YesterdayPosted: March 31, 2011 | Author: pinkunderbelly | Filed under: breast cancer | Tags: antibiotic therapy, breast cancer, cancer battle, DIEP, follow-up care for cancer, good quotes, Houston medical center, infection, infectious disease, IV antibiotics, Little League, Methodist Hospital, MRSA, Napa, paper gowns, pathology report, Rorschach test, social drinking | 10 Comments
Yesterday was busy, and I was so occupied with celebrating the removal of the last surgical drains (HOORAY!), I didn’t fully process all that happened in the 3 doctors’ visits. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I learned that two of the three docs read or monitor this blog, and that fact inhibits me. It takes a lot to achieve that, as I’m not easily inhibited or shut-up-able. Yikes.
So if the docs are reading today, hellooooooooo! Hope you’re having a great day filled with smiling patients, easy procedures, and ever-flowing compliments. Y’all deserve it. As I gaze down at my newly created cleavage, I’m indebted to you once again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Back to the long day yesterday — it began bright & early at Dr Grimes’s office, and the adventure was kick-started as soon as we walked in the door–Amy and I wondered if someone had spilled a bottle of Febreeze, as there was a serious overdose of artificial freshness in the small waiting area. An older woman who was waiting to see Dr Grimes said she couldn’t smell a thing, darned allergies, and she really hoped it wasn’t her perfume. Amy & I giggled behind our hands at the idea of someone with no sense of smell piling on the perfume, hee hee. Guess what? It was her perfume! As she left the waiting area for an exam room, the smell went with her. Egads.
Dr Grimes was full of wisdom–even more so than usual. I told him that Amy & I took the “Do I Have a Problem with Alcohol?” quiz on one of his HIV pamphlets in the exam room. According to the pamphlet, “people with HIV are prone to abuse alcohol.” They don’t have an exclusive on that propensity, believe me.
So the quiz goes like this: Amy read the questions, and I answered.
- Do you lose time from school/work due to drinking? No, but seeing the “due to” construction misused makes me need a drink. It’s “because of” drinking! Sheesh.
- Is drinking making your life unhappy? No, just the opposite. It makes my life very, very happy.
- Is drinking causing a change or harming your reputation? Nope, it enhances my reputation. It’s all good. But would it kill ya to say “causing a change in or harming your reputation?” Seriously, who writes these things??
- Do you feel guilty or have remorse after drinking? No way, I don’t even remember having had the drinks. And another beautiful thing about drinking is that it kills those kinds of feelings (which is why we do it, duh).
- Has your performance at school or work declined because of your drinking? On the contrary, my drinking universally enhances my performances.
- Do you often drink alone? Define “often.”
- Do you ever black out or forget what you have done while you were drinking? What was the question?
- Does drinking make you feel strong or overly confident? Why, yes, it does. I couldn’t write this blog without being under the influence, every single time I write. People don’t do this sober, do they?
- Has your drinking negatively impacted your relationship with family, friends, and/or loved ones? No, and if they really loved me, they’d get me a refill.
- Do you drink and are under the age of 21? Yes, and no. But I like looking at people who are under the age of 21, especially cute guys. No harm in that. And again, can we get a proofreader here? “Do you drink and are you under the age of 21″ flows so much nicer and sounds so much better. It’s not that difficult.
With the quiz completed, Dr Grimes swept into the room and gave us a passing grade on it. We told him that the only problem we have with alcohol is that we weren’t drinking bloody marys as we took the quiz and waited for the doctor. He shared a quote with us from one of his college professors, a man whose first name is Chivas: “My definition of an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than me, and who I don’t like.” Well said, Professor Scotch.
Another funny thing: Dr Grimes was in the middle of the Chivas story when I started stripping down for the physical exam. I don’t think twice about doing this because I’m so used to it at this point, but he clearly doesn’t have a lot of patients do this. I bet he doesn’t have any who were slated for 3 physical exams in the same day. He was working hard to avert his eyes while he finished his story!
The other good quote we got from Dr Grimes came in the course of our discussion of how long it takes to treat and cure infection, and how much more patient I’m being than I have been in the past (he really said that, and I didn’t prompt him — it’s true!). I used to ask him as often as possible when I’d get off the oral antibiotics. I’d even have my friend Laura, who works with him, ask him for me. But now that I’ve had a flare-up and am back on IV antibiotics, in addition to the oral abx, I’ve stopped asking. I will stay on the oral abx as long as I need to. 231 days and counting, but not impatiently.
Ok, the quote: it comes from Dr Grimes’s grandpa, who said “Anything looks fast running past trees.” That’s pretty deep. I’m going to leave the interpretation up to each individual, like a Rorschach test in which everyone comes up with a different answer.
Let me know what your answer is.
Speaking of open interpretation, Dr Grimes gave me a copy of my pathology consultation report from the Big Dig. Fascinating stuff. I think it warrants a separate post. Don’t want anyone to get behind in their real jobs because this post stretches on too long. Plus, I need to look up a few more words and educate myself a little more. Either that, or have a drink so I can better ignore the multiple references of adipose tissue in the path report.
Thank goodness Amy was with me for the long day yesterday, both because I have proved to need adult supervision, and because I tend to miss half of what the good docs tell me. Not sure when I became such a birdbrain, but once I get in those exam rooms, I can’t seem to retain everything.
That, and I need a witness to some things like the fact that all three docs yesterday approved of my trip to Napa next week. Well, Dr Grimes’s approval was less than wholehearted; he basically said, I’m not going to tell you what to do because I know you will just go ahead and do what you want to do. I’ve learned that about you.” I think he coughed and muttered “tennis” a few times, as if we needed to dredge up the past in which there were rumors of me playing tennis before I was officially cleared to do so.
He said yes to Napa but wants to keep me on the IV abx right up until we leave, just to be sure. He thinks that whatever potential infection was stopped in its tracks before it had a chance to get ugly, hence the lack of progression. He was treating my symptoms but not seeing evidence of anything getting worse, so at this point the extra week of IV drugs is insurance. Anything that ensures me getting on that plane and heading to Wine Country is all right with me. He did tell me to try not to drink too much. Huh, yeah, right. I’ll give that a try. While in Napa. Uh huh. Gonna try real hard. Sure.
He let me go and said to come back in a month, but I had to make a return visit to the infusion room after I saw Dr Spiegel to get my next week’s supply of IV abx, and to have Nurse Shakey change the needle in my port and insert a new one. See why I need to drink, people???
On to Dr Spiegel’s office. Amy and I spent some time in the waiting area reading the pathology report, giggling, and admiring this week’s delivery of fresh flowers. Once back in the exam room, I stripped down again, the second of three times in one day. I guess that would be weird for some people, but it’s all in a day’s work for me.
Dr Spiegel was as stunning as always, and I wish I’d asked her who cuts her hair because it’s a great cut. She continues to be pleased with the healing going on in the multitude of scars on me, and gave me the ok to ditch the flimsy post-surgical bra and buy a real bra. A real bra! Wow. Haven’t had one of those in almost a year. That’s strangely exciting. What’s not so exciting was learning that my belly may stay a bit swollen for 6 months. There was a lot of excavation done there, so it makes sense, but I’m ready for everything to be back to normal now! I need some compression on my belly to help reduce the swelling. How ironic is it that when I had a bit of a belly, I never wore a “compression garment” but now that my belly has been relocated north, I need a girdle. Fine, whatever, I’d wear a suit of armor at this point if it meant getting rid of the drains. Hooray and hallelujah that the drains are gone. What’s really amazing is that the holes that held the drain tubing are already closed. Not healed completely, and still really bruised, but not open and not seeping any fluid. Yes, it’s another gross photo but this one actually represents something to be celebrated. As in, I’m celebrating the absence of any rubber tubing. And instead of cringing, you should be celebrating that you don’t have any either. And while you’re at it, cross your fingers for continued healing and no drama. And be glad you’re not wearing a “compression garment.” Not that I’m complaining. Just saying be glad it’s not you.
My visit with Dr Spiegel concluded with her blessing to go to Napa, have a great time, just don’t go swimming since the incisions and drain holes aren’t completely healed. Trust me, the last thing I’m going to do is anything to jeopardize the fragile peace that I’ve made with this complicated wreck of a body.
From there, we zipped back to Dr Grimes’s office to take care of the port maintenance and pick up the latest box of goodies, then headed out of the med center and down University, past the beautiful Rice University campus, to Second Silhouette, the nearest medical supply company to get my new bra. Yea, how exciting — getting a bra at a supply store. No boutique or Victoria’s Secret for me. No sir, I got to shop at a store that also sells prosthetics and diabetic socks. Yea.
That’s all right, I was shopping without any drains, so it was all good. We were in and out of there quickly, since we were starving, needed to raise a glass to the drain-free status, and still get to Dr S for the third and final appointment of the day.
After some libation and a quick but yummy lunch, it was onward for the highlight of our week: seeing Dr S. His new office is configured so that he has a little desk visible from the check-in window, which has no glass (love that). He was sitting at the little desk, waiting impatiently for his favorite patient and her trusty escort, who he likes the most! I think he glanced at the clock to remind us that we were late, and I’m sure he didn’t want to hear that the reason we were late involved adult beverages. We said howdy, checked in, then fled to the hallway. He wanted to know where we were going, so I told him: to go smoke a butt. No, really, just needed a pit stop.
After that, we got right into an exam room and I once again eschewed the paper gown.
Save that for a “normal” patient who isn’t used to stripping down multiple times a day. I’ve saved a lot of trees from my frequent doctor visits. Always looking on the bright side. And I’d much rather hug a tree than a person. Can’t help it, I’m just not very touchy-feely. I just hope that this new habit of mine isn’t permanent; don’t think I need to strip down for the allergist or the podiatrist.
Dr S joined the chorus of “yeses” saying go to Napa, girl, you’ve earned it. ‘Bout time you got out of town. I remembered to get a letter from him to present to TSA saying I have metal in my body (the port) so I may set off the metal detectors. If they are suspicious, I can always strip down and prove it. Amy showed our shared gratitude by washing his glasses, which we could tell were smudged when he gestured and pointed with them. That’s full service. Always happy to help make Dr S’s life better, easier, more joyful. When he mentioned my little blog, he suggested I say some nice things about him instead of always busting his chops. I may have to start a whole ‘nother blog just for him, and to contain all the words of praise and appreciation I have for him. I forgot to tell him that guest blogger Kayte VanScoy described him as “fit and attractive” and likened him to a combination of Justin Timberlake, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Karl Lagerfeld. What a mash-up!
We had some serious talk about Little League baseball and his 6-year-old’s stellar season so far. He knows I’m a big baseball fan, and we bonded over baseball about this time last year. He helps out with his son’s team and Amy and I both think that’s awesome. He has a seriously busy schedule and a very important job (well, the work he does for cancer patients, anyway; the more cosmetic stuff not as much), yet he’s proven time and again that his family is his priority. I’m sure the coach appreciates the frequent input that Dr S gives him, and he’s been known to make suggestions on the line-up.
After we solved the problems of the Little League team, our business was done. At least for that visit.