Monday, January 18, 2010

December Checkup....

Sorry I've been neglecting my blog. I need more free time. So I wanted to write an update about my current situation.

Every few months I have to go back to Dr. Siv for a check up. I get blood drawn, pet scans, and ct scans. No fun. The blood getting drawn is no biggie. I'm quite used to needles, so that doesn't bother me. I go to JOHA to have it all done, which is nice. I go into a little room with a tv/mags, reclining chair. I get an IV inserted, and immediately flushed (not sure what they flush it with), but it reminds me of what they used to flush my port with. Yuck. Memories start flooding in, and they're all coming from that smell and the gurgling sound of liquids being injected into me. Then they get me ready for the Pet scan. I've copied this from the trusty

To conduct the scan, a short-lived radioactive tracer isotope is injected into the living subject (usually into blood circulation). The tracer is chemically incorporated into a biologically active molecule. There is a waiting period while the active molecule becomes concentrated in tissues of interest; then the research subject or patient is placed in the imaging scanner. The molecule most commonly used for this purpose is fluorodeoxyglucose.


I still can't get used to it. Kevin, who has done all of my Pet scans brings in this medium sized metal box that looks like it may contain something very valuable, or destructive. He opens in and takes out this needle-y thing full of a pale yellowish liquid. That is the short-lived radioactive tracer isotope, also known as radioactive sugars. Anything labeled as "radioactive" always freaks me out and simultaneously reminds me of the Simpsons opener when the green stick falls down Homer's back...Hmmm. That's done, and then the nurse brings me two wonderful glasses of this lemonade concoction. It is amazing, because I'm not sure if I wrote about the barium sulfate I had to gobble down while in the hospital, but it was absolutely horrifying. The lemonade has a funky metallic taste to it, but so much easier to drink then the elmer's glue grape flavored substance which I swear was 50 gallons (in my mind). Then I sit.

I guess I have to let everything sink in, the sugars, lemonade, blah. I sleep. Kevin always takes the magazines away from me. He says it will create a gathering of the sugars in my head from concentrating on reading. He always brings me a warmed up blanket, it's nice. I sleep really good in there.

As I'm going through all this I am really shaky. I hate going to my checkups and scans. I always freak out, but this time I was suspicious of something. I just had a bad feeling. That mixed with anxiety leads to physical disarray, meaning I had hives break out under my right eye. I was really freaking out.

I wake up, and go to the pet scan. I lay on a large table slab that slides into this huge cylinder. It sucks because after I hurt my back, I wasn't, and still am not able to lay on my back. But I have to, so I do. The pet scan is not so bad. I basically fall asleep again. When it's over, maybe 15 minutes have gone by, and it's time to get up. I am freezing, and cannot get up. My spine feels like it's locked in place. Yuck. Whatever...I go into the next room for the ct scan. I get on the same contraption, but I get a giant twirly cord plugged into my iv. It's connected to a huge robot-like machine filled with what looks like a lot of liquid. That's the contrast. I have to have it injected in me for the scan so my body shows up, (I guess). It's gross. I can smell it of course, and I see this giant tank emptying into my arm. It's really warm, and the vapors start to come out of my mouth, I can taste it. Then it makes you feel like you've peed your pants. I think I do pee my pants every time, but I don't. It's just that fooling....The ct scan isn't too relaxing. This is where you have to Breath. Hold your Breath. Breath. Hold your Breath. And so on. It's over, and I'm on with my day.

Meg picked me up and we went to Panera and got some soup. It was nice.

A week of horror goes by. That anxious feeling I mentioned earlier had grown even worse. I was a wreck. I felt like nobody understood. Everyone told me I'd be fine, and not to worry. Well if you know me, you know I am a professional worrier. I think I lost all color in my face. My eye was worse. I don't remember eating or sleeping. I got to work one day and one of my co-workers (rudely) asked if I got punched in the face. I had a few melt downs at work, at home. It was scary. I hate playing the waiting game, but even more so since I had a bad feeling. It's friday morning and I wake up at 7am to a surprise visit from Chris. He took the day off from work and came over super early to surprise me and take me to my appointment. We went out to breakfast (at Louie's of course...), and then onto JOHA. I freak out in the waiting room. I go to have MORE blood drawn, freak out to the nurse. She told me that it's normal. Most everyone freaks out when they're back to their oncologist for this visit. I felt a little better only because I knew they didn't think I was crazy. I get into the same room I've been in a million times, hop on the same table I've sat on a million times, and dangle my feet because I can't reach the step. I stare at the garbage can and wait. Chris was very sweet. He kept saying funny things to cheer me up. Doctor Siv walks in and my heart drops. Usually when he walks in, the first thing he says is "Kat-her-ine, you are ok, tests went well". But he didn't. I knew it. They had found something in the scan. Thank God Chris was there, because while he was explaining everything, I was just sitting there with my jaw dropped thinking I was going to die. They found a "moderately large cyst" that I had to get checked out, just as precaution.

He went on to explain that it was all going to be ok, and it was nothing to worry about. He said pet scans are so sensitive that they'll pull up everything, even if it's not dangerous, but we still have to check it out. He told me I had to go get an ultrasound because another ct scan would be bad (emits too much radiation). He kept reassuring me that I was fine, and there was no reason to be upset, but I couldn't believe him. I wanted him to tell me I was perfectly healthy and nothing was wrong and I could go on with my life, but how could I get my hopes up? I couldn't. I had to call off work, and literally went home and straight to sleep. It was horrible, and really hard because I knew I shouldn't worry, but I just couldn't not. I felt like nobody understood why I was upset. When you're on the other side of things, even if they are severe, it doesn't mean it's any less scary. Why would I believe I was going to be ok, because my whole life I thought I was, and then one random day I was diagnosed. Without any warning. You can't expect life to work out how you want it. But, that's just my pessimistic rant...Normally, I'm much more optimistic. I just couldn't be then, no way. I don't remember that weekend. I remember Monday when I had to go to Future Diagnostic for my ultra sound. Chris took that day off also. We went, and I had assumed I'd find out the results that day. Noway. The woman told me that my doctor would call me. Great. I remember going to work that night, but I don't know how I did anything because my mind was in another place. I get on the train to leave for the city Tuesday morning for my other job, and I'm freaking out. I call JOHA, it's too early. They're not open yet. Great. I call and call, and finally at 9am on the dot, I get through. The woman told me they didn't have the results, but even if they did, I would have to make an appointment to come in because they cannot give results over the phone, whether they're good or bad. I am just a wreck. Then she tells me that Dr. Siv is on vacation and he won't be back til late January. I tell this lady to call me back. I call my friend Liz and freak out to her. She gave me the confidence to call them back and be blunt with them. As I'm talking to her, JOHA calls on the other line. It's the same lady. I told her that I don't care who reads my results, but I want them read, and I need the information now. I asked her "how could you possibly expect me to wait til January to find out? Christmas is in 3 days, it will be ruined. My life will be a mess until I find out, so find out". This is so unlike me. I never do that. But, luckily, she called me back and rudely said "your test results are fine, every thing's ok". I melted. 10 million pounds had been lifted. I was so happy, and I felt like such an idiot for freaking out so badly for the past 2 weeks. It was amazing. My doctor called me shortly after from his cell to tell me again, which I really appreciated. And that was that.

I go back in March for blood work. I hope it's a lot smoother than my last. I feel ok now, I hope I can refrain from worrying out of control again.

To celebrate (even though my family thinks that I am crazy), Chris took me to Vegas. Maybe I didn't deserve a vacation, but my optimistic self came back, and I simply said to myself that I am very thankful to be alive and healthy, and I am going to celebrate. I may be selfish in that aspect, but I don't care. I want to enjoy what I have and do what makes me happy. You only live once.

Just wanted to thank all my friends and family for putting up with me during that time because I know I was acting like a crazy woman.

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