Saturday, November 18, 2023
Things are returning to normal around here...
So... it's taken about 5 weeks after my 4th chemo infusion to approach the level of energy and stamina I had reached by Day 10 of my first 3 chemo cycles. I just can't believe how knocked down I felt this time around. While I've developed a cough that keeps hanging around, x-rays last week show my lungs are clear, so I'm trusting it eventually goes away. While normal will, no doubt, be something different than before surgery and chemo, I am getting back to some semblance of it. I've become motivated to grocery shop and cook again, and it helps greatly that my tastebuds have started to work again. Not perfectly, yet, but food has ceased being one of the biggest disappointments of my days.
While I didn't feel good enough for most of the first half of autumn to truly enjoy it, I do know it's been a beauty this year. Our trees have, a few at a time, all turned gorgeous colors in recent weeks, and the hanger-on-ers will likely drop most of their leaves by Thanksgiving.
I'm still at a spot where there is so much more I could write about what's going on with my health, but after this post, I think I will have reached a point in this journey where I won't necessarily want to put it out there for public consumption. I know... considering what I have put out there, it may seem a little late for that. I don't like to present a picture online that may look rosier than it is, but if I'm at least this honest in this post with those of you who've followed along in recent months, I think I'll feel like I'm being "real enough" right now. Not that there are rules about this sort of thing. My blog, my rules. These posts have truly been mostly for my benefit, and as some kind of record after time passes and I will have forgotten much of it.
I will have follow-ups with my oncology doctors for several years to come, and it appears my GP is following along via a patient portal with great interest. I heard from her earlier this week, in fact, when as of last week I had my first DEXA scan.
I'm not sure if these are routinely ordered for cancer patients (under age 65), but because my doctor wants me to go on endocrine therapy via an Aromatase Inhibitor, and AI's are known to affect bone mass, a bone density test was ordered to find out what my baseline is. I'm not at all comfortable with the news that I'm running at a deficit in that department, and I now need to add dealing with osteoporosis to my bag of tricks. After spending a few days worrying that every little discomfort in my back is my spine ready to crack in two (or a hundred) pieces, I've decided one cannot live like that. While I'm learning how to hopefully preserve what bone mass I have, and hope beyond hope I may actually be able to improve things, I've decided I kind of have to live and move like I'd never read the O-word on my report. That is a challenge. Of course, I can't live like it doesn't exist, but I can't live in fear of it, I've finally concluded. More easily said than done, but... well... at least I've said it.
I'm holding off until after Thanksgiving to start popping that powerful little daily AI pill. I may or may not report side effects of that therapy. Honestly, the reason I may not share a lot more about all of this is I don't want to attract unsolicited advice from anyone who doesn't have the complete picture for a subject that is complicated and in some cases (I have learned) is controversial. Living in the age of the internet and YouTube influencers is both a blessing and a burden. Too many people think they are an expert on something that very few people truly are - even the experts, I fear.
I wrote about this weeks ago, but I am now entering the stage of treatment that many women who've dealt with breast cancer have to traverse mostly alone (under the care of their doctors). I will be living my life more normally, and engaging more publicly in my social circles than I have for the last five months, but there will be a quiet, private work happening outside of the purview of most people I engage with. It is the stage that I started dreading a month ago, and it is here. This is new territory for me. While the introvert in me has always appreciated keeping a "private life", I've not had any big secrets either - certainly, not where it comes to my health. I'm pretty much "what you see is what you get". Or so I thought. Frankly, I haven't felt like there's been much to see until recently, thank goodness.
Ah well... we all march on with growing older, don't we. As matter-of-fact as that is, this is not a reality I seriously ever imagined maneuvering. Which is silly when I think about it. I mean, we all hope to grow old, and while some of us do a better job preparing our bodies to face things that are common as we grow older, who of us actually prepares our minds, and is psychologically prepared for the myriad things we may have to maneuver as we go through our senior years? As someone who has often thought I operate with a decent amount of mental clarity, I don't feel particularly mentally prepared for this - except for my superpower of compartmentalizing when it suits me.
I have a feeling now that skill is only going to get me so far.
I really hope this place I'm in in my mind is a phase. Hopefully, in a few months I'll have made changes that need to happen, a new normal will emerge, and maybe I won't be so consumed by these kinds of thoughts. I'll get on with life. Will continue healing from my surgery earlier this year, and will just get on with doing the things I need to do. I guess I've already started doing that.
And hopefully, there will be plenty of fun (maybe even interesting) stuff to share here.
Having felt a bit of a loss recently when it comes to blogging, I've been thinking about what to do to spark some mojo in that department. Maybe I'll try posting daily in December. Maybe I'll challenge myself in a way I'm willing to share here. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying catching up with my bloggy friends, and seeing what motivates and sparks creativity in you all. If you got this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. And thank you all for the encouragement you've sent my way. I am grateful.
Just for fun, here's a photo of me and my two older sisters (taken in our living room) that was recently circulated on a family Facebook page that Greg has been posting lots of photos to:
While it isn't a particularly good picture, it sure shows well the time frame (probably 1964) and evokes a lot of nostalgia for me. I'm sure at the time I loved wearing the same dress as my big sisters. That seemed to be a thing back then.