14 September 2006

More Adventures in Cancer Land

"Modesty is the conscience of the body." ~ Honore de Balzac

Yesterday, after I got home from my visit with the dog I'm hoping to adopt, I got another call from my oncologist's nurse. She had called Tuesday to find out if I'd had a mammogram done. (She's the one who ultimately confirmed I didn't need one when I was there last week. Shirley drives me crazy.) The minute I heard her say her name, I panicked. She told me before that the mammogram was fine, but the white blood count was a little off. No reason to worry, she said on Tuesday. So when she called yesterday, I thought maybe he'd changed his mind about the blood work. After telling me her name, she could have at least told me immediately that everything is okay. The less I hear from my cancer doctors (all of them, even my beloved Dr. Ross), the happier I am.

I was looking for something in my suitcase last night and I came across my photo panties. I'm not sure I shared any info about that. The first time I saw my plastic surgeon, they made me take everything off and put on the teeny, tiny little panties. Now I don't mind people looking at my mastectomy. I've had so many strangers looking and touching that the whole breast thing is no big deal. (I've even threatened to make people look at it if they give me any trouble about anything.) The doctor made me drop my gown and stand in front of him (on a little platform). He made me turn around so he could look at my backside. Okay. This is difficult for anyone, I think, who doesn't undress for a living, but for a survivor of sexual abuse, it's pretty harrowing.

The only way I could get through it was to dissociate. Dissociation has caused problems for me all of my life, but sometimes it's a huge help. This was definitely one of those times. I know the man had no interest in me other than as a surgeon, but that didn't make it any easier. With any luck, I'll never have to do that again. He's very sweet and tries to make it less uncomfortable for me, but it has been a very very long time since any man, other than my hubby, looked at me without clothes. Standing on a pedestal makes it even more fun.

The point was that he was trying to figure out where to take the skin and tissue for reconstruction. There are three places they normally use: the tummy, the back or the butt. I don't have much to spare in any of those places, but we're going with the tummy. I'm still trying to get over the fact that, because my bra size is 36D, I probably won't be able to have it reconstructed to that size. It has to do with the weight of the breast potentially tearing the veins that will be sutured together. I'll probably need to have a breast reduction on the other side so I'll match. As anyone would tell you, my breasts used to be one of my best anatomical features. Have I mentioned lately that I really hate having breast cancer? The good news is that the tummy tuck will return me to that fabulous pre-50 flat stomach. Of course, I'll have a scar that runs all the way across my stomach, but as I said, no one ever sees me other than Hubby. At this point in our relationship, a scar isn't even going to faze him...I've looked pretty wretched for most of the past year. Virtually anything would be an improvement.

Yesterday I went to see the dog I chose to consider adopting at the animal shelter. Oh my goodness, he was so exuberant! He was so excited to have human contact and to be out of that wretched kennel that I had trouble calming him down. I'm generally able to calm virtually anyone or anything down just a little bit, anyway. He started to hunch my head as I knelt down to put his leash on. That's got to stop immediately. For a number of reasons. First of all, it's gross. It's also humiliating for other people to see. Most importantly, it's a dominance thing. The dog should give up any hope of dominating me, as soon as possible. We started working on it yesterday. I cupped my hand over the bridge of his nose several times (that's also a dominance thing) and he responded immediately.

Later today I'm having a "meet and greet" with him and Miss Woo. I'm tired just thinking about it.

America held hostage day 1686

Bushism of the day:

"And I am an optimistic person. I guess if you want to try to find something to be pessimistic about, you can find it, no matter how hard you look, you know?" - Washington, D.C., June 15, 2004

12 September 2006

Oncologists, Plastic Surgeons and Huskies

"You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will give you this look that says, 'My god, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would have thought of that.'" ~ Dave Barry

I got back from M.D. Anderson late Friday afternoon. What a debacle! I had a mammogram check-in scheduled for 7:00 a.m. (Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?) I drug my butt out of bed at some barbaric time of day only to find that I didn't need a mammogram. My oncologist just hadn't seen the mammogram I did the last time I was there. I had blood work scheduled and that went fine...they're virtually always on time. My next appointment was at 1:15 with my plastic surgeon, followed by an appointment with my oncologist at 1:30.

They led me back to the little exam room at around 1:20, made me put on "photo panties" and a gown. The doctor didn't show up until around 3:45. I'm very claustrophobic, so by then, I needed several tranquilizers. My mom kept suggesting that maybe we should let someone know about my appointment with the oncologist. "Oh no. That's okay," I kept saying, "They always know where you are." Right. That worked before, but not this time. I ended up missing my oncologist appointment altogether. I really wished to see the plastic surgeon, but even I would admit that the oncologist visit was more important. I got a call from his nurse this morning, telling me that the mammogram was fine and my white count was a little low, but not enough to worry about. I'm currently trying to be okay with that statement. (I tend to panic a little after the experience with the mammogram radiologist here.)

The good news is that I can have reconstruction surgery as soon as I can schedule it. That may be as early as January and as late as March. The plastic surgeons are really busy there. I can't call his scheduler until Friday to give the paperwork a chance to catch up with me. On the one hand, I really look forward to getting this over with. On the other hand, I'm aware that it's not going to be fun in a very big way. I'm working hard to get back in good physical condition so that my recovery will be easier. I've managed to do yoga three nights a week at this point and I'm going to add stationery bicycle this evening. I'm just going to do 15 minutes at a slow pace with no resistance. I'll just have to see how that goes. If I'm not exhausted tomorrow, I'll continue to use the bike once or twice a week.

The other news is that I'm in the process of getting another huskie. I had contacted a rescue organization and met this wonderful boy named Sebastian, but he's big and wildly enthusidastic about everything. I thought about adopting from the Humane Society, but when I went to the city's animal shelter, I knew what I had to do. Those dogs will die if someone doesn't adopt them; they're a euthanizing facility. It's been emotionally difficult to go there, but doing the right thing is usually not the easy path.

I met a 10 month old huskie mix when I went by this weekend. He's white and doesn't have a mask, but I'm good with that. He's in the process of being evaluated by the animal behariorists to ensure that he's not aggessive. They told me that they should have that finished by this afternoon. I'm so excited!

As soon as they finish the evaluation process, we can have a "meet and greet" with Sheba. I think they'll get along fine, if her experience with Sebastian was any indication. I've been doing a little reading about how to introduce a new dog into the household. I was right; it's best to have a male and female. The worst combination is two females. Very interesting. I would have thought that two males would be the most aggressive. I think that we probably need to do a couple of get togethers with Miss Sheba Woo.

They won't be open until 11:30, so I'll have to contain my excitement. This makes me very, very happy.

America held hostage day 1684

Bushism of the day:

"I mean, if you've ever been a governor of a state, you understand the vast potential of broadband technology, you understand how hard it is to make sure that physics, for example, is taught in every classroom in the state. It's difficult to do. It's, like, cost-prohibitive." - Washington, D.C., June 24, 2004