Saturday, June 25, 2011

Instant Menopause

Hot flashes suck.

Anyone who tells you they're not so bad is just full of shit. Maybe it's because I didn't get to gradually ease into menopause, and maybe it's because my body is a mess from the surgery. All I know is I'm miserable and there's nothing I can do about it. Yes, I've been on an estrogen replacement pill since they took my ovaries. It was supposed to immediately take over where my own hormones left off, but, yeah, not so much.

I've literally aged 15 years overnight.

Last night was another sleepless one. I kept tossing and turning, trying to find a position that wouldn't aggravate the pain in my abdomen. I'd finally find one, then wake up five minutes later dripping with sweat. My pajamas were soaked and changing them would have been pointless since another hot flash was bound to follow soon after.

Ok, at least the crazy shoulder pains I had the first post-surgery week are gone. I'm able to move around better and I can get by with Tylenol or Advil instead of Vicodin. But there was a small complication. All last week I was having terrible leg cramps. They were mostly in my thighs and hips, but they hurt so badly, I couldn't really walk. To make matters worse, a few hours after I would wake up each day, my heart would start racing and beating out of control. I assumed it was from the anti-inflammatory medication I was taking, since both of those symptoms were listed as side effects. But when I stopped taking them and the ailments didn't go away, I called Dr. Leitao's nurse at Sloan-Kettering.

"Hmmm...Sounds like low potassium to me," she said. "Eat some bananas and see what happens."

That would be too easy, right? But, magically, after two bananas yesterday, the leg pains subsided and my heartbeat went back to normal. One problem was instantly fixed, but the cure caused another. Does anyone know what the downside of too many bananas can be? Yup, you got it.


If you've ever had surgery, you know how painful it can be to go number two. It's not pleasant or fun in any way. Usually, the doctors put you on a stool softener to ease things up a bit, which has been working pretty well. Until now.

Today has been agony for my bowels. Sharp, shooting aches coursed through my body this morning, and I raced to the bathroom only to sit there and wait. Can't push because it hurts. I actually texted Jimmi from the toilet to tell him I thought I was gonna die. As everything moved down to the exit, I sat there with my head in my hands, literally crying in pain. When it was all over, I was disappointed in the pitiful amount I had produced, and left the bathroom defeated. I got another chance to relive my Hell about an hour later. Same exact situation with even less of a result.

And while we're on the subject of bodily waste removal...what is up with my bladder?? I know they moved it around during the surgery and it needs to readjust, but must I pee every 30 minutes? And it's not even a building sensation. It's like here I am minding my own business and, Oh! I have to pee RIGHT NOW! And then I go and I can't get it all out in one shot. It starts to hurt as it empties so I need to stop and start and stop and start. And when I'm done, I'm not even convinced it's all out. Maybe that's why I'm going so often. No, I don't think it's a bladder infection. I've had those before and this is different. I really hope this isn't a permanent condition and I'll be back to normal when the swelling finally goes away.

But oh my God, my bathroom experiences are brutal!

Maybe a shower will help. As I let the water run, I started to undress. I lifted my shirt and a green cloud of pure evil wafted up to my nose. "Oh my God, I stink!" I said to myself in shock. I bent my head down to give my sweaty pits a closer whiff. "I smell like a 13 year-old boy!" Oh, how gross! But I never smell! I can do five miles on the elliptical and work up a sweat that drenches every ounce of my body, and I still don't smell! What the HELL is wrong with me?

Hormones. That's what.

I want my ovaries back. Pretty please? You can keep my uterus, but can you give me back the little hormone producers? These synthetic ones just aren't cutting it. Wait, on second thought, can I have my uterus back too? You see, I did some research on the cost of hiring a gestational carrier, and I almost fell off my chair. I had no idea it was that much. If I double my original assumption, I'm still on the lower end of the spectrum of what the average price-range might be. I'm gonna have to sell my body to pay for my own baby to be born. It's ok, I don't have to worry about getting knocked up, but it might be a difficult career choice once my vaginal canal shrinks up from the radiation. I guess Jimmi will have to do it! He can stand on the corner with a mattress strapped to his back and a sign in his hand that reads "Curbside Service". I shouldn't think about that part now, should I? As Jimmi says, "Get healthy first and worry about that part later." Sometimes he make sense. Sometimes.

At least I can say one good thing about the last few weeks. Or maybe it's a bad thing. When you go through an experience like this, you really find out who your true friends are. You see who can spare five minutes to pick up the phone or drop by or send a card. But you also see who is too wrapped up in their own life to bother. Luckily, for the most part, people have surprised me in the last few weeks. I've had amazing meals cooked and brought over by caring family and friends. I've gotten flowers from loved-ones, and even a beautiful basket from our wedding photographer! I've had a stream of visitors from the moment I entered the hospital, and almost every day since then. The constant support from those who are closest to me is unbelievable. Cancer truly sucks and no one should ever have to go through this pain. But it's made me realize something very important.

I've learned the meaning of real love.

1 comment:

  1. Suzanne,
    I have been following everything you are writing and I must say you truly are one of the strongest women I have ever known. I'm so sorry you have to go through all of this. I took care of my dad for so many years when he was sick so I know what it feels like to be in Jimmi's place also. Be thankful you have a man andfamily who loves you so much. It sounds like you have a huge support system which is great. I have really gotten to know how amazing you really are by reading your posts. You've been my cousin my entire life and I know you better now than I ever have just by reading what you write. Your amazing! I pray to my dad for you every night.....xoxoxo Nancy amoresano