Watch for the Tigers

I met with a naturopathic oncologist today to talk about treatment options. She was amazing. The combination of therapeutic medical and nutrition information in an integrative package was startling. She’s a note taker, and she wrote me four pages of notes. She wrote everything down for me.

Let me say that again.

Everything this doctor told me to do, she wrote down for me. In her handwriting. On four pages.

I did find out today that if I choose to take estrogen blocking cancer drugs later, most likely Tamoxifen, I will need to be monitored by a medical oncologist. So I may end up going back to the one I’ve met before when radiation is over, and we can start again. Hopefully we’ll have a better interaction. I have some perspective now from the naturopathic oncologist that I didn’t have before.

Right now I’m on the Choose Your Own Cancer Adventure (CYOCA) page of “recovering from surgery, waiting on more pathology.” In case it seems like I’ve been on this page before, well, haha, joke’s on me, I have. This surgery has been way more intense to recover from, and in reflection, I think this is why my surgeon was suggesting the non-sedated surgery in the first place. It’s a lot on a body to be put under anesthesia twice in just over two weeks. My recovery last time was much easier, but I wasn’t 100% AT ALL before we did another one. I feel much weaker. I’m lightheaded, have chills/sweats, headache, major muscle soreness and soreness on the surgery site, lack of appetite, digestive system slow down, nausea and faint.

OMG YUCK. I can’t tell you how gross and annoying it is to have just typed you up all my symptoms at the moment. Disgusting. That’s it. Bleh.

I was supposed to get this in-office surgery on Tuesday, and when that went sideways, I took the next day plus 1/2 day off, to recover from anesthesia. I think it kind of came out of nowhere that whether I was having it done in the office or in the OR..I was gonna need the same amount of recovery. I didn’t plan for it. I didn’t plan on the time off. My class did ok with my 6 days in a row out last time, but some really struggled. Then a week back at school where they struggled to get back on track, and then this week I was out two full days and two half days. I feel like I was barely there, because I was barely there.

I am realizing how absolutely critical taking the time is. When I had Piper I got back on my feet too quickly and had a much longer recovery time than if I’d just chilled out for two weeks. I know from experience that if you push too hard too quickly your body will still need the recovery, and then it might make you take longer.

The whole in-office surgery thing was in my head. I somehow had this idea in my head that it wasn’t surgery…

I cannot for the life of me understand how I got myself all messed up about it, how I didn’t think through that decision more carefully. I have to lie down or at least sit down for anything involving taking my blood or getting a shot. Why did I think I could be awake for surgery? I’m getting lightheaded just thinking about it typing, so moving on.

These are my treatment plans from my naturopathic oncologist. She’s magical.

The world is very hard right now. Our lives are not easy. Additional challenges are stacking up in my life, too, and it is an awful lot to stay calm and stay steady. If there is anything I know agrees on and talks to me about thoroughly, is that I didn’t do anything that gave me cancer. And that stress management is crucial to treat cancer and its inflammatory impact on the body. Every system in the body can be damaged by extreme stress.

The way she explained the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and adrenaline to me today was something no one has said explained to me like that before. We are these evolved creatures that still have the same animal brain as before but with this big old fore brain. We can rationalize what our body is experiencing/feeling/seeing/hearing using our huge prefrontal cortex. We can watch/feel/see/experience something troubling and explain it to ourselves that we’re okay and safe. We can experience trauma and rationalize it, and tell ourselves that we’re fine.

HOWEVER, our body gets the adrenaline dump regardless. Our systems get the flood of the hormone whether we are actually running from a tiger or watching a scary movie that is bothering us. We take on the stress, whether we consciously understand that we have or not, and then the adrenaline rushes in. We’re more likely to have more adrenaline rushes now than we were living with the sabertooth coming from the other side of the mountain because we have way more complicated lives. That one blew me away. We were actually less stressed while living in mortal danger of a tiger attack than living, let’s say, in a tiny cottage named Lucy in Montana.

Obviously I’m putting this into my own words, she said it more doctor-y. But this explained a LOT to me about how I interact in the world and about how stress can be silently trying to wipe me out all.the.time.

This is a make it or break it kind of realization. Managing stress and practicing my own individual practice has got to be the most important thing I do. I have always only had one real vision of what “old me” is going to look like, and she’s always pretty skinny and wrinkly and very flexible and yoga-y. My future me is that 90 year old yogi that takes her time.

I don’t know what to put in to place to get to that future me other than rest right now. That’s the page I’m on. Recover and rest. Notice. Notice.


Don’t watch the tiger television, or read the tiger social media, or participate in tiger interactions that aren’t necessary. Limit your exposure.

I must face the tiger only when it is the time to face the real tiger.

We know who that is, right?

DING DING, yes, right now it’s cancer. And Covidlandia.

So avoid Covid, folx, ok? You don’t need to go out to a bar, or even hang at a friend’s house, or go to a gym or eat in a restaurant. I haven’t eaten food in a restaurant (yes take out has happened) since February. You will survive. Walk socially distanced in a park with your friend. FaceTime. You do NOT need to face that tiger. Covid won’t kill you if you don’t taunt it. Keep the mask on. Stay at home. Paint something. Pick up your neglected guitar. Read to your kid. Train your cat to do something stupid and entertaining. Get creative. Stay healthy. Save the tiger meet ups for when absolutely necessary.

In solidarity. We can do hard things.


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