Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cancer-free?

For the time being....maybe?

Well, the surgery is over. She took out more of around where the original tumor was and 8 lymph nodes. The "more" she took out has clear margins...which means there are no cancer cells found. The nodes were all clear, too. Good news!

The surgery, or rather the recovery part, was....horrendous. They had a hard time getting me awake. Once I DID manage to become somewhat alert, the vomiting started....and didn't quit. For FOUR days. Even with an anti-emetic in OR and a anti-nausea patch for 24 hours afterward. Between the ET tube that they put in during surgery and the vomiting, my throat felt like I had an awful case of strep....couldn't talk for a couple days, either. And the body aches?? Good gawd...I told the Zigster that I thought they dropped me on the floor sometime while I was out. EVERYthing hurt. It's been dang near 7 days, and I still don't feel...."right". I'm kind of fuzzy-headed, still. And I still get occasional twinges of nausea. ICK.The incisions are much more painful than the original lumpectomy, too.

My daughter came up from St. Louis to stay a couple days and help out...she was awesome! Except she didn't handle my nausea too well. Can you say sympathetic vomiting? heh But the Zigster...he'd make a damn fine nurse. He's been incredible...a rock. I truly don't know how I'd have gotten along without him.

At any rate, it's a big relief....the nodes being clear. I was pretty concerned about that. I could just see it...she'd have to keep cutting. And keep cutting. Then chemo. Then radiation. That's the problem with being a nurse....I know all the bad stuff that can happen. Sometimes, I think it would have been better to go into this oblivious. Or not...I don't know.

Now, I have the radiation to look forward to. Just before surgery, the doc said that it'd take about a month to heal well enough for that to start and then I'd talk to the oncologist to see how long was recommended....a week, four weeks or six. I'm hoping for the one week, of course. But I can't imagine getting THAT lucky.

I DO feel relieved. Of course I do. But this is always going to be hanging over my head. Will it come back? Will I develop it somewhere else? It'll always...always be in the back of my mind.

But...for now....YIPPEE!!!


Friday, March 14, 2014

If I have cancer, why don't I feel any different?

My daughters newest tat....in honor of my fight.

According to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are 5 stages of grief that one goes through when one suffers a loss or other major tragedy in their life:
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I never experienced denial....I went right straight to "anger". Boy....was I pissed. For maybe two weeks. Then I skipped "bargaining" and went to "depression". That only lasted about a week. Now I'm at "acceptance".

I. Have. Breast. Cancer. Period. I have it. It's mine, for better or worse...but hopefully, not for long. And I'm at the point now where I'm just....ready to get on with it. My surgery is in a little over a week...I wish it was sooner. I'm done with having breast cancer. Done. So done. And I've really not even started yet.

The Zigster has been my rock. When I told him, his first words were, "Ok. Now, what are we (he said "WE") going to do about it? Because, you know, we'll do whatever we have to". 

I loved that. He didn't cry. He didn't try to avoid...which is what he usually does in a difficult discussion. We laugh about it. I always tell him I can see a big AVOID! AVOID AVOID! sign flashing on his forehead whenever I tell him"we need to have a talk". heheh He didn't shut down. And he's been great at hearing me out since. He's listened when I've bitched and moaned. He's offered his down to earth, pragmatic advice. I think he's accepted it, too. That doesn't mean we like it. Not at all.

Now, I feel like I'm...back to normal...despite not even yet having the surgery or the radiation therapy. In my head, I mean. In my head, I feel like I'm back to normal. Or as "normal" as I get, anyway. For a few weeks there, I didn't feel like me. And now I do.

I hope that doesn't change. Because, no matter what my body looks like...whether I still have two breasts or one wonky looking one or just one...or even none....I want to still feel like me in my head.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Depression

I thinks I haz it.

I'm sure the weather has a lot to do with it. I'm so ready for spring. But I know that most of it is because of the cancer.

It's kinda funny. I suppose I'm getting used to the idea that I have breast cancer. The first week, that was the very first thought that popped into my head when I woke up.

I have breast cancer.

Now, it's like...the third or fourth thought....after Damn...I hafta pee. or Whaaaaat? It's 6 am...already? or I need coffee!

I had an MRI last week. It was, quite possibly, the most painfully uncomfortable thing I've ever had to do/had done to me. Imagine, if you will.....lying flat on your face on a 16 inch-wide, concrete table with your head slightly elevated, which, in turn, bends your back...well...backwards. Your face is resting on a lightly padded concrete block. Your boobs (if you have them) are hanging down through two holes in the table, the edge of said table hitting you right under said boobs...right at the diaphragm. Your arms are extended in front of you....as far as you can stretch them...with one arm turned at an unusual angle to keep the IV line open for the radioactive contrast. Oh, and they're slightly elevated. Picture Superman flying with one arm hinky.

Now, in this comfortable position, imagine someone poking ear plugs deeply into your ears. You're instructed NOT to take deep breaths (as if) or the machine will shut off and you'll have to do the whole thing over again. A "panic" button is placed in your hands and you are instructed to push it ONLY if you absolutely cannot stand it one. more. second. BUT....if you do push it, the whole thing will have to...you guessed it....be done all over again.

A large tube-thing slides over you. If you're claustrophobic, too bad. The only thing that makes this somewhat bearable is the fact the you're face-down...you can't see said tube. A fan is turned on because it WILL get hotter than the fires of hell in there. The scan begins with a series of deafening (even with ear plugs) series of clicks, whirs, chunka-chunka-chunka chunks, more clicks, thumps and bangs.

And you lay like this....all your muscles tensed, holding the position, because gawd-help-you, you're NOT going to do this shit again.....for 56 hours. Not really. It was only thirty five minutes. But it felt like 56 hours.

By the time it was done, all my flabby, unused muscles were shaking like a big bowl of Jello during an earthquake. And I was SORE...for THREE days after.

The good news is that were no surprises on the MRI. Which could've been better. It could have said...we don't know what you're talking about...you've obviously got patients mixed up. This gal does NOT have breast cancer. Her boobs are pristine.

But it didn't.

So, on I plod on this journey.

I'd rather take a journey to the Bahamas. Or Costa Rica. Hell...Florida. Anywhere but here.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is this thing still on?

Well, another year, another life-threatening disease.

Two....no, three, now....days ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right now, I'm so fucking....pissed....I'm MAD, dammit.

I don't wanna be "strong". I don't wanna be anybody's "hero". I wanna whine and bitch and moan, "Why meeeeee?" I don't want this. Give it to somebody else. Preferably somebody I don't know. Some stranger that's been a shitty person all their life. As opposed to me...who's only had brief periods of being a shitty person.

Anyway, the doc says that this won't kill me. But she also said that this particular type of tumor I have is malignant only 10% of the time. So I'm not holding my breath on the not killing me part. I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

The plan is that I'll have a partial mastectomy with "sentinel" (whatever that is) lymph node removal, followed by 4-6 weeks of radiation....5 days a week. It'll be a huge pain in my ass. But I guess when ya consider the alternative.... I don't know if I'll be able to keep working. They say that radiation causes extreme fatigue. I can't imagine being any more fatigued than I am right now after working an 8 hour day.

So, instead of giving up Lollygaggin (like I was planning), I suppose I'll turn it into a cheery, little breast cancer blog. Fuck.

At least I'll have something to talk about.

Did I mention that I was pissed?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sick decor chick

So....my recuperation is progressing....slooooowly. Not nearly as fast as I think it should. 'Course, when I do feel pretty good, I overdo and feel like crap the next day or two.

But I keep pushing it. I feel like I have to push it a little bit or I'll sit here and just...fade away. I'm still not back to work. I try to do things around here that need done...or that I think need done. Actually, not much needs to be done. And the Zigster's been a huge help since I've been a sicky.

 The fact of the matter is, I'm bored silly most of the time.

 Fortunately, there's online shopping.

 UNfortunately, you not only hafta pay for the stuff, ya have to find something to do with it whenthe Wells Fargo wagon is a....comin down the street....

Uh....'scuse me. I watched The Music Man the other night. heh. I digress. Can't help it. It's the prednisone.

As I was saying...ya need to find something to do with it. That's a problem when I don't have the oomph to do it myself. (Hence the title of this particular post.) heh

 "Ohhh, Zigggggyyyyy?..........

 Zebra's out. Antelope's in. (Faux antelope, of course. I swear....no antelope were harmed during the production of this decor change.) And Stewie approves.

 And plastic mini's are out. Bamboo's where it's at, man. Can't believe how much the espresso blinds warmed up the grey walls.

I really feel like I want to change things around for spring. I mean...it's been this way since we moved in...a whole what?...3 months or so? But again....it's gonna hafta wait until I feel better.

Ziggy's been just swell. And I know he's a patient man.

To a point. heh

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snatched from the jaws of death

Ok, so it's not quite that dramatic. It just felt that way.

I started getting sick the middle of last week. Not SICK, exactly. I mean, I didn't feel sick. I just couldn't breathe.

 Being a nurse, of course, I put off going to the doc as long as I could. See, I know too much. I know all the bad things that not being able to breathe means. And I just didn't wanna hear it.

 I AM the Queen of Denial, ya know.

When I started getting feelings of impending doom, I figured I'd better just give it up. I woke Ziggy up from a nap and said, "Take me to the hospital". Yea, it was that bad. Pass the doctor and go straight to the jaws of hell...uh...I mean the Emergency Department.

 We got there, they took one look at me and I was whisked into the ED faster than...I dunno. I can't think of a fast enough analogy right now. My brain is pretty much in a prednisone-fuddle. Anywho, it was much faster than normal.

Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. I had a pulse ox clipped on my finger (around 80 percent...not good...not good AT ALL), O2 slapped on my face, a heart monitor snapped on my....ahem....ample chest, an IV stabbed in my hand. Then it rapid succession, an EKG, a chest x-ray and even an in-room echo of my heart.

Surprisingly fast, the 12 year old ER doc was back in my room and this is what I heard: "Blah, blah, blah....white count high....blah, blah, blah....COPD....blah, blah, blah....lungs don't look too bad, but there's a nodule in your right lung about the size of a marble...blah, blah, blah...don't see any local lymph involvement...."

At that point, I shut off and though he hadn't even mentioned the word, CANCERCANCERCANCERCANCER echoed through my head. Kinda like in an empty barrel. Like I said, I know too much. THIS is why I didn't wanna come to the hospital. People die in hospitals.

Of course, he went on to say that "this could be the luckiest day of your life. It might be nothing. But if it is, it's small, it's in a good place (there's a GOOD place for cancer??) and we've caught it quick."

Fuck. I wasn't exactly feelin lucky, if ya know what I mean.

I was promptly admitted and scheduled for a CT scan the next morning at 8. I figured it'd be noon before I got it, but was mightily surprised to see them come for me promptly at quarter til 8 the next morning. That worried me, too. It was too fast.

Then is when everything slooooooowed down and we played the waiting game. Fine time for that, eh?

Long story short, I'm ok. The pesky "nodule" is just a granuloma...old scar tissue from past bouts with pneumonia, bronchitis, etc. I caught some as-yet unidentifiable bug that started the whole process. And I have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease...not surprising after smoking for 30 years or so. DON'T SMOKE, KIDDIES! AND IF YOU DO, PLEASE TRY TO STOP NOW. I know it's not easy. I quit 3 years ago this month and believe me...if I can do it, ANYbody can. I have no willpower, whatsoever. Zip. Nada.

 There. There's your public service announcement for the day.

So I'm outa the joint and back home, hopefully on the mend. I think it's gonna be slow goin, though. I still get short of breath walkin from one end of the house to the other (and we have a SMALL home). I NEED to rest, but I also NEED to move. I just NEED to figure out when to do what. Lemme tell ya, though....I'm feelin pretty damn thankful right now. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Looks like a cathouse around here....

...except for the dog...and the squirrel. heh "You don't really need to work on the 'puter right now, do ya? Wouldn't you rather give me some attention?"
This is our daughter's beau and our "granddog" Tucker.
And this is a damn squirrel.