Thursday, December 26, 2013

By the End of the Day

Last week I had my cursory check in with my surgeon where she not only told me to join weight watchers, but to do so by the end of the day. Man, that is harsh. I shared that I'm not a real group person, not a joiner, but she was having none of it, so I nodded compliantly knowing that while I know I need to loose weight, I am not joining weight watchers, let alone by the end of the day. My surgeon is a petite and formidable woman, she tells me that I should be worried about heart disease and strokes, as they are the number one killers of women. I straight out told her, "no, sorry, I won't do it, I worry about cancer and that's all I'm willing to have on my worry plate." Heart disease and strokes are just going to have to take a back seat in my worry van. She doesn't like this, so we've had to agree to disagree.

I wouldn't say I'm a hypochondriac, as if I were, I would have gone to the doctor as soon as I felt the planetoid sized lump in my breast instead of ambling in two months later and I would have been insistent that yes, there was something awry and puleeze send me to a specialist instead of telling me it is nothing and not to worry about it. I chose the not-worry-about-it option, as it was so appealing, even though deep down, inside, well, not even all that deep, I knew, I guess I just wasn't quite ready yet, having just begun divorce mediation, I didn't feel ready for that too, but eventually, I realized, I had no choice.

I think what I am, what I've become, is a cancercondriac. No matter what my symptoms, I don't worry about heart disease and stroke or MS, or diabetes, or even being struck by lightening or eaten by sharks, in fact, I dare you shark, I just dare you... I worry about cancer, every day... every minute of every day. Not in a debilitating way, but in a real way, that sometimes induces panic and often not, but is a revolving fear, on a loop de loop. Everyone I know has been sick this season. Lingering viruses and flu's, my little dude missed a week of school and is still coughing, my studio-mate laid low for weeks. I haven't had more than a sniffle and I think that has to do with being allergic to my xmas tree, but I take it as a sign that I don't have metastatic cancer. I've decided that as my immune system seems to be functioning well, it must also be keeping me cancer free. It's maddening not to know what's going on inside my body. I am consumed with aches and pains and there's no way to know if it's age, effects of chemo and radiation, lack of exercise or imminent death inducing metastatic cancer.

The flip side of that is I feel like crap. I've been gaining weight, my LiveStrong days at the gym seem a distant memory, not a few months ago, and I'm developing syndrome after syndrome which is wearing me down. I've become my own worst enemy. I've been diagnosed with lymphedema in my right arm, my dominant arm and hand are now 3cm larger than my left and my handy-dandy lymphedema therapist wants to wrap my entire arm up to the fingertips in bandages for 6-8 weeks and I just can't do it, I refuse. I've been compliant for two years, I've done everything each and every cog in the medical wheel has asked, but this I just can't do. Next best thing she says is to wear a compression sleeve and glove 12 hours a day. Glove? no way, so we settled on gauntlet which is like a glove that has the fingers free. I have one of these get ups already that I've worn on airplanes to avoid getting lymphedema and they are murky beige, depressingly geriatric looking and very uncomfortable, and so I've been in denial. I even had to explain that I was in denial to my sweet specialist and she said she just had to mark my chart, that I knew I was in danger of a permanent and worsening condition by ignoring it and I said "yes, yes I understand, I just can't deal with it, I've reached my limit." I don't usually do denial, but I guess we all make exceptions.

I promised I would deal with it after the holidays and I just paid out of pocket for a fuschia sleeve which is more bearable than beige, I picked it up at the medical supply place today. My insurance would have paid for the beige one, but it's just too depressing so I paid extra for color. The cost of color. My fuscia is more pepto bismol than cheery purple/pink, but it will have to do. Thus far, I can't even bring myself to open the box.

I tried to carve a ham on xmas eve and neither hand could grip the utensils well enough to do it. It was surprising and dispiriting, what an odd thing to have to ask for help with. The neuropathy and the lymphedema are a bad combination. My hands cramp up and are stiff and weak, writing with a pen is increasingly difficult. So it's time to cut the crap, I suppose and return to being a good patient and get myself in that horrible garment. Boo, hiss, whine, complain. Tomorrow will be my last day of cookies {I really need the tall one to come home and eat them all which he will do quite efficiently, and any minute now} and I'm going back to the gym. In fact I'm putting my whole life secondary to getting in shape, O.K., kids still first, but work is going behind health on the list. Being a clever girl, I've decided the best exercise is the funnest exercise and that is in scuba-town, so I'm planning a trip for the end of February. I have between now and then to get scuba ready. Those wetsuits are tight and the tanks heavy and I couldn't possibly manage it right now, so I have slightly less than two months to get in shape. Between now and then it's gym, gym, gym, yoga, wearing the sleeve, and eating healthy.

My boys should be home any minute and we will commence our yearly holiday Lord of The Rings marathon. We have the extended version DVDs, so I am not exaggerating when I say marathon. The geeky darling has challenged me to a game of Doctor Who Yahtzee which is what Santa brought me this year and tomorrow we'll all go see the Hobbit. It's so rare that the three of us are on the same page at the same time, but indeed, this is the movie for us all. Popcorn for all!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Return of the Blog

And on Christmas day, my blogging hiatus ends as I am sitting in front of a fire, in a quiet house, with a newly purchased, long overdue, refurbished MacBook on my lap. I can now return to the soothing tippity-tap, tippity-tap, as opposed to the vertical fingered bang, bang, banging required of my old companion. I can now type "9"s and "M"s with reckless abandon without cutting and pasting them from other documents. There is, of course, a "9" in my zip code, so it's been annoying enough over the past many months to just put the device down and walk away. This toy is quiet, no grinding sound, recently accompanied by an unsettling tick, tick, tick of an ersatz bomb waiting to go off, documents up in flames, or at least melted from the heat, increasing in fortitude from the bottom of the machine. No more children yelling "mom, get a new computer, it's time, just admit it." As one application after another stopped working, I have finally admitted it.

Now the dreadful task of updating costly software, inputing all my addresses, one by one, as the old address book was corrupted and can neither save or export. Figuring out if my older backup system will work and the laborious process of moving over documents and music and pictures and whatever else. Getting a new computer is not fun. Sure, it's shiny and pretty, but it's deceiving, there is so many nerve wracking tasks involved, I dread it, so I put it off as long as possible. My old faithful served me for seven years, it was my first laptop an some change I don't like one bit. I miss the way the old keyboard felt, I miss the way the outdated desktop worked, but sometimes you don't have a choice. New computer, divorce, cancer, sometimes you just don't have a choice.

I've had a lovely holiday season. I always forget I work in retail and so am always surprised by how busy and frazzled I get, but the fact that we've all finally admitted Santa is a fable, some of the pressure is off and it's more fun making up who the gifts are from. Little boy got gifts from The Great God of Good Socks, Gandalf, The Doctor and yes, some from his mom. The tall one got lots of very warm clothing to take with him to college in Maine next year. This time next year, he will be home visiting for the holidays, wow. Our Colby College dream has come to fruition with an early decision acceptance, but our expectation of a "need blind" experience, where the financial need of all those accepted is fulfilled by this prestigious, well-endowed school, turns out to really mean, they are blind to our need. While I am doing my best to negotiate some more funds, the dream is now going to include massive quantities of loans and debt. This is very disappointing. I still, however, fully believe that this is the right college for my boy and will offer him a life-changing experience and opportunity for positive personal growth and building of character. How do you walk away from that? He remains, smitten and in love and wanting to play college football and baseball while getting a world-class education, how does he walk away from that? I don't think we can, I think we will need to find a way for it to happen.

It's been a while, I've had some issues, I'm spending a lot of time in rehab, of the physical therapy variety, not drug and alcohol. But that's for another day, because I love the holidays and it's been a holly jolly month. I threw myself on the mercy of a friend with a truck who carted me home a frozen sold tree which thawed nicely and looks festive as can be. I learned that next time I plant a frozen tree, indoors, in a stand, I should not fill stand to the top with water because frozen, implies moisture, and all that water is going to soon start dripping downwards and there is a lot of it and if your stand is already full, well, you get the picture. We had our yearly festive xmas eve gathering last night, with the old friends who over they years have become family and some new ones for good measure. It is such a beautiful and powerful thing to see kids grow from babies to the precipice of launching. Stressful, fragmented evenings filled with diaper changes and temper tantrums are now relaxing and mellow with everyone doing their own thing, the generations and age groups interweaving naturally, sans anyones interference or orchestration.

This was the first christmas morning the boys father chose not to come over which surprisingly freaked  both boys out but we wound up having a perfect festive morning. We were all glad Aunt Ivy slept over as she always does. We're a small group, but it was perfect. It was also the first year I wasn't invited to the in-laws, or ex in-laws, which freaked me out. It's an odd thing how you can know people for 25 years and then just be exiled, but I guess it's time for new traditions and it turns out I'm perfectly happy home alone today and fine with the boys having a holiday tradition without me. They'll be back tomorrow an our annual Lord of the Rings marathon will begin and well go see the Hobbit to top it off. I've gotten a lot of cleaning up done, I'm doing a laundry marathon, it's warm and cozy, I'm eating leftovers, way too many cookies, and using my new computer. It's just gotten dark and I'll flip around and find a movie and I'm at peace with the universe. I have local friends in on who I could drop, but I'm feeling no need, I'm quite content and hope you are too.