mostly because I wasn’t sure I was ready to really share. Sometimes I need time to process before I know what to say. Often when I’m in session with T, she’ll say things and I’ll just sit there for a minute before I say, “Oh-kay” even. And then I’ll need to take home what she’s said and really process it.
I’ve been processing the hell out of some stuff.
We went to see my mother’s new radiation oncologist, who was not upbeat about the situation. He, in fact, was very gloom and doom about my mother’s prognosis. She hadn’t had her PET scan yet, but he seemed to indicate that they weren’t likely to be able to “cure” my mother. We spoke with him for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, and he tried to explain what was going on. The phrase that still eats at me is, “Chance of cure is not high.” It took me a while to think on the fact that just because she can’t be “cured” doesn’t mean she can’t live WITH the cancer. But at that point, we still had no results of the PET scan, so we had no decisions to make. She has since had her PET scan, but the radiation oncologist did not call her to talk to her about his suggested path as he was supposed to. She ended up calling his office three days after the test, talked to the receptionist and left a message (the receptionist said, “oh, it’s always good that the patient calls to remind the doctor he was supposed to call” and she was SERIOUS not snarky!) but didn’t get a call back. So she called her chemo oncologist and left a voice mail and HE called back right away. He said he was going to call the other doctor first thing this morning to talk to him. Then he sent her the written report. But reading those damn things is…hard. So we still have no set path, and at this point Mom has decided she wants a second opinion, no matter what.
The appointment was hard. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder as we were walking out of his office and said, “I’m sorry to give you such bad news.” It made my heart skip a beat. It’s like you aren’t sure what is exactly being said, but when a doctor says that to you point blank, you really get it. On the way home in the car, we were only mildly discussing the appointment, but also trying to talk about other things. I knew my mother was upset–this whole episode has been much worse than the original diagnosis, the hysterectomy, the chemo–so I was trying to do something to help her. I finally wrote on my notepad (I always take notes for her during appointments), “Today you are okay.” I ripped the page off and handed it to her, and I told her to just keep it in her pocket. Every time I see her she shows me that she has it with her. The truth is, today she IS okay. The recurring spots are small and localized (at least from the CAT scan that found them), and she’s not having symptoms. (The unfortunate part is that they are concerned it has made its way into her lymph system…and also that it recurred so quickly after chemo ended.) So my brother and my uncles (her brothers) are all researching and inundating her with information, but I’ve been staying out of it. I’ve been doing what I can do, which is talking about other things with her. Doing other things. Planning other things. When she brings something up about the cancer or the research, I talk with her. But otherwise, I don’t bring it up. She has enough of that from everyone else.
The same day my mom was getting her PET scan, I was in with the gyno CRNP talking about MY fantastic upcoming procedure. Apparently the next step for me is something called a hysteroscopy. Where they put you in stirrups and shove a camera and a tube past your cervix into your uterus–which they fill up like a water balloon with some liquid–and poke around. They also take “material” for biopsy to see what’s going on. This is done in their women’s procedure center, attached to their office, which fortunately is attached to a hospital. So I get to be awake, but I’ll be having all kinds of medication. Now I’ve had a biopsy before, but no camera. This is supposed to take a little longer and likely be more uncomfortable than just a biopsy because the camera is larger and there’s more that needs to be done. In preparation for this fantastic voyage, I get to start my week by taking 800mg ibuprofen today, 2x a day, for two days. That’s today, by the way, and I’m home alone. So I have no Hub to be my safety person as I take my pills. I know it sounds weird because we’re talking about ibuprofen, but I haven’t taken ibuprofen in 15 years. I take nothing, other than the occasional antibiotics and only recently that stupid progesterone. I don’t even take tylenol or aspirin. So I get to take that ibuprofen with lunch, then again with dinner. Then 2x tomorrow, as well. AND I get to take something weird tomorrow night to “soften” my cervix in preparation for the camera. And then morning of the procedure, I get more ibuprofen AND a beta-blocker (which the doctor says is FINE with my PVCs) in preparation for counter-acting the epinephrine I’ll be getting directly into my cervix during the procedure (which causes people to be “jittery” and anxious!). I’m so unhappy about all these medications, I can’t even explain. I’ve been blocking this whole thing out until this morning so I wouldn’t have to think about it. I asked if they were going to be monitoring me, and the CNRP said they’d do my blood pressure ahead of the procedure, but during they basically just visually monitor me…and depend on ME to tell them if something is wrong. I wanted to laugh and cry, because those of you who are anxiety sufferers KNOW that we don’t interpret things–like pain, breathing, heart rate–properly when we’re anxious. Now the doctor DID prescribe me a couple of ativan pills in case I needed (or wanted) to take it the night before or morning of the procedure. I’ve had ativan ONCE in the hospital ER when they were putting me into the MRI. I don’t remember much about it, but I’m worried if I take the ativan (0.5mg) the morning of, I won’t be alert enough to tell them if something is wrong. I’m open to opinions on that from those of you who have experience with ativan.
I’m also concerned about being in that kind of horrible position for an extended period of time, due to my muscle issues. The CRNP keeps telling me that recovery shouldn’t be bad–lots of women go back to work the next day, some even go “shopping” the same day she told me–but I have muscle pain after going to an annual exam because of having to keep my legs open without any kind of support. So the CRNP offered me “candy cane” stirrups, which I found out later will sort of hang my feet in the air rather than me putting them into stirrups and having to keep them balanced. No idea if the candy cane stirrups will be better.
On top of all of that, I am trying to ignore the potential result of the biopsies they might get. This part has been really really hard, because it scares me the most.
I’m feeling overwhelmed between what’s happening with me and what’s happening with my mom. The potential scheduling of my procedure caused me so much stress because I KNOW it’s going to take me a couple of days to recover, and I was worried that my mother was going to have an appointment during the time I was unable to get around to go with her. I tried to work things out, but we had no idea what timing was going to be with her scan and her results and etc. As it turns out, because she’s considering a second opinion, I should be okay by then to go with her. And if not, my uncle (her brother) has really stepped in to attend appointments…he has some medical background, so he understands things differently than we do.
So just the length alone of this post should indicate my mental state, eh? If you’ve read all of it, thank you. If not, no worries. I just needed to be able to vent AND put this all done for posterity.
(and for record’s sake, my PVCs have been milder and less often in the past two or three days. I have no idea why.)