Sunday, July 24, 2016



   Part of me says this is a big mistake as a blog post since it will only serve to depress people. The other part says I need to write this for myself and apologize to anyone who might be offended by it.

   On February 25 I underwent a complete hysterectomy while the wonderful surgeon biopsied the growths  found in my ovaries, my uterus, etc. as she went, finding two kinds of cancer, unfortunately. One was 3rd stage ovarian, the other ? stage uterine.  The operation should have taken care of all the cancer they found, including removing the omentum .  YES - this is a real thing and you can read about it on the link.  Some of my details are much too gross to write about.   What seems remarkable to me is how this was all done in one operation, with three small incisions, and my recovery was quite rapid.  A friend who had a hysterectomy about 15 years ago took six weeks to recover.  I am grateful for the advances, some of them, that have been made in medicine.

   I began my issues with pain at about 50 years old - serious arthritis in my left thumb, and inability to move my head completely (due in part to hours spent on the computer which I started using in about 1980 and have used ever since on every job I've had).  At first I dealt with the pain using alternative methods - luckily found a health food store across the street from my school - 32nd Street - where I'd been hired as the Teacher Librarian.  I have a long history with that school, starting in 1965.  Anyway, this wonderful man from Gambia ran the health food store serving the African American community. He didn't make much money but I think ran it out of love.  I could tell him my symptoms and whatever he recommended always did the trick.  I moved away from 32nd St in 2002 which was a big mistake, since I stopped going to my friend Mr. Braithwaite for advice.  He cured my neck pain back in 1997 with Glucosamine and MSM.

   So what was this pain a sign of in my life that needed to be changed?  I was starting a totally new profession at the age of 50, I had to work 8 hours a day, and then attend college on weekends, with loads of homework.  I still had a teenage daughter at home. My life was complicated. Perhaps too complicated for my nervous system.  I've long thought that had I been born in the 1700s or so I would not have survived because I was born with allergies, and never did have a strong nervous system.  But as Dr. Gabor-Mate might have explained, I was also born into the time that my parents were fiercely persecuted by the federal government. My anxiety and fear had a basis in fact. My father was in danger of being executed.  I was merely reflecting the fear of my parents which they tried to hide, but it was impossible.

           "The brain is affected by the environment not only during critical periods of early childhood development, but throughout the human lifetime. In Hold On to Your Kids, co-authored with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Dr. Maté provides insight into the environmental factors necessary for healthy child development."

    Back to the question of pain, which I have been enduring these past five months, and have tried to understand.  I have had to undergo six sessions of chemotherapy which were broken up by three sessions of radiation.  Radiation, although uncomfortable, did not seem to have side effects. So for about 9 weeks I was fairly symptom free.  But the chemotherapy, unfortunately, is much more fraught with side effects that leave one feeling hopeless, helpless, and desesperada.  Not quite desperate, but with an emotion that I somehow cannot explain in English.

   Two WORDCLOUDS about my pain:

I never imagined one could experience so many side effects from a medication. Of course I stupidly forget that chemotherapy is meant to KILL the cells in your body -- but what I don't understand is why they aren't applied more selectively.  For example, in my case, internally the drug could be applied in just the area where my cancer resided.  In a way, this is what the radiation therapists did. It
 was very concentrated and focused.  I'm sure I had side effects from it -- but not nearly so many.

   I asked the nurse practitioner (who is no longer there sadly) on the Oncology Gyn unit what I could do for the pain.  It was as if I had a serious flu that knocked me down for at least a week, and now ten or 12 days.  Wonderful nurse that she is, who believes in marijuana use for some things, and wants to run for president on the marijuana ticket, told me to use pain meds.  She generously gave me enough to last a lifetime -- only because I can't really take them.

   So the only remedy for all this pain is more pain.   Did I mention that for the first few days I am so backed up from all the medication I have been given to prevent nausea and vomiting that the effort to go is enough to make you feel like committing suicide or a crime.  I have never experienced such horrible pain before.  Childbirth in my experience was not painful - I know, that isn't really fair.  But I had no real contractions.  It was a strange birth process.  But since then I have experienced many other painful episodes that have left me breathless.  This one was the worst.

   And I cannot take the pain meds -- they don't really help me except to give me a few hours of sleep. And the result of taking them is even more pain. And probably light headedness and dizziness which are also new symptoms.

   Now they tell us that serious pain medication has led to suicide.    People are taking too much of it. So they won't prescribe medication that actually works.  When my father was dying of bone cancer, a pain that radiated from the top of his head down to his toes, they gave him morphine.  I watched him writhe in pain when he thought we weren't looking.  He had been six feet tall and probably 180 pounds of muscle and bone, not really ever fat.  I looked upon him nearly as a skeleton as he shrank away to nothingness with bone cancer.  A humane society would provide him with all the dope it could find, and in fact speed up the pace of his death.   A wild and wonderful friend later told me I should have "scored some heroine" for him on the street. As if I could've done that. But I do wish I had.

Some of the pain meds I have used in the past:   [one I believe affected my developing acid reflux]


   Actually I never did try oxycontin - though it was available in Costa Rica over the counter strangely (while more common drugs had to have a prescription).  I can see how people could be hooked on one of these or more.  Pain is debilitating, exhausting, enervating -- it takes away your will to live, your joy of life.    Luckily I have had luck with MSM as I said, as well as acupuncture.  Before this last infusion I went to an acupuncturist in Silverlake.  I truly think it helped but not as much as I would have liked.

   By the end of August I hope to be finished with all my chemotherapy and on the mend. Most importantly I need to resume my four day a week exercise schedule.  Preferably I would like to get a pool put in my backyard so that I could swim every day. I am convinced this is the perfect exercise for people with arthritis.   Meanwhile, I wish with all my might that capitalism goes away, socialism is installed in every country, and all our money goes to finding a cure for cancer instead of starting wars all over the world.  


Greater OMENTUM - 
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  1. Yikes! That is a hard one to read. May that pain go away ASAP! Grrrrrrr.

    1. Thank you Diane!! I'm hoping so as well. I expect by end of August. Sorry it was so grim.

  2. You are stronger than I could ever be. The ability to endure is the true measure of strength.
    I also have constant pain. It is nothing as extreme as yours, and there is no need for me to go into details. I, personally, have a W.C. Fields attitude when it comes to a life of pain. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
    I do not fear death which is an end. I fear dying. I fear leaving people I love without sufficient means of financial support. I fear merely quitting before there is an actual need. (I also fear rats, but that is another story. I'm also not too fond of politicians who hold any degree of power, but that is also an aside.)
    I have no idea how other people handle pain and eventual death. I truly believe we must all, each and every one of us, find our own way in this journey.
    You have had wonderful judgment in your life regardless of a few screw-ups here and there that everyone has happen. You will do what's best for you. Right now writing about it is what you obviously need to do, and you are doing that very well.

  3. Thank you Ken! I love your attitude!! Thank you for support. You are amazing! I do think we have to figure it all out for ourselves but I find it helpful to read others' journeys and struggles. I wish I could agree that I had good judgment - not so. But failing so often has taught me a great deal. I think I would be saddest leaving this planet without helping people in some concrete way. I am much more afraid of politicians (and some ants that bite worse than anything). I love your sense of humor, which I don't have and need so desperately! Thank you for your blogging!! I enjoy every one!