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.