MRI, GnR and Golden Girls

by Val

It’s been a busy week. Getting more information and starting to see a plan has helped me find some peace. Having my family and friends by my side helped me keep the peace and find some humor along the way. Here’s a recap including some lessons I learned this week.

Monday MRI: The MRI waiting room was a drastically different place than the mammogram waiting room that had snacks. In this waiting room I felt very alone and anxious. In my head everyone in there had cancer and everyone knew I had cancer. I know that’s not true but it’s where my head went. It didn’t help that I despise MRIs so I wasn’t excited about this anyway. I’m not claustrophobic but I am never able to find a comfortable position. This time was no different. I didn’t know that this MRI included contrast which I don’t care except I didn’t hydrate extra well to help them out since I do have those small veins and am a hard stick. Here comes lesson #1.

If you have small veins and the nurse says you need an IV don’t laugh and wish her good luck. She may accept it as a challenge.

A challenge is exactly what this nurse took my words as and she let me know she accepted the challenge. She reached over to her cellphone and turned on “Welcome to the Jungle”. No explanation on why this particular song was appropriate for the situation, not that any would have probably calmed my nerves. To be honest I was a bit scared to know why this was her song of choice to get a needle in my vein. I should have aborted mission right then. She blew the vein. No peanut butter and cracker snacks here, just a big dark bruise on my arm. Amazingly and thankfully after a blown vein, the next one always cooperates.

This MRI experience wasn’t off to a good start. As I said I’m not a fan of MRIs but now I am realizing uncomfortableness is being raised to a whole new level on this one. You have to lay on your stomach and there are holes cut out for your boobs to hang down through. It’s puts a lot of pressure on the sternum and they would periodically tell me to hold my breath. I felt like I was already was holding my breath because of the pressure and the experience so far. This MRI was supposed to be twenty minutes and of course you have to stay still which means every inch of your body is going to want to move. After a time they pulled me out because something was not operating correctly. I commented that I hoped I was almost done and they told me I was only in for two minutes. At this point I was pretty sure the MRI as going get me, not the cancer.

After this procedure I had a mini-melt down on the Sky Bridge to the parking garage when I saw Carl. I told him I didn’t want to do this anymore but he held me, wouldn’t let me brush past the fear I was having as just a stupid emotion and said all the right things to calm me down.

Tuesday: Tammy volunteered to go with me to meet my Medical Oncologist. It’s getting hard for me to keep straight what all these people do so I am giving them nicknames. He is Dr. Chemo Man from here on out. We gave this appointment a dose of this is how we do cancer complete with giggles and all. We should have warned Dr. Chemo Man that Tammy was a friend and not my partner because he sure did flash her with the boobs when he jumped right into the self exam.

He gave us a full cancer education which I very much appreciated. He worked hard to use terms I would understand. I did stare at him blankly a few times when he asked me questions. Thankfully Tammy was with me and has previously worked at a cancer center. She answered for me a few times when she saw me just staring blankly at him. Some of these questions I should have known but I drew a blank or blurted out something ridiculous. For example, if you ever get asked what is the job of a breast, the answer they are looking for is not “Oh, I thought they were just pretties. I missed that question. Honestly, I was too scared to answer anything other than my name. I don’t’ know maybe I thought if I answered wrong it would make my cancer worse. Logic can go out the window in times like this. Dr. Chemo Man took to drawing me pictures to explain. Lesson #2: Take along someone who can listen rationally, especially in the early days when the information is coming so fast.

Dr. Chemo Man also had my MRI report back which was unexpected for me. It showed that the lesion is larger in MRI than the 2 ultrasounds. He told me not to be alarmed by this and explained it could be the difference in the technology. They also found another small mass in my right breast. Cancer status of this one is unknown since it hasn’t been biopsied but it does not appear connected to the original lesion so it may not be malignant. This information helped me determine that at minimum I am looking at at a mastectomy in the right. The left looks clear but may get the boot too. I will wait until I get genetic information back to see if it shows BRCA positive before I make a surgery decision. I will definitely have to do chemo but may not need radiation. There are still puzzle pieces missing that we are awaiting.

Afterwards Tammy and I went shopping for our Golden Girls Halloween costumes and I got a peak at what I will look like when I’m wiser. I’m up one wig if I lose my hair. Here is the finished product. I think we pulled off the look really well.

I told you it was a long week. I only made it through Monday and Tuesday in this post. I’ll pick up with Wednesday in the next post. As an ending note, this meat and potato eater has increased her vegetable intake. I also put a pretty good dent into a Pizza Man pizza. Balance is important. I am supposed to avoid soy because it mimics estrogen which is my cancer’s vice of choice. So much for plant based alternatives to meat.

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