Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just Practicing - An Update

I have heard from 6 lovely friends over the last three days. The commentary is all the same. I have read your blog and know what is happening, but HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
I found this an interesting question. Interesting, because this blog is my emotional outlet. The narrative of HOW I AM FEELING. So, I re-read my entries, and tried to be objective. From the entries it would seem to me that my feelings are indeed all encapsulated on this blog. They can be summed up, and in no significant ranking, as:

(is that a feeling?)
(more of an action-word, I know. but anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly in-motion)
(a sensation yes, but an emotion? probably not, but I include it because it really does captures the daily state of my mental being)

So, looking at the above list, it appears fairly comprehensive -- to me -- of where my head and emotions have been these last few weeks. With that in mind, to answer the question, how am I feeling?


I hit my 3 week mark since the mastectomy and I am frustrated at my lack of stamina and the screaming of my nerve endings in the surgical site! Reminder: a mastectomy is the lobing off of an appendage, albeit a small and inconsequential one. Nonetheless, there is "shadow" pain associated with a missing appendage - no matter the nature of the protrusion.

I asked the reconstructive surgeon if it was "normal" to feel like my body is trying to purge the expander, a la Sigourney Weaver and ALIENS. YES! He answered quite enthusiastically. Apparently I just came up with another way of describing that my body is vociferously objecting the presence of a prosthetic.

What is surreal, is that I am a card-carrying prosthetic recipient. A synthetic "expander" now occupies the space under my chest-muscle wall, directly underneath where my breast innards used to be. Got the card in my wallet, complete with a picture and model #. I'm supposed to carry it there as a "just in case." Like, just in case I'm in an accident and the bugger pops! So with the card and the clean thong I keep in my handbag I'm giving a whole new meaning to the Girl Scouts motto: "Be prepared!".

I am frustrated in that speaking to the med pros, here in-state and out-of-state, I cannot pin down a personalized prognosis. (This is the second most asked question I get.) All I get is the insistence that in order to statistically have a chance at the "standard" 10 year survival rate for ILC I must succumb to the standard adjuvant treatments.

The emotional and mental challenge of this lack of individualistic answer is that my PetScan came back with NOTHING, NADA, RIEN, NICHTS remarkable. Indeed, my margins after the removal of the entire left-lady were clean. Annnnnddddd, of the 3 lymph nodes removed, only one had "uncontained" tumor cells -- which, apparently as of 4 weeks ago the ICBC* concluded that the course of action is "do nothing." (BTW, what I could glean from this medical verbiage essentially amounted to: "dunno why this is the recommendation," but maybe it based on the assumption that the tumor cells could have been placed in that node by virtue of the initial diagnostic biopsy. OOPS! Medical conclusion, if that is the case, is that the little buggers won't survive because the environment they were "pushed" into is not conducive for them to grow. Hmmm.  I summarized my understanding to the onc surgeon who responded, "yea...pretty much.")

How can I not be frustratingly sardonic, cynically appreciative of my situation, and surreally (sp..word?) challenged but all this expertise and knowledge?

All cynicism aside, and most importantly, I truly appreciate the random acts of kindness that I am shown daily by those who are following (and commenting on) my blog; those who care enough to ask me questions; and those who are thinking of me -- no matter WHAT you are thinking - at least I am in your thoughts.

*ICBC = industrial complex of breast cancer


  1. I am intrigued by the literal interpretation of "feeling" and delighted by the way telling a story acts as an organizer to help you to body your experience. Stanley Keleman the somatic therapist writes, "Not only does it help to organize meaning, but meaning is grown from your body self. The storytelling organizes your responses into a narrative that you can use to give meaning and direction to experience". When I was a young dance student and reading Fromm's "The Art of Love" my mantra as I would pirouette across the kitchen floor was "feel your body - express your feelings". The body and its mind are layered, are part of an endless chain of changing human forms, a pulse within a larger pulse. ~Coffey Cakes

  2. The health and well-being of both the mind and body are inseparable. I first learned that lesson when I was hospitalized for 9 months as a child, bound in a full-body cast. My only physical outlet being the t-bar over my bed; and the dreams I would have of physically flying. Dreams so real that I would awake drenched in sweat and my upper body soar [sic] from the exertion.