Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Going with my gut...

You know that story about the boiling frog? I think I was a little like that frog. Looking back at my own words, it was clear to see that I began having pain within weeks of beginning the tamoxifen, the maintenance drug for premenopausal women with estrogen receptive breast cancer. Tamoxifen is supposed to be taken for five years, but the pain became more and more of an issue. Since it was not constant, at least initially, I tended to ignore it, to push on through and keep going. I have a high threshold of pain, and I always felt this was a good thing. It got more and more severe, but like that frog, I simply endured the changes. I really didn't feel that I had a choice, I guess. I don't want to sit through a repeat of cancer, and Tamoxifen seemed to be what you do. So I did it. At least for a year and ten months, I did it.

This winter, when it began to get cold once again, things got very, very worse. So much so that my sleep was disrupted. Debbys, short sleeped, are not very high functioning critters. Keeping up with anything became a struggle. I was getting discouraged. Worst of all, the more tired I got, the more unable I was to ignore the pain, which had moved from my legs, into my hips. From my hips, it began to badly affect my back and neck. I knew that I had a problem one memorable night. After a day of classes and four hours of work, I came home, my neck so stiff that I could not turn my head.

When the oncologist asked, "Have you ever thought of stopping tamoxifen?" I could have answered 'Yes. Every single morning when I take it...' I didn't. I didn't want to sound like a smart aleck, but it's the truth really. I thought about not taking tamoxifen every day, and every day I thought, 'But gees. I don't want cancer again...' and I took that pill. This time though, hearing the question from her mouth instead of my own thoughts, my reply to her was not the same reply I'd been giving to myself. This time, I looked across the room, and I said, simply, 'Yes.' When she said, "We could give it a try, just for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference," my answer was immediate. "Yes," I said again.

Sometimes, I guess, a person just has to 'go with their guts,' and that's what I'm doing here. Initially, contemplating this decision in my own heart, fear guided my decision to suck it up and continue on. But Friday, there was no fear, just relief that the decision was made. I walked out of the office relieved. I walked to the car, and I was relieved. I called Tim and we discussed the decision. I think that he was relieved too.

Today just five days later, I cannot believe the difference. Most of the pain is just gone. I'm sleeping better, so I'm not so flipping exhausted. At school today, I knocked out another project, and I posted it on line. Going through my assignments, I realized that I'm getting ahead. That's a good feeling. At home, I polished my kitchen cupboards. Tonight, I'm folding laundry. I'm getting ahead here, too, and that's a good feeling. I took on a couple projects for myself: I'm sitting on a panel to encourage other adult learners who might be wavering about coming back to school. I'm working as a guide at a 'Dining in the Dark,' where people pay to have a gourmet meal, but eat it blindfolded to experience what it is like to have a visual impairment. In short, I'm feeling productive again, and whoooo boy! I cannot tell you how marvelous it feels. I'm coming back to life again, and I feel like spring personified.

Today at school, I had a 'moment'. I was eating my yogurt and marveling at how the pain has really, in large part, simply disappeared. I was busy being grateful for that fact. I thought to myself, "I will not take the tamoxifen again." I froze a little, holding my spoon, waiting for that prickle of fear, that little 'but...'

There was none.

Sometimes, sometimes, you just gotta go with your gut.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful news Deb. As I think I have said before, after a lot of chronic pain, the relief when it stops is unimaginable for those who haven't been there. Great to hear how much you are enjoying it.

I am also glad to hear that Cara got there safely. Her bags exploded? That would have been a sight. Sometimes mine are in danger of doing that. Or at least that is what my husband thinks I am sure. (whisper - I don't carry them. I just pack them)

Hope you get some warmer weather soon to enjoy the outdoors again. And a bit of cooler weather here would go down allright too! Another cyclone possibly forming offshore - hope it doesn't so what the others have done so far! We have been spared fortunately, but not spared the water damage to roads, fences, water piping etc. Oh well! Can't complain about the rain as have just had 11 years drought and were wondering how much longer we would be able to hold out.

Got off the original point there didn't I? Apologies for that. All the best Love Barb

WhiteStone said...

I'm having the same struggle with my maintenance I continue? Do I not? The rash has been with me for a year now. I don't mind it except when it wakens me in the night. Sigh!

Bob said...

Such good news, Debby.

Pencil Writer said...

"Debbys, short sleeped, are not very high functioning critters. Keeping up with anything became a struggle." Yeah . . .

You do so much more with gusto even when you are "sleep deprived and in constant, nearly crippling pain" that the average individual! You are awesome to do all that you do and do well!

Unlike myself, who folds with various aches and pains and . . . well you don't want to know what a wimp I am!

I'm so glad you're feeling SO MUCH BETTER! Yea!!!!

Cara said...

I've heard about dining in the dark, who is doing it? Also, do you guys keep the lights on for it, just with blind folds? The one in Philly uses night vision for the waitstaff and turns out all of the lights and blinds the window's for the restaurant. I've always thought it sounded neat.

PaintedPromise said...

oh Debby GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!!