Can scar tissue even BE chronic?

Discouraged.  No matter how hard I push, how much I try, how big I dream, ever since the cancer, I’m stopped in my tracks more often than not.

Take this weekend.  WhyDaddy cleared the decks, took over the parenting, and gave me two solid days to work.  The first day went wonderfully.  I crossed off item after item on my to-do list, and prepared for a full day of writing and revising on Sunday.  On Sunday, I woke up in pain.  There’s been pain since early January, but I’ve been in treatment for it.  Physical therapy to rip the scar tissue off the muscle that is pulling on the bone, and more physical therapy to realign the spine and everything else after the scar tissue lets it go.  I’ve been working hard at it, trying not to resent the time that it’s taken (8:15 to 11:45, nearly every day of the week).  But this weekend, it built up to a point where I couldn’t function.

And the lack of sleep wasn’t helping.

I took a pain pill on Friday after I wrote that blog entry, and finally, finally was able to rest.  Another on Saturday, and I got a full night’s sleep.  But Sunday — no way.  And today.  There’s no writing.  There’s no working.  There’s only physical therapy and recovery, pain pills and rest.

And it frustrates me to no end.

Only this morning I sent a note out on twitter, floating an idea that I would write about more than cancer and recovery.  I was so tired of focusing on it, and so hopeful that I could muster the strength to write about space, about science, about the amazing women I know doing space science and what they’re achieving.  My twitter friends were very supportive, and I resolved to start moving on on this blog.

And then I walked into physical therapy.

After an hour of my therapist icing my chest, ripping layers of the scar tissue so that the skin would move separately from the fascia (a slippery layer like chicken skin, between your skin and the muscles below), and the fascia from my muscle, of tissue work deep inside my chest, mobilizing the areas under my arm and over my rib cage, continuing the work so that one day when I breathe, my whole chest won’t move with my rib cage — after all that, my therapist and I had a heart-to-heart.

The scar tissue is chronic.

It’s not responding like scar tissue usually does, with a few post-surgery sessions.  It’s now a sinewy mass inside my chest, stretching with its tentacles to reach my skin, my fascia, my muscle, my ribs.  It wraps itself around my insides, binding them and stretching the muscles until they ache.

She rips the scar tissue regularly.

But that just makes it angry (I imagine), and it reaches for more after it recovers. I stretch, buying myself time where the pain is less, but it comes back when I sleep, or when I type, or when I do anything else, for it doesn’t get tired, and it doesn’t take breaks.

It’s the worst case that she’s ever seen.

And although she’s worked with thousands of patients in rehab, and she’s been able to relieve the pain of all but one, she’s not sure if this will be enough. We talked about options, and there simply aren’t many.  I’m in physical therapy for this three times a week already.  Any surgery would simply create more scar tissue.  My post-op treatment was good, for the scar tissue is roughly aligned to give me full range of motion, where typically it would be a nest of spaghetti and I would have difficulty moving.  There’s simply a lot of it, and it’s tenacious.



13 Responses to Can scar tissue even BE chronic?

  1. GAh! Scar tissue, schmar tissue. Why you, Susan?

  2. upsidebackwards says:

    Oh Susan. I’m so sorry to hear this. I really hope there’s something – anything! – that someone can think of that will help.

  3. Lisa says:

    Saying prayers for you, my dearest friend!! Wishing I could take all the pain away, or at least find someone or something that could! Much love…

  4. Linda Lawrence says:

    Just wanted you to know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Love you!

  5. Amelie says:

    Ouch. This sounds very painful — but the idea that it will keep coming back makes it so much worse. I’ll keep you in my thoughts, Susan.

  6. It just seems so unfair that you should have to deal with this on top of everything else you have already overcome.
    My husband deals with chronic pain due to a ruptured cervical disk. Surgery would just lead to more surgery and more surgery, and he deals with that same frustration day in and day out. Being betrayed by your body seems like the worst betrayal of all.
    I hope that at least one of the few solutions brings you some kind of relief.

  7. NoRegrets says:

    Chronic scar tissue. Such an odd phrase… Very very sorry.

  8. Stimey says:

    I’m so sorry. This must be so frustrating. I wish I had words to help, but I don’t know if there are any. But I do have love and good wishes to send to you. And an offer of help if you ever need it.

  9. Susan says:

    oh no: not the conversation you wanted to have, obviously. Count me as another one wishing her words from afar could make those tissues uncurl and relax.

  10. NYFriend says:

    Oh my gosh, I am so sorry this is happening. The words “There’s simply a lot of it, and it’s tenacious.” describe something else too – you, your spirit. 🙂 Big hugs to you my dear friend.

  11. dawn malone says:

    I am so sorry for your pain. I am not a cancer survivor but follow your blog because I find you so inspirational. You show such strength and courage. I wish you peace and grace.

  12. […] years after my diagnosis, I’m still in physical therapy four days a week for pain management, scar tissue reduction, and lymphedema (side effects of my double mastectomy) and struggling with sleeplessness and other […]

  13. mamena says:

    nice and cool site, easy to understand articles and very informative

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