Friday, June 28, 2019

I scream, you scream....we all scream for blue internal stitching?

fuck yeah it is.

wait, this girl?!

On June 23rd I celebrated my 9th Cancerversary. A week or so before the 23rd of June, nine years ago this  week, a pea showed up on my radar, well, a frozen pea in my right breast. It didn’t matter where I pushed, or rubbed or squeezed it wouldn’t melt. It remained frozen, no movement. It was standing its ground. That frozen pea sent me into shock. When I got the call to confirm what we already knew I was at work. I started to shake and began to cry, a cry that turned into a wave of silent sobs. I was on the floor along with my phone that slipped from my hand when I put my hand over my mouth. I went to my car and sat until I had no more tears, snot snaking its way onto my lips. I drove directly to Barnes and Noble with my puffy face, blood shot eyes and snot that didn’t want to stop streaming out of my nose. I bought every book they had on breast cancer; perfect because I was “celebrating” my 1st day, of what would be my one-year Canceversary, buying paper. Paper is the traditional gift for a first anniversary.  

I am "alive to see 35"

I began to refer to times in my life as “before” or “after” I was diagnosed. I now have a plethora of times to choose from: before or after being diagnosed, chemo, surgeries (pick one), infections (pick one), seizure, Lolli, gamma-knife, second gamma-knife, divorce…I will leave it there, though we know I could go on. I may have a different set of circumstances to describe the last 9 years, but they went by for everybody. I am angry and disappointed with myself that for the last two of those nine years I have ignored my need to write and share my story. Being able to directly and instantly share what is happening unburdened me in a way nothing else has. I was able to let things go—it was out and as a result didn’t need to make a home in my head. It is fair to say that I have two years of thoughts, feelings, happenings, experiences, fears, you fucking name it, that have been steeping in my brain. Get ready, it is on.

my incredible nieces,
 Penelope Jo & Winnifred

Greenaway Girls
My last blog post included some feverishly hopeful language, “I am going to relish. in. this. fucking. blissful. luxury. of. circumstance.” I have to admit that probably 75% of that was steroid induced semi-delirium, on the verge of “happiness.” Because “choosing to be a creative being” was definitely not on the table for me at the time. It doesn’t happen when you are in the hospital, restricted from getting off the bed and having to do number 1 and number 2 with an audience. The situation was far from ideal. Not only was I unable to go the bathroom, I was restricted from getting off the bed. If I wanted to get off the bed, to do anything, I had to hit the “call” button and wait for a nurse. They would then have to gown up (I was isolation), come in and turn off the bed alarm so I could then get off the bed. If you try to get off the bed without doing this dance, a deafening alarm goes off that blares into the hallway; as if the hospital was going into lock down because someone stole a fucking baby. Back to the ones and twos. Do you know how hard it is to pee and poop with someone in the room? Let alone with someone within reaching distance of you. Think about it, stretch out your arms, you feel like you could relax enough to do that? Nope, I guarantee your insides, right now, are clenching up so tight you’d need the jaws of life to get things open. 

See, I am a nervous pee-er. Anytime I leave the house I pee multiple times. Getting ready for a road trip? I pee as many times as possible, then when feeling ready to get into the car, I head back into the bathroom for one more try. I don’t even know where it comes from. I will watch my fluid intake prior to leaving, but my body is just wringing itself dry to satisfy my neurotic habit. Turns out that a nervous pee-er, can turn into a no pee-er real quick when there is a person next to you. They are lurking, picking their nails, trying to avoid eye contact, even if they are tapping away on their phones (side-eyeing to make sure I haven’t
when your niece has a Halloween
 dress-up birthday party and you
wanted to dress as a banana

taken a header onto the floor). So when all the steps have been taken care of, “call” button, bed alarm off, me dragging my right leg along to the toilet, the nurse taking up residence as my Siamese twin I take a seat AND there is nothing to be found, dry. as. a. desert. I can’t think of a good phrase for number two, but if you can’t get number one working you are shit (ha there it is) out of luck for number two. So, I get back into bed. They de-gown and leave. As soon as the door swings closed my body screams “I have to fucking pee!” I fume not knowing if I will be able to pull it together and produce anything if I hit the “call” button and the nurse comes in and we start the dance again. I go back and forth in my head. I finally decide that I could probably get off the bed and pee before they come in and chastise me for setting off the bed alarm…
I. was. very. wrong.

So “I am going to relish. in. this. fucking. blissful. luxury. of. circumstance” must translate from steroid delirium to “I really have to fucking pee, it will be a luxury I can relish in and it will be blissful when my bladder is empty.” Luckily, I have remained out of the hospital for quite some time and have been able to pee and poop whenever the need hits me, and I now know that it is a fucking blissful luxury of fortunate circumstance. Now that my steroid riddled brain is far in my rear view, I do have some heavy hitting blogs to drop. But I thought since it has been almost two years I should share something lighthearted, as an appetizer. A few details may be repetitive from previous blogs, treat them as a reminder due to my absence. 

Last summer I was lying in bed waiting for sleep, it sometimes takes ages. I was rubbing my right “boob,” the one that was radiated to the end of its life. The one that has a football shaped piece of skin cut from my back, where my trap muscle was cut, pulled through my arm pit and balled up, the hope that the muscle would overtake the infection that was breaking down the door to take my life. My boob won that one. It left my back with a thick scar that pulls so hard it sometimes hurts up into my neck. It left the valley that lays between my boob and the skin below thin and slick as glass, speckled with spots left from radiation and tearing from what would be stretch marks, but because there wasn’t enough skin to stretch, (when I played the weight rollercoaster throughout treatments), it has slivers of even thinner skin; all of which can be incredibly painful. When I lay down everything is a bit tauter and sometimes the best thing I can do is rub over the pain, try to trick my brain. So…I was busy putting pressure on the pain when I felt something poke my finger. It felt like a reverse sliver, something sticking out of the taut valley under my boob. I ran my finger over and over it, like a child on the corner of their comfort blanket. 

I decided further investigation was required. I put my phone on “selfie” mode and turned on my bed lamp. There was a teeny-tiny bit of blue poking out of my skin. It looked, and felt, like fishing line. I was intrigued. As I have been anesthetized to anything that could be going on with my body, I tried to push it back in, with no luck. So, I hit record on my phone and began to pull the string. (Like you thought I would just let that shit stand. My body has created its own language in how fucked up it can be, and it was on a roll). I recorded it because there was no way people were going to believe me. Many of my medical “miracles” that seem like they could “only happen to me,” have been witnessed or diagnosed by my friends, family or doctors. I was in bed, past the bedtime that my mom would still be up, so I needed evidence. I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I figured I would just snip it off in the morning and that would be it. I’d tell my doctor the next time I saw them, probably email them to give them a heads up. So, I pulled……and the string got longer, and a bit longer, and then a bit more…I pulled until it felt like something was pulling back. From my vantage point, looking down towards my belly, the starting point, where I used my fingernails to grab the blue string poking out, was on the left side of the valley. When I felt resistance on the line (insert your own fishing metaphor here) the right side of my skin bunched up…like I was pulling on a loose seam, the fabric beginning to bunch up where the stitching is intact. Stitching was right on the money. I pulled almost 3 inches of blue internal stitching “line” out of my body. I then left the line sticking out from under my boob and called my mom on the phone. She lives with me, but my bedroom is on the main floor and hers is upstairs. 
The Greenaway girls: Kristi, JoDe, Kerri and me
She is somewhat use to late night phone calls, as I have called her multiple times to come and squish gigantic spiders on my ceiling (we live in a very old house, with what I can only assume are very old spiders). It is not that I fear killing spiders (I fully admit to not being someone who traps it to put it back outside into its habitat…the fucking spider came into my habitat, uninvited), historically I am a very successful spider-killer. But my physical circumstances have changed; with my right leg no longer in the game; specifically my right foot that can’t reliably lay flat, which makes it a bit precarious for me to try and balance, not only my body weight, but my body weight, with my arms above my head, trying to balance a broom, to kill aforementioned spiders. So, late night phone calls. There was one night that I rang my mom around 1am. She came down and killed, what she will agree, a spider that was prehistorically large. She killed it, we both saw it die, crumpled up (even when it was crumpled up it was a big son of a bitch). 

Though my heart was still racing a bit, I felt like I could fall asleep with the knowledge that nothing was going to jump on my face. My mom went back upstairs, to what she assumed would be an uninterrupted sleep. About 20 to 30 minutes go by and ANOTHER FUCKING SPIDER, THAT COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN THE SAME SPIDER IF I HAD NOT SEEN THE FIRST ONE DIE A SQUISHED DEATH was on my ceiling…and moving at a generous clip. I slowly reached for my phone; because rationally, I didn’t want it to see me moving. I kept my eye on the spider and inched my hand onto my nightstand reaching for my phone. I then slid my phone up my torso; because if it was in the air the spider might see it and come charging my way. I brought the phone up to my ear and called my mom, I whispered “come quick there is another spider” I took my eyes of the damn thing for a few seconds, then I raised my voice, not a yell, but pretty close, “HURRY UP, IT’S MOVING TOWARDS ME!” it was coming after me to avenge the death of whatever family member my mom just recently destroyed. I heard my mom come back downstairs, get the broom and then opened my door. The look on her face didn’t say “glad to be back here so soon” but she didn’t say anything. But she couldn’t believe that there was another spider that big in my room. We both agreed that we had in fact seen the first spider die, so this was not the same spider, spitting fucking image though. I thought there was (and when we don’t use an actual pest company to spray outside our house could still be) for sure, a family of gigantic spiders, living somewhere in my room and they were coming at me one at a time. So, balancing the broom once again, my mom killed the second spider, it was dead, very, very dead. Again, we both saw it die, though I wasn’t really taking much stalk in that considering the recent retaliation. We did a “spider check,” finding no more spiders. My mom went to go back upstairs, turned around, put the broom up against my wall and in her normal mom voice told me, “you get the next one.” She shut my door and went back upstairs. Luckily, I was not graced with the presence of another spider that night, because I would have called her, and called her, and called her and called her, until she would have either put her phone on silent leaving me which would have been number three, with revenge on its mind.
Winifred, Parker June, Penelope
So, she is accustomed to late night calls, she probably was thankful this one didn’t involve a broom. I pulled out this string and had my mom on the phone. I led with “I am okay and there isn’t a spider, but you have got to come down and see this.” She came down and after she woke up a bit, she asked me what happened. Um, there was this thing sorta poking out of me so of course I pulled it until I couldn’t pull anymore... Neither of us could believe it. After having an eyewitness, plus video footage, I felt it was safe for me to dispose of it. I took nail clippers and clipped it as close to my skin as possible. I wiped some rubbing alcohol on it and put a bit of bacitracin ointment on and called it a night. I kept the blue stitching in a ziplock sandwich bag so I could show friends and family. I wish I knew where the bag was because I would love to attach a photo to this story. I know I took pictures to go along with the video and have searched “blue” and “string” in my Google photos with no results. You’ll have to just take my very long-winded word for it. 

much better than a chicken cutlet!
I got new boobs
The next time I saw my doctor I recounted the bizarre experience I had and nonchalantly they replied, “…those stitches are meant to stay inside your body, and they don’t disintegrate. Sometimes one works its way out and is expelled by the body.” I had so many questions but for one of the first times in my life, I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to know more and didn’t want to know why it happened. It seemed like a freak thing and I just let it go. But I know that it was my boob, so angry after everything I had put it through, finally being able to find a way to flip me the bird.

talk soon.

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