Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For Now

It's been awhile since I've posted. My apologies. Once I was off the heavier pain killers and back at work, typing became painful, so I saved all my typing for work

Here's the latest news. The boobs still hurt. Apparently, my pectoral muscles are not in the mood to give, and seem determined to keep their vise-like grip for as long as possible. Very slowly, and with lots of stretching, it is getting slightly better.  But the painful tightness, along with sharp pangs from scar tissue, will wake me up several times in a night.  I then have to get up to stretch, massage, and  probe the muscles and scar tissue, until I can sleep again. This means that not only can I not get a decent night sleep, leading to constant exhaustion, but I am in chronic pain.  As a psychologist at Sharsheret, who deals with chronically ill patients, told me recently, pain is one of the few things that will break a person down.  I certainly feel broken.

Tomorrow I return to my plastic surgeon to beg for real muscle relaxers (she seems tied to only prescribing diazepam, which is supposed to relax muscles, but simply isn't enough to relax my very tight muscles). The pain goes through my pectoral muscles, around my rib cage, and on to my back, making life very uncomfortable. If my plastic surgeon will not prescribe true muscle relaxers, I will contact my primary care physician. I need this pain to stop and I need sleep. I believe the Geneva Convention prohibits these type of conditions for prisoners of war, and I've got to get out of this concentration camp.

In December, I went through another set of scans, and based on my tumor markers and the scans, my oncologist has declared me stable. There are still two one-centimeter lesions on my liver, but Dr. Kaltman sees no progression, and so has proclaimed me stable, for now. And that is the depressing part of this, the for now. 

I met with a new gynecologist a few weeks ago. After the exam, she and her medical assistant stood side by side across the room from me,and the gynecologist asked me, "So what does your oncologist say is your prognosis?"

"What the fuck?" I thought. "This is Stage IV. What does this doctor think the prognosis is?"

Instead of saying what I was thinking, I simply replied, "My oncologist thinks it will come back." After that, I added, "My new life goal is to die of a massive heart attack, instead of cancer."  This is partly joke, but also frankly true. This is my new life goal. Strangely, the oncologist then went on to say what a benefit cancer provides, giving patients time to prepare for death and say goodbye.  

After a few minutes of her expounding on this subject, I replied, "All philosophy aside, would you, doctor, prefer to die quickly of a heart attack or to die a slow, lingering death from cancer?"  She answered that, in this case, she would probably prefer the heart attack.

I was left thinking that this doctor clearly has no notion of the emotional realities of living with Stage IV cancer, the fears of becoming totally disabled and of dying in pain.  And I began to regret my move to this new gynecologist, simply because I do not need yet another person making stupidly ignorant and painful statements to me about a subject of which they apparently have no empathy or experience.

I do apologize for not being my usual, bright, laughing at pain kind of self.  Sometimes pain is bigger than a person can handle.  As I told a friend who, when I told her my latest, had stated that I had been so strong until now, strength isn't about being feisty and in a stiff upper lip mode all the time. Strength is having the courage to bring your pain to other people, and then to allow those people to help you.  Right now I certainly need emotional support and I need better medications.   I'm praying I have the courage and strength to seek both. Here's to better living through chemistry, because right now, I damn well need it.