Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Date with the Breast Surgeon

Let me start out by clarifying that by "date," I mean "appointment."  It's just that the blog title was already sort of long and "date" sounds more intriguing.  There's only one fellow with whom I actually have dates, and he's been amazingly sweet and supportive throughout the past couple weeks. Well, truly, throughout the past nine months -- just realized tomorrow is our nine month anniversary! But especially with all this fun stuff. And for that, I am quite thankful!

Anyway, as those who've been following along know, I explained last week why Now is the Time, and earlier this week why there are times When 0 > 1. I'm going to continue with my kudos to Breastcare Center #1 and the Nurse Coordinator Lisa - she got me set up with an MRI yesterday and an appointment with the breast surgeon today. That's some fast work! 

I've never had an MRI before.  And, to be honest, never really imagined having one for my breasts, as opposed to my knee or back. Or head. (It really probably warrants a thorough examination.) When Lisa called to set it up, she walked through all the preliminaries -- made sure I wasn't claustrophobic (nope!) and didn't have any metal in my body (nope!)  Oh. Wait.  Oops.  (Mom, don't read this part. Or don't be shocked.) I do have a belly ring. And it's of recent enough vintage that I wasn't entirely comfortable with the notion of removing it. Not to worry!  The tattoo/piercing place where I got it done has these nifty little plastic insert thingies which Mr. Technician was kind enough to swap out for me for the low-low price of $5. 

So, off to the MRI place I went yesterday morning. They got me in quickly, prepped me for an IV (for the contrast) and ushered me into Magneto Land.  The machine looked pretty much like what you see on TV. Only it was set up for me to be on my stomach, rather than on my back. I was really concerned about the prospect of having to lie still for 30 or 40 minutes with my head turned to one side, but wonder of wonders - they did have the little cut out for your face like massage tables do! And instead of having my arms down by my side, I got to hold them up above my head. So it was kind of like I was flying. While surrounded by jackhammers.  Man, is that thing LOUD! The tech warned me that even with the earphones piping in music (I chose classic rock - yes, I got scanned rocking out to Billy Squier and AC/DC), the machine would be loud. She wasn't lying! Once I was in there, I started worrying about moving too much. I didn't want to breathe too hard, then realized I was holding my breath and that probably wouldn't work out all that well.  I tried to relax, but then I was worried I might have to cough.  Or that I'd start to fall asleep and twitch.  Or that I'd have a weird reaction to the dye.  Thankfully, none of the above happened, and I was only in the machine for about 30 minutes.  

Once out, the tech handed me a CD with my MRI scans on it to take to my appointment today. They'd forward everything over to Breastcare Center #1 and I'd get a call in the afternoon with the results. Sure enough, Lisa called early in the afternoon. What she said was somewhat encouraging: The MRI looked "good," although the reading was a little complicated by the fact that I'm at a "high hormone" phase of my cycle. (So don't piss me off!)  This phenomenon apparently causes one to "light up like a Christmas tree" when magnetized, which is why they optimally schedule MRI's for a different time. BUT, she explained, when they do have a diagnosis of cancer, they don't like to wait. She didn't think this would require me to undergo another MRI in a week or two, but I'd need the results confirmed with the surgeon when I met with him.

Okay. Good enough.  I'd take that as positive news and see what Dr. Surgeon had to say. The appointment was set for 10:40 this morning, and I initially toyed with the idea of going into work early, then going to the appointment, because, you know, work is what pays the bills (in theory)! I nixed that idea when I started feeling icky late yesterday afternoon -- my throat was sore and I had a fever. Bleh! Alright, so I'd stay home and rest this morning, then go to my appointment, then go to work if I felt better.  

I left the house on schedule, but was worried I might not make it to the appointment on time because I lucked out and got stuck behind Mr. Snail on Clayton Road. Finally got past him and made it to MoBap with about a minute to spare.  Hurried up to the sixth floor, walked into the doctor's office and thought, "Hmmm....this place looks....familiar."  Well, there's a reason for that.  Turns out it's the same place I went for my mammogram four years ago that didn't take my insurance.  The place that made me be all stubborn about getting one rescheduled. (No, truly - the place didn't make me be that way - I was that way. Still....)  Well, I thought, they already had all my paperwork and info and no one had sounded any alarm bells, so maybe all would be well. I filled out the remaining paperwork, gave them my ID and insurance card, and had a seat.  To occupy my time while I waited, I tweeted some, checked e-mail and Facebook and texted David. Me: "Also - in a strange twist of fate - this doc office I'm in is the place that didn't accept my insurance 4 years ago when I tried to come get a mammogram...." Him: "Cue Twilight Zone theme....Keeping fingers crossed for you this morning for good news on multiple fronts." Me: "Oh I'm just waiting for them to come out and tell me they still don't accept it so I can't see the doc....."  Thirty-five minutes later.... Me: "Called it."  

Yes, yes indeed.  Turns out that, while this place accepts Coventry, I have an extra special version of Coventry which they don't accept after all.  In fairness, I can kind of understand the confusion. And the nurses who talked to me were very nice and apologetic.  Dr. Surgeon even came in to talk to me and apologize.  He was very nice and handed me this snazzy canvas tote they'd already made up for me with all sorts of breast cancer related goodies in it. (I'm using that term rather loosely - mostly, it's literature re: various aspects, treatments, etc.  But there was a little pillow thingy in there.  Oh hell - I just Googled "breast cancer pillow" and discovered that this is a special pillow designed for people suffering from uncomfortable pain due to mastectomies and such. I'm going to remain optimistic and hope that's something they give to everyone who's been diagnosed.  Not just surgical candidates.)  He also wanted to reassure me that Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), which is what I have, is "very treatable."  Which sounds good and encouraging. Except that it sounds like it involves "treatment" rather than mere monitoring. 

Guess I'll find out more next Tuesday. Which is when my new "date" with new Dr. Surgeon -- who does take my insurance -- is set.  'Til then, I certainly won't object to any prayers or good thoughts sent my way. Because it's been a helluva week already. And it's only Wednesday! 

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