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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-12-28 08:26
Subject: [cancer|personal] Walking, thinking, God again, and a bit of scavenging
Security: Public
Tags:california, cancer, child, health, personal, religion
Walked Buena Vista this morning solo, while calendula_witch was at yoga. Normally I walk Twin Peaks here, but given my struggles yesterday walking Buena Vista in her company — shortness of breath, off pace, mixed energy — I decided a Buena Vista repeat was in order, as from the Witchnest, Twin Peaks is 100% uphill until the turnaround, while Buena Vista is up-and-down-and-up. Both are 60 minute walks when I'm in normal condition. Today I think I did it in about 70 minutes, but I did the walk without ever stopping for breath. My pace we will not discuss, but the lungs were much better behaved. This makes me happy. Might make the Twin Peaks walk before I leave the Witchnest for the last time next Sunday.

On the way home (ie, mostly downhill) I passed another street-level informal recycling point, and scored several Brita water pitcher filters still in their sealed paks. Those suckers are spendy. Does this make me a true San Franciscan, or an aspiring homeless guy? I'm not sure.

During the course of the walk I noticed that my somatic sense of the surgery sites has changed yet again. The hallucinations of swelling in my left flank are almost gone, but I still have phantom swelling. Or phantom phantom swelling, I suppose, as earlier on they felt real, and while I still feel them now, they don't feel real anymore. Less intense. On the right chest, my festive holiday bruising is almost gone, and the feeling that someone left a Bic pen inside my chest has shrunk to something like a Cross refill cartridge. I can sleep on either side now, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, and though it's not back to normal, I can see normal from here.

I've been reflecting lately on smaller concerns as well as the big ones — those latter of course being cancer itself, my sexuality, my mental acuity during chemo, etc. The smaller ones border on the silly, but they still carry their own reality. One is, what if I get mugged, or arrested, or something? Both sides of my chest compromised and problems with my left shoulder. I'd be in agony, or worse. (Yeah, yeah, I know, but I think of these things.)

Second, what if I had a heart attack? The relative of a friend recently died of a heart attack in part because his symptoms were masked by severe flu plus a fall injuring his left side. Guess what? I have chest pain all the time, due to the neural damage from the partial thoracectomy. When walking or engaging in other vigorous activites (yes, including sex), my sternum is under pressure from my lungs not being quite right yet. My core temp swings, so sometimes I get chills and sweats. In other words, except for the left side numbness, I have the basic heart attack symptoms almost all the time.

They're not a heart attack, but still, it makes me wonder. And the standard "are you experiencing chest pains" medical screening question now requires a somewhat detailed answer.

Likewise, I now never go anywhere without a packed containing instructions about my current medical situation, including instructions for the port implant, and a sterile Huber needle, which is required to access the port, and not normally stocked in ambulances or Emergency Departments. I am currently wearing a wristband identifying me as a port implantee, and once chemo starts I'll switch to a Med Alert bracelet that documents the side effects, such as risk of severe bleeding, as well as my status as a chemotherapy patient.

Oi. Life changes, and it changes again.

In other news, blzblack and I are corresponding in comments on the Atheism post, working our way through the "pink unicorn" argument. Though I rarely see him anymore, blzblack is a dear friend in real life, and a person of sincere and questing faith. (He might describe himself differently, but that's how he looks to me.) On my walk this morning, I had an insight about faith and people. This may fall into the category "oh, look, the sky is blue", but to my atheistic eye, everything that believers invest in God comes from ourselves. Love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, comfort, morality, structure, purpose; the whole package. That blzblack chooses to invest these characteristics in God is his privilege. I invest them, and my accompanying faith, in myself and the people around me — family, intimates, friends, and total strangers alike. So perhaps we are not so different, except in our assumptions of the wellspring of these blessings.

At any rate, calendula_witch and the_child and I are off to see Avatar in 3D IMAX shortly, then lunch in Chinatown. Y'all play nice, and don't overthink. That's my job right now.

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User: cathshaffer
Date: 2009-12-28 16:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
we tripped over the chest pain issue with Mom, too. It was even harder because her psych issues interfere badly with her awareness of her body, so she could be struck by sudden pain that sheLd been having without knowing for weeks. It helps to have a very specific conversatiion with the doc about what chest pain symptoms to ignore and what to report. It also may happen that you end up in ER for a false alarm. Nothing wrong with that. T Buckell has blogged about similar stuff.

you shouldn't yave to worry about port access in an emergency. They will just stick a vein if needed. There may even be times in your cancer treatment when you prefer to use a vein not your port. Wonder if you got instructions intended for ppl with collapsed veins...?
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-12-28 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The lung bit--as an asthmatic I know this one pretty well. Sounds to me like your lungs are starting to recover; now that it's started, they'll come back pretty quickly. Fast recoverers, those airbags are (unless you abuse them with tobacco smoke or get an infection).

Not surprising you worry about arrest, given the PDX police's attitudes.

The heart attack symptoms are something I hadn't considered. Yikes.
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Erik Amundsen: Midna
User: cucumberseed
Date: 2009-12-28 17:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In other words, except for the left side numbness, I have the basic heart attack symptoms almost all the time.

Same thing, only with occasional numbness, for the last 13 years, thanks to anxiety disorder. They have poked around my heart quite a bit in many ways and found nothing out of order. I feel you. Also, chills. It's no fun.
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Smash Greywolf
User: badwox
Date: 2009-12-28 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hope you like Avatar as much as I did. Though if it has any deeper meaning to you as it did for me, better bring a box of tissues with you to the theater.
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They Didn't Ask Me: avatar
User: dr_phil_physics
Date: 2009-12-28 19:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We're lucky to have an IMAX in Grand Rapids MI -- Avatar in IMAX 3D is an amazing experience.

Years ago I apparently bruised a rib sleeping on a hard floor -- I called my HMO about chest pains and they wanted to see me immediately. Later the doctor said he wanted to tape my EKG strip to the wall with a note "This is what this should look like", after a morning of dealing with people with real heart problems. Still, it was hard not to think dire thoughts with the pain.

Hang in there, good sir.

Dr. Phil
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2009-12-28 19:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't know if this would work or not, but how about trying a heart monitor? The kind, I mean, that monitors you 24/7. This sort of thing was a great comfort to me when I was having hypothyroid symptoms that made me feel like my heart was fluttering or my chest was hollowed out.
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trektone: bop
User: trektone
Date: 2009-12-28 20:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I vote for "true San Franciscan."

Hang in there, Mr. Jay-dude.

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2009-12-28 21:53 (UTC)
Subject: San Francisco
If you like HOT - go to The Hunan, one of the most famous oriental restaurants in America. Don't, repeat, Don't request HOT! Steve K.
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2009-12-28 22:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>everything that believers invest in God comes from ourselves. Love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, comfort, morality, structure, purpose; the whole package.<<

One day, as a teenager, I realized that when I was praying to God, I was just talking to myself. (My Self, if we want to get all Jungian.) And thusly, I became an agnostic who still prays (to herself).

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