I had my 9-month check-up on Friday, January 10th. I started out my day with physical therapy at 9:40. My therapist worked through my muscles to stretch my neck, lower back, and my hip. Then we did some dry needling where he inserts needles along my spine to stimulate a healing response. I had about 6 on both sides of my neck and 3 on each side of my lower back. The lower back ones get hooked up to electric stimulation that makes the muscles jump. Since I push myself too hard sometimes, I asked for the stim machine to be on a little higher, and uhh, well, I managed the rest of the day with the help of regularly-dosed, halves of painkillers. I am still learning to gage the needling, since I’d only done it once before, and felt the best ever after that! I thought this would go the same way. Meh. Whatever. Next week will be better. 🙂
I had time to run home for early lunch before making my way to the hospital for the day’s appointments. I drank a lot of water that morning in preparation for my blood draw, which always comes first. It worked, and the medical assistant got me with one quick poke. Yayyyy!
I saw my oncologist an hour later. Blood levels are even more normal than last month! I would run in a circle and jump up and down to celebrate if I were allowed to! We got to review my CT scan results more in-depth. I asked about the cyst on my ovary, and he said that they’re normal and it means something was happening. I am excited that one of them still works! It’s the left one that didn’t get radiated last May.
He checked on my foot pain, and I thought he meant my toe pain. I let him know the foot pain is suspected to be related to my back and that I had to buy different work shoes. My toe I went to the doctor for about two weeks ago and its discharge tested positive for staph. Ewwwww. I went on 10 days of mega antibiotics, and it’s better now, much less painful! The oncologist also asked about my skin rash. I had asked the other doctor about it when I went in for my toe, and since the steroid cream I was using caused a burning reaction in addition to the burning that was always present, she guessed that it’s eczema. I did some research and switched my lotion to one that is based on sunflower oil and jojoba oil. It’s a baby line from France called Mustela, and that has calmed things down a lot! So far, I have not been made fun of for using baby products. Go ahead. I’m ready for it. I also picked up a foaming baby shampoo from the same brand, and no more itchy scalp! 😀
Since I get my care from a teaching hospital, I have opportunities to participate in studies. One of them requires me to take an online survey every 12 weeks and the other was every other month or so for 8 months. Both surveys ask questions that are very similar and measure your mental health in regard to having a cancer diagnosis. One of them is something along the lines of “Is your cancer curable?” I had responded with “No.” Husband had seen the screen with that question up when he joined me at the table that morning. It prompted a discussion about whether or not lung cancer is curable. We were both unsure, but I was almost positive that mine is not. My oncology nurse had once described it as a long-term, health condition.
I told my oncologist about this exchange Husband and I had had that morning, and straight-up asked him if my cancer is curable. He said that because I presented so late, (Stage IV when they accepted me into their cancer care program last year) no, my cancer is not curable. Exactly the answer I had expected. He said I will always be on some kind of treatment, whether it’s my daily chemo treatment pill that I take right now or regular chemo for a while, then we switch back to the pill. It will always be some kind of treatment, for however long that may be. My oncologist then changed the subject and asked me about the book I had brought with me. I’m reading Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography Scar Tissue. We talked 90’s alternative music for a few minutes before he left to see his next patient. That must be a hard part of being an oncology doctor, giving people answers about prognosis.
My bone shot came next. The nurse was ready for me. I barely had time to snuggle with the warm blanket they brought me and crack open my book before she came in a injected me. It timed out great because I was due to see my Palliative Care nurse next.
Palliative Care turned into a party! My nurse had a fellowship student with her that day, and the palliative care research coordinator had texted me to see if we could meet up. I told her to come crash the appointment! So she did. We had so much fun and laughed and joked about all kinds of stuff. I shared pictures of the family from our vacation last week. They like seeing me there. I am their sunshine, as they are mine! The nurse told me they had a rough day and knew it would get better because I was coming in that day. 🙂 Those palliative care peeps are awesome. She followed up on a few dangling items, like how’s it going on the Cymbalta? So good! Did you and your husband talk about guardianship for your son and putting it in our wills? Yes, and it happened organically! Have you gone back to the support group at the other hospital for caregivers and patients? No, we have it really good right now, and don’t feel like we need it. I feel very supported!
Then I was all done for the day and ready to make my hour commute back home. Woof!
The conversation with my oncologist didn’t hit me until Saturday morning. I had slept a long time that night and woke up around 7:15. Like I said, he didn’t tell me anything that surprised me. Hearing it directly that my cancer isn’t curable deepened my appreciation for every morning that I get to wake up and snuggle with Husband, any time I get to spend with anyone I love. I couldn’t keep back the tears that morning. Also, painkillers all day Friday = tears come more easily. We talked for a while before getting up about how much and how hard we have laughed together over the years, even when we were just friends. He commented that he loves our Saturday mornings. I agreed and said that I want them all. (blubber, sniff, blubber) He told me that I was going to get them!:D Some movers were coming to take Mom’s piano to her house, so we had to get up and face the music.
Thanks for reading. Just so you know, I love you all too! Next check up is Feb 7th. Scans are in March.