The sore throat I was warned about last week settled in over the weekend. It's very difficult for me to swallow and to be honest, it just plain hurts all the time. I talked to the doctor today about it and I'm now the unhappy owner of a narcotic drug for pain. I'm going to start out taking it at night to see if it increases my quality of sleep, which may help me do better throughout the day. He told me that unfortunately, the sore throat will get worse before it gets better and that I will feel it into my chest as well. (Reminder . . . the C2 - T2 vertebrae are being radiated. This is the entire area behind my throat and into my upper shoulders.) I also received some specialized mouthwash that can help my throat as well.
I've had an "interesting" pain under my left arm for a few weeks and as most of the other pains have diminished, it now seems more pronounced. It's affected by movement and weight (leaning on my elbows), so definitely seems muscle related. The doctor felt for lumps today and couldn't find any and to be honest, I did a pretty thorough comparison of my two sides while in the shower this morning and felt no difference. (My primary cancer was on my right side.) As the doctor and I discussed this pain, he pulled up a dermatome chart that points out what nerve areas are affected by what vertebrae. Turns out that this underarm area is impacted by the T1 and T2 and that the sensation of seemingly increased pain (it's hard to determine these things) is most likely a side effect of the radiation to that area. Because the other areas have greatly diminished in pain levels, he expects this area to diminish as well over the course of treatment.
If you'd like to see this chart, you can find it at: http://www.backpain-guide.com/Chapter_Fig_folders/Ch06_Path_Folder/4Radiculopathy.html
While I'm still sleeping reasonably well, I'm not sleeping as well as I'd like to be. Radiation fatigue is setting in, so it may be a few weeks before I feel rested again.
As I've been studying and reading, I came across this: "To acknowledge you are dying is to let go of the future. It is to live only in the present." Granted, I'm still hoping and praying for a future, but this statement really resonated with me. (NOTE: The future that is referred to in this statement is a physical future in our human bodies here on earth.)
What does it mean to "live in the present?" As I continue to pour my heart out to God, my repeated question is, "What should I do with my remaining time, regardless of how long that is?"
I keep hearing (sometimes, audibly), "love my people." Just as Jesus told Peter to "feed my sheep," I'm being told to "love my people." I don't know what that means, either! What does it mean "to love?"
While in China, I taught a session on "love" at least once a year, if not more often. As Valentine's Day approaches, the concept of love is "in the air!" Love is action. Love is not an emotion, but is something you do.
Love is patient, love is kind
It does not envy, it does not boast
It is not proud, it is not rude
It is not self-seeking
It is not easily angered
It keeps no record of wrong
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts
Always hopes, always perseveres
I'm so flawed and so critical. Oh, Lord, teach me to love your people. Show me the way of love and show me how to follow that way.