Recovery after this past surgery has been interesting. I can do a lot more for myself than last year but my activity has still been significantly limited. I want nothing more than to throw on my sneakers and run down Blackstone Blvd. Right now I’m lucky that I can walk and sit up straight. Even walking on the treadmill is a no-no for at least another week and a half.
This past Monday my staples were removed. Let me tell you, it felt like nineteen piercings were ripped from my flesh. The girl removing my staples was very sweet but perhaps less than experienced at doing so. I have pretty amazing pain tolerance after the past year of being poked, prodded, and cut open but holy hell this hurt. She barely had ONE staple out of me and I was hysterically crying. I am no wimp but I had zero control over the waterworks. Finally she brought in a fellow, Dr. Hill, who gently extracted the remaining staples (hey Wisconsin friends! Dr. Hill is a fellow UW med grad. Go badgers!). Now that I am staple-less I can move more easily, sit up straighter, and drive a car.
Yesterday my parents joined me for my post-op appointment with my darling oncologist, Dr. Robison. Per usual it was a giant love fest. I have never had a doctor that has cared about me so genuinely. She came with great news. After reading everything ever published on low-grade tumors and consulting with Dr. Dizon at Mass General, she has recommended the least invasive post-op treatment. She said that there are a few options on the table, mainly chemotherapies, but according to the literature they may not be AS effective as something as simple as switching from Letrozole to Tamoxifen.
Tamoxifen and Letrozole are similar drugs but there is one primary difference. Letrozole targets an enzyme that produces estrogen. Tamoxifen in a sense goes a step further and blocks the action of estrogen. Side effects are similar, body aches, hot flashes, blah blah blah. Dr. Robison’s concern is that I am already at risk for blood clots and Tamoxifen increases the chances of a blood clot. She recommends I continue to inject myself with Lovenox for an additional month. I hate it more than anything but it’s better than a blood clot.
Overall I am physically feeling a lot better over the past week. I have been able to do a little paperwork from home which makes me feel more engaged with and connected to my job. Sometimes I feel like I could go back to work but the main problem is that I get fatigued very easily and I am not sleeping well at all. I need a combination of medications to put me to sleep at night. I do not feel at this juncture that I could make it through a full work day without slumping over my desk and sleeping part way through. I am sure that as soon as my sleep pattern normalizes, I will be good to go for my scheduled return date of February 3rd.
In the meantime I am going to focus on a few things that give me purpose: the small amount of work that I can do from home, organizing and promoting the RI NOCC fundraiser and participating in the services my hospital so generously offers. There is a great expressive arts class on Wednesdays that I can never go to because it starts before I leave work. I will try to make the most of the next few weeks at home.
Thanks again to everyone for being so supportive! I appreciate it more than you know.