Friday, August 30, 2013

Cancer test

Part of my one year treatment plan is this thyrogloblin stimulating injection. It's two injections, one each day for two days, and then a blood draw within 5 days. From this link, apparently this test will tell me if I have cancer.

Handy. And a little scary.

1-year Endo appointment

Well, I met the 'new' endocrinologist. Turns out she's on a contract and may not renew, so that sucks, because she's pretty darn cool.

So here's the scoop, friends. My lymph nodes are swollen and she thinks I need an ultrasound to look at my neck again.

For some reason, I thought I'd have to go in and fight and convince, and when she touched my neck she made a face and started 'thinking' (as in, making a face of deep thought lol) which surprised me. I figured that whoever I saw would chalk it up to "you're fighting something off and don't know what it is yet", and that I'd have to really plead for an ultrasound. Turns out she was concerned enough on her own to just think it's a good idea.

Which, you know, scares me even more. The right lymph node under my jaw has been swollen for a couple of weeks now and not painful to the touch necessarily, but feels 'pinchy' a lot like it did before I had my thyroid removed. The last three days there is a lymph node in the right side of my neck, behind my ear (I don't know how better to describe it) that is swollen and painful, to the point that sometimes it hurts when I turn my head. Today, feeling good, hopefully it stays that way.

So these things are concerning. She didn't feel any masses but they didn't feel the 1.1cm mass in my thyroid when it was in there, either, so that doesn't mean much. We're going to alter my medication and do bloodwork in 6 weeks, I'll have an ultrasound sometime in the next couple of weeks and hopefully by the end of hte month we'll know enough to either relax and be grateful, or develop a new plan.

So that's that.

How am I feeling? I think for a few hours I felt very reflective and a little sad, a little taken aback by the whole thing, honestly. I thought the pain my lymph nodes would prove to be 'all in my head' and I'd feel like a dork but have nothing to worry about. Here I am, not feeling like a dork and still hoping I have nothing to worry about but not quite convinced anymore that that is true.

If you're reading this, you'll know what's up. I'm not posting it, I'm not really telling anyone other than my few peeps, and I'm pretty much just trying to let this slide into the back of my mind as much as possible. It doesn't mean you can't talk to me about it, it just means I'm not posting this on FB or anything until there are definitive things to say. Right now it's just feelings and speculation.

Onward we go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Turning to trees

When I go to births, I pray that I will be a tree. On the drive to the birth when my adrenaline runs high (what if I don't make it? What if something dreadful happens? What if it's a loooong birth? Did I forget anything? So excited!!!) I pray to be a tree to help ground myself. I pray that my roots will deeply tap into the earth, to the Source of All that Is and that I will have the energy I need to tend this family. I pray that my trunk will be strong but flex in the winds that will come our way, changing things, but allow me to hold them up as they make decisions they may not have anticipated having to make. I pray that my branches will reach out far and wide, so that my vision is broad and that I can see all possibilities.

This brings me comfort and helps me connect with the work I do, to stay compassionately detached from the family so that they can have their journey and not a recreation of mine in some backward 'healing' of my own wounds.

When I was having the biopsies last year, I closed my eyes, not allowed to swallow or talk as needles were pushed into my neck, I prayed to feel the bark enclose all around me, protecting me from fear and from anxiety, from the stress of holding very still while something that hurt happened to me.

I went to the Redwoods (the Holy Church of Trees) after my cancer treatment and I slept among the Old Ones. Great anxiety arose in me, I developed my first ever panic attack- my body moving giant energy up and out all at once. It felt like an emotional vomit. It set me off course a bit, made me feel vulnerable, but revealed, and open too. I created an altar on one of the trees in our campsite that had been cut down in just such a way as to create the perfect place for me to hold that space. I walked among the big trees and laid flowers at their bases, in gratitude.

I don't know why the trees talk to me, but they do. I don't mean with mouths and voices, but my heart stills and wisdom comes through when I walk in the trees. The Redwood forest is a home for me, but one so intense that I can't stay for too long, or go too far without returning. I feel the call right now, so intensely that when we went down to Oregon it was even physical, the urge to continue driving south to touch the trees, my family. Steadfast, wise, and breathing, only ever needing to be what they are and nothing more, supplying food and air and homes to beings of all kinds just by growing.

It's what we all do for each other, only we think we need to teach others the right way to be. All we ever have to do is be true to ourselves, and in so doing, we teach others - we create opportunities for other people to learn of themselves, and to teach us in return.

Right now, I go back to being a tree, of just being- breathing, being Kristina, speaking the truth as I know it, and being in that space of Nothing Else But This. I'm heading in to my endocrinology appointment and I'm not nervous per se, I feel pretty relaxed in general. That old feeling in my lymph nodes is back though, the one I had after my infection, and before I found out about having cancer. I don't think about cancer until this feeling pops up and then I think, "Am I creating this feeling?"

I worry more that it's all in my head than I worry that it's not. I do not want to manifest that kind of stress in myself, and I am open to all possibilities, so while I'd rather not have cancer again thankyouverymuch, I know it's not the end of the world if I do. I know it's okay. I know I have support.

So I don't know that I'm as 'anxious' about it, anxious enough to create these symptoms that do cause me concern- and I go back and forth wondreing if I should be concerned or just let it go and get the information I need? What if I worry people for nothing, what if I tie people up for no reason in my story and waste their time? Best I keep silent until I know more.

Even when I found out I had cancer, it was hard for me to tell people. I felt like I was bothering them, dropping bad news like this. There's no simple way to do it, and there are no 'rules' that tell you when to drop news, or when to keep it to yourself. I figured people would rather find out from me than someone else.

So now as I approach this appointment, I cling to the trees- but instead of becoming a tree, I am wrapped around it in a giant surrender - to let myself be held up this time, so that whatever is coming, I can put the tree to my back and face it. So either I'm crazy, or something's wrong, and I guess either scenario, I'll work it out.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cancer days

Life putzes on, new joys, new stresses, adjusting to old joys and stresses- the days happen around you no matter what is going on in your life. Which is great- it's the dynamic force of change that keeps us from becoming moldy before it's time.

The cancer dance, just when you think it's over... not quite. It's not always that cancer has come back physically, but sometimes it comes back energetically. Sometimes you're thrown right back into that wacky fear that makes you a little neurotic and needy. I'm kind of there right now.

I can hear about cancer any time and while a teeny portion of me goes back to my own experience, I don't get terribly triggered by the day-to-day mention of it. Like anyone, sometimes I get a little emotional but really I feel the experience is fairly integrated.

Recently I discovered that a friend of mine has had cancer return. It made me so angry to hear it, and then it absolutely terrified me. I learned this just a few days ago and in a way I am adjusting, and still reeling- we are capable of feeling so many things at once, it's marvelous sometimes. I spent the evening in the bath tub with a drink, pondering how safe I have felt on the 'other side' of cancer. In my head, I know that it can come back. In my daily life however, I'm on the other side, never to return. This was a sharp detour sign not meant for me, but that reminded me that there could be curves ahead and not to get too comfortable at the wheel.

I was surprised and immediately buckled when I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a familiar sensation - the lymph node under my right jaw was swollen and felt like it was infected. It's not the same feeling as when you are sick and your lymph nodes get swollen. Energetically it feels like.. illness. I don't know how to describe it. It's a sharper, yellow sensation that is very distinct (I know, you're asking, yellow? Just go with it.) I could feel the node on my left side flaring a bit too and I immediately thought, Oh shit. It's back.

After I'd found out I had a lump in my thyroid and before my biopsies, I had a lymph node under my jaw become infected. Full on high fever, antibiotics, the whole shebang. I didn't even know lymph nodes could get infected, but this was very obviously the case. Dr. Googe said, "If there is cancer nearby..." so it gave me a chance to consider that maybe I had cancer and my body was giving me the heads-up, so to speak, before I got the diagnosis. It was helpful to get to try it on but it scared the living shit out of me too, because there was so much still I didn't know. Don't know why I had an infection, but I did have cancer, so in my mind, the two are irrevocably connected.

Saturday morning, waking up with this sensation, it shook me. It has still left me shaken, I don't know where to catalog things that were around cancer- Before Cancer, and After Cancer, and Signs of Cancer. I'm sure there are other buckets to plop things into, those are just the ones I'm working with right now. On the heels of the giant detour sign I drove past in my friend's experience, I wasn't exactly on watch but this particular 'sign' was too large to ignore. It cut past my defenses, my cognitive dissonance.

I had to do henna all day at a festival and my lymph nodes were hurting off and on all day. Late in the afternoon, a delicate soul walked into my booth, with her new hair painted pink on her head and eyebrows. Bright pink. Her spirit was so very fragile, she was recently on the other side of a second bout with cancer, her second bout with chemotherapy, and her hair was just starting to come back. She wasn't strong yet, but she would be, she will be.. she's still very delicate. Her friend accompanying her sat her with me and left while we worked out what she wanted done. She wanted flowers on her face. She said she'd freaked out her husband by dying her new hair pink and she really wanted to get him by having henna on her face. We chatted briefly and she shared bullet points of her story. She sat with me for maybe five minutes, but we got to talk a little about a cancer retreat where she could go with her husband and be tended and fed for a while.

Her friend returned to pay me and asked me what I required, I said, "It's on me, my pleasure." It was such a small amount of work and my heart was cracked open so deliciously just meeting her- I truly had already been amply compensated. He took money out of his wallet and paused, and said, "Wait a second.." He pulled a larger bill out and put it in my tip jar and looked me right in the eye very intentionally and said, "That's for you. Thank you." And they walked away.

Even writing that little story, it makes me cry. I don't know why. I was gifted so beautifully just by her being her, and me being me, that the money on top felt so generous and made me feel seen and appreciated. Still, what I am stuck with is that two people who walked a similar journey, granted, hers far more challenging than mine, we touched each other for that moment.

I kept hearing the word cancer all day for some reason, and it was triggering me deeply. It felt like a billboard from the Universe. I went to bed that night and had weird dreams. I developed a little fever, which broke in the morning. I felt better. A little shaken still, vulnerable, but more steady.

Sunday a dear friend of mine was visiting from out of town and we were walking in the park when I ran into my Sistah, Leah. Leah had leukemia and found out right after I did that she had cancer, so we've been pillars of laughs and frank honesty for each other over the last year. Whenever we run into each other (and we do, OFTEN), one of us cries. This time it was my turn, and honestly, it scared me again to have this new reminder of CANCER! screaming me in the face. Our bond is because of cancer. We went to high school together and have common friends, but cancer was what really brought us closer, into a no-maintenance-high-appreciation friendship. Seeing her fills my heart and breaks it at the same time, I'm sure that it goes both ways.

Leah and I parted and Erin and I continued to walk through the park and she looked at me and said, "Are you going to call your doctor?" I'd tossed it around a bit but it just seemed very bold-faced-in-your-face-font which was great, it allowed me to just address the question without all the feelings of not wanting to be a pain in the ass.

I have an appointment coming up, my lymph node isn't bothering me as much but it is still bothering me, so I'm going to just get a little peace of mind and ask for my ultrasound six months early. It's a new doc so we'll see what she says. I hate to think I'm setting the stage that I'm high maintenance right out of the gate, and at the same time, I'm paying for this, and I had cancer, and it's okay if I'm high maintenance, damnit.

Hopefully there is no follow up needed. :)