Archive for November, 2010

Nov 30 2010

An Expected Guest

Published by Reesa under callie

Callie re-entered her place and shut the door. As she locked it, she started the breathing pattern that she knew would slow down her heart rate, which was still quite elevated from her outdoor activities. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the door as she waited for more equilibrium.

When her pulse was back within normal range, she moved to the dressform and added the final few stitches to the sundress she’d made. A careful examination for flaws turned up none, so she removed it from the stand and took it over to the mirror to try on. Not her usual choice for personal wear, but since the muse had struck she presumed she would find some appropriate occasion to take it out and about. She ran her hands over the fabric front and back, tingling with the memories of the evening. It had been quite a while since she’d had such a pleasant time.

She removed the dress with a regretful caress and took it and her discarded outfit back to her closet. She put the used clothes with the other laundry and carefully hung the sundress, gently making room for it on the rack with the other inspired designs. Then she selected a more utilitarian outfit for what she hoped was to come, pants and shirt that fit closely and allowed for maximum freedom of movement. She was not planning to sleep tonight as she did not want to lose her advantage, so she left the bedroom.

In the kitchen, Callie retrieved a bowl that was a dark enough brown to not stain too obviously if her next trick left a mess. She took the colorful feather from where she had clipped it to her hair and placed it in the middle of the bowl, then removed a lighter from one of the drawers and set fire to the feather. She watched it burn to make sure that all of it was reduced to ash, lighting a stubborn piece a second time to finish it.

Callie touched both hands to the ash. She smeared the soot across both hands, ignoring the unpleasant sensations that arose from having her hands dirty. Next she took the metallic feather from her belt and dipped both edges into the ash before replacing it at her waist. She brushed some from her hands across the door handle and mail slot, and finally brought one grimy finger to her mouth to touch it to her tongue. Grimacing, she swallowed several times to clear the taste as she cleaned up the bowl and washed her hands.

She then went to her bathroom and brought out scissors. It took her only about a quarter of an hour to trim her hair short, but another ten minutes to properly clean up the resulting stray hairs that spread everywhere. Callie didn’t want to take the time for a full shower but washed her head and neck clean, towel-drying her hair and taking the damp towel to the laundry so the bathroom could return to its regular pristine state.

Back in the main room, she chose a mindless computer game to keep away boredom without distracting her from monitoring her surroundings. Callie noticed she had to keep reminding herself to return to calm breathing patterns; it wouldn’t do to let her excitement override her reason. With all her senses on high alert, she heard the faint sounds of the door handle moving just as it started to turn. Callie stood at the ready, hitting the hibernate button as she did so to eliminate the computer from her awareness.

She faced a woman who didn’t look much like her at all, which eliminated that worry. The other was dressed in a flowing shirt and pants that matched the colors of the feather Callie had just burned. Her hair was dark brown with hints of auburn, green eyes large and slightly slanted upward at the edges. Her face held a furious expression.

“What have you done?”

Callie smiled.

“Merely ensured we have some nice, uninterrupted time for chatting. Please, come in and sit down.”

Callie indicated the couch, but the guest chose the upholstered red chair next to it instead. Callie moved to lock the door, held up the key to show her guest, and then shoved the key out through the mail slot.

“I know you can get in, but I suspect I’ve managed to arrange it so that you’ll have a harder time getting out again.”

“You know you have. So what now?”

Callie took the matching chair to her guest’s and arranged it so that they were facing each other.

“Now, we talk.”

3 responses so far

Nov 28 2010

scarce weekend links

Published by Reesa under follow the link chain

Not much this week for interesting links, but here’s a couple.

I was waiting for an article like this, it was only a matter of time: TSA forces cancer survivor to show prosthesis. Though I do like the suggestion of sending the prosthetic through with the wallet and jewelry, hehe.

A new local writers’ blog for the Austin TX area: Literary Austin

Share links in the comments if you have good ones!

One response so far

Nov 26 2010

Black Friday, indeed

Published by Reesa under Tirma

My dog died this morning.

I’ll probably do a couple of posts about her. It was quite unexpected and emotionally very hard on all of us, but the household was all there to say goodbye to her, so that’s good, at least.

Details and eulogic reminiscing still to come, not in the mood much for writing at the moment. I think today is a Day Off from writing, though I hadn’t planned it.

We are still having people over tonight, though I’m not sure how much in the mood for gaming we will be. It would be lovely to have friends come over regardless, as having people around would be helpful.

3 responses so far

Nov 25 2010

Living Thanks

It would be impossible to individually list my blessings for 2010 — which was by far the hardest and most challenging of my extant years, as well as one of the most rewarding. So instead, I’ll attach a couple of relevant tags and give the main thanks that includes all the rest of the 2010 good things and people under its mantle:

I am thankful to be alive.

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Nov 22 2010

Process Analysis Progress

I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been doing some deep internal analysis of writing process, which connects to everything else. As I get more of my baseline health back, and as my other life commitments aren’t dwindling anytime soon (family care, house care, self care, etc), I find a greater and greater need to efficiently manage my time for maximum productivity throughout my life.

I didn’t have to worry about this balancing act nearly as much, before. I was one of those people who regularly seemed to have enough accessible energy for two people. (Note: It’s possible I still do have near that level of reserve, but can’t as easily tell because so much more energy is tied up in recovery/body maintenance these days.) I would get tired, sure, but I very rarely was unable to fit all of what I wished to accomplish into a day, in terms of the energy spent on tasks (timing is a different story).

This was one of the harder things to adjust to, before and after cancer surgery. I had a lot of internal resistance, and resentment, and stubbornness bordering on denial, especially in the early months. I loved being Wonder Woman. I never really took it for granted, as I have family members and friends with chronic health issues that need careful energy management, but I was quite glad not to need such adjustments for myself. Until I did need them — then I was quite glad I’ve always been a person who pays attention to things; while learning a new level of energy management was frustrating, I also had gathered quite a few tips and information on how to go about obtaining that knowledge while observing others close to me. My stepmother in particular is fabulous about knowing how and where to spend her daily energy, and even when to push her limits and pay for it later vs. when to rest and cancel or reschedule something.

After surgery, managing my daily energy was mandatory if I wanted to both heal and get anything else done at all. And since life doesn’t pause for death or near-death, there was certainly a good amount that needed doing, that I could possibly do, and wanted to do. And still at first my mind tried to negotiate, make end-runs around necessity, push just a little harder than was wise. Seeing those closest to me dealing with their own brown-outs from the crisis didn’t help that urge subside. I spent most of my time in the first few months post-tumor doing nearly as much of the sitting and resting as I was doing before surgery. Somewhere in there, I made a very important internal shift in thinking, which is complicated in nuance to describe but I shall try.

Without giving up my belief that I can eventually have most of my “old self” back (helpful psychologically at this point in recovery), I started to accept the realities of the now, where now there were certain things I needed to track or do or not do daily in order to keep healing and keep doing more in general. For example, through the past several months and continuing currently, I must take a daily nap for maximum energy availability. Up until the past six weeks or so, I didn’t even have much choice over when that nap happened. It’s yet another sign of healing progress for me to recently regain some measure of control over when my nap happens, and that change has freed up several schedule pieces to be a bit more flexible about what activity happens when.

Right after surgery I was up for no more than sitting in a chair, my main activity for the previous year. By the end of the second month afterward I was doing light house duties (no lifting), and writing sporadically, and doing moderately all right at family care. By the end of the fourth month, I was functioning for most of a day (with lots of rest) but flailing on balancing all the different desires and responsibilities of daily life. By six months out, I was still nap-dependent (and sinus ick gave me the equivalent of a couple steps back in progression of health for another 6 weeks or so) but managing to get more than half of my daily tasks and commitments to some level of completion or to the next rest point. However, my writing consistency was still far more erratic than I wanted it to be, most often conflicting with needed nap-time.

Now, eight months out from surgery, my stamina is still the slowest to come back online, but I’ve gained nap timing flexibility if not yet nap exemption. I’ve learned how to fit writing in daily — at least theoretically. The next post will focus more specifically on the writing-process progress over the last several months. I’m still not getting done everything I want to in a day, but who of us really does?

Thankfully, I don’t yet feel as if I’ve reached my recovery limits. I also know I will reach them eventually, and that the post-cancer healed me will very likely not have the same energy capabilities of pre-cancer me. Some days, I still push against that knowledge. Other days, my interminable positive attitude is determined to find ways to get as much back as I can — but much more healthily than before.

The biggest change in this area is that I no longer have a significant urge to push my body past its current limits, the way I sometimes did previously. It’s so much easier to give myself basic needed self-care that I have to remember my own perspective shift when listening to others who are still struggling with this learning. I’d love to find ways to communicate in a way for others to viscerally understand why this is so important to monitor and take care of, without them having to go the near-death experience or life-crisis route to learn that.

You will die with things left undone. You can’t escape that reality. To me, therefore, it makes more sense to focus your efforts on doing the things you genuinely want in your life, managing or outsourcing as much of the life-maintenance stuff as you can, and letting go most of the stress over the rest. Post-cancer, every goal, every task, and everyone currently in my life are deeply wanted, and worth spending my daily energy on. That doesn’t feel like a priority likely to change. How do you manifest this in your own life?

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Nov 20 2010

facsimile weekend links

Another neato-torpedo article from BLDGBLOG, about 3D printing ideas in space. There’s also another one at his site that shows a machine “printing” a cobblestone-esque street paving. Oh living in the future has its cool points indeed…

An interesting article linked to on Making Light, from a writer for a research paper “mill” with a piece exposing the endemic problem of research paper cheating at universities. The article itself is interesting enough, but the comments really show how reactive some people can get about the topic, on all sides. Quite fascinating.

Need new organs? Grow them in gel!
More stem cell coolness.

Not only does antimatter exist, scientists now have some in a bowl! More or less…check it out!

Unhappy about increased TSA security? A Senate Oversight Hearing on the TSA is coming up, check it out and nag your senator!

Need extra motivation to protest about the TSA? Read about the call for “Israelification” of our airport security here. Tel Aviv’s airport is by far the safest I have ever felt in an airport, and the most impressive in terms of streamlined security that I have seen yet in my travels. I’d say Heathrow and Houston were security-theater jokes comparatively, but it’s not actually funny.

As someone who actually does have to be actively concerned about casual radiation sources (and hey, just because I’ve had cancer doesn’t mean the rest of you can blithely ignore it), and as someone who believes in a mobile and interconnected populace as one indicator of human rights — so no flying boycotts for me — it looks like I’ve got the feel-up option left while this madness continues. Thankfully I am not a previous victim of physical or sexual assault, so I don’t expect it to be triggery, just unpleasant. Want to share your thoughts on security theater with me? I’m interested! Also, does anyone have a link to real, scientific, independent assessment of the actual radiation danger posed by the new machines? I found it impossible to wade through the panicked hype and dismissive rejoinders to get anything that sounded accurate…

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Nov 19 2010

Deconstructing “Good Parent Mistakes” article

Cracked.com, that bastion of factoids in little bite-sized digestible doses, has an article up about the “7 Things ‘Good Parents’ Do to Screw Up Their Kids“. I disagreed so much with this particular article that it gets its own post, where I shall rebut most or all of their points with phrasing I think more accurate.

7. Giving Your Kids a Creative Name
should be
7. This Point Is Yet Another Attempt to Spread Subtle Sexism and Xenophobia

The article claims that “kids” who have “unusual” names are more likely to commit felonies as adults, etc. One, the “unusual names” they mention have at least two that are not that uncommon — in other cultures. Don’t give your kids unusual names, folks, they might think they have something in common with a global community instead of just the neighborhood kids! (That was sarcasm.) The second concerning point to consider here is that people have been giving females unusual names for a while now, and last I checked they are just as much a part of the workforce as males. But strangely, this point, while mentioning “kids”, “adults”, and “workforce” only uses male name examples. How tiresome!

I come down on the side of giving kids names that THEY can mess around with in terms of shortening it, nicknames, wacky spellings, etc. Don’t give them a “creative” spelling of a traditional name yourself, and don’t try to be too clever. Go ahead and put some effort in to avoid names that will be obviously and instantly made fun of by nasty-minded peers, but don’t overly worry about that either — peers can be more inventive in their nastiness than you can likely guess ahead of time. Giving your kids the self-confidence to withstand name teasing is probably far more useful parental effort than worrying about whether the name you picked out is too weird.

6. Teaching Kids to Be Themselves
should be
Don’t Teach Your Kids One Side Of Anything

Really? This point seems to imply that peer pressure is the main or only way that kids learn accommodation and making compromises. Um.

There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids it’s okay to follow their own drum and resist going along with the crowd just because the crowd does something. (Though I understand why that attitude is threatening to the current dominant paradigm.) But “good parents” aren’t going to stop with that lesson. Empathy and compassion are just as vital skills to learn for getting along with groups of people, and those are skills best taught in the home and larger social environment of the child — not just at school. Going along with the crowd without question through peer pressure doesn’t teach a kid compromise, it teaches them not to think.

5. Making Kids Play Sports
should be
Don’t Ignore the Pressures (and Needs) of non-Academic Subjects

This point focuses on the endemic cheating in many members of athletic programs. Sure, forcing a kid into a sport they don’t want to play is asking for trouble, and not just of the cheating kind. But this point mentions neither how you handle a kid who has a genuine calling toward a sport (back to teaching ethics in the home again, gosh that sounds like work!) nor the need for kids in general to stay active in some way for physical health. For the latter, there are plenty of physical activities that don’t involve the level of competition or pressure that many school-level sports have. And recreational sports are another way to get exposed to group dynamics that isn’t home or normal school, so worth incorporating if carefully assessed and chosen.

4. Starting Them In School Early
should be
Don’t Start Your Specific Child Too Early

In general, I actually agree with this point. I think most kids need to get to the point of being physically able to sit still and hold focus for extended periods of time before they’re required to do that in school, and the average kid isn’t likely to reach that point before 6 or 7. But bell curves have outliers, and this blanket statement is no more universally true than believing all kids should start at preschool. I think there should be more available options to parents for both homeschooling a kid longer who isn’t ready for the larger social swirl, and for starting a kid early in external school who has mastered the grade-level-appropriate basics and who needs or wants the extra stimulation of a different learning environment from home. And again, “good parents” will make the effort to monitor their child for anxiety issues resulting from such choices, and make needed adjustments accordingly.

3.Warning Them About Strangers
should be #6 again,
Don’t Teach Your Kids One Side Of Anything

This point mentions that most crimes affecting kids are committed by someone they know instead of a stranger. Again, “good parents” don’t teach their children in this either-or mentality. Teaching your kids to be wary of strangers doesn’t mean you can’t also teach them about the fact that danger can come from anywhere, even close to home. Better yet, teach your kids about how to determine dangerous and creepy behavior and how to avoid or report it, rather than focusing on a specific source of the danger which could miss the larger issue.

2.Heaping Praise On Them
should be
Praise Do-ings, not Be-ings

Positive reinforcement is vital to rearing well-rounded, compassionate, capable humans. However, it is worth paying attention as parents to what you choose to compliment in your kids. Common compliments such as “you’re so pretty” or “you’re so smart” reward genetic attributes or other factors not really under the child’s control. I could indeed see how this might lead to attitudes of entitlement as they grow older, as well as existential crises when they are no longer as beautiful or find something they aren’t clever in. However, there are plenty of opportunities on a daily basis to find legitimate and healthy positive things to say about and to your child; just have a care to your phrasing. Statements like “you did a great job on that project” or “I really appreciate your helping out with this chore” or even “my, you look especially nice today, great outfit choice!” all complement specific actions or choices the child made, thus rewarding them for taking more independent control of their lives (another goal of “good parents”).

1.Showing Them Educational Videos
should be
Quit With the Mono-focused Advice, Already

Argh. Again, educational videos for little ones, however vastly annoying they may be on the 30th repeat for the parents, are not in and of themselves evil or making your child stupid. It’s a tool just like any other, and can be used well or poorly. For example, a video a day is not likely to damage your child’s mind as long as they are also getting other forms of interaction and learning. A video to occupy the child with pretty flashing pictures for a couple of hours while you get some much needed work or cleaning or whatever done is also a smart use of the available tool.

What this point actually refers to, and unfortunately generalizes to meaninglessness, is the trend of some parents to behave as if by providing educational videos they somehow get a pass out of the more interactive parts of child rearing. Again, “good parents” don’t adhere to this sort of inflexible either-or thinking! If your toddler’s educational video diet is taking up the equivalent of a school’s 5-6 hour day, then yeah, I’d bet that your kid isn’t getting enough stimulation from actual people to grow their brain to its full potential. Educational videos do not excuse you from your parenting job, they supplement it at best.

In conclusion, I think that “good parents” would be able to pretty easily see the flaws and generalized thinking in this article and not get trapped into worrying that you’ve somehow damaged your child’s brain by letting them watch Baby Einstein. I’d love to hear what you think about the article. Please, feel free to elaborate on these points of mine or share your own thoughts in comments!

5 responses so far

Nov 14 2010

Cancer Chronicles: Realistic Recovery Rates

One of the things I did after surviving surgery was research recovery rates for breast cancer surgery and the common convalescence recommendations. (I didn’t do much of that beforehand; there wasn’t any energy to spare and it wouldn’t have been relevant had I not survived.) I most vividly recall my reactions to this as getting angry at what I found, on a few different levels; it got bad enough that my therapist suggested that I really didn’t have to go look at those sites if they were that infuriating. (I did indeed take a couple of months’ break on that research front; by the time I came back to it I was in a much calmer place emotionally.)

I thought it might be interesting to show with representative examples part of why I’d been getting so irked. So as follows, I present summaries of the two common categories of post-surgery recommendations found in research, followed by an overview of my actual recovery process. Please note that not everyone recovering from breast surgery will have my experience: I was in a much more extreme place physically than most people are when they go into surgery, and thus my body had more to repair and heal from. On the other hand, I have tried to keep that fact in mind in writing this, and have generalized wherever possible to wider relevance.

The doctors-funded-by-insurance recovery advice
This is of course my own category label; no site I found was so crass as to actually admit the influence of insurance motivations in their recommendations. However, points like

  • You’ll need painkillers for the first few days
  • “Most people” are ready to return to work in 2-3 weeks
  • You’ll have limited range of motion for the first 4-6 weeks
  • There are several support groups for emotional distress
  • Get a note from your doctor if you have movement restrictions

all seem to me to be heavily influenced by unseen insurance timetables of what is “optimal” — not for healing but for their profit margin. It was evident in my first week of healing that these suggestions were way off target for anyone but perhaps those receiving a small lumpectomy. (Since I researched mastectomy, not lumpectomy, this seemed more suspicious advice yet.)

Less infuriating on the medical front, but still maddening, was the other main category of advice:

The more-medically-realistic-but-emotionally-damaging recovery advice
There were several sites (a few written by medical folk but more written by survivors) that had a more physically realistic estimation of recovery rates, mentioning points such as

  • 4-6 weeks before full job duties can resume
  • pain will be consistent for the first several days, slowly tapering off
  • You’ll have limited range of motion for the first 4-6 months
  • Nerve regeneration will be happening throughout the next 6-18 months
  • Restrictions on lifting weight and such might be permanent due to lymphedema risks

and as far as all that goes in accuracy, I have much less to complain about. These sites however, for all they were closer to the mark on the physical estimations, had a screamingly heavy dose of this next part (at least one site used the literal phrasing I use here, though most weren’t quite so rude in phrasing the message):

  • You will need to join a support group to cope with your new deformed shape.

(insert gibbering rage here)
In this breast-obsessed culture, it is hard enough not to integrate messages of physical ugliness after an experience like mastectomy. Even if you are fortunate enough to escape the comments from family and friends and spouses like “I’m sure people still find you attractive (sympathy-dripping tone)” or “So, when are you getting the reconstruction?”, you’re still hit with the objectifying breast cancer campaigns like “save the ta-tas” that imply to your hindbrain that your breasts — and not, oh say, your life — are the focus of disease-fighting efforts.

Now before people get tetchy, I’ll re-emphasize that I’m not inherently against fundraising drives for breast cancer, or breast reconstruction for those who feel they need it. What I abhor is the implication that reconstruction (or a prosthesis) is a required step in the recovery process. This is not discouraged by the medical establishment, by the way. I had at least three professionals tell me that the breastform was necessary for “body balance”, with one going so far as to tell me that the breastform would help massage the lymph fluid away from the area. While this may be true for some, those of you who have seen me or seen recent pictures know that they left me plenty enough for balance and weight distribution, thanks to the ample tracts of land I sported before. I got the strong sense during research that the consistent messages towards reconstruction and prosthetics were for the benefit of those who had to look at me, and not necessarily for my own benefit.

But back to my supposed emotional distress over my new deformed shape. Not everyone has the privilege of therapy to assist them through the recovery process, though I highly recommend it for anyone who can afford it or has the insurance for it. You as a cancer survivor will be dealing with life-impacting things, some of which even those closest to you during the battle will not have to deal with as directly, or for as long a duration. I think support groups can provide a therapeutic influence, especially for those who can’t afford more formal psychotherapy. However, enough personal therapy as well as observation and much related reading over many years — not to mention uncommon sense — tells me right up front that the “don’t think of a pink elephant” meme is in strong play here. For those few patients who somehow manage to escape crappy post-surgery messages from their social circle or their larger community, these “help” sites ensure that if you hadn’t been thinking of yourself as mutilated, deformed, and socially unacceptable before, you’re surely thinking of it after reading ten sites that spend more than half of their bandwidth soothing your new pariah nerves.

I found exactly. one. site. in my searches where someone (a survivor) talked about their intent post-surgery to not go the prosthetic or reconstructive surgery route. They also blogged about changing their mind after repeated questions and pressure about reconstruction from friends and family and doctors and society. No other site I found presents longer-term recovery and maintenance options on anything other than wearing a breastform or reconstructive surgery.

It is quite emotionally impactual to go through this experience. I am blessed with a plethora of amazing family and friends and social circles who are wonderfully accepting of my new shape. This helps immeasurably in combating the messages received from the rest of the wider world that I am now supposed to become one of the social invisibles, calling as little attention to myself as possible and never expecting anyone to find me attractive again (unless I follow the reconstruction script, of course). And still fighting those perceptual demons internally takes time, and my journeying through some unpleasant emotional places. Making my job harder by priming my mind with messages of non-acceptance, emotional shame, and presumed ostracism really doesn’t help that recovery rate.

I shall now attempt a summary of what I consider a much more believable rate of recovery for mastectomy (based on my own experiences, of course).

* Even if your job is mostly sitting around on your butt all day, you are highly unlikely to be any sort of usefully functional at work before the first 3-4 weeks are up. I didn’t start writing again until about a month after surgery and it was very on-and-off for several weeks after that. Almost-dying requires an insane amount of rest and sleep afterward for full recovery. I suspect even major chest surgery without the nearly-dying part will still take longer than 2 weeks of recovery time. And if you have a labor-intensive job…see if there’s any possible way you can be on reduced body-impact duties for the first couple of months back at work. You can do your chances of long-term full healing serious damage by doing too much too soon after surgery like this.

* My cancer was hugely painful, so I was on high painkiller dosages both before and for 3 months after surgery, though I began tapering my doses down as much as I could almost immediately. For the last several months, I’ve been at lower and lower doses until the last 2-3 months, where my pain has been small enough most days to take none at all or an occasional quarter-dose as needed. It is highly likely, thanks to insurance companies and the medical industry’s stupid attitudes about pain medication, that you will not receive the level of cooperation needed from your doctors in providing you adequate dosage for long enough to be optimal for your body’s recovery. (Constant physical pain slows down your body’s ability to heal.) I might expand this point further in a later post, as there is definitely more I could talk about here.

* On the limited range of motion front — This will last far longer than you would like, especially if you have anywhere near the body awareness levels I’ve developed throughout this and other experiences. I think most of the recovery tables are based on the abilities of an “Average American”, who as we all know is fairly sedentary and has not the healthiest of lifestyles. Sure, you’ll get back to some measure of stumbling-through-life mobility within the first 3-6 weeks, but not what your body is actually capable of in potential. If you’re going to get that part back at all, you have to work hard at it. This is not an area to slack the way you might have in your pre-cancer life. Eat healthier; do the stretching and physical therapy exercises they prescribe you even when you’d really rather not; push your body — gently — to its daily limits in moving and give it rest, rest, rest in-between. Strength and range-of-motion should be mostly back after about 4-6 months, if you’re working at it, but stamina takes far longer to rebuild.

* The nerve regeneration taking much longer I have so far found to be completely true. I still have areas of incomplete innervation. In yoga I’ll still have acute stabs of localized chest and ribcage pain as the movement pulls on internal scar tissue. I still have weird nerve reconnection sensations; for example, a small pimple on my ur-boob is not only close enough to a newly-awakened nerve to be far more painful than usual, but I can feel it as if it’s in two different places on that side of my chest, about an inch apart from each other. There’s a place I can press on the front of my chest near my left armpit that I can feel as deep pressure both there and in a mirror spot on my back, next to my shoulderblade. Regular massage of the affected areas will help your nerves wake back up, and don’t forget to research foods you can eat that will encourage nerve regeneration.

* Lymphedema risk doesn’t really ever go away, as it can show up months or years after the initial surgery. On the other hand, it affects only about 10%-20% (depending on which source you consult) of chest surgery folk, so you have to weigh your risks against your daily body needs. Many recommend a lifetime restriction of lifting no more than 30 pounds and avoiding prolonged compression to the arms and chest. If you were previously an active person (and I was, and still am, really), making this adjustment can be quite difficult indeed.

* You aren’t deformed, or less of a woman. You are a bad-ass survivor. This can also be expanded in a future post if people are interested in more.

Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged!

8 responses so far

Nov 13 2010

transmuting weekend links

Well, the US’s ridiculous restrictions on stem-cell research have at least led to some creative scientific approaches to a work-around. Check out this brief article about making blood from skin cells!

We created a mini-Big Bang at the Large Hadron Collider and the universe is still here! How cool is that?

I still get a skeptical twinge when I look at this photo (could they really machine things that finely in Roman days?), but it is cool nevertheless: Ancient Roman “Leatherman” multitool

For those of you who freak out about genetically modified organisms, here’s the deal: It’s been happening for a lot longer than you think…

What if aliens have been with us the whole time? no, really? How would you tell? An article about “weird life” and the possibility of a shadow biosphere

Jay Lake does a pair of actually useful Non-Beginning-Writer Advice posts. One about how process changes over time, and a follow-up with a spiffy example of how something changes from synopsis to story.

Psychological insights into the suicidal mind: What it feels like to want to kill yourself

A fascinating approach to combating bullying: compassion taught…by babies!

2 responses so far

Nov 11 2010

A self-congratulatory moment

So far this year I have managed to write eight short stories and send off stories to 30 different markets. My most productive year to date, and that’s not counting the ongoing Callie blog project or the novel work. And there’s still a month or so left to do more!

While that might sound reasonably impressive, the cool points shoot way up when you add in the fact that all of the short stories and story submissions mentioned above happened after almost dying at the end of March this year.

I’m so totally working on correlating Jay Lake’s theory of psychotic persistence as the key to writer (or any) success… now some story acceptances would round out all that hard work nicely, hehe.

One response so far

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