Posts Tagged ‘Surgery’

There’s another snow storm in the NE today. The world around me is enveloped in gray cloud which is helping to transport me back to the end of May 2009 when most of the month purported to be all about flowers was gray and rainy. My world then felt claustrophobic, and I was moody; and, although my foul moods were most likely due to the 2nd round of breast cancer related surgery, the dreaded lymph node dissection bearing down on me at the beginning of June, I blamed my journal. The diminutive brown suede notebook sold in Barnes & Noble as Hemingway’s preferred journal was a birthday gift from me to my husband that I nicked in order to jot serious, manly, medical notes at my first consultation with a surgeon. It seemed important at the time to conceal my mystical bent behind its sober cover, and it served me well. I crammed a lot of experience into the 5″ by 8″ by 2/3″ thick little book — it’s the source material of this 70K plus word blog that I’ve been writing for the past year and some months — and, yet, as I grew weary of waiting for brighter days, the tiny journal became my scapegoat:

May 29 ’09

80% of May has been wet and overcast. I am done with this book. The little pages feel so cramped to me. I’m also done with the reason for this book. Well, almost done. I’m grappling with my trust in Western medicine again. I got this book to keep track of appointments, procedures, opinions, & data from doctors and I don’t want to keep track of that stuff anymore, in fact, I want to take the breast cancer books back to the library and dump the satchel filled with brochures and pamphlets from the Women at Risk Breast Service Center into the trash, and I want to cease to think about any of this anymore. My heart is in my throat whenever I consider the upcoming surgery. If the lymph nodes have any microscopic cancer, then I have to have chemo – ARGH! If the lymph nodes are clean as I believe they are, then I will have had two layers of sewage pipes removed in order to prove the doctor’s pet theory right.

I suppose I have a choice to view this proposition as lose/lose as I have been this morning, or shift to a win/win view point. See, if the cancer is detected and it’s treated early, I live. If the dissection provides proof that cancer did not travel into the lymph nodes, then I live with peace of mind. Win/win.

The reason I’m perturbed about Western medicine again today is the fear-based tone. It seems like doctors are always looking for something wrong, or doubting that all is well. For instance, the PET/CT scan that was prescribed with the attitude of 95% certainty that I’m healthy, came back with the 5% risk of residual disease highlighted in the results. Or, at least, as communicated by the well meaning though inept Nurse Practitioner in a quick enigmatic email note that stressed the finding of “residual neoplasm” at the surgical site which had me 95% terrified until Dr. Feldman followed up to assure me that she was simply referring to scar tissue from the lumpectomy, and that indeed the scan proved all is well.

Okay. So, all is well. And there are only a few more pages left in this journal. I can write BIG to fill it up fast, and I can write all about the joy in the journey:

  • Essential oils, and the lavender and arnica massage oil gift from a friend
  • Creative visualization
  • Salt baths
  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Crystals
  • Prayer (my own and others)
  • Nutrition

and all the other healing experiences that come down the pike, oh yeah,

  • Tennis for the Cure
  • Talk therapy
  • Letters from my father

and recently I discovered

  • Messages from my daughter. I was thumbing through her school work and happened upon sporadic or random notes to me throughout her three ring binder. Scribbles like “I love you Mommy” in between notes on skirmishes in the Revolutionary War. What is more healing than that? And, yikes, what is more indicative that I’m on her mind? I need to be sensitive to this and stay positive, or, rather, honest, and be sure that I’m making space for her to express her feelings.

Oh, there’s so much to think about, so much to explore, so many angles to consider. I’m really grateful to you, little brown book, for holding space for my feelings. However, my next book is going to be twice as big and have wide open, blank, pages without any lines.

Homage to a trusty friend along the way.

In gratitude, L.

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