I'm Back!

In more ways than one.

Sorry about the lack of posts (from me - although Ryan's from a few days ago was just lovely!!)  It's been such a crazy week and now that so much time has gone by, I really have no idea where to begin.

My last post was on December 20th, and that was pretty close to my lowest point through this entire process.  I was miserable Tuesday and Wednesday, and then Thursday was my second brachytherapy.  And it was a nightmare.  Ryan did a pretty decent job of describing how NOT ok I was in his last post.  It really was terrible.  I was already in so much pain from the external radiation that everything they were up to INSIDE was just unbelievably painful.  But as Ryan also mentioned, Dr. Flemming is awesome.  During all of this painful procedure, he was really fantastic about describing exactly what each pieces-part that they were sticking in there is going to feel like and how/where it would hurt/create pressure or cramping/etc.  After he had installed the new apparatus while I sobbed hysterically in pain, he insisted on more Demerol.  He is what a doctor should be, and you can tell that all of the techs and nurses and whatnot feel that way, too.  He is clearly well-liked and respected by his staff, and that is pretty fantastic.

Through all of the pain of that afternoon, Ryan was right there with me and he was just... there are no words.  Incredible doesn't cover it.  My dad was amazing, too.  I could tell it was difficult for him to see me in so much pain.  He got me safely home where, thanks to the extra Demerol, I  puked my guts out.  But considering that was my FIRST puke of this entire cancer shenanigan, I suppose I can't really complain.  And I ended up sleeping for like 17 hours that night, so that was kind of a plus...

...and when I woke up, I  felt... GOOD!  It was so weird.  That was the day that I rallied and made it to my company Christmas party AND to Ryan's band (Boys from County Hell)'s Christmas show at the House of Blues.  I figured if their fiddle player could make it there AND play after having just had flippin' brain surgery a couple weeks ago, then who was I to stay home whining about my silly cancer.  I'm SO glad I went.  Not just because getting out of the house was great or that seeing friends and watching a really fun show was so healing, but because it meant so much to Ryan.  He more than deserved to have me there cheering him on from the side of the stage.

Saturday was uneventful.  I was tired and Ryan and I spent a lot of the day just getting ready for Sunday.  He hit the market for food and I wrapped the very few presents we were able to afford to buy.

And then it was Christmas.  And Christmas was wonderful.  I had not spent an ACTUAL Christmas with my parents in... I'm not even sure how long it's been.  Close to 15 years, easily.  Eating egg casserole and opening stockings and gifts with mum and dad and Ryan and my Auntie Beth in the morning and then having roast beast and cookies and other yummies and opening more presents with Ryan's parents, aunt, brothers, sister-in-law, niece (and half-cooked nephew).  It was all so different to what we've all been used to, but I think it went really well.  I feel like as displaced as we all were, it was a lot of fun and that everyone had a good time.  Which means a lot to me - I can't even tell you.  Even though regular traditions were missed, it was a really nice day overall.

"But, Phoebe..." you ask, "how are YOU doing?"

Oh yeah.  That.

Well... how I feel is like sometime in the last few days, I finally turned a corner.  I hit a point where, instead of feeling worse every day, I am slowly beginning to feel BETTER every day.  The burns on my front are almost all healed.  My skin is crazy and splotchy and I'm still mostly bald down there, but the gray blisters gave way to fresh skin, which is no longer and angry bright red, but a calm, pale pink surrounded by the deep brown of a real (read: non-fake, non-spray, non-ORANGE) tan where the skin was not torched enough to peel.  My sore butt is healing, too.  A similar color pattern is happening along my previously distressed ass-crack, but the peeling/flaking skin thing is still happening back there.  I no longer have cracks in my skin ANYWHERE - those seem to have healed (including  the really painful ones that were in and around my most delicate bits).  My nausea and pain have mostly subsided and I stopped taking the nausea and pain meds, which has made the constipation go away (thank god!).  There still seems to be that lingering hemorrhoid business which causes a little bleeding when I have to "go" - but aside from that and constant itching where the skin on my butt is healing... I feel good.

Oh... and the stupid fatigue thing.  I'm having trouble sleeping, so I'm tired in general, but the fatigue.  It's different and it sucks.  And apparently it's going to last a WHILE once all of this is over.  Today, I literally worked up a massive sweat doing one lap around the Target looking for a pair of nice pants (for Ryan) and some waffle mix (for the new CIRCUS shapes waffle maker Ryan's mom got me for Christmas!!!).  But as tired as I was from that, I still pulled it together to go out to dinner tonight with Ryan and my parents.  Today was their 30th wedding anniversary.  And I really wanted to be there, because I helped my dad out with an awesome surprise gift for my mum and I wanted to see her reaction!  I was completely exhausted by the time we were finished, but it was great to just be OUT.  To feel a little normal.  To wear regular clothes!  (I'm back in lady underpants, by the way.  And I can even wear PANTS again - although with the weight I've lost, my pants seem to have gotten a bit bigger...)

Anyhow.  I know that's a lotta babble, but hopefully I did an ok job of playing catch up and will be more on top of this through the rest of this business.

Right now, I am going to try to go to sleep.  Tomorrow, one of my very dear old friends from Denver (who happens to be in Pittsburgh for the holidays) is renting a car to drive out and see me.  We had it planned pre-cancer, so I am SO glad that the timing has worked out and I am feeling so much better.  And then Wednesday morning is brachy #3.  I'll admit, I'm scared.  While so much of my pain seems to have passed, I can tell things inside there are still extra-tender, not to mention that whole shrinking thing.  Just getting a speculum in there at this point is pain like I cannot describe.  God... I do NOT want to have to buy a vaginal dilator.  Embarrassing.

Xxo, Phoebe


r'n'r-RN said…
1. roast beast!!! love that you called it that.
2. hurray for girl underpants!
3. half-cooked nephew? how exciting!
4. feeling better and kicking ass? hell yeah.

love, love, and more love.
jim nelson said…
You have an amazing spirit!! Words cannot express how proud I am of you and how much I love you! And you're not back because you never left. Thanks for being an inspiration to so many! Love, love, love and more love for you, too!
Daddy Jim
John Speck said…
Stick with it, Phoebe! Much love and good vibes from Austin... :)

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