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Archive for April, 2008

There’s been a lot of loss these last few weeks. Two women from my support group have died which has been extremely difficult. And 3 or 4 of Z.’s good buddies that she’s been in school with since pre-K are going to different schools next year. Now that is quite different from death of course, but it took me a few days to realize that I was grieving that as a loss too. Last week I was sad and depressed much of the time. Then on Wed. night I went to my monthly gyn cancer support group, which I haven’t been to in months, and said to A. before I left, “I hope it’s not too depressing” (because sometimes it is) and sure enough, we spent almost the whole time talking about death and end of life issues. Important stuff, but just really bad timing for me.

I have also been so damn cranky lately. I find myself short tempered, swearing at other drivers, swearing at myself, wanting to swear at A. and Z. (but instead I’m just bitchy, particularly to A., who is going to get the award for most patient husband if I don’t get past this soon). I feel just plain mad a lot of the time, everything is pissing me off. And I’m sad and I hate wasting all this time when I am not sick feeling this way. It’s hard to work through your feelings when you feel like time is racing by you.

I am not falling into the abyss here or anything, but it’s definitely been a struggle lately. Like my previous post said, there are good days and bad days. I am trying to focus on some “projects”, sometimes that helps to keep me from spending too much time on the “dark side”. We are in the midst of redoing Z.’s bedroom from the pink butterfly theme that we did the summer before Kindergarten, to this much more sophisticated “teen” feel with gray and blue walls and a big neon green lightening bolt over her bed (the walls are painted but we still have to make the lightening bolt, which will be cut from plywood and painted and hung rather than painted directly on the wall). I found these great curtains at Ikea that look like you are looking through the leaves of trees at the sky for her windows. We are also going to buy her a new bed and book shelf unit at Ikea as soon as we can get out there. In the meantime she is enjoying sleeping in the guest room. When this is done I want to get the hallways painted and then start working on A.’s and my dressing room, a pit of a room that needs attention badly.

I’m also enjoying the spring flowers, trees and bushes, even if it’s causing me a huge sinus headache at the moment. Our backyard is in it’s Giverny moment (the place in France that Monet painted a lot of his famous water lily paintings), with the section of the lawn that has no grass, but lots of wonderful flowering groundcovers. Soon the backyard will be an explosion of color when the azalea’s blooming peaks.

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Good days and bad days

Good days and bad days, that’s the life of someone which cancer. In support groups other cancer survivors have talked about answering the “how are you?” questions with “today is a good (or bad) day”. In my case it’s often good hours and bad hours, as each day usually has a combination of both. Lately, the bad hours have been from back pain and sometimes stomach pain. In fact I was woken up at 5am (definitely not a time I am ever awake unless I am forced to be) with terrible gas pain pushing up against the top of my ribs. My digestive system is definitely not the same since my hysterectomy and all the radiation I have had and recently it’s gone up a notch in it’s sensitivity. This makes sense since radiation late effects are just that, late effects, they can happen years after the actual radiation. I think the Megace I am taking to fight the cancer is making things worse in this regard, since gassiness is one of the side effects. Just as long as all it is is gas I can deal with it (poor A. though was woken up at 5am to the sounds of me burping for 5 minutes till I got that bubble to move). Just as long as it’s not an intestinal blockage or something serious like that, which unfortunately is one of the late effect problems that can come up.

So, after I get the pain to calm down I then find that my back/hip/thigh is throbbing in pain. Since my last scan, my back pain increased a bit and so has my ibuprofen use. Lately I find that I need three to get through the day, one at breakfast, one around 5 or 6pm and one before bed. (This may not seem like much, but long term daily ibuprofen use has it’s issues, in my case just that small dose raises my blood pressure and may be causing some kidney damage, but I am between a rock and a hard place because I really need it to function). Some days I take the 2nd one at 7 or 8 pm and then forget to take one before bed because I feel fine. The problem with that is that it doesn’t get me through till morning. So last night I laid there knowing that I should get up and take one but was tired and before I knew it was asleep. So I paid for it early this morning. I put the heating pad on (it is permanently plugged in next to my bed as I use it every night) for a while and hoped it would calm down enough to fall back asleep. After 45 minutes I finally gave up and got up and took an ibuprofen on an empty stomach and went back to bed. It didn’t bother my stomach luckily and after a while between that and the heating pad the pain went away and I slept till 9am.

The back pain thing is not usually predictable though (except for the morning thing and even that isn’t every day). I could wake up feeling fine and get dressed and showered and eat breakfast feeling fine and then all of a sudden be in terrible pain. I’ll put heat on it for a few hours and it could go away and I’m fine again for hours. Sometimes I get in the car and it hurts to drive (even with my special back pillow which really does help a lot) but then after a while it works itself out. Other times it just keeps going. I honestly at am a loss as to what the cause of this pain is, the tumor, muscles, radiation damage, maybe some arthritis, stress, position, or a combination of all of them. All I know is that pretty much every day for the last 16 months I spend a portion of my day in pain and that at least lately (this changes) I have some time where I forget about it.

It colors my moods, without the pain I am generally an optimistic person, when in pain I can become instantly depressed and pessimistic, and it can lift rapidly when the pain goes away again. I guess I’m lucky that I can bounce back from it pretty quickly, but during those long periods where I got very little if any relief it made it quite hard. I am still doing acupuncture but it’s not a miracle cure. It definitely helps, and I am finding that I really have to go regularly or I can regress quite rapidly. In fact I have an appt. tomorrow morning which I will most definitely be going to.

So, despite the rocky early morning start, as of now I’m having a good day. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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