Until the next time. :)
That's me on the left with the visor and marathon medal hanging around my neck.
Marathon as in full marathon. 26.2. Yes, I've become that cancer survivor. But then I'm hard pressed to think of a better way to celebrate [now more than] five years being NCED (no current evidence of disease, the closest my onc will get to giving me a clean bill of health).
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 9:54 PM
I'm overdue in letting you guys know that I'm not just here but good. Clean scopes, clean scans, and the first 5-year anniversary (of diagnosis in Nov. 2007) under my belt.
Just wanted to stop in and let you guys know that while cancer isn't the furthest thing from my mind these days, it's pretty damn close. :)
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 2:04 PM
I am doing well. Really, surprisingly well. I don't think about The Troubles or The Troubles II (aka the whole waste of time known as the exercise in
futility fertility) much at all, and when I do, I only break down in tears about 10% of the time.
The latest and greatest in Brigita's Busted Body is that I'm seeing a physical therapist to address relatively recent knee pain that may be a result of radiation damage to my pelvis--the knee joint's connected to the hip joint and all that. I'm hoping to get that all tuned up in order to train for a 10K that's taking place in October, as I really, truely aspire to becoming a I-Beat-Cancer-So-Now-I-Run cliché.
In the meantime, I'm taking a rowing class with a local club and am loving the prospect of joining--and racing with--their novice group once I complete the intro class.
There's other physical stuff that's still a work in progress, but I'm learning more about my triggers and becoming more proficient in working around and through other obstacles.
I think I'm finally in a place where I can exist without the cancer cloud following me around everywhere. It no longer colors every action, thought, or breath that I take. It'll be two years ago this August that I finished chemo. It's hard to believe that it's been that long since my recovery is still ongoing, but with this much perspective, I can finally appreciate just how far I've come.
So, yeah. I wanted you guys to know all of that. Because so many of you have been a huge part of my support, survival, and rebuilding team, I didn't think it was fair to leave that huge "Ohhh, I'm BARREN" meatball hanging out there without any sort of follow-up. I mean yeah, I'm still barren and still pretty heartbroken over it, but shit, I'm HERE to be heartbroken, and I should not take that too much for granted.
Okay, fuck, now I just made myself cry. But I'm smiling too. Yeah, I'm complex like that. ;)
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 2:59 PM
More than six months later, here's the deal: I am officially barren.
After several months of talks, tests, and the requisite ramp-up hormones, my ovaries refused to play ball. My fertility doctor was even baffled by the fact that I am (was?) still having my monthlies.
While this isn't exactly news, I am still incredibly disappointed, and possibly even depressed. I desperately wanted to be the exception to the rule. I had consciously put a lot of my get-over-it-and-move-on eggs into a procreative basket. I genuinely thought that it was going to work, as shown by the vast number of people with whom I had shared the news.
Most of all, I thought that getting pregnant would give me the final word in my two and a half year screaming match with cancer. I thought it would fast track my battle for physical autonomy. I thought the birth of a child would be a rebirth for myself.
Clearly, I did way too much thinking and too much hoping and now I'm stuck back in my head, which is still attached to this achy, broken, uncooperative body. God, this blows.
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 3:07 PM
Channeling my two-year-old here for a second, my life is "mine." And I will lead it as I see fit [dammit].
So this is the occasional check-in where I let you know how I am doing--really doing, really feeling--in all of this.
I feel pretty fucking great. For the most part, anyhow. Yesterday I got a wild hair1 and went for a run for the first time in I don't know how long. The last time I remember strapping on the running shoes2 my guts were coming out of my stomach, so it's been at least a year and change.
The motivation to get out and get moving came from the same place as when I was living in Norfolk, VA3 and was starting to feel beat down by the constant summer (and spring and fall) heat4.
It was something like 85° at 6pm for the third week in a row and I had just had it, so I strapped on my shoes and went out for a light run, just to show the weather that I was the one that made the decisions around here. Me.
So yesterday I went out for a two mile jog at an embarrassingly5 slow pace and came back all kinds of achy and chafed and today I feel like I'd been run down by a steam roller but it was a beautiful day and I was out--and occasionally sprinting6--in it.
Today I continued to vent my backed-up spleen7 by doing a bit of raking in the back yard but mostly tearing out all these bushy/viney weeds that I have mentally marked for demolition since last fall. Seeing the fruits of your grudge-fueled labor sitting curbside, waiting for removal is very, very satisfying8.
So that's pretty much the report from the home front these days. I am refusing to live in the past and am working on moving forward, with renewed emphasis on "moving." I am trying to be a better and more productive me.
But best of all, I continue to feel more and more like me with every passing week. The me that got ground down by the punishing reality and horrible possibilities of cancer. The me that got hollowed out both figuratively and literally by treatment. The me that seemed to get erased by The Troubles, never to return.
I'm back. And to finish what I started in the title of this post: "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
1WTF does that mean, anyhow?
2Damn I love those Sauconys.
3Home to the world's biggest naval base, don'tcha know.
4The transformer across the street blew at 3am on more than one occasion on account of it being overtaxed from the power demands of air conditioners.
5For the fuck of shit I can never spell that word correctly.
6"N.W.O." by Ministry gets me all fired up.
8That and the beer reward that followed.
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 2:27 PM
- Thanks to therapy, I have identified and am working through not one, not two, but at least THREE separate identity crises. I always have been something of a misdirected overachiever.
- I think I know what I want to be when I grown up, but I have to make a concerted effort to get off my ass to do something about it.
- It seems as though my various side-effects are easing somewhat, just in time for cooler temps. Keep hope alive.
- There is this delightful, grown-up, verbal, lovely, occasionally exhausting and often hilarious creature living in my house. I honestly have no idea where she came from.
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 3:33 PM
Remember the bullshit of my last CT scan? Where the radiologist tried to read my films with their head up their ass? Well, I wish I could say it didn't happen again this time, because it did, BUT I can say that my ever-stellar oncologist caught their mistake before it did any damage, with the upshot being that my 1 year [since the end of chemo] scan came back CLEAR! HOORAY!
One tip to all of my fellow scanxiety peeps: one Lorazepam is just the trick to keep the tailspin at bay.
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 6:02 PM
I feel like I am coming apart.
I seriously think I have been having a low-grade anxiety attack for the last six hours or so. I know I didn't double up on my thyroid meds in an attempt to get more pep (learned that lesson the first time) and am pretty sure I didn't over do it with the coffee this morning, so what's the cause?
I have a feeling it's short-term scanxiety coupled with longer-term Otherness, the
plain fact fear that I will never again be Normal.
Now, I know no one is normal. That, or normal is relative, subjective. Everyone's got their Something to make them feel Apart.
But my Something...fuck.
I feel like I was pulled out of my life, spun around for a year, and then dropped back into something that was a copy of a copy of my life; similar but lacking. Pieces missing. Pieces of me.
I miss knowing where I fit in the grand scheme of things. I miss not taking things seriously. I miss taking things for granted.
And while I want to get back to that place and people are sometimes hoping, sometimes pushing me to get back to that place, I don't know how to get there, or if it even exists any more.
I don't know how to be that person anymore. I feel like for every step I take towards Normal, I take two steps back and then get knocked back another half block by one speeding crisis or another, real or imagined.
I say too much and do too little and then spend the time between hitting the pillow and actually falling asleep alternating between mentally reviewing the highlight reel of the day's perceived faults and missteps and feeling sorry for myself.
Which I know I shouldn't: beautiful daughter, loving [and employed] husband, No [Current] Evidence of Disease, roof over head, etc.
I just don't know how to get on with my life when this life is so unfamiliar to me: unemployed for the first time since I was 12 yet no career to go back to, stay at home mom of a toddler that is becoming less familiar to me with each passing day, living far from friends and family [that know the old me] in a wonderful city that will turn its back on us in a matter of months, trapped in a body that looks old and feels older.
I am writing all of this here, not for pity, but to get it out of my system. The people close to me have got to be sick of hearing my shit (I know I sure am), I don't want to irrevocably fuck up the perceptions that people not so close to me have of me (apologies if you fall in the latter category and real this blog), I don't see my therapist for another week, and I'm pretty sure that the ER doesn't give out anti-anxiety meds.
Which brings me to the scanxiety. The year follow-up CT is a week from tomorrow. As you can tell, I'm already freaking the fuck out, which means I am going to be totally tailspun when they run me through the tube. I am fucking terrified. And I feel like the world wants me to keep it to myself.
I'm terrible at keeping secrets, so I have to lay it all out here. Get it out of my system. Start feeling better. Normal.
The kid's up from her nap. Better will have to wait.
Remarked Sugarmouth O'Riordan at 3:37 PM