Thursday, November 04, 2010

What I Did Today, By Jo

I slept nine hours uninterrupted, woke up at a reasonable time, didn't remember any horrible nightmares (two nights ago, Terry Richardson tried to crush me under a piece of modern art that was supposed to resemble a ham sandwich), and actually ate something. Well, drank something: it was pureed, but it was calories all the same.

Then I got some laundry done. Then I cleaned up around the joint a bit, stretched my jaw, massaged same, put a heat pack on same, and dealt with some email.

Then I took a nap. When I woke up, I realized that the dude I have to deal with next week at the credit union is someone with whom I had decidedly unfriendly relations with in high school; maybe the years will have mellowed us both.

Max was grouchy, so I played outside with him a bit. Playing with Max is a lot like....well, it's hard to describe. First you have to greet him and exchange hugs, which involves him lowering his head and putting the top of it flat against your legs and *pushing*. Then you can play Herd The Human for a little bit, but then it's time to say hi to the other dogs in the neighborhood. And then comes Belleh Rubbins, and then more Herd The Human.

Answered more email. Chatted with Friend Lara a bit and decided that if ever the asteroid hits, she will be on my team. Answered email from work and from Dr. Crane's office (still nothing on the radiation front).

And then I Made Myself A Sandwich. Yes, friends and neighbors, I am practicing chewing again.

It It'll be some time before I'm able to eat in public again, let's just say. My mouth doesn't open very wide the first few times I open it, even if I've been stretching, so everything sort of has to get squooshed at first. Later, the jaw muscles loosen up, and it's easier. But right at the beginning? No good at all. It's like watching a very small child feed themselves.

And in between all these activities, and sometimes during, I found myself bursting into huge, wrenching, uncontrollable sobs. As Beloved Sis puts it, all the drama has passed and the cleanup is here, and after this comes the trudging along, and I'm having to do all the cleanup and trudging on my own.

Feeling this shitty, even for only two days, is both surprising and frustrating. Today was better than yesterday, yes, even if it was only marginally better. I'll take whatever I can get in terms of betterness, honestly, but it would be nice to bounce back a little faster. (There goes that impatience with healing, all the way 'round.)

Tomorrow will be Errand-Running, Goodwill-Dropping-Off-At, Grocery-Buying day. Ed and Anne are coming over on Sunday for brunch as we wait for the results of Adam's half-marathon debut (Ed, if you're reading this, answer the message I sent you on Facebook, willya? Thanks). Saturday, I'll be getting my hairline neatened up by the same neighbor who cut it, and maybe some highlights added, per friend Rob. ("You need some highlights," he said. Well, okay then.)

And Monday I'll see if I can be more fully obturated yet. Cross your fingers and fork your tongues.

This is very much like being at the bottom of a well. Yesterday and earlier today, I couldn't see *anything* except the walls of the well. They weren't even reflecting light. Tonight, things seem somewhat lighter, but I know it'll take a few more days before I even feel like crawling up and out of the well. I knew this would happen--really, it's one of those things that you learn about in school and see in your patients--but I didn't realize how incredibly powerful the down-ness would be.

This last week will be something to keep hold of in the back of my head for my patients, later.


bobbie said...

I'll join you in your trudging, just so you are not alone ~~

BGWY ~~~~

messymimi said...

The depths can be very deep. I do remember. You have people in your corner.

The way you describe playing with your dog almost makes me want one -- I have resisted, because I have so many cats.

Ewa said...

A well or a tunnel, I know there is a light at the end.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, you will stand in solidarity with patients who have a hard row ahead of them. I went through two events of my own and it's amazing that even years later, I can run into somebody going through it and be supportive in a way they may really need.

Also? Crying is good. Grief has always felt to me like having something on me, and there comes a point where tears are the only thing that works to wash it away.

I love that you're able to play with your dog and get back into it. I'm amazed that you can do this much now; I think that's a testament to your self care.

So what kind of sammich was it?

shrimplate said...

It's turtles all the way down.

Silliyak said...

Rx=more sleep

Jenn said...

Sometimes you need to go out to eat and pretend to be "normal". Find someone that will not care how you smush your first bits of sandwich, and go to a restaurant, get seated towards the back so you face the walls, let them face you, be happy you aren't cooking and cleaning. But most importantly for this to work you must order dessert first!
Who cares if all you can stomach is a piece of pie/cake/cheesecake, life is too short to worry about how you look when eating.
This is what we did with my grandfather after his face was numb from all his radiation. He cried at the opportunity to go out to eat and not have a single person care that food was dribbling out his mouth. Do what little steps you can, and remember Anne Lennox wouldn't care what others thought of her, you have her hair, channel her spirit!

Anonymous said...

You're in shock. As a layperson, I'm hearing you describe acute stress. The shocks you have had, so many in a short time, have created an acute stress reaction or response from you, apart from the cancer. The diagnosis was shocking. The stress of the tests was shocking. Surgery was a shock. Pain from wounds is a shock. Tissue that stays numb is a shock. Finding out you can't have reconstruction is shocking. You're not just sad about not having reconstruction, you're disgusted with yourself. You're not just inconvenienced by the obturator, you're repulsed. DON'T ASSUME WHAT YOU FEEL IS PERMANENT. Poor sleep, nightmares, sobbing, hopelessness, anger, tension to the point you vomited, hyper-awareness. Shock.

Stop your despair over dating, honey. When you're ready to date, you will not feel like you do today. Your thinking is distorted, hon. You make it sound like you have to tell dates about some third eyeball you've grown in your mouth. You've asked several times now how to disclose this information, as if it were such repulsive news that it would be so terrible if he were to figure it out by himself, or as if you had to come up with the best joke to ease the horror. I can only imagine the grief over these changes, hon, but there's self-loathing in the way you talk about your body and the obturator; the build-up is so nasty; it's the most disgusting thing you've seen in all your life, etc. Yes, you will have to adapt, but it's not as bad as you think.

Your frustration with going outside the house is that aside from medical stuff, you don't feel like yourself, and so changing the scene doesn't make you feel better. You did what you would do usually to make yourself feel better, but you didn't feel better. You might feel elated to find out you won't have radiation, or you might still feel terrible. You might enjoy work, or you might be frustrated that you're not getting enjoyment from your job. Once the shock wears off, you will appreciate victories with your health, and you'll feel like yourself at work again.

If you are at this level of anguish and self-loathing in a month or two, that's a concern. Your ability to do good self-care even while traumatized shows how committed you are to getting better, so I absolutely expect you will feel better down the road. Given your anguish, these steps you're taking are MAGNIFICENT. Because of your trauma, you can't see how magnificent it is. Get help if you don't see improvement. Of course you will feel terrible after this experience from hell, but there's something wrong if your anguish doesn't go down.

Charlotte said...

The bottom of the well... I'm so so sorry! Would that I had a bucket to help pull you out (although with my aim, I'd end up conking you on the head). I'm glad that today is better than yesterday:)

memune said...

Double @Anon (comment #8). I believe people dx w/life threatening illness not only suffer from shock, but from a form of PTSD. What you are describing pretty much mirrors my own experience.

There's gonna be good days and bad days, and sometimes hanging on to the thought of the good days can make the bad ones a little less dark. I'm so glad you can at least see some glimmers of light, and you can always rely on us, your virtual rat pack, to show up with flashlights.

I also second the comments about going ahead with eating out. Honestly, other people are too much absorbed in their own stuff to pay much attention, and if they get offended at the way you eat, fuck 'em. With knobs on.

I'm pulling for you -


Just My 2¢ said...

Hey, kiddo!
You gotta let the crying come. It's all that grief, fear and anger surfacing and floating off like some big oil slick. Once it's all done and gone, you'll be as clear and tranquil as the ocean off Bermuda.

Gretchen said...

I hope it gets a lot better very soon.

Unknown said...

Dearest friend had two vertebrae replaced this past July. I have never in my life seen anyone in that amount of pain....didn't think it was possible someone could go through that and live. Obviously I'm sheltered.

She progressed amazingly well (much like your wonderful news the first couple of posts post-op). Then things evened out and instead of being so much better today than yesterday, things slowed down. Deep depression followed.

Her surgeon told her she needed to stop thinking of improvement in terms of day to day, but in increments of three weeks.

Easier said than done, but she's come to terms with it, and the depression---while not gone---does not control her anymore. She cries when she needs to. She does her PT in a way I get tired just imagining, and sometimes she just lays around and watches Korean Formula One racing.

Thinking of you every day and sending all the good thoughts I can your way,