As well as being a cancer blogger, Laura Yeager is a religious essayist and a mental health blogger. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Kent State University and Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Laura survived cancer twice.
Now I have constant back pain. What's next?
One of the results of my breast cancer surgery in 2016 is chronic back pain. Two years ago, my doctors discovered that I had an angiosarcoma on my right breast. My plastic surgeon performed a latissimus dorsi procedure, where he took a muscle from my back and moved it around to my chest area, replacing the breast tissue he had removed. This procedure is also commonly known as a "flap."
I had little pain from the operation for about two years, but recently, within the last few months, I've experienced chronic pain. I'm not sure why this discomfort has flared up (it might be because I slammed into my mom's parked car in our driveway and the force of the blow traumatized my incision area), but I am finding ways to relieve the aching sensation.
The main way I deal with the back tenderness is to go to a local therapy pool and move my body while I sing songs to myself. The water in the pool is very warm, about 92 degrees.
Exercising in hot water relieves my pain. I'm also drinking a lot of chamomile tea with honey, which relaxes all of my muscles.
Who would have guessed that a result of breast cancer would be back pain?
Cancer - the illness that just keeps on surprising.
So, what do I sing when I'm moving around in the therapy pool? "New York, New York." This tune has a strong beat, and I like to march to it.
I'm trying everything I can think of to avoid resorting to prescription pain pills. Those babies mess with my head, and I find that they hardly help the pain.
I never thought I'd be one of those individuals who had to negotiate chronic pain. And let me tell you, it's not easy. Feeling continual bodily discomfort makes everything harder. It's harder to work, to clean, to cook, to take care of children. It's harder to relax. To sleep.
Sometimes, the pain makes me cry.
But I must look on the bright side. There is the therapy pool and hot water and "New York, New York."
I guess I also have to factor in the "age" issue. I turned 55 last week. They say getting old is not "for sissies." I can attest to that. Perhaps, if I were younger, the pain wouldn't be as troublesome.
I am making a lot of friends at the therapy pool. Most of them have arthritis and deal with pain as well. Most of them are in their 50s and 60s.
Oh, my goodness, I'm an old lady.
So, if you're just beginning to deal with cancer, know that it might continue to surprise you. Consequences of cancer can pop up any day.
It's the illness that keeps on "giving."
The trick is to be resourceful. You will deal with the results of cancer.
Even if it means singing "New York, New York" while marching in hot water.