Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trigger Happy

I haven't told you, beloved blog readers, because I don't want to be worrisome, but I've been having pain where my tumor used to be. It's been an ordeal to find an oncologist here in San Francisco- they won't assign one to you unless you've seen a GP, which I don't have, duh, because I have cancer. It took weeks to get a referral from my own oncologist back in Sacramento, but finally, I was able to get an appointment on Tuesday.

This was my first time in SF oncology and, um, talk about triggers. They make you wear a wristband regardless of whether you are getting chemo or seeing a doctor, while in Sac they only banded me for chemo. So, as you can imagine, the band sent me into panic mode and tears started welling up in my eyes.

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Fast forward to the doctor visit, they don't think my pain is cancer related since I was NED on a scan 3 weeks ago. It's probably scar tissue, but we will "watch and wait" (don't you love that phrase?). I asked when I could have my port taken out, and the onc said I've got to wait until my next scan. "But when is the last time you had it flushed?", she asks. "Uh, May?" I mutter. Oh crap, I forgot about port maintenance. "You need to get it flushed TODAY." Double crap. I can't face the infusion room just yet. But... responsibilities and such. So I sit in the ugly mauve alcohol soaked recliner and try to keep it together.

No such luck. I start hyperventilating and sobbing, trying to explain to the nurse that it's the first time I've been back since chemo. She just looked sorry for me. I sucked it up towards the end and got my saline/heparin injection just like I've done a million times in the past. I was numb throughout my treatment, but now that the trauma has settled in I'm a nervous wreck during such small procedures. I hope it gets better.

On the positive front, I am getting ready to start my senior year of school, the one that I had to quit in leiu of chemo. I am excited. Let's hope I make it past the first class this time!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PTSD and me

I've been having a difficult time with post traumatic stress since the end of chemo. I am avoiding the hospital like the fucking plague. Who knows, the black death could very well be lurking the halls of Kaiser somewhere. Best to stay home, right? Wrong, I know I know.

I can't read the archives of this blog; it's far too painful. I don't even remember writing half of it. The words literally make my stomach turn. I have nightmares, insomnia, et al. I can't be in any sort of sterile medical environment without breaking out in a cold sweat. Whilst having my teeth cleaned recently I had a mini panic attack because the dentist's chair reminded me of the chemo recliner I befriended during treatment. Blarg. Barf. Ick.

My point, I suppose, besides bitching, is that cancer doesn't end once you're in remission. It becomes a terrifying part of you, kind of like how Tom Selleck and his moustache have become one single entity. It haunts your dreams. I could go on.

Have you had any experiences with PTSD since cancer? I'd like for this blog to become a forum to help those going through something similar, so please comment!

"...Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst."-D.H. Lawrence