Tag Archives: whining

I wish writing were as easy as not writing

Warning:  This post contains multiple, egregious run-on sentences and stylized abuse of conjunctions.

Ugh.  So it’s been almost a week since I’ve updated, and I’m like “oh I have something to write about!” and then I’m like “oh shit I’ve got loads to write about” immediately followed by “I have no desire to do this thing”.

Ugh.

I went with a friend to Gatlinburg, TN over the weekend.  We left Saturday early afternoon and returned today (Monday) mid-afternoon.  Less than 48 hours.  She went because her daughter had a dance competition there and I went because she wanted some adult companionship and I enjoy her company.  We did a similar thing last year, just in Myrtle Beach and for a longer stretch of time.

It was my first time in the Smokies other than driving through.

Fucking gorgeous.

Stuart and I lived near mountains when we were residents of Seattle a million years ago and we ventured occasionally into the Cascades and we could see the Olympics fairly often.  I had forgotten how primal mountain ranges are…how they overwhelm when you are in the middle of them.  When you live in a city and your house is like around 100-120 years old and that’s pretty old for most of the stuff around because everything else is a road that was repaved two years ago (already is buckled and cracked) and a shiny sign (replaced to look more trendy) and freshly planted sod and then you drive through a mountain range and your ears are poppin’ and you look around and everything is ancient, more old than you can really wrap your head around, your life is put into a humbling kind of perspective.

I’ve already lived through the head scratching, chin stroking “life is everything/life is nothing” thought experiment/existential despair that happens when one eats acid or survives an accident/illness or gives birth etc.  Most of us who lived past 30 have gone through some version.  Being in the mountains though is stop-you-in-your-tracks level of “you, in all your amazing human potential, are but a dot compared to what these hills have lived through”.

Could be on account of growing up in Wisconsin.  The Dairy State has some excellent rock formations because of the Ice Age (not the movie) dumping a bunch of terminal moraines all over the state, but for the most part it’s kinda flat.*  Whatever the reason, mountains impress me, and the Smokies are amazing.

*not like Illinois flat

Gatlinburg is the Tennessee version of Wisconsin Dells.  If you don’t know what that means, educate yourself (*ahem* count yourself lucky).  It is a mix of kitsch and cheese (figurative for Gatlinburg, literal for the Dells) and trash and fun and the best of the local surroundings.  It is a tourist trap surrounded by cloud-shrouded hills and towering trees and breath-stealing beauty.  It’s America, all its contradictions and weirdness and loveliness.

So I’m home from Gatlinburg and unpacked and back into the heat and humidity (hottest heat index in the entire country!).  Reunited with the dogs and Spouse and Spawn.  And realizing that I should have started this two hours ago.  Posts about cancer** and books*** will have to wait.

**started tamoxifen today

***facebook book meme

I wish writing were easier than just not fucking writing.  Not fucking writing is so easy.  Not fucking writing is my default.

I need to change that.  Hopefully that will happen because I have been doing so much interesting relevant stuff and not because I’m dying of T side effects.

I am, forever, a work in progress.

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Four weeks after surgery

I hit the four-week mark today, so I guess I should write something.

After the first two weeks of near-daily noticeable progress, the most recent two weeks has been more of a plateau, one that has at times been rather frustrating.

I started physical therapy exercises, designed to restore strength and flexibility after this type of surgery.  It took awhile to find the sweet spot of doing them, yet not ending up hurting.  It was kinda rough for a week and a half!  I was in more pain any time since the first two days after surgery.  I feel like I finally turned a corner now though.  The middle of my chest and sides/underarms feel almost neutral, which is a huge improvement just since the past couple days, when I had frequent sharp, burning pain in those areas.

It’s just been weird, feeling like I’m kind of floating along on my own with all this, not really knowing what is on the spectrum of normal and what is cause for concern.  I called the surgeon’s office once, hoping to get some guidance about the PT stuff and just generally how much pain is typical, fully acknowledging that everyone is different etc.  I was transferred to a Nurse Navigator, an expert in all things breast cancer.  It was not a good phone call.  Not helpful in the slightest.

I decided that talking to other women would probably be best, so I went to a breast cancer support group yesterday.  It was pretty awesome.  Lots of veteran survivors, a couple Nurse Navigators, and another woman who is just slightly further along in recover than me (her surgery was in April and she has already started tamoxifen).  And I realized that the reason that there has been so little follow up from the surgeon is that typically at this point, a woman is under the care of the plastic surgeon, not the surgical oncologist.  This doesn’t apply to me.  So I decided that I would call the breast surgeon’s office back and explain that I didn’t have another surgeon to release me to lift more weight and go swimming and that type of stuff.  But then today, I felt really good, best in days (weeks!) so we’ll see.  I guess I should at least call and ask at what point I can carry a vacuum around the house and can start buying full gallons of milk instead of the less-heavy half gallons.

My range of motion is definitely getting better!  I can wash my hair without having to hang my head down.  I went today to a u-pick farm and picked ten pounds of blueberries, with lots of reaching and up-and-down motions.  Somewhat concerned that I would be back in Pain City this afternoon, but I feel okay.  And this is after getting up at 5am with Stuart to get the dogs some exercise before the sun came up.*  We did a two-and-a-half mile brisk walk, probably longest and briskest in four weeks.  It felt good (other than being fucking hot) and I think I’m probably ready to resume my daily morning 5-6 miler.  I probably will start solo and work up to bringing the dogs with me.  As I believe I’ve mentioned before, Kira is a puller.**  I think I’ll be able to handle her after not too long.  What we really should do is spend serious time training her not to pull.  Ugh.  That is a topic for a much longer post though.

*Y’all it’s so fucking hot hot-as-balls-hot 80-degrees-at-7am-hot

**She, at 35ish pounds, pulls harder than either of my untrained, 150-lb Irish Wolfhounds ever did

So pain easing, range of motion improving, energy level good.  The surgical glue that covers my wounds is finally starting to peel off.  Unfortunately I’m one of THOSE people who like to pick at and fuss with things like that.  AND IT IS SO ITCHY.  I read somewhere online that you can smear neosporin on the surgical glue to encourage it to come off.  I might do that; then I can put some cortizone-10 on there and hopefully get some relief from this crazy itching.

 

 

 

post of whining

If May was the month of sadness and fear and surgery, June so far is the month of annoyance.

The first two weeks after surgery consisted of daily doses of progress and the accompanying good mood and hopefulness.  The past week or so is more one of stasis.

Not that stasis is bad.  I’d rather mostly stay the same than get worse.  The drains were an extreme pain-in-the-ass, and with their removal I don’t really have a concrete, this-can-happen-any-day-now goal post.  I actually had measurements and a chart that gave me a definite numerical thing to work toward for the first almost two weeks.  Now I just have an amorphous “recovered” to look forward to, and I don’t know when I can expect that to happen.

I’m getting better, able to reach more, farther.  But I’m still careful not to lift much.  I’m dependent on Stuart carrying the full laundry baskets and the vacuum up and down the steps, still asking him to dig the stand mixer and the Cuisinart out from the pantry and set on the counter before he leaves for work.  I still can’t walk Kira, the pullingest dog I’ve ever met, much less owned.  I still can’t lie on my side.

I still can’t do any yard work.  I’m pretty sure the act of pulling weeds or hoeing would result in pain like I haven’t felt yet.  Digging holes, not happening.  Trimming the wisteria, giant nope.  We’ve had a fair amount of rain recently and the growing things are bordering on out-of-control.  I am an inconsistent gardener at best, so this is not without precedent, but usually by now I’ve started to get my act together and minimally tidied up a flower bed or two.  I’ve had a few friends offer to come and help me with some of this, but I know because of the rain, they must have their own yards and beds and gardens to deal with.  I think I may just hire someone.

I know that this is all temporary and will get better.

I can be patient about regaining strength and mobility–it will come and the yard and the house and everything else will still be here.  But what I’m most constantly annoyed by, like a persistent mosquito-buzz in the ear, are the sensations happening on my torso.

It isn’t always painful.  I’m not miserable all the live-long day, though in the morning, when I first get out of bed, the center of my chest could probably accurately be described as a five on the pain scale.  I still get sharp twinges that last a second or two, no big deal.  What is driving me nuts is the tightness across my chest and especially in my right armpit.

It’s kind of an itchy burning.  Not painful, but definitely uncomfortable.  Here is what it feels like:

Imagine, if you will, someone takes a long piece of scotch tape and stretches it across your underarm.  If you are a person who doesn’t shave your armpits, pretend, for the sake of this comparison that you are in fact an armpit-shaver.  So you and your bare underarm are just hanging and some evil prankster comes up and somehow gets you to lift your arm and before you can react, they stretch a long piece of scotch tape up under there and pull it tight and tell you that if you take it off, a puppy will die.  So that’s what it feels like.  Pull-y and itchy and uncomfortable and super NOT RIGHT.  And if you move certain ways you feel like if you could crawl out of your skin, you would in a hot second.

Also irritating, though not quite to the above degree, are the places where the drains came out.  I have two bumps, one on each side of my ribcage, where the tubes exited my body.  I can still feel a long, raised ridge where the tube went up under my skin to the chest area.  The skin all around that is dry and intensely itchy from the wound dressing that was there for the first week (I wonder if  I’m sensitive to the adhesive, cause my skin went crazy train when the dressing came off).  Lotion helps but only for the first little while after application.  I tried going for a short run recently, but the whole area where the drains were was immediately sore, which I took as my body telling me to sit the fuck down.

On top of everything I have a canker sore on the side of my tongue.

So yeah.  I want to be back to normal.  I want to be productive again, but more than that, I just don’t want to be continually uncomfortable.

Okay!  Enough whining.  Time to go get some body lotion.