A white hot knife sawing back and forth in my breast, my armpit, along the underside of my arm to my elbow, then a dull ache down to my wrist. Even my skin feels raw, as though the top layer has been abraded away; the lightest touch of a fingertip feels like an open flame being held to it. In vain, I seek a neutral position for my arm, trying to find some way to hold it that doesn’t exacerbate the pain. Nothing helps. I can’t extend it, can’t bend it, raise it, straighten it – nothing. Stirring a cup of coffee is excruciating. The pain drills straight through to my back.
I pace around the room because I can’t sit or lie still with this pain. I’m crying, moaning, yelling. ”Why is this happening to me? Dear Lord, what did I do to deserve this? Make it stop. God, make it stop!” It’s the middle of the night and I know that I’m yelling loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I can’t help it. I hear the sound of my moaning and wonder if the neighbors will think I’m having insanely wild sex in here. The idea makes me laugh, but the laugh redoubles the pain and turns into a scream.
I finally get up the courage to go up the stairs (each step twists the white hot knife in my armpit) and open the cupboard and get out the lock box with the narcotics. So many arm movements in all of that, each one a new summit of torture. Fitting the key into the lockbox, turning it. “Dear Lord, make it stop. Make it stop!” Fumbling with my left hand, I manage to take out the antihistamine that I have to take with the narcotic, take out the narcotic itself. I swallow the antihistamine tablet dry and thank God that the narcotic will dissolve in my mouth.
Slowly, torturously, I make my way back down the stairs. I wait until the drugs start working before I attempt to lie back on the bed. More time passes. I finally lie down and try to find a less painful position. Suddenly… the pain is gone. I am still marveling at what absence of pain feels like, and I sleep.
That was last night. I ended up sleeping until 5:30 this morning. I started to make a mug of coffee so I could sit outside and enjoy it in the morning breeze, but that knife started stabbing my breast again. I lay back down in bed and was delighted to find that there was still enough drug left in my system that I could relax. I slept for another five hours.
As I’m sitting and typing this, I can feel it starting up again. I don’t know what this pain is, just that it’s related to the “thingy” under my arm that I had biopsied a week and a half ago, the thingy that could be a new primary or new progression of the existing mets or maybe an alien baby. Hey! If it’s an alien baby, maybe these are alien baby Braxton-Hicks contractions!
I’m crying real tears now. Tears of pain, frustration, grief. I didn’t do anything to deserve this disease. It is not my fault. I know that it is “just something that happened”, a random bad thing. It’s hard not to take it personally, though.
Image copyright: iqoncept