Saturday, April 21, 2012

"All Through the Night"

I write every single day of my life, but I don't post most of which I write.

I made it through the ankle break. In January I had to be taught how to walk again. I do have to say that surprised me- the having to relearn how to move oneself forward with the feet.

Those first couple of weeks were hard, painful and tiring. I had to learn to pay attention to which foot to put first. I had to learn to pay attention to not looking at my feet. I had to learn to allow my broken ankle leg to bear more and more weight.

On January 17 I was in lots of pain, and I was walking hunched over with a cane. I looked my physical therapist in the eye and told her that I did not believe I would ever walk right again.

Today that seems long ago. After much therapy and practice I am able to walk almost four miles. My left foot always feels a bit uncomfortable when it strikes the ground, and I have somewhat of a limp, but I trust that in time things will improve.

I was absolutely relishing in the delight of being ambulatory again. I was so glad to be able to stand in the shower, do our laundry, shop at the grocery, vacuum the floor and work in the yard.
My simple daily activities are pretty much all I need to be happy. I spice things up with music which I play almost constantly, and I have learned when it is time to take a break, rest this sixty year old body and curl up with my latest book.

Life was back to normal, or so it appeared.

On March 24 I received a letter in the mail which told me that my mammogram showed a "finding" that needed further exploration. I was too busy that weekend getting ready for my father's eighty-fourth birthday party the next day to allow my mind to wander.

On Monday I lined up an appointment at Lifetime Screening for the next day. I was nervous, but I told myself that I was letting my mind go to the worst like it tends to.

I lay on the table while the sonographer scanned my left breast. I watched the movement on the screen. I saw a darkened image that had  erratic edges. The fact that the technician was going over and over that area was telling.

When she had finished her inspection, I told her that I did not like the look of the  image. She left the room and arrived with two radiologists. I told them that I needed to know what they were thinking. I told them that I could tell by looking in their eyes that they suspected cancer.
They nodded in agreement.

Pools of tears  ran out of me drenching my new beige top. I was shaking, and I cried out that I did not think I could deal with this. I almost apologized for my behavior, but my inner voice said, "Paula, you have been through too much in the past ten months. For God's sake, give yourself some mercy here." The tears and shaking continued while the doctors held my hands They were kind and gentle.

I gathered myself together, and got an appointment for a biopsy for the next day. When I got behind the wheel of my van, I decided to proceed with my plans to do my grocery shopping. What in the hell good would it do to go home and allow my distress to steep? The younger me would have gone home and stewed, but the aging me  has learned me that it is my daily routines that keep me at least somewhat balanced.

Last May my sister's Stage I breast cancer returned after twelve years and was moved up to Stage 4.
In June I was a passenger in a horrific car accident which resulted in broken ribs, a cracked sternum, four cracked teeth and broken patella and tibia. I was wheelchair bound for two months.
In October I crushed my ankle while dancing resulting in a bimalleor fracture which resulted in surgery. I was in a wheelchair for three months, and walking with a boot and cane for two more.

I told all this to the doctors who held my hands. I thought that  I sounded like one of those women on a soap opera. I thought that I sounded crazy, and I told them that if this news could have waited for one year maybe I would not have been lying there shaking and sobbing so. 

But the breast cancer did not wait, and now I have it. Life throws stuff at you, and about all we can do is choose how we deal with it. My style is to allow myself to feel my feelings completely. My style is to allow myself to cry until I feel a lightening of my spirit. My style is to research the problem and take care of the business of doing what I can to solve it.

The worst days are waiting for the final surgical pathology report because it IS the blueprint  for the  disease. It will provide the specifics of the type of breast cancer I am dealing with. It will give me information that will aid me in choosing my treatment.  Of course, there is no cure at all for any type of cancer, but I hope for a pathology report that will tell me that I  have a good chance at keeping the beast at bay for many, many years. I am scared shitless.

My surgery is on April 25. By the third of May I will have the big picture. While I wait, I practice with ways to keep the anxiety at bay. Some hours I do better than others.

I scrub, clean, walk many miles, lift weights, paint pictures,  garden, read and dance. I run errands, cook and visit friends. I do sessions of focused breathing, listen to music and watch movies. All of this eventually gets me pretty worn out by late afternoon.  

I find I welcome sleep more than usual.

"Blessed, blessed, sleep"

William Shakespeare



  1. It has been a challenging journey to say the least. Please know how much love and support is here for you. I hope your writing, drawing, painting, gardening,etc continue to provide you a creative outlet for all you are coping with! Of course if you just want to call and rant, I am here for you. Love you, Vicki

  2. Dear Paula,
    David and I send you our love and will keep you in our healing thoughts.