Monthly Archives: December 2013

It’s hard to remember the positive when my boob is screaming at me

I’m sitting on my boyfriend’s couch at dawn on the winter solstice. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s dawn or not still, as the sun doesn’t rise in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, it just sort of becomes less gray for a few hours before it’s dark again. That’s why I’m traditionally so fond of the winter solstice – I know that from here forward until the summer solstice, the days will get longer and brighter. It’s a metaphor, really. A reminder that the darkest days are behind me and that my future is literally going to be brighter.

It’s a reminder I need right this moment as I sit here on the couch in front of my computer because my arm fell asleep while I was sleeping again, which woke me up. Again. This is due to low blood pressure. The low blood pressure is due to the Oxycodone and Gabapentin mostly. Unfortunately, potent as these painkillers are, they’re not effective enough to calm the screaming pain coming from the healing incision under my right breast. It’s a pain that is both searing hot and freezing cold at the same time. It’s sharp and loud and so intense, it’s debilitating. I have to press the elbow of my right arm against my side so that I don’t disrupt the spot at all. The only thing that treats it is a Lidocaine patch, placed carefully above and below the incision. I can only wear this for twelve hours on and twelve hours off. I’m unable to place it myself, so I have to rely on Mike to do it. Right now, I have to rely on Mike to do nearly everything. But he’s sleeping. The sweet man has gotten little regular sleep since I went in to have my tumor removed last Monday, so I’m trying to let him rest. Continue reading

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Meditations on Being Embodied

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. ~Søren  Kierkegaard

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. ~Immanuel Kant

What I tell writers is that: to work on a body story. To bring the body to the foreground, to listen and feel for sensory truths, to stop repressing our corporeal truths in favor of our thinking truths. Then I give them Leaves of Grass. Ha. ~ Lidia Yuknavitch

How are you dealing with all of this? Because you know that if you don’t deal with your health stuff, it’ll deal with you, right? ~Elizabeth, my therapist

I have a friend, Cynthia, who was diagnosed with a malignant breast tumor the day I found out I have a tumor in my lung. She’s not a friend that I’ve met in person, and in many ways she’s a writing-circle associate and sometimes collaborator, but I have a feeling if she were my neighbor, we’d spend winter afternoons sharing a hot cup of tea and a game of Scrabble. I suspect a lot of people feel that way about Cynthia. She’s just that way: bright, funny, approachable, talented, interesting. And man, is she ever a gorgeous writer – especially her recent posts about her experience with having breast cancer.

What I appreciate about the lyrical way Cynthia is processing her experience is the nonlinear connections she makes between the past and present. How she’s able to see this moment as the culminating experience of so many interconnecting fibers that have brought her here. And when she channels that into words, it sounds like music.

For me, though, there’s nothing intellectual about having a tumor. It has put me in my body, not my mind, in a really big way. Specifically, it’s made me realize how trapped in my body I actually am. How acutely aware of all of my body’s functions I’ve become. How worried and nearly obsessed I am lately that every pain, every heart flutter, every runny nose, every headache, every atypical bowel movement is somehow another indication that this tumor, whatever it is, is eating me from the inside out. Continue reading

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