Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pancake Day

Tonight, while my party-animal American friends are whooping it up at a Mardis Gras party, with beads and hurricanes (no pun intended), I shall be marking Shrove Tuesday by making crepes stuffed with feta.

This is not through some stubborn refusal to take on the local traditions, Matt and I get up so early on week days that a late night drinking fest is a really bad idea. I think it is rather symbolic that I grew up thinking of Fat Tuesday as "Pancake Day", the day when we often had crepes for school lunch AND made them for dinner at home, with a vague idea that it's the last day before lent, and it's all somehow linked to Easter and Jesus and other random Christian stuff. Please note that I went to a Presbyterian school, but was raised atheist. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Fat Tuesday is Brazilian showgirls flashing their boobs at drunken frat brothers in the middle of a crowded street in New Orleans.

Pretty different.

Perhaps I should combine the traditions and make my crepes topless. Me topless that is. Or in a sparkly bikini and high heels, since the idea of making anything involving hot fat on a stovetop without a top on is a little scary. No photographs will be forthcoming. It might be worth it just to see the look on Matt's face. "No sweetie, I'm not starting to cook yet, I've just got to go change..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All Clear

EVERYTHING came back all clear. All five moles were normal, no melanoma in the lymph node, no melanoma left in the margins they took (which means they didn't even need to take out as much as they did, but it's done now so...oh well).


So now I can just focus on trying to look after my healing incisions. No chemotherapy or further excisions needed! I was actually very surprised that I didn't even have a whacko mole, they've been following a trend of being "abnormal", I'm glad they're gone now so I don't have to be super vigilant of 5 different odd looking moles on my face. That was making me a little crazy already.

On Friday, when the stitches came out, I wasn't too happy with how it all looked. I was also pretty busy being relieved that I got off so lightly, and celebrating with Matt (there was wine, and congnac, and chocolate, on saturday there was peach lambic and more chocolate) But by Sunday the upper half of the loooong incision had healed and is already starting to vanish. It's just a LINE now, a thin line at that, if that's what it looks 1.5 weeks post op, it'll pretty much vanish over the next few months. The lower half...I'm not examining too closely yet, it's still healing up, and I know it'll be more visible, a thicker line, but it'll probably look a lot better than my paranoid imaginings.

Sunday, Matt and I went up to the nearby mountains in search of snow, on the way up we took an offroad trail, so we got MUD and SNOW in one day trip. Yesterday was a public holiday, and I was in bed, napping and reading until about 10.30. With both cats flaked out keeping me company. Then my parents called and I spoke to them for about 2 hours. Lazy day.

My whole family is breathing a lot easier now. I'm so lucky to have been going to a dermatologist regularly and caught it early enough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


This morning the glue on my dressings loosened enough for me to take off the surgical tape and replace it with fresh tape. So I got my first look at all the stitches and everything. Quite honestly I think it'll heal up really well but it freaked me out for the rest of the morning seeing so many stitches all over my face, and especially realizing how LONG the incision is from the melanoma.

I took a couple of photos for posterity. I think it will be good to be able to look back in a few months or a year, if I get down on the whole scarring issue. I think it will be good (if a little wierd) to have a photo I can look at and say "yeah...but I survived looking like THIS!".

So here's the question: you wanna see my new, temporary, bride of The Creature look?

Friday, February 10, 2006

We Love General Anesthetics

I spent a significant portion of yesterday unconscious, and when I came out of it I was filled with much happy love for the world (including the nurse who came over to me every once in a while to remind me to breathe properly because I kept dozing off and not breathing enough apparently). Highly preferable to lying on a table feeling no pain but being intensely aware of every tug and pull as a doctor fiddles about with your skin and stitches you up.

Now I'm a bit headachey and my face feels a little swollen, but I think that's pretty good for one large, one medium, and FIVE small incisions on my face. I'm also a little tanked up on vicodin, so I'm probably fairly incoherent.

The coolest part is that the dye they injected into the site of the tumor (so they could locate the correct lymph node) was bright blue, and now so is that part of my face! Yesterday the entire under-eye circle was this amazing bright cerulean blue. Like the height of 1980s eyeshadow tackiness, only UNDER my eye. It's already faded to a mere wash of turquoise, Matt got a photo about halfway between the peak of blueness and where I am now.

Biopsy results next Friday. I'm really glad the surgery's done with, I shall probably worry more about the results as Friday approaches.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Poor Taliesin. They didn't find anything wrong with him at the vet, so they decided to give him all his boosters while he was in there. I'm not sure this was a good idea, since I got him home last night he's been all sulky and out of sorts. Not even the mighty pull of a spoonful of yogurt tempted him out from under the bed this morning. So I left him to carry on hunching in dark corners looking miserable. I know how he feels.

I can't just muscle through this, I can't get up the day after surgery, pretend nothing happened, and go back to work and be PRODUCTIVE. I'm not allowed, in fact I've been told I might need help walking to the bathroom, and that I should not be left unattended for 24 hours afterwards. Probably it's the general anesthetic that will have the effect of making me groggy etc. Matt has to work, and luckily one of our closest friends, who also lives in the building, has that day off and will be on supervisory duty. I'm not sure if he'll be hanging out at our place, or just on call. I left Matt to sort that out because the thought of asking for that kind of help makes me feel sick. I hate helplessness, absolutely hate it. Realizing how much I wanted my boss to give me work to take home with me for while I'm resting up was quite a shock.

Somehow in the past 5 years I have become the kind of woman who will keep pursuing work when she's sick, even if it might make her sicker longer. I think of public holidays as a great chance to catch up on household chores, I have actually caught myself considering "doing extra laundry" as a good way to spend a "me day". I'm sure I used to be much more of a skiver, any chance to get away with not doing stuff. I used to be so bored with school, or I couldn't see much importance in getting projects done, that I'd procrastinate until the last minute and then tearfully cobble together some crap, making excuses to myself all the way.

After I graduated and met Matt, and especially after I moved jobs to this one, a job well done became such a great rewarding feeling. Perhaps I learned that hard work does pay off. Hard work paying attention and learning on the job, and also hard work fixing myself up after a long bout of depression. I'm coming to realise that work, doing stuff, being proactive, becoming a go-getting let-me-at-it kind of person is what pulled me out of the hole I was in. It also made our whole wedding planning thing work pretty well. Now all of a sudden I'm faced with a huge challenge: being able to stop.

Even as I type this I realize it's pretty ridiculous. I'm not loosing a LEG. this isn't a permanent stop. I have to face being a gibbering wreck for about 24 hours or so after surgery. Maybe not even gibbering, just disoriented and sick feeling.

I feel that I've spent far too much of my life already hiding under the covers feeling sick. I wasted somewhere between 2 and 5 YEARS not taking care of myself, crying a lot and feeling sick to my stomach just existing. Often it was helplessness that I felt. Helplessness to "fix" my life. Yay anxiety. I hope I'm just spaced out all day after surgery, the fear that is looming is that it will feel just like the pit of depression and then somehow I will get stuck there again.

Of course, I was feeling depression rear it's head before I got this diagnosis. I could go all Medium on the facts and try to convince myself that I felt this coming and was mourning it in advance... or I could skip the BS hokey pokey and admit that maybe go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! go! wasn't working that well as a long term life solution and I'm getting overdue for seeking a little, you know, balance.

One of the signs of this need for balance is that the day I learned the biopsies had shown melanoma, after about an hour of freaking out I started to feel good about the new challenge to overcome, because it would distract me from the lingering depression that had started to really scare me. You know something's wrong when a cancer diagnosis turns into a welcome battle with the world.

I know I will need to give myself some "me time" (sans laundry folding), to figure out what I need once I'm done with getting carved up and biopsied. Right now I think it's ok to huddle under the covers seeking comfort. Hopefully Tali will forgive me for taking him to the vet and come and sulk with me instead of at me.