A few days in the suuuper glamorous life of…
a menapausal, hormone therapied, hot flashin’, post breast cancer full body screening', mini tourin, musician.
I wake up early, bone pain permeating from a few days of light physical activity while camping. I didn’t earn my hurt like in my twenties when I ran a mile with weights and thendid wall pushups. No, I leisurely walked a mile, kayaked on a glass lake and used my ores for maybe a whole two minutes. Yet my bones feel brittle, my hands are throbbing as they do every morning.
I wake up every night, sometime around midnight, with hands so stiff that I wonder if my phalanges will just break off …
No it shouldn’t hurt this bad, but the hormone therapies make it so. This is the best of the worst after 3 different regimens have been tried.
I remember as I finished my hiking/kayaking conquest and sat to rest, probably mentioning something about a nap, a friend said with love “you need to keep going, you can rest when you’re old!”
I went quiet, and wonder if they can see my thousand year old soul, my hundred year old body, my chemo fried brain pushing and pushing every second to keep up. “I’m trying!” I want to say, but the words are stuck in my throat where the tears have pooled.
Coffee is brewing, hands stretching, hot flashing. Two interviews scheduled for our lil Nebraska tour, so freaking excited, yet so incredibly nervous. Will I remember everything I need to say? Will I honor everyone that I want to appropriately? I’ve written it all out, I am set. Behind my nerves lies the nagging fear. I have a Doctors appt an hour after the interview, suspicious bumps for dermatologist to poke and prod and probably biopsy. Last time I found one of these bumps, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I have to mentally push that out, just long enough to show up for this opportunity, it’s NPR FFS!
It’s here! It’s zoom, I’m on camera, my notes are stuck behind the camera screen so I'm flying blind. I’m smiling, hot flashing, over analyzing. Questions I should know, but answers I can’t find. I don’t have time for brain fog now! I try to avoid my reflection that is sometimes unrecognizable, other times maybe a distant cousin- is that REALLY me? For a split second I peer into my eyes. Face hot pink and plump, clothes uncomfortable, some sections lumpy and tight. I try to be gentle with myself or just pretend I’m someone else so I can show love in the ways I am so good at. Doctor said weight gain is normal, a menopausal/hormone therapy gift that keeps on giving. The best intentioned advice comes flooding back “You could try swimming, Angie!” “Don’t focus on that, you’re the same person inside!” “You should cut meat!” “Try this diet!,” “Love your body!” “ Be better to your body!” And I oscillate between feeling guilt and completely overwhelmed. I am elated when I realize only audio will be showcased. I snap back to my interview, do the best I can and it’s over before I know it.
I’m off to the docs appt. I am shaking like a leaf, he’s mentioning punch biopsies, not to be scared blah blah. Any scan post cancer is terrifying. I’m hot flashing, focusing on the ceiling as they excavate a spot on my tummy, then another only inches away from the original cancer site.
Lidocaine wears off, I’m sore, get some rest. Another interview tomorrow. Another injection before I hit the road. So I Pack. Sleep, throb in pain. Coffee, trazodone still wearing off- I can’t feel too nervous for this interview because I’m not actually fully awake yet. It’s goes good, better than expected, and I’m rushing out the door, back for my injection at the cancer center. My NPR interview will play as I get my injection so I have my ear bud in one ear. Poked, blood taken, time for injection and my nurse asks friendly questions. Im hot flashing, I lift my shirt, biopsy bandaids and she wonders where to poke. Near the biopsy sight or where I had bruising from the last injection. She gives me the kindest eyes, asks how my pain is, knowing full well it doesn’t matter. Get in, get out, belly throbbing. I’m still listening as I drive home, my core is spattered with sore spots, the injection drugs are percolating, my emotions are swinging and I hear my song being played. I perk up, I hear my interview, my best attempt sprinkled with mistakes, I write the band and apologize.
I feel embarrassed, I cry. What I would do for the mental clarity I once had. For word recall that doesn’t have me googling often “what’s that thing called?”, or for a body that doesn’t feel like petrified wood clamped together by rusty steel brackets. To not be in the ever-churning fear cycle of scans, tests, therapies. To feel whole in my own body, whatever size and with whatever foreign parts I have. And maybe just for funskis, give me one day, after a show, where I do not feel like someone has beaten me silly with a sledgehammer. I start to cry, another hot flash creeps in and I want to throw my clothes out the window. Dane looks at me with the same kind eyes, and asks "How's your pain? "
I catch my breath and center myself. I think about how excited to be with my band. I come out of my thoughts and pour out my sulky soup onto paper. I giggle at myself, for as sad as some of it is, there is still humor. look up to the beautiful view of northern Colorado.I wipe the damn tears and know that as I strap that guitar tonight against every open wound I have, I will tell my story, bare my soul and be one with the universe again. I will look into the eyes of strangers and we will connect in hope, if even just for a moment.
Note---this post is not a search for sympathy. I have an incredible crew who holds me up when I'm down and so so many wonderful people who inspire me and help me navigate this new world. This post is to normalize human experience, which isn't always candy coated. I am sharing the realness of my human experience. My highlight reel isn't neat or glossy.. it is prolly made of wood, rusty metal, a couple rainbows, typos, some rickety bridges, a cascade of love, a river of tears and a whole lot of laughter🥳. 🥳.
Also, I can't get that hyperlink above to go away... I'm sure you're super shocked but I'll fix it later!