Western education 2013

Monday, October 19, 2009

.. busy, crazy week!!

..... most of the time we end up waiting for something - I am perpetually waiting for doctors to appear, tests to be done and return calls to come in.... sometimes the wait is short but most often it is lengthened according to the growing numbers in the waiting rooms...

Monday October 19, 2009

Today I am going to do a bone scan at the 'old Vic' campus - which as it turns out, is not where I thought it was and so with Susan H. and our coffees purchased at the Tim Hortons just north of Victoria hospital - we enter through the doors of the old section of the hospital, only to find out that Nuclear Medicine is located in the newer section. There is an abundance of construction and re-construction at all our London hospitals but the sinking feeling in my gut as we progressed into the newly constructed Nuclear Medicine wing was confirmed by the receptionist that we in fact in the wrong hospital - it seems that 'Old Vic' is located in the old hospital on South street........ oh DEAR!! We have 15 minutes to get to where we should be but the receptionist makes a few calls and by luck - they can inject me with the radioactive isotope necessary for the scan which will take place in a little over 3 1/2 hours....

With the injection done and hours to spare, we go over to 'Just Between Friends' and I pick out a cotton knit night cap - it will keep my head warm during my winter sleeps. There are a few other items of interest but I find them a little pricey so we leave with just the one item. I am taking her out to lunch to one of my favorite lunch spots - Ben Than out on York and Ridout. She has never eaten there and takes delight in this new discovery. It is a great opportunity to chat about everything and anything and I enjoy her company tremendously. We have arrived before the lunch crowd and finish before it fills up to capacity. The sunshine and warmer temperatures as we step back out into the street inspires me to suggest that we go for a walk in the small park near the South Street campus. Great, lets go she says. More chatting and fresh air as we make it to the end of the short path and find a few points of interest on the way back in the form of snakes sunning themselves on the asphalt path. The largest of the snakes is a Garter snake and we are amazed at how it holds up its head and looks around aware that we are inches away... when the opportunity comes..... its winding body slithers away. I just finished reading the biography of Teri Irwin "Steve and Me" and I am stunned by how strong and resilient a human being he was and how much energy he had.... almost as if he was in a hurry to finish everything he aspired to completing in the short life he had lived. He was one with nature and especially the snakes and crocodiles he loved so much - I smile at what one human being can accomplish and how he passed on that passion to the family he left behind ...... we should all be warriors in our lives - imparting our wisdom and learning to make the most of every day, love deeply and passionately and learn to always move forward.......

The warrior in me gets called upon in the toughest of situations and going into the bone scan pulled up the reserves. I can manage tight spaces in my job which sometimes requires such but when a buzzing machine closes up mere inches from my nose - I squeeze my eyes shut and try to find my happy place.... I seem to be having a challenge remembering what that is and where I left it. My blood pressure begins to rise and I am feeling what amounts to sheer panic - I can feel every muscle tense and then the little voice deep within calls for back-up in the form of a singular mental call to Betty..... someone who is a gentle soul I think of who brings me instant relief - I can feel my blood pressure drop and I am good to go. The scan in its entirety takes 45 minutes and I am relieved to get back out into the fresh air and in pace with Susan. It has been a long day but a good one. Susan gives me hugs and wishes me well. We will be emailing each other to keep in touch.

Tuesday 20 October

Today I meet my Radiation Oncologist whose schedule is an hour behind and I am grateful that I am one of his first patients of the day.... I wonder about the ones he will see in the afternoon. I run into a few people that I know... Martha from my daughter's old daycare and Sue from my Yoga class... I think about what Max would say....we can't go anywhere without someone coming up to me to say hi!! We catch up for a few minutes before I head in. I am examined using a very large caliper and laugh aloud... the Oncologist appreciates the engineer in me and has a bunch of questions. He is young and quite pleasant as he goes over the details of my cancer and is relieved that my chemo will start in a few days... so am I. He mentions that the breast cells have a pre-disposition to cancer and that the radiation will kill any that have crossed over and have become cancerous. He throws a bunch of numbers at me and I am trying to wrap my head around the possibilities of re-occurrence and how we are going to reduce those chances .... I am thinking that my yoga class had a great suggestion - record any and all meetings with the Oncologists. This way you can listen and scribble everything later and be able to ask questions during the meeting you will have prior to radiation and before the end of chemo. I am asked to partake in a trial and agree that I would like to try the one trial which will commence after the chemo is completed. It is now 2 1/2 hours later and I have time to grab a quick breakfast and head out to my Art Therapy class.

I am ambling up the sidewalk heading towards Wellspring and see a face that I have only seen on my facebook account - a friend of a friend who is also going through her own journey. I turn to hug her and let her know that she can call anytime and when I am feeling up to it, we can go out for coffee. Our Art class is busy today with faces I recognize and some newer ones that have just been diagnosed and one whose husband has just recently passed. I mention to the girls that I am getting my hair cut off the next day which opens the doors to some candid conversations and some great tips for the new girls - I am approached by one of them as she thanks me for being so open and sharing with the tips she will take with her to go shopping for a wig, a notebook she will take with her to her next appointments and to not investigate her cancer on the internet....... I do not do any research surprisingly enough - too much negative stuff put out there by ill-informed people. There are sites listed in the cancer handbooks you get if you really need the gritty details. I know what I have and what I need to combat it - that is good enough for me right now. The details are in my notebooks should I ever need to consult it.

21 October 2009

Today is the day I watch my locks get clipped by Thomas as Sarah stands by with my camera to take the photos which will later be uploaded to friends far away and on facebook. I will also send one to my husband at work.

Sarah is dropped off early this morning and we have a coffee while the kids are running around getting ready for school. We are heading out the door first on our way out to the dealership to get my winter tires on - weird that it is always really warm and snow free when that happens!! We take the opportunity to walk over to McDonalds near by for breakfast and chat about everything and anything..... she has grown up into a beautiful young woman and I am glad for her company today. We finish up and head over to Costco to pick up some fruit, croissants and fruit juice for Thomas knowing that he will not have had breakfast on his way to the salon. Thomas will meet us there at 11 am to remove my hair for me and give me a pixie cut.... I had one as a little girl and remembered all the teasing I got.... then as a soldier in the armed forces. Now I would have one as a chemo patient - I do not want to have to deal with large chunks of hair falling out in my hands as I shower or when I go to brush it - I think that I would find that horrifying more than anything else..... so after Thomas pulls up the first handful of hair to cut and I feel the scissors walk through the clump.... the tears well up and I catch my breath. I suck it up and smile - caught off guard and surprised by my reaction. Bless Sarah for catching that moment and all the rest while Thomas worked steadily to remove each handful carefully. It definitely looked longer on my head than it now does in his hand. Oh, well..... moving on... he washes my hair and towel dries it. He takes a great deal of care to make sure the cut is done well and is tidy in the back. I am handed my hair kept neat and tidy within elastics to possibly save for a time when it might be put back on as extensions.... or not. Thank you so much for being a loving and kind friend.... xoxoxox

It is time for me to drop off Sarah and to make my way up to the hospital to take the chemo course..... filled mostly with people much older than me. I have an opportunity to speak with the primary nurse who will be giving the course which will give us an overview on the important items that we need to be aware of. There are two of us who have cut our hair today for our chemo tomorrow and I have the pictures on my camera to show.... they all want to see them and are amazed at how different I look. The gentleman behind me tells me that he has an advanced bladder cancer - his high blood pressure and diabetes is complicating the issue and the only recourse is chemo - he looks down at his hands and I am at a loss to say anything.... the lady next to me shares with me that her stage IV cancer is in her lungs and breast and tells me that she kept asking her doctor to help her when she felt that something was wrong and he ignored her requests, instead sending her to a phychologist.... you must always advocate for yourself it seems and to make sure that you find a doctor that will listen to you.... I am grateful for my new physician whom I got to see earlier in the day ( I popped in to deliver my insurance papers for her to fill out) and who advocates well for me. I shudder with the thought that I could have ended up like Annie who now will fight for her life. She is scared and physically moves a little closer to me. After class, I walk her out and will see her tomorrow when we are both in chemo together. I watch as she struggles to walk and realize that she is not much older than me but wears the weight of the world on her sagging shoulders. I turn to walk the long walk back to my car which is in the far parking lot on the other side of the campus where the cancer clinic is located. With probably 3000 spots times a conservative nine dollars per day...... the money is staggering and I am glad that I will be getting rides in the future. Time for home.

It is a big Brownie event with a sing-a-long in the mall just down the street. I will be walking with her and Max..... she looks at me and tells me that I absolutely can not go with her. She looks at me and tells me that I have to wear a wig or I am not going. She starts to cry when I tell her that my feelings are hurt. Max tries to jump in and be helpful but now there are two of us with hurt feelings. I ask her to come and see the lovely comments that my loving friends have left for me on my facebook from the morning's photo shoot. I read them out loud and she looks at me again. This time, I am allowed to go with her but next time when I have no hair left I will have to wear the wig or something on my head. I agree and the trip to the mall is painless...... until one of the mom's I have known for years walks up to us. She is always nervous around us and I can't for the life figure out why?! but she stands there staring and for some reason I let her know that next week there will be no hair...... now I am nervous and I kiss my daughter and saunter away with my husband beside me. He is perplexed and all I can tell him is to save his comments for some other time - I know I do not have to explain myself but here again was an awkward moment. I was trying to save my daughter from having to answer questions from her the next week and making her feel singled out. The leader gives me a wave and tells me that she loves my hair. I smirk.... I actually like it too.

I wish to thank Sarah for your wonderful company and the time you took out of your day to be with me, I love you so much!! It was peaceful walking through the neighborhood waiting to see my doctor - not my regular speed by any means but the slower pace lets me take in the beauty of the old Victorian houses. I wish to thank Thomas for his kindness and understanding that it is not just hair. You are a good friend and I love you!!

Tomorrow is my first Chemo session.... the beginning of another chapter!!! xox

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