Monday, August 1, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, I fell.  Twice.  Time between falls, about 90 minutes.  The first episode occurred in the kitchen as I was walking toward the sink.  Since I was fairly close to the counter, I fell forward, the fall braced by the countertop and the cabinets.  I am a klutz.  I am constantly the target of everyone’s jokes.  Tripping over my own two feet is apparently quite humorous to my loved ones.  Their reaction is so stuck in my head, my reaction to the fall was a conditioned response.  Pavlov’s dog in a woman’s body as I mentally chastised myself, “You are SO clumsy.”

I shrugged it off.  Must have tripped over the scatter rug.  BC me?  Yes, a bit klutzy.  Everyone has an AM in their life, the person who falls UP the stairs.  I think that's all about a racing mind.  Always so much swirling in my head-get this, do that and then on the way, pick up the other thing.  My body trying to keep up with my mind, and literally tripping over my own two feet in the process.

A short while after Fall #1, I was outside playing around with some of the flowering shrubs.  Really a joke since I haven’t a clue what I am doing, but I do it anyway.  Removing leaves to coax more flowers to grow only to drive through my neighborhood and have my faux green thumb mocked by someone else’s hydrangeas.  I take pride in the five or six flowers poking through the massive leaves on each of the plants that border the patio.  (I must admit however, I think I take more pride in the fact that I even know the name of the shrub.....)

I was staring at the row of shrubs with green thumb envy, deciding how I should pick them apart as I was simultaneously trying to ignore the taunting voice in my head: "Who are you KIDDING with this pretend gardening gig?”  In the very next moment, I was on the floor.  This time, there wasn’t anything to stop me from hitting rock hard paving stones.  I just went down. The shock absorber was my left hand, which, in turn, jammed my wrist, which, for what it’s worth, I could not move.  And, it was that persistent pain that made me AWARE enough to connect the two episodes as, well, Something May Be Going On Here…. What I shrugged off just a bit earlier, I soon realized, was not klutzy BC AM taking the klutz gig to the other side of the calendar.

It was hours before I engaged any of my first aid skills.  Began to ice it, realized I needed something between the plastic and my skin to avert what was quickly turning into frostbite.  Decided at some point there could easily be something broken.  The injury extended down my wrist to the outside of my hand where it feels like there are at least a million bones, all very tiny. 

The medical junkie in me started to think about the fact that “hand surgeons” are a big deal.  If a doctor is skilled in hand surgery, it holds a prominent place on their Brag Wall.  And now, I’m getting myself quite upset.  It’s summer.  What if I broke a bone or two?  Am I going to have some giant Edward Scissorhands looking thing with pins jutting out to fix my hand?  No swimming??  Summer is too short and I only get to enjoy the pool for three months.  O….. MY….. GOD….. Yoga…. NOOOOOOO.   It took all of my newly acquired calming, meditative techniques to pull me from the ledge.

When the rest of my first aid skills finally began to engage in the process, I grabbed the bottle of motrin.  I think that was more of a last ditch effort.  If the motrin didn’t work, I would have no choice but to take a much dreaded trip to the emergency room.  The motrin did work.  The swelling even seemed to go down a bit.  Well, thank goodness, because NOW I could really let my mind go to those very eerie, creepy, dark places.

WHY did I fall?  No black out, no dizziness, no weak knees or rubbery legs-I was up and suddenly, I found myself on the floor.  Cancer changes the way one assesses any ailment.  Knowing the places breast cancer likes to resurface and cause huge problems, the rest of my day was spent fighting the “it’s in my brain” thoughts and fighting even harder to keep my laptop closed to prevent me from finding my way into the internet pine box. 

One day, (it was last Thursday, I had to check) I am referring to the internet as the greatest global brainstorming tool and now?  The Grim Reaper.  My dad always had these great sayings, many of which I STILL do not fully understand, but I can almost hear him saying, “Ahhhhh, the worm turned.”  I would give ANYTHING to be able to ask him to explain fully.  I miss the quips, I miss my dad.  Really, I would give anything to know the empty chair at the table was not going to be empty at the next family gathering..... but seriously, I get the worm concept.  I think however there may be more to it……If anyone cares to shed additional insight, I'm all ears.  I’m not up for my normal internet detour.  I am determined to finish this story without the usual two hour distraction.

Falling... right?  Yesterday, I fell again.  It appeared to the audience of loved ones who made sure to commence the “you are such a klutz shenanigans” that I slipped while walking down the steps into the pool.  Except, it wasn’t my intent to actually go into the pool.  I was simply standing with my feet barely covered in water watching my niece splashing around with my husband.  To cover up the fall, I went into the pool. 

I do not know why my husband, who is the most unobservant man in the universe, felt the need to ask me about the slip and request clarification by asking a direct question, “You were coming into the pool and slipped, right?”  Let me clarify "unobservant".... he's the big picture guy so me slipping should have just been, well, me being a klutz and slipping.  It was totally out of character for him to want "the details" ... hell, he really should have still been poking good-natured fun, NOT asking for details that I didn't want to share.  I am not a good liar.  Maybe if I listen to Lady Gaga singing Poker Face a few zillion times, I will learn how to stop people from reading my face? I chose not to answer.  He was a bit persistent.  Ultimately, I did provide a non-chalant (and truthful) response.

I know I should be calling the oncologist but I am NOT an alarmist and I do not wish to be sent for an MRI.  Very out of character for me….. I am pro-active with this health nonsense and I learned very well about being my own advocate.  No one knows my body better than I do.  I am the most active member on my health team.  I am the most important person TO ME on that particular health team.  Thing is, I’ll pay attention to this a bit longer before sounding the alarm.  If it was The Worst Scenario, I would have other things going on… headaches. 

Today, I DID learn something new.  More than likely, I glanced right past this tidbit of information because falling didn’t pertain to my circumstances.  Until it did.  And yes, with fall number three, I could not stop myself from going on The Hunt.

Apparently, frequent and/or unexplained falls are just the ticket to give some of us a good enough reason to call the doctor.  And apparently, frequent falls or losing balance may be tied into the damage caused to the brain from chemotherapy.  And, apparently, I would NOT be one of those people who seeks out the doctor at this particular point in time to get to the bottom of this falling nonsense.  After all, I found and diagnosed my own problem right here, in a newsletter from one of the member institutes of the NCCI.  It's chemobrain, the gift that keeps on giving.

Global Brainstorming, The Grim Reaper and now, despite every disclaimer I have EVER read, I am using the internet as a substitute for actual medical advice?  Seriously??????  Dear Lord, sista, have you learned nothing?  Yet, this is enough for me to justify my reasons for not ringing the bell that would likely put me on the mat, 3 rounds or less....

Ding Ding Ding

Doctor visits
A mess of fights with my insurance company to cover the test
The Test 

I’ll pass for now.  I can live without the noisy banging and clanking inside an MRI.  The everyday noise in my head is enough. 

Besides, the Hannibal Lechter headgear they use for a brain MRI isn’t really a good look for me.

Note to family who may still be following along here:  Please do NOT call.  My oncology appt is next month.  This "situation" can wait.  I promise.  So, no calls, OK???  Well, calls are okay, but can we refrain from having this conversation?

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