Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weak as a kitten

The post title is a lie since most kittens have more spunk than I do at the moment, and possibly more strength.

I was released from the hospital on Aug. 29, and the weekend passed in a bit of a daze, but not completely. I was pleased that merely being at home made many, many, many times more active than in the hospital, even when I was deliberately conserving energy.

The fact that I have atrophied so much of my physical strength over the last three years means that it only takes 15 very sedentary days to decimate that meager base. So I'm trying to walk around more as part of a de-kittenifying effort. I'm thinking about setting a few activity quotas for myself and consciously trying to make myself get in, say, 10 stair climbs a day, 15 walks across the house, 5 minutes spent doing some of my stretches for my back leg and thigh. I once worked for several fitness magazines, and one thing I remember from the exercise physiology literature is that the less strength you have, the faster you can gain more. Put another way: The nice thing about starting from nowhere, even if you have cancer, is that you can make at least a little progress very quickly (that is, of course, if your health isn't in some kind of crisis).

Meanwhile, I still have the odd sensation of walking down stairs and feeling my legs get progressively weaker until the end when they become, essentially, numb dead weight. After eleven stairs. Eleven. I'm watching out for myself because there is no way I am going to blow all the fighting I've done with a household accident. (On another note, so many of our friends are runners and cyclists and skiers. It's not that I spend a lot of time actively envying them, but it's painful for me to imagine having access to all that strength and endurance and grace. It's a beautiful thing; and easy to take for granted. At this point, I would be so happy to walk to the corner store. Or sprint across a grass field with a kid and a dog. Our bodies are gifts.

We're still negotiating my return to the brivanib study. The doctor's original suggestion -- come to New York tomorrow -- was a non-starter and is now withdrawn. I'm not sure what kind of arrangements we are going to make for the next two visits, but I do know that I am going to make my point as clearly and firmly as possible (up to the point of withdrawing from the study), hoping they will stretch the rules at as much as possible. I feel peaceful about whatever happens.

More for archival purposes than anything else, a quick rundown of what happened medically: I left the hospital with a full-sized surgical chest tube and followed up as an outpatient with the surgeon three days later, on Monday. The valve attached to the tube (a Pneumostat) makes it easy to check for an air leak; when the surgeon did so, my lung appeared sealed. So he pulled out the tube. (Ow.) I had a couple of awful days where I was taking lots of pain killers and lying around semi-responsive for most of the day. The chest tube actually hurt more out than in -- no idea how that works. Today I woke up feeling much better in terms of pain, breathing and energy.


Erin said...

Not too bad being like a kitten. Kittens are cute and cuddly, and everyone likes to play with them and rub their ears, and they look good on calendars, and they never forget. Oh,wait...skip that last part.

Got Hope? I Do! said...

You know that saying there is no place like home.

It's true , home is where you want to be to feel that you can move and do things at your own pace and if you want to do a little more you can.

I am so glad that you are doing better... it won't be long before you can go out into the field with your kids and play some ball or just run for that matter.

To add to the kitten thing :
kittens are very brave and courageous throughout their lives, even when they fall from a high fence (and you know it's going to hurt) they land on there paws (feet) and continue on there way.

Glad your home and doing well.

Kathy said...

I have nothing to add except best wishes in healing. Unusual for me because I am a loudmouth on any given day. May you recover enough to have the strength of a cat. As the owner of 3 of them, I can vouch for their strength and agility and they do enjoy being scratched behind the ears. Best to you!

Elsa D. said...

I am now hospitalized at MSKCC and I was ready to start looking for you here...I am happy you left the hospital!
I hope you can negotiate your return to Brivanib.
Good Luck dear friend