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7/23/06

Dear Kim:

I had a lovely day yesterday. I had breakfast with you.

I had a wonderful working session with a group of avid collaborators around the piece I will be producing for the One Mississippi Event on the EADS Bridge on Saturday, June 24.

I was out in the heat briefly to go to both of these activities. When I got home around 6:30, my arm started to swell and my hand hurt.

This is the arm that has lymphedema from the removal of lymph nodes to see if my breast cancer had spread.

I am used to having problems with this arm. I experience swelling every time it gets hot or I strain my arm carrying things that are too heavy for me these days.

Sometimes, it is just uncomfortable. Sometimes, it is painful and I wind up with a headache.

Usually, I just try to be better about wearing my compression sleeve or ice my arm and hand. I take a Tylenol, call a time out for myself and try to rest in a darkened room.

Not yesterday. Yesterday, I had a melt down.

I tried to reason with myself.

I thought, how lucky I am to be lying on this blue couch, in my beautiful cool apartment, How much more I have than some many people.

So my arm hurts. Art least I can tend to it. I have the time and resources to care for myself.

My reasoning did not work. I felt inconsolable.

Tears and sorrow welled up and spilled out of me like a tsunami. Nothing could stop the tide.

This happens every once in a while. And it is at times like this that I think the emotional pain of my lymphedema feels bigger than the actual physical pain. Although the physical pain is not inconsequential.

It is a concrete reminder that I have had breast cancer and that I will be at risk for the rest of my life. It is a reminder of that difficult, difficult time that felt like a dark night of the soul that stretched on for months with little relief in sight.

Much of the time, I forget this or perhaps manage to tuck this reality into a another corner so I can concentrate on the immediacy of living and on the joy I so often feel.

And then there are the times, when I cannot.

I am an emotional girl, Kim. There is no question of that. But my feelings have been in the stratosphere since my hysterectomy. The extent of my emotionality is baffling and a little scary to me right now. It doesn't take much for me to cry at the moment.

(Kim: I've been crying a lot lately because something is wrong with my tear duct. It still feels very sad. I'm reading Memoirs of a Geisha and she just found out that her parents had died and that she must learn to look at her future, not her past. And then tomorrow she turns 60.)

I don't quite know how to get a handle on it besides going on drugs, which my doc suggests because I have been under such stress with the surgery, etc

I would rather not put yet more stuff into my system. I already take a bunch of meds for this and that.

Maybe I should just meltdown when I meltdown and let the tears fall where they may.

Later,

Joan

Sunday, May 28, 2006

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