Saturday, May 15, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

God Damn it. Excuse my french. God Damn it.

Back in for another procedure, another Wednesday. Whassup with that? Oh geez. I just figured it out.

Monday's Child is fair of face, Tuesday's Child is full of grace, Wednesday's Child is full of woe, Thursday's Child has far to go, Friday's Child is loving and giving, Saturday's Child works hard for a living, But Sunday's Child is fair and wise and good and gay.

Wednesday's child is full of woe and heading back to something that is going to hurt, and hurt more if the thing is not right. I never realized Sunday's child was gay.

Now my whole schedule has been thrown off. Ok I give, I relinquish control. Ok, this thing is going how it wants to go and where it wants to go and when. Ok I Give.
I ain't driving anymore.

So let me just review for myself, let me switch gear. I will not be starting chemo on Monday May 10 as planned, I will head back to Radiology to have them access my port, shoot some fluid in it, and watch where it goes. If it doesn't work, the Good Witch is going to have to decide if she wants to wait for my port to be fixed, or start my chemo the old fashioned way, with a PICC line.

A PICC line insertion places a long plastic catheter into one of the larger veins of the arm. This procedure is non-surgical and outpatient. A special x-ray, called fluoroscopy will confirm that the PICC line catheter is in the right place. A PICC line is a short term solution and is not the preferred method to deliver chemotherapy.

The Power port is the preferred method. The port is placed under the skin on the chest and a catheter is inserted into the superior vena cava vessel at the entrance of the heart's right atrium. This catheter can be placed by a surgeon in the operating room; it takes about an hour. The useful lifetime of a port can be as long as three to five years. The port can be felt under the skin. When I felt mine it felt like a lego, with three raised little bumps on the edge of the triangle. When I go for chemo, the nurse can find the entrance by locating those three bumps and inserting a special needle into the soft middle section. The advantage is that the chemo enters right into a large blood flow center. It takes longer for the PICC line to distribute the chemo because it is inserted into peripheral veins.

So I was headed back to radiology, very nervous about having my port accessed for the first time. The damn thing is inside my chest, actually on Mopsy. That has to hurt like hell, right? What if they have to go back in and fix it? I am still exhausted and hurting from the last surgery. So intead of starting chemo, I have my vapogram with Dr. Zen. My follow-up with Hawkeye is the following morning. If that thing has to be redone "Lucy you got some splaining to do..."

I show up Monday for the test. They get me ready, take out Flopsy and Mopsy, who by now are used to the drill. The radiology nurse comes in, he is going to access the port for Dr. Zen. When that's done, they will shoot the special dye in and Dr. Zen will be able to observe it as it travels through the cath and hopefully into my vessel.

I am so nervous about my port being accessed. I mean this thing is like a lego under my skin, I repeat, under my skin. I start deep breathing. Nurse Wayne comes in, he has a very gentle manner about him, and he's already surmised I am scared shitless. He rubs my arm. He explains the whole thing to me. He says it is a long needle but a tiny needle, it's going to be ok.

Tears run down my face. "So it's not going to be like when Dr. Zen hurt me, with the core needle biopsy?"

"No, no sweetie, nothing like that. And this is how they will access your port every time."

"But they prescribed me a cream to rub on my port an hour before I come when I start chemo, and I didn't get any creme today."

Tears run down my face. I feel like I am going to lose it. I feel about 5 years old and I need my Mommy. Where is my Mommy?

Nurse Wayne pats me. "You are doing just fine. Everything is going to be ok. I know you've had a rough time of it, and all of this is new and there's a lot more coming. Just get through one thing at a time. You are a real trooper Debbie. I am sorry you are going through this." He looked at me intensely, like he really really meant it. He looked me straight in the eye and didn't look away.

Wow, this is what I had been needing to hear, my whole life. My whole life. A little of poor poor baby, and you are doing good, and I am so so sorry for you and maybe, maybe a whole lot more I love you madly mixed in here and there.

Why is it like pulling teeth from some people I love? Why is that so hard for some to give to me, what Wayne, a stranger, just did. I'm not as tough as you think I am. I am a brave brave solider who feels things very deeply.


"Yes debbie?"

"Go easy on me ok? I am a newbie at all of this. and I am a virgin when it comes to having my port accessed."

The adorable nurse next to him moves in close to hug me. She reminds me of Sherry Sheperd. "Aw baby, God will take care of you. Don't worry. Here baby. let me get you a kleenex. You are going to make me cry. Aw poor baby." She wipes me face and tells me it is beautiful. "But I have no make-up on" I think to myself.

Wayne says "I will rub a little lidocaine over the spot. It usually needs some time to soak in, but it will help a little ok hon?"

I am not used to such tenderness freely given to me. I am not used to someone patting me and saying poor poor baby.

It touches something really deep and wounded in me and I feel like I am going to lose it in front of these people, right here, right now. What is happening to me? This isn't even the most difficult thing I've been through, why is this so hard on me? What is the matter with me? What is going on?

I'll tell you what it is.

It is something that runs very deep in me. Somebody tell me why I often feel as if some of the people I have really loved in my life keep me at arm's length? Is it so hard to love me?

Is it so hard?

Why are these strangers being so kind and gentle and seeing right through me? Why didn't I ever fall for a guy like Wayne? The touchy feely type. Why? Why have I always gone for the withholders?

"Debbie?" Wayne asks. "You ready sweetie?"

"I'm ready." Nurse Sherry pats the hot tears rolling down my cheeks. "It's ok baby" she sweetly says.

Even thinking about this little scene now, I could bawl my eyes out. Why am I so hard to love when I love so hard? Please Lord, tell me I have not raised sons like this.

"Ok get ready for the poke, and here we go."

It burns as it goes in, it's still going in, I can't do this, and then it's done.

Dr. Zen comes in, all happy to see me, bounding up like a puppy, until he sees the tears gushing down my face. He looks nervously at Wayne then back at me. Dr. Zen is concerned, he doesn't know what to say, he paces. He wants to approach me, comfort me, but he just doesn't know how to do it and so he doesn't.

There. That's more like it. I'm used to that. I feel so much better.

I wipe my eyes dry. "I'm sorry, I'll be ok, go ahead, you gonna poke me too" and I smile up at him and he smiles back.

"No more pokes" he says. "Let's see what is going on here."

"I've started the dye" Wayne informs him.

Dr. Zen pulls the xray panel over the top of me and as soon as he sees the image of me on the screen above him he lets out a large exclamation. It sounds as if he is going to say "Oh shit" but he edits down to a really long "OH" which sounds like this is bad.

"It's not even in place, you don't even need to shoot any more dye. I can already see it, it's all tangled up inside her, look at this, it's a loop. It's a loop. The tip of the catheter which should be down in her heart vessel is way up here next to her collar bone."

He shakes his head and sounds like we may yet get a "SHIT" out of him, but he doesn't.

"Debbie, I am sorry to tell you, this is going to have to come out, and you are going to need to start over. I don't understand what happened here. Dr. Pierce is a fantastic surgeon, but I've never seen anything like this."

I get dressed. I sit in the tiny room where I just changed my clothes. My resolve is weakening. I am feeling really fragile.

Husband is sitting in the waiting room. When I come out, I can't talk. I just shake my head no.

We head over to the Cancer Center across the street. Dr. Zen has already called over there. I am told by a nurse of the Good Witch to just go home for today, meet with Hawkeye in the morning, and we'll make our next decision based on what he says.

We head home whipped. It has been a long month since my mammogram. Now it looks like i am going to add another rough week to that.

Next morning -

Have you ever gotten in to see any doctor on time? That is one of those things that make you want to go hmmm? Thanks Arsenio.

We wait for Hawkeye to saunter in. He wastes no time. "Well you are high maintenance aren't you?"

Oh don't even tell me you are going to blame this on me? I have a list of questions for him. The who, what, where, why, how and WTF? Spill it doc. and fast.

"Well in all the ports I have put in, and there have been a lot of them, I have never had this happen. Not once. I was trying to place the port low on your breast so that it would be concealed, and all I can think of is that your breasts are so..." he hesitated.

The Commodores enter the room.

She's a brick----house
Mighty mighty just lettin' it all hang out
She's a brick----house
The lady's stacked and that's a fact,
ain't holding nothing back.

He continues. "Well you are so voluptuous, that the only thing I can think of is that the weight of your breast yanked the catheter tube like a chain, and the whole thing came out of place and is now all coiled up near your collar bone."

I sink in my chair. "Can we just get to my biopsy results? What happened there? Is the cancer in my sentinel node?"

He looks through the chart. "No I don't think" he catches himself.

"I'm sorry, I spoke out of turn. The node was positive for cancer."

He hangs his head. I plead "Do you have any good news for me, anything, any little thing?"

He looks up then quickly looks back down when slapped with the disappointment and fear on my face.

"I love you?" he says sheepishly.

Then shave mo fo.

"Fine, let's get this done" I say and I am thinking to myself, you damn well better get me in right away. I don't care what you have to do, bump some other poor son-of-a-bitch, get me in.

See folks. This is the dark side of a scorpio. Don't cross us. Most of the time with me though, I just think ugly, I don't act ugly.

Note to self. You should have drank more, been felt up more, and gotten ugly more. Note to self.

"Sarah" he says to his lovely front desk Girl Friday "Move things around, get her in Friday morning. We'll fix this thing and see if they can get her in to her first chemo that afternoon. We'll leave the needle in." Then he was gone.

Sarah suggests we go around the corner inside the Cancer Center to the chemo area and talk to the nurses there. If they can get me in Friday afternoon for chemo, she will move things around to get me first on the list for Friday.

We walk down the long hall and confirm with the nurses. It's a go. We re-confirm with Sarah. She will call me later re what time I need to come in Friday morning, most likely 7am. He'll do the procedure at 8:30am and by 11am I will be back over to the cancer center to start my first chemo treatment.

You always were the lucky one.

At least I get a two day reprieve before my spa day in hell. Who woulda thought, another surgery, then my first chemo treatment. What a brutally long day to ice a brutally long month.

I set my alarm for 6:15; I wake up at 5 somethin. This has become a new habit for me. I still go to bed very late, usually 2 or 3 a.m. but now I wake up between 5 and 6am. WTH? I am already feeling nauseated and scared. Really scared. It's not so much what happens, it's the not knowing that kills me. I'm not big on surprises, I like to go in prepared. I guess it's a control thing. Actually I think it's a fear thing. I don't know. Sometimes I am like that jewish comedian Richard Lewis, I'm a little jewish, literally, and a closet pessimist deep under cover.

My grandmother was a Jewish juggler: she used to worry about six things at once.
Richard Lewis

We arrive back at my old stomping grounds, the outpatient surgical center. All the nurses are happy to see me, geez, it's only been a little over a week. Wonder girl anesthesiologist is not mine today, Father Mulcahy is instead. Wondergirl does stop by to say hi and pat me and give me love.

What is it with all these people at this hospital, I mean they are so kind and pleasant and dare I say downright affectionate? They really care about us? Or is it me? Oh geez, they think I'm going to die. Breast cancer. Poor thing. Going to lose those boobs and all that blonde hair. Like I told the Good Witch the first time I met her:

"All my life two of my biggest trademarks have been my hair and my big boobs. I guess I'm going to need a new gig. I might actually have to rely on substance a little more."

She fell on her ass, well almost. But inside I kill her. Right outta the park.

Enter Lt. Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy. Yeah this guy reminded me a lot of him, his sweet boyish good looks and his soft manner. He patted me too. My second anesthesiologist in a little over a week.

It's an awful feeling when all these people look at you and think "that poor bitch" and I mean that in a nice way. They know the there there I am heading towards.

Hawkeye stops by my bed to give his meet and greet before he gives this another shot. "So what we are going to do is take the old one out, and place the new one much higher up on the chest. You should be flattered that your volumosity..."

Volumosity? Just say it man. It's ok. I've got big tits. Two big bumps. Two luscious big bumps.

You are a foolish man but it's ok. I like you.

"Ok see you in there" and off he goes. They must put me out pretty quick cause I don't remember anything until I am coming out of it and trying to decide if I am waking up during the surgery or am I already in recovery? I can't open my eyes yet but I can hear a lot of chatter. When I do open them, I look at the clock. It's 10:30. I am really late going in or it's already over. I look down at Mopsy, she is bandaged like a mummy. I guess it's done. Poor little Mopsy takes the bullet for her sister. I never had a sister.

They call husband to come in with me. Hawkeye is right on his tail. "Well I completely changed how I do things to accomodate you missy. I did surgery with you sitting up. That's a first. I let your breasts fall in their natural position and I put the new port in based on that. I think this should work" and off he goes.

I am woozy. Very woozy. I check my phone to see who loves me and who doesn't.

I get dressed and carefully lift flopsy and mopsy into their flowered fuchsia hutch, my bra.

They wheel me out to the car and we make the short drive across the parking lot to the Cancer Center. We walk in, they are surprised to see us.

"Wow, you made great time, come on in girl, let's get you hooked up."

Finally. Finally. Give me the poison. Give it to me. Give it to me now.

I sink into the easy chair, she positions the iv bag on a stand next to me. "Ok the first few bags are nausea medicine, then we'll start with the real deal. You'll be in the chair several hours. Sit back, get comfy."

She opened up my pink polo shirt with the pink ribbon pin I wore for the occasion. She plugged me in. I was on my way.

To where I guess I'll find out. You still comin with me? Give me a signal.

Oh no, I was so intent writing I missed my deadline. Oh no. The clock has already struck midnight and I have left my glass slipper and my blog on the castle steps. Damn. Ok so you'll get two tomorrow. Get over it. Night. Oh wait. Ha. Cool. Because I started my first draft at 9pm something, that's what time the blog will post, even though I really didn't finish it till after midnight. Ha. I did it. One each day. Tomorrow is my one week anniversary.

1 comment:

masonmft said...

Psychology 101 - You are a maximizer, I am a maximizer, 75% of women are maximizers and the other 25% are minimizers. Nurse Wayne - mazimizer. In other words he will be choosing from the pool of the 25% (Bet you already feel the pain for him). Really dear...we just long for the maximizing behavior when in reality we have no training in what to do with all that love and affection. WTH. Love you!! I'm on board.

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