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Wrung out!

August 29, 2012

The last time I wrote a post, I was just finished with my PET and MRI and anxiously awaiting the final approval from the surgeon so I could be randomized and finally get started on chemo therapy.

Oh, what a difference a week can make. 

On Tuesday last week, I got up, I got ready for work, I dropped my kids, I started a very busy day. It was one of those really busy, don’t even notice until way into the day that you haven’t had a potty break.

I noticed when I as bouncing my unusually large nine month old at his well baby check up that my leg was sore and I waved it off as bouncing the large baby for an unusually large amount of time and wrestling him into his clothes on my lap twice in one morning.

At lunch I decided that the sandwich I ate had given me food poisoning because I was just feeling increasingly bad and was having that sweat/chill thing that most commonly I associate with “I am fixin to puke.”

When I got back to my office I decided I had put off a bathroom break for as long as I could.

 To my surprise, when I finally saw my leg I noticed that the whole front of my thigh was hot and swollen where it had been completely normal only six hours previously.  Knowing what I know about infection and its symptoms, I immediately called the surgeon and told the nurse what was happening.  Less than five minutes later I was on the phone with the nurse again and she was telling me to come in, now.  What a good thing for this to have happened on clinic day.

I got myself registered and knew that I was looking as bad as I felt because people kept asking me if I needed a wheel chair or needed to lie down. 

I took less than 20 minutes for them to call me back to an exam room and I took off my skirt.  From the time that I left the bathroom until the time that I was in the exam room, it had gotten visibly larger.  I was starting to have constant chills.  My bones felt like they were going to shake themselves through my muscles.  The med assistant took my vitals–temp 101.9, HR 101, BP 90/62, .  The nurse came in, looked at my leg and said “you know he is going to admit you, right?”  Yep. 

The doctor came in and just started shaking his head.  The good news:  the bright spot in my PET scan was not a new spot of melanoma, the bad news:  The spot is an area of fluid collection called a seroma and as of right now it is abscessed.

I won’t tell you about vomiting on the registration desk and getting an expedited room assignment, I won’t tell you about the wonderful hospital food that is so nutritious.  I will tell you that friends and family pretty much stopped what they were doing and took care of us for the next five days.

SO what now?  I have a drain in my leg that we are hoping (maybe not fully expecting but definitely praying) will remove the abscess and we can skip surgery. If we have to go to surgery it will be an extended period of wound healing from the inside out.  We all really want to avoid that if we can.

It means I am probably not going to be able to start chemo before this set of MRI and PET are outdated.  What that means for the entire drug study, I don’t know.  I am keeping in daily touch with the research coordinator.

It means that I will be off work for a little while. Previously, I had starting planning my return to work before I had even left.  This time I am so exhausted, both mentally and physically, that I am looking forward to it and at this point don’t care when I go back. 

Finally, how are we doing?  I have finally stopped saying “one more thing, just ONE MORE THING!”  I am not on the constant verge of tears from emotional upheaval and physical exhaustion.  I am ready, finally, to get some rest and let other people take over so many things that I just couldn’t let go.

When Chris brought me home from the hospital last Friday I just flopped myself on the bed and cried for about half an hour.  When I finally picked my head up, we had a small memorial service for our former life.  For weeks now we have been saying that we can put our lives on hold, that we could adjust some things and let go of some things, and just get through.  No more.  We give up.  We had a funeral for our lives as we knew them, as we lived them, as we had worked so hard to establish them, as we so completely enjoyed them.  In the beginning, I just wanted to have a cryo-storage, Ted Williams sort of putting things on hold. The reality is we will never go back.  We can never go back.  We are shaped and changed by this experience, there are choices and experiences that we will never get to “do-over”.  We have to let go of trying to keep things as they always have been and just fit cancer into the open spots.  It doesn’t work that way. 

Right now I compare us to a wrung out dish rag.  Not the kind that you just squeeze a little bit so whatever is inside doesn’t drip on the floor, but the all wrung out kind that you squeeze and twist so tightly that the whole rag stays in its wrinkled up twisted state of being.  We have eeked out everything that we feel like we can give, we have adjusted and “worked in” so much that we weren’t able to contain it anymore and it has gone spilling out passed what we can manage.  We are done.  We can’t do it anymore.

Our lives as we knew them are over.  We will have a new normal, an intermittent normal and then, who knows, we may settle into a final normal, but the longer I live, the more I learn that final normal isn’t how life really works.

We are all rung out and empty.  But we are open.  We are willing, we are even eager to fill back up, to untwist from this tightly wrung out state and be something different.  We are ready to let others pour into our lives, ready to fill up with something else.

We are so very fortunate and grateful that so many of you are here to help us with that.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Elaine permalink
    August 29, 2012 5:24 pm


    I cried reading this. You are going through so much that I cannot imagine me being able to get through it as gracefully as you.

    I feel a strong connection to you even though I’ve only known you a short while. You are very special to all who know you. Your husband and kids are blessed by you. I am blessed by you.

    Keep the faith and know there are alot of people there for you.

    Blessings to you,


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