You hear it all the time, “Wow! Can you believe it’s been (fill in the blank) yrs. since (fill in the blank) happened!? Seems like it was just yesterday!”
I could have easily started this post, and kinda did if you think about it!, with that worn-out old statement! Because this month just happens to mark a very significant anniversary for me. It was just four years ago today that I was being scheduled to have my surgical procedure done on my Pituitary Gland, which the doctors like to refer to as Endoscopic Transsphenoidal Surgery. (ETS)
If you’re not familiar with what that is exactly, don’t worry because I certainly wasn’t when I first heard of it. But if we break it down a bit into smaller peices, it’s like this:
Endoscopic: “An endoscopy is a procedure used in medicine to look inside the body. The endoscopy procedure uses an endoscope to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body. Unlike many other medical imaging techniques, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ. There are many types of endoscopes.” - from Wikipedia
Transsphenoidal: “Transsphenoidal surgery This is the most common way to remove pituitary tumors. Transsphenoidal means that the surgery is done through the sphenoid sinus, a hollow space in the skull behind the nasal passages and below the brain. The back wall of the sinus covers the pituitary gland.” - from Cancer.org
In other words, they basically drill a small hole up through your nose and insert a sort of microscope that enables the surgeon to carefully remove portions of the Pituitary that contain the tumor which is producing the hormone that tells the Adrenal glands to flood the body with tremendous quantities of Cortisol (not good!) which then triggers a whole slew of nasty complications described or defined as “Cushing’s Syndrom”.
Though there are several other treatment options depending on the individual’s particular circumstances, ETS is typically the most common and go-to procedure for treating Cushing’s and arguably produces the best results toward possible remission.
Transsphenoidal Surgery: The Silver Bullet
For me, the initial outcome was like a magic bullet with Cushing’s name on it! It would be misleading of me to to not admit the fact that recovery from the operation was a bit brutal through the first three to five days. However, I remember there being an excitement or anticipation of how life would change and how different it would be to finally be free from the never-ending onslaught of complications that plague your day to day existence and those thoughts give great power to get you through the initial days of recovery.
Looking Back: A Lesson in Reflection
Shortly following the ETS procedure, I spent a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and of course, comparing my “old life” with the new one that was unfolding before my eyes. And I was constantly amazed at how rapidly and dramatically things were changing!
The first year was the transition year with the most dramatic changes and was fairly unsettled. It was a balancing act as all of my physical, mental and emotional capacities worked out what would be their new normal. Probably the biggest and most outwardly noticeable change during that time was the steady but rapid loss of weight, which was definitely a huge boost to my emotional spirit which, in turn, further gave me greater energy levels to do more and be more.
|Just Before Surgery|
|2yr After Surgery|
Since then, every year has improved upon the last and has continued to influence my life in ways that I could not have imagined. The newly acquired perspective on just how short and precious our lives truly are coupled with the renewed energy and motivation gave way to our decision to let go of most of all our material possessions that we had been accumulating over the years, significantly reduce our over-all cost of living expenses and take off on a completely different lifestyle that would enable us to focus more on experiencing people, places and things on a much deeper, meaningful level for us, which has been an amazing journey that extends way beyond any of my wildest expectations. Not that there hasn’t been any bumps along the way! Life will always have a few curve balls to keep things interesting, but through these experiences over my life and particularly over these last four years, I think that it is fair for me to say that, I have gained the ability to see through them in a more appreciative way and with greater patience than I was able to before and it has given me the opportunity to succeed greater personal achievments with less sacrifice to who I truly am as a person today.
So, in celebration and appreciation, here’s to the last four incredible years of steady progress toward a more purpose-filled life with excitement and anticipation of what may come over the next four.