welcome to the danger zone

Deep in the Valley of Pufferfish We Go (aka No Two Year Cancer-free Celebration Yet)

Yeah, I started to write a blog on Saturday. I was full of joy and rage and fear and I was inspired; then I got way-laid, and tried again on Sunday, but then the joys of being a baby-snatcher intervened, and I had work to do. Then it was Dr. Day. And after enjoying a day full of describing and pointing and whining and diagnosing I got home and passed out and woke up at 11pm wondering why it was still dark at 6am, and once realizing it was not 6am, I ate a bundukie (lithuanian meatball, a delicacy) and trotted my sleepy butt back to bed. I didn’t even want to write tonight, but as I ate the last cold bundukie in the fridge, I felt compelled to share the events of yesterday with you, my faithful companions.

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Yesterday was starting out pretty well, for Dr. Day. I won a necklace with a raffle ticket I bought at work, and was awarded my prize when I ran in to drop off the carseat I needed on Sunday. Then I buzzed up to court where the court hall patrol tried to halt me from seeing my client before I took the long drive to Hershey. But I could not be denied, and when he wasn’t looking, I grabbed a quick visit. Then I was off.

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Of course, I should have known when I blew by the poor man who was lying on the side of Rte 209 that this was not a good sign. I barely even realized he was human until I did a double take and saw his hand waving. I pulled over as soon as it was safe to stop (not many pull-outs on 209) and called 911. I was stunned that I was the first person to call 911, because he looked like he was there a while. Once I saw someone else had stopped and that an ambulance was dispatched, I was on my way.

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Being a good Samaritan made me late. Much to my glee, when I was finally called, I’d lost 16 pounds. Then the fun began. The nurse, who clearly did not read my chart as so often happens, asked me when my last period was. I told her it was when I last had a uterus and she gave that uncomfortable chuckle that finding out she didn’t read the chart always brings. She didn’t do any of the usual interrogation that my visits begin with. She tried telling me my blood pressure was high. Why do they insist on telling me my blood pressure is high, when it’s really not? Are they trying to see how long it will take to get it high? Fortunately, her painful encounter with me ended quickly and then it was onto the med student.

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Her name was Sam. She had at least read the chart. I told her my symptoms and whined a while about pain and pressure and how I was sure there was some small animal lurking inside. Or a rock. It does really feel like a rock. A boulder. But it was probably the return of the pufferfish. And then she went out to see Dr. K. He came in ready for me to tell him I’m great. You would think I killed his puppy when I said, I have complaints, I believe my pufferfish is back. And then it got really fun. That’s right, you guessed it…we have to feel internally for the pufferfish, and then we have the med student feel for pufferfish, and then we go back in and jab the pufferfish and confirm that yes, there is a large mass in there. Does the fun end then? No of course not – we then poke me in the stomach and lower abdomen about a billion times and ask me if it hurts. YES, YES, YES! It fucking hurts. There and there and ESPECIALLY THERE. Take the pufferfish out I beg, or give me a scalpel and I’ll do it myself. No such luck. Dr. K makes a grumpy face. He does not like that there may be a return of the pufferfish, but gutting me is not going to be our first move. No. Not even close. I will be the lucky recipient of another CT scan, and once we determine that it is a pufferfish and not an invasive lionfish or even a barracuda, or perhaps a giant ball of chewed gum, we can choose an option. Most likely I will get to have another one of those great draining biopsies like last time, except this time, they will take chunks out of the pufferfish in multiple spots using an ultrasound machine. I will undoubtedly be awake again. No morphine, not sedatives to make me enjoy the whole event asleep. Woo hoo. And no fucking jello.

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If it is a rock or a barracuda, we’ll explore other options. At this time we are not tolerating the idea that it is anything other than a return of the pufferfish, which will require a good poke with a sharp needle several times to make it go away.

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You thought that was the end of the adventure, eh? Not so fast.

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So Dr. K’s apprentice comes back and give me papers to checkout. And off I go. Only to get sent back to my exam room to wait for the nurse who does the surgical scheduling to get me over for a ct scan. Today if possible. She has me wait and while I am waiting I hear my treatment coordinator’s voice in the room across from mine talking to someone who has been told there is a contingent of rebel cells in her body that have created the dreaded C monster. I hear her being told she is on a schedule of 3 weeks on and 1 off and for 3 rounds. I want to cry for her. I hear the most feared words in the universe: Taxol and Carboplatin. And a cold chill runs down my spine. I can only imagine what stage she must be at, and I realize Dr. K was expecting me to be disease free to offset having to tell someone they are seriously ill and I really did kill his puppy.

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The nurse comes back and tells me I’m due in the meat slicer with toy story stickers on Thursday at 12:45. And we’ll know on Tuesday what happens next and when that can be scheduled. And you thought that was it? No, I still have one more appointment today.

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Off I go to visit a friend until the next appointment, which I believe is at 2:30. I am sure is at 2:30. So sure I didn’t even listen to my reminder message. And when I arrive at 2:20, I learn my appointment was at 1:50. I could have had a CT scan at 2:00 today, but I couldn’t because I had another appointment. Well now my appointment is at 3:10 because I missed my 1:50. I could have had a scan. I read my book, writhing in pain because the last 3 motrin have yet to kick in. Then I get ushered into the next exam room. No stickers. I read my book. I finally see the Dr. at 3:40. They take my blood pressure, which is NORMAL, but I’ve gained five pounds since this morning and all I ate was some cheese fries with honey mustard and a water. This is a female Dr. K. She’s a brandie-new Dr. She is excited that I came back to see her. She is glad to see the medication is keeping my blood pressure normal. I tell her I don’t take any medication, it’s always normal. Then I tell her about the problem of the pufferfish and what they plan to do about it. She asks me about 10 times if I see an oncologist or a gynecologist and I repeatedly confuse her when I say he’s a gynecological oncologist. And I’ve seen him for over 2 years. I tell her about the pain and now she thinks I have a kidney infection, and I have to talk her down from that. When I finally convince her I know my body better than she does because I’ve had it probably twice as long as she’s been alive, she lets go of the kidney infection diagnosis. But not until I show her EXACTLY when the pain is. Then she leaves me for about 30 minutes to confer with her attending. I’m still in pain. I’m trying to read to distract myself but all I can think about is how I want to go home and sleep the pain away. At least I don’t have to repeat this appointment for another six months. She knocks on the door and comes back in, and tells me they reviewed my blood tests from six months ago and it appears my thyroid level is really really low. I know this, I saw the results myself. Now she thinks that maybe I have too much medication for that and that is why I lost weight. I find this amusing because I’ve been taking this dose of meds for 18 months and weigh more now that I did when I started taking it. If anything, I need to have my dose increased. I don’t argue the point. I will let them take my blood. On Thursday. When I come back for the scan. Because I am tired, and anxious and need a Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard. Can I be excused?. She starts to insist I come back in six weeks for the results, and I tell her no, I see my endocrinologist in six weeks, so I’m good with six months. We agree, and I promise to lay off the lattes and try to walk more. And I am released into the sweltering summer afternoon.

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And thus the two year check-up and Dr. Day ends. So I won’t be celebrating two years cancer-free yet. Keyword YET. Unfortunately I know there will be some sort of procedure because I can feel this thing myself from the outside, and it hurts. I’m gonna make sure there’s jello for this one, and if I have to have the same procedure again, I’m getting that stuffed animal too.

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And there it is, the story of the two year Dr. visit, and a hiccup in the road. I’m gonna go creep into bed now and drift into air-conditioned comfort, and hope things are going better for that lady in the room across from me yesterday and that man on the side of the road. It’s a real reminder that things could always be worse. So sleep well friends, and enjoy tomorrow.

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2 responses

  1. How to make something scary interesting and incredibly entertaining! Best Wishes.

    2 July 14 at 5:37 am

  2. Thank you! I am sure whatever the results are, they will just provide more hours of amusement at some level. As long as there’s jello, I suppose I’ll be in.

    2 July 14 at 12:08 pm

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