Sunday, January 6, 2008

Road Rash

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the day before My Boys and I were to drive to North Carolina to spend the holiday with My Love's family, I went to The Oncologist's office for treatment as per usual. And my platelets were six. What followed, I'm not even going to go into detail on. But if you're savvy, you know it involved transfusions, IV Ig and an F-load of prednisone.

And it's still going on.

However, as previously mentioned in this sad, aimless and severely neglected blog, I did learn a few things in the U.K. One of them being, try as I may, I really, really, most honest-to-goodliness, cannot do everything. As much as I chafe at the very thought of not being able to do all I wish, to the standard of performance I expect, at every single given moment I expect it, there is a small portion of my stubborn, willful, driven brain that has the capacity to recognize the facts. The facts being:

  1. I'm getting creamed and I am beat tired.
  2. I need to get this platelet thing under control properly and stop expecting to succeed in gaining that control by forcing My Oncologist's plan of action into my already overcrowded schedule.
  3. I need to take the opportunity to heal and give myself permission to take the time I need to regain my strength and sanity without undue burden from other obligations and stressors that detract from my healing.

In short, for the first time since my mastectomy, I'm taking a break.

A friend at work who heard me out on this put it this way: "Well, you know what they say. Let go or get dragged." She pretty much nailed how I had been feeling. Dragged by my illness. Dragged by the platelet complication -- again. With the addition of these things to what is typically called life, I felt I was being dragged by a semi that had ripped me off my feet and yanked me bouncing and banging down a gravel-covered country lane at a supremely excess speed.

So, brilliant me, I let go.

I've been on temporary disability since December 1. I expected to be back at work right after the New Year. But I'm not. My platelets have rebounded and I am in a treatable range. But they are not stable. So, I continue IV Ig three times a week and I am on a desperately distressing level of prednisone. (Distressing for me, you understand, right? My Oncologist seems to be handling it just fine.) I am hoping this is my week. When my platelets boost, we talk about starting chemo again, and we nudge the prednisone down a little more.

Some other positive things:

  • I have an appointment with an oncologist who is about 45 minutes from home whom I am hoping will agree to consult with My Oncologist as part of my already established healthcare team and provide me IV Ig treatments instead of me bombing up and down the highway three times a week.
  • My roid rages have been significantly curtailed in the absence of my usual stress level. Oh, be assured, I am a nutter and can still rage with great ferocity. But, I am a much calmer person than I was in the previous go 'round. No other comparisons allowed. If I were being graded against truly sane people, I'd screw up the whole calm bell curve thing.
  • I have dug out from a huge avalanche of household obligations and gotten myself organized like I haven't been personally organized in years. I even reinstated the service of my Filofax, which I love and regret ever putting in a dark, desk drawer. Electronics are not all they pretend to be with their shiny metal sparkly lure. Paper, and leather, and ink are so much more tactile, personal and satisfying.
  • Getting ready for Christmas was fun! For the most part. OK, once I allowed myself to enjoy it. Having time off meant I didn't have to cram in shopping, or decorating. Or, if things didn't go my way or I couldn't find something, it wasn't such a big deal because I always had time to try again the next day, or take the time to go elsewhere. I wasn't as rushed or as stressed about things.
  • I have baked and cooked. I forgot that these are things I enjoy. So I did them! The Kid and I made four different kinds of cookies for Christmas and we had a blast doing it. I've enjoyed cooking for My Boys and even have leftovers in the refrigerator. I'm afraid I may have to throw things out. I can't remember the last time this house had too much food.
  • My Love and I have conquered more of our home thanks to my prednisone and his oft tried, well worn patience. The beer can collection, keepsakes, memorabilia, children's toys and other items that rightly belong in the attic have been evicted from our guest room and put in the attic. We now have a place for our guests to stay comfortably. Further, the living room portion our house, which I had taken to calling the indoor shed, has also been emptied. My Love has ripped down the garish pink wallpaper, is putting lights in the ceiling and is considering wall colors. When he is done, we will have a game room. Or, as My Love wishes to call it, a man room. Whatever.
  • My sisters and I have scheduled a rooster massacre. How I have longed for the death of my rooster kitchen and all of its dizzying, blue, chickenwire roosteriness! Soon it will be gone and the walls will radiate a peaceful sage green and a tiny bit more calmness will settle into our home.
  • Best of all, despite being off treatment for more than a month, my tumor marker has taken a significant dip. A tumor marker is sort of a monitoring device. It assesses the amount of a particular protein that tumor cells shed. So, theoretically, if there is a lot of this protein, then tumor cells are likely active. Or abundant. Or something that means they are up to no good. My markers are usually pretty accurate for activity. Apparently they had been up in the 80s recently. The latest report I have says they are now at 39, which is in a normal range. Nice.

There's more, you know? I think I just need to stop for a bit. I think I got quite a bit out.


Andrea said...

Tracy, I am so happy to see that you are doing so well. I've had a similar epiphany about stress; even without cancer, it has the power to kill me. I'll fill you in on how I'm letting go as soon as I figure it out myself.

And I thought Kim got your roosters out - did they grow back??



Anonymous said...

I have really missed reading your blog so I was thrilled to see your entry today! As for asking for help, even those of us who aren't battling cancer ask for help every now & then. No one can do it alone, or should be expected to. That's the beauty of having family & friends by your side.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Missed 'ya! A.J.

Liza said...

"Let go or get dragged."
I love it!! I've posted it on my door at work. So smart your friend!

I'll be seeing you Friday night to hack at some roosters!

xo L