You would think my body would be used to the medical equivalent of hot flashes (brought on by the meds I take to keep the cancer from returning and not The Change). But no, Body is not happy. Every so often, my mornings go something like this.
Body: Hey brain, wake up.
Brain: Go away.
Body: No, really, wake the heck up, I’m uncomfortable.
Brain: I’ll give you uncomfortable, shut up and go away.
Body: As if.Getting warm all over now….
Brain: Pain receptors getting an all-points bulletin!
Body:We are burning up here! Kindly get Motor Skills involved and crank up the AC why don’t you.
Brain: I’ll put that on my do-to list.
And on and on it goes, the eternal battle between brain and body over heating up, sic, the hot flashes that occur, mostly in the early morning hours.
I realize it’s a small price to pay.Though entirely the fault of the Tamoxafin which my oncologist told me would cut the chances of a reoccurrence of the cancer in half.He said, on average, breast cancer comes back about 15 percent of the time; these odds are admittedly averaged over all types of breast cancer; the type I had not being an genetic, aggressive form.I suppose that is something to be thankful for.And the meds cut that number down to around 7 percent, or more than 50 percent so odds I can definitely get behind. Still, way too many women stop taking the meds because of the side effects.
I can relate.Poor BFF, I called her in a panic last week because I was sitting on my bed, playing with the grandbaby and talking to my daughter about nothing in particular.We both looked down at my right hand and discovered a huge bruise on the heel of my hand, as big as the circumference of two quarters.
The bruise had not been there 20 minutes early so enter my BFF who happen to be coming back from an enjoyable evening at the theatre with her husband.She actually left her devoted spouse in the car, came into my house, raced up the stairs and all to just examine my hand.
“You broke a rather large blood vessel,” she pronounced calmly.
Really? On the heel of my hand and while reclining in bed doing pretty much less than nothing?Seriously?
The meds, I already knew, can make me very prone to bruising but this was one for the record books.
Granted, it faded away in the short span of just a few days which means, of course, that the BFF was right (she usually is) but still….I never bruised like that before in my life.Unless you count when I was doing chemo which I don’t.
It was alarming to say the least.
These are not the only side effects of the meds, they are just the ones most obvious to me.The hot flashes are bizarre.I can go for a week at a time and nothing.And then get five or six in one day, starting first thing in the morning.I’ve therefore trained Body and Brain thusly:
Brain: Ohhhhh, hot one coming on…
Body: Yes, moron, I know, I am in continuous contact with Hormones and Epidermis is my biggest direct report.
Brain: Then you should have known to turn toward the fan, it’s nice and cool and keeps the hot flashes at bay.
Body: Really, I need Brain to tell me this? You’re the so-called Brains of this operation, you should have sent a memo to Hand to turn that thing up high.
Brain: Really? I thought Hand reported to you….
And on and on.But even as Body and Brain battle, I’ve discovered if I can slow down the normal morning heating up process of my core body temperature then I can actually do away with most of the discomfort of a hot flash. Many times, simply turning toward the large fan I have blowing away a few feet away from my bed will stop a hot flash in its tracks.Nice outcome when it works.
But it doesn't always work.Sometimes you just have to ride out the discomfort which, surprisingly, can be more painful than uncomfortable.
Body: Hey, Brain, yeah, talkin’ to you.Turn off the pain receptors why don’t you.
Brain:Ask nicely and I’ll think about it.
Body: Easy for you to say, Brain you don’t actually have pain receptors does it?
Brain: I don’t need pain to tell me what is going on with you. I run this operation.
Body: For now….for now….
So, while my Body plots a petty overthrow of the whole operation, Brain continues it’s dictatorial rule, doing things it’s own way.Brain is like a cerebral Borg, running everything to its own end, survival and staying in power being the utlimate goal and objective.And Brain doesn’t mind sacrificing the comforts Body craves to ensure survival. This is because Brain pretty much has blamed Body for the whole cancer thing.It is like Brain was going along, minding its own business, seemingly doing everything right (no smoking, light drinking, exercising, etc.) and WHAM, we got hit with cancer anyway.Brain was not amused or even remotely understanding, I will admit.
Brain: You should just suck it up, the whole hot flash thing.This whole cancer mess was YOUR fault after all.
Body: Really? You are really going to go there again?
Brain: Yes, I’m going there again.The hot flashes are the very least you endure to do make sure cancer doesn’t return.
Body: And what it is that YOU endure, Brain?
Brain: Why you Body, I am stuck enduring YOU….
Thus far, there has been no formal resolution or ceasing of conflict between Brain and Body but I hear rumors of detente very soon. Since I have to deal with both, it would be a welcome relief.