(Written on 3/19/14)
As the weather became more and more unforgiving here in Chicago, I became less and less able to withstand the crippling fatigue and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia in my hands. The Ritalin gave me some zing for a while, but I'd do a whole lot around the house and my fingers would pay dearly with deep, stinging cracks on the tips that are, to this day, not all healed. It doesn't seem like such small wounds would render a person so miserable, but using my hands became just unbearably painful. I tried every trick in the book -- bandaids, Neosporin, Vaseline, bag balm, Krazy Glue (Kragle!), cotton gloves to bed, even plastic gloves all day around the house -- and I finally messaged Kelly to see if there was anything else I could do to help my hands heal.
At the beginning of March, I went in for an appointment to see Dr. G and was advised to take five X instead of six to lessen the toxicity levels. I mentioned to my Dr's fellow palpating me that I was feeling a bit of pain to the right of my spine, but she said she couldn't rule out that it wasn't due to anything musculoskeletal. Then, when I reclined back with my arms over my head and exhaled so she could feel me from the front, she pressed below my ribs, just to the right of center and I calmly said, "Ow." Orders were placed for me to have scans at the end of March and I was to take some Neurontin for the pain in my hands at night.
Something didn't feel right to me and my liver was feeling pretty mad about something. I just knew something was up. I was suddenly aware of my liver again. When I did a seated forward bend, my liver was getting mashed up into my chest and I would have an upper abdominal muscle spasm. So weird, right? I could also feel some angry swelling at the front so I bumped the scans up. My bone scan was cancelled because someone dropped something radioactive in the Nuclear Medicine department (lolz), so people were walking around with Geiger counters beeping and I was ushered into a conference room. After an hour, the nurse who accessed my port came in and told me to just reschedule the bone scan instead of pushing everything on the schedule. I just ended up getting the CT, which showed that the Xeloda had shrunk or stabilized all of the cancer that they've seen before, except there were three new subcentimeter lesions. Sumbitch. I knew it.
Casey and I went back in the following Monday and Dr. said that, since there was not a massive amount of new growth and that the rest of the cancer was pretty stable, I could have the choice of doing another type of injectable chemo (Eribulin) or I could try an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex) which keeps any estrogen left floating around in my bloodstream from feeding my cancer. I was not about to jump back into losing my hair with the Polar Vortex lingering so I decided to give the AI a try. It's a tiny pill I take every night (not unlike a birth control pill). Also like a BCP, it makes you FUCKING CRAZY. As in, every full moon, I completely lose my shit. I plan to take two Ativan next time and sleep instead of cry and beg death to take me.
You know those Facebook shares you see where someone types, "If you don't cry when you watch this, your soul is dead and you are an unfeeling robot"? Up until that point, I was the unfeeling robot, watching videos of cute little children being reunited with their fathers coming home from the war with zero vagal stimulation. Without estrogen, I had become scarily adept at turning on and off my emotion. Upon starting Arimidex, I became... weepy and sentimental!
Another annoying side effect to the AI (or, hell, maybe living life with uncurable cancer) is that my reality catches up with me more often, no matter how hard I try to outrun it. Those are the days I really realize, Oh, I am totally not going to be a grandmother. Oh, shit. I just realize that I got cheated and things are not going to be better, only worse. I am lying here on my beloved beat-up couch, pinning cute shoes to my Pinterest Wishlist board like it matters but it doesn't. I'm tired, crabby, hungry and slowly but surely resembling a tree stump, and for what? What is the point? Oh yeah, life insurance...
Those are the days I want to stop the charade of being that Wacky Mom I see on the playground who whisks her progeny from school to the bakery for a cookie and then off to the park district, sweating and grinning and trudging on. I want to just go to a room that is quiet and brace myself for death to come and quickly snatch me away before I feel any remorse about whom I've left behind. It's some dark shit, huh? Well, I feel it. Doesn't help that, literally every day, I hear of someone who has just been diagnosed or has just died of cancer. It feels like World War C and I've already been bitten.
I've begun taking my Chinese Herb pills with more frequency... or at least attempting to. I've inquired about Yttrium 90 radioembolization. Turns out that, anatomically, I am a candidate and the doctor at Northwestern is possibly the number one doctor in this area, but getting insurance to cover this procedure is not always possible. Casey is transitioning jobs, too, so even though the doctor's NP has offered to check my insurance, we'll be on a new one soon, so I have to wait to even see if I can have the procedure covered.
I am trying to look forward to Spring and Summer.... to going to all the city pools and the beach with my boys, riding bikes, and eating ice cream.