November 18, 2009

First rehab visit today

I met the with the physical therapist today for my first rehab session. It was harder than I expected it to be and that was a little discouraging. All we did, as per my surgeon's instructions, was work on range of motion and mobility stuff as I am not permitted to lift more than 5 pounds with my right arm. Still, it was hard and it left me sore and perhaps a tad discouraged. Just the same, I will totally do this.

I went back to work on Monday and am really only good for about a half a day before I just want to melt into my chair and sleep. So, we'll see how that goes. I just want to get through this week and then next week is a short week with Thanksgiving. I hope to be in a better place (physically, emotionally, energy wise, pain management wise, etc.) after an extended break with more sleep. I hope to get more sleep generally. It kind of sucks to wake up every single time you want to shift position in bed. Normally, you can just turn over in your sleep but I cannot do that right now. I think that the lack of consistent sleep must be wrecking my mood and making me more prone to unhappiness and discouragement. Here's to sleep! Sleep that knits the raveled sleeve of care!

Sleep well, y'all! And thanks so much for the comments.

And a little brag. I stayed home to attend the Girl Child's parent teacher conference with her 3rd grade teacher. The teacher read a story out loud to us that the Girl Child had written, told us that she had never seen anything like it from a third grader ever, and read it out loud to all the other third grade teachers. She said that there is no doubt that this is a very special, very smart little girl. I kind of already knew that, by the way.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:43 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 14, 2009

Our meeting yesterday with the surgeon

It went well. He took something like 85 surgical staples out of an angry red line on my arm and tested my range of motion and mobility. He was visibly surprised by how much motion/mobility I had and agreed that there was a lot to be said for being so physically active for so many years prior to the surgery.

Then he told us some good news. The margins tested clean, according to pathology. Whatever he took out of my body is out. They are still uncertain about what it actually was, mind you, but it came out clean and left nothing behind in my arm. He was delighted to tell me that. Oncological orthopaedic surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering rarely, in my experience, use words like delighted. I take that as a good sign. We are waiting for the pathology report to come out and we are waiting for them to first finish some further genetic testing to tell us whether it is a low grade sarcoma or benign. He said that even if it is a low grade sarcoma, and it might be, he is not inclined to order radiation which he feels, in and of itself, carries risks which might not be warranted in my circumstances.

So, on to rehab. I will have pain in my arm for at least the next year, he cautioned me. It was a radical and "difficult" surgery. I slept, last night, or tried to sleep, without the sling for the first time and I can attest that I concur that it will continue to be painful. It was painful all night.

But you know what? I am a survivor. I have spent 6 weeks wondering, each time I have hugged my 3 year old, if I had an expiration date on those hugs and if he would remember me. That horrible introspection takes a terrible toll. I think that I am going to need some time here. Even if the tumor turns out to have been benign, I am a survivor. But more than having survived, now, I intend to thrive. So, pain be damned, get me to rehab. I have a lot of living left to do.

And thanks to the guy sitting next to my wife and me at Doc Watson's last night (2nd Ave and 77th/78th streets) who, after hearing me share my good news with the bartender last night, bought us a round of beers. New York is a great place to celebrate life, as this lovely fellow reminded me last night.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:20 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 13, 2009

Back to the surgeon today

I will journey back to the city today to meet with my surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He will remove the stitches from the 10 inch incision running from my shoulder to almost my elbow. He will discuss with me the healing and the rehab limitations. I hope to be released from my sling. I have been required to keep my arm in the sling for the last 9 days, including while in bed. It is simply not comfortable to sleep with a sling.

I will have lots of questions about rehab. I am impatient to begin.

I will, at this meeting, be told first thing about the verdict rendered by the tumor board on the pathology of the mass he removed last week. This is of no small moment for me and I wait, knowing that this outcome was determined prior to the surgery albeit unknown to me. I am hoping that it was benign and that the surgeon just has to say he's sorry for being so aggressive and so conservative and I can tell him not to worry, that I understand why he removed 40% of my right triceps. On the other hand, I could live with being told that it is a low grade malignancy and I need to light it up with some radiation. That would be ok, too. Either verdict will lead to numerous follow up questions (and no one asks follow up questions like a trial lawyer looking to exhaust a topic).

I am mentally and emotionally in a pretty good place right now. I have had some wonderful experiences from friends who expressed love that I did not know they had. I am over the complications (bleeding heavily from the catheter trauma) and nothing improves your outlook more than being able to pee without pain or heavy bleeding. I stopped taking the prescription pain stuff some days ago. Why do people seek that stuff out of their own choice? It is disgusting. My natural sense of optimism is reasserting itself.

Today will be a good day. Tomorrow, I am finally able to allow myself to think, will be a better day.

I will follow up with a post that I have in mind later to explore, in my usual disorganized fashion, what lessons I can glean from this experience. One quick one I will share is that life is uncertain -- eat dessert first.

Thank you all for all the comments. They have helped more than I can say.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:20 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

November 08, 2009

Surgery -- appears to have been a success

I am home, since Friday, from Memorial Sloan Kettering. The surgery was on Wednesday and required 5 hours. The surgeon took 40% of my right triceps. He felt it went well. I feel as if I have had better weeks and will write more once I can use my right hand again.

Posted by Random Penseur at 05:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack