Friday, February 24, 2017

This Is Where It All Went Wrong The First Time

As I said, I had to wait.  It would take 24 hours to find out.  I didn't sleep that night.  I even took some Nyquil and didn't sleep.  The next day I was in some pain from all the stabbing with the drill press and the biopsies.  My boob was black from the painful biopsy.  I watched TV and my mind just went numb.  If I had planned anything that day, it never would have happened.  My mind couldn't take it.  There was a 90% chance it was nothing.  90% wasn't enough for me.

It was getting to be late afternoon, so I got impatient and decided to call the mammography center.  No one answered the phone. They had closed for the day and no one had called me with any news.  They said that they would reopen on Tuesday after the holiday.

I didn't know what to make of that, so I looked around and got the number for the radiology department at the hospital and called them.  The girl that answered the phone said that everyone had knocked off early for the holiday and that she was the only one there.  She had no way of getting my results and I could call back on Tuesday.  She was very matter of fact about it.  I informed her that I was supposed to be finding out if I had cancer or not and that it was very important.  She said that I should have called earlier.

I should have called earlier.  I couldn't believe that this woman who worked in a department at the hospital that routinely had to tell people whether or not they had cancer and whether or not they were going to die just told me that I should have called earlier.  That was the coldest thing I think I've ever heard.  I didn't know whether to cry, throw something, scream at her, or just get drunk.  I couldn't wait four more days to find out about cancer.  Not when I knew that the test results were in.  Nobody called.  They promised.  My relationship with these people irrevocably changed that day.

But, at that moment, my Thursday before a holiday was running out of time and I had to find out something or I would go insane by Tuesday.  I went for my usual backup and called the one doctor that I've always been able to count on.  My primary physician.  This man has been my doctor for over 20 years and we've been friends as well.  He always puts in the extra effort to help that we would all actually expect from a doctor.  I called his office and told his office staff what was happening and they told me that they would give him the message.

A few minutes later he called me to ask me directly what was going on.  He'd sent me for my mammogram, but he hadn't really checked in with me since.  I filled him in and he told me that he would find out no matter what and call me back.  He told me to be patient, because it would take him a while to run down the information.

My family came home shortly after that.  Then we all sat and waited.  It was 7:30 that night when the phone finally rang.  It had taken my doctor that long to find a way to get the answer for me. When I answered the phone I heard his voice and I already knew the answer.

He offered to meet me in the office, but I declined as he noted he'd thought I would.  I had cancer in the right breast.  No one had called me to tell me that I had cancer.  Not only did one biopsy come back as malignant.  They both did.  There was no ambiguity in the results either.  I definitely had cancer and no one from the mammography center or radiology had bothered to call me.  They promised.  They lied.  I immediately vowed never to go there again.

My doctor did tell me that it was a very early stage and I should be fine as long as it was treated. He asked me if I would like him to take over and get me to the proper doctors since the radiologists hadn't done their job.  I took him up on that quickly.  He promised that the next day I would receive a call and that I would have an appointment to see a surgeon.  He told me that it would be a surgeon from the office of surgeons that I gone to when I'd had my gallbladder out.  I was all right with that.  He told me that whatever I needed to let him know and he would take care of it.  That's what I call a doctor.

The next morning I received a call from my doctor's office asking me what time was best for me to see the surgeon.  She then called the surgeon and called me back with an appointment the following week.  It was settled.  I never heard from the mammography center.  I don't know if my doctor told them that he was taking over or not.  For all I know it could be that they just never bothered to tell me anything.

I still refuse to go to that office and fortunately my insurance gave me a list of other mammography centers in the state where I can go for my mammograms.  I urge everyone to task your doctors.  You need to be treated as a human, not as a case.  You are not a number, you are not just a birth date.  I believe that a doctor should always try and see it from the perspective of the patient.  They should take the time to consider the fact that their patients are human.  I'm fortunate that my doctor does that.  If he didn't, I wouldn't see him.  Remember that.  You can always find another doctor.  Make sure you get the care you deserve.  If you don't, who will?

At this point, nothing had been solved, but I had the answer.  I had to do something about this.  I had cancer.  I didn't know what I had to do about it, but at least I finally had the answer after weeks of trying to find out.  I'd been scolded in public, called an irresponsible liar, had a biopsy that went wrong and my boob was still black from the experience weeks later, and not been given my results.  It wasn't easy to find out the answer to that question, but with a lot of work, I found out.  Don't presume that no news is good news.  I've actually heard of people not following up and dying because of it.  Persist.  Get the answer.  Anything is better than the frustration or the risk of not knowing.

Irregardless of everything that happened surrounding those biopsies, the worst part was when I hung up the phone and I saw my family's faces.  I could tell that they were both scared.  I didn't know what to say. I told them the facts that I knew.  That was all I could say.  They didn't know what to say either.  My family loves me and I love them.  This was the single scariest experience that we've been through together.

The best advice I can give for dealing with the family during a time like this is that despite the fact that you are the one going through it, you are not alone in that task.  Even though all you want to do is cry and scream and drink until you don't feel anymore; somehow you have to continue on.  You have to work as a team with your significant other.  In that time you have to be of one mind.  He has to understand how unreasonable you are about to become.  You have to realize how much it hurts him that he can't make it better and that he can't comfort you.  You have to talk, even if it's been 15 years since you've really talked to each other.  It's the only way.  You have to be strong for your kids.  They can't truly handle this kind of thing as children.  My son as 16 and it's still been a rough road for him.

You can't let on how you really feel unless you do it with great tact and disconnection.  If you do, everything will fall apart.  I've always heard that women are stronger.  I've learned that one lately.  I don't want to be.  I want to behave like a little baby, but life won't let me.  If you love your family, you will dig down deep and pull out some inner strength that you didn't know you had and suck it up to take care of your cancer.

It was a long weekend after I found out about the cancer.  No one knew what to say or do yet.  I'd taken a holiday myself that weekend to spend some time with my husband.  We took a road trip and looked at the foliage and tried not to talk too much about cancer.  We didn't know the details yet, and thought that we would wait until we went to see the surgeon.

As always, I hope that this helps anyone that is going through a difficult time and having difficulty with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment