Saturday, October 10, 2009
Putting Out A Fire with Salt Water
Big Ass Needle and I had our second date on Thursday. We met in the “big comfy” chemo chair this time. There was a man in the adjoining room, receiving his chemo, watching a baseball game. I gazed out the window at the eclectically manicured Cancer Center gardens, imagining all those who had sat in this chair before and received something more toxic. It didn’t hurt as much this time, the nurse gave the lidocaine plenty of time to work. She explained that the Zoladex is a tiny tablet, that’s why the needle is the diameter of a swizzle stick and also why last month I could feel a little bump under the skin. Anyway, I didn’t bruise or start bawling and decided I would be all right this time. Maybe my ovaries had already gone to sleep and this month was going to be about leveling out.
So on Friday I decided I wasn’t sore or anything and went on a bike ride. I mean, it was going to turn cold and it might be one of the last good days, right?
I’m not sure if it’s the hormone loss or just the season winding down but my rides lack aggression. Really having to tell myself to get out of the saddle and sprint. There’s less joy at the apex of a climb and my heart feels non-committal in my chest. I keep trying to tell myself it’s all in my head, that I’m just being suggestible from all the stuff I’ve read. It was a GOOD ride all in all. I’m still very strong (always am by the end of the year) and I even took the dogs on their walk when I got back. After that I was hungry and clammy. So I wolfed down some dark chocolate and cranked on the hot water for a shower. (One of the results of my surgery is my implants don't hold heat like real breasts and I don't have a lot of fat up there for insulation.)
After I got dressed, I realized my ovaries weren’t done with me yet. See, Zoladex tells your pituitary gland to stop talking to the ovaries. And so by the second day, they start getting uppity. The ride and the shower was bound to exacerbate the symptoms. A throb in my belly came on, like this horizontal bar of heat and tenderness. My face turned red and in the middle of dinner, I just started crying into my soup. But I wasn't exactly sad and even began laughing in the middle of it.
It might seem depressing on the outside. It isn't. The hot flashes are easily dealt with by layering my clothes. I'm experiencing an amazing transition—one that induces reverence and awe for the human body. It really does feel like it’s all going up in a blaze of glory.
Of course, such hyperbole could be the out-rush of estrogen and testosterone as they leave the building.
Of all my lady parts left scattered about like so much roadkill, I would be sad to see my ovaries go. My Oncologist and my OB surgeon are at odds on this. The Onc wants them gone. The OB says I’ll need their residual effects. I can totally understand the two viewpoints. The Onc is only concerned about cancer returning. The surgeon comes from a place that sees surgery as the cure. He probably thinks I was cured the day they took my breasts. Why hurt my quality of life? And of course the Internet is all over the place.
I want to keep them. Just one last party favor from a time when I was powerfully driven by the force of Mother Nature. But am I playing with fire? Even after all that we have been through in this house, I often forget my diagnosis. And I don’t foresee ever having cancer again. Is that the human capacity to live or just willful ignorance?