waste Her Cancer? Chapter 4; Coco's Journey

The Journey of Coco

Chapter Four

By Larry Puls @Larrypulsauthor

The Journey of Cancer, Ovarian Cancer
Scooting off the elevator, Coco sensed the fear mounting up inside, as if she were stepping onto a scary ride at the fairgrounds. This office represented something of significance, a beginning of a new world, a reality check, a reminder of how fragile her life really was. She took a deep breath, worked to shrug off her thin emotions, and hid the trepidation--at least in front of all these people.

Standing at the check in, feeling the metal staples on her belly, she thought of the metal bumps as something like icing over the top of a trying event. And the resulting scar would not be a post-it note of fear, but a beautiful tattoo, and a tool for teaching. So she asked, what will it teach me? That seemed unclear for now--though it was getting clearer by the day. Even in the two weeks since her surgery, strength had grown inside her soul. There had been tangible positive leaps. More inner determination, perhaps. Her prayer life had taken on a whole new meaning—it rolled non-stop—her war room was fully activated. The threat of losing her life, of not seeing future grandkids, had forced her to reorganize her priorities and made her emphasize pieces of her life that had up until now been allowed to atrophy.

“Mom,” she turned.

“Kate! What are you doing here?” 

“I wanted to be with you and Dad when you talked with the doctor. And an extra pair of ears can't hurt. So, Dad told me what time to be here. I hope that's ok,” her daughter said before hugging her.

"I'm glad you're here."

Going in to see the doctor, they removed all the staples first before the real conversations began. As they settled in, the doctor went one by one through all of the aspects of the coming chemotherapy, including how they would pour the chemo drugs directly into her belly. None of it sounded good, but none of it would get her down either. All these temporary sufferings would be fairly short-lived—and they would actually be investments to find a future. Her shoulder length hair would grow back, and she would simply wiser about the crowds she wandered through.

But as she sat there in the room that day with her family and the medical team, it struck her how fortunate she was to be here right now, with these people. Her husband had a firm grip of her right hand and her daughter, on the left. She could be alone. Yet she wasn’t. She could be a widow or divorced, or her daughter could live half a world away—and she had chosen to live here. Her daughter’s future husband was also employed here in the community which would give even more support. She had a physician that she had confidence in and a medical system that offered her all the options she might need going forward. And she had her faith. It was all good.

Considering everything facing her, she realized that she could use this cancer to become bitter and sad and introverted, or she could use it as a conduit to grow and serve those around her. And at that moment, she decided to do the later, to serve and grow. She would not waste this cancer. It would not own her, though it would inevitably influence her—but hopefully for good and not for bad.

Walking out to her car, her husband offered to take the three of them to lunch—in the middle of the week. How scandalous! And yet how sweet! To be loved is an amazing gift. In the midst of her turmoil, her mind shifted and she saw this life-threatening diagnosis as a gift and not a curse. How would she use it? She asked herself that as she climbed into the car. The cancer may seem like evil, but in some sense it was good—no matter what was thrown her way. In the meantime, savoring a meal and time and conversation with the ones she loved the most would be the plan for the day. Everything else would become known in due time. 

Will Coco Waste Her Cancer? Larry Puls, (Click to Tweet)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Driving Miss Coco; Chapter 3; Coco's Journey

By Larry Puls: The Journey  of Coco @Larrypulsauthor

Ovarian Cancer; Life with Cancer
Chapter Three

Coco gazed blindly out the window while the drops of rain clouded her view. The trees passed by in a blur and a thousand thoughts swirled around in her head. It was difficult to concentrate on any one thought. Confusion stifled that concentration. The rabbit trails abounded, leaping across her mind, forcing every facet of her life to be visible in just seconds. Her eyes shifted down towards her lap when it all became too overwhelming. Her head shook. Reflections of her conversation with her physician now barged in and consumed her. It seemed unavoidable. But then she convinced herself she couldn't go there--at least not now. So, she opted to shift her focus to a happier subject--her daughter.   

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waking Up in a Deep Fog; Chapter 2; Coco's Journey

by Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor

The fictional but poignant journey of Courageous Courtney (Coco) Vin and her road through ovarian cancer from start to finish, from good to bad (and maybe back to good again). No one knows the outcome yet. Not even me. A story designed to be interactive--assuming you supply me with questions and thoughts that you want me to build into her life.

Enjoy! Happy Valentine's Day.

Waking from a Fog, Anesthesia
I hear my name called, but I don’t recognize the voice. There it is again. I open my eyes and before me is a face. Unfamiliar. Everything seems blurry. There is a mask. Why are they saying my name?  

Suddenly, my belly twinges. And then a whisper is heard. Saying what? The fog surrounding must be blocking my hearing. I think I am lost. But miraculously, my surroundings slowly but certainly clear a touch. A small sense of familiarity arises. I know this place. Wasn't I just here?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

When the Baby Screams Out the Only Way It Can

by Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor 

Uterine Rupture, Cesarean Hysterectomy
It was 2:45 in the afternoon. Labor had been progressing since eight that morning, an elective induction for being a week late. I was in my office seeing patients, having never met this patient with the seemingly normal labor. Epidural in place. Check. Husband by his wife’s side. Check. Nursery was awaiting them back home. Check.

The labor contractions were regular and strong. There was a smile on the patient’s face—epidurals are amazing. But the progress of labor had slowed. The cervix had not dilated any over the last two hours. Otherwise, everything was stable.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When You Have to Play with Snakes

by Larry Puls, @larrypulsauthor

Endometrial Cancer; Lymph Node Involvement
The CT scan tells a story. Maybe not the hopeful story we wanted. In the pelvis, there is an enlarged uterus and within its walls sits a cancer—now seeping blood. The biopsy confirms the diagnosis. The cells under the microscope show its cancerous pattern. And though this is not a good thing, it’s not the worst thing here. What is worse is the six-centimeter cancerous lymph node that has found a home on top of the vena cava—the largest vein in the human body. It jumps out from the images on the computer, almost taunting me.

Ruminating over the complexity of the forthcoming surgery, I find myself filled with trepidation. The vena cava is about two inches across and serves as a conduit for so much blood per second that it intimidates most surgeons. And the wall of that vessel is not much thicker or stronger than wet tissue paper. And in this case unfortunately, the devil is sitting on that vein.