Rest and Recovery

by Acacia

This has been a really difficult week, and while it isn’t over, I can not let myself stress over it today.  I have to let my body heal, regardless of the outcome.

Let me explain.  I caught some sort of flu in August that was highlighted by a nasty dry, raw cough. Even as the flu symptoms abated, the cough didn’t. After six weeks, my doctor decided it was asthma and put me on medication which helped a bit, but never seemed to get the cough completely under control.

On Tuesday I stepped into the elevator at work and realized after the doors closed that the space was filled with spray fixitive fumes. One of the recurring joys of working in an art department is reminding students that they cannot be cavalier about the toxic materials they work with,* and I was trapped in a strong cloud. My lungs began to hurt and got worse over time. I asked a graduate student to proctor my last exam of the day and I went home.

An hour later I was feeling even worse and my doctor’s office told me to go to the emergency room. There they gave me a nebulizer treatment, took a chest x-ray and sent me home feeling much better. The next day I got a call from the hospital radiologist telling me they saw nodules in my lungs with swollen lymph nodes and that I needed a CT scan ASAP. It was scheduled for Thursday at 7:00 am. Everything went fine but I stopped in at my radiation oncologist’s office to let him know what was going on and we set an appointment to talk about the scan on Friday. By the afternoon, his office called to re-schedule our appointment for an earlier time to I could have a lung biopsy immediately after.

The report on the ER x-ray said that the nodules looked like lung cancer or metastases from breast cancer. When I saw the rad oncologist yesterday morning, the CT report leaned more strongly toward lung cancer, with mets a possibility from my breast cancer history. The lung biopsy will be the final diagnosis of cancer (lung or breast) or…and this is what I’m rooting for, a residual lung infection from my flu in August. They stuck a needle in my back (under local anesthetic and a sedative) guided by a CT scan and took a few samples. It didn’t  take very long, but I had to stay in recovery for two hours to make sure my lung didn’t collapse (it didn’t.) As the sedative and anesthesia wore off, it really started to hurt to breathe, to lay down and I woke up during the night in serious pain. I had to sleep sitting up to be comfortable.

Today is better, but still hurts. In the whole process I realized that if it is mets or lung cancer, my life will suddenly have a foreseeable end date. But I’m trying really hard not to focus on that today, since I likely won’t know anything until Monday.

Today I’m listening to lovely songs like Kina Grannis’ (I just found this on Monday) whose video above was done entirely in jellybeans! I’m going to write upbeat, chatty letters to friends I have neglected for far too long and look at lovely blogs from my letter-writing, literary, style, and most of all ballet friends.

I will seek rest and beauty wherever I can find it.  I hope you all will too.



*but it doesn’t seem to penetrate their think little skulls that just spraying fixitive outside or in a spray booth and immediately pulling their drawings out and running back to class means that they are trailing fumes all over the building.