Sunday, July 01, 2007

A little perspective

Okay, yes, it's been a month since I posted. My bad and all that. But hey, it's summer. And although I'll try and make sure it's not another month till my next post, I think we should all just keep in mind that THIS is what I love about summer: living life is getting in the way of everything else!

I can't tell you what it's like to have this time to recoup- to get some real rest, to get my filthy room clean, to have the time to learn the very beginning steps of playing guitar, and to find out what other things I like to do when I've been threatened with my life not to run. But it's been fun having free time and de-stressing, and I can honestly say I'm enjoying everyday. It's going by fast, and I've been busy, but in the way that one likes to be busy. Just busy enough to stay sane. But wait, there's more- the good stuff just keeps on coming- I leave for San Diego on the 18th, and I'll be gone at LEAST 2 weeks. A full blown hiatus. I'm warning you now, I may not come back.

It's been pretty great since the surgery. I look at some of the pics from the hospital, and I realize that most of that stay I don't even remember. Who loves good drugs? But ugh- look how puffy and pale my face was! Talk about needing a makeover. Thanks, by the way, once again, to all of you who sent cards, flowers, prayers, and positive thoughts my way while I was there.

Once I was home, the first week went GREAT. I recovered way faster than I was thinking I would. Then, the next week, the lymphadema in my abdomen set in. It really hasn't been too bad since then, it was just that week getting used to all that fluid in a pretty condensed spot. It felt like a can of Coke under my skin, a pouch on my right side between my old scar and my new one, and the pressure and skin stretching to adjust was pretty uncomfortable. After that week, though, of having to take it easy and stay off my feet, I've had very little pain. Just some after I work out (in small doses) and minor discomfort at most the rest of the time. I am having to wear a compression hose around my abdomen, but I can't really complain. I mean, first of all, I don't have melanoma, and second, I look really fabulous in granny panties.

These summer days have obviously also given me reflection time, and I feel like I've started to recover from the emotional toll of the last 2 years. It's all kinda getting sorted through. It took a while for Bobby and I to really accept the good news without looking for an "except," but it seems now that, (at least I think) we really do understand that the pathology report is a reality. The illiac node was just "reactionary," inflamed from a staph infection I got almost 2 years ago. Negative for melanoma. And that means that, in a way, I've been given what essentially feels like a second shot at life. Not that the first one was ever really gone, but it just seemed to be living under a dark cloud. I can look back now and see that, and see that I put that cloud there and it was me that kept it there. I don't really know what to say about it except that, and to say that if I was in the same situation again, I would hope I could fend off the depression. In the midst of it, though, it's tough. And I'd never fault someone for feeling that way in the midst of so much uncertainty.

I've told this story probably 193 times since I've been out of the hospital, but I went in to the operating room knowing what my chances were of coming out of it with no melanoma. These last 2 years, I've gotten pretty used to the idea that bad news can be the reality. After hearing the prospects of surgery, I was really just hoping for the melanoma to be in the node, and not metastasized elsewhere; because the reality was, at least according to all the opinions I got, there was a fair chance of both. Having it elsewhere, well, that would've put me at stage IV, which is certainly no death sentence, but it is a progression of disease, and, just so you know, that's not what we're going for. Now, knowing it wasn't even melanoma to begin with, it's like looking at life through totally different eyes. Should I have had this kind of hope the whole time? Oh, yeah, definitely. But I didn't, and even when I tried, I couldn't. This NED, it's a gift. It's pretty incredible.

It took me forever to send out thank you cards (and post a blog, now that I think of it), and I couldn't figure out why I was dreading it so much, but when I finally sat down to do them I was filled with what I can only assume was anxiety. Why? I'm not sure, but I think it was just facing what could have been. I would like to say that I have learned through all this to face my own mortality with grace, but the truth is I'm not sure I wouldn't begrudge every moment of it if it came down to it. And yet, I don't see myself with the will to fight like Sarah did, either. She was incredible, the way she never gave up and kept looking for ways to fight the disease. Strange to see me as somewhere in between. It's out of my face now, giving me some breathing room, and yet I still feel like I need to see it there, in the distance. This is what so many cancer survivors call the gift of cancer- the awakening of our impermanence and therefore the overwhelming realization that moments are so precious, and we should do all we can to savor them fully. With all that in mind, I've made up my mind about a lot of things in my future, and I feel so much more confident and secure just being in my own skin. It's been a good month, people.

I'll spare you the sappy poem someone sent me, just know you should all be grateful. And, can I just say one more time, thankyouthankyouthankyou to every single soul that ever took the time to read this blog and think a positive thought for me. I am really so blessed.



Anonymous said...

Found this definition:
Grace-the outward expression of inward harmony.
This, I wish for you always, my sweet Little Sister.
Love, SmartAss

Carver said...

Hey Lori,

Good seeing you post. I was hoping that you were enjoying some summer days as well as recovering from surgery and I'm glad that's the case. If you don't post for a while then I'm going to picture you making mud pies and playing your guitar (of course you'll probably wash the mud off your hands before laying fingers to the instrument).

I'm sure you look great in your granny tights but I'm sorry you have to deal with that, especially in the summer. I hope the lymphedema will get better and not be too big of an issue.

As ever, Carver

Sandy said...

Hi Lori! It's Sandy from Fighting Fatigue. Thank you so much for taking the time to look at the suspicious mole/mark, whatever it is, on my blog last night! I know you have a lot on your own plate to deal with so I appreciate that!

It's kind of ironic that you left a comment on my site because I have been reading your site here now for quite a while - catching up on all of your archives!

You are amazing - your attitude and strength - what a great role model for others you are!

Thanks again and take care! I will continue reading! I'll let you know how I make out at the dermatologist after my appt. on July 25th.


I'm Too Young For This!