I’m wide awake and my right knee is aching and you know what? I’m actually quite happy, actually scrap the quite. I’m happy. Relieved and finally relaxed.
The other night it was a totally different situation. I felt awful. Tense. Irritable. Scared. Tired. Freaked out. It’s extraordinary how after one conversation everything can shift slightly and the weight that was forcing itself onto my shoulders and keeping me up at night can just disappear. Leaving me to wonder what all the fuss was about.
What fuss? Oh the swollen left leg and aching shin bone. Sounds like nothing really doesn’t it? Actually it freaked the life out of me when I realised the shin pain was returning every night and distracting me. I also measured my thighs – there’s a 3 inch difference in the circumference at the top of my thighs. My calves have a difference of an inch in circumference.
If you’re wondering where this is going or why I am going on about leg sizes when this blog is usually about food or bowel cancer…then don’t worry I’m not going massively off track!
My last cancer diagnosis which was still bowel cancer BUT the actual tumour was in my left thigh – the top of it. My groin, if we’re getting technical – in a lymph node.
I freaked out royally last Friday because suddenly I realised all the problems were back that originally showed there was a problem, that problem eventually confirmed to be cancer.
So there’s me on Friday night a bit of a mess. Crying. Measuring. Crying. Curling up and crying a bit more. Thinking the worst. Wishing I could just have a break. Measuring again.
Over the weekend I went through it all. From ‘Oh it’s nothing..just chemo after effects and I should know that can happen’ to ‘It’s back and it’s a speedy bugger; well there goes my return to work and getting on with life.’
Oh yes, I’ve been a cheerful bunny recently.
Tonight though, I’m calm. My shoulders no longer ache. I’m awake because actually I’ve been too busy reading and watching tv to actually switch off. Why the sudden shift in attitude? My Oncologist put it down in black and white. After examining me and listening to me self diagnose myself all over her office. She confirmed I’ve always had edema (swelling) and that’s been reported in several scans over the last 12 months. She’s not surprised this is happening. She does however want to sort my pain. So I’m set to have a Doppler scan to see what’s going on and to make sure nothing’s blocked. She thinks I’m suffering with lymphedema. I’m coming up to my two year anniversary of original treatment and that’s when it likes to really reveal itself, plus I’ve had the bloody c word in the actual lymph. So I was kind of asking for it huh?
So once all is checked the plan is to get me into treatment which is massage. This will help drain the lymph glands and hopefully reduce the swelling. Apparently it’s good we’re treating it now and not leaving it. It’s harder to fix after it gets too big. I’m planning on doing all I can – I like wearing skirts. At the moment the size isn’t an issue, as it’s only slight at the moment. You’d only notice it because I’ve told you about it. I do know though that it can get bigger and it does get very uncomfortable. I have to think about the future and what this will mean when I’m back at work. I need to be physically able to handle days on my feet, walking for ages, climbing ladders, scaffold, walking on various types if surfaces, wearing heavy boots and keeping up with everyone. That’s not all straight away, but eventually I’ll need to be able to handle it.
That’s why I’m relaxed, because I can carry on thinking about the future and making plans. Now my return to work isn’t something just there on my mind. It’s my big goal. Nothing stopping me now.
I know I’m going to get aches and pains and problems, especially at the moment – so soon after chemo has finished. My body is recovering from a war zone in there. In some ways all those aches and pains seem harder to just ignore this time. I’ve learnt my lesson though. As soon as I freaked out I had emailed my Oncologist and was doing something about it. I’m learning to speak up when I’m worried now.
Something we all need to do when we notice something isn’t quite right with our bodies. We know them very well, we’re with them all the time. We know them better than we think.
So it may be gone two in the morning but I’m up because I want to be and I’m relaxed and enjoying how calm it is at this hour. I’m writing a list too. Thinking about all the things I have to do. Now that I’ve got my life back and I’ve got over my little scare. Item nr 1 ‘Live your life – in whatever way makes you blissfully happy.’ That’s the plan…