Friday, January 10, 2020

Inhale. Exhale. It's really not that hard....

WHAT was my problem?

It's just BREATHING for goodness sake.
Why couldn't I do it?

It started 'round Christmas and just seemed to get worse day by day.

I thought my (radiation) treatments were going to start on Mon Jan 6, but when I hadn't heard from the cancer clinic on the weekend, I just moved my sorry ass and a couple boxes of projects and paperwork up to the lake. Where I slept for 16 hours a day, fighting to take a deep breath for three days. CRAZY and STUPID.

After chatting with my sister, she diagnosed anxiety. WHAT THE FLIPPEN HECK?

What was I anxious about? (Besides being able to hold my breath for 30 seconds strapped to a platform while a huge machine rotates around me, zapping me with beams of radiation while making beeping noises?) My head wasn't worried about it. Why were my lungs?

I didn't get a thing done. I just sat on the couch and inhaled. Didn't open a single box. Didn't clean a single closet. Didn't check in on my work email. Didn't read a book. Didn't wash my hair.

I am not a good waiter.

I thought these treatments would start in October. Then in November. Then on Jan 6. Hahaha. I sure fall apart if I'm not in the driver's seat of my life.

On Wednesday afternoon, (Jan 8) I got a call, my first appointment was booked for the following day, Thur Jan 9 at 2:45 pm. I was to go in earlier if I wanted to buy a parking pass. I was to plan on being there for two hours.

And then everything kicked it up a notch. Like WHAT THE HECK LUNGS? Chill out already.

I drove back to Surrey at 11 pm, then slept for about 30 minutes per hour all night long, waking up to gulp air.

Do you have anxiety? Panic attacks? I FEEL FOR YOU.
OH my goodness. SO very shitty. How do you function?

About an hour before I was to leave for my appointment, I texted/emailed a few friends to ask them to pray for me. I needed peace and deep breaths, please.

Can I just say something here?
(Not like I haven't just been saying many things already... but listen...)

You need to have friends who pray.
There is no sound so beautiful as your phone dinging while you're half naked, wrapped in an assortment of blue gowns, having a little cry with the radiation therapist, knowing that each ding is a friend letting you know they are chatting with God about your breaths.

And then, when she asked, "Do you want to talk to someone? I can get a counsellor in here for you..." I replied, "Nope. Let's just get on with it. I'm being totally irrational, I don't know what my problem is. I'm really not afraid. I know this isn't a painful procedure, I know I'm in good hands. I know my breathing is wonky, but I'm not dying. Air is getting into and out of my lungs. I know ALL THE THINGS. Let's get it done."

"Are you concerned about holding your breath for 30 seconds?"
"Well don't be. Hold it as long as you can. And when you have to let it out, the machine stops. You can wait a sec, fill up with air again, and we'll just continue ..."



The therapist went ahead to talk to the two technicians, explaining I was a little 'fragile'. Oh brother. So embarrassing.
But they were sweet and attentive and offered me a heated, weighted blanket (hell no) and wondered what kind of music I'd like playing in the background (Classic Rock? please).

They explained every little thing as they adjusted all the bits and boards on the platform, wrote notes and made marks on the exposed parts of my body, added doodads to upper left chest region, lined me up under laser beams to make sure the target was bulls-eyed with my tattoos, kept telling me I was doing just great...

.... and then they left the room, took x rays, asked me to take deep breaths, and hold it while the machine hummed in my ear, zapping radiation into my boob. Four zaps. Each about 20 seconds long.

(In about ten days I'll start feeling the full effects; a sunburnt boob with tender skin that feels heavy and sore as well as extreme fatigue.)

And that was it.
They both cheered for me when I got up off the table; saying I had done excellent. Yay me. I got an A in lying still.

They gave me a bag to keep my blue gowns in. I'm to bring them with me every day. (I applaud this cost saving device. Why wash them everyday when I'm only wearing them for a 15 minutes?) And explained how to get into the building after hours. Almost all of my appointments are in the evening, after the clinic has closed.

And that was it.

I went and sat in my truck for half n hour to read texts/messages, practice breathing, thank God, and just be still.

It's now 1:30 am and I'm 90% fine.

Thank you, friends and family, for praying for me. I am overwhelmed and blessed.
I have the very best people in my life. I sure hope the other August First Ladies have Friends Who Pray.

Can I ask y'all to pray again? About one more thing?

One of my co-workers lost his wife last night. She died very unexpectedly and is about my age. I can't imagine the grief or pain that family is going through. Please pray for peace, for comfort, for hope, for strength.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. ALL my kids are now home from Sunpeaks. Despite blizzard conditions and road closures. Just waiting for Drew to arrive back from Texas.

2. Nancy, Julie and Daryl accompanying my mom when she bought a condo this afternoon. (I was supposed to be there, but erhmm, I was holding my breath at the exact time she was signing the contract.) Grateful for family and friends who Do The Things.

3. Competent, educated, experienced, gentle, compassionate women in the radiology department. I am in the best of hands.


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