I spy with my left eye…
It has been a rough few days. Yesterday morning I was minding my own business, talking to my dad on the phone, and when I went to use the computer all the characters were messed up. Like running together, or spots missing in between them or somesuch nonsense. Weird and hard to describe. I thought I would get up and take a shower and it would be better. And it wasn’t. So I called my chemotherapy oncologist to see if maybe it was a side effect of Xeloda, the chemo pill. He was out of town. I told the nurse, “Don’t worry, I’m seeing Dr. Engleman today (radiation onc.) and I’ll ask him.”
Off to radiation I go, with my friend Janet driving. Turns out Engleman is out of town too! I told the nurse my symptoms, she checked my vitals, and sent me on my way. Five minutes later she called and said Dr. Engleman said go to the ER. I have spent seven months and four days in cancer treatment, knowing full well that one day a doctor would tell me that because I don’t think I know any cancer patients who have avoided the ER.
Got into the ER, passed their vision tests and so the doc said he’d send me for a CT. I said, “with contrast?” and he said no. I thought, “Big mistake, buddy. Might as well not even do one if you don’t do it with contrast on a cancer patient.” Janet left, Cliff came. CT was normal, as in I didn’t have a concussion, which I already knew. From there the ER sent me to see an opthamologist next door to the hospital. Dr. Brochner is a 2x cancer survivor and she pretty much kicks butt and takes names. She did some tests, all of which were fine, then sent me to a retinologist to make extra sure my retinas were still attached and all that. Retinologist pronounced me fine. After over SIX hours in the Baylor Plano complex, most of them freezing our butts off, Cliff and I left. Still not knowing what the problem is with my eyes.
This morning I had a follow-up with the ophlamologist and she did the visual field test and saw that I am missing some peripheral vision with my left eye. She said my eye balls are great, that the problem is between the backs of my eyes and the back of my head.
Left there for my daily three zaps, and after that saw my radiation oncologist, Dr. Engleman. Who is also really good looking. Not that that’s related to any of my treatment, I’d just like the record to show that he’s a babe. Although I wasn’t his biggest fan today because he said things like, “we really need to rule out whether you had a minor stroke or you have brain metastesis.” Uh, yeah, let’s rule those two things right out, OK? He wanted me to have an MRI, but because of my frankenhooters I cannot. They have giant metal ports in them because they are inflated using a magnet system. Cool for their purposes, suck for MRI purposes. So a head CT Friday, with contrast, it is. Meanwhile, he gave me his personal cell number and told me if I have any changes to call him immediately. Yikes. Oh, and he said that if my condition worsens and they don’t see anything on the CT then I may have to have my expanders removed so they can MRI me. So here’s hopin’ that it just goes back to normal because all of that sounds pretty crappy.
I have been thinking lately about how breast cancer is about so much more than breasts. It has affected every part of my body and my life. I have broken two toes in the past four weeks because my bones are more brittle. (I was already super clumsy). My skin is bumpy and dry and way more wrinkly than it was seven months ago. My muscles are weaker from lack of exercise. My ovaries haven’t worked since April, causing hot flashes and bitchiness. (Alright, I was already bitchy, now I just have something to blame it on). My liver is a toxic waste dump – which may be contributing to my eye problems. My breasts, obviosly, have been through the ringer. Or, as Isaiah puts it, they cut off my boobies. My left armpit is weird because so much tissue was scraped from there. My left arm has lymphedema all the way to my hand now. It’s still mild, but it’s there. My radiation burn starts behind my left shoulder and wraps around past my cleavage (which I still have, thanks to frankenboobies) and up to my neck. My digestion is erratic, my hunger is erratic, my mood is mostly good but sometimes that’s erratic, too. My sex life has been affected – although kudos to me for still having one at all. I haven’t taught yoga asana since February 17th. My youngest asked me the other day, “Mommy, why don’t you play with us as much anymore?” Clearly he has noticed the change in how things are around here. We all know about the hair issues – leg hair, nose hair, pubic hair, armpit hair, head hair – all left me and are all coming back. And some more hair in places I don’t want it (see menopause bit above).
And I could make that paragraph a lot longer listing all the other things in my life and my loved ones’ lives that have been affected by cancer. It is so much more than a booby issue. I think in a WAY earlier post I referred to this experience as a marathon. I think it might be one of those ultimate marathong thingys that some really crazy people choose to do that are over 26.2 miles. I keep thinking the finish line is in sight and then realize that I’m just rounding a bend and before me is another hill.
I’m tired. But I’m still putting one foot in front of the other and I think moving forward. And today was day 11 of radiation. That means I’m 1/3 of the way done. I’m going to just keep swimming and counting my blessings.
(If you are wondering how I typed this not being able to see well, it’s because some of the best advice my mother ever gave me was to take a year of typing in high school and I’m a whiz-bang typist.)