Thursday, June 30, 2016

I wasn't expecting this

Today I went for my three month check up with the oncologist. I arrived promptly at 9:00 a.m. I always like to arrive a little early for my appointments and since mine was at 9:30 a.m. I relaxed and read a few articles in the waiting room. While sitting there, I glanced up now and then to see other patients arrive. There were some evidently in the middle of treatment as their bald heads announced to everyone in the room. There was a woman who could barely sit in a chair because of pain she was having in her leg and another in a wheelchair, doted on by loving children. I almost felt guilty being there and feeling as good as I did but I was thankful to be in my position.

Several minutes passed and I heard my name being called. The medical assistant stood in the doorway waiting for me to join her as we sauntered down the hall toward the scale. I was smiling to myself knowing I was 5 pounds lighter without my prostheses on today. I'd weighed this morning with and without them to see exactly how much they weighed. I decided not to wear them so Dr. F wouldn't fuss at me for gaining 5 pounds. It's the small things that matter. After being weighed, I was taken to the lab for blood work. The phlebotomist and I had a nice little chat as she was trying desperately to find a good vein in my left hand. Lymphedema makes it difficult for me to have blood work done and I always have to remind the techs to use a butterfly needle and use my left hand. You'd think by now they'd have notated on my chart these specific instructions, but they don't. After talking with the tech about summer vacations, family and holiday plans, my blood had been drawn and I was about to be escorted to my exam room .

I entered the room and instantly my arms were covered in goosebumps. The room felt like a meat locker, it was so cold! The nurse began to take my vitals and I had to remind her not to put the blood pressure cuff on the upper portion of my arm, once again, you'd think they'd know this...When she was done, she left me alone in the room. As she exited, she smiled and said, "The doctor will be with you in a few minutes." I wanted to reply, "Yeah, that's gonna happen!" but I didn't. I knew it would be a while before Dr. F came in. He's always late. I sat in the room for a long time and began to think I'd been forgotten. Forty five minutes later, I hear a tap at the door.

Dr. F enters and asks me how I'm feeling. I can tell by his demeanor he's behind in his schedule and he's trying to play catch up. This frustrates me and I want to tell him I've waited long enough and he can at least give me the courtesy of sitting and listening patiently while I talk, but I don't. He asks me what my main concerns are today and I hear the underlying, "Hurry up and tell me what you want me to do so I can go on to my next patient" so I comply. I tell him my main concerns are my fatigue, back and hip pain. I tell him I had an MRI done a few months ago and a PET scan and tell him the results of those tests. He excuses himself from the room and tells me he wants to go look at those tests for a minute. He's gone for a lot longer than a fact, he's gone 15 minutes. I looked at my watch, so I know. He comes back in and tells me all he could find was tests that were done last year. I explain those are the only ones I've had done but it seemed like just a few months ago because I've had so many tests and I can't keep up with all the dates. He smiles and says, "We need to do a bone scan then. I don't want to let anything slip." I wasn't expecting to hear that and thought he meant a bone density scan so I pipped up and said, "I had one of those done ten years ago." He tells me he isn't talking about a bone density scan and I get very quiet. Now I know he's looking for evidence of minute lurking cancer cells. He gives me a gown and tells me to undress. I obey and he's back in the room in a few minutes to do a mini exam. He listens to my lungs and heart, palpates my chest and underarms then he's done. He says, "I'll see you again in 3 months. If the bone scan is normal, I'll send you to an orthopedic to help get your pain under control. If not, we'll deal with that then." He tells me goodbye and walks out the door. That was that. And I'm standing there wanting a do over.

I walk up to the check out desk and the girl asks my name. I tell her and she types it into the computer. She says, "He wants you to have a complete body bone scan." I smile and say, "Yes." She gets on the phone and calls the hospital to schedule it. She listens intently as the person on the other end gives her instructions to pass on to me. I'll have to arrive at 2 p.m. next Friday and receive an injection. Then I'll return later that same day to have the scan performed. It will take about 30 minutes to an hour. Next she schedules my 3 month appointment. When we're all done, I head out of the office and to my car.

In the parking lot, I sit for a few minutes letting my air conditioner cool the car. I'm bewildered. I hadn't been expecting a bone scan. I didn't really know what I had been expecting other than to have had a chance to be heard. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. I wish I were more aggressive sometimes. I wonder how much longer I'll be on this every 3 month schedule with the oncologist. I feel like I should be done with all this cancer stuff by now but it never seems to end.

On another note...
Sometime this week, I'll be in our local paper. I was interviewed by a news reporter the other day regarding my cancer story. I was honored to talk with her about my journey and humbled when she asked if I'd mind having my story featured on the front page. I don't want to draw attention to myself. I'm nothing special. I'm just one of the millions of women fighting the good fight, but if my story can give hope to someone out there, I'll be happy. Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight. There are no doctors visits to dread tomorrow and thankfully none on the calendar for another month. Life is good and I'm so glad to still be here. Oh, and by the way...the lumps I mentioned in my last post, he thinks they were just swollen lymph nodes, yay!

©bonnie annis all rights reserved

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