Monday, March 06, 2006

Mari D with a side of Chemo

Today, at last, I had the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to get into Marichyasana D on my own (I even got a highly coveted “that was good” from Sir, who then mentioned my Marichyasana triumph again after class!). It was quite a nice practice in general, I must say. I got to the shala right in time to stretch and breath myself into my space for a few moments before Sir called “Samasthiti” for the invocation, and I had lots of time to breath nice and long in every asana. It’s getting so that I am actually looking forward to practicing…of course, like all things, good and bad, this feeling will, of course, have a tendency to be fleeting

But here’s the amazing thing, at least to me: It was quite surprising to me that I had a calm, even practice at all today. You see, right before I walked in, I looked at my date book and saw that, shit, today was the day that I had scheduled my six-month check-up with Dr. H…my oncologist. I dread those appointments. Nothing much happens at these appointments that I should dread, really. I mean, I get poked and prodded and invaded a bit - feeling around the lymph nodes of the collar bone and the neck, feeling around the belly, feeling around my Barbie-boobies, especially along he scar-lines, listening to the breath and the heart and sundry scary Q&A (“Any swellings?”…me vigorously shaking my head “No”…. “Headaches”….. even more vigorous head-shaking, “No!”).

Today was no different. Except for one thing.

Dr H: “So, you’re going to have your Zometa infusion today, huh?”

Moi: “Excuse me, WHAT? Zometa? We’re doing that still? I thought I was done with all that? I thought my bone mineral density test was normal…”

Dr H: “Yeah….no. Your bone density test showed an area of your spine is osteoporotic.

The fact that I have osteoporosis is no real surprise to me or anyone involved with my health care. I had six months of estrogen-depleting chemo and stopped getting my “moon” almost instantly. Then I had my ovaries removed: goodnight moon.

I have the hormone levels of a woman in her sixties, notwithstanding that I look like a woman in her early thirties (or so the flattery goes). Add to that, I am fair-skinned and light-eyed and have a petite frame: risk factors,all. Add to that, once upon a time, when I used to run 50 miles per week, I used to miss periods (although I wouldn’t exactly say I was “missing” them….thanks Office Space for the best line in a move EVER), which caused my then OB-GYN to chide me about “overdoing it”. It is, as they say, a “set-up” for osteoporosis.

Zometa is supposed to be effective in building back lost bone. Zometa was originally on-label for patients whose cancer had metastasized to the bones, which causes its own kind of bone loss. Zometa was supposed to help these patients to avoid fractures by strengthening the bones. Four years ago, when I was first diagnosed, there was a study that I was invited to join (you get a LOT of invitations to join studies when you are treated at a research hospital) that was testing whether Zometa could be used to prevent osteoporosis AND possibly to prevent bone metastases in young, pre-menopausal women with early stage (stages I and II) breast cancer. I got one dose of who knows what - maybe Zometa, maybe a placebo - when we got the results of a bone density test that indicated that MAYBE there were signs of bone loss in my hip even before I began treatment. Since my petite stature made it difficult for everyone involved to interpret the results, we figured it was better to be on the safe side and take me out of the study and just flat-out give me Zometa next time.

Luckily, it’s a once-per-year infusion (this shit is so strong, with such a long half-life, that it stays in your system for an entire year!), so I didn’t have to deal with it until a year later. But when I did, I found out that 20 minutes of the stuff can ruin your entire month. I was loguey and bloated and achey for the entire month after that infusion. So, you can imagine my joy to hear that my latest bone density test didn’t put me out of the Zometa business. And it only now occurs to me, as I am writing this: does this mean that the stuff isn’t even working, if my spine showed bone LOSS in the last year?

So, I got into Marichyasana D on my own, and Sir‘s only adjustment was to help me to grab my wrist. And then I went to the doctor, who sent me straight to the chemo room. Just like the old days. Good times…

At least I am experienced enough with the ways of the dreaded 9th Floor of the Herbert Irving Pavillion to know exactly where to go to find the cans of diet ginger ale and the Lorna Doone cookies, my simple but satisfying indulgence whenever I have to get a drip (which I hope will be, like, NEVER again, but whatever). Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, Lorna Doones seem to have lost favor with the chemo nurses or something because I had to settle for some kind of poor excuse for an Oreo instead. I did get my diet ginger ale though, as well as a private room, which seemed strange because the only time I ever got a private room in the chemo center was when I had to have a transfusion. I suppose watching blood trickle into another patient’s veins is just too gross to subject other patients to. It sure seemed gross to me, and I was the one being fed the blood.

So far, I am not feeling any bone pain (a possible side effect of Vitamin Z) or muscle aches or bloating or even fatigue. I’m sitting quite pleasantly at Tae Kwon Do with Adam, who is newly inspired due to Saturday’s exhibition, in which he participated, but more importantly, in which his master teacher showed off some pretty incredible skills, including an aerial flip followed by a weapon grab, and in which some pretty amazing black belts demonstrated some pretty intense num-chucking, gymnastic and wood splicing skills.

I was really looking forward to practicing tomorrow and getting there early and having more time and getting even deeper in Mari D and doing another 18 backbends without even a bridge to prepare (my thighs were burning!! In a good way.). I was looking forward to touching my palm to the ground, if only for a moment in Parivritta Parsvakonasana. Will it all happen? Or will I be hobbled by this bone-building crap?

What can I do about it though? Nada.

At least I feel healthy. At least I can practice yoga. At least I was only in the chemo room for this Zometa crap, rather than for the "hard stuff". It's like drinking a white wine spritzer when everyone around you is drinking Jack Daniels, neat. I think I will go now and surf the web for anything snarky written about Lindsay Lohan’s nearly incoherent, potentially drug-addled red-carpet comments on her Oscar attire. That ought to provide some laughs to get my mind off of the flu-like symptoms coming on.



Anonymous said...

Ugg, that was depressing. I don't even like to think about the bone loss, the fat around the middle, all the shit that comes with menopause. I am sorry you have to go through that, but also lucky you, no one offered that to me so I just hope I don't break a leg.
And clearly, as we both know, marichi D will be there when you go back.


yoga chickie said...

The fat around the middle comes fast, so if it hasn't happened to you, then it probably won't. I'm guessing that you listen to your body and eat to match your metabolism, based on instinct. That's the way to avoid that menopausal middle mush.

Hopefully I will be back tomorrow! Is it denial that I just want to forget about this and move on?

I hope not...


Julie said...

Let's just add to the breast cancer misery while I add in my own fucking pity whine... did anyone know there was a f'in RECALL on Alloderm!!!??? Nice.. just what I needed to stress over. I promise to blog about it more later when I'm calmer, more rational and have some sort of clearer outlook than I do now... in the meantime, can I join your pity party, where the hell are my oreos?

yoga chickie said...

Julie - I knew about Alloderm, and I thought of you. I wasn't sure whether it concerned all Alloderm recipients, or just some, in certain areas of the country, or during certain time periods. I am not sure where I read about it - wish I could remember.

And they weren't oreos - they weren't even hydrox. They were pretty lame. The Husband is out right now getting me some frozen yogurt.


Julie said...

LOL.. it didn't not affect everyone. My doctor says we weren't in the group... will blog more...what a crappy day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

Reading this puts my stuff in perspective today. I have to have injections in my knee and I was upset that I can't workout after them. everyone has stuff to go through and it gave me something to think about.


PS - I haven't seen you in a while, my wrist is better and I'm hoping to restart yoga again soon. I just haven't figured out where yet. I'll e-mail you.

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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