Saturday, September 27, 2008

Making Strides and All

The local breast cancer walk is coming up.

I can't participate this year, I will be in Seattle for work. I'm not sure I feel bad about that. I think I'm more happy that my life is so busy that I just can't fit that walk in. I did not participate last year because I was just too sick.

I'll be interested to see how I handle October this year. Last year, having Breast Cancer month come while I was doing radiation just felt so personal. I was exhausted and scared and everywhere I looked was a big pink sign that said breast cancer. Some things pissed me off. Breast cancer shampoo at over $20 a bottle and when you read the fine print you found out they only donated a dime for each bottle sold. I was irate because breast cancer should not be a markteting ploy. I was irate because they raise a lot of money to fight this disease, but when you go through it you face your medical bills alone. I have pretty good insurance, but treatment still cost me plenty. Breast cancer tic tacs, breast cancer yogurt. Where does all that money go I wonder? Does anyone keep track? Do these companies really give a crap or have they just figured out that if sales go up by 20% when the wrapper is pink - then they can afford to donate 5% and take a tax write off on the donation? Is the whole thing a racket?

On the health front, I am doing pretty well. My energy is good. Appetite is too good thank to Tamoxifen. I am worried about my mobility. The arthritis in my knees is not letting up. One is worse than the other and that one is sore and stiff to some degree pretty much all the time.

I'm not doing much to help myself. I have exercises to do daily. I don't do them. I'm too tired by the end of the day to think about it, and too rushed during the morning. I'm trying to get them back into my routine. I have orthotics for my shoes. I like those, but don't wear them all the time because I wear so many shoes that are open like mules and flip flops. I'm sure I will wear them more in the winter when I change to closed shoes. I take glucosamine. I ice them after dancing. Geez, that's fun. Makes me feel like a granny. Getting up and down stairs is still a big problem. I have to go slow, and I feel unsteady. My knees sound like I'm popping popcorn. There is another series of shots I could go for - but I'm not willing to try it. Cortisone made me worse not better and was fabulously expensive. Made me very reluctant to let them inject anything else.

I still dance whenever I can - and it is still a source of joy for me. I don't compromise on that. Nothing stops me from going to contra, nothing stops me from going to Zumba or Jamz if I am in town for it.

I was in Texas for work last week. It was interesting to teach a class on site after treatment. I had to struggle to get my stupid bags up and down the stairs at my two story hotel since they didn't have an elevator. Going up and down the stairs was hard enough, doing it while dragging my computer bag twice a day was harder. I found it harder to skip meals or wait long hours between meals - I was more sensitive to how bad I felt if I had not eaten in hours. My knees hurt all the time. I had to wait for the elevator when the client took the stairs because we were talking four floors and I just didn't think I could make it. Twelve hour days in front of the customer make anybody tired, I'm sure. But I felt just that little bit more exhausted than I used to.

I am learning how to deal with normal stress again. New job is a total whirlwind. I'm traveling more than I used to. I'm behind on the contra event that I am organizing - I don't have the time to dedicate to getting the committees formed. My eldest son needs help to visit colleges, fill out applications, and fill out his FAFSA form. I have zero personal time. I read for about ten minutes at night before I pass out, that is my relaxation. Eating well and exercising have totally gone by the wayside.

I recognize that I can't let my needs take the back seat in my own life anymore, but damn, it is hard to make the time for myself.

1 comment:

Pattie said...

It's been a long time since I dropped by to check out how you're doing, and was saddened and surprised to hear about your knees. I'm going through the same thing. I am so bad that I've been using a cane to help get around. Talk about feeling like a Granny! I have had to put my pride aside in order to get up and down steps, and use the cane.

I am on my 3rd estrogen inhibitor - trying to find something that doesn't cause so much pain in my hips, knees and ankles. First was Arimidex, then Femara, and now Aromasin. Dr. F. said to give it a month, and I don't get any relief, then we'll try Tamoxifen. Well, I guess I'm not going to get any relief from that either! I've been on the Aromasin for almost a month, and I can see only very slight improvements in my joints. Not enough to be excited about.

My right knee is the worst. I can't straighten it out all the way, and I can't bend it more than about a 90° angle. It makes me angry that I can't do the things I was just doing a few months ago. I moved in Oct., and I was able to move a lot of my own stuff at that time. And now, less than 2 months later, I feel like I'm 85 years old. I promised Carol I would put linoleum tiles on the floor in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, but now I can't get down on my knees to do it. We haven't been antiquing in months because I can't walk for that long.

It's not fair that we are the unfortunate ones who have this awful side effect. My mother and Carol were both on Tamoxifen, and Carol later took Arimidex, and neither of them had this problem with their knees. I am so tempted to stop taking it, and take my chances.