Private Parts

December 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM (Funny) (, , , , , , , , )

As I was mentally preparing myself this morning for today’s stent insertion (which included a fair amount of leg-shaving and heel-moisturizing), I was struck by the irony of my repeated exposure to complete strangers.

I’ve always been a fairly (all right, extremely) physically shy person. Not that I won’t hang out in a bathing suit (tanning is more important than modesty), but for the most part, changing in locker rooms, getting nekkid for physicals, etc. have never been something I’m comfortable with. I’m definitely not the lady who leaps dripping out of the shower after her workout, toweling her hair and launching into conversation with her friend at the makeup counter, for instance.

So I can’t help but chuckle/wince/shudder at the amount of time I’ve spent completely bare in front of complete strangers over the last few years. It started with childbirth, certainly, but at least the L/D nurses closed the door of the bathroom while they helped me change after the process was over. I remember being prepped for my first surgery in 2006, feet in stirrups, gown at waist, while OR nurses, medical residents (some of them really cute guys) and assorted personnel kept coming into the room and introducing themselves to me. I finally said, “Is it just me, or is it a little drafty in here?” They got the point and grabbed a blanket.

But once you’ve been cut open from stem to sternum, there’s just no privacy any more. After my last big surgery in 2007, I remember the (delightful, sensitive, thoughtfuln’t) surgical residents popping into my room at 5:30 AM for rounds, cracking on the overhead klieg lights, ripping off my blankets and having a look-see at my incision before I had even opened my eyes. (I did NOT bake cookies for the surgical residents.)

And today, a cute man I’ve met with for approximately twenty minutes will be inserting a stent…well, you know…while I’m unconscious and naked from the waist down. Just another one of those things I have to let go…

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Cancerversary

May 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM (after chemo, Faith, Family, friends) (, , , , , , , , )

A lot can happen in four years. A college education. Marriage and a baby. A vast improvement in a hack tennis-player’s backhand (I hope).

A complete rearrangement of priorities, expectations, and attitudes. Oh, and internal organs.

Four years ago today I had my first surgery. Apparently, everyone but me knew it was going to be cancer. Not sure whether I was naïve or doing ostrich impressions, but there it is. The world changed.

I’d love to give you a neat list of all the things that I’ve learned since 2006. How to look for the silver lining; how to treasure each moment, to live in the present. But most days, I don’t manage to do those things, just like any other person. It’s only in hindsight that I (or anyone else) realize how fun/special/poignant each moment is, good or bad, painful or blissful, alone or together.

I have, however, discovered that inside my laissez faire, go-with-the-flow semi-slacker self lies a bit of a lioness, fiercely protecting my family from harm and loss and managing to eke out a few more years for myself in the process. Revelatory? Possibly. Hard? Definitely. I cry every week, but that’s still outweighed by the laughter. Which is actually a pretty good measure of any life, sick or well.

Here’s to four more. Thanks for listening.

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Panic On The Streets of *mingham

May 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM (after chemo, Faith, Recovery) (, , , , , , , )

WARNING: There will be a mild amount of “sharing” in this post. Read at your own risk.

I woke up to the alarm this morning, awake and ready to go to the gym. Ungodly early, but apparently I got enough sleep last night because I didn’t feel tied to the bed. As I was having a quick pee, I sneezed. And my intestines, right in the region of my ileostomy and reversal, started making a funny noise. It sounded a lot like it did when I had the ostomy: sort of a squirty, bubbling sound that I hadn’t heard since then. The noise repeated, again and again, for about thirty seconds straight.

I panicked. I knew this was the bowel perforation I had so skillfully (through no action of my own) avoided since starting the Avastin. That with my sneeze, some aneurysm of my small intestine had finally popped, and I was doomed. Maybe the recent onset of fatigue has made me jumpy. So I did what any normal, freaked-out, cancer patient would do: I called my doctor.

Fortunately, she was awake, and called me right back. She talked me off the ledge, and reminded me that, no matter how recently the perforation had occurred, if I were actually experiencing one I would also be in excruciating pain. Which I was not.

So, faith shaken but restored, I put on my sneakers and headed to the gym. With my phone in my pocket. I’m not really sure how Mr. W managed to get back to sleep, but he did.

Now that my panic has faded, and I’m trying to squelch my embarrassment at escalating a series of gas bubbles to a medical emergency, I have a little time to think about why I got so worked up. It’s not like me to jump to the worst possible scenario when something weird happens; I usually find logical excuses for what’s going on and wait for more evidence before calling in the troops. (Possibly why we find ourselves in this mess to begin with.)

Which means that I’m less emotionally stable than I initially appear. Clearly, four years of this process have rocked my sense of stability enough that I’m more Chicken Little than hakuna matata these days. Sometimes I really feel the fact that I’m living on borrowed time, and that at any moment the blow might strike that precipitates a cascade of medical whatevers and sucks me back into the depths of being a reallysickcancerpatient. I don’t want to feel that way – I want to be making the most of every minute, living life to the fullest, not waiting for the other shoe to drop. (I figured since I haven’t entered remission, I get the luxury of not having to wait for that.)

And yet. Deep under the surface veneer of high-functioning girl-in-treatment lies a wavering doubter who’s got her hair-trigger finger on the on-call button. I wonder how she’ll do with the results of Wednesday’s CT scan.

Sort of a lot, really, to try to get out of an early-morning workout, dontcha think?

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Kindred Cancer Wise-Ass Nails Advice List

April 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM (Family, friends, Help, Humor) (, , , , , , )

This is bloody hysterical. My only regret is that Glenn Rockowitz wrote it first!

How Not to Cheer Up a Cancer Patient

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