Follow up ultrasound

Blarg. Today I went to the hospital for ‘follow up’ scanning. This is a check-up that every post treatment person needs to endure – and while I say, ‘endure’ it is not because of the hardship of getting a scan. No. Getting scanned is fantastic. This is exactly what I need to monitor my health, and frankly I feel very lucky that my oncologist, Dr Canada, has sent me for a variety of tests.

(Over the next month – October to end of November, I am/was schedule for an abdomen ultrasound, chest x-ray, and chest MRI. Also, I’ll be applying for genetic testing, but haven’t yet received those papers.)

So – these tests, as Zsolt reminds me, are fantastic. But what’s not fantastic is the dread.

Dread sucks. Uncertainty sucks. Not immediately having my results sucks.

So today was the abdomen ultrasound and chest X-ray. Please, let me tell you all about them.

I arrived at the Queensway Carleton and Zsolt, Dan and I found our way to the x-ray department. Oh my goodness. You can certainly see that these folks don’t have big money. Unlike the Ottawa cancer centres (designed to be like day-spas and brimming with fountains, sky light and marble), x-ray looked like the basement of some Halloween-themed mad doctor’s clinic. Blue walls with scuff marks, people clustered in a tiny wait area, low ceiling, bad smell . . . here they will give me a scan that is essential for maintaining my health, and yet all I can think of is how crowded it feels and how the walls need repainting. Apparently, as a cancer patient, I’ve been a little spoiled.

Anyhoo – Daniel hightails it out of the room to wait at Tim Hortons. Zsolt and I check in and take a seat. Eventually I’m called and a lovely nurse takes me into her ultrasounding room. It’s dim, I remove my top and stick on the gown (also ugly, and not so fantastic at keeping me modest). My bladder is BUSTING, since I drank tons of water an hour before as instructed, and the nurse says that is a good thing – the busting.

She squirts goo onto my belly.

(As I’m typing this, Zsolt just gave me a hug. He is my wonderful.)

She squirts goo onto my belly and begins the scan. This lasted about thirty minutes, partway through I was allowed to pee (whew) and all the while I attempted conversation.

Me: So, what are you scanning?

Her: I’m scanning everything, your uterus, ovaries, bladder, liver, kidneys.

Me: Hmm, I remember my first ultrasound, the doctor looked at my breast on the screen and knew it was cancer. Though she didn’t tell me then.

Her: Yeah, we’re not allowed to say.

Me: Hmm.  Though she knew on the day. Any chance you can say something?

Her: Sorry, I can’t say anything in case it’s wrong.

Brutal. So I just laid there the rest of the scan thinking, what does she see? And not knowing. Beside me, for company, was a baby poster. Babies and ultrasounds . . . well, I don’t want to get depressive, but babies and ultrasounds are what I used to imagine when thinking about blue goo squirting onto the belly. Not this other stuff.

So who knows how today went? My hope is that everything is fine, fine, fine. One possibly good sign is that when she scanned my ovaries from outside my body, she said:

“Okay, I got quite a good scan of your ovaries so I’ll give you a choice. Normally there’s no choice, but I have quite a good image. Normally we insert this device into you, and scan your ovaries from the inside. But this image is clear enough that it’s not absolutely necessary. You can decide.”

So here is what I think. If there were any problems with my ovaries or uterus, she would have insisted on doing the ‘inside’ scan, right? Cause that makes all kinds of sense. But she gave me the choice, as though it wasn’t necessary, as though everything looks fine.

I asked her to do the inside scan regardless – because I was already there and already gooey. And I’d hate to go back to that stinky x-ray waiting room unless absolutely necessary.

And then I had the lung x-ray, but that takes about two seconds and there was little time to worry over the state of my lungs.

And then we left the hospital.

Ever since today’s hospital adventure I’ve been . . . hmm . . . unsettled. You know? I’ve been . . . ruffled. Frankly, someone had better tell me soon that everything is fine, fine, fine and write me a clean bill of health. Someone needs to do this soon, otherwise I might get a little more than ruffled.

The good thing about scans is that  ultimately they can give relief.

The bad thing about scans is that sometimes, they don’t go your way.

But I think – I really think, that I’m fine. Today I am fine. Tomorrow I will be better. And in two weeks I’ll go knocking on  my family doctor’s door and get those results.

AH. Life is so sweet when we can forget, forget and just live on. But it doesn’t really work that way, eh? I guess not. Not in my case. Or rather, at least not today.

6 thoughts on “Follow up ultrasound

  1. Catherine,
    Thanks for your honesty as always! I can sooo relate. My turn comes in 2 weeks when I have a follow up mammo on my left (affected) breast. Waiting never seems to get easier. I’m sending you lot’s of good vibes for clean results. (((HUGS)))

  2. It is scans that found the cancer and I think we all have a little PTSD from the experience finding out that the scan has revealed cancer (when they did the ultrasound on me and knew it was cancer they told me immediately, interesting how other places and doctors will tell you different things). Scans can also give the peace of mind that everything checks out OK. My fingers are crossed that everything comes back great!

  3. Catherine,
    this sort of panicky waiting drives me mad, your imagination takes over and that little voice of anxiety cranks it up a notch. There is nothing to say to make you feel better. People blabbing on that ‘they are sure you will be ok’ but the thing to take away from it is that everyone wants you to be ok and everyone hopes and prays and sends you good wishes and crossed fingers and toes for you and all the other people out there in the same situation.
    ‘Life is so sweet when we can forget, forget and just live on’. Its the living on that is the tough and tingling part.
    good luck with the results.
    C x

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