Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Crippled State of Mind

The pain shot from the outside of my left breast up to my shoulder as I pulled myself out of bed. My breath escaped me. I cranked up the heating pad and laid back down in bed. My tears soaked my hair to my cheeks and left tiny puddles on my pillow case. Jasper became anxious and whimpered running over to lick my face. My little peanut knows me all too well. He’s seen this time and time again.

Some people’s joints act up when the weather changes in an arthritic-nature. When the air pressure changes drastically, I collect fluid where my lymph nodes have been removed and swell to the point of excruciating, piercing pain. The fluid is pleuratic in nature and will move from my lower back, to my breast and then my shoulder and then move again—all up-and-down my left side.

I managed to pull myself together and stepped into the bathroom. I stood facing the mirror in my long-sleeved white Alpha Omicron Pi Alumni shirt that my parents bought me for Christmas and my underwear. I lifted my shirt and looked at my chest to see if I noticed anything different. Running my finger tips along the edge of my left breast I winced in pain. I needed a second opinion.

Matt was sitting in the office writing a paper for class. I approached him saying, “Matt, can you to do me a favor and look at my boobs?” He turned and faced me smiling a little deviously and responded, “Is this a trick question?” After Matt reassured me that the redness was just a result of the heating pad, I laid back in bed with Jasper. It didn’t take long for my jaw to lock and the rush of anxiety to come over me again. I began to shake and Jasper whimpered softly tucking his nose beneath my neck. 

Matt came into the bedroom sensing something was wrong, catching me in a panic attack. This caused me to cry even harder.

“I’m scared.”
“Jennifer, take a step back and don’t jump to conclusions. This happens once in awhile, you know what it is.”
“But it’s miserable.”
“I know, but it’s going to be ok.”
“I’m mentally crippled. I don’t want to be like this the rest of my life.”
“Babe, it’s all going to be ok. Trust me. Just relax.”

Sure enough, just a day later the pain and swelling has subsided. Life has resumed as normal. But I know when the weather changes again I will spiral into my crippled state of mind. My good friend Stephanie put it best in a message to me, “Just because the “cancer” is gone doesn’t mean the cancer is gone.” I still can’t seem to escape it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Safety Blanket

Jennifer: I am trying to find a place to donate my wigs.
It is a really hard thing for me to part with them.
I want them to go to a cancer patient.
Matt: That’s good.
Why don’t we take a trip to a hospital and do it in person or something?
Would that mean more?
Or be more meaningful?
Jennifer: Um, well, there was a "wig bin" at my oncology office.
I may contact them and see if they know of any patients that are having financial issues or who are having a difficult time finding a wig.
Matt: Yea
That works too.
Jennifer: I don't know.
I am just weird about it.
I feel like if I get rid of them the cancer will come back.
Matt: No baby.
That’s not true.
Jennifer: I know in my head that it's not true, but I can’t help but feel this horrible anxiety about giving them away.
They were like a safety blanket for so long.
It was like they hid the sickness and I could be normal.
And if I get rid of them my hair will fall out again and I won’t have my disguise.
Matt: Yea.
Everything is going to be ok baby :)

… and to this day I make the effort to research homes for my beautiful wigs, but I still find a reason not to part with them. They continue to keep me safe.