Tuesday, June 28, 2011


"The Buddha taught that flexibility and openness bring strength and that running from groundlessness weakens us and brings pain. But do we understand that becoming familiar with the running away is the key? Openness doesn't come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.
Rather than going after those walls and barriers with a sledgehammer, we pay attention to them. With gentleness and honesty, we move closer to those walls. We touch them and smell them and get to know them well. We begin a process of acknowledging our aversions and our cravings. We become familiar with the strategies and beliefs we use to build the walls: What are the stories I tell myself? What repels me and what attracts me? We start to get curious about what's going on. Without calling what we see right or wrong, we simply look as objectively as we can. We can observe ourselves with humor, not getting overly serious, moralistic or uptight about this investigation. Year after year, we train in remaining open and receptive to whatever arises. Slowly, very slowly, the cracks in the wall seem to widen and, as if by magic, bodhichitta is able to flow freely." (From the book "The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times" by Pema Chödrön

I am sitting with a pit in my stomach tonight, not really sure what to do next. Not knowing, of course, if the feelings I have are rational and *real* and need to be observed/listened to or if I am letting my anxiety get the best of me. Do I trust myself or am I being hysterical?

A little back story...

I woke up on Sunday after chemo on Friday with an ache in my arm which I quickly decided was just something that happens as a result of chemo. I mean, the stuff is hard on the veins even though my infusion went off without a hitch. No worries, it will pass. But Sunday turned into a grumpy Monday and finally Tuesday I emailed my oncology nurse to say that maybe we should think about getting a port for the next infusion if my veins were going to hurt like this going forward.

She called me immediately asking "What vein pain? What are you talking about?"

So, I drove home from work and met her at the clinic in order to have tests run and to find that I have a superficial blood clot in my arm. Not a lot of drama, on motrin for a week, allowed to fly, etc. We talked about placing a port near my collarbone that will send the chemo right into the superior vena cava, allowing the chemo to disperse quickly into my system.

For some reason that idea has made my gut roil every time I've thought about it. Something about the idea of the chemo going right into the core of my body, something about that just doesn't sit well with me.

Today we met with my oncologist who looked at me honestly and said that he didn't know why the clot happened, that it's not something he's seen before and given what happened with the mammogeddon, it's unusual. He looked worried when he said this (which totally freaked me out although I appreciate his honesty) and went on to say that he felt like it could be one of three things: 1) a problem with the iv (not likely) 2) a clotting disorder of some sort (I have had a superficial clot before--but have had 3 surgeries in 3 months) or 3) an immune or allergic response. We can control for #1 and #2 through the port placement and blood thinners, but #3 is a wild card.

His thought is to keep moving on with the chemo. My sisters want me to go get a second opinion. Nick's not feeling totally confident. I think my gut is telling me that something is up and that I need to get that figured out before we go another round. But there is this timing and effectiveness of treatment thing which means I can't just stop and take stock so easily. And you can't snap your fingers and get a consult at the mecca of cancer care (MDA) overnight (although I am trying). What if this is all nothing but worry? Why am I worried about that?

So, I think I am going to trust my gut on this and go south for a second opinion if I can. I worry that I am going to offend these folks who have been so nice to me, who have given me good care. But I feel like things aren't very coordinated here, and that freaks me out.

I am being pulled off to bed by my husband now that we both realize it's 11:15p. Not that sleep's going to be very easy tonight. Keep me in your thoughts, prayers, meditations and the like this week. Love you all.

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