I was finally on board with bald and cold head and all inclusions thereof. I was being strong and gracious (except a tiny fraction here and there).
Back in December, on one of my visits to Cameron in Telluride, I had noticed that my upper thighs seems to be really heavy. I thought, this was because I had not been able to excercise since the last two surgeries. I blamed the high altitude and steep incline to his apartment. When I was back home, it disappeared only to repeat this on my next visit.
I had mentioned it to Cameron because this puzzled me but did not give it more thought.
I was starting to feel better. The different pains in my abdomen were GONE. I thought ‘O.K. that’s one good point for chemo.’ Still awful stuff but hey, no pain. I could finally stop the 600 mg Ibuprofen. Felt great about that as at that point ALL I was taking was my daily Thyroid pill. No other meds.
After a couple of days, the pain in my thighs returned. Funny that. I walked a few steps, had to stop and rest before I was able to walk another few steps. What the heck?? I thought, it would ‘go away’. I thought, this is only temporary. No such luck. I could not walk much farther than half a block.
Now this really scared me. I had walked 500 miles only 18 mos ago and now couldn’t even walk around the block? I was stunned. What to do? What IS this new calamity? If I can’t walk, they may as well shoot me. No matter about the ‘hair’, no matter even about chemo. THIS was a real big, black shaky fear. My mind could not even go there. Ever since I was a child, I hardly ever ‘walked’ I ran, skipped, jogged. As an adult my strides were always longer and faster than the person next to me. (Except my son, who is always ahead. )
I could not think straight. My mind was crowded with terror. I remembered Doc’s urgent words when he had called me that Sunday. ‘ The tumor is pressing on the Aorta and can restrict blood flow to your legs. Once the damage is done, it cannot be reversed. You must have chemo and it must be soon’.
Was this that point of no return? Is this going to be my life? Had I brought this on by my own ‘stubborness’ NOT to have chemo sooner? Am I to blame for this? ‘Oh GOD. OH GOD.’
I had foot therapy and could barely do the exercises prior to being hooked to the machine.
Last week, I had had enough and called Oncologists office in Grand Junction. No live person to talk to, so I left a message. Nurse called back and I explained this in very careful words. I had told her that this was NOT due to chemo since I had this before I started. She passed the message to the oncologist and then called me back. Onc said ‘this is probably neuropathy, caused by chemo’. I frowned on that because it was opposite of what I told them. I had also asked to have a CT scan to see what the tumor was doing and if chemo was helping with anything. Too soon for CT scan, they said. Chemo had not had time to really work but we will do a CA 125 this Tuesday.
I could not find anything online that would give me an answer or, even a starting point. My legs hurt and I took a bath in Epsom salt. My veines were more pronounced and there were ‘blotches’ on my upper thighs. I think I need oxygen to my legs, is what I thought before I absolutely broke down and horrible keening bounced off the bathroom walls. I screamed and cried and thought I would lose it completely. Only a few times in my entire life had I felt like this.
So far down in despair. NO one near, no one here. Very alone and felt abandoned. ‘Always have to go through the hard stuff by myself’ , is what I thought at that point. Of course, that’s not really so. But then, I also have chemo brain and along with it, comes its faithful friend ‘depression’. There is absolutely no way to cut this tumor off and out. There is no way I can have radiation. There is NOTHING anyone can do. The perfect Storm.
I won’t be able to travel. I won’t be able to go walking, hiking in Austria when this cancer part over. I may never be able to leave this house. Those were my darkest and blackest thoughts. It seemed unbearable and I wished I would just die.
I also took a break from Facebook. Couldn’t deal with people’s petty, little problems. Talking about if they couldn’t find the perfect, water proof mascara, that this would RUIN their day. That was the last straw. I know that this is not their fault. They just do their lives. But, when one battles on so many fronts, this was just too much.
Other people just stay away. Don’t even visit or call. I am ‘pruning’ my frienship tree as well.
I sat on the couch, took some ‘puff’s of my vapor marijuana’ so I could just calm down. Had a fitful night.
I had an appointment with my Foot Therapist early in the morning. I ranted and complained about not knowing what ‘this’ was and what to do? Where to go?
He looked at me thoughtfully and said, ‘I think, I know what it is you have. Give me a few minutes to research’.
He came back with some medical research. ‘Here, he said, this is what you probably have.
ATYPICAL INTERMITTENT CLAUDICATION.
What? What? What the hell is that??
‘Claudication or limping . The Term is associated with the Roman Emperor Claudius, who was notably lame. As a medical term it refers to a cramplike pain in one or both legs, which developes on walking and may eventually cause a limp.
The usual cause of claudication is typically that theyhave to stop walking a set distance because of pain in the calves. After a short rest, they may be able to walk another few steps. This is called Intermittent Claudication.
A rarer cause is spinal stenosis (narrowing of the canal carrying the spinal cord, causing pressure on the nerve roots that pass into either leg.
My cause is different, that’s why it’s ‘atypical’ but the end effect is the same. With me, it’s the tumor that’s pressing on the aorta and restricting the bloo flow.
Oh, my goodness. That’s IT, I said. I was so relieved that ‘it’ had a name and a starting point for me to research and get help. He gave me some pills “Argenine Plus’, which is a cardiovascular aid. I looked at that little, brown bottle as if it were Manna itself.
I took 2 Pills that Friday without noticing anything but then, it was to soon.
Meanwhile, my best and childhood friend had flown in and what a rock she is. We met in Kindergarten, in Germany 60+ years ago and went through all the trials and tribulations good, bad and horrid times. No matter what, she’s always there. I was soo glad to see her.
Saturday morning we got ready to do some shopping and I stopped at the bank to get a few dollars. I came back out and as I approached the car, suddenly I noticed I was ‘running’!! My usual fast stride. Ohh, I cried out loud, ‘did you see me? Did you see me running?’ Tears yet again. Joyous ones. Once, the pills wear off, then it’s the same but in between, I can almost walk normal. So. I am hoping that with the next 2-3 chemo’s that sucker in there, is GONE!!
Then, finally the book which my son had ‘ghost written’ came out. That was a proud moment. ‘The Cat Whisperer’, by Mieshelle Nagelschneider My ex-daughter in law. A beautiful and great expert on cat behavior.
Next book? “Camino not Chemo.” Maybe not that title but our adventures. Cameron will unveil the new working title soon.
Tomorrow is chemo day. Friends are coming with me. My relief and new hope were so enormous, that I planned and had a wonderful Lunch for friends and my son on Sunday.
The worst nightmare in recent history is receding. THANK GOD!