Last week, the old pain in my back ribs exploded, sending pounding pain through the surrounding muscles, under my shoulder blade, and up into my neck and skull. I don’t know how (or why) it happened, just that it did, around lunchtime on Wednesday. Desparate to talk about anything but cancer on this blog, I didn’t mention it, but I’ve been struggling with this debilitating pain ever since. I have meds and muscle relaxers and steroids and pain relief available, but nothing really takes it all away as much as just lying down does again.
But no sooner do I lie back down in my bed, propped up and surrounded by pillows, than I face the closets again and that wall — that wall that I studied for months on end when I was sick — rises up again and taunts me with its blankness. There is nothing new to see here. There is nothing new to do. I am once again stuck in bed, fighting the pain.
This time, though, I took action quickly and went to the primary care doctor the same day, begging for relief. She tried, using osteopathic tricks, and got the pain to settle down so that I no longer felt like screaming. The next morning, I went to a new P.T., and I went back to see him today. He’s good, but he’s no Bretta. They have different specialties, though, and this is what I need right now. He spends the whole hour just moving my muscles, finding and resolving trigger points, and using traction to stretch. He says that my back was under a lot of strain, between supporting the heavy tumor and not getting any exercise when I was sick. And I didn’t. I didn’t get so much as a walk in 6 months, and spent many weeks in bed altogether.
I still am not sure how I made it through that time.
But the one thing that I know is that I DO NOT WANT to be there again. And so I will be a good girl, and do my exercises, and move my lymph, and watch what I eat, and start to walk again for exercise (10 minutes today, 20 tomorrow, 30 on Wednesday, and so on) to try to lose some of the excess weight that I gained during chemo, and then again when I thought the cancer was back and I didn’t handle it all that well.
I have to come up with some new coping strategies. I go back to the oncologist on Thursday for my second three-month checkup since the end of chemo and my surgery, and I’ll find out the results of Wednesday’s CT scan then. She’ll ask me about my side effects, and I’ll tell her, and I’ll do my best to smile, even though sometimes still I scream inside
from the terror of realizing that this year I had cancer. And even though I barely recognize myself after all the treatments, it could come back at any time.
P.S. This is lovely. I’m so glad that there are people like Ilina in the world.