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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    camp—it’s
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...
    Readmore...

Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> cancer

More Recovery Updates

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Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , cancer

I have been distracted and fatigued with visitors and even a couple of outings, so it’s taken me a while to put together another update post. I’m happy to report that I’m still healing really well. I have been managing pain with just ibuprofen and haven’t had to use any of the “serious” pain meds they gave me. I’ve been sleeping fine and napping whenever I feel like it (and since I’m a fan of naps anyway, that’s at least once or twice a day). I’ve been able to go for at least a short walk almost every day (and it felt great to be outside). Most of the issues I’ve had have been on the level of “irritating” rather than “awful”: itchy tape, prickly glue bits, sore jaw and arm, bruised hand, inflamed drain insertion sites, general fatigue. Overall though I’m doing way better than I expected and I attribute that to four things: 1) top-notch medical care; 2) the incredibly humbling and powerful outpouring of love, good vibes and care from all you beautiful people both pre- and post-surgery; 3) being from strong Russian peasant genetic stock; and 4) an optimistic attitude of gratitude (you get what you focus on).

Speaking of gratitude, the unarguable silver lining of this whole experience has been the people. My close friends and family, who have been nothing short of amazing angels of compassion and love (with a special shout out to my mom, who has been there for just about every doctor appointment and even slept over in my hospital room with me). The beautifully heart-filled folks from my various communities: my synagogue friends, my burner buddies, my writer peeps, my faire family, my parent pals. The consistently kind and caring staff and doctors at UCSF. People have reached out with all kinds of support: messages, visits, flowers, meals, cards, smiles, books, jokes, music. Especially now, in these often dark days when the rest of America and the world seems at times to be struggling with their collective humanity and compassion, the people around me have shown that goodness and love are alive and well, and I am incredibly grateful. It’s so important (for both me and the world) to keep hope and optimism going, and all these people have helped me (and the world) do so. I have a huge amount to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, for sure.

A few last notes: I had a post-op appointment at UCSF yesterday where the nurses finally took off my ratty, irritating bandages (yay) and examined all the incisions, and I’m also happy to report that they agreed that everything looked pretty good. They took out my two drains, which was a brief hurt, over quickly, but most of all was a tremendous relief. I finally got to see what had been under the bandages, which was pretty trippy. I’m still all puffy and frankensteined (and glued up), but wow is it weird to have such relatively small, taut, perky-nippled boobs so high up on my chest. I thought they’d be lighter too, because they’re smaller, but they’re not really...just a lot less saggy and long. It’s like someone pulled a string on my back and they just shrank up into me (but unfortunately with a lot more stitching). They look okay, but definitely different, and it’s still throwing me. I want to be more excited about the transformation but I think that will take some time. For the moment I’m still mostly struggling with loss and change. I can’t really get attached to this iteration anyway because it’ll change yet again after the double mastectomy in a couple of months.


Recovery and Attention

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Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , cancer

And then...there was recovery. It’s been about a week. Today I’m feeling pretty great, actually, but let me go back and talk about earlier in the week.

The last week has been full of visits and flowers and food and calls and cards and loving gestures of all kinds. (I have discovered that some people are flower people, some are food people, some are card writers, and some are bakers. All of them are awesome.) So many people are so eager to do something to show me that they care. This is certainly the moment when I feel all my communities holding and supporting me, and that’s a beautiful thing. I’ve certainly spent years and years involved with various communities, putting in my time and energy, and this is the reward. 

I am mostly very pleased at all the attention. (Who wouldn’t be? Flowers and food and loving words are something it’s practically impossible to have too much of.) I think that in many ways I have been healing as well as I have because of all the outpouring of love and attention that has been showered on me. (I’m not just being woo-woo; this is totally a thing. Go look it up.)


Cancer Surgery #1: All The Details

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Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , cancer

Whoop whoop, I made it to the new normal. I’ve been putting off writing in here mostly out of general laziness, not because I have been unable.  In fact I am happy to say that I have been way more able than I feared I might be. I’m barely on pain meds (just 600mg of ibuprofen every 8 hours) and feeling pretty clear and sharp, albeit sore and tired (which is not surprising). But ok let me back up and tell the whole story, in as much detail as I can remember (for research! Because I am so totally going to use all this for the next novel.)

So Josh and I got up super early on Monday morning. I took a shower (with the special antibacterial Dial soap, which seemed a bit like magical thinking to me but I guess every little bit of knocking back the skin bacteria helps), got dressed (I wore my “breast cancer is a big fat doodiehead” tshirt that Susan Barnes gave me), said goodbye to the kids (Isaac was super anxious both the night before and the morning of, but he managed to hang in there), and when Mom got here at 6:30 we all packed our stuff in the Camry and drove to UCSF. We didn’t hit much traffic and got there well ahead of our recommended 7:30 check in time. We checked in at the surgery department and then they sent us over to the familiar 2nd Floor of the Cancer Center, where we waited around (checking FB, playing Words with Friends, and generally trying not to think about the future) for the staff to get there so we could start with the wire localization procedure.

Eventually a nice Russian technician (side note: lots of Russian immigrants who both work at and are served by UCSF...many staff with Russian accents, and signs in Russian too) took me back into the Radiology department (this was the department across the hall from the main Cancer Center, where I’d had my ultrasound) and got me all set up in a mammogram machine in preparation for the wire localization procedure. She was very warm and nice to me, apologizing for the squishing (and rightfully so; this one was way more painful than my previous mammograms had been) and patting me soothingly. There were two different doctors involved in the wire localization procedure, both very kind and professional young women in their late 20s/early 30s. It’s weird to be at that age and stage where the professionals are younger than me. What was cool though was that all the professionals there were women. I commented on that and they said something like “yeah, most of us here in the breast center are”. Yay for changing culture. Anyway, once they got enough pictures (ow), they shot me in the right boob with some lidocaine (ow) and then poked me with a wire (not ow, fortunately) and left it there and taped it down. I got dressed again and waited for them to tell me we were good to go and then we all headed back over to the surgery waiting room. Anji met us there.


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