Trying to relax

I’ve made it to the weekend. Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I have a bone scan, CT scan and consultation (I may be given a surgery date). I’m trying for a dentist appointment next Thursday, and the Friday following is another acupuncture appointment.

So thank goodness for the for the weekend.  No hospital, no work, no tests. Nothing. Just my husband and I goofing around on a lazy Saturday morning.

This week has been overwhelming. Even Postie Chris noticed that I’m off. This morning he asked me, “Are you well, Catherine?” as I opened the door in my bathrobe. But in England they often ask are you all right? , and I never know whether they are serious or just saying hello. Am I all right? Do I look ill?

Anyhow, I told him I was mostly fine because talking about breast cancer at 8 am was not the start I wanted. Mind you, he was delivering a packet of breast cancer information from the BCC and an order from Amazon for Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul, so I guess the topic was unavoidable.

It feels as though many hands are reaching out and wanting to pat my back. Which is fantastic and supportive, but also a little tiring. Never in my life have I been good with receiving attention. And though a part of me craves that spotlight (to be a focus in something exciting and great), I generally run as soon as the stage becomes too warm. One way or another I find myself back and safe in my quiet life.

But the support is good, very good. I don’t feel so alone and that encouragement is strengthening. Though when it comes to advice it does get a little difficult.

Obviously trying all possible therapies is my best shot at beating cancer. But I can’t do everything to please everyone – and when it comes to that, it’s quite crushing to let people down. Crushing and frustrating and even angering. That look of disappointment is a difficult thing with which to cope.  And to know what people like my husband and parents are feeling inside is even worse – I can literally see the look on my mother’s face when I think of her worried. Which, by the by, is probably why it took me so long to tell them. Zsolt I couldn’t help telling, but at least I was able to stop that worry a little longer for my parents. However, they should have known earlier – and I do realize that.

I have these feelings swirling around inside, so thank goodness for the weekend. I need it.

Quick addition: Zsolt bought me an ‘easy pen’ for the computer. What a man! Now I can draw with more than just my fingers in Paint.

Getting an MRI scan

This morning I had an MRI scan. This afternoon I’m still in bed with nausea.


I just knew that corn cake with peanut butter was a bad idea before walking over to the hospital. My stomach was queasy enough before I stepped through the sliding doors of the Royal South Hants Hospital, so forget about it when I stepped into the MRI prep room. No good.

Generally a MRI is an easy test, I’ve been told. All you do is lay down, and there’s no taking sample of tumour cores with loud banging ‘guns’, or anything like that. But there is a needle require for inserting the catheter.

So I sit in the chair (I’m not used to having needles) and the nurse chats away as she ties my arm and searches for a vein. Then she inserts the needle, but cannot find any of my ‘tiny veins’. And they are tiny – at least the ones in the middle. My side veins are far more visible.  Anyhow, I look away as normal and ask ‘have you found it yet?’ She answers ‘no, not yet’.

Meanwhile the room is turning a little dark and these bright veins are filling my sight. In short, I’m passing out. Another nurse says ‘keep your eyes open’ and the other says ‘you’ve gone all white’ and I try and try to keep my eyes open.

Next thing I realize, I’m in my bed and I’m sleeping so beautifully and oh it feels good. But then there’s a slight pressure on the side of my face, as though it’s slowly being raised.

Damn! I come around and no, I’m not in bed. I’m in a chair, wearing a bathrobe, wrapped in a old cotton gown, and there’s the nurse looking with concern into my face.

They escorted me to a low bed and I laid down. All of a sudden a man’s voice is in the room. It’s a doctor, and he’s just run down from teaching a class to see whether I’m okay. (Meanwhile Zsolt is in the waiting room area, and he’s noticed a man in blue running into the room where I am. But he doesn’t worry, because he just thinks it’s a technician who is late for my scan. And he shakes his head at the inconsideration.) First thing, the doctor orders an ambulance. Then he gathers information, takes my hand, and has me given oxygen. The nurse explains the situation, and I butt in occasionally.

It must be standard procedures to send a fainter to be checked. But that would mean I missed my scan. Then he asked why I was in, and I said (before the nurse could answer) breast cancer, and I really need this scan.

Ultimately the ambulance was cancelled. I think it was established that I fainted due to fear, but my pulse came back down and colour returned to my face.

The doctor left, and Zsolt was brought into the room. Zsolt has been my hero. Literally, the man is my hero. He has been saving me over and over again since I’ve gotten this news. Just by being near, holding my hand, making me orange juice – it gives me strength. I had him talk with me while they put in the catheter (into one of my side veins this time), and that was fine.

Next came the MRI. It’s loud, and you lay there for a while, but overall it isn’t a big deal. At least, it wouldn’t have been if not for this morning’s peanut butter on corn cake. But Zsolt held my hand and I tried my very best not to move. Sometimes I sang while the machine banged and clicked and Whahhh Wahhhhed around me. They had given us both ear plugs, but wow, it was loud.  All the while I stifled the urge to vomit.

Now this is something with which I have experience. From long car rides to birth control pills taken too closely together, I am good at deferring a full-on ejection of nausea. So I waited for the tests. Finally, once it was all over, I was slid out of the machine like a pizza from an oven, and then, and only then, did I vomit.

The nurses were ready because I warned them. That was good too, because I’d already given them enough of a shock when fainting. Vomit all over the room would have icing on the unfortunate cake.

Anyhow, I got up eventually and changed, took Zsolt’s arm, called a taxi. (Poor driver thought I’d be sick in his car. Zsolt says he kept glancing over at me, particularly when I started rubbing my stomach and taking deep breaths. Ha!)

And now I’m home. I’ve been sleeping, and eating orange slices occasionally, and Zsolt is attempting to force-feed me tea. About an hour ago I got dressed and left for work, but then about two minutes later I called in sick, because I still feel nauseas. My boss was great about it.

That was my adventure in the land of MRI. With challenges of fainting and thumping and getting sick. But this is worth those troubles. The scan will show exactly where this cancer is within my body — and that is precious information.

Mri and the dizzy dye. That’s my day in a nutshell.

It’s time for a nap. 🙂