The Sherlock of Speculation

The bone scan was today. I won’t go into too much since I already wrote a detail-rich post on bone scanning about 3  years ago. Except here in Canada they put an elastic around your feet and wrap you up in a cocoon-thing. No wonder some people get claustrophobic. But mostly it’s like being put to bed for a nap.

bone scan

Though one odd thing happened, and now I feel compelled to over-analyze it. Before the scan the technician was asking all kinds of questions.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Oh, do you not know why I’m here?”

“I just need to make sure you know.”

Okay. So I tell her. I’m there because of breast cancer.

“Where?” she asks.

“Right side,” I say.

Then she says something along the lines of “you have breast cancer on you right side.”

And I say, “No, I don’t know if I have breast cancer.”

“You don’t know?”

“I had it three years ago.”

Then she asks if I’ve had follow ups, operations, dental work, etc. And then says, “So why do you need this scan?”

To which I reply, “I wanted to get pregnant, and so they did a CT and found some spots on my lungs. I don’t know what they are, but we’re checking for cancer.”

That conversation went back and forth like a game of ping pong. She wasn’t rude or anything, but I got the feeling she was trying to determine whether I “knew what was happening”. But I swear I didn’t show up the scan looking like a hot mess, or falling over drunk, and wouldn’t it be so much more sane to completely forget the shit storm that has caused this anxiety than be able to remember every freaking detail?


The scan happens. It’s easy. If you are going to get a scan, I say, “Make it a bone scan!”

And afterwards, as I hop off the table and grab my shoes to go, she says the weirdest thing: “Good luck with your pregnancy and all that other stuff.”

Okay, thanks?

Do technicians know the power of their words? Do they realize we patients of paranoia analyze every sound that comes out of their mouths? “Good luck with your pregnancy and all that other stuff.” What does that mean, oh great Sherlock of speculation?  Has she peered into my future and saw that there’s no cancer? Does she think my oncologist is totally overreacting? Did she get distracted by the end-of-day procedures and just say the first thing that came to her mind, possibly relating to the concept of pregnancy because she too is trying to get pregnant?

I just don’t know, and I guess I’ll never know.

In other news, today Zsolt and I underwent the serious process of making pickles. It involved cleaning jars, pouring water into a pot then pouring it back into measuring cups since we didn’t know the quantity (or rather, I didn’t believe Zsolt’s guess of 5 litres that turned out to be correct), adding salt to the water, slicing the cucumbers after they were cleaned, adding dill, garlic and bay leaves  to the jars, sticking the cucumbers into the jars, and topping them with toasted sour dough bread. Then, everything was placed into the sun.

It’s been HOT these past few days. The apartment is above thirty degrees (Canadian for ‘damn hot’), we have been stinking and sweating and sweating and stinking – so what do you do in a heat wave? Make pickles.

In other news, we’ve discovered an amazing pond that isn’t too far away from the apartment. It’s really an old quarry that’s been filled with water, and the locals go swimming in the ‘pond’ – the whole thing feels like camp, and it’s the sort of exercise that I’m actually really happy to do. There’s magic in water, particularly nature and water, and I’m really thankful that in this time of crap and coping, there’s a place so full of laughter.

And that was today. Next week is going to be nuts: scans and meetings every day. But maybe, if miracles can happen, they’ll bring me some good news too. We’ll see. Even when I feel like I’ve lost my hope, little bits of it float back up and I think, “maybe, just maybe it will be okay.”

So here’s hoping. Pregnancy, pickles and ponds. That’s what I want. Oh, and that trip to the beach I mentioned before! 🙂

It’s my Birthday!

Guess what? Today I’m officially 31 – a word to my thirties: I’m here, I’m in you, and I’m not letting go!

make a wishYesterday was something. Zsolt and I had a follow up appointment with Dr Canada at the hospital, so that pretty much consumed my thoughts. We were going to learn about tumour markers and hear what could be seen on the lung x-ray.

So, we get to the hospital and are pretty much immediately taken into a consultation room. The nurse says she’ll pass me a slip after the talk with Dr Canada so I can book my follow up appointment. And I was like, “Follow up appointment?” in my head. Not aloud. Follow up appointments are never quite the words you want to hear in a consultation room, particularly after the life-shaking news I received last time.

Anyhow, she left and Zsolt and I waited. And waited. And waited. Part of me had been calm going in there, but as the waiting continued another part of me started kicking up and wanted to just leave.

“Let’s leave,” I said to Zsolt, pretending to be joking.

He pretended to laugh.

For some reason I decided to dress nicely for this appointment. Yesterday I was in my high-waist blue skirt, stripped blue t-shirt, and blue canvas shoes. Zsolt was in his red t-shirt, blue jeans and white shoes. Together we looked like the American flag, which I guess was appropriate considering it was July 4th.

Anyhow, just as I’m sliding down in my chair onto the consultation room floor with all the nerves, in walks Dr Canada.

He’s smiling, he says hello, he gives me a hug. (After I sit back up.)

And all along in the back of my mind, as we exchange words and he tells me a little bit about the anxiety he realizes I must be feeling, I just want to know about the tumour markers. Finally he lets us know that the markers looked ‘normal’, and the markers specific to my situation looks rather ‘normal’. And that was great to hear.

The X-ray didn’t show the spots, which probably means they are too small. This, he said, was a bit of a disappointment because now I’ll need to be bounced around in my referrals before we can find someone to actually biopsy the little things. Therefore, that means I need to keep waiting.

Fucking torturous.

And then we talked about possibilities and options and treatments and scary stuff. They may be benign spots that resulted from a lung infection some people in this area can get, so there’s that as a bit of hope. The biopsy will really reveal all.

Some scary things were also said yesterday. Things I already knew, but I guess you never want to hear coming out of a doctor’s mouth. Stuff like breast metastatic cancer isn’t curable (garbage!). Stuff like woman do die from this. Stuff like some women live one or two years while others live many more.

Stuff I don’t want to battle, take on, challenge, fight, deal with, or acknowledge. Stuff I’d rather not have to consider.  (And I think it’s total crap that we are slapped in the face with this ‘no cure’ crap! Science – GET ON THIS ALREADY. Oh, yes, you are. Okay – GO FASTER.)

He also said that if it is metastatic I can basically forget about carrying a child. And if it’s estrogen receptive, I should consider removing my ovaries.

However, we have a bit more hope after that appointment, and small in good no matter what. Small is good. Not being cancer is the best. Let’s shoot for the best!!!

On another note, a happier note, last night I attended a bachelorette party. This is my first every bachelorette party – I didn’t even have a bachelorette party when marrying the Zsoltster.

Dress code said black dresses. Hmm. I paired a black skirt with a black tank top, and said, “good enough!” Can you believe I own no little black ‘going to a club’ dress? I guess I can believe it – black isn’t my best shade.

The party was for an old friend I’ve known since almost always. (She was an excitable, imaginative and trouble-making kid, who I got to see grow up into a beautiful, hilarious, and compassionate woman. You would like her very much.) She and I grew up on the same street, and while we weren’t tied at the hip or anything, it’s been good to have her there to talk to when it’s needed, and I’m sure its visa versa. I’m so entirely happy for her to be marrying such a lovely guy, and think there’s a lifetime of laughter and fun ahead for that couple.

Now, I’m not a natural party girl – I’m kinda the anti-party girl, particularly as of late – so I showed up with my bottle off fizzy water and was quiet in my corner as stories were passed around about the bride-to-be, and quizzes were taken, beads won, salads and Mexican food eaten. I met new people and caught up with friends from high school. 🙂

It was one of those nights when I could forget about the hard stuff for just a little while, just long enough to laugh and think of how wonderful the world can be for us. So I’m very glad to have gone, very glad to have been there for that moment, and kinda sorry I wasn’t in the mood to dance on any tables – though that really rarely (if ever?) happens anyhow.

Now here is a small miracle I’d love to see happen:  Dr Canada wants to look at my previous post-original-diagnosis CT scan from three years ago. If he sees spots on that scan, then I’m okay because this is probably just a result of that stupid infection people can get. If he doesn’t, then I need to have a biopsy to see what is going on – and that has a long wait time attached to it, plus scary possible implications. I wasn’t sure whether or not to talk about this, but I’ve decided to do so since your good vibes worked last time, so I’m hoping they work again. Please do send some my way, if that’s okay. And in the meanwhile I’m hoping, praying and writing for good results in all areas.

Next week I drop off that CT scan.

Week after I have a bone scan.

We want spots on the original CT scan, and a clear bone scan. That two things would be good. Good would be GOOD.

And, it’d be an awesome birthday present too.

B-b-b-bone scan

Ah well, home again. The day has been conquered.

Basically, it went well.

I’ve noticed that when Zsolt accompanies me into any sort of consultation or treatment, he’s assigned a chair. This chair is always to the side. But the thing is, Zsolt is part of my treatment – when they talk to me they need to talk with him too.

So I’ve started asking him to sit beside me. For instance, today while I was laying on the bed about to receive an injection of radiation (I literally become radioactive) I asked whether my husband could come closer. The nurse had assigned him a seat in the corner of the room. She said no problem, and he came round by the bed. Because my arms were occupied he held my feet instead.

Quick tip: Anyone who gets nervous while receiving needles, I suggest you have a friend or loved one accompany you and rub your feet. What a great difference it made. Having that second physical sensation took my mind off the pinch.

That was stage one of the bone scan: get injection.

Stage two of the bone scan: wait.

Since we came on the bus, it wasn’t worthwhile to return home. Instead Zsolt and I struck out for the only green space available  – the cemetery.

I love cemeteries. They are a refuge from the busy, loud world. And while literally surrounding myself with death sounds morbid, it isn’t. Believe me, it isn’t. My father used to take me to old cemeteries and we would read the inscriptions. People display real sentiment on grave stones; love shines through a handful of words, so why be afraid? Anyhow, I love cemeteries. They are history and family and nature and art and love and culture.

We took a walk between the graves, and I sipped on my water (4 cups of water must be consumed within those two hours). Eventually we found a patch of grass that bordered a plot of land with large horses, so we spread out the blanket and laid back in the sunlight.   The horses scratched themselves on fence posts, and I watched the clouds drift by.

Too bad my bladder didn’t enjoy the scenery – it filled to the brim and I jumped from beside Zsolt, making a break for the nearest toilet.

Stage three of the bone scan: the bone scan.

This is easy. A breeze. Nothing to it.  Zsolt and I went into the scan room, he was assigned his usual ‘corner of the room’ chair and I had my scan. The plates come very close to the face, but if you close your eyes that isn’t a problem. The only demand is to stay very, very still.

Meanwhile, Zsolt was chatting with the nurse (tip: bringing a partner into the scan room means they can quiz the nurses while you are laying there unable to move. She told him our doctor has a very good reputation for breast cancer surgery, and has a particular interest in young people). And while Zsolt had his talk, I listened to “Think” sung by Aretha Franklin play over the radio and remembered that awesome scene from the Blues Brothers in the diner.   Fried chicken and soapy dishes, with awesome back-up singers snacking at the counter.  I love that movie.

And Bing! Scan’s ready. They kept us five extra minutes to confirm the quality, but everything was fine so off we went.

There you go – a full body bone scan in three stages.

Tomorrow comes the CT scan. I’m not sure what it involves (apart from X-rays), but so long as it doesn’t induce vomiting or black outs, it’s okay with me.