Patient or Patient?

I don’t want to be either.  I don’t want to be patient, I don’t want to have patience.  I just have to suck it up.   I prefer the words client or visitor.  Let’s go with one of those instead.  I was going to not post anything for the month of January.  I was so excited to report good news just before Christmas and I sincerely believed that 2012 would start off to a year of ….  you know…. not thinking about you know what….. “it”. 

Well I didn’t quite make it to the end of the month without needing to release feelings through my fingertips on my keyboard.  I just have to exhale and express what I am going through so I can stand up straight and just get through one more week of this waiting scanxiety game. 

Here’s the scoop.   CT scan in December was performed on my chest, abdomen and pelvis.  This came back clear.  Best news a cancer patient (I mean visitor) can ever hope for.  My oncologist noted something with my liver that she wanted a further look at so she ordered an ultrasound which I had done Jan 5.   Yep, just five days into a brand new year and already having to tend to this cancer business, ughhh, I was just getting to settle into a little mind relaxation.  I should maybe mention in case you aren’t aware, but the natural progression for metastatis (spread) of colon cancer is to first go to the liver then the lungs and then you are usually toast.  Anyway, my doc didn’t think it was a cancer issue with my liver and said not to worry she thinks it might be a vein thing and how they healed in my liver after the resection surgery.  I didn’t worry and it proved worthwhile because it came back clear and fine too.   However two weeks later my bloodwork came back as not so good.  In cancerland they check your CEA level and mine has been creeping up over the past 11 months.  It creeped up enough to question a big WHY since my scans are clear.  My doc ordered a PET scan.  I am lucky that she is on top of things.

So yesterday my Mom (so grateful to have my Mom in my life along this journey) and I headed to London (an hour away) to go for this scan.  This scan can detect cancer at a cellular level before while it’s too small to form tumours.  They call it a berry smoothie, I call it radioactive goop.  Not sure what a PET scan is all about?  Let me educate you, I tried on the internet to look it up and I think it’s better if I describe it from a patient/visitor’s point of view.  No metal, strip down to your undies only.  I’m smart I wear comfy pants with no buttons or zippers, those rooms are cold and the hospital gowns are not lined with fleece.  

So I meet Don in the white overcoat.  I hop on the bed and he offers me a drink of this white goop.  Two cups.  I can do this.  I took one little sip and it wasn’t that bad.  I have had to drink much worse.  I focus on the words on the side of the bottle… Berry smoothie aux fruits des champs…. English/French translation of course.  My eyes are drawn to the last two words.  Des Champs.  Yep, I am a champ and I can drink this crap, no problem!  Two cups turned into 6 cups.  It’s white in colour and it’s let’s say, thick.  Not milkshake thick, but thick like white glue.  The more I drink the more I have to convince myself it’s not that bad.  Mind over matter.  I finish the sixth cup, we’re done.  I am in a little room by myself for some quiet time to let the stuff settle.  Mom is out in the waiting room.  Don searches for his vein of choice and injects me with something, I think he said radioactive sugar, it was clear, just one syringe.  I don’t even feel the needle poke, used to this service also.  My veins are never visible, so nurses have to go by feel, I just make a tight fist pump and my veins cooperate for the feel method.  Don leaves the room after he covers me up with 4 blankets, like I said it’s cold in here.  He turns the light off and tells me to lay still and relax.  He doesn’t want me moving around much (despite my effort to keep my toes from wiggling, my self-relaxation method).  All I can hear is the nurse chatter outside the room and then it gets very quiet.  Outside my door is a sign, that says do not enter, radiation, blah, blah.  It’s amazing the kinds of medical (nuclear medicine) that our bodies can handle injestion of.  Don appears half an hour later, just as I was drifting off to sleep with the hum of the hospital vents and the rythm of this massive building.  He offers me a drink of 2 more cups of this crap.  Ok.  Down the hatch.  He covers me up again, lights off, tells me he will be back in another thirty minutes and we can do the scan.  Tick tock, tick tock.  I am no longer hungry because this goop has filled my belly.  I can feel my insides doing something.  Maybe my body knows this stuff is yucky.  It’s certainly not the green veggies and good stuff it’s used to getting.  It’s kind of like sharp pokes, little sparks as it moves along my gastrointestinal tract.   Don comes back and directs me to the bathroom to empty my bladder.  We head to the room that says this door must remain closed at all times.  The machine is huge.  I get on the platform, he puts a pillow under my knees, it’s cold in here too.  I’m not nervous, I am comfortable, but chilly.  He gives me another blanket because he says that our shiver muscles will appear on the scan so it’s important to be warm and of course still.  He straps my ankles together.  Arms at my sides, he straps me across my tummy.  I feel like a mental patient being secured for bad behaviour.  My neck is supported with metal/foam side things and then he puts a strap across my forehead so I cannot move.  Crap, my ear is itchy.  Itchy, itchy, it’s not going away.  The straps are undone, I scratch my itch, and back to business, seat belts are on again.  I am relaxed because really I don’t have a choice.  The platform moves slowly at stops and different spots.  I am thinking to myself, can I swallow?  The inside of my throat feels thick from my recent beverages, oh well, swallowing is better than gagging.  So I do.  Don is another room behind a glass wall while the scan is going on.  My previous CT scans only last a couple of minutes, however this PET scan lasts almost an hour.  I didn’t fall asleep. 

I am free to go, so we leave the hospital and head out for lunch and of course a little bit of shopping.  It’s my littlest niece’s birthday next week and I want to find her a gift.  DeeDee will be three years old.  Wow time flies.  She is a beautiful energetic little girl with the biggest smile I have ever seen.  Way better than Julia Roberts, plus she adds a little mischievious twinkle in her eye to her smile which melts my heart. 

So I am free physically, but not mentally.  I will have to wait a week to learn the results.  Ironically the date will be Jan. 31.   We’re ending the month, the first month of a new year with a new plan.  What kind of trip will this be? 

All I know is that I am going to tackle this trip in Karrie mode, which is all I know.  Smile and swear through it as usual but most importantly pulling strength and positive vibes from each and every person that loves me.  (sorry if you feel drained, I do appreciate it)   I will spend the week as I spend my other days lately, mornings down in my basement which I have turned into angel headquarters.  Me, my treadmill, dvd player and movies.  Watching a movie while adding miles to the treadmill does a mind and body good. 

Today’s movie of choice is “The Help”.    Fitting words, wouldn’t you agree?