Saying goodbye to 2016 was not difficult,for me,in any way,shape, or form.
Looking back on 2016, I have to say, it ranks up there with the top 10 most difficult years of my life. And, as you know,I ain’t no spring chicken.
The shit show started in early spring when I went for my annual checkup. After examining my boobs, my doctor thought he felt a mass and ordered a mammogram. I was concerned, but not overly so because my boobs are lumpy and bumpy by nature. So, I had the mammogram and a few days later, came home to a message on my phone from the doctor’s office. The message was, essentially…the results from your mammogram are in and the doctor has some concerns…please call for an appointment.
‘I have breast cancer’ was my first reaction. I’d had another scare a few years back, actually the same day my dad died, but it all turned out fine. Except for my dad, of course.
I made the appointment and asked my Dave to go with me. Another rarity. Mz. Independent Woman don’t ask for help from anyone, right? Needless to say, Dave was determined to be with me anyway. Well, turned out my boobs were fine…no cancer…no anything other than lumpy boobs. I was torn between…told ya so and and deep,deep relief.
A few minutes later, he told me that his concern was that the x-ray showed plaque in the left artery of my heart. I was so happy to learn I didn’t have breast cancer, a little plaque didn’t seem like such a big deal. After all, how can a seventy-three year old not have a little plaque here and there? Right? So, he wanted me to take meds for the heart thing and I said…ok…at least I don’t have breast cancer. Also, he wanted me to have to have a CT scan. OK, said I. Do whatever you need! Give me radiation and pills that may kill me. No worries! At least, I don’t have breast cancer.
So, I got through the CT scan and then summoned back to the doc’s office where I learned that I did, in fact, have some plaque on my heart, but most concerning was a fungus that showed up in my right lung. WTF, right? This lung was highly compromised by a horrific bout with pneumonia 1998. I remember the year because my mom died in January of that year. It was also the year I quit smoking. But, turns out, a lung fungus is not uncommon and all we have to do is keep an eye on it. Ok…I can do this.
During this whole process, I found the courage to tell him about my ongoing depression and asked if there was a mild drug I might take to help me find my way back into the light. He gave me a prescription. I don’t know if this drug just didn’t mix well with my heart meds or if it just was not in sync with my body. What I do know is that it played havoc on my body. Trust me, you don’t want the gory details. Think IBSD-X and then some. The medical advice:just hang in for a coupe weeks and it should get better. Should, being the key word, right?
So, I stayed on the drugs, both of them, thinking in a couple weeks, it’ll all be better. At least I was free from breast cancer. Funny how the mind words, isn’t it? Well, hang in with me…this gets even more convoluted.
Less than a week later…on a Tuesday afternoon, I was taking the recycle can back to it’s home, which is beneath the stairs under the house. For some reason, I was having a hard time pushing it back, so I moved a little closer, pushed a little harder, and leaned a little more towards the stairs and bumped…the holy hell…out of my head. Didn’t pass out, but felt dizzy enough to lean against the post for a few minutes.
A few days later I was so overcome with headaches, I made another appointment with my doctor. This was the fourth time I’d seen him in the past two months. So, this, in itself, was quite stressful. I’m a once a year kinda gal and yes,I do know how lucky I am for that. A brain scan was ordered. The results were good…A) I still had a brain (something I’ve questioned quite a bit as I got older…and older) and B) no sign of a bleed or any other serious issue. That was a relief…sort of like the relief that I didn’t have breast cancer, if not more so.
I decided to take myself off both medications. The more I read about statins, the more I feared them and, to be honest, I just couldn’t deal with a head injury plus living with the side-effects of these drugs. The side effects from the anti depressant lasted for six weeks. The good news was:I lost weight. The bad news was:I was afraid to eat and lived in constant fear of a horribly embarrassing accident, especially while I was in LA for my granddaughter’s graduation and the graduation festivities.
The headaches continued…some days worse than others. Confusion and insecurity became the ruling forces of the day. I couldn’t remember some of the very simple, everyday things. I was afraid to drive, but I did. I wasn’t afraid that I might cause an accident. I was afraid I couldn’t find where I was supposed to be. I drove slowly…obeyed the speed limits…even drove under the speed limit on occasions. If you know me, you know how I hate to admit that. Everything confused me.
My son, daughter-in-law and grandson were here for a week. I tried so hard to appear normal and I think I, somewhat, succeeded because they blamed my weirdness on my wine consumption. Oh mercy, those of you who really know me and my capacity for wine, would get a real chuckle out of that.
Finally, I went to a neurologist and he was one of those human beings who are so very kind it just makes you want to weep. You know what I mean, right?
He injected cortisone into three areas of my skull and referred me to a physical therapist. I had 10 sessions with the PT’s and they were both just awesome. The combination of the cortisone and therapy made all the difference in the world. After ten sessions of PT, my headaches were much more manageable. I know that I need to continue with the exercises and some weeks I do better than others.
Mentally, I feel almost back to normal. As everyone explained, this is similar to a football player’s head injury. The front of your brain take the hit and the back part of your brain takes the real damage. I’m told it takes up to a year to completely get back to where I was. The funny thing is..I was always a tiny bit south of norm.
So, after all this, I’m thinking, maybe I can just be OK living just a little more south of norm. At least I don’t have breast cancer.