How Are You Doing
People are always asking me, How are you doing? And each time I hear it, I wish it meant what it used to mean, before I got The Cancer. It used to mean Hi! Now it really means how are you feeling? How’s your cancer? I want to be back to peachy keen, wouldn’t change a thing. I cannot wait until I’m feeling peachy keen.
How I’m doing changes from moment to moment. But right now this is how I’m doing on a daily basis:
I’m still swollen. I’ve got nerve trauma on my right arm, from the lymph node removal, that causes it to feel as though I have a rug burn. When I go about my business, I am frequently reminded of my surgery because of the nerve pain. I am also unable to stretch my right arm very far without getting pain from the “cord” that’s under my arm. I’m supposed to protect this so that I don’t damage it. But I’m supposed to stretch my arm to regain motion. It’s confusing. How much can I move that arm, how much pain is okay.
I can’t clean my house. I can’t cook food beyond the basic microwaving. I can barely open a bottle of Advil. It takes me forever to load the washing machine and transfer stuff over to the dryer. Driving hurts. Getting up from the couch hurts. Getting out of bed hurts. Putting on clothing hurts.
If I walk out into the cold (hello Minnesota!) I get muscle spasms near the lymph node site under my right arm. They don’t hurt too much but they are creeping me the heck out. I apply pressure and the spasm go away, for the most party.
My port-o-kath site feels less creepy but now it’s bruised and tender. Driving the car yesterday was hard because the seatbelt goes right across the port. I held the seatbelt out while I drove one-handed. I also get pressure pain at the port site when I turn my head in a certain direction.
Trying to get comfortable at night in a position that’s pain-free is difficult. By the time I get situated and have that stupid CPAP mask just right, I’m mad. And when I get mad I start to cry and when I start to cry my nose gets plugged and the CPAP becomes useless. Last night I was so frustrated, I threw the mask as far as the hose would allow, went downstairs and tried to divert my anger with some television. It didn’t work so I lay down on Thing 1’s bed (I don’t know where I’ll go when he’s home) and had a good cry, got comfortable and finally fell asleep.
I get mad when I’m in bed and finally get comfortable, only to have The Big Nugget come to bed and throw the balance off. We have a queen sized bed and it’s really too small to give me the spread-out room that I need. He accidentally bumps my arms while he’s sleeping. And it doesn’t really hurt that much but I’m anxious that it will so I wake up alot, worrying. I’ve asked him to bring up our spare single bed from the basement and set it up right next to our bed so that we can have one giant bed and I can have all the room I need to attempt comfort. Guess who’ll be sleeping on the twin?
I had no idea that it would take this long to feel better after a bilateral mastectomy. I had no idea about the lymph node removal 0r the damage it could incur, some of it permanent.
Every time somebody tells me that they think I’m so brave, I feel incredibly guilty. Because I’m not brave at all. I had no choice. I am merely struggling to keep my head above water. If I were brave, I’d choose to dive in for the fight. None of this has been by choice.
I don’t know how people keep this bottled up inside without blogging about it or going to a therapist a hundred times a week.