Birthdays and Setbacks

"Does anything look out of place?"

“Does anything look out of place?”

It is celebration week.  Maya is home for Reading Week and both Stella and Olivia turn a year older this weekend.  I am just trying to keep up as my recovery seems to have gone into reverse, partially due to self-sabotage.  I spent a good deal of last weekend in the ER at Kelowna General Hospital and haven’t been well since.  In addition to my physical discomfort, I am quite anxious about my first monitoring scans and frustrated by my follow up treatment.

I really want my recovery to progress in a rapid, predictable path forward.  I want to get better and get on with things.  In October I wrote that “my life was on hold until 2015”; now that 2015 is here and I am home I just want to put cancer, hospitals and fatigue behind me but it seems to be not that simple.

On Saturday, as I was leaving the house to get to the Metropolitan Opera’s cinema presentations of Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle, I slipped and had a comic worthy fall, landing flat on my back.  I swore about the bowl that I broke during my fall, rushed out the door and didn’t think about my health until I was seated at the theatre.  Three and a half hours of opera later I was feeling very sore and uncomfortable and began to worry about my back.  Three weeks ago my surgeon had cautioned me that little healing of the bones has happened since the surgery due to the radiation treatment, so I wondered if I might have damaged the sites where the hardware is implanted, or the hardware itself.  By the time I left the theatre I was in rough shape (which may have been my reaction to Bluebeard’s Castle.  I loved Iolanta.  Anna Netrebko, Piotr Bezcala and the rest of the cast were amazing but I was totally unprepared for how dark and disturbing the Bartok would be.  While Nadja Michael was superb, it is going to take me a long time to recover from the staging.  I think I need to see it again and reflect on it).

I went to emergency and joined a waiting room full of snowboarding accident victims (seriously, I didn’t know how good Big White was for our health care industry).  Olivia joined me and was there when I was seen by a resident and sent for x-rays (of course, it was Valentine’s Day.  Once again I know how to bring romance into our lives – nothing like a crowded ER and me in a hospital gown to say sexy).  After x-rays of my spine and chest the doctor came to say that she had looked at the images but really had no idea from them what was damaged and what was “normal”.  I looked them over, didn’t see anything that seemed different than the ones I saw in Vancouver three weeks ago and went home.

Olivia left for a Symphony performance and Stella and I had a lovely Valentine’s dinner together.  I was tired and sore but overnight I felt much better and Sunday’s Bikram yoga class was the best I have had since I got back.  I was focused and pushed past the ongoing nerve issues.  The nerve pain seems to be getting worse, not better, or else I am medicating less.  I should get back to tracking this more rigorously. I was recording every detail in the summer and fall, but stopped tracking when I got home in January.  Why?  Did I think I was cured and could be less diligent?  I pushed past the extra aches and pains from the fall and felt really good, however by Sunday evening I was incredibly sore and the pain continued to increase through Monday and Tuesday.  I also wonder if I may have picked up some kind of flu (perhaps broken wrists and twisted ankles and knees weren’t the only issues in the ER).

On Tuesday I had to miss the second half of my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class, which I am really enjoying.  I was too tired and in too much pain.  I have tried to follow through on the home-based practice and really want to embrace this.  I also need to make a decision about other meditation classes and practices that I am discovering, but I think I need to find a focus and stick with it.

I can’t get stressed about pursuing stress reduction and meditation practices, as I really need to reduce my stress.  I am extremely frustrated by my follow up care and monitoring through the BC Cancer Agency, which may be a result of lack of understanding on my part as much as anything else.  I had a CT scan yesterday as a scheduled part my monitoring regime.  When I asked about results I was told I won’t get them until April.  This seemed odd so I went to the cancer agency who confirmed that not only will I not get any results until my appointment with my radiation oncologist, but that the MRI that is also needed for this appointment was not ordered in January and now the wait list is months long.  It seems that I need to be much more involved in pushing and pursuing my monitoring, which is fine; I just need to be aware of it.

I am far more worried about yesterday’s scan than I thought I would be, and was totally deflated when I found out how long I might have to wait for an MRI.  I need to get back in control of my care and back into a healthier mindset.  I am going to finish making Stella’s birthday cake and enjoy this weekend with my girls.

Stella, Anna, Olivia and Maya watching the Rockets win

Stella, Anna, Olivia and Maya watching the Rockets win

We went to a Kelowna Rockets’ game on Wednesday and the home team obligingly scored 11 goals to commemorate Stella’s big day.  I want to enjoy today, enjoy this weekend and try to stay present.  I am sure I am cancer free and don’t want to let a lack of confirmation of that mess with my head (I’ll let Bluebeard’s Castle do that!).

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4 thoughts on “Birthdays and Setbacks

  1. HI, Not getting results in a timely manner is very frustrating. I do not know how your medical system operates but could someone be your advocate and go with you for appointments? I always think two is better than one person at appointments.

    I hope you are getting some relief from the pain. You are very brave and strong.

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  2. Hi, Paul,

    Grrr! It certainly can be very aggravating when we get interrupted in our journey towards healing. You have gone through a lot, have done amazingly well & now, need patience. Ha ha ha! I should be telling you that! I can be pretty impatient, too! How about we both work on being more patient?

    You said that you know you are cancer-free. That is a big bonus because I believe our headspace is connected to our body-space. Trusting our bodies to let us know what to do & having the wisdom to listen to our bodies is something us North Americans find a bit foreign. Trust yourself, Paul. You know what needs to happen…okay, some guidance from our medical experts, help, too.

    I hope you can get a handle on the pain, Paul. Pain can be tiring on the body & the mind. I’m sending you some positive, healing energy. Now, back to caring for our sick doggie, who contracted some germs while he was at the kennel while we were away in Seattle. It’s hard as Chip has never been sick for the ~11.5 years we’ve had him since we got him as a pup! How does one explain that he needs to stay calm & rest when he’d rather run & play? Jane

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