Scanxiety

With this diagnosis, there have been many tests.  First there was the mammogram, a biopsy, MRI, fetal screenings, and most recently, weekly blood draws.  It is common to undergo PET and or CT scans with a cancer diagnosis, but since I was pregnant those tests were not an option.   With each kind of test there is a tiny bit of concern, when I was pregnant it was always hoping that lil’ bit was healthy in there, and with each blood lab, hopes that my white blood cell counts are okay and my iron, because iron infusions are not fun.

When my oncologist originally scheduled my PET scan I didn’t think much about it.  I was more concerned about how claustrophobic I’d feel in the machine.  As the appointment date approached, little gremlins of doubt started to visit.  What if that pain in your toe isn’t really because you clipped it on the couch?  Did you just cough, could it be in your lungs?  Is your vision in your right eye blurry, that surely has nothing to do with you putting glasses on and forgetting that you didn’t take your right contact out?  What if you light up like a Christmas tree?   Naturally, I did my best to combat these thoughts with scripture and lots and lots of prayer.  I felt mostly confident that everything was going to be okay, but my mind told me it was foolish not to “consider” the possibilities.

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The day of my PET scan my mind was preoccupied with the passing of my aunt, the plan was to head out of town for the services as soon as the scan was finished.  The nuclear tech came out to meet me and saw Yuri and Dave in the waiting area.  “Uhm, ma’am let’s have a talk.”  He very graciously told me that he was not comfortable administering the test, and that he couldn’t believe the pre-lab information didn’t say anything about being around children.  Basically, the injection used to highlight any cancer cells on the scan, turns me into a walking Chernobyl for 6 plus hours.

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I thanked him for the heads up and rescheduled for another date so that I could make arrangements to be away from the  house so I wouldn’t contaminate lil’ bit.  To my chagrin, on my second attempt there was a snafu with the insurance, so no scan that day.  I was told not to eat 5 hours prior to the scan, so I got that news while hangry.  I kept it together and rescheduled for a 3rd attempt.

Finally about a week ago, I was past the registration desk, insurance verified, waiting for the nuclear tech to take me back.  The injection takes an hour to course through the body so I was left in a little waiting area with a hospital bed and my Spotify station.  Before long, I was on a really narrow table sliding in and out of the scanner.  When I was done, I thanked the tech and rushed to find my neighbor so we could grab something to eat, at this point I’d gone several hours without eating.  I never even thought to ask when I’d get my results.

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My oncology nurse called today with my results.  I felt a little flutter in my stomach when I saw the number on my caller ID.  I knew instantly when I heard her voice what she was about to say.  The scans were in and they showed no signs of cancer.  Y’all excuse me while I have a praise break.

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The Struggle Is Real

StitchTantrum

It was bound to happen; it was only a matter of time before I had a breakdown.   I had a doozy of a week, and there were a lot of little things that just piled up, and before I knew it I was drowning.  I think the first component was the sleep deprivation because of this burgeoning belly. Getting comfortable is a 10-step process, and right about the time I’m at step 9, I have to use the bathroom.  Once I am finally asleep there is the mandatory 3 am bathroom break.  This particular week there was additional night waking a few of the nights thanks to my kiddos.

My port scar itched, my mastectomy scars itched, my back hurt, and reaching my feet required way more strategy than I think fair.  I went throughout the days trying my best not to rub myself raw, applying various ointments, but it only gave me momentary relief.  My right arm was giving me the blues; my range of motion was fickle. Some days it would be amazing, other days while I was doing my stretches it was as bad as the day after surgery. Oh, and the feeling in said arm is still hypersensitive in some places and non-existent in others, but the areas of hypersensitivity decided to expand.  The same arm my children most often snuggle under and the same arm my husband insists on giving encouraging pats.

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Then, bill after bill after bill. All marked as “self-pay”.  They still hadn’t gotten my insurance information.  Getting a bill for a $10,000 + treatment will ruin anybody’s day, let alone a couple of bills for that amount! There I am on the phone, explaining that I know it’s 5 months since my insurance changed, but I do not actually have the new card, and I can only provide what the insurance representative gave me, scars itching the entire length of the phone call.

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Email notification from Micah’s teacher, apparently, she has decided that she is queen of everything, (we’re talking Queen of Hearts queen) and is wreaking complete and utter havoc on her pre-school.  Not completely uncommon for her, but not for multiple days in a row.  Email from Owen’s teacher, he got a deduction for talking in class for the 3rd time that week and  is having a small meltdown.  Is it a bloody full moon?

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My eyelashes are dwindling, my lung capacity is decreasing, rendering me short of breath after short jaunts.  I’m pretty sure my hip joints are no longer secure in their sockets. In an attempt to take it easy, I binge watched the final season of one of my guilty pleasure science fiction shows. They killed my favorite character, killed him!!! I cried like he was a member of my family, we’re going to blame that on pregnancy hormones.  It’s hot and muggy here, and these scarves on my head are getting sweaty and uncomfortable as are my prosthetic boobs. Not to mention I was almost late to work one morning, because I couldn’t find said boobs.  I think it was apparent I was having a rough go at things and as I was on step 8 of the sleep preparation regimen one night, Dave reached over and started rubbing my arm, my right arm that’s hypersensitive.  One billion fire ants out for revenge marched the length of my arm, and inside I screamed in agony. I squeaked out as nicely as possible that my arm could not handle that and I know he meant well, but if it happened again, I would absolutely karate chop him.

Lord is testing me

I don’t even remember the next day. Everyone came home wearing cranky pants; the dogs were obnoxious. Owen had zero patience, Micah was crabby, I knew that I needed an escape. A good quiet soak was in order stat so I could thwart the pending mutiny on my life’s ship.  At that same moment, my children and husband also realized that they could not possibly function on this planet without my immediate and devoted attention. It all culminated when after being told no to some ridiculously unsafe/unhealthy/unfeasible request, Micah threw the tantrum to end all tantrums. I wanted to join her.  Things weren’t going my way, screaming and crying sounded like a great idea, I totally got her logic. Instead we hugged it out, and talked about how much I loved her.  Enter mom shame, she’s much too old to be acting this way right, what am I doing wrong?  Have I not been there enough for the kids through this? I thought I was doing a pretty good job  talking with the kids and being there for them through all these changes.

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Waterworks, I’m talking the ugly cry.  I texted a friend for her professional opinion regarding Micah’s behavior. Then, I did what had to be done, and called Mommy.  She offered to enroll the kids in a private school where she lived without hesitation, and talked me down from my pity party.  Then my friend that I texted earlier called me, and the first thing she said was, “Where is this coming from?” Light bulb! When she said those words, I imagined God standing beside me with his arms folded, giving me the side eye, and saying under His breath, “not me, that’s for sure.”

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 ourdailyblossom.com

I wish I could say that I immediately prayed over the things that were stirring discomfort in me throughout the week, but I wasn’t always so diligent. The distractions had won that week. I did finally get my soak in the tub and I just poured out my heart to the Lord.  Then I took inventory of all my blessings, a mom that knows just what to say, friends that know when a text won’t do and call at the sign of distress, tea tree oil and vitamin E ointment that make all things better to name a few.

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The next day and following days were much less hectic and terror filled.  I even got my insurance card in the mail!!