Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Just Hangin' Loose

Tonight was my breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in preparation for my half day appointment with the Spectrum Health Breast Cancer Multispecialty Team (MST) at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion next Monday.  [Oye, that's a mouth full.]

After my diagnosis, the people at Betty Ford referred me to the MST and they took over my tests and care.  From the surgeon through the oncologists on down to a "nurse navigator" and social worker, the MST will cover all the bases and help develop a plan for me moving forward.  [Seriously, check out the link above, it is a one-stop cancer care shop.]

My next step was the breast MRI, which will give a different picture of what is going on inside me.  When the nurse called to schedule it, she explained a bit of how it would be done, including that I'd be on my stomach for about 40 minutes.  Now, I don't know about you, but the thought of being on my stomach for breast imaging, smooshed up against a - what - glass table sounded terrible. 

Oh, was my image off.

And, oh, was it even more ridiculous.

The nurse explained that while I would be on my stomach during the test, the table had ... well ... two holes in it.  SERIOUSLY?  I took the nurse by surprise when I - the patient who recently learned she has breast cancer - could NOT stop laughing. 

Actually, I think she was getting annoyed because the giggles kept starting over.

Because I'm an adult with the occasional maturity level of a 12 year old boy. [No offense to 12 year old boys out there.]

I arrived tonight in full-on dread mode completely untempered by any happy hour drink because SOMEONE at MST told Olivia (the extremely pleasant administrative assistant there) that I could not have any.  Someone was wrong.  I asked upon arrival and I TOTALLY could have had a drink before slipping the ladies into two holes and hanging loose for 40 minutes. But I digress.

I arrived, slipped into one of the oh-so-sheek hospital gowns (open in front please) and sat while first Drew and then Kim patted, rubbed, and slapped my veins around in vain trying to find one for an IV.

I hate IVs.

My veins hate IVs. 

I'll give props to Kim, though. She only stuck me once.  Granted, it was a dreaded back-of-the-hand IV but it worked.  So, now I'm in hospital gown (open in front) with an IV on my right hand and am presented with ... the table:

See that slightly purple/lavender head/breast rest?  Yep.  With the open sides in case anyone needs to move anything around in there.  I spent 40 minutes with my girls hanging through those holes, my face resting in the deceptive 'you could be having a massage' holder, with my arms straight out in front of me, IV on top of the right hand, and a squishy ball in the left that would serve as my panic button should things get too intense for me during the procedure.

"What music would you like to listen to?"


"What music would you like to listen to through the headphones?"

He should have asked what music would I want to hear set to loud buzzing and clicks but I appreciated it nonetheless.  [For the record, I heard some Struts, some Rixton, and, I believe, a Vamps song during my face-down time.] 

So, face down, arms overhead, headphones on, contrast pumping into my arm with both a sting and a chill, and praying that the panic ball would be unneeded, I proceeded to focus on my breathing for 40 minutes.  [Little bit claustrophobic over here.] 

And then it was done.  Up you go, out comes the IV, on goes a bandage, here are your clothes, and here's the door.  Wham, bam, thank ... you get the idea.

And now I wait. 

Monday afternoon will include individual appointments with three doctors - the surgeon, the medical oncologist, and the radiology oncologist - all of whom will give me a breast exam.  That will make roughly 9 people who will have felt me up in 2016 so far. 

Loose indeed.

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