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all the world's a stage

hello, dear reader.

some of you may have fond memories of this ol' mdog : unleashed blog. welcome back! it's going to be a different ride this time around. some of you are new: there's lots of archived material here. welcome to my past. and, for everyone -- welcome to my present and future. it might be a little rough.

first things first: i have been diagnosed with breast cancer. whoa! what now? how did we get here?

sometime in june, i scheduled an appointment with a lady parts doctor, finally getting established since moving to columbus. their first available appointment was the last monday in august. what? okay, fine. fast forward to early-to-mid august, when i notice something a bit off in the left breast (whom i have named hillary; the right being condoleeza). i write it off to normal menstrual cycle tenderness, but it hung around post-period. hmm. thankfully, the lady parts appointment is in approximately a week. thanks, me in june!

this brings us to last monday. i explain my worries, she examines the area, with a "hmm, that is atypical," in a typical trying-to-not-alarm-the-patient medical fashion. what have you noticed, she asks. eh, just sort of heavy, swollen. very very occasional pain. and thus, at the age of forty, i am recommended to schedule my first mammogram. fun fact: diagnostic mammograms are NOT classified as preventive care. hello, deductible, nice to meet you!

wednesday brings the squishing. so much squishing. (side note: the mammogram waiting room constantly plays HGTV, and everyone is wearing short, white robes. it basically has the feel of the world's worst spa). anyway. condoleeza does well with the squishing, mildly uncomfortable, but nothing to write home about. hillary, unsurprisingly, was causing needless pain and suffering. the imaging technician felt badly for all the extra diagnostic squishing. (btw, if you've never had a mammogram, let me tell you, the tech is ALL up in your business. also, the positions they put you in are like the world's worst glamour shots: human caressing robotics version). she finished, the radiologist had a look-see, more squishing was requested. round two! this time, the radiologist ordered ultrasounds of hillary and condi.

the ultrasound tech took me back to her area and explained that she was going to be looking at both breasts and the left lymph nodes. she noted my eyebrow twitch at the phrase "lymph nodes" and assured me that they always look at them. okay, then. cue an hour of me laying on a bed, halfway taking a nap, halfway imagining what horrors may lie ahead. the radiologist reviews the images and recommends biopsies be taken of the left breast and lymph nodes. can you come in tomorrow afternoon? um, yes, sure. ah, but before you leave today, we'll have you talk with the doctor across the hall? um, yes, sure. we meet, she examines me, and tells me we won't know until after the biopsies, but she is almost certain it is cancer.

wait, what? i was NOT expecting any results today.

she says we should have results by tuesday (the day after labor day). okay. after three hours at the clinic, i head home, andy asks if i want to meet at a favorite restaurant for dinner. delicious as it sounds, i have no interest in relaying this almost-news in public over pho. i make it home, start hugging and crying, and deliver the possible life-changing news. we order pizza. much less public.

thursday, i am a ball of nerves. i don't do pain particularly well, i have never had surgery, and all this non-news is basically undeliverable because nothing is confirmed. i try to keep it together at work, though it is clearly noticeable that something is up (i am never sick, and i never shut my door -- HAHAHA NEVER SAY NEVER!). a coworker texts me her concern, and i realize the jig is up and i am not as stealthy as i believed i was. i thank her and vaguely text something about health concerns, and then i am off to get biopsies.

andy meets me there, driving from his work as i drive from mine. (this is relevant later). i am back in the spa robe, silently freaking out. i get called to the first biopsy room, where i more or less get another mini-mammogram as i lay on a table with a hole in the middle (i'll let you fill in the blank there). hillary hangs out, gets some lidocaine, i feel sharp pain, NOT pressure MORE LIDOCAINE PLEASE NOW, i get more lidocaine, biopsy needle does its thing like some alien sucking the life force out of me. weird sounds, sensations, pressure. and then: one more time, same boob, in a different location, on the other side of the tumor! ouches. finally, i am finished, i am getting taped up, and one of the nurses asks me how i'm doing. i respond by saying that i basically felt that i was in some sort of sci-fi movie, what with all the sounds and weird bodily exchanges. she laughs and tells me that's a new one. next up, ultrasound guided biopsy of a lymph node, which is much less stressful, and i have no funny anecdotes from this. they tape me up and send me to a tiny room with a tiny recliner, where they give me tiny ice packs to shove into my sports bra to keep swelling down. another final mammogram and i am released, after another three hour clinic visit.


i abridgedly relay the experience to andy, but mostly i just want to go home. since all i want to do is sleep, we decide that i will drive straight home and andy will drive back to work to get a few more hours in. this is a great plan that my alternator decided to NOPE right out of. almost home on i-670 around 4pm and my radio goes out. hmm. okay, fine, surely i can make it to our local mechanic. one minute later, all gauges -- mph, tach, oil, fuel, everything -- drop to zero. HMM. at this point i decide being stranded on dublin road is preferable to being stranded on THE FREAKING INTERSTATE, so i take the us-33 exit, which is also a fine way to go home, and, also, as it happens, a fine way to andy's work. i am certain i can at least get home, until and except for when every time i changed speed, the transmission starts getting jerky. OKAY, FINE THEN. i end up parking at andy's work, where he is immediately thinking i have followed him in because i have begun bleeding or dying. obviously, he is relieved that it is just a battery/alternator issue. the left side of my body is relieved about nothing and unhappy about all of it, and still just wants to go home. he drives me home, gets me settled, goes back to work, and i collapse onto the couch for a couple of hours.


i wasn't sure if i would be sore post-biopsy, so i had pre-emptively called off of work for friday. now with the car situation, i definitely wasn't going in. as it turns out, i would have been miserable and sore at work, so again, thanks, past me! as it also turns out, the phone call i was expecting on tuesday... came early. dr. h called me around 1:30pm on friday afternoon, informing me that i was officially diagnosed with breast cancer. possibly stage 1 or 2, but possibly 3. (NOTE: THOSE ARE WILDLY VARIED STAGES AND POSSIBILITIES, THANKS MUCH THOUGH). she scheduled me for an MRI on tuesday afternoon, and an office visit with her on wednesday afternoon.

most of the weekend involved breaking the news to various family and friends. (in case you wondered, no, there is no good way to do this). saturday involved andy dropping a new battery into my car, only to determine that it was, in fact, an alternator issue. the evening involved a glorious dinner of ribeye steaks and baked potatoes, because my husband is a go big or go home kind of guy, and by god we deserved an extravagant meal after this kind of news, and he is pretty damn amazing. sunday was a heretofore unplanned visit to dear old athens with dear old friends; a soothing balm of sorts. monday (labor day) was a random, productive, normal-feeling day, wherein andy participated in the joy and frustration of light fixture replacement (and wherein his wife demonstrated that no electrical installation is truly complete without at least one very loud screaming of expletives; some of you understand), and we finally, FINALLY, cleaned out the shed, which can mostly be described as "have you tried taking it all out, and then putting it all back in again?"

thus ends the Week 1 narrative of the Cancer Land adventure. Week 2 narrative coming soon. feel free to follow along with this stupid, terrible adventure. we're okay though. let's do this.

Posted on Friday, September 6, 2019 at 08:16PM by Registered Commentermdog in | CommentsPost a Comment

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