Monday, January 3, 2011

Rounding Third, and Surfing the Waves

Today is the start of a new week, and all day today, it started to settle in; I am rounding third base and heading for home.

I don't even know how to describe this to you.  It's like this -

I remember as a child going to bed on Christmas Eve, over the moon excited, and so worried I'd still be awake when Santa would land on the roof of my house.  The happiness and enchantment overflowed inside my heart and mind and body, and there was nothing at all like the expectation of Christmas morning.  Some Christmases in particular the anticipation was almost unbearable, like the year I was so hoping for Barbie's Dream House. 

Now the excitement of finishing treatment is starting to crescendo, and I am so hopeful and ready and wanting the new me, I hope I hope I hope I am on my way!  Even though I have this rotten glorious boring cold, I feel all excited and jittery inside, like a kid under the covers on Christmas Eve, waiting, waiting, and listening for Santa.

I meet with Dr. Lotus tomorrow, my weekly Tuesday appointment with her, and she will tell me when I finish treatment!  I can't wait to hear, I just can't wait.  Yes, this Friday would be wonderful but I don't think it's going to happen, probably a week from Friday.  It doesn't matter.  Either way, I am in the last week, or next week is the last week of my grueling cancer treatment. (Not counting Tamoxifen for five years!  Watch out boys in this house.)

I am so excited.

I know I still have so much healing to do, but believe me, I can feel my body working hard to accomplish that.  I can't say when I will return to work, I think it may be awhile.  It's ok with me.  I am completely focused on finishing treatment, and taking very good care of my body.

I'm excited about weighing in tomorrow, nervous and excited.  I've been doing well eating smaller meals throughout the day, and eating off a salad plate at dinner.  I hope I've lost more weight, I'm really hoping.  To be leaner and healthier and stronger is something I want so badly now; I hope all the hard work I've started will move me towards that goal.  My gym membership, which was on hold these last two months because of radiation, started again this month.  I can't swim yet, but will go in for some yoga and strength training.

There are still several things going on with my body that are residual from chemo, and now because of radiation.  I hope I don't bore you with the laundry list again but there are those behind me on the path, and I think it's helpful for them to know what they may face as a result of treatment.

Here we go:

Right arm and hand is still achy and swollen, enough that I do not wear my regular jewelry on that hand or wrist.  This has been checked by ultrasound, no blockages.  Possibly inflammation from the trauma to that side.

The area of my upper back, between my shoulder blades and up into my neck is simultaneously tight, sore, numb and sometimes tingly.  It just doesn't feel right or normal at all, and I can't tell if it's getting better or staying the same.  It does feel much better in the day or so after physical therapy, but it comes right back.

My left breast, or what is left of Flopsy, is feeling much heavier.  Mopsy feels completely relaxed, is much flatter and hangs a little lower.  Flopsy is redder, harder, tighter, thicker and the pores around my nipple are prominent.  There is an area above my nipple, and in the fold of my neck, that feels itchy or burns, like after a sunburn.  These are all radiation effects.

The neuropathy in both feet continues, but is primarily concentrated in my right foot and leg.  I am not comfortable in a closed shoe, it feels as if my feet won't fit into most of my shoes.  I am comfortable in flip flops or slippers, but that doesn't work well in winter or for leaving the house in.  When I do wear my sneakers for instance, I have to keep the laces completely loose and open, and when I get home, I can't get the shoes off fast enough.   Toes three and four on my right foot are usually asleep, and often the pad of that foot as well.

This week, because of my cold, my balance has been really off!  With stuffy ears and nose and compromised equilibrium, I didn't realize how much the neuropathy affects my balance.  A couple of times I've almost bit it.

I continue to have problems with dry mouth, but that is quickly remedied with Biotin toothpaste and mouthwash.

My overall body fatigue is often flu like every day, as if all my muscles ache and are sore.  I have to nap or lay down every day, for at least a couple of hours.  Sometimes it comes on so fast, I could almost cry, like a toddler late for her nap and pushed to her limit.

There is substantial numbness across my chest, through my breasts and under them, and under my left arm.  There are small spots completely awake and normal, nestled in between larger areas that are completely numb and heavy.

The scar under my left arm is shrinking and healing well, despite being radiated.  The scar under Flopsy is still red and very thick and fibrous from scar tissue.  There is also oozing under Flopsy, it's usually damp under that breast.  Underneath Mopsy, which is not being radiated, the scar is considerably softer, and there is no oozing underneath.

I'll tell you, if you are lucky enough not to have any lymph node involvment, the recovery from a BLM would have been so much easier.  It is absolutely incredible how removing lymph nodes affected my pain and immediate recovery after surgery, and can have long term affects.  I get now why early diagnosis is so important, less chance of lymph node involvment, and how important the lymph nodes are.  Take good care of your nodes people and your lymphatic system, so damned important!  I never knew.

So there you have it, my body's state of the union three and a half months after finishing chemo, two and a half months after BLM, and six weeks into radiation.

Oops, I forgot one, which is ironic, since the subject I was going to mention is MEMORY.  I still have to write lots of things down I never had to before, and I always have the feeling I'm forgetting something.  This could just as easily be menopause as chemo brain, or both!

Lastly, one huge area of my health is doing extremely well.  My spirit.  There are some big things, pre-cancerous things, I continue to work on, and I do have moments of melancholy, self doubt, and what I'll call vexation, with a capital "V" baby.  Makes for some good writing though.  Overall, my brain is peaceful, hopeful, engaged, awake, and resilient.

I'm getting better and better at surfing the waves of circumstance and weather feelings.  When a wave knocks the wind and the shit of me and I bite sand, I'm quicker at spitting it out, and getting back on my board.  When the weather changes, as in my mood, I don't feel so compelled to take huge action.  Let it pass, let me think, let me conserve energy, let me see if I still feel that way later.  Do I really need to act on this? 

I've spent most of my life ruled by FEELINGS.  That is some exhausting stuff.  I am learning that feelings are as mercurial as weather, and completely unreliable as an indicator of truth.  Feelings are more like a metal detector, but they aren't the metal.  I don't know if that makes sense!  Just know that I am getting better and better at RETURNING TO CENTER.

That is what it's all about.
Coming back like a friggin boomerang.
Coming back.
Getting back on the board.
And some waves, I just ride them out on my tummy, holding on.  I don't need to stand and hot dog.  My safety and well being are more important to me.

Some waves, I let pass.

That's what it's all about.

It has been one hell of a ride, and the biggest challenge of my life.  It's also been the greatest opportunity to show myself  what I am capable of, giving great confidence to what eluded me due to lack of confidence.  More importantly, it's been an incredible opportunity to show my kids how to face adversity.

My boys have had a front row seat to witness their Mom get back on the board, again and again and again, showing up for life.

They are proud of me.

I am proud of me.

I am.


masonmft said...

I am proud of you too. Drum roll please. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Lady ~

Keep up the "great" work. Hugs and Kisses xoxox

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