Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bulldozing the Obstacles

I have always been able to see time in a very concrete way. Days stretch out before me, empty three-dimensional blocks, partially filled with activities and obligations. I can reach out my long planning arm and place an appointment into a slot and see how much of the day is obliterated. Different kinds of scheduled activities make the day lighter or darker, depending on their desirability. I can see obligations that are not firmly rooted being pushed to more distant blocks as I add in more urgent appointments. My days are balanced on a health platform that is also quite tangible - a slanting summation of physical capabilities that can make or break a day. That, too, is somewhat scheduled. I know when my treatments and medication changes will occur, and I can take full advantage of the associated energy, strength, and pain changes.

I describe this to explain why I am now in an uncomfortable position. Last week the surgeon threw me a curve ball. He wants to wait until my healing nodule shrinks as much as possible before excising it. This makes sense; small nodule means small incision means easier healing. If it becomes infected again, we will rush to remove it. In addition, a curve ball from the chemotherapy guys. No more rituximab until the whole nodule situation is resolved. So...I have a surgery appointment floating freely in my calendar matrix, and the health platform tilt has been completely changed in an unpredictable way. I don't know what happens when you only have one out of two infusions of a rituximab dose. Do enough B cells die to hold back the flares? Is there a risk of rebound flaring if the dose isn't "reinforced" by the followup?

I'm supposed to be able to travel soon, a big trip to Minnesota to visit my sister. I tend to regress with travel, so I try to be as strong as possible in anticipation of it. I also need my endurance for exercising (no weight loss without it on my pitiful metabolism), keeping up my house (no cleaning service in the budget now), finishing my current projects and stocking up for the Chattanooga Market opening in April. I've gone out on a limb scheduling things that were appropriate for my level of health over the past year, and now there may be a radical change.

So, we've dealt with the perception. What about the feelings? Well, I, this is not my forte, the feelings stuff. I have to sit still and be nonintellectual and try and decipher what my gut is saying. I am anxious. Fearful. Unsettled. But I am also curious, challenged, and a little excited. The wall of adversity is climbed in our minds moreso than with our arms and legs. I have climbed it before and I know I can now.

When I was a freshman at Vanderbilt, I had a hectic schedule. I was taking engineering and science courses with lots of projects and long labs. I was introduced to independent living and using my feet for transportation. I was continuing my instruction in classical piano, making the long trek to the Peabody campus to practice for hours daily. As I walked to the music department every day, I would say to myself "I am a bull dozer, plowing relentlessly forward." I made a running narrative of my trek, detailing my progress up and down hills, across the campus lawns, up stairs and down halls. It was entertaining but it also kept me moving. That kind of narrative serves me well at times like this, where I need to keep the excitement and not get stuck on the fear.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Essie,

    I'm working on an "Eff Lupus Project" -- collecting victory stories from people living with Lupus; if you would ever like to contribute, I would love to add your story to the project.