The New Addition

Toby

Three and a half weeks ago we saw him for the first time—a filthy, scrawny tuxedo kitten wandering the neighborhood alone. We tried to catch him with love and food, and when that didn’t work and a kid from down the street guaranteed that she could catch him if we gave her a towel, we took her up on the offer.

Thirty minutes later, we had a new baby.

We named him Toby. Toby Toe Beans, Tobes, Toblerone. He’s a super sweetie pie who purrs in seconds when you snuggle him into your chest.

The next morning we took him to the vet who confirmed his scrawniness but verified that he was relatively healthy and would be fine soon with a good home. He took his first shots like a champ.

His current room is our shower stall, complete with food, water, bed, and a small foil pan for a litter box. We quarantined him for five days before introducing him to the family, but we still lock him up in the shower overnight and when we’re both at work. Another week and he should be fine with everyone except my mother’s cat who hates anyone who isn’t my mother.

We learned yesterday to take the shower stool out of the shower, though. We’d left it in for a hiding spot, but yesterday morning I woke up to a little baby on my cover. He’d jumped from the stool to the shower caddy to the top of the shower doors, where he knocked nearly everything down but made it safely to the floor. Then he squeezed under the bathroom door, and he was out.

What an adorable little handful.


Pain Management

Okay, so I told you that in January I got a neurostimulator implant, by March the leads had moved to ineffectiveness, and in June I had it removed because the battery pack was causing pain.

Does that sound like something you’d want to do again?

Seriously though, when I did the trial a year ago, and we found that magic spot where my pain was almost completely gone—thinking about that makes it all seem worth a shot. I just don’t know.

Pros: possibly pain relief

When I put it like that, well, it doesn’t seem worthwhile at all. Obviously there are no guarantees; there are never guarantees. The cons list is so much longer:

  • Possibly no relief
  • Infection
  • Migration
  • Rejection
  • Increased pain

I’m waiting in the exam room now. I made a diagram of where my pain and numbness are and where it feels different. Wish me luck.


So It’s Been a While

I know. I’ve been MIA for nearly two years unless you’re connected with me on Facebook or Instagram. But hey, I’m still alive.

What’s happened since we last spoke, you ask?

  • Hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy in June 2019 for the fist sized tumor on my ute. The surgeon also confirmed that I have endometriosis to go along with that PCOS. Post surgical complications included a giant hematoma without internal bleeding, and a blood clot in my hand from the IV site. The highlight would have to be the doctor sternly telling me at one of my followups: nothing in your vagina for ten weeks or your guts will fall out.
  • When I started having trouble with pills getting stuck in my throat I saw my horrible endocrinologist again. My thyroid was deviating my esophagus. I got a thyroid ultrasound, and that led to a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy. I was fully awake, I just got some anesthetic injected into my throat—in the wrong place, so I completely felt the first few needles shoved into my thyroid until I got some more anesthetic. They referred me to my third oncologist who removed the left lobe of my thyroid in January 2020. That tumor was benign.
  • My primary care doctor tried treating the post thoracotomy pain I have, then my main onco tried, then he referred me to pain management. When I first saw them in November 2019 I’d already tried every common chronic pain drug except Lyrica, which insurance didn’t want to cover. I agreed to a neurostimulator trial and nerve block. The first nerve block didn’t help, but it didn’t hurt either. The trial stim was basically a tens unit where the leads were inserted into my spine and taped securely. The battery and control pack was on a belt I wore constantly for six days (no showers). I had a remote to change settings at the direction of my assigned company rep, who I was in touch with multiple times a day, every day. On day five we found a setting that took my normal pain level of 7-8 down to 0-1. Oh my god, it was amazing. Then they pulled it out and it hurt again.
  • Also in January 2020, I had surgery for a permanent neurostimulator. This one was the leads in my spine again, but sewn in “real good”, and then the wires tunneled under the flesh of my back to the pocket they made in my right hip, where they put the battery pack. I got a charger pad to put on the skin over the battery pack and a much sleeker remote. Unfortunately, I’m guessing something was not entirely sterile in the OR, because I had an infection in the upper site less than two days post op, before I’d even taken off the bandages. I ended up in the hospital for three days on IV antibiotics and pain meds. It hurt pretty dang bad. The hospital didn’t have any PCA pumps, so I got several injections of a super fancy anesthetic directly in and around my surgical wound. It was much better after that. Then we turned the stim on. We were still trying to find a good setting at my next X-ray when—guess what. The leads were no longer in place. Less than six weeks after surgery, they were several inches lower than they were placed. Since it was too low to help anymore, we turned it off and I forgot about it until…
  • The battery back started hurting like fire ants inside my body, so on June 3rd pain management yanked it all out. Since then I’ve had several nerve blocks in different spots that have not helped but actually hindered. I go back to pain management Friday to discuss one last nerve block before possibly trying another neurostimulator.

But I really need to talk that through before committing, so here we are, back at the blog like cancer never happened.

What’s new with you?


The Return

Y’all, I went back to work tonight, six weeks and one day post-op. I talked to my manager Monday about working short shifts today and tomorrow to make sure I can hang, so tonight I worked a little over four hours.

Fortunately we were pretty busy–yay for tax season! Everyone was so happy to have me back and so overprotective.

I had planned to take a bath when I got home, but I didn’t expect to get home so late, so I just took a shower and laid in bed for about half an hour until Ian got home.

I am so pleased with how I feel! As I hoped, I feel so much better after a few hours of constant activity. I took deliveries and did dishes and that’s about it. It’ll still be a long time before I make dough, since a full batch weighs nearly 80 pounds and I’m currently lifting in the less than 20 pounds range.

Good times.


A Mental Health Day

Clara’s pointy toed shoes tapped a warning to her coworkers; she was in a bad mood, and her walk reflected that. Every cubicle she passed contained someone typing industriously, scanning a sheaf of printout, or making an important phone call.

The problem wasn’t her mood, it was her hyper-criticality on days like these. Anyone caught slacking knew they’d be in for a dressing-down like no other.

Clara’s office door slammed behind her, and the whispering began. Everyone was dying to know the cause. Was it her mother again? Had she and Brian finally broken up? Or was it as boring as the time she fired Stephen over the barista sweetening her coffee?

Clara sat behind her desk, staring into space. She knew the whole office was talking about her. She wasn’t an idiot, for chrissake. She knew she was harder on them when she was going through a tough time, but by god, all they had to do was be competent.

It was neither her mother nor her boyfriend, and her coffee remained as dark and bitter as her soul. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Clara herself had no idea what was wrong with her, only that she’d woken up this way.

She pushed herself away from the desk and spun to look out the window. She crossed her arms and stared up at the wisps of whiteness streaking the sky.

Even in her black mood, Clara was able to admit to herself that the current team was possibly the best she’d ever supervised. If she left her office and started firing people over dirty fingernails and insignificant typos, she might actually have to answer to the big boss for her actions this time. She blew out a sharp breath through her nostrils.

Fine.

She put her coat on as she stood and grabbed her bag.

Pointy toed shoes echoed all the way to the elevator, and when the doors slid closed behind her, the team breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was pretty great to have a boss who knew when she was going to be too much of a hardass.

OLWG #88


Coming Soon

Just a brief update again, I swear I’ll be back in the game tomorrow.

I saw my new new oncologist today. I do not need any radiation or chemotherapy. Well, he was obligated to offer chemo, but the standard for LMS would involve a lot of health risks and at least 12 days in the hospital for about a 1% decrease in my risk of recurrence. I declined.

Leiomyosarcoma is a plain old bad luck cancer. They don’t even know of any risk factors, it just happens. It’s practically unheard of for LMS to initially present in the lungs anyway, but mine was caught at a fraction of the size that they’re usually found.

If I didn’t get CT scans for kidney stones so often, it could have been years before I showed symptoms and by then, my prognosis would have been grim at best. I never thought I would be grateful for kidney stones, but they have literally saved my life.

LMS has a 30-50% recurrence rate, so I will be getting PET scans for a long time, if not the rest of my life, but that is a small price to pay. It’s a good day today.