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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Picture this…

Oh yes, well, um, sorry, but no can do.

Ask me to picture something in my mind and my creative brain will give the a description of the “picture” to the smallest detail you require, but I cannot actually¬†picture what was described. I can’t bring up an image if I close my eyes. I do not see a photo, a television or movie screen, art on a canvas, my husband’s face, my beloved deceased Sweet Pea…

Ask me to describe any of those things and I can (and will). Ask me where something is in my house and I can tell you, down to what close, what shelf, which side of the shelf, behind what other object. I can…but I can’t bring up an image of that item. I’m broken that way, and I don’t know why.

The reason behind this weird rant is that I get to fly (woo hoo–not) in September to my niece’s wedding. I haven’t flown in more than 25 years. Prior to that, I flew several times…mostly on full size airplanes, but twice in a small six-seater plan (flown by my aunt and uncle). Not one of the flights I’ve been on has been uneventful. I’ve had really bad take-offs, really bad turbulence, really bad landings. One flight had turbulence the entire flight. Another flight, we were landing in a storm and the 747 we were on–full size plane–actually tipped sideways as we were descending to the runway. The flight with my aunt and uncle, the landing was so windy that not only did the plane sway violently as we tried to descend, but my two younger cousins who were sitting across from us, facing us, were throwing up as we tried to land. And they flew almost every weekend with their parents (my aunt and uncle–the pilots).

I don’t like to fly. I’m not a good flyer. I will pretty much drive almost anywhere rather than fly. But driving to my niece’s wedding did not seem to be prudent, in that the drive would be 12-14 hours long, for a four hour wedding. And the wedding is on a Sunday afternoon, so getting home would take us into the work week, which was going to be a problem for Hub. In addition, if I drove, my parents were going to want to drive with us…and my father is not a good driver anymore. It’s sad to say, but true. He has some physical issues that wouldn’t be good on a 12 hour trip, and he’s not one to let others drive even though we’re all perfectly able. Plus, his reaction time isn’t so good anymore. And no matter how I tried to work it, I couldn’t talk my way out of attending the wedding (I’m not particularly close to my niece as my brother and his family have lived that distance away from us for most of her growing up years and they rarely visit).

So to that end, we have to fly to the wedding. Hub and I are flying into the destination Sunday morning and flying home Sunday night. We’ve made this decision because of Butthead, who had her crutiate ligament surgery less than four weeks ago. She’ll still be in “recovery” when we need to be at the wedding, so we don’t want to leave her for too long. We’re fortunate that a very good friend of mine is going to come stay with the dogs while we’re gone for the day…and I trust her with our dogs. Before we go and after we get back, we’ll be watching my parents’ dog, too. But she can’t be with Butthead in a normal fashion because Butthead can’t play yet (see crutiate ligament recovery), so we have to restrict their together time and it has to be very supervised.

I was trying to find ways to make flying an easier experience for me. Initially, T suggested hypnotherapy, and I tried to get appointments with local hypnotherapists, but one was booked for a year (a YEAR), and the other could only fit me in with two appointments before the flight, one of which was barely three days before the flight, so I cancelled those. I tried a third hypnotherapist, but she was traveling in August and September and wouldn’t be able to fit me in before the flight. I was hoping to try other options, one of which was a guided meditation someone made for me to reduce my flying anxiety. Although it was a nice meditation, it included bringing up a picture of a plane in my mind and replacing it with a picture of something nice. But I realized at that point, I wasn’t able to bring up either image.

So I turned to youtube hoping to find some videos on hypnotherapy and/or relaxation techniques for flying. But once again, they were all trying to get me to PICTURE things in mind. Picture things to relax, picture things to move into a hypnotic state. I can’t do those things, and I was stressing out so much over it that I was in tears. Hub told me there must be another way to relax or move into a hypnotic state without picturing things, but I couldn’t find anything. Everyone wants you to picture good things, or picture a staircase, or picture your loved one…a beautiful meadow, a waterfall… and I can’t. It’s so frustrating it really pushed me over it tears. It’s the first time I’ve cried since my second surgery. And it wasn’t hormonal, it was just pure frustration and distress. And it sucks.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope I’m going to be able to get through the flight(s) easily. I’m not thinking about the anxiety of the flight, I’m more thinking about how annoying the trip is going to be. I’ve never been through today’s security measures at an airport (again, haven’t flown since 1989) or had to think about getting patted down or going through an xray machine. Or the size of our carry-on bags. Or how big and busy the airports will be, or the parking… I’m bringing my crochet and a book, and my iPod. I hope I’ll be able to distract myself enough to not be miserable the whole flight.

 

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Guilty is as guilty does

I know that doesn’t make any sense. I just had no other way to title this post.

I had to cancel my baby toof extraction because my incisions were looking bad and I watched to tear the flesh from my stomach because they itched so bad (for days on end, prior to even seeing the surgeon/gyn onc the week before). I had left a note for the surgeon over the weekend, and on Monday they said “they’re healing, no worries!”. But by Monday morning, I knew they weren’t right, so I made an appointment with my primary doctor (who is ten minutes from my house versus over an hour to the surgeon/gyn onc, an hour to wait to see him, and then over an hour home) for the following day. She took one look at my incisions and put me on 10 days of oral antibiotics PLUS topical antibiotic ointment. Let us not forget that I already DID seven days of antibiotics for the UTI that I had finished just the week before. So I’m back on antibiotics (another four days) and feel nauseated and my mouth tastes terrible all the time no matter what I do. I saw my primary as a follow-up yesterday and although *I* don’t see much improvement, she was happy with how the incisions looked. And as a matter of note, she said if she had seen me like this last week, she would have suggested that I was allergic to the dissolvable sutures the surgeon used. I asked how long before the sutures dissolve and she said SIX WEEKS is the norm. Ugh. I’ve been through the standard with Hub and my antibiotic pills…he’s stayed with me for half an hour after each pill until yesterday. Yesterday was the first day I took the pill alone.

Tomorrow we take Butthead to get her ligament surgery. We’ve been able to keep her pretty quiet 97% of the time. I kind of think the pain medication has been keeping her quieter than usual, but whatever. She’ll be in surgery for probably two hours tomorrow, then in recovery. I hope we’ll have her home in time for dinner, but we’ll see how it goes. Also, tomorrow is the first time I’ll have a chance to tell my uncle (our vet) about my cancer. Not looking forward to that convo, but I want his family to know.

On to the guilt…

My mother got the results of her PET scan (I went to the appointment with her), and unfortunately it wasn’t good news. Although the lymph nodes that were targeted by the radiation shrank, they didn’t go away (or back to normal size? not sure the terminology)…and there are new lymph nodes showing up in her neck, sternum area, and the back end of the pelvis. There’s no potential for cure anymore, only the possibility of shrinking the nodes and extending her life. We’re going back to looking into clinical trials (including potentially gene therapy) for treatment. This shit is so aggressive, and now that it’s in her lymph system, it’s going to keep moving around. This was just a couple of months since her last PET scan. And the initial recurrence after her chemo was three months. It’s so freaking terrifying, I can’t even find words for it. I know that it’s possible to live¬†many years with cancer, if the treatments available can keep the cancer at bay, but it requires continuous treatment, basically. But I’ve spent many moments trying to push out of my head the thoughts of what might happen to her…what might be her path. What her quality of life might be. What suffering she might have during this journey. If I think too much, I would be constantly in tears. I do my best to push those thoughts away and stay in the moment. It’s been particularly difficult during my recovery because I don’t have a lot to do with the energy and stamina I have at the moment.

I feel guilty that my path with cancer is presently so much shorter and with a better outcome. I feel guilty that as I got good news, she got bad news. I feel guilty that I’m not able to spend much time with her right now as I recover. I feel guilty that I’m not able to be the cheerleader and distraction-person as I recover. I’ve been mired in my own issues with recovery and have barely seen her (though we talk on the phone several times a day). I feel that I am failing as her support. I doubt highly she has any of these thoughts, but I do. They are my constant companion these days.

I have been pretty lucky so far with the surgical menopause. I had one hot flash and luckily Hub was with me and I knew right away what it was. That doesn’t mean I didn’t clutch Hub’s hand for dear life, but it was over relatively quickly and it hasn’t happened yet again. I still get cold and hot (I pull the covers over me and then throw them off repeatedly all night) a lot, but I can deal with that. I haven’t been terribly over-emotional or moody, though I’ve had a pretty constant headache which could be hormones or it could be the antibiotics. It still very possible for the symptoms to ramp up, but so far it’s been very manageable.

 

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