Friday, January 28, 2011

To The Good Witch then Sliding into Funky Town

I took a trip to funky town today, didn't start out that way, I was happy to be seeing The Good Witch this morning, and my Vonda.  I wrote out subjects I wanted to discuss during my appointment on an index card so I wouldn't forget anything.

It was great to see all the gang at The Cancer Center, and it sure felt good to be waiting in the waiting room for a follow-up visit, not chemo or radiation.  I am on the other side of treatment.  It is still sinking in.

The Good Witch bounded in, and looked as happy to see me as I was to see her.  The beginning of our conversation always starts the same way, I am in a chair, and she is talking to me while washing her hands.  Funny the things you become accustomed to during treatment, the things that become your ordinary.

"I love your hair, it is so cute, and the color is great" she exclaimed, and got up from her chair to take a look, and at the back too.  She patted gently "and it's so soft.  I think you look great in short hair!"

"Just so you know" I said, "so there is no confusion, all this up here" pointing to the white streaks in bangs that are fighting their way back, "this is not gray, it's platinum.  You got that?"

She laughed hysterically.

"I'll make sure the memo gets around" she said.

We jumped right in to my list;, glancing at it I thought it looked more like a grocery list, from hell I suppose.

Ringing in my ears.
What happens now?

I asked her for a recommendation for a gynecologist, since mine is in the city; at the time I had the boys I worked in the city so it was convenient.  Now I'd like to find someone local.  I told her something isn't right in there, inside muffy.  No, not Muffin the poodle, my muffy, as my mom used to call it.  Something hurts, way in there.  She said it's possible I could have a lingering bacterial infection from when my blood counts were low, or that the mucous tissue may still be agitated from chemo.  It could also be hormone or lack of hormone related.  [I made an appointment for next week when I got home.]

The last couple of weeks, I've been having an intense ringing in my ears.  I don't notice it when there is a lot of activity around me, like the dogs or the boys watching TV, but in the morning when it is very quiet, the high pitched ringing is intense.  Anytime it is very quiet, I hear it.  The Good Witch said it could be a few different things, but is often caused by medications.

"You don't think it's the Sam-e do you?" she asked.  She knows I swear by that stuff.

"Oh shit, it better not be, are you kidding?" She went to look it up and came right back.  "Well I don't see anything about it there, I am wondering if it's the Tamoxifen.  Not a usual side effect but we need to rule it out."

Ok Doc.

"I'd like you to stop taking the Tamoxifen for one week, see if there is any change, and then resume it.  Let me know what happens."  I did notice my blood pressure was up at check-in, and I know that can be a side effect.

I asked her about the drug Neurontin, often prescribed for neuropathy.  She said it's primarily for pain but we could give it a try.  She said common side effects are fatigue and constipation.  "Does it help with balance?" I asked.

"No, primarily pain relief associated with the numbness, tingling and burning."

"I don't really want to start another medicine, I'll give myself more time and see what happens.  I am more worried about the balance and swelling, and if it doesn't help with that, I'll wait."

I told her after my fall I've been a little spooked about falling again but she still thinks the neuropathy is going to resolve itself.  She is not sure what is happening with my right arm, and the numbness through my upper back, neck and shoulders.  Possibly a pinched nerve or some kind of shift after surgery due to hunching forward, or overcompensating with my right.

"Should I continue with more physical therapy?  It did give some immediate relief, but not long term."

"It can't hurt, let's give it a try."  She wrote up the order.

"I remember you saying I'd be getting the Zometa every six months, so am I due now?" [Refer back to my post about "Zometa Flu" and getting an IV of Zometa to protect my bones.]

"Actually I have discontinued that for my patients that were pre-menopausal at the time of diagnosis.  Some recent studies released said it really only made a significant difference for post menopausal women."

Check.  No more Zometa flu.

We discussed what was still happening with my right side, and she suggested if I was really concerned, we could do a brain MRI, just to rule out stroke or tumor, but she really didn't think anything would show up.  She still thinks what is happening with the neuropathy is related to the Taxol, and my upper body and right arm stuff is muscle or spinal related.

"Hell no Doc, I'll be patient, no more tests and poking for awhile, ok?"  She nodded.

"That's fine, let's give it more time, you are still only four months out from chemo and three months out from surgery, with radiation on top of all that.  Let's give it more time."

There was one other thing I wanted to ask her about.  I told her I had not heard from my primary care physician since she gave me my diagnosis.  Was it unreasonable for me to feel a little hurt about that?

She smiled.  I know she gets a kick out of me, and I was interested to hear her answer, from the doctor's point of view.  She got a thoughtful look on her face, and said she'd like to have more contact with her patients too, but the nature of medicine as it is now makes that extremely difficult.  I understood, I know that doctors have to overload the number of patients they take care of to make up for how little the insurance companies pay.

I'll bet this is a common problem.  I still think it's a shame.  It's almost like if you aren't going to see your doctor, you fall off their radar because there are so many other patients to take your place.

We wrapped it up, I don't see her again for three months.  This will be the routine from now on, unless something comes up that I need her sooner.

As I left there I began to feel very tired.  I'm going to miss that Lady and Vonda too.

I ate a light lunch when I got home, then started to feel very melancholy.  I went upstairs and thought I'd lay down awhile.  I sank into my bed, as some of the words like tumor marker and brain MRI, replayed in my head.  I felt really sad but didn't cry, and fell asleep with a poodle curled around my ankles.

Every now and then, I still can't believe I had cancer, and this is part of my story now.

It's still so hard to believe.


Anonymous said...

Oh, wow WGD...I feel as if I just got a second opinion reading your post! My most recent check-up with my Onc went very similar to yours. Are you sure you weren't in the room with me?? HA! Somedays I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that I had BC....until I look at my chest! You do such a good job of putting this "thing" into words! Amazing... Faith&Hope

writergirldreams said...

Every time some bunny tells me I did a good job of putting this into words, I feel as if I hit a home run and the bases were loaded, in the World Series! and the crowd roars. Keep the faith and the hope baby. Thank you. wgd

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