“We don’t see any change in the tumor.”
The words no change are the most annoying and unnecessary jumble of letters in my life right now. I’m coming up on the anniversary of my tumor diagnosis. (Is that a thing? Should it be?) I’ve been through (pardon my language, but it’s oh so necessary) a fuckload of radiation that ended up being so much harder than I thought it would. Post-treatment scans said….wait for it….no change. So we keep watching. And we keep waiting. Because the surgeon really doesn’t want to have to dig that far into my brain.
You’d think that meant some kind of stability, right? I would, but it doesn’t feel very stable right now. I spent Monday night in the hospital with the worst migraine/tumor headache/I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it I think I’ve ever had. I have plenty of headache/pain meds at home and most of the time I can head it off before the pain in my head reaches unacceptable levels. As any chronic pain patient will tell you, there are truly only two kinds of pain….tolerable and intolerable.
But everything ramped up so fast and got so far out of hand so quickly that I had no other choice than heading off to the ER.
I had taken meds at home trying to get ahead of the pain, and as I was finally taken back and able to be treated, the doctors and nurses tried dose after dose of some pretty heavy pain medications, anti-nausea meds, and she even threw in a dose of Benedryl trying to get something to affect the pain.
Hour after hour, dose after dose, attempt after attempt to beat the pain down. My pulse was varying between 108 and 118. My blood pressure was all over the place. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and the nausea left me curled up into a ball.
Finally the doc decided to do a head CT to see if something else was wrong or the tumor had….I don’t even know what? Grown? Moved? Invited friends?
Nope. No change. “It just looks like the tumor is causing pain. We may have to admit you for pain management.”
I didn’t know what to do. I was laying there in so much pain, fighting so hard. But you wouldn’t know that just by looking at me. The truth is, when I’m “just laying there”, that’s when I’m fighting the hardest. I kept telling myself to breathe. I thought of the tattoo on my forearm, ana’laigh, Gaelic for “breathe”. I played through scenes from Grey’s in my head. I tried to remember lines from the show (did you realize that in the very first episode Richard tells the interns that “the 7 years you spend here will be the best and worst of your life” *but* in the last episode he tells the new interns “the 5 years you spend here….”?)*, and I had Drifting Further Away by Powderfinger playing in my head.
I fought back. I got the pain back under a 4 and my pulse back under 100, so I asked to go home. But for the first time I was standing on the line between being hospitalized for this damn tumor and being able to go home. Fuck you, tumor.
And of course, I was blogging all of this in my head. As a writer, beneath and beyond the pain, that’s how I survive.
*I’m a hopeless Grey’s fan, don’t judge me! 😉