Update on the day’s proceedings………..

[Originally posted on Wednesday, February 29, 2012]     

We spent the night in Seattle because we needed to check-in at 7.30am Thanks for the hospitality Traci and Steve , When I called to make an appointment for the MRI I was asked if I was claustrophobic, . I think I said “Hell yes!!” because I am not very happy in  small spaces. A pill was delivered to me and then I sat quietly for 45mins for it to take effect. I listened to my ipod and felt quite serene. That bit was short lived because once in the room that tube looks mighty long and very small inside. I had an IV put in then I lay face down and guess what….yep, holes for the boobs to fall through. Ear plugs in place, I was told to expect lots of noise and towards the end the whole thing would start to vibrate quite a lot (this could be exciting) ok, so I jumped out of my skin when it started up and that bit towards the end for sure shook a couple of fillings loose. All done and really not bad.There is a very strategically placed mirror so you can see daylight out the end of the tube and that helped a lot.

With the MRI under my belt Peter and I headed for the cancer institute to meet with the breast surgeon Dr H .Although I had heard he was a bit on the serious side he was really nice and almost board the pants off us he was so detailed. long and short of it. I am going to have a double mastectomy. So as I suspected, it will be curtains for the girls, poor things, I’ve really enjoyed them over the years and it is going to be a bit of a wrench to say goodbye, although, they do get in the way more often than not. I do not have to make any quick decisions about dates as this kind of cancer is slow to grow and so, I’m going to just enjoy these next couple of weeks recovering and learning to use my bum all over again, He he, hope I’m a quick learner. Peter will writing while I’m away the Swedish holiday camp, where I’m sure to be enjoying a morphine drip with a jello chaser.


Trying not to panic……..

[Originally posted on Monday, February 27, 2012]


picture courtesy of northeaststage.com

So, this is a big week for me. Tomorrow I am working as I will be going in to have an MRI on Wednesday and then talk to a breast surgeon. I’ve been doing a bit of research into my new cancer diagnosis which in case you are interested is called Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and so the reality of all this is starting to set in. Although I am trying not to jump to conclusions here I do have a family history of breast cancer and I have a strong suspicion that it’s going to be “curtains for the girls” so now I’ve got that in my head it’s a question of trying not to panic. The nice thing is that I am going in for my illiostomy reversal surgery on Thursday and that will be great (did I just say it will be great to have surgery?) I am planning a two week recovery then back to work, so I will have lots of time to research my options on the other thing and meet with other Doctors if need be. Peter is trying to find another job and we are trying to stay optimistic on that front because here we go again on the road to financial ruin. Coming from a country with socialised medicine it just floors me to think how many people go bankrupt because of medical bills, it’s just wrong! Ok, that’s enough dwelling on negative stuff, I am getting rid of this damn bag….HOORAY!

A card carrying member of the pink ribbon brigade……………

[Originally posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2012]

Well you could knock me down with a feather. I have breast cancer! I am trying not to think this is some sort of bad karma coming back at me but really!  Good news, it’s really, really small bad news is that I have two in one breast so they might be spreading… or not, oh I don’t know. I have to go in for an MRI next week before I have my reversal surgery on Thursday so I’ll know more after that when I speak to the breast surgeon at that time. Chances are though I will have to have more radiation and more surgery. Anymore radiation and I am sure to glow in the dark (my new party trick?) Oh damn and blast I wish I had better news but there it is.

Big Biopsy day ……….

[Originally posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012]     

I must make a note to myself not to drink large amounts of caffeine before I go for a procedure. By the time I got into the biopsy room I was a jittery mess (sometimes I’m not very smart) I asked for a Valium but am told no, so I had to get a hold of my frayed little nerves and do a bit of deep breathing, I knew those yoga classes would come in handy. I have to say that this was the most uncomfortable examination table ever (it’s called a stereotactic table)  Hard plastic, no cush whatsoever and a large hole in the center for your boobs to drop through. Let me just explain how this procedure is performed because it really is pretty weird. Your boobs hang throught a hole in the middle of the table, The edge of the hole digs into your ribs. They then clamp your boob underneath and you are not allowed to move at all….phew! I feel myself getting claustrophobic all over again, anyway, now the bed is raised up and the Doctor works on you from underneath the table. If this sounds a lot like a car body shop to you then you are on my wavelength. I did manage to say “zzzp zzzp, can you rotate my tires while you’re at it please” that was about the extent of my humor today as I had to hold still on this torture table for two hours. By the time the actual core biopsy’s were taken I had been injected several times with anaesthetic and really it didn’t hurt at all. The first one was pretty straight forward and I was allowed to stretch a bit afterwards but the second was hard to get to (very close to the chest wall apparently, and there was an awful lot of pulling, tugging and just general discomfort. Finally it was over and I happily got to sit up only to be told that now I had to have another mammogram…..Jesus H, seriously? and not just one shot but three!!! I am now happily ensconced on the couch with a big bag of ice on my boob and a large vodka tonic at my side and Peter waiting on me hand and foot……there are always perks.

If you are really interested I have linked a video of this procedure bellow.


To infinity and beyond……….

[Originally posted onTuesday, February 14, 2012]

I have found that after I arrive for a procedure that I have not previously experienced there is a moment when I’m sitting in the waiting room and a creeping sense of dread comes over me. Will it hurt? is usually the first thought, followed by any number of embarrassments I can conjure up in my mind. Soon my name is called by a smiling nurse and I try to push all those nasty thoughts to the back burner. Once I am changed into hospital garb and climb up onto yet another examination table, I relax, and think “Ok, go on then, let’s get this show on the road”

An X-ray was taken before administering the enema and I was left alone for a few minutes to examine my surroundings. Obviously I was in the pediatric room because everywhere I looked there were pictures from Toy story. As i looked past my feet there was a giant picture of Buzz Lightyear on the wall and next to him hung the bag of barium with about 16 feet of tubing looped lasso style on a metal stand. I started to laugh and was still a giggling when the nurse came back in. I pointed to Buzz…… “I hope you’re not planning on sending all that tubing (amplified voice) to Infinity and beyond”  The actual procedure was not bad at all….no pain involved just another strange cramping sensation as they rolled me about under the x-ray machine. To be honest the worst part came after I had left radiology . I shuffled my way from one bathroom to the next as the desire to rid my body of all that barium became, well….quite urgent. Thank god hospitals have a gazillion toilets. So I’ll wish you a very happy Valentine’s day and will be reporting back tomorrow after the boob biopsy.

A pretty picture………

[Originally posted on Friday, February 10, 2012]

I arrived at the hospital for my flexible sigmoidoscopy (similar to a colonoscopy but they don’t go as far up into your colon) not really realising that this was a full on medical procedure. I thought it would be a quick in and out sort of a thing! er, so to speak. I went through the admission procedure, got the heart monitor wires and finger clip put on, asked what my religious preference was??? Told two nurses I did not need an IV as I was going to work (they looked slightly horrified) I had discussed this with Dr B beforehand and he said  “Not a problem”  Then I am put on a gurney and wheeled into a very official looking OR room with a large screen monitor hanging above the bed. As my surgeon was a little late I chatted with the three nurses in my room, one of which was wearing a full on clear plastic visor across her entire face and a white, full length plastic apron. Let me stop right here, because I think you can imagine what is going through my mind. I politely tell her that I don’t think she will be needing that mask and that I don’t intend for anything to come shooting out in her direction. They all laugh and then proceed to tell me all the horror stories of things that have indeed shot into their eyes on different occasions. So gross……yuk! I’m so glad I’m a hairdresser.

Dr B arrives and the first thing he does is grab for my hand and smile into my face. “Can you do me a huge favor?” well this is a shocker, what can I possibly do for him. He tells me that March is colon cancer awareness month and they are having a 10K run and fund-raiser. I almost interrupt him to say I don’t run before he asks me if I will be one of his “Faces of colon cancer” Oh fine, of course I will and no I don’t mind being interviewed because I have a lot of great things to say. Done.

On with the procedure and I’m feeling brave now, I decide to watch. Well this is interesting, a little uncomfortable and crampy but no bigggy. I see shiny metal Staples in my colon?? fancy that and it looks pretty healthy. There is one tiny lump which he decides to remove, now this is really getting good and then woosh! camera gone procedure over. Go to recovery, poop out some blood, off to work. Everything is looking good and on target for ileostomy reversal surgery on the 1st of March.

They must be joking……REALLY!

[Originally posted on February 3, 2012]

Yesterday I went for a mammogram, haven’t had one for a few years and my new gynecologist wanted me to be checked…no problem thought I as I turned up at the new Swedish women’s diagnostic center. “Right this way Christina” all these hospital folk call me by my full name, it makes me feel as if I’m back in school. “Just pop your boob up on this plate and let me see how flat we can make it” as we squash another plate on top and the nurse cleverly asks me to tell her when the pressure is causing unbearable pain and then just squashes it fraction more thinking I don’t notice.Hah! She tells me we will take 4 images in all, then she takes them off to the radiologist and returns me to the waiting room. Ten minutes later she’s back. “We need two more images on your left one” ok, this time the plate gets smaller and the squish a bit harder. Back to the waiting room. Ten more minutes and then another nurse comes in. She tells me that the radiologist has a concern about an area of that left one and wants even more images done. Oh come on now, just how many squishes does it take? The answer to that is four more just on my poor little lefty.Back to the waiting room. I have to say that I am getting just a tad concerned now. I am shown into yet another room to meet the radiologist, a very nice man, who is sitting infront of several black and white screen images of my boobs. I’ll cut to the chase. I have two areas deep inside lefty that don’t look right, if you know what I mean and I am now scheduled for a double biopsy on the 15th (a three hour procedure I’m told) right after my barium enema on the 14th. Happy valentine’s day Tina. If I now find out that I have breast cancer I’m going to be pretty pissed off I can tell you.