March 21, 2013: Mammogram/Ultrasound

*****

Nope, Those Aren't Mine.

Nope, Those Aren’t Mine.

Well, things have been pretty quiet here since missing my Grandmother’s unveiling.  That one hit me hard – the repercussions of which are still setting my head spinning . . . but that is a subject for another post on another day (that is Still processing).

On to today’s topic.  My post-active-treatment (except for my second and hopefully last reconstructive surgery) life Does in fact go on, one day at a time.

Since my last post, we’ve had The Great Anti-Hormonal Experiment of 2013 – which was an unqualified failure, and is now over!  (Ten days on Tamoxifen before I became near completely non-functional, then [after a detox period] Six days on Raloxifene [Pre-menopausal use is apparently a new off-label use of what was only a post-menopausal drug] to start going down the same road as Tamoxifen).

Tamoxifen

My medical oncologist doesn’t know I stopped taking the second one.  Why not?  Well, making that phone call, then being basically “on call” during my working hours for his call-back to tell him that was not going to change the fact that I’m not taking it anymore.  I need to not be “on call” for a doctor calling me back every goddamn workday of my life.  And I’m seeing him again in two weeks (geez, has it really been almost three months since my last in-person visit with him Already?!) anyway, so I’ll tell him then.

Which basically skims over some shit I’ve been dealing with, the details of which may or may not ever “grace” the pages of this, my blog, to turn a phrase (:)), and catches us up to last week.

I made yesterday’s appointment six months ago – in August of last year – at my last cancer surgery follow up appointment.

First, they call me the week before the appointment to tell me that I have to come in an hour earlier than it was scheduled (thereby taking Another hour off work – which I have to make up) because there won’t be a radiologist there to read the films.  I’m sorry, what?

So, I deal with this, then try to make sure I’m getting Both a mammogram And an ultrasound.

You see, I have dense breasts, so having a mammogram alone actually isn’t even going to tell us what we want to know.  Therefore, I’m not going to go in and get my tender girls mauled for basically no good reason (and to Not get the information we’re trying to get).

Then I show up to see the work Unilat on my paperwork?  Is that, um, “Unilateral?”  As in they’re just going to test one side?  Um, no.

They’re both here, check them both.

I’m told that insurance won’t pay for checking the right boob (i.e., the one on the right side of my body, and the one that did not have cancer in it last year) because it has been less than a year since it was checked and I can come back in June (in three months from now) to check that one.

june_calendar_2013_H6X

So, you’re saying my two breasts are going to be on separate mammogram schedules?  Um, please refer to my comment above – NO!  That’s just stupid, and although I didn’t do stupid well before cancer – let me tell you I do it even less well now.  They’re both here now and I’m not going anywhere until they’re both checked out – thanks for playing!

I went half-postal on almost half a dozen people in that place getting them to understand that we were checking Both of my breasts, and if necessary I would have the “that’s just Stupid!” conversation with my insurance company.

But it turns out it won’t be necessary.  You see, they found something in my right breast on the ultrasound.  They tell me it looks like a cyst and my cancer surgeon gave me a choice of “wait and watch” or biopsy.

Hm, let me think – I’ve had breast cancer WITHIN THE LAST CALENDAR YEAR!  So, I’m NOT so much in a ‘wait and watch’ frame of mind – let’s stick that bitch and know for sure!

So, tomorrow morning at 8:00 am I’m having my second breast biopsy in less than a year.

I Feel Better and I Hurt More – Go Figure (Possible Oversharing Warning)

Last week – After my hormones cycled – I realized I felt better.  Now, whether Mom or Hubby or my work friends would say I feel better from what they’ve seen, I have no idea.  I also was still so mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted by Thursday night that I cried just from exhaustion.

And yet, I think I’m starting to feel better, at least temporarily [please do not lose sight of the title of this blog – that metaphor is used for many very good reasons], and when I say I feel better, it may not last long.  In fact, by the time you read this, it may no longer be the case, but I’m sticking with it for now.

So why do I say that?  Well, first – last week I made a joke – I mean a joke that was not dripping in bitterness or sarcasm (“Um, Bitter, Party of One?” – Shit, I resemble that remark).  It’s a little thing, right?  Wrong.  It’s a big deal after not being able to joke at all, about anything, for so long!  Hubby was in the middle of a story when I stuck my little joyful zinger in there and he continued on with his story until I stopped him and prompted him to acknowledge it.  Some things need their own moment, ya know?  Then, of course, I reminded him what he was saying and listened until he finished his story.

And then there are the following chicken/egg observations:

Time:

It has been six weeks last Monday, October 8, 2012 since my second surgery.  I was told by my RSurg that I had a 10-pound lifting limit until six weeks after surgery.  Now, six weeks is some maybe more, probably less arbitrary time period where a certain amount of healing has taken place, and well, I’ve hit that time point.  My physical therapy has been going well, and although I still think about stretching, extended-type movements, I’m finding I have to ‘pull back’ less or not at all to avoid the pain that is disappearing from those actions.

Sleep:

Last week I started taking Benadryl to sleep.  Sleeping without it just wasn’t happening, and everyone, to some degree or another, does worse when sleep-deprived: pain hurts more, concentration and focus disappear, tempers get short, food choices are harder to keep healthy, energy level drops, mood is more fragile, etc. – we all know the drill.  I was taking 1/2 a Benadryl and upped it to a full 25mg tablet/capsule (keep in mind many people need 50mg or 100mg to get to sleep).  I’ve found that if I give myself more time to sleep I have less of a hangover in the morning from it.  And I’m starting to wake up feeling more rested too.  Of course, that too, doesn’t last long.

[You know how when you’re getting better from being sick, one morning you wake up feeling good, but then you get out of bed and you don’t feel good anymore?  And then the next day you wake up feeling good again and it lasts a couple of hours?  And so forth, until finally you feel good all day and you realize you’re fully well?  Keep that progression in mind, it applies here to many aspects of my current experience, but can also get set back to zero in a heartbeat – roller coaster, remember?]

PMS – Hormones:

A month ago I had a perfect storm of ‘things’ happening on a Thursday night.  Just plain tired with it being Thursday and all, I was irritable due to (unbeknownst to me) it being the day before I realize I’m getting sick, And the hormones were raging (they would crest the following day).  I was seesawing between anxiety at a level of 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, and bawling my eyes out and Not Feeling Any Better For It!

Well, normal service resumed and things crested again this past week, and I noticed in retrospect that while I did get somewhat testy (right Dad?) [But please do keep in mind on general principles that hormones can make things seem worse than they might otherwise seem, but they Do Not create anything out of nothing!], I was in no way as out of control as I was a month ago.  Of course that could be due in part to…

Meds:

1) Anti-Depressant – After last month’s meltdown (I told my family and my MOnc – when things calmed down some – that I had Never felt like that in my more than 4 or 5 years of experiencing this particular phenomena), I contacted my MOnc who authorized me to increase my dosage of this med.  Of course, there is a break-in period anytime one changes dosage on this thing.  So I think I finally got to equilibrium with that.

2) Pain Meds – Not sure how this thought occurred to me – prolly some combination of Mom making a suggestion that I try this, and realizing that I was waking up hurting as I turned over in bed – I began adding 1/2 an Ultracet to the evening Pharmaparty in my hand.  That seemed to help, but I still was waking up hurting when I turned over, so I upped it to a full Ultracet and that (combined with a Benadryl) maybe is allowing me to get some restful sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed sometimes.

Meds Side Effects:

In a deliberate attempt to be obscure here so as to avoid the blatant oversharing label – let’s just say some of the side effects of some of the meds I’m taking seem to have mellowed some in the last week, and so I’m feeling physically slightly lighter.  Moving on…

Pain:

Yes, the title of this post is not a misprint.  I’m feeling better And I’m having More pain.  Weird, I know.  As the swelling continues to SLOWLY recede, the places where it has been so severe that the tissue actually feels hard to the touch (on both sides, mind you) are getting noticeably smaller.  Reminder: everything a double-edged sword – nothing all good or all bad.  As the swelling recedes, the numbness begins to recede.  As the numbness begins to recede, the first sensation reawakening nerves transmit is, you guessed it, pain.

As the swelling recedes, the shape of things changes, allowing some incisions – ahem, I won’t specify, but where is the most cosmetically friendly place to cut to remove something from one of the girls? – (and the sensitive, traumatized skin around them) to experience increased rubbing.  Right.

Plus, after my biopsy, I experienced, in addition to pain in the boob itself, these odd, almost shooting-star-type pains in my abdomen – both front and back, far from any of the incisions at all.  I’m having the joy of those again.  🙂  My MOnc warned me about them as a consequence of my two surgeries, not knowing I’d already experienced them in the aftermath of my biopsy procedure.  They’re weird pains too –

– nothing specific brings them on or makes them better or worse
– they’re stabbing, cutting, shooting-star feeling things
– they are removed from any sensible cause like an incision or swelling
– they can be anywhere from 2-7 on a scale of 1-10
– they don’t last very long (my MOnc told me by the time I take something to treat them, they’ll already be gone – and I’ve already experienced that he’s right about this)

[Any medical professionals recognize P-Q-R-S-T?]

This Blog:

When I first got diagnosed and could not control the thoughts racing around in my head [See “A Tornado In My Head”], it was suggested to me more than once, by more than one person, that maybe just getting some of the thoughts out on paper would help settle things in my cranium.  And indeed, I Know that works for me with chores and tasks type stuff.  Once I get it out of my head into an app that will remind me when needed, I can let it go and move on to other things.  But, for some reason, the idea of putting this down in some black hole (this was how a journal just for myself felt to me) didn’t seem like it was going to do the trick.  And then I started this blog.  Somehow, the fact that this is being sent out into the world feels like the ‘release’ I need (or at least a start thereof), and I’ve been doing this blogging thing about two weeks now, give or take.

I’ll leave it up to you to opine on why I’m reporting I’m feeling better:

– simply time passing
– getting more restful sleep
– having less PMS
– better meds balance
– less meds side effects
– more pain (I have no idea, I plead cancer brain)
– emotional release from blogging

– chicken
– egg

– coincidence?

– or some combination?

I’m open to your thoughts on the matter (though I reserve the right to veto them if they conflict with my reality) but I am curious to hear them…