Yesterday was my long awaited appointment for my epidural steroid injections. They are terribly painful but much needed in order to keep me mobile. I always get very anxious before the appointment as I know what the experience entails…and it ain’t fun!
The nurses are always so very nice to me. They tease me, trying to make light of what I’ve been through. They call me the “Pillow Lady” as I require special pillows in order to lie on my stomache on the operating table. I was feeling even more anxious for this appointment as I am dealing with NINE different incisions from the three surgeries I’ve endured recently. All of course are on my “front” and sides and all are still very painful. The thought of having to lie face down on the table for the procedure was really stressing me out. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to do this given the pain I am still dealing with….but do it I must!
The nurses checked me in, did the obligatory blood pressure and reviewed my chart. I brought them up to speed on my recent surgeries and they checked my incisions.
“Do you have any pain meds that you are taking?” one asked. “If you do, I would advise you take them. This procedure is going to be difficult for you.”
“I do, but haven’t taken any. I wasn’t sure if they would interfere with the steroids or cause bleeding” I replied rather sheepishly. You see for me, I feel almost guilty or ashamed that I have to resort to pain medications sometimes. I want to appear strong and “together” and I always feel like I may be or appear weak if I admit to having had to take them. I know this is silly. But dealing with cancer and pain isn’t always “rational”. Nothing about this journey has been straight forward or “by the book”….if there is such a book!
I changed into my hospital gown and waited for my turn in the operating room. There are always several people in the room. Some waiting like me for procedures and others “recovering.” As I waited I could feel my anxiety starting to build. That tightness you get in your chest, the sweaty palms the sense of impending doom…Fu#k!!!!!
I took the pain medication as instructed; some Tylenol 3’s to help take the edge off. I could feel them start to “mellow me out” when I heard my name being called. That was it. Time to go. Oh god, how was I going to handle this?!?!?!
I could see my surgeon talking to one of the nurses. He was reviewing my chart and shaking his head. They talked for a minute and then the nurse came to me and said, “The doctor is going to come talk to you. There’s a problem.”
A problem? Of course there’s a problem. I’ve had nothing BUT problems since this journey began.
“Good morning Patti, nice to see you. Looks like you’ve been through the wringer this holiday season. So sorry to see that.”
“Yep, thanks. It truly has been a shit storm.” I replied; hoping my language didn’t offend.
“Given the fact you have had surgery just a week ago, I can’t perform today’s procedure. The steroids that we inject in your back will impede the healing of your surgical sites and we can’t risk that. I’m sorry, but we are going to have to cancel today’s appointment and reschedule for at least a month from now.”
CRAP!!!!! There was nothing I could do but change back into my street clothes and see the receptionist to reschedule. Another month of back pain in order to give my incisions more time to heal. HEAL. That word sticks in my throat. Healing is all I want…all I need. I need my body to heal. I need my mind to heal. I need my soul to heal. I am damaged. I am in pain. I am broken. But heal I will. I am stronger than the shit that’s been thrown at me. I am stronger than the disease that has reeked havoc on my body. I am stronger than the anxiety and fear and doubt that keeps me up night after night with worry.
I am Strong. I am a survivor.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.