Medical processes intertwined with my emotions; struggling, searching for answers, connecting the dots, fighting off crazies, and God rebuilding my body and spirit inside and out.
“Exploring life is being able to walk into shadows with no fear… faith in Him, your feet will follow.“ plf
Issues bit me in the ass as it all sank in… my timeline is sketchy, even with a photographic memory as best I recall between two biopsies and seven surgeries encompassing three years from November 2013 through August 2016. Things progressed, more of how I felt then, plus abituva medical journal. This was precious time spent solitaire for many long months recovering from my reconstruction after breast cancer.
First, the ‘Battles Rage’. That was only a smidgen of my issues that began the real fight to regain my body — I was a wreck — my self-confidence and stamina took a nosedive.
These battles screwed with my body for three years. I took a serious break after the sixth surgery. It’s a real burden on a woman’s spirit. My womanhood got ripped to shreds. And as I wrote I fought tears again after three years — the trauma does not go away. You can imagine a T Rex or damn Rougarou monstor (or the damn gator) was my worst fears. This caused my angst — the rawest of my inner turmoils and my anger. The monster metaphor applied to not only me, but also my mother in the throes of breast cancer years ago.
You might cringe at some of my descriptions, or my ideas or images or links, but that gator’s jaws ripped deep into my body ‘n soul ‘n I had to get it out. At times typing these words got to me too bad. I resigned from writing for weeks at a time, abstained from stirring up those real feelings too deep to mention then and too painful to put on screen. Words more intense than cliches are read. Ya know how your stomach knots up sitting in a courtroom even if only for a misdemeanor traffic fine. Or tremors squiggle up your spine to deal with a neighbor’s mean-tempered dog while you walk by — your gut queasy with unease, your knees rattle as you uncomfortably walk past, you know the dog ripping your leg off is your worst imagination. Imagined or not, even paranoia is real. Mine was threatening for a long while.
Breast cancer is a most diverse condition, yet as individually unique as an eyeprint. Classified as oncology, I cannot explain every aspect of its variances here since there are thousands of references for professionals and in the movies. I refer to what applies to me as matters of my breast cancer story, not to perplex. I hope I offer useful information, either on an emotional or factual level. Oftentimes simultaneously. One is not better than the other.
We cannot deny our emotions forever. But I kept trying. Here it took several tries editing to make my thoughts sensible to someone less knowledgeable than I. This was NOT an area of expertise that I wanted to be knowledgeable about. Yet there I was, plodding along. And I sensed a foreboding my body would retaliate from three years of surgeries and its rigors and many months of down time with no stamina.
The body heals in its own damn good time and in my haste to be “cured” of breast cancer, I pushed myself ignoring my own good common sense. I cut off my nose to spite my face, as my mom used to warn me when my Irish impatience grabbed ahold. I pushed my exercise ‘workout’ regimen of whatever yardwork I could do. Always was a workaholic. I thought woohoo! I’m cured of cancer and can get back to all my normal stuff again!! Wrong. My health boom lasted a mere four months once I recovered from the last August fat graft surgery
As I plodded along, this chapter goes back and forth in three years since the mastectomy, that indelibly changed me forever. Numerous recoups over months rolled into three years. Despite my resolved state of mind to be ‘normal’, I became ill. I had stubbornly intensified my burning need to heal faster than my body’s ability, even after healing from the fat grafting surgeries. That consequence was fighting off pneumonia; it became a major deal as much as major surgery itself. The Five of Bones seemed more in control than me or the doctors …
“This card can be a warning to re-think negative habits and thought patterns that keep you feeling separate from friends who might be able to support you, but it also offers validation for your fearful feelings, and your disability experience – yes, being traumatized….”
Ironically, I thought I was past that inclination to bury into myself, managing quite well thank you, when in fact all at once I fell, subdued into my own lahlahland of cancer’s incredibly frustrating, lonely, and scary recesses of my psyche. It’s easy to wallow when things don’t go just as planned. And things weren’t. I knew better, we rarely get what we want. My body tried to warn me with overall fatigue and sluggishness and migraines.
Some psychic philosophy of Tarot cards gave me a little relief from mundane cancer facts. I read about ancient art philosophies linking my inner self with idealization, toyed with its intriguing ideas, but I see no ominous warnings. Parallels of the cards to my life are fascinating, even with philosophy, who doesn’t love some suspense? Just for chits ‘nd grins, the last draw of an online psychic test revealed by the gypsies not by a ‘sleight of hand’: The World.
This card depicts elements of the world and beyond, signifying ‘wholeness’. It is both man and angel, bird and beast. It’s a good card to draw — represents completeness, contentment, harmony, success, prosperity and personal realization. It also is shedding of old and making way for the new. It encourages us to be patient. The negative side to this card it would be stagnation, impatience, and a soft will. However, the major ideology is that our life’s events are coming together to fulfill our dreams.
I waited for the last surgery that would salvage my fat grafting surgery after pneumonia. I seriously hoped my new implant exchange surgery would be my final. Was that asking too much? I wasn’t striving for perfection, only to appear more normal. Dr. Korentager assured me smiling comfortingly, he in fact was striving for perfection. I seemed to still be fighting off awful Rougarou monsters and an occasional T Rex bad dream. When the big face-off with those damn monsters hedged me into the corner, I kept slugging at an imaginary enemy in a nightmare stuck on ‘pause’. And I had some real slug-outs. As if right on cue, even T Rex showed its ugly self and terrified me.
My faith had to prevail because I knew the real threat was not just in my head or my nightmares — my breast cancer was real. I felt the actualization of my will to survive begin to seed. To stop the nightmares I must stop the damn monsters from swallowing me up. Maybe my subconscious could give my wakeful mind some insight I believed I had deep down. Times I coped, other times, not so good. My bad, in fact I’d been cowering… I thrust a fist at the ol’ Rougarou — I must fight back! Those moments, I prayed for guidance down a very dark and unknown road. I needed the Lord’s compass. And I ached for my daughter’s “aaaaawe”, a little of her tenderness.
Physically I felt recovered for the most part and emotionally I was overcoming depression bit by bit, one moment at a time. But felt and the mirror told me I looked prematurely aged — and I was still so very tired. Allbeit I wanted it all to be over ‘n done with, by 2015, I had no major complaints and went from one surgery to the next much smoother than the first months after my mastectomy. I justified my attitude had been that my recoup was par for course, a medical log. But I felt disjointed, similar to how my lust for experience and my natural passion was lost after my mother died. Not thriving like I wanted. I told myself now I should be grateful to be alive. Yet, that was not enough. Something was missing. I wasn’t feeling such love for my crafts, fishing or hunting, or gardening or walking my dog.
I sensed my weight gain and loss of stamina bit me in the ass; I had not returned to normal. I couldn’t blame my lack of enthusiasm on radiation or chemo weakness either. I acted on the edge of a hypochondriac, because since the pneumonia my blood pressure was a bit on the high side.
So unaccustomed to extreme fatigue, I asked Dr. Robine if she’d test my thyroid. Despite Robine’s non concern, she referred me to Dr. Alm, the only thyroid specialist in the Kansas City area. Robine leaned more on my mental and emotional recovery relating to my general health as what should be regarded as the ‘norm’ — not unqualified justification how I felt per popular opinion. Myself, rebellion against the norm was 2nd nature to me, but of late I felt hypocritical wanting to appear normal in spite of facing cancer and a body that didn’t feel like mine. Not yet.
By the time leaves began to change into bronze and crimson that hunting season, I had difficulty getting a full night’s sleep, more often sleeping right thru my alarm that I had to renege on my plans with Ed. What’s worse, out of exhaustion I really didn’t care. I tried not to disappoint, however my husband wasn’t discouraged, presumably I’d recoup as my body healed, himself plodding along till I could resume carrying my rifle beside him opening day deer rifle season. We held onto that plan.
A person knows in their heart …
I wrote “Sunday Diary” after the last fat graft. With peace of mind due, I was slowly achieving happiness and felt majorly optimistic. Then the other shoe dropped. That February came with an upper respiratory infection going bad to worse into severe pneumonia. It was a virulent attack, nearly landing me in the hospital save the promise to go home, stay in bed and follow Dr. Robine ordered me to take the bestest care of myself with a slew of prescriptions. We all know that routine. By the time I had finished my third round of antibiotics and a steroid shot and puffing on an inhaler for a week, surely I had become asthmatic. Like I said, hypochondriac? I was wasted and so was the fat graft from six months prior. All my hope was obliterated.
Back to the office… I drove white knuckled on Interstate 435 to the plastic surgery office in Overland Park. I sat feeling insecure in the waiting area impatiently thumbing a “HERLIFE” magazine. The flipside is I was happy to see familiar staff and nurses, all-the-while bittersweet to be seated there was because I needed another surgery. It seemed breast cancer was doing it to me again. When the hell would I be done with it all??
This wasn’t surreal déjà vu but ridiculous, shaking my head at my lack of control over the last months. Subdued frustration became nonvocal anxiety appearing as calm acceptance which was far from the truth. The inevitable breakup only your brother sees coming, knowing what your silence really means, the boyfriend gets exiled with no word, no heads up. Too little, too late dude… Like my brother, my good doctor knew what was up. Remember, Dr. Korentager had been well aware of my prior funk last summer.