Nov 03 2011
This is the first day I’ve felt not like complete worn-out mud since getting here, strange since I had a CT scan this morning and an ultrasound yesterday morning. My left arm continues to be swollen to horrible proportions and has very little mobility. This is reversed from right after surgery, where my left side (which had less work done on it overall) was much more functional. My right side is now the more functional side but that’s for very loose definitions of the word functional. They’ll be keeping me here until my 10 day IV antibiotic treatment is done for whatever infection is somewhere in my body. They still suspect the left side, either around the port, where the hole and drainage is, or where the blood clots are. No really straight answer why I’m suddenly having multiple blood clots; it could be from the surgery, the tamoxifen, or some other source. I still have the blood clot (pulmonary embolism) in my right lung. I’ve been on oxygen since I’ve been here. I’ve put in a couple of calls to talk to my medical oncologist, the one I’m always singing the praises of. I feel like I need to hear the answers to some of my questions from him, as I trust him to play straight with me and let me know if these are just long-healing complications of a ridiculous medical situation all around or signs of something more concerning. The infectious disease specialist seems to know his stuff and I believe him when he says he’s been in contact with my MedOnc and my surgeon. I still feel like I need the emotional reassurance of answers from a doctor I’ve spent time establishing a trust relationship with.
This in some ways has been worse than the cancer stay earlier this summer. I’ve had far less visitors, so felt much more alone at times (my mom — good for her — did her own prophylactic mastectomies so she’s been unable to do the regular visits that I was enjoying from her). Our live-in helper doesn’t have too many errands that bring her this way so I haven’t gotten to see my baby as much. The Teen is upset at me being back in here and understandably is conflicted about visits. Having infection (possibly on top of the flu a couple of weeks previously) and difficulty breathing has completely wiped out my stamina that I had built up through my daily PT. I’ve mentioned it before, but despair is desperately hard to fight off when it’s one step forward three steps back. Questions about why to keep fighting, to keep going, to keep writing, to keep anything start creeping in even when I know better, even when I have family and writing and all the same reasons to keep fighting, it’s gets harder and harder and more and more draining. I need something to start picking up; going right; a sign that it’s not all just going to keep staying low.
I can take some secondary pleasure in others’ successes; I’m proud of my husband for finding one of his dream jobs, doing well at it, already getting a raise not too many months into it, and proving himself capable of the job. But those are his successes, that he’s been waiting ages for and are his to fully enjoy now that he’s finally getting them. It doesn’t lessen them at all for me to be able to applaud his success and still feel down about my own downward trend or holding pattern at best. I’m super-pleased that he’s finally getting the kudos and rewards he deserves for the years and years of hard work he’s put in. My mom had some early complications with her surgery but it’s fixed now, and she’s on the mend, and now out of the massive danger zone for getting the kind of cancer I had. I’m in the hospital again, but it’s not for cancer, I’m still scanning clean for that with all these extra scans they’ve had to run. So there’s a lot of things that objectively aren’t as bad as they were last time I was here. I’ve had MUCH less problems with the pain management regimen and that’s been a huge blessing since if I’d had to deal with that on top of everything else I don’t know how I would manage.
But (TMI alert) my functionality has been almost completely wiped out. I can’t shower on my own (I could before I got the infection, even though it was hard and hurt and took a long time). I need assistance to clean myself if I have a bowel movement; my arms are limited in function enough that I can not even do that properly, and I’m sure readers can understand how embarrassing that is. The fold of hip and stomach is having some skin breakdown issues (possibly relating as far back as radiation therapy). Those of you with large breasts can understand my disappointment there, as I was looking forward to not having to worry about skin fungal issues after the large breasts were removed and no longer held moisture underneath the fold.
I don’t talk about all this to gross people out, though it does feel yucky and embarrassing; I talk about it because people don’t. Talk about this kind of stuff. and I suspect at least one or two of you are interested to know the less pleasant side, why the feelings of downness and despair come so easily when I jut beat cancer for the second time.
For those wondering about the results of the scans: the ultrasound and the CT both show blood clots in the left arm as well as the right lung. I’ve been told that there aren’t good ways to treat this other than putting me on blood-thinning drugs and letting the blood clots slowly dissolve away by the body’s natural response. Apparently a large pocket of fluid on the left side is gone, even though we haven’t been purging or massaging that area, so the infectious disease specialist seemed to feel this as a good sign of the body taking care of the fluid on its own and able to take care of the rest of the problems. I’ll report more if I get a chance to talk to my MedOnc doctor, as again I trust him to give me non-sugarcoated answers.
I’ve gotten more rejections from the stories I sent out that I wrote before the second cancer round. Normally rejections are just part of the deal, but I’m more upset about those than usual as well. Even making it to the personalized rejection part of the process isn’t a consolation. At this point I’d sign up for a writer’s workshop like Viable Paradise, but of course won’t have the stamina and energy to do that for a quite a while, so will have to keep attempting to improve my work on my own/with the help of my editor and writer’s group. I still feel like I have a handful of stories that I just haven’t matched to the right market yet. I know that a story sale would energize me quite a bit on that front, so just have to keep trying.
I hope most of my Faithful Readers are having a better time out there than I am. I do have one project that I’m continuing to enjoy and not lose steam on, so be looking for something new from me in the near future. A Halloween launch would have been perfect but once again, lack of energy gets in the way of best intentions so you’ll have to be content with a less auspicious release date. Feel free to comment on the content in this post, but I’d particfularly like to hear about good things happening your way lately.