Monday, December 9, 2013

Are you freakin' kidding me?

Today was one of those days where I was afraid the phone would ring to tell me one more thing that might push me over the edge.  Today, I had a scheduled physical therapy appointment at 7:00 a.m.  My intention with scheduling an appointment that early was to get in and out without missing too much work.  Wrong!  I received an e-mail late Friday from Kaiser telling me that I was now ready to move on to the next step towards the bariatric surgery, so I would need to get lab work and an EKG done.  I figured I would just do those things at Kaiser while I was already there for the PT appointment.

I had a great session with the physical therapist.  It actually was my last one with him.  I've been doing really well with building strength in my leg that the PT and physical medicine doctor both told me to continue with the exercises and try to incorporate some low-impact exercise.  If I need to see them again, I can but I wouldn't need to make up a follow-up appointment.  When I was laying down on the bed so that he could show me the new exercises, I can say I felt really sad.  It had nothing to do with the PT appointment, it was just painful laying on my back because of the pain from the biopsy.  I did tell him that and so we talked about the melanoma.  He was very empathetic, which was sweet, but it was almost my undoing.  I just had thoughts about what's going on inside of me, pondering the what if's about the possibility of having cancer again.  In my head, I am doing the best I can to let it go, turn the fear over to God and try to just be in the moment.  Then there are other times where my heart takes over and I somehow feel that the doctor is going to tell me the biopsy turned out malignant and that the cancer has returned.  Every time the thoughts enter, I try to do the best I can to expel them but they keep coming back.

After I was done with the physical therapy, I went over to the lab department.  That is where I had to do a urine test and have blood taken.  They ended up taking seven vials, nothing near what I thought they would take.  They also gave me the container for the stool sample.  Yuck.  After I was done with giving blood, I waited a long time to do the EKG because they were squeezing me in between appointments.  I followed the nurse to a room and was told to lift off my shirt and lay on the bed.  Geez, aren't you gonna buy me dinner first? That's what it felt like - get in, take off your shirt and lie on the bed.  Whatever.  She put the sticky circles on my arms, abs and chest while I laid back and stared at the ceiling.  About two minutes passed and then she told me I was all done.  That's it??  It felt like the build-up was longer.

I had to refill a pain med from my dermatology visit on Friday but the pharmacy was closed so I decided to go home in between to take care of the stool sample and bring it in.  You're required to put it on ice, so since I live near another Kaiser facility, I could do that and then hit the pharmacy before finally heading into work.  I did keep my boss appraised of everything going on so she wasn't wondering where I was.  I'm sorry if I'm talking too much about stool samples but you'll understand why in a minute.  Anyway, I packed ice around the container and headed over to the lab at this other Kaiser center.  It was full of people, in fact it was pretty packed.  I went up to the receptionist in the lab department and discreetly told her I was turning in a sample.  She told me she would call the lab and let them know.  They didn't pick up so she went to go talk to them.  Then she says, from the other side of the counter where other people can hear, "She said you can just go ahead and leave your sample in this container."  So I walked over there with my head held up, knowing the entire room heard what she said, and put my bag quietly where she pointed.  I asked her if I needed to speak to someone, she said no, so I wished her a good day and then turned around to walk out.  Every pair of eyes in that room were looking right at me.  Some of them had that look on their face of, "Ew, is what is in that bag what I think is in it?"  It's hard to hold your dignity in moments like that, but I managed.

While I was over at the pharmacy waiting for my prescription to be ready, I discovered a had a call on my voicemail from Kaiser.  I suddenly thought to myself, "Oh no, is this the call from Dr. K telling me that the cancer has returned?"  Dreading to know what the call was about, my voicemail did contain a call from one of his nurses.  She said, quite forcefully, he wants to see you today, this morning and that she had already booked a 10:45 appointment for me even though she knew I was in another Kaiser facility that was a good distance away.  My heart sunk as I called back to confirm.  I texted my boss and let her know what was going on.  After the prescription was ready, I got back in my car and drove down to the appointment.  By the time all the Kaiser visits were all said and done today, I drove about 50 miles between all of them.

When my doctor came into the room, I suddenly remembered that I had sent him an e-mail yesterday.  The reason was that I was going to change the nail polish on my toes and noticed a really dark black mark on one of them when I removed the existing nail polish.  I guess the color had covered it up.  So my e-mail was very casual, asking him if I should take a picture of it for him to look at it, if we want to wait for my next appointment or what I should do.  I realized, in that very moment, he wasn't going to deliver cancer-has-returned news to me - he wanted to look at my toe.  OMG, I can't even describe the amount of relief that flooded over me.  It was intense!  After looking at my toe, he didn't think it was cancerous.  He thought I might have trauma to my toe and that it's just a bruise under the nail.  I didn't hit my foot recently, so I didn't think that was it but he explained why he thought the way he did.  The two options he gave me were (1.) perform a biopsy through the nail (yeoouch!!!) or (2.) monitor it for 2-4 weeks and then perform a biopsy if it hasn't gotten better.  I can't tell you how fast I told him I would be going for option two.  The thought of doing a biopsy through my nail or having to remove the nail to do the biopsy sounded incredibly painful.  I would also not be able to wear shoes for a while and given it's been in the 30's here, that's just not something I want to try first.

After all that, I finally went to work.  All of the emotions I am going through these days is immense.  I have had more Kaiser visits recently than I had during the course of an entire year in the past.  These are all proactive things I'm doing for my health, but I do feel very overwhelmed right now with these intense feelings.  Is it cancer?  Will I be approved for the gastric bypass surgery?  Do I have to take more tests?  How much weight do I have to lose before surgery?  Oh my gosh, it's a lot.  On top of that, we're incredibly busy at work and I feel guilty for being away.  Yes, I know they are all medical appointments and, yes, I have an incredibly supportive boss and co-workers who think highly of me, but my work ethic tells me I'm missing too much time away from work.  I have to keep remembering, though, I'm doing all of this to be healthy with a better quality of life.  I have to keep remembering that.


Anonymous said...

What a day! I hope things calm down for you. Regarding the melanoma stuff, since you have been keeping on top of your visits with the dermatologist, like me, I gotta think that any moles that are biopsied at this point - if they are anything - are going to be early stage and not require much other than the wide excision. As I mentioned, I found that second melanoma several years after the first but it was in situ and was resolved without any further follow up (other than a giant scar from the wide excision). Now, wide excisions are not "fun"...but, in the scheme of things, they are just a bump in the road. So, I *try* not to get too worked up about any of it any more.... In fact, it is my hope that now that I'm taking care of my health with regular check-ups from any and all specialists (mammograms, bloodwork, dermatologist, etc.), if anything is actually detected, it will be in the early I try not to waste any more mental energy on worrying about things... (easier said than done, but that is what I try to do).

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