Monday, August 06, 2012

Health Updates

I could alternatively call this "On not being done" because well, I'm not done.

Here's the thing, when I first heard about the cancer, among so many other things, I also thought I'll just get through treatment and be done. If I've learned one thing this year so far it's that that was a very naive thought. And frankly I'm not sure there is a "done." Because contrary to how cancer is portrayed on TV, you don't get chemo, get your last chemo, go into remission and then are poof! done with cancer. There are still sometimes other treatments (radiation, medicines to take, etc). The side effects linger. Chemo remains in your body for a long time. Side effects can linger even longer. Sometimes, side effects become permanent. There are follow-ups, and follow-ups to follow-ups. Bumps will pop up along the way - new things may go wrong, but with your history they aren't just little thing to keep an eye on. Nope, that new lump? Needs to get checked out now. Trouble breathing? We need to check your lungs. Heart racing? Chemo could have damaged your heart so tests need to be run. The list goes on and on. I've been through some of, I've seen friends go through some of it.

Cancer doesn't end. I may be in remission. I may be done with chemotherapy. Radiation may be behind me, but I still take pills. I still don't have energy. I still need to nap. My body is weak. I need to watch for signs of lymphedema because I had lymph nodes out. I need to go for blood tests because my white and more recently my red blood cell counts are down. I still need surgeries - reconstruction isn't finished. Thankfully I haven't had major issues like heart problems or breathing problems because I can only imagine the tests they would throw at me. I'm still in that critical 5 year period - where the cancer could come back. This doesn't even begin to cover the emotional side of things. I'm sleeping like crap, my anxiety is heightened, I'm quick to snap at the kids.

Look, I don't mean to be a downer. And I think if you came to my house and hung out with me, I wouldn't come off as a downer. It's not like I walk around crying and afraid my shadow is the cancer coming to get me. But things aren't like they used to be (I know. I know. I probably should have known this a long time ago).

All of this to say, we've hit a few bumps in the road here lately. As I mentioned above, my red blood cells have recently dropped. {Warning, I may be sharing what is too much information. So stop reading if you don't want to know}. 3 months ago my periods returned. Okay, I can't lie, I didn't miss it one single bit. But not only did it return, but it returned with a vengeance. Heavy. Crampy. In ways it has never been before. It was so heavy, I avoided leaving the house because if I was going to be out for more than 30 minutes I needed to carry what felt like an entire drug store's wort of pads and tampons. And it showed. My red blood cell counts dropped. Not horribly at first. But, right on schedule the second one came, and my body hadn't had enough time to rebound. Iron was started. I was exhausted even more so. The hardest part was that until this hit, I was actually starting to feel good. The exhaustion was starting to get better. So in my mind, this felt like a huge blow. And I was over it.

Last week I went in for a uterine ablation. In an attempt to slow down my periods. But here's the catch, I don't know if I've ever blogged about it before, but I have a what is called a septate uterus. Basically, there is a wall in the middle of my uterus, which splits it into two halves.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_1ZmRYwNaZCo/SWOVEQojuqI/AAAAAAAAANw/-Y1avYEOLog/s400/uterine-septate.jpg

(mine is a partial one, but it extends farther than the partial one in the graphic, but not as far as a complete septate). Anyway, some testing we did prior to the ablation made us think we could do the ablation successfully. It turns out we were half right. She was able to do the left side perfectly. The right side, she wasn't able to get. The good side is, it should help. I won't know until my next period comes. It just won't be as successful as if someone with a normal uterus had it done.

The procedure knocked me down for 2 days (although, truthfully the second day was really more just sleepiness from the anesthesia and not actual pain). But it left me feeling like my body had betrayed me once again. How did I get so lucky to get a messed up uterus and breasts? And I never thought about it before, but are they linked somehow? Did the genetic code for my female parts suffer some sort of problem that hit both areas? I don't even think that's possible, or documented. And I tested negative for the genetic mutations linked to breast cancer that are known. But it's hard to not think about it. Even if it is highly improbable.

For now, let's hope that half my uterus getting the ablation stems the flow of period enough that my red blood cell counts can recover. Because I'm tired of being tired!

4 comments:

  1. Oh, Brandie. I'm so sorry you've been going through this, ALL of this. I still pray every day for your health and recovery, and I'm going to keep doing it...as long as it takes. If you're not "done," then I won't be, either.

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  2. I have never heard of a septate uterus. I learn something new every day. I pray for a speedy recovery for you.

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  3. I am tired of you being tired, too. It's not fair. Not one bit. And I don't CARE if life isn't fair. Because I am tired of it being unfair for you.

    I hope this helps with your fatigue, hon...

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  4. I thought the same way you did that I would do my treatment and I would be done with (breast) cancer. You are so right about how it stays with you. There are so many aspects from the side effects, the follow ups, tamoxifen (or an AI or herceptin or Triple Negative and no extra way to fight it in the arsenal), surgeries, blood tests, permanent changes in blood tests after chemo, etc. No you are not complaining you are just telling it like it is. Now a separate uterus-Whoa! It's alot to take in! I am new to your blog and I think it's great. Thanks for sharing.-Susan

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Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)