Yesterday, after much hemming and hawing, a near-nervous breakdown Sunday night (when I frantically emailed Peter and told him to cancel everything Monday a.m.) and a good night's sleep thanks to a bit of medicine (I never take stuff...but I needed sleep), I still found myself at the doctor's office. Despite the fact that Peter did call and cancel (well, put on hold) the start of the radiation treatments, by 2 p.m. yesterday, I was nervously playing Words With Friends, waiting for yet another in-depth discussion with the Radiation Oncologist. All things considered, it's amazing I made it that far. However, getting there was made possible mostly due to the doctor's attitude.
Monday morning Peter called, talked to the receptionist and indicated I just couldn't move forward. He did this no questions asked, because he knew I was just too stressed. His actions eased up my fears, until he mentioned that the doctor wasn't in Monday and would likely call me Tuesday a.m. I alternated between ignoring the situation and worrying it to death for the rest of Monday. By 10 a.m. Tuesday, there was no phone call and I assumed I was home-free. Wrong.
At 10:15, the phone rang, but I was mid-workout and couldn't get the call. It was the Dr. R, the Radiation Oncologist and I naturally assumed the voicemail would be angry, confused or berating. After all, that is what I am used to with most of my doctors. No, she just asked me to call when I could and told me to take care. Hmm.
I wrote down all of my questions, got up the nerve, dialed the number and was put through to her at last. I noted that I was surely repeating myself, but we just didn't remember everything and had a few new questions. I explained I was extremely nervous (okay, terrified) and she calmly said that not only was that normal, but in all likelihood I would find the entire scenario anti-climactic. Due to my health (yes, it's actually quite good), she was hard-pressed to find any side effects that could truly plague me. She wondered if I was still going to go through with the treatments, and I replied that I just didn't know. Instead of pressing me further, she offered that since we already had a 2:15 p.m. appointment scheduled, that we just come out a few minutes early, have another meeting with her, ask more questions if need be, see the treatment areas and then make a decision. No pressure and either a yes or no would be fine with her.
Nothing takes the winds of tension out of my sails like that: not only having more time, but being reminded that it is my choice. I opted for the extra time at the meeting and a few hours later, Peter and I were waiting in a room for her.
We didn't end up having the tour, but she did go through every test and photo (exam photos) and bit of information about my situation piece by piece. She was not pushy, yet reassuring at the same time, and there was, of course, the reminder that if anything happened, we would stop, take a break and reassess. The next thing I knew, I had changed into a gown and while I was not thrilled per se (who would be?), I was not nearly as frightened.
Ten minutes later, I was walking back into 'the' room. I was told I would have more measurements and my first treatment. I laid back on the table (which really isn't that uncomfortable), put my arm in the rests provided and waited for the tech to slide me into place. Ten minutes of stilted conversation later, and she left the room and said we were starting.
I waited for a fantastical light show to occur and for beams to radiate down upon me. A giant white leaf-like plate appeared on my left and I felt sure something was imminent. A crazy production, like the Fremont Street Experience, or a wild Imax laser light show, played out in my head but didn't actually materialize. The plate then disappeared and the x-ray machine was back. Ten minutes later, the tech was back in the room and I was being adjusted slightly again.
She departed, the white leaf appeared again and then the x-ray machine. It was noisy, but nothing like I imagined and still, not much going on. I finally imagined that not only had my breast begun to get very warm, but that I was already feeling fatigued from treatment. Another ten minutes passed, the tech returned and announced that I was finished and:
"Now we are all set to start the treatments on Thursday!"
Huh? I mentioned I thought we were starting today. She looked at me oddly and said, "No, today was just for measurement purposes."
Oh. All of that stress, all of that worry, wasting my "terrified" tweet AND blowing my one mocha/week rule as I was so freaked on the way to the appointment. I hopped down, went back to the locker room, slathered on calendula anyway, changed and met up with Peter to relay the disappointing news: I had only survived because nothing had happened. He just shook his head and smiled.
The tech then returned with my schedule for the next 5 weeks. They built in an extra two weeks in case of who knows what and also are starting a bit earlier than I hoped. So, I freaked a bit, as I'm not thrilled about extra daycare payments and having to drop poor Little Guy off at school at the crack of dawn. I also noticed something that didn't hit me until later on: the last appointment is scheduled for May 17.
Now, I am only supposed to have 25 treatments starting Thursday morning. I really hope this will be the case and I will be finished by May 4. I want to be through with this and rested well before the 5K on May 15th. Even if I'm not finished, I will absolutely, positively not do a treatment on May 17. It would be the last visit, but I can't think of a more depressing way to spend our 14th wedding anniversary. Out to dinner, yes...fun family activity, yes...in a hospital, even for a minute? Nope, no way.
And now? Well, I am still a bit stressed and still sure I may be making a mistake. However, I have armed myself with every piece of knowledge available. I have 3 great all-natural and healing skin creams/gels/oils that (and a prescription cream) said to keep skin in pristine condition. I started incorporating extra arm exercises well over a week ago to prevent fibrosis and will be upping the massages (and manual lymph drainage). Most importantly, I finally feel as though I have a doctor that cares and listens. I am not a patient, but a partner in my care for a change. I am looking forward to the treatments, like everything else with this scenario, to be over quickly and uneventfully, provided we both hold up our ends of the bargain. I think I can handle that.
*I know, I know, I won't see or hear anything remotely exciting...but couldn't there at least be a movie or something?