Archive for June, 2009

14
Jun
09

The Bridge Over the River Exhaustion

I finished my second week of full-time work on Friday, and although I was tired, I wasn’t totally wiped out. Slowly I’m starting to build some stamina. I am trying to park farther from work, so that I have to walk farther; and I’ve been having to do some physical stuff at work – moving boxes and stuff in preparation for shipping to events. But come Saturday, I don’t have much energy, so again this weekend I have spent a lot of time reading.

One of the ways to work a dog to exhaustion is to make him think – we find that if we start training Robin to do some new trick, and spend enough time at it at any one time, he is as tired as if we took him on a long walk.

We had dinner with Sharon and Gary Saturday night, and then they started teaching us how to play Bridge. Taking tricks is nothing – all the important (and confusing) part happens before you ever lay a card on the table. By the time we’d played 5 hands, I was so tired that I totally forgot the conception of a trump card, and was playing as if I was playing Hearts. Fortunately, Gary (my partner) was not only kind, but forgiving also ;-}

This afternoon, Robin was in dire need of a walk. So I girded my, um, feet, and we walked around the block. I’ve measured it in the car, and it is 1/4 mile. Having thought ahead a bit, I headed downhill to start, because then I was walking uphill on the middle of the walk, and downhill again on the way back home. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I made it all the way around. Once we got back in the door, I collapsed into my recliner and just lay there for about 45 minutes.

I really need to start getting out with him every day, the way I used to – *both* of us need it. I also need to start working on some strength exercises. There’s a balance between pushing to get myself back to being relatively fit and overdoing it; so far, I haven’t been pushing at all, because it has been such a struggle just to be able to get back into work. Now that I’m back to full-time, and as it levels off to being normal, and not such an effort, I am going to start adding in the exercising a bit at a time. It’s really tempting to start by just doing everything I used to do, but I actually recognize (without having to have a doctor tell me) that I’m not ready for that yet. Patience isn’t really one of my virtues, but I’m working on it, and trying not to let patience be an excuse for total sloth.

It doesn’t help that I’m still having trouble sleeping – I find that I am getting somewhere between 4 and 6 hours a night. I really try to get to bed earlier, but I have trouble falling asleep, so I’ll get up and read a chapter until I feel tired again; then I lie awake trying not to think about not falling asleep; eventually I do sleep, but it’s very broken. I have been having very interesting dreams, though. Guess I’m making up for the lack of sleep by trying to make what sleep I do get worthwhile. Recently I’ve been dreaming about a book I was reading; and last night I dreamt about Robin, and about Brian and work, too. It’ll probably be the only time I ever see Robin go swimming.

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07
Jun
09

Foreign Objects and Me

The surgery to have the chemo port removed was very quick – indeed, we spent more time between when my appointment was scheduled and when it actually started (1 hour) than we did undergoing the surgery (20 minutes, including changing into/out of the gown).

The numbing agent was just injected, and the surgeon started cutting before it had completely taken effect – it was very quick to get me numb (30 to 45 *seconds*), but she was quicker still. The first thing she did was cut out the old scar (it was very thick and red from having been cut open 3 times already – 2 ports in, 1 port out), and she told me that this would help keep it “pretty.” Considering the number and size of scars on my chest, and my displeasure about the appearance of my right-side implant, I can’t say that I think this is really going to make things prettier.

After the numbing agent kicked in fully, all I could feel was tugging, and I didn’t feel the tubing being dragged out of the vein at all. A few stitches, steri-strips, a cotton gauze pad, and some tegaderm later, I was dressed and Brian was driving me to Dairy Queen for the obligatory Heath Bar Blizzard after a medical procedure.

Friday afternoon the numbing agent seemed to be still working, because I didn’t really feel much at all. As the evening wore on, the pain grew, and it looked like quite a bit of blood had leaked. The pain kept me awake a long time that night. I was using ibuprofen because it seems to help the most with pain for me, but it wasn’t enough to let me sleep. Eventually out of sheer exhaustion I did fall asleep around 3:30 a.m. Saturday day was much the same painwise, until later in the afternoon it faded considerably. That evening and night, though it got bad again. So far today, it’s been pretty mild – I can take the tegaderm and cotton gauze off this evening, so we’ll see if that helps.

So the number of foreign objects in my body has now been reduced by 1/3.

03
Jun
09

I’m being deported on Friday

I reminded Brian that my appointment with the surgeon to have my chemo port removed is on Friday afternoon, and he said, “Oh, you’re being deported.”

This time, perhaps because the port went into the same place and there was scar tissue built up, I haven’t noticed it too much. The first time, it was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t lie on my right side at all for most of the time I had it in.

Also, last time, after I was done with the chemo, I couldn’t just have the port taken out in the usual office procedure – I was on warfarin at the time, so the surgeon would only do it in an operating room. So I ended up having it removed when I had my reconstruction/ovary-removal surgery.

For some reason, I’m a little nervous about having it removed in office, and totally concious – but lots of people do, so I’m sure it’s not a big deal. It just seems as if, when you’re taking something out of one of the major veins, that it *should* be a big deal. Even knowing that they do angiograms and other procedures where a vein or artery is entered under non-operating-room conditions doesn’t really make me less nervous.

I faced major surgeries with less nervousness, so I’m not sure why this bugs me. On one hand, I’m looking forward to getting rid of it, because it is nearly the last thing related to having cancer that I still have to deal with – the other thing being the anti-hormonal pill that I have to take for the next five years (and the quarterly follow-ups with the oncologist, and the yearly bone-density scans, and the – oh, never mind). On the other hand, I think there’s a superstitious part of me that is afraid that shortly after it’s removed, I’ll find out I have cancer again. It was only three months between the port being removed and finding the lump this last time – but then, it was only three months between my reconstruction surgery and finding the lump; three months between having my ovaries removed and finding the lump; three months from starting the anti-hormonal treatment to finding the lump.

But I could also say: it was three months between flying down to visit my mother-in-law and finding the lump; three months between having my first bone density scan and finding the lump; three months from our eleventh anniversary to finding the lump.

Intellectually, I know all of these things are unrelated to getting cancer – that doesn’t stop me from having irrational fears.




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