Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Time for a trip

Even if it's a work related trip. I leave tomorrow for yet another clinic in another state. It sucks to be me sometimes. :) Actually, most of the time I feel I have a charmed life. Here's a little story. I'll wait while you go grab a cup of tea, a Pepsi or Dr. Pepper, or even a beer if want. Just bring back some Fritos for me, ok? mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She had a mastectomy almost 2 years ago and for the past 9 months or so has complained about her arm hurting. This is a common complaint among mastectomy patients. Anyway, I won't go into the long drawn out story as to how completely HORRIBLE her surgeon and his office treated my mother...basically saying they had never heard of lymphedema. Whaaaattt? I may not have done any nursing on a med/surg floor in a million years, but sweetheart, please...we saw it all the time. Moving onward...she finally complained so much to them (at my urging) that they ordered a CT Scan of her arm. Afterwards, she is just told "We won't need to see you anymore...we're referring you to the Cancer Institute." Oh...ok. Mind telling me what the findings were before you so kindly kick me out the door? So, we get a copy of the report...doesn't look too promising and I begin to worry. I try not to show it to anyone but it really does appear that my mother may have metastatic lung cancer. We have a pot luck lunch at work and I mention it to a very knowledgable hemotologist and he very bluntly said "Any time you see nodules in the lungs of a patient after breast cancer, it's metastic lung cancer." I'm devastated. How am I going to tell my kids? How am I going to help my mother deal with this? The horrible thoughts that ran through my brain were making me physically sick. I pictured her dying this horrible death and those pictures ran through my head constantly.
Monday was her appointment at the Cancer Institute. I had to go to work in the morning to finish up a few things before this clinic trip. Frankly, I didn't want to go to the doctor with her. I just wanted to run away and not answer my phone or talk to anyone. But I knew she would need me. I knew she was alone and would need my love and support. Hell, I needed some love and support. She got a ride and I met her there. Small talk ensued. All I really wanted to do was scream and run. At the same time I might add. So now they've called her name. My stomach is in about 57 knots. It's at this point that I'm glad I didn't have anything to eat all day. The doctor and nurse practitioner come into the room. Attractive young women who have kind words and nice smiles for us. Moving along with this story, and I'll omit the part where I go off on the medical community for it's lack of caring and compassion. Not this doctor, but mom's surgeon. It turns out she doesn't think it's anything to worry about. It could be scar tissue from her previous radiation therapy, scarring from an old infection, or something else. She's going to run a few more tests when we get back from our trip to New England, but she was a little dumbfounded as to why they wouldn't give us the results of the scan. So...basically....for the past TWO weeks I have been operating under the assumption that my mother had lung cancer. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that she's not. That would be an understatement. I cried tears of relief and poor mom looked at me and thought I was insane. (she probably thinks that a lot anyway) and when I told all of them what I had been going through they almost cried with me. Mom was oblivious to the whole lung cancer thing. She just thought that since she had cancer before it was only natural for them to send her to the cancer institute. Ignorance is bliss....and a little medical knowledge is dangerous.

So...happy times here. I cannot express my gratitude. And not to sound overly dramatic, but I really did think that this trip to New England was going to be "it" if you know what I mean. Sure, we don't know when or how we're going to leave this world, but I'll tell you one thing....I am making damn sure this trip to Maine, Vermont, Massachuetts,Rhode Island and anyplace else she wants to go is going to be her trip of a lifetime. All she wants to do is see lighthouses and fall leaves. She just wants to drive and see vegetable stands on the side of the road...farmhouses and rolling hills. Splashes of colored leaves along the roads and the rocky shores of the Atlantic. I think I can do that.
Can't wait to get back from this work trip so we can go. And yeah, she repacked her bag..again. She's been ready to go for a month now. Bless the heart.

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