Giant Cell Tumor – 5 Months Post-Op

Someone coined the term “scanxiety,” and I have it.  Scanxiety is the anxiety that precedes the next x-ray.  It’s a weird, double edged thing.  I’m simultaneously scared and anxious, yet also excited to (hopefully) feel the relief of getting another All Clear from the docs.  Giant cell tumors have an estimated 20% chance of recurrence/growing anew.  Matters are made worse for me since the x-ray is done here locally but then has to be mailed (yes, mailed, because apparently parts of the medical profession are stuck in pre Y2K land) to the surgeons who did the procedure in Florida.

My 5 month x-ray got that All Clear, thankfully.  I’m coming around to the reality that my knee may never feel ‘normal’ again. It’s still stiff and sore – more so with cold temps or overexertion – and the area around the hardware is always, always tender.  Resolving myself to the reality that, for now, this is just how it’s going to be, I’ve started getting back to some normal life things with the understanding that it’s just gonna hurt.

I’ve started road biking again, just a bit.  There’s a butte near my house that I used to ride up daily, pre-tumor, and I’ve begun that again.  My times are abysmal compared to what they once were, and often I need to ice (or heat, if it’s cold out) my leg when I get back home.  Still, I was quite frankly amazed when I made it all the way without stopping on my first try.  If I’m not careful to pay attention my poor right leg winds up working twice as hard, compensating for unconscious favoring of my left due to pain.  I’m working hard to push through that.

I’m also still going to the gym, though probably not as often as I should.  I will never not find the gym boring.  I will always prefer to be outside.

I also suffer from hypertrophic scarring, which is manifesting a bit in the incision scar from the surgery.  The top half of it always appears somewhat red, puffy, and irritated looking.  On bad days the whole incision looks angry.  I imagine that it would probably feel of pins and needles like my other scars do if its surface weren’t still mostly numb thanks to nerve damage.  Perhaps that’s a blessing?

My next x-ray is due in September.  Between now and then I will continue to work towards full recovery of my faculties.  I’ll also continually worry with every new pain and ache, and I’m sure scanxiety will return the closer we get to that next appointment.

The goal, at least for someone like me who already had problems with anxiety and depression, is to soldier on.  Find the best in everything you can.  Acknowledge fears and anxieties, but do not succumb to them.  Recognize them with the understanding that there’s nothing you can actively do about them, and with that knowledge categorize them appropriately. Also, try to sleep.  Night is when it’s hardest to push concerns away.

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