Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Before I forget: The surgery is tomorrow(Wednesday).

They're telling me to be there at 9:00. (How civilized.) I think that means I'll probably get knocked out at 10:30-ish but that's just based on my imagination. Like many other things. 

I can eat till midnight and drink water or apple juice till 7:00 am. 

I'm supposed to be in there for 2 days. Does that count the surgery day as Day One asks P? I dunno. It's Two Days Hospital Time. I'm not asking. 

I had my final fitness assessment this morning. Do you know, it's not often I feel like someone is being patronizing so I can't even say if that's what this was, but something felt that little bit ick about what I thought had been a pretty kick ass-self driven-experience so I wasn't skipping when I left. 

P said, I wouldn't let that pop your balloon. So I didn't. 

 Instead of getting a fabulous 'survivor' t-shirt, they printed me this nice piece of paper. Of course, I had to adjust it on it's way to the recycling can because this is my lot in life. 
: )

Around about 1:30 this afternoon, my insurance company (Land of Lincoln)that is set to explode on September 30 accepted me back into their fold until the end of September-where I had been banished(without my consent)to Blue Cross/Blue Shield who is going to charge me around about 120 additional dollars per month AND make me pay a new deductible that's good for 3 months. 

It is so much bullshit I'm not going to even apologize for swearing. 

We have met the enemy and he is us. 


I got to experience a luv gauntlet at the library on my way out the door on Monday. One co-worker even filled me in on her hernia surgery-I think she said,"It was more painful than I imagined." and I really appreciated the gift(no, really I do.)of sharing the information. I'd rather expect the worst, right? And not everyone knows of my deep 'librarian as rock star' theology but you know that feeling of recognition when you're among your own people. Like traveling in a box of light bulbs. Or something. 

On the other hand, I left the other job Monday and said, 'Okay I'll see ya in a month!' and the response was 'You're not here on Wednesday?' and I was thinking: Well, okay-if you don't mind my ass sticking out the back of my gown. 

Thanks for all your t's, p's and mo-jo. See you soon. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Can you really say that you've lived-until your father shares with you-his rehab 'nice to have items' list of suggested post-surgical home adjustment items? 

Yeah. That's what I thought too. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Monday. I went for those blood tests. I had been putting one of them off. And then there was-all of a sudden-three and P said, well, when are you going to get them? Because I'm on the official countdown for the hernia surgery which is Wednesday Aug. 31 for those linked into my prayer/mojo chain. 
: ) 
And we deciphered days and there was only Monday left between the hours of Job One and Job Two so that is why I wrote it on my hand. So I'd remember to go. 

Get ready for this because it is my genius strategy. If you recall, my right arm doesn't want to participate in the blood letting ceremonies and every person with a needle thought I was wrong until, duh/ouch, they tried it and had to go to my left arm so I got to the lab area and had the following conversation: 

Me: Is this the time where I tell you I need somebody really good to do this?

Woman at Lab Desk: We're really good back there. 

Me: Okay, but I haven't experienced any good lately. 

So then? I did this. It's very subtle. Ready?

Left arm. 

Right arm.

See that? Non-confrontational genius I tell you! So the woman comes by and I'm all-look you're not going to get any blood out of my right arm so don't even try, okay?

And she looks at me like, um, oh-kay. 

So funny. I get all worked up for the wrong things. 

Tonight was my last Loyola Zumba. It wasn't quite as fantastic as the other ones had been, but I hung in there till the end. (If someone could explain to my how to do Zumba without your shoes sticking to the floor that'd be really cool.) Behold my secret weapon. It took me The Longest Time to get the order right. It's a Large, Unsweetened, Iced Tea, with Lemon and Extra Ice. If you exhibit good gym participatory behavior and you are nice, you can have one on the way home. It's $1.10. 

I have my-well, let's see how well ya did, ya big loser-test on Tuesday. I care very little about the actual results. This investment put me in motion. 



Fuck Cancer

I've been thinking about this and watching people throw this phrase willy-nilly and for a second-when I saw my friend Jane  post a needlepoint photo of this, I thought yeah! but now, I dunno now, ya know? 

It doesn't do it for me. 

Unless, you use it like in the following sentence: Fuck cancer, I'm going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. 


Fuck cancer, I'm gonna drag my sorry ass onto the Zumba floor and be the person everyone stares at. 

I bought a t-shirt. I kinda thought I'd earned a t-shirt after all this. It said something like: Stupid Cancer. Get Busy Living

I liked that when I saw it online, but when I had it on, I felt like a supreme weirdo. Plus it was that strange thin fabric that looks good on oh let's see. Pretty much nobody. 

We heard a story from that art lady a long time ago. She had a client who wanted to tattoo 'Fuck Cancer' onto her scalp only she was too sick to do it so they used some sorta marker and then photographed her-taking care not to pose her in front of any religious accoutrements at Loyola. 

There was a pretty awesome sounding individual that died this week-I've been watching her Facebook page-just because I can, and lots of her friends responded to her death with 'Fuck Cancer' and really, it just doesn't carry the appropriate amount of rage, for me. 

I need gnashing of teeth. I need the shaking of fists in the direction of the heavens. I need some sort of weird internal beastly howl. How do you squeeze all of that into a short phrase? 

I'm gonna think about it. You do too. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This week was so supremely difficult, it had to have cake at the end. 

Coconut Cake. Three bucks. 
Waiting for you in your Grocers Freezer. 

I know.

Got the call from the hospital. The number shows up. It ends in 1000. While I wait to get to a quiet place to hear the message, I do some gold star catastrophic thinking. Ending in something like, 'They wouldn't call me if it wasn't something terrible, right?'

It was Cindy. She gets her own real name and that is an indication of her royal awesomeness. She's the secretary to the colonoscoper. And yet yet yet another indication of how a really successful person finds the very best people to represent them. When you speak to her, you automatically feel better.

I just about answer the phone now like: PLEASETELLMETHISISNOTBADNEWS. 
And she's like, umm what?

I had a small list of questions ready(that's how it is now-little scraps of paper-everywhere) and we ran through them. 

Pills vs The Drink. This doctor doesn't allow the pills. They find it more effective to have you drink the goldfish bowl water in two sessions. End of story. 

This is what the prep looks like at 4:00 in the AM. 

(I found the assessment of my bowel prep written on the report they give you when you leave. I only got a 'good'. I could have had an 'excellent'. I guess I need to make friends with Crystal Lite. Is there a margarita flavor and is this why I really need a driver?)

What am I, some sorta polyp farmer? I have to go back  for another one, in three months. They took out as many as they could in one session but I have to go back. 

Does that mean he looked at the whole colon? Or did he just go so far and... Yes, she assured me. The colon is something like six feet long. 

Did I grow all these things in the period of one year er whut? They can't really say for sure, because my first colonoscopy was done at another hospital(and one thing you don't want is a shitty colonoscopy. Go for the intense one, my friends. And never look back.) but there's a chance that the previous doctor saw the cancer and just took the major stuff out and left these babies behind. She said, I know they look huge on the report we gave you, but they're actually very small and oh yeah, (music to my ears) there's no evidence of cancer. 

Why did the nurse insist on trying to get blood out of my right arm? The nurse may have been trying to make it easier. When you get a colonoscopy, you're placed on your left side so with the IV thing in your right arm, everything would be tidier but ha HA! She said next time I should request that the anesthesiologist start the line and tell them no, on the right arm. And she put a note in my file so it's official. 

I asked her if it would be possible to put the November appointment off until January(See Illinois health insurance debacle)and she kinda phone-frowned on that idea and P gave me a Very Serious Lecture about Putting My Health First so, November it shall be.

Lawd Willin'.

Weird things that happened this week: 

I was in a room with two people and one of their Moms died from colon cancer and the other person's Dad died from colon cancer and I was like AREYOUKIDDINGME?  (That's how I talk, apparently, when I losing my marbleosis. I eliminate spaces.) 

Heard another story about someone who's having some sorta health crisis and how they've withdrawn all the dough from their checking and savings accounts(I said, is your mattress all fluffy now?)and scored themselves some medicaid or medicare or whichever the one is that you call upon when you have no dough.) 

I don't have an opinion either way on that one(or maybe I do) but when there is a news article about how people who have Affordable Care Act insurance are lazy takers-it makes me want to drive to those commenters homes(who are these people really? And if they are your neighbors, why don't you move?) and introduce my foot to the insides of their ass. 

A tid-bit regarding successfully drinking the goldfish bowl water and here it is: Hold your nose. 


You know how certain people say Facebook is the devil and all that? As I watched the theatrics of my disappearing health insurance, for some reason I looked them up on Facebook and I found a splinter group of people who are losing their insurance too. While I wait for the phrase 'class action law suit' to pop up, I had occasion to call upon the expertise of this group and it was just about the coolest thing ever. Well, not hula-hoop cool but, you get me. 

I dialed up Healthcare dot gov and I got a reasonably nice fellow on the line. (I'm going to take the risk of guessing that his first language was not English.) and we got down to selecting a plan-oh it's gonna blow-this transition. A new deductible. Eighty dollars more for the monthly payment. Massive suckage. We got to the: And your new start date is......September First! 

And I thought, hey wait a second. 

That means I lose the delightful month of September-which is the tail end of my Land of Lincoln-you've already satisfied your maximum out of pocket expenses/lower monthly premium-Insurance. 

And the guy was like, I'm not permitted to help you decide which insurance to take. 

Umm what?

Anyway! Three rounds of that back and forth and I was off to the Facebook group and I had answers-like 8 of them-in two minutes. Not only that, there's a woman who's on some sort of task force and guess who called me twice so far? The Advanced Resolution Center of Healthcare. gov. That's right. A mover AND a shaker. Right there on Facebook. Imagine that. 



I went to Zumba. I was The Worst One in the Room. We even did some Bollywood maneuvers. It was fantastic.


I work with everybody from millennials to actual hippies which I find seriously cool. One of my co-workers told me she's going to look at my chart cuzza all this stuff happening all at the same time. 

This cheered me immensely. 

Here's Grantley napping on her moose sleeping bag bed. She says Hello. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Last night I bashed my head-you ever do that? I had SUCH a successful day. I got the bowel prep to stop-no small feat-and noteworthy for those who're booking their first one now.  You might need some time to stop the train-as it were-the next day. 

Took a nap. Cleaned up where that cup full of bubble blowing juice got knocked over everything. You knew it was a bad idea when you saw there was no lid, right? Even went to the gym after being yanked from a nap. That should make me eligible for some sorta extra points, no? Got home. Fetched some groceries. Bent over downstairs to pick up a Trader Joe's Frequent Flyer newspaper ad thing and POW. I smashed the back of my head into the bottom of the row of mailboxes. I mean like WHAM. 

Why do I bring this up? Do you think it might be a metaphor for this entire experience? You do your things. You do ALL your things and KABLOOIE-out of nowhere-POW. 

There. That should help. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to Have a Colonoscopy

Prep Day

Sunday, August 14th
8:45 am. Water. 
9:19 am Watched one of those Facebook cooking videos for something called Cheesy Garlic Hedgehog Bread. Think you could probably have a heart event just from watching that. 
9:43 am Why am I still awake? This is my only day off. I need a nap. 
10:28 am More water and a big cup o'java. Black. 
10:50 am. Just reviewed one version of the instructions. I think the last line is hilarious. 
You may not eat anything for 6 hours before the procedure. You may have clear liquids up until 2 hours before the procedure
If you are on Coumadin contact your doctor and arrange to stop your medication for 5 days prior to procedure
You need to have your blood coagulation checked just prior to the test
If you have diabetes and take insulin, contact you doctor for instruction on taking you insulin
For your safety, you must have a friend of family member escort you home after your procedure
Your procedure will be canceled if you do not have a friend or family member to escort you home
You may not walk or take taxi, limo, etc without an escort
You must not drive, work, operate machinery or make important decisions for the entire day.

11:14 am. More water, more coffee. Just told my Dad not to ask me for stock tips tomorrow because I cannot make important decisions. I also said, "Hey ya know how we were sorta raised not to rock the boat? All of a sudden, I want to rock all the boats." 

12:20 pm. More water. We just had a discussion of whether or not a mint counts as food. I vote no but I am cannot screw this up. I've had to take two shifts off from two different jobs and paycheck-wise that is not something I want to do twice. 

12:25 pm. P reads me an article from the Sun Times about a guy who has retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, and osteosarcoma cancer. (eye, nerve, and bone). He's 27. "That's hell times a million." says P. 

12:56 pm. Water. Looking at active wear on eBay. I had a conversation with the head gym honcho about Zumba and how everyone wears cute outfits and she said, hey maybe that would be a great motivation for you. And I was thinking, disease and premature death. That seems to be working really well for now. High five!

2:27 pm. Water. I announce that there's a new flavor of M&M called Coffee Nut. We're also trying to do a sort of a household purge but what we end up doing is this:

That's the stuff one uses to blow bubbles out the window. 
Third floor occupants have a certain responsibility to their neighbors, don't they? 

2:33 pm. I have to make a commitment regarding the flavor packet. I could-they told me-get some Crystal Lite and pick my own flavor-except for red-or go with the 'Lemon' that's already included. I have to decide before I add the water and I need to get the whole monstrosity into the fridge because this stuff is best served extremely cold. 

Crystal Lite sort of freaks me out in an unnecessary chemical additive sort of way. I'll go with the official Lemon, I guess. It must be all-natural if it came in a plastic pack hot glue gunned to the plastic jug from the pharmacy, right?

2:49 pm. Last year, when I had my first colonoscopy, I remember just how carefully we shopped for the different stuff you're allowed to have on Prep Day. Really. I remember looking all over the place  for broth. I ended up giving it to Grantley. It's not as if I'm generally deficient in 'broth'. 

This year, swear to God, I say to P, hey are you going over to The Jewels so you can get me some stuff? He says-I swear-Let's just look in the fridge and see what we can use up. 

ha ha ha. The romance is gone. I'll just cry into my glass of Dollar Store Yellow Gatorade. ha ha ha. 

4:46 pm. I have a mad hankering for canned green beans. No, really. 

5:58 pm. No yellow popsicles. Frowny face. Italian Ice Cups. Happier face. One hour away from: Do Not Leave the House. 

6:59 pm. Okay. I gotta drink half of this stuff(Two liters is half) between now and 8:30. I found a straw out of one of our water cup things. P said the best thing to do is to put it down quickly. Does he not remember I cannot do that. It tastes like...maybe like if you won a goldfish at the Halloween Carnival and brought it home in a plastic bag. Maybe like that water. 

Thankful it is not thick. Seriously thankful. Ugh. 

7:21 pm. It doesn't seem to stay very cold. I should have made arse-scicles out of it. 

8:17 pm. I'm not drinking fast enough. This may never ever end. 

8:47 pm. Let the bathroom games begin. I have a book in the bathroom. Something about what you can do in your 50's to make sure you have an ass-kicking 60's and beyond. Somebody donated three copies of this book to the library. When that happens right in front of me? I think it's a message and I better check it out. 

9:10 pm. I have to return between 3:30 am and 5:00 am to drink the rest of the stuff. I owe it two cups from this session. Poor Grantley has been getting up and down and up and down to accompany me to and from the bathroom. Probably hoping for some nice broth afterward, poor dear. 

9:56 pm. Gonna try for some sleep. 

 Colonoscopy Day

4:10 am. Okay hit the 3:30 snooze alarm way too many times, but I got tough and stood in front of the kitchen sink and drank and drank and drank. 

Also the pyrex measuring cup I was drinking out of-I shoved the entire business into the freezer last night and I did get a big ice cube and that really helped. Freezing is your friend. Also I didn't allow myself to drink anything other than the official stuff like I did last night. That was a mistake and just slowed me down. 

I got a little crazy and looked up 'tricks to taking colonoscopy prep'-I mean I felt a little sheepish even looking that up-but it turns out there are plenty of pages and I should have read them before I even made the appointment. It seems as if I might have been able to take some sort of pills as opposed to drinking this stuff and that might have been a better idea for me. I should have at least inquired. I didn't even think about it. 

Also I remembered another bowel prep that went better than this one and it involved picking out two different jugs of Gatorade-not red-and you put half a thing of Miralax into one and half into the other, shake it up and wah-lah/kablooie. 

I have been wah-lah-ing. This is supposed to be more effective. To do this in two parts. I dunno, ya know? I think they could come up with something way better and someday I bet they will. Or maybe this is the better. 

I'm going to bravely(or stupidly)quit at 5:30 and get some more sleep. I'm leaving about an inch and a half in the jug. My appointment is at 9:30 but they want us there at 8:45. Good thing we live so close. 

What's coming out of me at this point, is yellow water. I know it's TMI but this is all TMI, duh. You'll be okay.  

I feel okay. My stomach is flatter. It's still making noises like I ate an entire live lion. Back to bed. 

7:48 am. Hit the snooze an awfully lot of times. Took a shower. Had a brief discussion as to what one wears to a colonoscopy. Went with 'dress'. We're leaving at 8:00. Gotta dry my hair. 

8:10 am and off we went and now I have to go by memory. We got there and had to park on the 5th floor which is further up into the sky than I'd even been before over there. Nice view. 

We entered the building and did not have to go far to get to the GI Lab. The Security Guard said 'a right and a left' and he was right. We got into the waiting area-signed in and were lucky-Very Lucky-to get an empty waiting area eventho Chance the Rapper was yelling at us via Good Morning America. I don't turn on the TeeVee till at least after the street lights go on-no offense to Chance. 


I got called in. P came with me. We went past a huge desk with really bright lights and all this activity. (Maybe Chance was trying to wake us up or something.) We followed a nurse into a small room. Changed in the yellow socks and a gown.  
It is a 'nice to have' item to have somebody tie the gown in the back. 

Then, the whole conversation is between the nurse and the computer and you just chime in when it's your turn. Lots of questions. When did you last eat solid food? When did you last take your prescription? What about that one? Did you drink all of the prep? Do you have allergies? Have you had any reaction to anesthesia before? And that goes on and on. 

Then she tapes you in. You get that ET red light thing on your index finger. You get a monitor velcro-ed to your left arm and then it's time for her to get a line started into a vein.

Once AGAIN, I say, hey my right arm doesn't work and once AGAIN she takes it as a challenge and once AGAIN, I'm right and I end up with two sticks as opposed to one. She said something about 'next time bring your veins' and by that time the doctor was already talking to me while she was shoving a needle into my left wrist and that is the only thing that really hurt all day. I hope our paths do not meet again. Also I wonder if a snarky nurse costs more than a neutral one and if that's something available upon request. 

We meet the doctor. He asks questions. I ask questions. I ask him what everyone else usually asks that I'm probably forgetting and he thought for a minute and said, you can eat anything when we're done. Okay.

My yellow foot. 

We meet the anesthesiologist. He's sorta funny. We're supposed to call him by his first name. Calls me 'dear'. Tells me all about his end of things. Oh and the HIGHLARIOUS joke in THIS department is, because I'm getting scoped from my throat to my innards as well as from my a-hole to my innards-(They call this a 'double dip') the big hilarity is not to worry/they use two different cameras. 

I wonder if I could be a hospital gag writer. There is SERIOUS room for growth.

I ask him about this story that's going around-how if you want the major drugs for your colonoscopy-you sorta flutter your hands near your chest and he cracks up and says I'm getting the deep sedation and that's probably for places that just use the medium sedation. Cool. 

He tells me there's going to be a bite block sort of thing in my mouth so I don't bite down on the expensive camera and I get nervous about that, but the initial 'cocktail' starts not long after when he shoots something into my tube. I'm still awake but it's very strange to know that everyone in the room is going to stay the same and you're not.

Out I roll into the procedure room? I think she called it. Not far. And I'm in there and I'm on my side and I'm looking at all the machinery trying to memorize it and that's all she wrote. 

P's pager went off at 10:35. 

This thing has a 5 mile radius-in case you
 wanna go for pizza or something. 

Woke up in the first room getting admonished by a different nurse because I've peeled off all of stuff that was stuck to my right hand, pulled out the IV and there's blood all over. Not ALL over. Just kind of an unnecessary mess. I've done this two times before in different surgical situations. I think in my head, I'm trying to leave and so I start unhooking myself so I can split. Eventho nobody has invited me to go. 

When I was a kid, my Mom tried-upon my request-to make me something called 'Rag curls' (I think the effect is very close to what the youngsters wear right now actually) and by morning I'd have all those evenly spaced rags pulled out of my hair. 

Maybe there's a future for me in sleep weaving. 

Speaking of hair, this is the summer my hair officially turned into a birds nest. 
If you can explain this very pricey haircut to me, I'd be ever so grateful. 

At 10:40 am, P got into the recovery room. He had my(purse-kinda)bag, and my other bag with my clothes and shoes was stuffed under the bed that I'd been reclined upon the whole time. 

The doctor stopped by briefly. He looked a little bit like Elvis. The nurse had handed us a report with little tiny photos of the polyps that were removed. They look like snails. 

We think we were outta there by 11:15 am. 


I offer all of this nonsense to you, so that you do not actually die of embarrassment. 

Ask me anything. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

I left you in the hallway. (Sorry 'bout that.) I've been called into the hallway. I'm still wearing my magenta half robe thing. I've given up on fastening it. I've got it crossed over with the ends sort of pinned under my arms. I've got the Cancer horoscope in my pocket where never again will it alarm another wildly overactive superstitious  imagination. I'm following a woman in pink, thinking, Shouldn't I go get P? 

We get to the room. Lots of chairs around the edges. She says, it's good news and I say: AREYOUSURE? Because by this point I've turned into a completely frightened coocooberry. (I kid you not. You got this sort of a thing going on and you notice yourself cough? Maybe even only one time? Lung cancer, you think to yourself. I wonder how long I have left.) 

No no no, she assures me and rolls out a whole lotta statistics. There is a very high rate of being called back in after your screening mammogram. What happens next is called a diagnostic mammogram. Here. Here's the official info from the American Cancer Society: a suspicious finding does not mean you have cancer. In fact less than 10% of women called back for more tests are found to have breast cancer. 

She whispers other things. Like the direction you'd be directed to if you did get officially suspicious news and that is not toward the exit. That lots of women do not respond to a call back when they get a questionable result on their screening test. WhAt? I say. You have got to be kidding me. We talked about people who have cancer and what color their skin looks like. And on and on. She was very nice. And somewhere along the line, I must have started breathing again. Possibly maybe. 

I took my paper, and went and got dressed and met P in the lobby area. He had to have been equally as freaked as I was-neither one of us was prepared for a third cancer in one year-but at the same time, no plans for what to do in case anything went right. 

We went for ice cream. Polar Bear on Cermak. He got a strawberry sundae and I got a twist cone and we were sitting at a park bench in the tiniest slice of shade on the parking lot and over the speakers comes: When A Man Loves a Woman and I say, hey is this our song? And he says, one of them. 


I was supposed to come home and grab my Zumba stuff but I was wrecked-tired and that's continued for two more days. It's the nodding of your head when everyone tells you it's probably nothing. That's what wears you out.


Friday, I worked and we were scheduled to go meet a new surgeon. (This would be for the hernia.) Good haircut/good shoes(the original colon surgeon)gave me a list of three that he recommended. This guy had the next available opening so we went for it and we were not sorry that we did. 

We saw our nurse friend Loretta. It seems like they keep the nurses in place and the surgeons move in and out on different days in these little hallways. Hallway-ettes. 

I got to sit in this super cool new kind of table where there's a kind of a tall back and then the part where you hop on and then your feet dangle below. I guess it's a regular table cut in three. Very soft. Very nice. I was ready for a nap. 

A student came in to collect our general story. Then the resident and the surgeon. We liked him right away. Would it be enough to say he was clearly not an a-hole like the last surgeon-Pink Shirt? They did a pretty aggressive exam on my belly. (It's been a bit of a rough week in terms of prodding, huh?) They were feeling for the edges of the hernia and then trying to get the student to feel them too. At one point I was ready to heave. I think they were pushing down on my organs or something but I hung in there because that is who I am. 

I explained about my disappearing health insurance and how I'd like to hop on top of this ASAP. We made a tentative date-I need to alert all my jobs when I'm 100% sure-but it is soon and I am ready. 

I asked every question I could think of. Big difference between now and just about a year ago when all I could think to say was: GET IT OUT NOW. 


The gym called me. I missed a night. I kinda knew they'd call me if I missed a couple but this was after missing just one. I'm cool with that. I'm glad to know they're paying attention. 


And if life has not been exciting enough, I'm going to a cocktail party tomorrow night. It'll probably go into the wee hours, if I remember rightly. 


Friday, August 12, 2016

My darling Jane M. writes: 
Damn them for putting you through this. I don't understand the delay and anxiety.. that is just not acceptable.

Early Saturday, there was an auto-generated message from my Primary Care. It was the first report from the mammo and it appeared that everything seemed cool-ish enough where a person could ya know, continue to breathe. And stuff. 


INDICATION: 53 year-old female with personal history of thyroid and 
colon cancer presents for screening mammography. No family history of 
breast cancer indicated.  

TECHNIQUE: Full field craniocaudal and mediolateral oblique images 
of both breasts were obtained using digital technique and also 
analyzed with computer-aided detection software.

COMPARISON: 10/7/2014 and prior imaging dating back to 11/4/2002

BREAST COMPOSITION: There are scattered areas of fibroglandular 

Nodular asymmetry in the inferior left breast at anterior to middle 
depth seen on the mediolateral oblique image only may represent 
overlapping normal fibroglandular tissue but requires further 

No significant masses, suspicious calcifications or other findings 
suggestive of malignancy are identified in the right breast.  

IMPRESSION: Left breast finding requires further evaluation.

RECOMMENDATION: Additional imaging evaluation required. The
will be contacted to return for additional imaging and a supplemental 
report will follow.

BI-RADS 0: Incomplete - Need Additional Imaging Evaluation and/or 
Prior Mammograms For Comparison  

So, okay, right? 
I toss this out to my Primary Care:
Hey Hi-
Had a mammogram. Began experiencing some run-a-round while everyone goes on vacation. I got the automatically generated results on Saturday AM from you. It looks as if I need further imaging? Aside from the general cancer freak out, I'm trying to get the hernia done before my current insurance melts at the end of Sept* 

Do I have to wait for this Dr. Name Retracted to return from vacation? 

This is feeling very not cool. 


Later that evening, Primary Care sent along a note that said(I could just copy and paste but that seems wrong) he looked over my chart. Seems as if they hadn't read the previous mammograms yet, and that would probably happen this week. Everything looks benign but they just want to check the old ones against the new one.
He also said if I had questions or concerns to call or e. 

So I was breathing. 
I got a call from the Patient Advocate. If you remember, I filled out one of their 'Contact Us' forms on their website. It was a woman and I called her back. 

I do not know if you've been professionally apologized to, but hoo-boy, it's really irksome. She "investigated with department heads" and there were two droplings of the ball-if you will. One-apparently they had trouble downloading the outside files they'd insisted I bring along-and how that turned into 'you'll have to bring us your old mammograms' I will never know but that was Thing One.

Thing Two was that the unfortunate Tech that called me-she didn't read the entire report and so, some information did not get relayed to me properly. I think that's what The Patient Advocate said. 

She said, that my feedback was going to change procedure for ALL WOMEN!!!! And if you think I bought into that nonsense, I'm going to have to assume we've never met. And as for professional apologies, they are as useless as the tin can in which they are delivered. Really. I have exactly no time for that noise.

I must have pushed her to the edge of exasperation saying things like, 'if this is a sample of the way your breast cancer program works, as a patient I would be backing out the door'-and she did the whole: 'You are free to go to any hospital. It is your decision' nonsensical bullshititude because she pulled out the 'If only I had a time machine...' and I was like, oh you don't have a time machine? Then why are we even speaking? 

And that-as they say-was that. 

Wednesday, got a call from Women's Health Imaging. How soon can I come for additional imaging and a possible ultrasound? 

Back to scared. Again. 
Thursday, at 1:20, P and I are parked in the waiting area like two orphaned puppy dogs. At the start of the week, I said, hey. This is going to be a hard week. I'm gonna need you. And he scrambled around his entire existence and he was there. 

I had stopped and picked him up at home after work. We rode to the hospital. Out of his bag, he pulled a bottle of cold water and two ice cold nectarines. This, I was thinking to myself as I took a gigantic bite, is what's important. The taste of a roadside stand nectarine. Focus on that. 

I left him reading the Tribune in the waiting area when I got called in. Changed into the magenta robe. Shoved my stuff in a locker.(It's a sort of a funny thing that I've had to make my days clothing decisions based on the manner in which I'm going to be disrobed and/or examined that day. You can wear jeans to a mammogram.)

A nice enough woman called me in-somehow I understood this to be a radiologist directed mammo-I thought maybe she was a radiologist or was somebody else going to come in the room or what. I didn't know. 

The deal was, she was following the instructions of some radiologist. Oh. She said a lot of dumbass jokey stuff. She was disappointed that Mike and Molly was cancelled because Molly lost too much weight. Uh-huh. The one thing I remember was something about making me 'more perky'. And I think, in her unfortunate way, what she was trying to tell me, was that she was going to do everything in her power to smash the crap of out of my left bosom. 

I learned the bottom part of the machine is called 'The Plate' and the other thing is called 'The Paddle' and she was going to use the smaller paddle to make sure this was a mammogram I could not possible forget. 

I've been trying to think about how to describe the experience and all I can come up with is, say someone is packing your (live) body into a suitcase. One arm is over here. Your hand is on the bar across the top. Your hip is over there. And you seem to be doing reasonably okay, until they notice that your left breast hasn't made it into the suitcase and so, if somebody just momentarily sits on top of the suitcase until you make a sound previously unheard by man and oh yeah-hold your breath and don't move. 

Kinda like that.

I was sent back to the waiting area with a copy of an old Elle Magazine. The comedy issue. I'm flipping through and what do I see?

This. And I thought oh mah god, an omen. And not a good one. And you know what I did? On behalf of all women? I tore that stupid page out. 

Next episode: It gets better. Well. Some of it.