Life has been a little crazy lately. I cannot believe that I’ll be headed back to Canada next week for a brief visit with family, but also to run a few errands (visas, passports, textbooks).
This will be my first flight after the lymphedema diagnosis. In some ways, I’m nervous about it. I’ve flown quite a few times after surgery without a problem, but I didn’t have lymphedema then. I do now. So now I have to take precautions. I need to wear sleeves (which thankfully, I now have several pairs of) whenever I fly. I wear sleeve on my left arm anytime I’m awake anyways. But for the purpose of flying, I also need to wear a sleeve on the right. I also need to be more careful about lifting bags.
Mentally, I’m doing well most of the time, but every now and thing, something tweeks. This time, it is a consistent pain in my left chest. The pain is in the same spot as my primary tumor, so it triggers those memories. I’ve brought it up to my doctors many different times. They all confirm that it is NOT cancer. I am doing OK. However, the pain continues. This time, the PA (my surgeons physician assistant) has referred me to the pain clinic – they are calling it “post surgical pain”. I can handle that. It has been almost a year since the major surgery, so the pain should have settles by now. So, I’m crossing my fingers hoping that the pain folks can get to the bottom of this issue.
When I’m tired, the pain triggers an emotional response. My mind then starts to catastrophize. I start thinking that I’m having a recurrence. That that cancer is back and in my bones or that I have a large lymph node that is cutting off the circulation in my arm. My mind starts down that path, and when I’m tired I don’t catch what is happening. When I’m not tired, I can usually see the thought path and intercept it. I can see that what my mind is doing and stop it, tell it that there is likely a non-cancer reason for the pain. I trust my doctors. It is in their best interest to keep me safe and healthy – it doesn’t make sense that they would ignore an important symptom – and so I must remember to trust them.
The biggest challenge with this episodes is the amount of time and energy it takes. I feel the need to be diligent, but that means making doctors appointments and seeing doctors. It means intentionally prioritizing exercise, and having that cut into the productive hours I have for work. It is difficult finding the post treatment balance.
And so, with a better night’s sleep – I’m doing OK. I’m dealing with various aches and pains in my body and not assuming that every one of them is cancer. I’m working really hard to move on. To get back to my academic work, and to do more teaching. I’m exploring opportunities as they present themselves.