September 23, 2010

Not the Slough of Despond but It Still Stinks, Part One

I was going to say I was in the Slough of Despond, which everyone who ever read The Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan, 1678) knows is a stinky rotten place.  However, that's not where I am, because Christian fell into a bog and felt like petrified bear doo because of his sins and the accompanying guilt over his sins.

 Not my problem, boys and girls.  I'm fresh out of sin and guilt.  It's hard to manufacture either when all I've done for the last two months is sleep 18 to 20 hours a day and spend the rest of the time walking the dogs and wondering how soon I can go back to bed.

Ever since I was diagnosed as ADHD in 2001, I've been seeing a psychiatrist every 3 to 4 months.  I switched from the one in SC to one in Louisville about two years ago; and I stepped up the number of visits when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the mammogram of which looked like this:

In essence, it looked like a very small, quite distant marker of the sort you see on a boat trip, alerting ship and boat captains to the presence of shoals or underwater wrecks or reefs.  It was Stage One, very small. I had a lumpectomy and high dose radiation. Genetic testing of the tumor showed I'm low risk of recurrence, and the drug I'm taking for the next five years makes it at about 2 percent, which is not far off the likelihood of lightening zapping my ass.

Did I mention my father died two weeks before I learned about my little tumor problem?  Yeah.  And he was still dead all through the treatment and, hard as this is to imagine, continues to be. My mother, who has a bit of vascular dementia, has been in a nursing home since four days before Daddy died.  The nursing home is in Ohio, six hours away, which has been further than I can drive.  Here's a map:

I did go up in July to visit Mother and go to the island with the rest of the crew, including our newest brother, Lloyd, born in 1943, for the Doug Cartledge Memorial Toast and Flyover, which included the scattering of my father's ashes.  I spent several hours each day in my parents' house, where they lived forever, packing and pitching and sorting.  100 degrees, and all the mouse pee you might want to smell, the inevitable result when a house is closed up for an extended period of time.

 [NOTE:  The mouse is not to scale.]

Then I came home and was really, really busy for a week or two, and then I got tired and went to bed.  And now here it is today.

Meanwhile, I've had follow-up visits with my three oncological physicians (surgeon, radiologist, and medical) and my psychiatrist and my family doctor (although I couldn't see her because it was her day off so I saw one of her associates, who was lovely; thank you for asking).

Ten days ago I had a fierce case of allergies, because every allergen in the country blooms in Louisville in September. My eyes, ears, nose, and sinuses hurt, so I've been on steroids and a sniff-up-your-nose drug and an anti-allergy prescription drug.  I'm also taking the estrogen/cancer blocker and a thyroid drug and two ADHD drugs and two anti-depressants, one of which was recently increased because my psychiatrist doesn't like to see me cry.

Every time we'd see a doctor, my compadre would say that I'm very depressed; and I would say that I'm having problems with fatigue and weakness. The answer is, depending on the speaker, that the high dose radiation causes long-term fatigue; that one potential side effect of almost every drug is fatigue; [or] that the fatigue is due to depression.

[Fine. I agree.  The shell game looks like a toaster.  But can't you see the green grass under the table?]

I'm tired of talking to you people.  I'll be back later with more of this saga.

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