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Category Archives: cancer

Three years behind me

I had my bi-annual oncology appointment yesterday. As far as the doctor is concerned, he saw no problems. I have to set up my annual CT scan to confirm, which I will do in the next couple of weeks I hope.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed…brushing my teeth, I started crying. I miss my mother. This kind of news is something I would have shared with her on the phone from the car right after the appointment. Also, it is a milestone she never got to reach…three years post diagnosis. She died almost two years to the day she was diagnosed.

It’s like I keep finding new reasons to grieve all over again.

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Mammogram scare

Because I had endometrial cancer, I have to be extra vigilant with my mammograms. Apparently there is an increased incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in people who have had endometrial (estrogen based?) cancers. So I try to be vigilant since I started getting mammograms.

I normally get my mammogram a day or two after I’m eligible. I had this year’s appointment set, but the morning of I woke up feeling really bad, and I ended up with vertigo episodes. So Hub called and cancelled and I rescheduled two weeks later. I went to the same place I always go to, only now I was pushing a rollator for balance in case I got a spin while there.

The technician was very nice and the tests went as expected. You spend more time waiting for your appointment than the actual (2d and 3d) tests take. I went home feeling I had done my duty and all was well. Only I got a call several days later from my gyn-oncologist’s office (his nurse) saying they found a new mass that they wanted to do more testing on. I had to set up a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound.

AFTER I freaked out for several days, I started looking at the reports and realized that I have (what I had been told five years ago was) a cyst where they thought they saw a mass. Because I’ve lost so much weight, I think the tech was a little overzealous grabbing my looser skin, and she got the cyst all squished up onto the plate for the mammogram. But I wasn’t taking any chances, so back I went for the follow-up testing. The new tech put a little thingy on my cyst when I pointed it out and took their diagnostic pictures. Then they sent me to the ultrasound room and the tech did her thing in there. The radiologist came in to see “live” testing and pronounced it “probably benign.” WTF? He 97% sure it was a benign fibroadenoma, and was nothing to worry about. But now he had ME freaked out again, so I set up an appointment to see my breast surgeon (from the last time they “found something” which thankfully ended up being nothing). When I got in to see her, she looked at the films and reports and then at me (it’s next to my boob in the area they call the axilla) and said “that’s a cyst.” I said “why did the radiologist call it a fibroadenoma?” She said, “they are trained to look for breast issues, so that’s all they think about.” She told me if I wanted to have it removed and tested, she would do it, to have 100% certainty that it was a cyst and nothing major. I said “YES PLEASE” so I didn’t have to think about that 3% is it or isn’t it? Or that something was hiding behind the cyst that they couldn’t see on the mammogram because the cyst was in the way…

I schedule the out-patient surgery (local anesthetic), but then ended up with all that shit about the Reynauds and artery issues and so we postponed. I’ll need to reschedule that soon.

So hopefully this is another year gone of mammograms with nothing coming of it. Except more stress and anxiety. I’m having a lot of that these days.

That’s it for now.

 

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Mom – 2 years

I love you, Mom.

Every moment, even the difficult ones, were a blessing for me because they were spent with you.

I mark this day in honor of a woman whose life mattered.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who loved her family beyond what words can express. It was immeasurable.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who is loved beyond her time on this earth.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who was generous, intelligent, compassionate, and downright amazing.

I mark this day in my heart and soul, like a tattoo that can never be removed.

2014-07-02-16-12-13

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2018 in cancer, death, family, grief, loss, love, mom, Uncategorized

 

Two year cancer update

This past week I went to see my gyn oncologist for my annual cancer check-up. Oddly, the office was very quiet and they took me back on time. Normally the place is mobbed and we wait forty-five minutes to an hour to see the doctor. I’m not complaining, it was just so weird. As it was, my original appointment was at 2pm, but the Thursday before my appointment the office called to say the doctor was going to be out of the office at that time and could we move the appointment to an earlier time. We, of course, got there about twenty minutes early, and during that time we saw my doctor wandering around casually like he had nothing much going on. Normally he’s running from one exam room to another and never comes out to the front the entire hour or so we’re waiting.

I wasn’t sure if all this was a good omen or a bad one.

My blood pressure is always good in their office. This time, though, the wrist cuff they normally use wouldn’t stay velcro’d on, which was a bit upsetting because it made me feel like my wrist was too fat. I had to stop myself and change my inner monologue, because every other time we’ve been there the wrist pressure cuff has worked. I assume this particular one was losing it’s velcro power. So the nurse did an old-fashioned manual check and again my BP was pretty awesome. Normally I get white-coat syndrome and my BP is kind of high, but at the gyn/onc’s office it’s in the normal range…and I have no idea why.

Le Dottore came into the exam room wearing an awesome royal purple tie with white polka dots. Purple is mine and my mother’s favorite color, so I took that as a good sign. I even told him how much I loved his tie and he said purple was his favorite color. We did the exam–which took no time at all–and he pronounced everything “awesome.” I asked about my yearly CT Scan, because the original plan in 2015 had been yearly ct scans every July, and yearly paps every January. This last January he said paps every TWO years…and this week he said he saw no reason for a CT. I said I thought it was yearly CT’s and paps every 2 years. He said “no reason to do paps unless there are symptoms” and basically the same for the CT scan. He said my exams have been perfect and without symptoms, he didn’t see a reason to do the scan. I don’t know if their policies have changed due to new information or what, but it was kind of stressful to hear that they wouldn’t be following me as closely as I had been told. I said I was a little concerned about not doing a CT, but that I understood getting a CT subjected me to radiation (which can actually cause cancer), so the choice wasn’t cut and dry. He said it was my choice, we could do one now or talk again next year. He said recurrences happen most often in the first two years, but even that was a low number (he said 10% but I’d read 15%). But again, he was happy to give me a referral if I wanted the CT. I asked for the referral but said I’d think about my options.

I discussed this with Hub and with T, and in the end I think I’m going to get the CT scan. I’m too worried about all the bits inside that he can’t see or touch, where cancer could be growing without any symptoms or pain. (My mother had cancer recurrence and she had no physical symptoms that she spoke of.) If I didn’t do the CT when I could have and then something happened, I’d beat myself up something fierce. And since “ct scan radiation causes cancer” is actually NOT something they can prove scientifically–it’s a guessing game because they can’t subject people to CT’s to see if they get cancer–I’ll be taking what is an unknown risk versus the actual risk of missing something growing.

I’ll be waiting until after the wedding to do the scan so it doesn’t make me feel lousy or sick this week when I have so much to do. And I’ll have the relief of knowing there was nothing to be seen that could have been seen.

Two year cancer check achievement unlocked.

 
 

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One year.

I love you, Mom.

Every moment, even the difficult ones, were a blessing for me because they were spent with you.

I mark this day in honor of a woman whose life mattered.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who loved her family beyond what words can express. It was immeasurable.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who is loved beyond her time on this earth.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who was generous, intelligent, compassionate, and downright amazing.

I mark this day in my heart and soul, like a tattoo that can never be removed.

2014-07-02-16-12-13

 

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On dogs and doctors and days (long)

It’s been a busy month. Today is the 18th, just FYI.

I got my eyes checked–for the first time in at least six years–only to find that my prescription has barely changed. In fact, the doctor wanted to roll back my prescription a smidge but I declined. I just picked up my new glasses about an hour ago and when I put them on, I felt weird. I think we ended up a tiny bit stronger, but the technician said it could also be the upgraded coating on the lenses that made me feel funky. I’ll have to ease into the new glasses, which is fine because I still have an old pair to use in the meantime. The new glasses have half-frames, so they should be lighter on my face. The second pair of “new” glasses I got are actually one of my old frames with new lenses. I would say it was cheaper to do it that way, but honestly by the time I picked the first set of new frames, I was so freaking tired of looking at frames that I just told her to put new lenses in my old frames. They were in fine condition and they were going to be my back-up pair anyway. Everyone I worked with at the optometrist kept repeating that I had single vision lenses (instead of bi-focals) and they all sounded surprised. Kind of annoying, but honestly the major reason I didn’t go back to get my eyes checked in the last six years is because at 39 years old, the optometrist told me at 40 I’d be needing bi-focals (because that’s “the age”) and I didn’t want bi-focals so I didn’t go back. And here I am, six years later, still no bi-focals. So poo on all of you. Meanwhile, I also hate getting my eyes dilated, but this optometrist had some new-fangled technology that let them take pictures of my eyes and I was able to put off dilation again.

Monday we took Le Moo for her annual “senior” check-up at the vet. We took Butthead, too, because we’d noticed her front two bottom teeth were disappearing. The vet assured me that it wasn’t likely to be the case when we talked in email, but we brought her anyway to make sure. Le Moo is healthy and has lost about 10% of her weight. She went from 94 pounds to 86 pounds, which we are doing on purpose because as she ages she seems to be more prone to limping after running or playing. She’s a big girl and we’ve always had trouble getting her to lose weight, so we gave up and she pretty much maintained a steady weight for all the years we had her. Then we saw the limping issue and we started getting really strict and we’ve noticed it paying off. We’ll keep up with it and try to keep her from injury. The vet looked at Butthead’s teeth and said they aren’t disappearing, the gum is growing up over them. Nothing to do unless it bothers her and so far she hasn’t complained. Unfortunately, the vet is 90 minutes away, so it kind of takes up several hours just going, doing the appointment, and coming home. So Hub’s MLK day off was pretty well used it by that. I’m glad Le Moo is doing well…she’s somewhere around eight years old, which is getting up there in big dog years. And ya’ll know I worry. We’re going to have to get her back to the vet to get her teeth cleaned (she’s got bad teeth, yo), so we’ll be making that trip again in the next month or so. Yay.

So Tuesday was my six month check-up with the gyn onc surgeon. Because of Hub’s status with his company (they got bought out and are in transition), I didn’t want him to have to take a day off to accompany me to an appointment that would likely last less than 15 minutes. So I sent him on his way to work and girded myself for the hour ride to the onc’s office. Under normal circumstances, I would have been nervous but okay to make the trip on my own. I made the appointment for after rush hour and I plotted my route to go on the mostly un-used toll road to avoid further traffic. But…it rained. I knew it was predicted to be “light showers” so I told Hub I’d be fine on my own. When I got on the road it was lightly showering. Ten minutes in, before I even reached the toll road, it was pouring. And I was sweating bullets, hands clutched on the steering wheel, talking myself into being OK. I don’t like driving in the rain and I hate driving on wet roads. I have been in a full 360 degree skid behind the wheel before and it’s not fun, so I try to avoid driving in weather. In addition, the toll road is 60mph, and the highway that I was supposed to be getting on at the other end is 60mph, with lots of traffic. So when I rolled onto the toll road, I basically planted myself three or four car lengths behind a dump truck and kept speed as comfortably as I could. Halfway along the toll road, the dump truck changed lanes and sped off. WTF. But I stayed steady and with the few cars on the road flying around me, I made it along the toll road. At the other end, I decided to exit early onto a main road that cuts through the city that I knew would have lots of traffic lights and lots of cars, but also slower moving. And I splashed my way along for half an hour until I got to my destination. It was a good thing I left early, and I made it with ten minutes to spare at the doctor’s office. The doctor was “only” 45 minutes late (we’ve actually waited for 2 hours for prior appointments!), he spent less than 10 minutes with me…several of those minutes were taken up when I told him my mother had passed and we talked about that. He said everything looked good for me and without any concerning symptoms he had no reason to run any tests. In July I’ll repeat a CT scan as part of my follow-up at my two year mark.

Luckily for the trip home it had stopped raining but the roads were all wet. Even so, I made my way along the major highway back to the toll road, and then meandered along the toll road toward my exit. Unfortunately again, the exit ramp I have to take from the toll road to the highway home is a HUGE flyover, which I don’t even like to drive on DRY pavement. Instead I took the exit for the opposite direction which is a normal exit and I turned around at the first traffic light. And I headed home on more regularly traveled roads, which meant I was more comfortable even though the streets were still wet.

In March I will go for my mammogram. It’s still hard for me to go to these appointments and to know when I get home that I don’t have my mother to talk to about what happened. I thought it would get easier, but so far it hasn’t.

Tomorrow I go for a “consultation” to get my hair did. The salon I selected (different from the one I used last year…partly because the stylist never answered my queries and now because I find out this new salon has more “organic” hair dye) wants me to come in to meet the stylist and to let the stylist see my hair and confirm what I want done. If all is well, I go in early on Saturday to get all the colors. ALL THE COLORS. When I was younger I used to box dye my hair all the time, mostly variations on reds because I didn’t like my plain brown hair. At some point I became too ill physically to dye my hair so I stopped. Then I did it a few more times when I was feeling better, but it was a pain in the ass and everything got all stained (including ME) and I didn’t really love the results, so I stopped again. One year I went and got my hair all chopped off and then I had the salon dye my hair but… well, I wasn’t really keen on how it looked and it seemed like the color washed out pretty quickly and I didn’t want to waste my money.

Only last year did I decide to get something done again and I wanted it to be a little funky to make my mother smile. I got a combo of auburn and violet done, but Mom never noticed and the final look wasn’t as pronounced as I had hoped. Over the past year I haven’t bothered to do anything except let my hair grow out. But after my breast MRI and my colonoscopy and my eye exam, and now my onc follow-up, I knew I wanted to do something fun to celebrate the positive news I’ve been getting. I’ve been stalking Instagram (which I don’t use) for different pictures of what I wanted and I am vacillating between something oil-slick color looking and something more jewel-toned, but there’s definitely gonna be blues and purples and maybe some teal and pink. We’ll see what the stylist says tomorrow. If I can get a picture of before and after, I’ll come back and post them.

I’ve also gone past my birthday. My father asked me three or four times if I wanted to go out to dinner for my birthday (he called around lunchtime) but I kept saying no. I felt bad because I know he likes to go out to dinner and I am sure he felt it was what he could do for me, but I didn’t want to go out. I stood my ground and I thanked him, but said I wanted to chill at home. Hub acquiesced and didn’t do anything special for dinner, but we were together so that was fine. The weather outside was crappy and icy so I was just as happy to stay inside and just BE. My aunt–who doesn’t do so good with the whole grief support thing–called and kept me on the phone for 45 minutes talking about stuff. Two of my three brothers emailed me to wish me happy birthday, and my very old dear friend did the same. But no call from my mom, which was the hardest part. Just knowing the whole day that she wouldn’t be calling and we wouldn’t be talking. It sucked. And now it’s over for another year.

Friday I will literally be in therapy while the inauguration is going on. Like I had planned it that way. The rest of the day I will be avoiding all manner of television and radio and social media. Bleh.

I am still in a pretty good amount of physical pain. The nausea is still around but it feels like less often, so that’s good. Sleep is still sucky. The imbalance is so-so. My jaw pain is still bad, though. Headaches are not quite as bad. I broke down and saw my massage therapist last week so she could work on the TMJ pain, which worked pretty well for about a day. Next week I go back to her for my regular body-work session. One day I’m going to schedule a woo-woo relaxing massage with her because she’s damn good at it (I had one shortly after my mother died as a gift to myself) and I really want it. I wish my insurance covered that shit because it is physically helpfully to me just like physical therapy was, but it’s not covered. And it’s pretty expensive for an appointment…not that I think it’s overpriced. My massage therapist is a boss and hella good at her job…and she works fucking hard to help me. I can’t even imagine how hard it is on HER body to do the work she does! I have no idea if she’s in line with other massage therapists, but I know she earns every damn dollar during our appointments.

I just realized how long this was. I’m gonna end it now. I should have broken this up into separate posts, but in my head it all felt related. Thanks for sticking with me.

 

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Post colonoscopy refresh

Well, here I am, back on my recliner trying to recover from the last two days. The last five days?

The prep, while not as bad as it was for my surgeries, still sucked. I would definitely use this prep again in the future because it was less liquid to drink, and most of the liquid required was plain water. Also, it was split into two days, so that made things easier all around.

The colonoscopy, as everyone said, was the easiest part of the whole thing. The anxiety before (and now some after), is harder. The prep is harder. The half hour before going in is harder. Screw that, the hour before going in is harder. I still feel woozy-ish from some of the drugs, but I also think some of that is the lack of nutrition I’ve had over the last five days. I’m trying to go slowly back into food, both last night and today, so my intake is still smaller than normal. So I’m tired, I’m woozy-ish, and I’m anxious a bit.

Why anxious?

Well, let’s talk about the second worst part of yesterday (the prep was pretty bad for TMI reasons)… We get to the procedure center a few minutes early and checked in. They took me back only a few minute later than I had expected but not bad, really. I go to the bathroom one last time and they take me into a curtained cube area. There are seriously like 12 or 14 beds in this whole pre- and post-procedure area. It started feeling a lot like a cattle call. Get ’em in and get ’em out. So I get into my designated cube area and I undress and pull on my lovely gown, open in the back of course. I tuck my bagged clothes under the gurney as instructed and I get onto the gurney. I’m there about ten seconds and I get an excruciating abdominal muscle spasm. I start gasping and I hear the nurse on the other side of the curtain “you okay, hon?” So I say “uh” and she comes in and I tell her what’s happening. She seems sympathetic but not entirely interested. Says it’s probably from the prep and could she please have my arm to get my blood pressure? I tell her my BP is going to be through the roof because I’m in terrible pain and she just takes my arm and hooks me up. Shortly after taking my BP (which was high, of course), I get another spasm, and then another, and then another. It’s so painful and I want to cry and go home and I want Hub but the nurse says I’m up next and there’s no time for Hub to come back. I’m clutching my stomach and there’s a huge hard baseball sized lump under my skin and she’s asking for my OTHER arm so she can get the IV in. She promises to tell the doctor about the spasm but doesn’t seem distressed. Finally, the spasm gives up and the IV is in and the anesthesiologist comes in to talk to me. Then the doctor comes in and I tell him about something else and then alert him to the spasm. “Probably from the prep” he tells me.

If it’s the prep, then why have I had them before? If it’s not the prep, was it dehydration? I don’t know, honestly, and I doubt I’ll ever know WTF they’re from. What I know is, they hurt like a motherfucker and having four in a row was so painful that I was actually GLAD to be getting anesthesia.¬†(Maybe it was dehydration and being slumped over on the toilet for two days. Hmm…)

Even after the colonoscopy, last night, and today, my stomach is so sore from the spasm. Cramp? Maybe it’s a cramp. Stomach charlie horse? I have no idea. But moving at all is uncomfortable because that muscle is apparently involved in every-damn-thing I do. And of course the fear that it’s going to happen again, because it actually takes my breath away it’s so painful and so out-of-the-blue.

Meanwhile, post-colonoscopy, I’m told I was very nice to the nurses and kept thanking people. Literally, as they were putting anesthesia into my IV before the procedure I blurted out to the two nurses “thanks for taking care of me!” and then I was out. So when Hub assured me that I was nice to everyone even before I was really conscious afterward, I said, “Well my mother would be proud of me.” My stomach was really inflated with air from the test, so I was really uncomfortable. They made me go to the bathroom and drink, then Hub helped me get dressed and we left. Less than two hours from when they took me back to when we got out to the car. When we got home, I walked around the main floor of my house and passed air for half an hour. I know that I kept asking Hub questions about what the nurses and doctor said after I “woke up”, but I couldn’t seem to retain the answers at the time. Every time I lapped around near Hub, I would ask him another question that I KNEW I had already asked, but the answers just kept eluding me. After being on my feet for thirty ¬†minutes straight, I was done, so I went upstairs and changed and got into bed with a small container of yogurt to get some probiotics into my system. I had some apple juice, a small omelet and some jello for dinner. After a couple of hours the air seemed to have left my system, so my intestines felt better but my abdomen still hurt from the muscle thing. I was still kind of woozy and out of it, but I managed for the evening.

I didn’t sleep great, but that’s not news. This morning I didn’t want to get out bed, but I did it because I knew I needed to be moving around. And I knew I needed to get eating again, and drinking.

The doctor said they found one small polyp, which they removed and will send for pathology (2 week wait for that). They also found internal hemorrhoids, which I can have treated at a later date if I decide to do so. “A few” external hemorrhoids, too. Otherwise, I’m told there was nothing else of note, and my prep was “good”. Once they get the pathology back, then I’ll hear if I have to go back for my next colonoscopy in five years or in ten. I’m assuming it’s not cancerous, but I don’t know if I’m being naive about that or not. Either way, won’t know for sure until the report comes back.

Onward to my next job for this week…help my dad go through his mortgage refinance on Thursday. It’s supposed to be hella cold, single digits…yay.

 

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