Thursday, January 02, 2014

cancer stuff

DD loaned me The Fault in Our Stars some time ago, and I read it on the plane home yesterday.  (Lucky for me, my laptop battery only lasts a couple of hours, otherwise I would've had no excuse and done more work.)

TFiOS is a young adult novel about a 16 year old girl with thyroid cancer that has metastasized nastily to her lungs, and what happens to her over the course of her relationship with another teenager who has osteosarcoma.   John Green, the author, gets a lot right about all the cancer stuff, especially how it is to live with pain on a daily basis.  He is also exceptionally good at puncturing the ideal of the heroic cancer patient, which I appreciate because that trope needs to die. 

One thing that Green didn't get into, probably because Hazel is so young and only 3 years into her (albeit dire) diagnosis, is how we tend to forget all the details that seem so vivid, that we swear we'll remember forever.  How could we forget?  I don't know whether it's post-radiation trauma or just good old-fashioned repression, but our ability to forget is a good thing.  I don't need to relive all that stuff on a daily basis. 

I do, however, need to be able to recall details from time to time so that I can accurately complete forms and talk to ultrasound technicians, like I did today. Since I have one of the world's least-flexible work schedules, I've been cramming all my testing into winter break. Having spent the last five days in Massachusetts means I only have a couple of days left to tie everything up.

I had my Thyrogen testing done Christmas week, with injections on the 23rd and 24th, and then bloodwork on the 27th.  I won't get those results back until I see my endo on January 30th, unless I suppose it comes back more quickly with bad news. As usual, I have no idea what to expect, but I want to record a weird side effect I had after my second Thyrogen shot:  suddenly I felt exactly the same way I did, post-neck dissection, back in 2005.  The nerves in my neck/scalp/jawline responded exactly the same way they did to that surgery: numbness, tingling, headache.   My neck felt tight around my scar, too.  And yes, it did freak me out, because I don't remember having that reaction before.  The only reaction I remember is having a really sore arm one time.  I even looked back through the blog to see if I had written about any other reactions, but there was nothing... and there was nothing in a wider web search, either.  I took ibuprofen around the clock for a few days and it subsided, but it did make Christmas Eve a lot more emotional for me.  (Usually I can sing a few Christmas carols without bursting into tears.)

Of course I want to ask, what does it mean?  I'll find out if it meant something in another 4 weeks.  Today the ultrasound technician took a million pictures.  I couldn't see anything (it's the rare scheduling oddity that puts me in a room used more for prenatal ultrasounds so they have a monitor for patient viewing), so of course I have no idea what, exactly, was being measured and recorded.  I had the tech visualize that persistent node that is, yes, still persisting, but then after that, he spent time measuring and photographing something in my left neck, which is just weird. 

I'm going to stop thinking about this now, so I can forget about it until I need it again.  And next year if I have the same weird reaction, I'll have this year's information to go on.   People who live with cancer have to do this kind of compartmentalizing all the time, otherwise the disease takes over our lives.  I have way too much to do to allow that to happen.

1 comment:

nina said...

I've noticed that stuff feels different and more persistent with age. That new things get added to the palate of known issues. That concerns multiply, known problems seem never to entirely go away. All that. My 90-year old mom says that there is never a totally good day for her anymore. Now, I'm 30 years younger and you're another decade younger, but still, she has a point. So maybe it's just a change with age, rather than because of your cancer.

Anyway, on the upside, your tests are done for now and your weather is a hell of a lot better than what's in the northeast or in the midwest!