Friday, 30 March 2012

CT Scan booked!!

!!!  Poking and prodding seems to have worked, and my Dr. came through.
My CT-scan is now booked for next Wednesday the 4th !!!

So much relief!!

I got to talk to my cousins today, and it really helped too. Chin up, feet forward. Things are coming together! :)

Getting Things Organized - and the waiting game

Waiting for referrals and appointments is the hardest part.

Chris has been amazing, and I was lucky  too -- my sister Ula and my BIL Jeff flew into town, and have been AMAZING. Ula has helped me organize  stuff here and is getting trained to handle all of my business stuff while I am at the hospital ( still no dates on that. Maybe May, who knows?), so  that's a huge weight off my shoulders.  At least is one thing that I won't have to worry about --I've had my business for over 5 years now, so I'm not about to let it fall to the wayside.

Ula has been really good at helping me and Chris poke about, and hopefully we will have some sort of date ( at least for the CT scan!) soon. Its really exhausting to feel like people in the medical offices get irritated that you call and insist; I keep wanting to say " If this was your life you're fighting for, wouldn't you?"  Day by day. I just wish it didn't feel like they are treating it so lackadaisically.

Anyway, here we are dealing with the other things -- my friend P.  got me some information about the documents I should have done ( for instance a POA, a living will and some other ones) alongside with the world's best dessert. It was gone by the evening!

I got some great information from a couple of the people at the Belly Button club, and will be phoning to talk to them this weekend, and Aiden liked the suggestion that he could go talk to the counselor at his elementary school. I'm so happy our little guy is as open as he is... though he is having to grow up awfully fast.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Spring Blooms and the Belly Button Club

Spring Blooms

Last year was the first time we planted bulbs in our balcony planters. I've never been much of a green thumb, so for most of the year the poor things lay neglected. So neglected, in fact, that after I cleared out all the leaves and such a few months ago I completely forgot I'd left the bulbs in the ground. A few weeks back though, our son found that there were green stalks and leaves peeking out from the dirt, and we have watched with wonder as despite the odd Vancouver weather this year they have continued to slowly grow.

I hate grey, dreary days. Maybe I still have a tropical soul, used to the lush flowers and fruits of Colombia, but every winter I hate the sight of scarecrow trees poking out and everything kind of barren around. Thank goodness for evergreens! In order to offset this a little, last November we ran into these amazing  chinese lantern plants -- bright orange, they continue to dry out and be the same gorgeous colour even if their stalks have died out.  As the winter progressed and the leaves all fell out we decided to just cut out the dead stalks ( with their lovely bright lanterns) and cheat by propping them up so they would still add colour in the grey winter days. They had come in two large round planters, and in the months since I had been debating getting rid of them, since they were only taking up balcony space.

Imagine my surprise, when going to use them to plant iris bulbs ( after I found out about the awesomeness of bulbs) to see that their roots, deep underground, were all undergoing a revival!  Now they have all there bright  shoots with vibrant leaves springing up; I told our son about it, and how it looks like come October we may have our bright orange lanterns again.

He was so excited! "Mommy, its like our own Goodbye Cancer Garden!" he exclaimed. He had been a little sad to hear that no, we can't exactly grow pumpkins in a small planter on a balcony, so this was the next best thing.

The Belly Button Club

I was a bit down the other day, so I went to look around for more information and support groups. I found a wonderful one called the Belly Button Club - these are people who have or have had PMP, a great source of information and advice.... and just support. They are amazing. There are a couple who have given me leave to contact them and talk, as they underwent the MOAS with the same drs. and at the place I am being referred to.  Just trying to shake off myself a little, and tomorrow I will be emailing them. So many things to ask, where do you start??

Yesterday a friend sent me a pamper basket, which was absolutely amazing; I also got to eat my first chicken pot pie, which another friend made for us, and  a wonderful dinner my mom came over and made. I think my appetite is finally starting to return! :)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Star Trek vs. The Gelatinous Cube

Star Trek vs. The Gelatinous Cube

Its funny how sometimes we find ways to reference our lives ( and what's going on in them)  through the things that we enjoy or have known.

In University  I remember playing this one DnD game ( all of one session) in which my character met his untimely end at the 'hands' of one of the monsters there, a Gelatinous cube. This cube pretty much absorbs and destroys its prey, but its sort of slow. Now the thing is - in Dnd there are other members of your group. Theoretically you watch each other's backs, protect and defend one another. The general idea is that as a group you are far stronger than as an individual. When my character was captured by the cube, my group could have chosen to save him ( much as I had earlier in the game, when they ran into trouble); instead, they each opted to leave him to his fate and go on to loot, concerned only with themselves.  It was a choice, and while it was a game (so all in good fun)  their choice stuck in my mind.

By contrast, the other night I had a Star Trek dream. My geeky heart has loved Star Trek since I was very little -- I love the idea of a time when we all put aside the things that make us different and just work towards a positive future, together. I loved the technology, I loved the characters and the fact that at the end of the day they were there for one another, stronger as a team.

Among all the odd and scary dreams I've had of late I was really happy to get one that had Star Trek in it.
While I can't remember the details I remember that all the captains were there, and that -I- was the captain of the enterprise. We were trying to defeat this black hole that  had sprung out in the middle of the ship, sucking out all light and threatening the whole universe ( of course it was the whole universe. When I dream apparently I dream big!).  I was obsessed with finding some sort of beacon of light. It was getting frustrating, and it soon became apparent that I couldn't find it. I remember staring down at the black thing and feeling that fear just pooling in my stomach - and then there was Picard, his hand on my shoulder.

He smiled, and told me that I couldn't fight the black thing on my own. That I shouldn't carry the weight of the universe and think that single-handedly I could save it. Instead he told me I should focus in being the best captain of the Starship Enterprise that I could be.  I looked back at the black hole, and suddenly it wasn't as overwhelming. I had the strength of MY team, and together we would figure it out.

My team is my family. My friends, near and far. The kind words of those that have offered their help, that have sent me positive energy and prayers. I know their love and faith is the best thing in my life right now, and the biggest boost to figure out what comes next.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Some Sense of Normalcy

Normalcy ( such as it is) comes in stages,  I suppose.  This week  felt eternal while we tried to wrap our heads around the news.  The weekend was a turning point, however, aided in no small part by a change in the weather.
I'm recovering from my surgery at RCH relatively well, and though still exhausted and sore I'm managing to slowly return to activities. They'd prescribed me T3s when I left, but I'm actually allergic to acetaminophen so I couldn't fill it; I'm happy to report that handling it with extra strength advil has been manageable, and I like not feeling overly medicated.  The nights can be long though, between the pain and the restlessness; my imagination is overactive and anxious, so my dreams are not exactly soothing.

That being said, it was a good weekend. We got to go out for small spurts; we went to get some things in preparation for the big surgery ( comfy PJs, slippers and multivitamins), to have dinner with my baby sis who was returning to her school in Boston and to watch our son practice a little baseball in the park.

Today was the 4th anniversary of my Opa passing away, so it was a strange time of self-reflection too.  Luckily we had our friends J & M  come visit with a glorious pot pie and chili, and managed to get out for a short visit with P&P  too, just a couple of blocks away.  I was exhausted all of today, but socializing felt WONDERFUL. I guess I had worried ( after last week's breaking down on the phone to a couple of friends) that seeing friends again would be depressing. It wasn't - in fact it was quite the opposite. I'm reminded again how lucky we are to have such people in our lives, and what beacons of good humour and hope they are. :)

Our son got to play with his friends for a bit, and tested out telling them about his mom having cancer. It led  to some interesting questions about my new belly button!   :D For him it was wonderful to get to tell a friend and see how they'd react, I think, as well as just... forget about it for a while and  just play and be a kid.  A couple of days ago he sneezed, and then promptly told me :
" Don't worry mommy its probably just a tickle in my nose, I'm not catching cancer."

So it led to a discussion about how it wasn't something you can catch OR give to someone else, which I think reassured him. I think it will make talking to his friends about it ( if he chooses to) much easier. We have also talked to the school, and Chris will be having a longer talk with them tomorrow to see what support there is. He's a bright little guy, but I get the distinct impression he is trying not to worry -me-.

We have been talking about letting him come to Alberta just to see where I will be ( and the city as well) so that he has a clear idea of where it will all take place. I know first hand having a big imagination is a bit of a curse when you're picturing BAD things, so I want to make sure to avoid him as much anxiety about this as I can.

He still had some questions about the chemo, so I used the example of a game he loves, an app called  "Where's my Water." In it there is this alligator in the sewers who just wants to take a shower with clean water. Unfortunately, there is also this invasive moss that grows unchecked if the water checks it, and this sort of purple goo that can vaporize the water --- but its also the one thing that destroys the moss so that the water can get through clean.  I tried to explain to him that the PMP is sort of like that invasive moss, and the chemo is the goo that will help clear it all out and destroy it, so that my body can get the 'water' it needs to function.

He now believes that chemo is purple, of course.

Energy is still low, and I'm sleeping a lot. Recovering slowly but surely from this first part, and hopefully soon we will have more info on the CT scan and the referral.  Chris' work has been amazing and supportive, and so far we have been able to balance things out somehow.  Tomorrow I need to start figuring things out ( like the Power of Attorney, taxes) that we have to sort out before I have to head out.

Day by day...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Follow up - Mucinous Adenocarcinoma and the Jelly Belly

Low Blood Pressure and the CT Scan that was not to be ( AGAIN)

By the day of my pre-planned CT scan, March 13th, I was already home and recovering slowly from my surgery. Post op had gone without much issue, and I had been discharged from the hospital  after two days. On the morning  of the scan I got up to go to the bathroom at about 3 am.... and fainted from low blood pressure, ending up on the floor. I must have hit the  door frame on the way down, as I broke my nose.

Since my surgery had been the past week at RCH the paramedics took me there; not much could be done about the broken nose and after testing my heart, sugar and blood pressure I was sent home again. I was, however, in a lot of pain... so after some pain medication and ice managed to finally get some sleep. 

We had to cancel the CT-scan.

Mucinous Adenocarcinoma and the Jelly Belly

Ten days after surgery we had our follow up meeting at Dr. U.'s office.
He wanted to check in on all the post-op, but mostly to share the pathology with us. Dr. U was amazing; warm, compassionate and incredibly kind he fit us in  after the office was technically closing so that we could meet. He said he didn't want me to fall through the cracks in the system.

Dr. U checked on my stitches and progress from the surgery; thankfully I was healing well and relatively quickly. I had been able to rest a lot, since my son was now spending Spring Break with his grandparents on Vancouver Island. He showed us video from the operation, photos of my appendix and cyst and the jello substance. He explained  that it WAS cancer -- something called mucinous adenocarcinoma. It hadn't originated from my left ovary, as first thought, but rather from my appendix.  It had already done metastasis, and the cancer cells had spread with this... slime  all over my abdomen. They had coated my right ovary, parts of my colon, other places as well. He let us know that we would be needing treatment for cancer -- likely surgery and then chemotherapy, but questions about that were better left to the oncologist. He was very helpful and answered all the questions we had prepared in advance.

Dr. U had already sent our referral to Dr. J, the oncologist who would be looking after my case. We have that appointment coming up on April 12th. Dr J had already contacted a surgical oncologist, Dr. Mc - and we had an appointment all set up with him for the following Tuesday ( March 20th).

We left his office exhausted and more than a little terrified. A million questions came to mind, and searching from MA online only created more. We decided to make new questions for our  oncologist and ask them when we saw him Tuesday. 

Meeting with the Surgical Oncologist - Pseudomyxoma Peritonei

Arriving at Dr. Mc's office was nerve wracking. Everyone we saw in the waiting room seemed so much older than me ( in their 60s, I would guess);  it struck me how odd it felt to be given those news at my age. He saw us fairly quickly, and was warm and compassionate.  He asked what we'd been told, and we summarized what we knew.

Dr. Mc filled in the blanks - what I had was a rare type of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. Basically one in a million people get it; there is nothing genetic or lifestyle related they have been able to  link it to... basically he called it a biological car accident.

Because of the way it spread and how much of my organs it looked already had involved my PMP was considered to be a stage 4 cancer ( as it had already done metastasis).  I was numb at this point, and REALLY glad that Chris was with me and that we had the foresight to write questions down in advance. The gist of it was that I would need to treat this aggressively, and because I'm pretty healthy and young ( 37, non smoker, none drinker -- overweight but otherwise with no other health issues)  I was a perfect candidate for  Sugarbaker.

He let me know that  because its so rare there are no specialists here in BC, so they would have to send me out of province, preferably to Calgary Alberta. There I will undergo  this extensive surgery ( of 12+ hours) - chances are they may have to pull out more organs, but they may not know until I'm literally on the table. I will also need chemotherapy, likely both at the time of surgery and some to follow after.  I'm told recovery from the surgery will at least be a few weeks.  With our assent he sent off the referral to the Tom Baker center in Calgary, and another to re-schedule a CT scan ( since  I had to miss the one on the 13th when I fainted and broke my nose) to better see what may be involved.

Now its just the wait and see part.

Telling Family and Friends

Telling family and friends was the hardest part. How do you even start? Just say the word cancer and everything just... falls apart. I held it together when talking to my family, but talking and emailing a few friends I just about lost it.

Both our families were incredibly supportive, and our friends, near and far, have offered their support. It really DOES take a village, and knowing that they will be there to support Aiden when I can't has meant the world. That alone takes a weight of me, and let's me focus on how to beat this thing.  I talked to a friend whose son overcame cancer and she advised me to just go day by day... its hard to believe that it has only been four days since I got the diagnoses, as it feels like a year.

Telling our 7-year-old was the hardest. He'd heard so many stories about people dying from it...  my childhood best friend passed away when he was nine from leukemia, and the stories of  that loss are ones he has grown up with. We reassured him as best we could and overcompensated by having an entire basket of pokemon cards, stuffies and chocolate croissants waiting for him when he came home.

We also got him the book The Goodbye Cancer Garden by  Janna Matthies, and it has been an amazingly uplifting way of approaching all that may be coming our way. It works its way through the seasons, the treatments, the challenges and milestones. It has helped him understand it in a way that its age-appropriate and hopeful.

Celebrations and Preparations

Now the hard part begins. We have to wait for the referrals, but in the meantime have to ready my business to run fine in my absence; prepare his teachers to provide support if needed; arrange how life will work while I am away.

Yesterday I got a haircut, really short. :)  I've never really had the guts to cut my hair short, but now I sport a do that can best be described as Tasha Yar's from Star Trek. ;) I figured that it was easier to take care off during a hospital stay, and if chemo makes it fall out it won't be as drastic a change as losing the long hair I've kept pretty much the same length for the past twenty years.  I had the hair dresser cut my ponytail off first though, and my son gets to hold on to it until my hair grows back again.

My son and family took it pretty well, and I actually like it - a needed change, and something else to mark the stage that is coming up.  Since two of my sisters and both my parents were in town  I talked them into going to the photo studio for a new set of photos... my other sister and her lovely twins were missing, but  at least we got most of them in the photo.  I figured I need something to look at and inspire me while I'm at the hospital, and something positive for my son to see too. 

With that in mind, this is our BITE ME, CANCER photo:

The CT Scan that was not to be and the Operation

Arriving at Royal Columbian

The transfer was pretty straightforward, and honestly getting there was a bit of a daze. I remember my friend Paige coming to see me at the Eagleridge ER and talking for a bit, and a couple of hours later the ambulance had come through and I was transferred to  RCH.  I was taken straight to the surgical ward, which should've given me an indication of what was in store. At this point we were still under the impression we were going to get the CT scan, or better yet an MRI.

A couple of hours later however, both the admitting obgyn, Dr. B, and another obgyn, Dr. U. came to see us. They let us know that they had gotten the ultrasound and information, and that based on that I wouldn't be going to either the CT scan or the MRI, as they would instead be taking me into surgery.  They felt that waiting for imagining would only delay treatment, and that at this point this would not really be in my best interests. We, of course, gave the go ahead... what else was there to do? I signed the consent forms, and was told that as it -looked- to be an ovarian cyst I might lose the ovary, but that was fine by me as I'd already made peace with that thought.  They would be doing the whole thing via laparoscopy if possible, only doing a laparotomy if necessary. They thought they could get everything out vie the first though, which would make recovery easier.   I gave the go ahead and let them know that if anything else needed to come out I was okay with that too.

We were told that they would try and find us a surgery spot in the next 6-8 hours. We called my mom and sister and let them know that as I would be going into surgery, could they look after our son? This was monday morning, and I was incredibly glad that was the week that the teachers had called a strike for Mon-Wed, as that meant that our son might not miss much school. The next two weeks were Spring Break, so I would have time to recover and he could go have fun with his other grandparents while I did.

Plans arranged, it was only about 15 minutes later that the doctors came in again... to inform us that they would  be wheeling me into surgery in half an hour!! So much for 6-8 hours. Although relieved, worry also set in. Clearly things were more urgent than we'd been led to believe thus far.

Half an hour or so later, off I went. Chris was told I'd be out in about 1-1/2 hours, so we'd see him them.

The Operation's Aftermath

I've only had a couple of operations in my life, but sedation seems to hit me hard. I remember coming out of it and throwing up, being wrapped like a burrito in blankets after I complained that I was cold. I remember my husband there, briefly.

When I woke up later, it was in stages.  I was still in the OR recovery room, listening to the nurse call up for people to take me up to my room. I wasn't quite awake yet, but  I was pretty alert; her words drifted in and out, and gave me the first idea that things hadn't been quite as expected. From her I surmised that  draining the cyst hadn't been as straightforward as expected; in fact, it wasn't liquid at all but a thick Jello-like substance. They had drained close to three LITERS of the stuff out of my abdomen. An ovary had come out alongside the cyst, and upon first looking at my organs after that they'd seen my appendix was enormous -- so they had called in a general surgeon, who performed an apendectomy on the spot as well. In the end the operation took a bit over three hours, I'm told.

They came in and wheeled me out. I was too out of it to ask anything, and drifted off to sleep.

Early the next morning I was awake, and both Dr. B and Dr. U came by to see me.  They told me about the jello-like ooze, the ovary and  appendix that had been taken out. Apparently one more surgery was also done to repair the umbilical hernia caused by the pressure of the cyst on my abdomen. I was told that they were going to send in the pathology of the jello to the lab, and await results... because they suspected it was something that behaved -like- a cancer, they would also be referring me for follow up at the Vancouver Cancer Centre. My omentum and right ovary were also taken over by the slime, but they hadn't removed them; taking that other ovary would've put me into premature menopause, something they were trying to avoid for the moment being.

It was a lot to take in.  Chris wasn't there, so they left me to digest the news, which I shared  with Chris once he got in. It was a lot to digest, but not cause for panic yet. I had to get over my current surgeries and get home to rest and recover, and we had a follow up with Dr. U for check up 10 days later, at which time  the pathology should be in and we would know how to best proceed ... AND we still had the scheduled CT scan on March 13th ( the next week) if I was feeling well enough to go.

The Ultrasound, Results and Unexpected ER trip

The Ultrasound

I went to get my Ultrasound on February 22nd. I had been able to access my lab results from the bloodtests via the province's e-health, so I knew I wasn't pregnant. As part of my US I had to have a full bladder, which meant drinking ( and holding in) a couple of large glasses of water. I asked Chris to drive me, as by the time my appointment neared it was painful to hold in.  As the time approached I asked the receptionists how long it would be, as I was pretty much in pain.

They were really understanding and amazingly kind - luckily I was next, and the US tech, M., did the first one that needed the full bladder and then let me go to the washroom before continuing with the rest. I was there a good 45 minutes, and she did a really thorough job. She wouldn't tell me much, except to re-confirm that NO I was definitely not pregnant.  In fact she was so adamant about this that I knew something was up.  The techs won't give you much information, but as I was leaving I asked her to tell me how long it might be before my doctor got the results; she paused and looked me in the eye, saying:

"Normally you'd be looking at 2-3 business days, but if there is something the matter they will get them sooner."

The way she put the emphasis there I sort of knew she had seen something in the ultrasound.  True to her word, my doctor called me first thing Friday morning, to book a follow up appointment. As they had none for the day  I made one for Monday and spent one long and stressful weekend.

The Follow up, Ultrasound results.

At this point I have to admit I went and did what I've been told you SHOULDN'T; I went on the internet and looked up anything and everything it could possibly be. I scared myself into thinking it could be a molar pregnancy, some sort of giant tumor or perhaps an ovarian cyst.   By the time my appointment came around I had worked myself into a frenzy, truth be told, but also figured that whatever I was told I more or less knew what to expect.

Dr. T was amazing and got straight to the point. They had found  something in the ultrasound, a 20 cm wide 'mass'.  To me, that sounded like there WAS literally a bowling ball in my belly, and it was scary. She sent me to get some additional bloodwork ( particularly some for kidney function and some markers) and let me know that they were sending a referral to book me into getting a  CT scan a the nearest hospital. To her it still sounded like a cyst; though she cautioned we'd only really know with the CT, she was reassuring. All the same she let me know that  if  started feeling pain, or bleeding, it might be that the cyst had ruptured and I should get to the ER straight away.

Scary as that was, I could handle those news. I could even  contemplate the possibility of losing an ovary, if it WAS a cyst. I have a son already, and though we had really wanted a sibling for him if we didn't... well, we didn't.  A few days later I finally got news for my CT -- it was scheduled for March 13th. Although it was a good three weeks away it was the earliest they could get me in for an urgent ultrasound. So, somewhat reassured, we waited.

The ER trip

I never made it to the CT scan.  A little over a week before, on March 4th, I was home baking bread with my son when I suddenly started feeling pain, and passing blood clots. In a bit of a panic I called Chris home ( he'd been away for the afternoon having some guy time with friends)  and my mother, who had serendipitously just arrived in town two days before. They arrived at pretty much the same time -- my mom and my sister took my son ( with an overnight bag just in case) and Chris took me to the ER at Eagleridge, the closest hospital to us.

Eagleridge is a small community hospital. When we got there we were admitted pretty quickly; I was thankful for that, as  I was very scared by this point.  Unfortunately they have only limited resources, so there was no  OBGYN  on call; the nurses and doctors on call were amazing and monitored me, as my blood pressure had shot up through the roof in my panic.  An IV was put in, some pain medication and an ultrasound later they put in a call to the larger  Royal Columbian Hospital for a transfer, where the obgyn on call accepted my case.  I overheard the doctor on the phone, describing the ultrasound:

"Its a... a... THING. It sort of looks like a large bladder, mostly fluid filled but with sediments..."

I joked with Chris that it was always reassuring when someone called it by the medical term of  A THING. The Dr. was amazing though, and told me that it didn't look like cancer, just a cyst -- and that at RCH they would be able to give me a CT scan or an MRI and best determine the course of action. He did say that there was something that looked like fluid in the ultrasound, so it did look as though the cyst had ruptured already.

I spent a very long night in the ER ( the person next to me was in serious distress) and the next morning they managed to find me a bed and a transfer out to RCH.

The Jelly Belly Strikes

Who Am I?

Hi, my name is Apis Teicher.
I am a  writer and artist, and the 37 year old mother of a precocious 7-year-old boy.
I have also just been told  that I have Pseudomyxoma Peritonei ( Appendix cancer) which went through metastasis and has spread to other organs. Soon I will be having a rather extensive surgery ( fondly refered to by many as MOAS - the Mother Of All Surgeries) and chemo  in order to beat it. 
As PMP is rather rare even among cancers ( 1 in a million, I'm told) there wasn't that much information out there for it.
I am hoping to chronicle here my own story with it - hopefully provide some insight, information... or even just spread the word so that more people are aware of it. I'm also hoping this will be an easier way of keeping family and friends informed.

What is PMP?

If you have just heard your diagnosis you probably find it a mouthful. I know I do. At first I was told that it was mucinous adenocarcinoma, and then they elaborated to let me know the actual cancer was  pseudomyxoma peritonei.

PMPs  wiki

Because its so rare there hasn't been as much research and funding for it as there are for other more... ah.. popular cancers.  That being said there ARE current treatments being used;  the cytoreductive surgery, HIPEC, chemo. I'm still not 100% of how mine will work, though I'm told the MOAS is a given.  Currently I'm feeling already like a carved out Jack'O Lantern, so I can't really fathom what that one will be like.  We'll have to see! More info when I have it.

The Jelly Belly Strikes

I'd like to tell you that I knew RIGHT away that something was wrong, that hideous pain alerted me, that I caught this straight away.  I didn't.  In fact, from what I've been able to gather this ooze has been growing in me for a long, long time, quietly spreading itself without my being none-the wiser.

My birthday is on  Christmas Eve, December 24th. Last birthday I spent in bed, having caught a really nasty case of bronchitis. After I recovered from that I was really tired, but I didn't think much of it. After all I'd mostly slept through the bronchitis, so the bone-deep exhaustion didn't surprise it.  Let's be honest - I do art, I write, I run an online business. Generally I am NOT the most physically active person. Still, this tiredness was new, and perhaps I should have paid it more attention.

Not long after I started noticing that my pants were getting tighter, and my belly was getting bigger. As my husband and I had been trying for the past four years to give our son a sibling   I was hopeful this was a sign of pregnancy; however my period came and went, and  I dismissed the notion quickly.   School started again, work stresses took over... I paid no more attention to the growing belly until mid January.  By then I couldn't sleep on my stomach anymore. I remember telling my husband it was weird, it felt like I had a bowling ball in there.  Again, I just though that I was getting fat -- although the rest of my body and proportions felt the same.  The next week  we went to Science World on a family outing, and my parents and sisters came along. My mother remarked that  I had a big belly -- was I  pregnant? I remember laughing uncomfortably ( and privately seething that she was poking fun at my weight, since she knew we'd been trying for a 2nd child for years now). I dismissed the nagging feeling again, but brought it up with my husband once we got home.

We both felt my belly - and it was hard and distended as though there WAS a bowling ball in there.

I bought new pants. I tried to put it out of my mind. Another week passed, and then suddenly my belly button was poking out!  That same week I had a cough and I had to go pee about every ten minutes. It felt like my bladder had suddenly shrunk. Both of those things had only ever happened when I was heavily pregnant with my son, so I knew something was up. I made an appointment with my GP, and waited anxiously for it to arrive. Just in case I took a pregnancy test ( over the counter) to discount that possibility. Again, it was negative. If it had been a child, I joked with Chris, I would've named it Connor, since I love the name.  But since  it wasn't, we settled on calling it Dubie,(  the name of one of my son's fish) since it was of 'dubious' nature.

The Initial Doctor's Appointment

I went in to see Dr. T. in mid February -- the 11th  I  believe?
She was sweet, and very reassuring. She was also convinced that I was pregnant.
She felt my belly and gave me a urine test --- and nope, I wasn't.  I pressed a bit and she agreed that it was better to go and get more tests done, so she gave me forms for blood tests and an ultrasound.

Both labs were in the same building; the bloodwork  I did right away, and then went downstairs to book my ultrasound... only to be told the earliest was for  late April ( this was early February or so)! That made me rather panicky, and I asked the receptionist whether the was a waiting list I could get on, just in case there were cancellations. She said there would be about 300+ people ahead of me -- but let me know that there was a clinic in another part of the city where she'd heard they were able to book people in as early as the next week. She gave me the phone number and off I went; I phoned as soon as I got home, and managed to get  booked for the next Wednesday.