Another layer

Peeling off another layer to this onion of a journey. This week has brought several ups marked by extreme joy but also some downs with fits of crying.

On one hand I am actively loving the springtime and being able to finally get outside. Thankfully, my bruised knee feels better and my fracture doesn’t hurt. I’m back to my triathlon training and enjoying the challenge once again. T minus 5 weeks until the KC Tri. It’s right around the corner so I’m building everything back up. In the past I would be whittling down my workout distances and fine tuning my speed this close to a race. Race specific prep includes more sprinting and pushing harder in workouts. But I’m still working on rebuilding my base foundation and endurance. Oh well, cue the new me. Trying to learn to let that go. I will be experiencing this racing season with a whole new perspective. Along with that, I need to embrace all of life’s challenges in this same light. Gratitude. I’m happy to be alive to take this breath. I’m happy to be strong enough to step up to that starting line, let alone cross that finishing one. Despite the set backs, with each new day I will remind myself of the hope that I have which can never be stolen.

My nails are doing much better. Apparently they had to get to a certain length for the ingrown pain to work itself out.

I’ve even been gardening and pruning back a lot of the overgrown, neglected areas in our yard. It was therapeutic to hack away at the dead stuff with my bird beak clippers yesterday. It was tough work but it seemed helpful to my psyche to see the old and unwanted cleared away to expose new green shoots coming up. Grateful, I realized how strong I am now. A stark contrast to last summer when I couldn’t even look at my yard.

So everything seems good right?

Not so much. The following situations are what have driven me to write this post. Please bear with me. I need to rant.

I am being hit with waves of emotions. Perhaps it is pent-up baggage. Fears I couldn’t think about while enduring treatment. Or perhaps my body has different emotions to process after so many chemo cocktails, landing me into a menopausal state. This last year has been a lot to process. How do I unravel the long list of my feelings now?

Then, I had an awful scare today. Lifting my arm up in the shower I noticed my underarm was sticking out in an unusual way. It was bulged out. First impulse: silently freaked out. My head immediately goes to: What is that? Why is there a lump there? No! What in the world? Of course I immediately thought the cancer is back.

Deep breaths and several tears later I assess that I may be dealing with lymphedema. Since I have had a lymph node removed I have to beware of lymphedema (a scary problem that starts with swelling around any area in which lymph nodes have been disturbed.) So I called my lymphedema specialist who patiently walked me through this with some questions. Thankfully we ruled out lymphedema because my arm didn’t feel heavy or achy. She assessed that I have some fluid buildup. But her first question was, “So have you been doing any yard work recently?” She knew that with this beautiful weather we’re having, that a lot of people are getting out there to do yard work. The repetitive action the day prior of using those clippers and a rake probably caused fluid to build up. I also vacuumed inside yesterday which is another one of those repetitive motions which I’m supposed to limit. This fluid buildup can happen in some patients post surgery. She assured me that it should probably go down on it’s own. I don’t know why it’s not a concern. I mean, it sounds like it will lead to a lymphedema problem. And I don’t know why it’s getting brushed off and I’m being told to just let it go. I don’t like it one bit. I’m just supposed to do nothing but just wait and see? Yes, she tells me that my body might absorb it and this probably won’t cause any problem. But if it gets larger or painful that I can make an appointment to have it drained by my surgeon. Fun. The athlete in me is happy to know that exercise helps flush this kind of thing out. So you know what I’ll be doing to de-stress.

When a little thing like this occurs, it causes unexpected PTSD feelings to emerge.

I don’t like feeling broken. In these fearful moments I repeat Jesus’ comforting words from John 16:33. “My peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I fight to walk this truth even if I have to take it just one moment at a time.

Plaese stnad by. We aer exepreincnig soem techncal dffiiculteis….

***Update***

This morning the swelling has gone down quite a bit thankfully!!! It’s such a relief. I assume it will finish working its way out in another day or two. It’s awful how quickly bigger fears can surface when little things like this happen.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Pam Brannon says:

    Did anyone recommend wearing a compression sleeve?
    My girlfriend who had breast cancer/double masectomy/reconstruction was told/encouraged to wear them for quite a while for the same reason you are describing.
    She picked out some cool looking tattoo sleeves.

    Like

    1. bren-all-in says:

      I asked about that. And no they didn’t recommend it for whatever reason.

      Like

  2. Jennifer Attig says:

    Brenda, thank you for sharing your honest account of your journey. It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s a tough situation, and it is natural that you get ticked off from time to time. You have so many people in your life that are there to lift you up when you are feeling down. It is so good to see your training on Strava. You are putting up some good numbers early in the season, and will be in good form for the KC Tri!

    Liked by 1 person

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