Becoming a blogger was one of the scariest yet most exciting adventures of my life. I am so very thankful every day for your continued support and allowing me to share my passion for vintage fashion with all of you. One thing that may come as a total surprise to everyone is that although I do have a very public lifestyle being a blogger, I really do my very best to keep my personal life private. I went back and for a very long time on whether or not I should share this with all of you and I came to the realization if in doing so, I help can someone else… that in itself was worth sharing my personal battle over the past 10 months.
First and foremost, this story is not going to finish with me asking for any kind of financial support from my readers…I promise you!!!
It all began last July, when I happened to notice a few little red marks on my hands that I assumed were just regular bug bites for that time of the year, I never gave them a second thought. The following morning, I woke up and noticed that those spots were now much larger and multiplied becoming quite itchy…again, me thinking maybe it was just a little skin rash…went about my day. By day 3, my hands were completely filled with what looked like hives/rash that was so insanely itchy that the pharmacist said I needed to go to the Emergency since it was the weekend. The doctors were baffled and thought maybe it was a virus similar to Hand/Foot/Mouth that children typically get and sent me home saying it “should” pass. The next morning, the itch had turn to extreme pain that I cannot even begin to describe and it started appearing on my feet. I called my family doctor that morning and was told to come in immediately. Everyone was baffled; Dr. N and her colleagues ruled out the ER’s diagnosis and sent me for a bunch of blood work to pinpoint what exactly it was that I had. The results were all inconclusive but Dr. N was fairly certain it was an auto-immune disease called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). In adults, this disease can lead to Kidney failure for the 6 weeks that it’s present in the body which meant weekly tests to watch for any signs of kidney trouble. Once I safely past the 6 weeks mark, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief but Dr. N felt there was a need to run more elaborate tests to see if anything was missed. Since I have always been in great health, her gut feeling told her something wasn’t adding up. I remember when she said, “Jessica, I am sending you for a couple ultrasounds on your abdomen and pelvis.” Ok…that sounds easy enough right?
A couple weeks later, I had my first ultrasound on my abdomen and sensed something was amiss when the lab tech was lightly (very lightly) scanning my right side below the ribs and I felt sharp pains. I asked the tech if that was normal and she replied that it could be nothing…but I instantly knew she found something with all the images she was taking in that area. Now the online guru that I am, I went home and searched the inter webs (bad idea I know) on what organs are located in that area: right kidney, liver, gallbladder, and part of the colon. In talking with my bestie Amber who works in the medical field, we came to the conclusion that it my gallbladder was causing the pain. The second ultrasound was a few days later and I was told the results would be sent within 4-5 days to my doctor. Now I wait… When my doctor’s office phoned a couple days later, they insisted that I come in right away after work. Panic set in, this doesn’t sound good at all. I prepared myself mentally the best I could and went in that afternoon. Dr. N began going over the results: “Jessica, your gallbladder is FULL of stones which is very unusual for your age and healthy lifestyle. It has to come out, so you will need surgery.” She then asked if I had been experiencing pain on the right side and it never event dawned on me…YES! I had fractured a rib years’ earlier and always thought they were phantom pains from not healing properly, so I never thought twice about it. Ok, I can handle this…a gallbladder is no biggie right? But Dr. N wasn’t done… “Jessica, they also found spots (lesions) on your liver, they are most likely benign and nothing to be concerned about but they recommend sending you for an MRI.” Ok…panic is now setting in. Believe it or not, she was still not done with the results… “Jessica, they also found a very large (5mm+) cyst on your left ovary that will also require surgery to remove”. At this point, I was beyond overwhelmed and starting to freak out. How did I go from being 100% healthy to needing 2 surgeries and who knows what else once they knew what was on my liver. I left there in a daze and went home to tell my husband the news.
The next step was getting referred to a general surgeon and gynecologist, with wait times of 6+months! My appointment with the Surgeon was not until January 2016 and Gyno late Feb (it was August 2015 at the time). Yes, Canadian healthcare is free but it comes with the downfall of very long wait times. Six weeks later, I went for follow up ultrasounds to confirm if there were any changes and from there Dr. N decided to proceed with the MRI’s for a clearer diagnosis. Once the MRI’s were complete, I waited for a call with the results. When the call came, it was the same as last time…”Jessica, Dr. N needs to see you immediately”. My heart sank. The MRI confirmed the prognosis that my gallbladder was full of stones and the ovarian cyst was getting larger. I was fine with that really; we were more concerned about the liver. The radiologist believed the spots were Focal nodular hyperplasia (benign lesions) but could not exclude “metastases” aka Cancer that has metastasized from another source in the body. In an instant, my whole world came crashing down on me. Since I had no other major symptoms except the ovarian cyst, Dr. N strongly believed there was no way I had cancer. We both agreed that I should take the CA125 test to rule out if I had the cell markers for ovarian cancer. On the drive home that day, I completely broke down. I cannot even begin to tell you all the thoughts and express the fear that goes through one’s mind when you think…”I might have cancer”. I was a complete wreck telling my husband the news but hearing the words “Jessica, we will get through whatever it is together” was what I needed at that very moment. The blood tests came back the next morning…Negative! …all levels were normal. It was a huge relief for everyone, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. By this time, it was late November and I would now have to wait until January to see the surgeon.
Every month that passed, my gallbladder which we named “Fred” was causing more frequent severe pain episodes despite my healthy diet and “Oliver” (the cyst) had his own bouts…often at the same time. January finally came and I was really looking forward to finally getting my surgery date to evict Fred. The first consultation with the surgeon didn’t go at all as planned and there was no surgery date booked. I won’t bore you with all the details but the surgeon felt like everyone who handled my case was incompetent so he wanted to run a bunch more tests to rule out “cancer” before he could safely operate. After each test came back negative one by one, we were cautiously optimistic. When the final test came back on my liver to confirm the lesions were indeed benign, everyone rejoiced at the prognosis…I was indeed CANCER FREE! YIPPEE!!!!! I finally saw the gynecologist in February and the two doctors decided it best that they perform both laparoscopic surgeries at the same time on May 12th.
When the date was finally set, it was like the weight of the past 8+ months hit me all at once and I fell apart. I had to give up working out back in the fall because it took everything in me to just to get through each day with a smile on my face meanwhile I was in constant pain which was making me physically and emotionally drained. My clothes were no longer fitting how they should, the scale was going up and there was nothing I could do to control how my body was reacting to Fred and Oliver. I was a shell of myself when I reached my breaking point; emotional, depressed, exhausted and hating my body because it was the enemy. I was SCARED!!! Until this moment, surgery seemed intangible because it was going to happen so far in the future but now it was only weeks away. Yes, I know these are routine procedures which are minimally invasive (if all goes as planned)…but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying to someone who has always been healthy. Fortunately, I am surrounded by incredible family, friends and coworkers that have been there for me when I was too proud to say I needed to lean on them. I could not do it by myself as I had tried so hard to do since this all began…I don’t know what I would have done without them.
The end was in sight…but with only a month to go, I suddenly developed severe migraines and headaches that lasted for 3-4 days at a time week after week. With a little push of my best friend Amber, I went back to see Dr. N because something wasn’t right. Apparently the type of migraines I was experiencing (aura) are a dangerous sign that can lead to a stroke due to a reaction to birth control. Oh yay… just what I needed to hear. Dr. N decided it was best to send me for another MRI, this time on my head since that was about the only body part left that we never checked. Lol. The results took a while longer than usual, but Dr. N phoned me personally after work to say there were no signs of tumors or masses but…there is always a damn but these days…the radiologist noted “mild mass loss” which is not common in people my age. To err on the side of caution, Dr. N is referring me to a neurologist in hopes that the migraines will disappear post-surgery and there is no need to see the specialist. All fingers, toes crossed that the migraines go away after Fred & Oliver are evicted and I am 100% my healthy old self again.
Now that May 12 is only days away, I must take a little break from blogging to recuperate and get well again. The good news is…I have a team of incredible bloggers and fans who answered my call for a top secret project to guest post for the readers of Pin Up Persuasion. I want to thank them all in advance for stepping up to the plate and delivering exciting new content to the blog. Lastly, I would like to thank all the fans of Pin Up Persuasion for everything!!! The last 10 months would have been much more trying if I didn’t have all of you to interact with, sharing photos of gorgeous clothing and being surrounded by all of your positive energy that I hold dear in my heart. I read every comment, message and emoji that you send my way. Fret not, I’ll be back to blogging before you know it and checking in on social media while recuperating at home. Big hugs to all Pin Up Persuasion readers and fans, I love you all so very much!