Since my last post several weeks ago, Zen in the Garden, a lot has changed. I tore the Rotator Cuff in my right shoulder (my dominant arm) and was left pretty incapacitated for several days along with severe inflammation and pain. I have a fairly high pain tolerance and have suffered quite a few sports related injuries in my life including a ruptured Achilles Tendon that required re-attachment surgery. But nothing prepared me for the pain of this shoulder injury. The shoulder muscles are involved in even the tiniest movement of the body. So pretty much anything I did made me cry out in pain. The day I paced the living room like a panting canine with tears rolling down my cheeks was the day I finally gave in and called my doctor.
My doctor ordered an x-ray to rule out anything involving the bones and set up an appointment to meet with her following the x-ray. Let’s just say the process of my arm being placed in compromising positions from the point of removing my shirt, donning the robe, being repositioned during the x-ray, then getting dressed again was nothing short of Hell. My doctor then put me through a variety of painful strength and movement tests that confirmed what I already felt was true, I had torn my Rotator Cuff. Fortunately she felt I did not need surgery and prescribed a high level of anti-inflammatory drugs in order to get the fiery pain under control. She also gave me a few beginning stage rehab exercises to keep my shoulder from freezing.
While visiting my doctor I took the opportunity to have her take a glance at a small wart-like growth that had appeared on the bridge of my nose near my eye. It started growing several months after last year’s bout with West Nile and has continued to get a bit bigger. She took one look and made an appointment for the next day to see a Dermatologist. There were also a few more dry patches and a couple clear wart-like growths near my hairline on my forehead but she wanted me seen immediately for the one growth and booked me into the single lesion clinic.
My Dermatologist took one look and said he was certain it was Basal Cell Carcinoma. He did a biopsy and sent it off to the lab. We then had the discussion about how common this type of skin cancer was and that the prognosis was very good. There are a small percentage of cases where the cancer spreads to organs in the body but generally speaking this is one of the less invasive forms of skin cancer. Because it was the single lesion clinic, I could not discuss any of my other concerns at the time.
Three days later the lab results came back and were positive for malignant Basal Cell Carcinoma. As an adult, I wear hats and cover myself with sunscreen when I spend time outdoors. Alas, all those hours spent in my youth lathering myself with baby oil and worshiping the sun for the sake of vanity are what finally caught up with me. I now await a call from the Mohs surgeon who will cut the tumor layer by layer until there are no cancer cells remaining. How deep they have to go can only be determined on the day of the surgery itself when they start the task. The beauty of Mohs surgery is the surgeon’s training in reconstructive surgery. If the removal ends up taking away more of my nose than the size of the growth itself, a few weeks later they are able to do a skin graft and rebuild the area with minimal scarring. I also have a follow-up appointment scheduled with my Dermatologist in a week for a thorough exam of my other points of concern and a search for additional carcinomas that weren’t addressed the first time around. I adore both my General Practitioner and my Dermatologist so I feel like I am in very capable and caring hands.
Alas, after a year of great health and feeling like the world is now my Oyster, I did not expect to be back under the medical microscope this soon in my journey. I definitely did not anticipate this new level of concern for my body and fear of things unknown. But the minute the inflammation was back under control in my shoulder, I made my journey back into the garden with my camera and began to focus on the small and the beautiful in life. I of course have to make some adaptations and learned to control and shoot my camera with my left hand (always on a tripod of course) while trying to keep my broad-rimmed hat out-of-the-way of the viewfinder. But my garden has revealed some amazing things these past few weeks.
Photography is a deep blessing to me. It has always allowed me to find beauty in the midst of turmoil and pain. It has helped to refocus my mind on the moment before me and provided respite from the barrage of fear based thoughts that sometime crowd my mind. It has been the basis for healing from a broken past and will undoubtedly continue to be a healing tool in my future.