Saturday, February 9, 2013
Yesterday was the last day of radiation, and the end of the most intense part of my treatment. I will continue for receive Herceptin infusions at the chemo place every three weeks until September, and still have a few, maybe several, reconstructive surgeries in my future.
But mostly, as of yesterday, I am done. I had trouble sleeping on Thursday night -- strangely, I was nervous to end radiation. You'd think I'd be jumping for joy, but actually I felt scared. For the last six weeks, months really, I've been watched, seeing doctors on an average of two times per week, getting blood drawn, lungs listened to, lymph nodes squeezed. I've taken off my shirt for so many attendings, residents, and interns that I could star in my own video series: Emilys Gone Wild.
And now, that's ended. What will I do with no one asking me to rank my pain on a scale of 1 - 10?
My radiation oncologist talked about this. "It can be hard after so much treatment," he said. "It feels like we're just sending you off. Some people have anxiety about it. You can always call or see me. You can come buy every day if it makes you feel better."
Aw. Then he told me I'm a tough mothafucka and I should consider myself cured, and we bumped fists. (Only partially true.)
It's not just the fears of recurrence kept at bay by so many doctor visits. I'm scared too because now that my body can begin to heal, and my mind can begin to think about things other than scheduling appointments and taking pills, I know that now I will begin the long task of processing this emotionally. Fun!
Our brains have this amazing mechanism that prevents us from really grasping a situation when we're in the thick of it. I know, from my experience with Matt's disease, that it will take years for all the anger, sadness, and fear to work themselves free from my heart. If they ever do.
It has been hard already, and for sure, I had those not getting out of bed days. But I was distracted enough with physical discomfort, and the sheer minutiae of cancer not to really have to look too hard at the way things have changed in the last six months.
Luckily, it will be gradual. Like I said, I'll still see my onc every three weeks for Herceptin. I started seeing a physical therapist twice a week, to regain movement and strength in my arm. And I'm just getting started when it comes to reconstruction. I will remain very much under medical care for the foreseeable future. Just less than I'm used to.
So with that in mind, I would rank my current distress at about a three.
But don't put too much stock in that assessment. It changes by the hour.