Today marks one week since my womb and a number of lymph nodes were released from my body within a surgery that I thought would take 4 hours….but I ended up under sedation for 10 hours.
The night before surgery I slept literally 18 minutes.
I know this number because I was listening to a hypnotherapy recording I had my hypnotherapist do around releasing Cancer, the surgery and healing, and fell asleep at the beginning, and once I was counted out of hypnotherapy, I awoke, and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I just began visualizing.
1) Visualizing myself Cancer Free.
2) Visualizing myself waking up from sedation and asking if the surgery was laparoscopic or a big incision, and hearing them answer, “Laparoscopic”
3) Visualizing being told the surgery was a success and I wouldn’t have to have any Chemo or Radiation after.
I decided at 3am, that it was time to get up soon anyway and take a shower and remove all jewelry, since I was to check into City of Hope at the lovely hour of Dark:30…5:30am.
I took my shower and spoke to my body, and told it that we would be ok…that the cutting and snipping and rearranging of our insides was needed for us to continue living a very long and healthy life.
I brushed my hair and looked into my eyes in the mirror and started balling. I told myself that we would get through this, that I am strong and have been through much worse and that no matter what happens…I have the strength to get through it.
With the last 20 minutes I had left before my friend picked me up, I lit up my Ancestor’s Altar and did a meditation asking for help from all of them for a Laparoscopic surgery and quick healing after.
I focused a lot on Patrick O’Shea and Stacey Fuller, who I both lost to Cancer.
Stacey was a client who quickly turned friend that I helped during her 4 year battle with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. I learned so much about how to look at a scary diagnosis, what not to say to people with cancer and how to teach people about what to expect from Cancer in an informative, clear and always humorous way. I learned what being fierce in the face of total adversity of your life, body and medical treatments was like from Stace…and even though her whole life fell to pieces around her the last year or so of her life with the Cancer getting super painful, her husband cheating on her and shooting himself in the head and her having to sell the lovely house she owned and get rid of the life they had together…ALL AT ONCE…and she did it with grace, strength, love and a fierceness that only comes out of someone who had been through what she had. Stacey is seriously my Angel within my journey.
Patrick was a dear friend who was the husband of my spiritual brother since high school. I laughed my ass off, did shots of Irish Whiskey and smoked cigarettes on the front porch with pre cancer Patrick in my late 20’s and early 30’s…and gave Reiki to, held his hand and visited in the hospital many times the angel that was struggling for his life within the walls of City of Hope in my late 30’s and into my early 40’s. From Patrick I learned how to stand up for yourself during treatment, and I learned about City of Hope and how beautifully they treated their patients. Everywhere I walk on the huge campus of City of Hope, I see Patrick…and when I learned that my surgery was being done in the very same building that Patrick finally passed on in…I knew that I was going to be ok, and that he would be there with me. I was there giving Reiki to him the moment his heart stopped surrounded by at least 20 of his closest friends and family who flew in from Ireland. Patrick showed me how to die…which I guess can be looked at as a fucked up thing to say…but I mean it in the most loving way. There was SO MUCH LOVE in that room, and we sang to him, we comforted him, we allowed him to release his pain filled failing body surrounded by love, warmth and healing…I can’t think of a better way to go, if I can’t go taking a nap within a Redwood forest listening to the trickle of a river…I want what he had, damnit.
My Chariot arrived at 4:45 am to gather me into the car in the still dark silent morning.
The car ride was laugh filled, because my friend Shelby is awesome, and we arrived at City of Hope early.
I had an antique skeleton key I used in a healing Full Moon Ritual I had done the night before, and I told Shelby that I had to do some witchy shit really quick on the way in, and as we were walking up to the front doors of the Helford Building on the City of Hope Campus, I kissed the skeleton key and threw it into some shrubbery right by the entrance.
Skeleton Key I left at City of Hope
Skeleton Keys open all doors, and since I was working a lot with Hecate to open the crossroads for me within my healing…I was using skeleton keys, which are one of her symbols.
That particular Skeleton Key was infused with giving my surgeon the ability to do my surgery laparoscopically, which was not guaranteed to me, because of my former colon resection surgery scars and scar tissue being in the way. She said she would try her hardest…and oh my god did she.
We walk in from the dark quiet of the early morning and into the brightly illuminated white interior of the hospital. LITERALLY the moment I walk in through the automatic doors, a Code Red alarm goes off in the whole building with lights flashing and really loud screaming alarms.
When I was a volunteer at City of Hope, I had to learn what all of their codes meant, and Code Red is an alarm that there was literally a fire in the building.
I giggled to myself a bit that OF COURSE a Code Red happens the moment Baptism By Flame girl walks in, and we went up to the second floor and I awaited my check in all the while listening to the Code Red for a good 15-20 minutes.
In Hypnotherapy School, we learned of a theory of our minds being filled with things called Message Units throughout the day. Everything that happens to you in a day is a Message Unit…a phone ringing, fight with a friend, an e-mail, a car horn, a cute kitty…and in the quiet solitude of my darkened room doing meditations, I was not very filled up with Message Units for the day yet…but the moment we walked into the hospital a complete smorgasbord of Message Units were being downloaded rapidly into my mind!
Message Units make it more easy for the mind to drift and go into hypnosis, so I laughed to myself that with how things are currently going…I may be already out before the anesthesiologist even gets to me!
The Code Red alarm finally stops, and the woman who checked me in assured me that there was not really a fire in the hospital…that it happened because someone badly burned their morning toast. LOL!
They took me back and I met my surgical team, a really painful IV was put into my hand and I said my last goodbyes as a woman with a cancerous womb to Shelby, Isaac and my mother, who were all there to support me that day.
I get rolled into the surgery theater, and I see a huge white thing that takes up the whole wall with arms on it with different types of instruments on each arm. I ask if that is the Robot that is going to assist my surgeon, and they tell me yes. In my head prior to meeting Mr. Robot, I was visioning some sort of C3PO or R2D2 smaller thing rolling around me…but this thing was HUGE!
I was pretty high at that moment on something they gave me to calm my nerves, so I laugh and wave at the robot wall and say, “Hi, Mr. Robot…do a good job!” Everyone laughs, and they put the gas mask over my nose and I fade to black.
Of course, for me…one minute later, the story begins again…but not so much in the real world.
In the real world, the surgery is supposed to take 4 hours, so my mom and friends mill about, talk and go get something to eat.
My surgeon is blowing up my insides with gas, and making small incisions to get to all parts of my reproductive system…the Cervix, Uterus, Fallopian Tubes and both Ovaries for removal. Once they got the Uterus out, they had to send it to another area in the sprawling hospital campus to test it to see what stage it actually was. At this point…I am parked in the room still sedated as the surgeon waits for the test results to come back.
This took a bit longer than anticipated, and the results came back as a Stage 2, instead of a Stage 1 like we initially hoped based on the small amount of the Uterus tissue they were able to get in the initial biopsy I had done, which gave me my Cancer diagnosis.
With the new knowledge that we were dealing with Stage 2…my Surgeon decided that instead of just doing a biopsy of my Lymph Nodes, that she should be as cautious as possible and just go ahead and remove all of the onodes closest to the Uterus, so back into my body they went, and made more incisions to get to the Lymph Nodes.
So I basically had 2 different surgeries that day back to back, and when all was said and done…I went under sedation around 7:30am and didn’t come back up for real air and wake up until sometime around 5pm.
The first moments of waking up after a surgery felt like I was a body of jelly in a super loud and bright fairy world. I opened my eyes to see a human woman sitting there, and my throat was so raw and dry from having the tube down my throat, but I managed to croak out, “Was it laparoscopic?”…”yes, dear, it was…would you like some ice chips?”
I smiled to myself and looked up at the ceiling to thank Stacey, Patrick, Hecate and anyone else who helped with this as the cold ice melted in my mouth and I went back to sleep as the water went down my burning throat.
I woke up a second time a few minutes later and tried to move my arms and couldn’t, my shoulders were in so much pain. I was told before being put under that almost everyone has shoulder pain right after. It is a side effect of the gas they use to blow up your insides so the doctor can see better when the scope and knives are in you. It collects in your gut, but the pain gets redirected to the shoulders.
I remembered that conversation, and ceased trying to move my arms anymore, as that was the only pain in my body I was aware of when I moved. I realized then, what time it was as I was able to focus enough to read the clock near my bed, and knew that my mom and friends were STILL OUT THERE all this time…so I told the nurse to let them come in for one minute to see that I was alive, and then to let them leave and go get some sleep. I couldn’t believe how long it had been!
I saw their smiling faces and drifted back off to jello fairy land as the nurse gave me more pain killer in my veins for the transfer from the recovery unit to my hospital room.
They brought me a tray of liquids, as I was still on a liquid diet from Sunday until Wednesday, and I was having trouble feeding myself because of the intense shoulder pain, so the nurse fed me some veggie broth. It was the best broth I have ever tasted…probably because I was still in jello fairy world…but also the tepid temperature felt so healing as it went down my raw throat.
All I could handle was half of my broth and some lemonade ice chips for desert, and off I went to my room.
I was so afraid of the transfer from the surgery gurney I had been in for 12 hours to the bed I would continue my recovery in…but they have this sliding device that they use and wrap you in a sheet, and as long as you don’t try to “help” by moving yourself…the transfer is like nothing!
I got into my bed around 7:30pm and slept a few more hours…being awoken hourly by people taking my vital signs and putting more pain medicine in my veins. At midnight, I was helped up out of bed to take my first steps post surgery.
During the Colon Resection…they waited until the next day for this awesome walk, and that was literally the most pain I have EVER felt in my life, was that initial folding and unfolding of my abdomen to get out of bed after having a 9 inch incision made in it the day before.
It surpassed the 3rd degree burns over 30% of my skin and the skin grafting surgery after them…this was a fire of pain inside my very core…not just skin deep.
It was because of this memory that I was so scared to take the first steps, and they offered me to wait until the next morning…but the longer I waited to take those next steps…the longer the catheter had to be in place, and it was already going on 16 hours for that…so I decided to be brave and get it over with.
It was then that they showed me my incisions. Instead of one long incision…I have 5 shorter ones that go around my waist…they are from one inch to 3 inches, and instead of being stapled together like my Colon Resection incision was…I was just stitched and glued back together.
This was still more than I was hoping for, because if they didn’t have to remove the Lymph Nodes, I would only have 2 or 3 incisions…but 5 small incisions is much better than one huge one ANYday!
I’m not going to sugar coat it…it sucked getting up and out of bed…but I was so proud of myself for doing it…facing my dragon and jumping on its back and riding myself to recovery that much faster.
It was the slowest I have ever walked in life…but once we got going, and I was talking to her about childbirth (the irony of this was so not lost on me…a pregnant woman helping a woman who just had a hysterectomy to take her first steps after surgery) but my ex Doula mode kicked in, because she was saying how scared she was of the pain, and it was her first birth.
I told her that her body was created to do this, and that every woman I have stood guard over as they gave birth was able to have the beautiful natural birth they wanted, and that whatever pain she feels during the process will be completely trumped by the glory of having her baby the natural way and being a part of the process of Natural birthing. She had some tears in her eyes as she thanked me, and then realized how far down the long white hallway we had walked, and she said, “We went 4 times the length people usually do for their first walk…you are a rock star.”
The next day I was finally able to eat solid food, and my body finally actually wanted it, so I asked if I could order some vegetarian options, and they brought me a vegan menu…my love for City of Hope grew more and more as the hours passed.
I didn’t want any visitors for my days in the hospital, because I knew I was super groggy and really just wanted to sleep as much as possible, and didn’t want to have to try to keep myself awake for a bunch of visitors. Plus I knew that the whole next month would be filled with my beautiful friends coming once a day to check on me and bring meals. Speaking of which, f anyone ever needs to book visitations and meals for after a surgery, I highly suggest mealtrain.com…it has been beautiful to use and helps keep everyone from coming all at once, and avoids having huge gaps between. Plus you can send messages to everyone at once, and really just makes the whole meal planning process so simple!
Since the surgery was a bit more than we expected…I was told to stay for a couple days instead of the initial release day of the next morning that we thought. I was truly fine with that…it gave me more time to rest, heal and have an easier bed to get in and out of to go to the bathroom.
When I was able to see my surgeon and talk to her for the first time after the surgery I wept with joy as I saw her smiling face. I knew it was a hard surgery on her, and it took way more time than she expected…but even though my scar tissue was a challenge…she kept at it, and was able to stay away from the large incision the other surgeon told me was unavoidable.
She told me that it was a difficult surgery, but that she was really glad that we removed all that we did and she was really happy to read my chart and see how many times I got up to walk already and how far I went the first day. Even though my insides were just ripped apart and sewn back together…moving through the pain really does help the healing process which is why since I have been home…I have been talking daily walks. First day just around the house…but tonight I just took a lovely evening stroll to the end of the block and it felt amazing to see the trees, plants and flowers and hear the beautiful birds all around me. I love my house and it is a beautiful cocoon for me to heal in…but I am seriously getting cabin fever a week later.
Thursday afternoon I was released to come home, and I was so ready. I immediately requested to have the IV taken out of my hand the moment I awoke, which was really starting to hurt after 36 hours. Then I got dressed in my own clothes and took a walk down the hall at 6am. My nurses grew to love me…always complementing me on my tattoos and colored hair…also there was always laughter that would happen within our short visits. Some I went super deep with…especially the ones who asked me what I do for a living and how I got started doing it…those people usually ended up sitting down and saying, “Ooooh…tell me more….”
The staff at City of Hope was amazing, but I was done being a hospital patient…it was time to heal within the womb of The Healing Woods House.
My wonderful Shaman Rocket Scientist friend came to pick me up with a beautiful stuffed wolf toy and was my chariot home. I don’t remember much of Thursday night, because they dosed me really well with Dilaudid and Percocet…so pretty much I got some kitty therapy with snuggles and purrs and slept the rest of Thursday away.
Friday I awoke, and figured out through trial and error the best way to get myself in and out of bed, and decided that I was done with narcotics, and I wanted to try out post surgery life with just the 800mg Ibuprofen instead. I gave myself the daily shot I have to give myself near my incisions to stop blood clotting and made myself my superfood smoothie, took a shower and went back to bed. My visitors started coming Friday…one in the late morning and one in the early evening, and I have really been loving my time with each one.
We have meals together, and they help me clean the kitty box and feed the kitties because I cannot bed to the floor yet (probably that’ll happen next week)…and some sit at the table with me because I am trying to mill about the house while they are there…and one…one of my oldest dearest friends, Jamie just laid in bed with me and talked, because it was a tough pain day, and I was super sleepy. All of my visits have been so healing and helpful for me…I love my friends so much, and feel so over the moon grateful that I have them in my life.
Thursday…the daily magic also started.
Some incredible things have been happening this first week after the surgery…the first one being the key I planted in the City of Hope garden on Tuesday and me awaking to a Laparoscopic surgery, even though it was a tough one.
I will admit, that the meds have been helping give a fresh dose of LSD to my dreamworld. I have had some amazing adventures in dreamland…but the dream I woke up from Thursday morning was different. Less crazy…more reverent than adventurous and exciting. I was in the Redwoods following around a hummingbird…and this hummingbird was huge and (here comes the only LSD part of the dream) brightly colored with a rainbow of colors that lit up and swirled around as it flew. I followed this rainbow bird through the dense green of the forest, and it lead me to my home as it is today…and showed me images of me healing, happy, laughing and swimming.
The moment I awoke from that dream, my eyes fluttered open to see a beautiful regular sized humming bird flitting around in the tree outside my hospital window.
I wanted to be a bit more clear to do some meditations on my Ancestors thanking them for their help through all of this, and Friday was the clearest I had been since the surgery, because I got myself off the narcotics, and only took the Ibuprofen that day.
I went into meditation and lost the world around me, and started by thanking Patrick and Stacey…but then my inner mind took over and showed me random images and wandered all around my family tree…even the parts of it before I am aware of the names going deeply into the bloodlines that make me who I am today, and as I was close to coming back from meditation…I was with my maternal grandparents, and they were smiling and hugging me…just then, I heard something crash, and my kitty George was up on my ancestor’s altar literally sitting and staring directly at the picture of my maternal grandparents.
I took a long slow trip to the kitchen to refill my water, and saw a HUGE Red Tailed Hawk kicking it right outside my door on my railing.
The kitty boys were in awe to see a bird seriously as big as they were, and he gave 0 shits about George’s chattering as his beautiful intense hawk eyes glared into the screen door right at me.
He glared at me for a few minutes…I slowly sat on the couch to let him be and learn what I could from my new teacher taking up most of my railing.
After looking at George and I a few more times, he swiftly disappeared into the ether and I felt chills all over me and cried my eyes out.
Red Tailed Hawk Medicine:
“A Red tailed Hawk is special. It will ALWAYS be with you, for life. It has direct ties to the Kundalini, the seat of primal life force. It is linked to the base chakra. If you have this power animal, you need to be aware of and work toward fulfilling your soul’s destiny. It reflects far greater intensity of energy within your life: physically, emotionally and mentally. Spiritual forces will be felt strong within you.”
I went out for a short walk around my courtyard to finally check my mail and to get some fresh air and sun…as I was walking up the path a huge humming bird buzzed around me and dove at me a few times, but it did not feel like she was being defensive at all like they can be if you are too near their nest.
She followed me up to the mailbox and hovered around my head as I went through all that was in there making piles separating junk and lovely cards that came in.
As I walked over to the dumpster to throw the junk away, she was following me again and chattering to me. I walked back to my porch and took the long slow (sometimes painful during this healing process) trip up my 5 steps to get to the front door, and as I was doing this…she stayed back…watching me from her favorite tree outside my door.
Once I was safely up the stairs, I paused a bit to look at her sitting in the tree and called out to her to thank her for playing with me, and she came back to hover RIGHT in front of my face, and stayed there long enough for me to be able to see her little eyes blinking and she chirped out at me before heading up into the sky.
I received the best call I have in a long time!
I was nominated to be a recipient of $500 from The Foundation for Living Beauty‘s Cassandra Fund, which was created in honor of a Beauty named Cassandra who was a single working mother, and wanted women who were unable to work because of Cancer treatment to be able to receive help when needed.
As a Beauty who runs her own business, I do not get sick pay or medical leave pay, so this month is a hard one…with this phone call, I now can rest a bit easier knowing this amazing gift is on its way.
I checked my inbox this morning to see an e-mail from a woman I have gotten to know throughout the decade now of me going on silent retreats at the Yogananda Hermitage Gardens overlooking the ocean in Encinitas, California. She works in the office, and oversees retreat booking.
Before receiving my Cancer diagnosis, I had made plans to do a week long silent retreat for the New Moon of July, and we have been in contact since about me not being sure if I would be healed up enough to even do a shorter one…even one or two days…just to be in that peace, healing and transformative place overnight does wonders.
In the most recent e-mail I received from her today, I was told that my name was placed inside of Yogananda’s study within his house (called The Hermitage…on the actual desk he wrote Diary of a Yogi on) the day before my surgery, and sits there still during my healing.
No wonder this whole thing has really flown by, and I did not have much, if any, fear the night before.
I am SO GRATEFUL for all of the friends I have made within all the different Dialects of Spirit I have learned throughout my life…it really is beautiful when you see them jump into action in much needed times in life.
Everyday I wake up excited to be alive, feeling better than I did when I went to sleep and so curious as to what magical thing will happen that day!
I fully intend on riding this wave of magic well beyond my healing days into my rebuilding weeks and transformative months to come.
The journey is just beginning, and I am so grateful to be on the other side of this release, and to be the proud owner of an energetic Universe where my Uterus once was.
The journey is not over yet…I return to see my surgeon on 7/11 (Dark Moon) to hear the results of the cancer screening of the Lymph Nodes that were taken out. If they are clear…I am done and Cancer Free…if they show traces…the next thing I have to talk to them about is radiation or Chemo.