Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Liking Flies

I have now gone and laid on the radiation table three times, each time thinking it would be better than the last. Each time reminding myself that everyone says radiation is so much easier than chemotherapy. And I suppose when I'm no longer filled with disgust and loathing for radiation therapy, I'll most likely agree with that. But for now...I have to tell you...I think I actually like the fly that's buzzing around my kitchen right now more than I like having radiation.

For those of you that can't believe I actually have a housefly on my A list now, I know...I can't believe it myself. I'm pretty sure I haven't lost my mind, but let me tell you what radiation is like, just in case. Unless of course, you really don't care, then I wouldn't read on. Otherwise...

Number one is easy: Try laying on a table. A table, not a bed. Hard and flat, huh?
Number two is a little more complicated: Imagine your armpit is now made of scar tissue, scar tissue that is connected to not-scar tissue. Now strike a pose by raising your arm (ouch) until your elbow is practically (ouch) behind your head and hold it there (ouch) for ten minutes without moving at all.
Three: While you are enjoying this position, a huge metal "camera lens" robot thing the size of a tire will come within inches of your face and everyone in the room will leave and stand behind these six inch metal doors while it starts shooting scary-whatever-radiation-is stuff at your body. You're really hoping it misses your lungs and your arm because you're rather fond of breathing and you really don't want your arm to blow up to the size of Fat Albert's (lymphedema).
Number four: Everyone comes back in the room and peels you off the table because you can hardly move a muscle after being frozen like that for ten minutes...they promise you next time will be better and then you hobble back to the dressing room to change out of your gown.

Now, take your newly sunburned self home to George (your fly friend) and taunt him with the sweet smell of aloe vera gel. Repeat every day for six weeks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

Any day is a good day to go to an art museum, but autumn days have to be the BEST. There's just something about spending an hour soaking up the hues and strokes of the masters and then getting to walk back to your car through fallen leaves. Somehow it makes you feel more human. It's spa treatment for the soul.

Odd how my museum experience yesterday would be so starkly and unexpectedly juxtaposed this morning at my doctors appointment. In preparation for radiation next week, I laid on a table while two technicians marked me up with a sharpie, taped BB's on me and gave me a few tattoos. Yes, tattoos. For real. They were very kind and attentive technicians, but matter how many warm blankets and pillows and "you're doing great"'s they give you, there's just very little room left to feel like a person in that situation. I've never felt more "unperson-like" in my life.

True, this may be the cumulative effect of ALL the cancer treatments I've had just finally getting to me. Bald and de-boobed is one thing. Being marked on..that just adds insult to injury.

I know what you're thinking. I lost you at "tattoo". You must know more! Ok...the tats are just "freckles" they use to make sure they're zapping me in the same place every time. I'm tattooed only in the technical sense of the word, but tattooed nonetheless.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Other Side of Pain

Wanna know a great place to be? Try the other side of pain. That's where I have finally ended up after three weeks of recovery from surgery. I shudder to think that there are situations out there that could cause people more pain than I had to experience, but there probably are.

Most of what I experienced could have been avoided if prescription drug abuse wasn't such a huge problem. My doctors were quick and eager to encourage me to get weaned off of the pain killers as soon as possible, before I became an addict I guess. I obediently listened and complied. But it was way too soon. For two days painful spasms would seize my body until I not only shook uncontrollably, but I couldn't speak either. Finally I was taken back to my doctors to see what was wrong...thinking maybe they'd find a scalpel or something that had been left in my body. Nope. I just needed to be on the meds a little bit longer.

I've been off the pills now for over five days with no problem at all. Now that I think about it, I should have given myself more credit. I have had extremely powerful pain killers at my disposal during my entire cancer treatment process, since April, and I've always had some left over that I've just thrown out. So, if I was going to be an addict, it would have happened a long time ago. Addicts don't throw away oxycodone.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Let me just start by saying...I could really gross you out right now. But I think instead, I'll just milk you shamelessly for sympathy. Those are basically the two options that a recovering mastectomy patient has to work with. To answer the question I posed to myself in my last blog as to which I was more worried about...the surgery, the recovery or life after boob-loss, I can emphatically and unequivocally say recovery. Recovery, recovery, recovery, recovery. That spells OUCH! Ouch with a capital damn it! Now you can judge me, scold me, and reprimand me all day long for swearing in my blog, but that would only leave me with one question: Do you like your karma shaken or stirred?

Sadly, they found cancer on my lymph nodes and In Situ cancer cells in several other spots. That's sad because it means I have to have radiation. It's good because it means I'll never second-guess if having a mastectomy was necessary.

That's my report.