It’s become my constant companion, this pain. No matter the renewed ice packs, and constant wearing of the bra, and turning on my right side to sleep; no matter if I spend my time sitting in bed reading or doing light work in the garden – it pulls at me, it wears me thin.
My back hates me for sleeping on the ‘wrong’ side; my left leg aches continually, the muscles tighten and throb. My upper left arm and breast are tender beyond belief; painful to touch, to the point where water from the shower hurts. I’ve lost flexibility in that arm from the early days; trying to push back only rewards me with sharper and more persistent pain. It’s exhausting, because it is constant; not sharp enough to warrant medication, but skating close to that verge.
None of it is ‘real’ pain, it’s all nerve stuff – I’m too familiar with it not to recognize the feeling. But it still hurts.
I blame the seroma – before it appeared, I didn’t have these particular symptoms; since the draining on the 19th and instant reappearance on the 20th, it’s gotten much worse, despite all the care and the icepacks and the constant bra and the resumed sleeping on the ‘wrong’ side.
~~~~~~~~~~later that same day~~~~~~~~~~~
I went in (with Mom and Jim as chauffeur & entourage) for my scheduled follow-up appointments with the oncologist (Dr Khan) and then the surgeon (Dr. Harlow). I’m still not quite sure about Dr Khan – while she seems to be doing all the right things, my feeling is that she tends to minimize & downplay the “side” effects of tamoxifen a bit too much, and also tends to oversimplify a *titch* more than I’d prefer. Really, if I’m asking the questions, I’m not overwhelmed with information, I’m wanting more.
Still, as long as I agree with the proposed course of action, I’m willing to live with that. At this point, I do:
Oncotypng the tumor to determine the risk level of recurrence (the oncotype test analyzes 21 of the tumor’s genes and, based on that analysis, rates the ten year risk of recurrence on a scale of 0 to 100, with the higher scores indicative of a much greater risk of recurrence). If the oncotype score comes back higher, chemotherapy is advised; if the score is low, patients are less likely to receive enough benefit from chemotherapy to balance the risks and hazards, and instead are advised to proceed directly to radiation, and thence to adjuvant therapy (the five year course of Tamoxifen). If the score is in the middle somewhere, the decision isn’t as clear – me, I’m feeling fairly conservative these days (though I’m still not voting for Palin, no fears) and would probably opt for chemotherapy.
The results from that should be back in 10 to 14 days, starting tomorrow. I wish they had started that process earlier- once the pathology report was back, that information showed I was a good candidate for tumor oncotyping, and the results would have been back that much sooner – and while treatment still wouldn’t begin until after I’d healed from surgery, I’ll be better able to plan for the rest of the summer once there’s a more concrete plan in place.
Should chemotherapy be advised, the chemotherapy they’re likely to recommend is the TC (Taxotere and Cyclophosphamide) regime, which would be given in four times in cycles of three weeks – 12 weeks total.
If I skip straight to radiation, that’ll be a daily process for six weeks, with weekends off for good behavior. And always the five years probation on tamoxifen.
None of it will start until early June – the standard here is a good four to six weeks recovery after surgery, depending on recovery. Tomorrow I’ll have just hit the end of the second week… vaster than empires and more slow. Indeed.
Though Dr Harlow is well pleased with my progress – we saw him after leaving Dr. Khan, with enough of a break in between the two appointments for a quick lunch. Stupid human tricks – I can still raise my arms all the way up over my head, as long as I do it slowly. He aspirated the seroma again*, with a bit more success and a bit less pain than the previous attempt – a few obscenities and tears, but no uncontrollable sobbing – and advised starting Advil to help control both the inflammation and the sensitivity. Which I did as soon as I got home.
I can go back on my vitamins; I can use vitamin E on the incisions; I can shave and start using deodorant again (huzzah! I think *everyone* will be relieved by that news); and I am cleared for resuming demolition work.
Weeeeeeeeeeellll, maybe not that last, but the rest is true as true. I’m really not up for demolition duties at the present – I’m still finding basic life fairly exhausting, though I’m pretty much up to taking care of my basic needs by now; napping is still a daily occurrence, no matter how much artificial motivation I pour down my throat. It’ll be nice to have some energy back, so it will – about all I managed today after getting home was a wee bit of overdue deadheading in the gardens, and then I was back to bed, reading and dozing until the phone woke me.
* somewhat jellied bloody bloody fluid, by the looks of it.