Thursday, June 4, 2015

Against the Odds

health and alaska life's a polyp

When I was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital and admitted for four days, my only concern was my ability to continue with my travel plans with my husband and parents to Alaska on a cruise the following week. An Alaskan cruise is a bucket list vacation for my mother and I, we've been planning and preparing for over a year and there wasn't anything that would make me miss our cruise short of being held hostage.

Seward, Alaska
After a limited appetite leading up to my hospitalization and 2.5 days without solid food while in the hospital, my stomach has not been able to tolerate food properly since resuming a solid food diet. I have been experiencing
severe stomach pain, cramps, and bloating shortly after eating and the pain lasts for the majority of the day and at times into the next day. I attempted to return to work immediately after my hospital release but my body rejected my attempts and forcefully informed me of my inability to resume normal work and activity. I was forced home for the next two days.

Snorkeling in Ketchikan, Alaska
My parents and husband urged me to cancel our travel plans due to the onslaught of pain and how it would affect my travel and activity ability. And I must admit, I was uncertain myself although my stubbornness would not allow me to miss this travel opportunity I had been yearning for over the years. With proper rest and limiting my food intake, particularly during the day, I managed to complete a half work day prior to leaving for our cruise. I wasn't sure how much of the activities I'd be able to participate in nor how much I would enjoy even being in Alaska but I maintained my argument that I would be able to enjoy our time on the ship and venture through the cities and excursions as able. I would watch my food intake, rest when needed, and take Lonox and pain medications to maximize my participation ability. Some days were more difficult than others due to the stomach pain but to my surprise and relief I was able to enjoy the majority of our trip, complete all excursions, and participate in many activities.

Hubbard Glacier. My husband spreading awareness of FAP
We spent an evening in Anchorage before driving to Seward for our cruise departure. Docking in Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, and Ketchikan we enjoyed whale watching, a train ride through the White Pass Yukon Route, nature walks, local culture education, and snorkeling. Our last day was spent touring Vancouver, British Columbia and to my surprise I managed to walk 5 miles in Vancouver to visit the Hard Rock Casino for souvenirs to add to our Hard Rock clothing collection! We hailed a taxi cab for our return to the train station for time management and relief from shin splints and further risk of dehydration. In spite of daily stomach pain that required rest from activities aboard the cruise ship and mandatory consideration and preparations with food and medication, I thoroughly enjoyed our trip and I didn't want to return home. My soul was touched by the history, culture, and nature of Alaska leaving within me inspiration and peace.

Mendenhall Glacier Juneau, Alaska
Since returning home the pain has yet to subside to my previous normal levels and I am limiting my food intake during the day to allow myself to function with minimal pain at work and during activities. I have an appointment with my new adult GI doctor at the end of the month to review my biopsy reports from my stomach polyps and intestinal ulcers as well as future treatment. I did obtain a copy of the pathology reports stating the stomach polyps were hyperplastic meaning they were benign and not pre-cancerous polyps. My ulcers were typical and without any malignancy meaning I understand that I do not have Crohn's Disease nor did I anticipate I did although I appreciated the doctor covering all bases. During my early college years when I began developing stomach polyps my doctor provided the prognosis of stomach cancer by the time I was 30. I am less than a month away from my 30th birthday and I'm ecstatic to report that my doctor's prognosis was wrong. I may develop stomach cancer later on but not before age 30!

Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska

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