Monday, August 29, 2016

MRI Results

I got my results from my shoulder MRI last week, although I haven't had the chance to sit down and write a post about it. I have tendinosis, which is a common degenerative malady, particularly for athletes (my years of dance). I also have an interstitial tear in the rotator cuff. The doctor is sending a referral to an orthopedist to consult with me about how to handle it.

From the reading I've done, they usually try to do physical therapy first in hopes of fixing it without surgery and often will just not do surgery, even if PT doesn't do the trick, unless you really need to lift your arms above your head. I'm thinking I really kinda do. But the PT has definitely helped a lot. Also, it looks like surgery is often indicated for tears greater than 3mm, and mine is about 4x5. So, we'll see what happens there. I would love it if we can just get it to heal without cutting me open again. My daily stretches have become routine.

My lumpectomy is Thursday. It shouldn't be too bad, but I'm not looking forward to it. I am looking forward to having it behind me, though!

Recovery is getting better. I still conk out every afternoon, but it seems like I can get more accomplished before that happens. I've lost about 18 pounds now since I finished treatment and getting stronger all the time. My trainer keeps making my workouts harder, yet I manage them more easily. I'm very happy about that!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

MRI done and surgery scheduled

I went to my MRI last night. When the lady at the first one (where I nearly had a panic attack and had to stop before it started) rescheduled me for this one, she assured me the tube at the downtown location was much bigger and shorter. IT WAS NOT MUCH BIGGER OR SHORTER. However, I did get a prescription for valium from my doc and took one about an hour before the procedure. And then I made sure to close my eyes before they slid me in (just in time--they could have warned me!) and keep them closed the whole time except for one brief moment near the end when I accidentally opened them for just a second and wished I hadn't.

The valium helped, although if I have to do another MRI I'll take two next time. I had to work at it a bit to stay calm. A lot of self talk and deep breathing, and then distracting myself going through dance routines in my head, then more self talk when I remembered where I was. I felt like I was in there for an hour, but Michael said I was gone for a total of 20 minutes. I question his math.

So then we were back downtown this morning to meet with my surgeon. The lumpectomy sounds like it won't be too big of a deal. However, we had to schedule it for September 1... four days before a 5K I'd entered on Labor Day. Michael says I'm not allowed to run 3.1 miles four days after I have surgery. So, now I'm pouting like a child. Yeah, yeah, I know. There will be other races. Poop.

On the day of surgery, I won't be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. I'll check in at 11:30 and get a mammogram-guided wire and some dye stuck into my breast to guide the surgeon to the spot. Then he'll take out all the suspicious tissue--he said the size of a golf ball, and when I told him that's about all I have, he amended it to a marble. In any case, he said it won't be enough to change the size or shape or cause dimpling or anything. Then he'll glue it shut and I'll go home a couple hours later. I will be under general anesthesia, which is probably the hardest part of the whole thing to recover from. That and not getting to eat all day!

Anyway, so that's the scoop.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Feeling great

It feels really good to feel so good. For the most part, I have reasonably good energy. The scale has been going down steadily--I've now lost 15 pounds since I finished treatment. Although I'd hoped to lose twice that by now, I'm thrilled to have finally broken through that plateau. I think working with the personal trainer is a big part of that--he works me pretty hard with a combo of cardio and strength training, and I think that's made a big difference. And then because I'm seeing results, I feel motivated and have better willpower when it comes to what I eat.

Exercise goes pretty well, and I'm definitely seeing improvement. Bigger weights, faster times. But it takes a lot out of me. Between that and my physical therapy stretches, and then resting from doing it, it's most of my day. That's OK because I'm seeing results, but sometimes it means I run out of energy early in the day. I want to go dancing or to see friends or do something else fun, and I'm often just not up to it. But getting my body back is my priority right now, so that other stuff can wait.

I finally came to terms with the fact that doing the marathon this year is out of the question. My body just isn't up to that level of training yet. I'm disappointed, but I also know I've done absolutely everything I can and it's not my fault. The poison that saved my life causes a lot of damage, and it's just going to take time for that to heal, and there's only so much I can do about that. Plus, all this extra weight I'm carrying around makes it way harder. So, I'll keep running the shorter distances and everything else I'm doing and try to keep my focus on just getting better and improving and getting lighter. Next year, it's triathlons.

I'm so stubborn; it's hard for me to not think about training like a regular athlete. How many times this year have I had to accept that this isn't going to go the way I want it to? It's hard to give up on a goal. Michael says I'm not giving up, just postponing it, but it doesn't matter. I didn't get to do what I set out to do. Ugh. Anyway, I'm accepting it all in small steps and by pieces. One day it will stop being a revelation. But honestly, despite my whingeing, mostly I'm happy. Life is good.

Tomorrow I get the MRI on my shoulder to see if there's anything wrong besides the impingement from treatment. They've gotten way better with all the work I've done on them, but it will be good to rule out any other problems. Then Thursday I meet with the surgeon about my  lumpectomy. Would love to hear your stories about how your lumpectomy went and what recovery was like! I hope it won't set me back too much.

Monday, August 8, 2016

First hair cut! Also, claustrophobia.

My first haircut, 41 weeks post final chemo
Another one of those up-down days. Today I was supposed to have an MRI on my shoulder to rule out any other cause for the pain and range of motion loss besides the stress from treatment. It took a long time to get the referral and then to get an appointment for this issue I've been dealing with since March (but is steadily improving thanks to physical therapy and a whole lot of work on my part).

I've had a lot of scans in the past year, including an MRI, a PET scan, and several CT scans. I didn't anticipate this one being any different. Except it was.

The tech got me all prepped and gave me a squeeze ball to squeeze if I was having trouble and needed out RIGHT NOW. I almost laughed, because I'm such a rational, calm person and would never need that. Then she slid me into the tube. She'd had me close my eyes first because she turned on the lasers, but then she said I could open them as she was moving me. I opened them briefly, saw the tube was pretty small, and closed them again and decided I would just keep them closed throughout.

But then when she got me all the way in, I could feel how close the tube was around me. Much smaller than the ones I'd been in before. My chest constricted and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I tried to tell myself it would be fine, just breathe and relax, but instead the feeling got worse. She asked if I was ok, and I couldn't answer because I was trying to decide if I was. She asked if I needed to come out and I said yes. I just knew I couldn't take it for the 40 minutes or whatever the test would be. So we rescheduled for another day at another facility where they have shorter, wider tubes. I'll get valium from my doctor and Michael will have to drive me. That will happen the 17th.

So, that was frustrating. Generally, my claustrophobia has only been triggered when I feel trapped, like someone holding me down, not just from being in close quarters. I've noticed before that I have more anxiety since cancer, and this is a good example. And then not only can I not do the thing I was supposed to do, I feel awful afterward. I have a stress headache and just a general...I don't know. Discomfort--mentally and physically. As I write this, I've gotten past it somewhat but I'm still feeling some of the after effects. And it  happened two hours ago.

However, while I was out I got a bug in my ear to finally get my hair cut. I stopped at a place on the way home and they happened to have someone available right then, so I went for it. I like it! And one of the ladies working there recognized me from the dance studio, so that was fun. I think this will be my last hair photo, and when I get around to it I'll make my video of the growth to this point.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Attitude successfully adjusted

My hair, 40 weeks post final chemo. I'm
waiting for the front to get just a little longer
so I can get a cute, short, sassy cut.
It's amazing how much my attitude and general outlook on life shifts around these days. A couple weeks ago, I was miserable. I worried about the possibly cancerous cells in my remaining breast, hated physical therapy, and I struggled through my workouts and life in general. I was mourning my cat. I felt like I'd used up all my strength and rah rah attitude when I was sick, and I just couldn't take any more. But, I kept going, kept doing my exercises, kept listening when everyone told me to hang in there and it would be OK.

And you know what? It is OK. The biopsy was benign, and although I have to get the lumpectomy to be sure, I feel like I've let go of that fear. I moved past my sadness and anger and bitterness (not that I don't expect to feel that again, but I'm past it for now). Physical therapy started getting easier, and although it still takes up a large part of my day and isn't fun, I'm seeing progress. I have way more range of motion than I did a few weeks ago, which is great. I've gone dancing a couple times and did reasonably well. My workouts still leave me pretty exhausted, but at the same time, my body seems to be responding and getting stronger. Weight loss is still slow, but I'm edging my way down the scale.

So, in general, I'm doing well. I'm reasonably happy with how things are going. They could be better, but they could be a whole lot worse. My consultation with the surgeon is August 18, so I'll find out what's in store for the lumpectomy, get it scheduled, etc. I will keep you updated, as always!