Getting Better

by NotDownOrOut

It has been another month since my hysterectomy. I continue to suffer many of the ill-effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

My knees have improved somewhat. I have been taking my Chemo Klenz and Rad-Tox homeopathic remedies. I also take a giant Osteo Bi-flex tablet once a day. I sleep in my bed because I can slide out of it down to the floor rather than struggling to rise from it (as I would have to if I slept on my couch). It used to take a count of sixty to climb a stair. Now I can make it up all the stairs to my home in about that time several days of the week. As the weather warms up I may do even better. The cold is not kind to my joints now. Spring may help.

I have body aches I never had before. My left rotator cuff sometimes hurts from sleeping in my bed rather than on my couch. My nose still bleeds some every day.  I still have a radiation burn on one thigh that has not quite healed. There are red marks where others have healed but not faded from sight or memory. But all of these discomforts have become “normal” after all of these months.

I keep a journal on the sink in my bathroom and mark down every visit there. I make a check mark. I add little scratch marks to show the level of pain I endure during those visits. There is one scratch mark for discomfort, a second for pain, and a third for real suffering. I can see that, even though I am in the bathroom at least twenty-four times a day, there are an increasing number of check marks without scratch marks. The pain, when I mark three scratches to record it, is still terrible. But I no longer cry over it. I still suffer from extreme urgency problems. I have become accustomed to wetting my pants because I seem incapable of stopping once I start. I now keep clean underwear in the bathroom for convenience. The truth is that I am learning to live with the changes in my body and even terrible pain.

That has taken a toll on my peronality. I am tired. I attempt to sleep for about eight or nine hours a day–even though I wake every hour.  I have more road rage. I have often rolled down my car window to yell, “GO INTO THE LIGHT!” I no longer laugh at myself when I do it. I gripe more. I give myself time at the end of most days to just sit, sometimes in the dark, and reflect on all that has happened to me. So much has happened that I already am losing my recollection of some of it while other events feel like wounds unable to heal.

I heard a song on the radio by Martina McBride “That’s What My Love Is For.” In it, a woman faces breast cancer with the support of her husband. She wishes the cancer had not taken from her things that have left her feeling like she is less than a woman. I have not had breast cancer or a mastectomy. But I remember being a teen when Lil, a dear family friend went through that surgery. Her husband Sten took my grandmother into their bedroom saying, “Look at what those doctors did to my Lil.” His voice nearly broke, not because they took what made her a woman, but because she was hurting and he could not bear to see her in pain.

My loss is not the same at all. And I am fifty-five, not thirty-eight like the woman in the song. But there are times when I feel less feminine now that I have lost my hair and grown a whole new patch of dark hair near my chin. Sometimes I feel a little sorry for myself. But that is getting better, too.

The thing about being fifty-five is that I don’t need my “reader” glasses to see that my eyelashes, eyebrows and hair are returning. I do need my 10X magnification mirror to see the new hairs on my chinny chin chin. I don’t need my little journal to know that my bladder is healing a little, but keeping it is a reminder that I still suffer quite often. When I sit in the dark contemplating my life these past few months, it seldom produces positive feelings. Soon I will ponder with the lights on and the shadows chased away. I listened to Martina sing, but I resisted going out to buy her album to spare myself the wallowing in sadness that comes from repeating the song.

I am not ready to stop paying attention to all these little signs of progress or suffering, but it must be a sign that I am getting better that I am considering dispensing with some of them.

The truth is that I am getting better.  I will pray that I continue to get better. I will eventually stop marking the negative events and focus only on the positive ones. That will be me getting back to “normal.”