Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Continuing Saga

The saga continues.

On Tuesday the 8th of August I had a high contrast MRI. In retrospect, it's quite an interesting exam. One has to be sure that all metals are removed from the body. For most of us, that simply means rings, watches, earrings & necklaces. For a few of us, it means body piercings. There was the momentary pause when I was asked "Do you have any hidden body piercings?" Hidden body piercings?? Good Lord - there really are such things???? I'm sure my "no" came out as "uhhhh ... no??" I'm sure the technician was thinking "Oh yeah , this one is a real live wire".

I had opted to wear a pair of cargo pants - no zippers - sandals and a sleeveless top - most of which I got to wear during the MRI (surprise - bras have underwires - now there's a picture I can't get out of my head had I been able to keep it on during the MRI).

A short IV was inserted. Now that's very comforting. A short vs long IV. Frankly, any length IV is enough to send my head reeling. But it was inserted painlessly - which was the best part of the exam.

After given a pair of ear plugs, I was given the choice of laying face down (possibly smothering myself to death within five minutes), or with my head to the right or to the left. Hands above the head and hands clasped. Now this sounds very relaxing. And it was. For all of two minutes. The noise of the MRI sounds much like a jack hammer - only a jack hammer is more melodious. Silence and then the rat-tat-tat. Then silence again. And on and on and on. About halfway through I felt a light touch on my arm - and I knew the dye was being injected into the IV. I could have wept at that point. This only meant the MRI was only half over. I had decided that setting my shoulders on fire would have been a nice diversion - and probably would have felt better had they BEEN on fire. Strange things floated through my mind. What if I left a penny in one of those darn cargo pants pockets? What if there's a quarter lurking around in a pocket? What if they were wrong about not having to worry about the sterostatic breast biopsies I had several years ago and little metal markers were left in? Would these little markers be sucked out with the MRI?

Finally the blessed words "you're all done" were heard. I heard those sweet words but alas my body did not. I feared greatly that my arms would be frozen forever above my head. It took awhile to get the body parts moving together - and even longer to get off the table. All of twenty-five minutes of my life spent laying face down on a board that was transported slowly down into an open tube. Just twenty-five minutes. Amazing the things the mind can come up with in twenty-five minutes.

The IV was removed - not painlessly. I was overly optimistic that insertion and removal would go unnoticed. Years ago, I had the brilliant idea that I would self-wax my legs. Removal of that IV was far worse than ripping off that sticky tape off the back of my calf. Finally, the arm quit throbbing, tape was applied across a half pound cotton ball and I was on my way out to a sleeping husband in the waiting room.

For the rest of the evening, I enjoyed a mild headache and a metallic taste that didn't go away until well into the next afternoon.

Since then, we have celebrated our son's 27th birthday a day early with a nice family gathering at one of the local Mexican restaurants. Darling husband got to play with the two grandchildren; I had my first margarita in probably six years; visited with daughter-in-law's mother; and decided right then and there that life really is very, very good.

And so - we wait for the next step - the followup with the surgeon at 10:30 on the 5th of September. I admit - I do have a lot of "what ifs" lurking around. But until the 5th of September, I think my time would be better spent on finishing up at least one quilting project or trying to finish that darn knitted baby hat - which now has held the world's record for being unraveled and restarted.

Life is very, very good and life is so much richer by experiencing it one step at a time - with an occasional hop, skip and a jump accompanied by a "wahoooo!"


Friday, August 10, 2007

Up the Anxiety a Tad

Today I accompanied my dear husband for a doctor's appointment - on the off chance the ultrasound came back. Always nice when husband & wife share the same doctor. Granted, this "short term" ultrasound was done just yesterday - but the word 'rush' was used, right?

Sure enough, the results were back. I really do hate the 'good news, bad news' routine, but it seems appropriate.

Good news is - the "spot" (what do we call it?) has not grown. Bad news it - it doesn't fit the "profile" of a cyst nor a breast lesion. Profile? What is a profile? A profile is appropriate for say - a guy who breaks into houses & makes himself a sandwich before he robs the place blind. That's a profile. How does something so small have a "profile"? I imagine this tiny cell, searching for his identity to make himself a name.

At any rate, our family doctor has already made an appointment for me to see a surgeon on the 22nd of August. Now, that's enough to make anyone sit up & notice. Surgeons = cutting. That's always been my experience. Little does anyone know that they also order special tests. The radiologist was nice enough to offer perhaps two avenues to the surgeon: biopsy or a high contrast MRI. I think when I grow up I want to be a radiologist. They look at pictures all day long and then pass the buck on to a surgeon. Sounds like a good deal to me. Have you ever read a radiologist's report? Now THAT'S an exercise in conservatism. Words like "suspicion maintained" and "further evaluation is warranted". This leads me to believe malpractice does not run rampart among radiologists.

The next step is to simply wait and try not to over-research the few words I can glean out of the radiologist's report.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Anxiety Followup

Several months ago (three to be exact - but who's counting??), I suffered through a mammogram (routine) and shortly thereafter, an ultrasound (not routine). The ultrasound pinpointed something "suspicious" but not "overly suspicious". Is this like - being kinda sorta pregnant?

Today, the followup ultrasound took place. Outwardly, just another ultrasound - pictures taken just in that one area. Inwardly, lots of "what ifs". The technician was very good but had to be reminded several times to ease up on the glider (she tends to "get into" her work). Frankly, I didn't see what was so fascinating on the screen that distracted her from ensuring the pressure was light.

Shortly thereafter, she called the radiologist (only several rooms down the hallway) to let him (her?) know the pictures were on the way. There's technology - and then there's technology. Several rooms down the hall and she emails the results? Maybe the radiologist really isn't down the hallway but is in India and they just tell the patients the down-the-hall story. After some chit-chat, she leaves - warning me to please remain where I was & keep the gown on. I think by saying "keep the gown on" is more than enough to keep me from wandering the halls. Heaven knows, I might meet up with the radiologist down the hall. Several minutes later, she returns - all is well, the pictures were received. Very interesting set up. Email the results, call to see if the email was received, walk down the hall to ensure the results were received, release the patient. A little time management study might be in order here. After several more seconds, the technician mutters "oh shoot" and dials a number on the phone. "Did you see that note - the dr wants the report right away".

My heart stops. Okay - right away. What does that mean? We suspect the worse, so hurry up and confirm? We know it's bad - so hurry up and confirm? Before I go into panic mode, I remember my last conversation with our family dr. The followup ultrasound was to be done in three to six months. My reputation as the paper cut queen (also fondly referred to as the "hang nail queen), prompted the dr to reassure me that waiting three months vs six months is a splendid idea. Which prompted the immediate report. Whew. Thank God for decent memory recall.

Report should be ready tomorrow - which I will gladly accompany my dear husband to HIS appointment and ask nonchalantly "hey, how did that ultrasound go on Thursday?"

I think I can pull it off.