Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This Post Has To Be Done

My eyes are swollen and my headache rocks my skull. I am seldom at a loss on getting information from the keyboard onto a page but today has been one for the books.

To start with, my history of being an oncology nurse is the biggest problem and I am quick to admit that. I've taken care of every kind of cancer patient. Most of the time, if caught early, it can be cured either by medicine or surgery if it's in an operable area. I know this. If we were all required to have for no charge,  full body CT scans, PET scans and colonoscopies EVERY year, a cancer wouldn't get the opportunity to grow and spread from one body part to another which is called metastasis.

When I think about someone having cancer in more then one body area, I automatically think of metastasis.

That is my explanation to you on what happened today with me.

 If you tell me your cousin had breast cancer and is a survivor, the oncology nurse in me whispers "they caught it early enough and it didn't metz". Colon cancer? Early detection, a colon resect and the patient is fine. I could go on but you get the picture I'm sure. I don't want the doctors to sugar coat any thing for me. I'm suspicious. I understand that you know survivors. I also understand about metastasis.

I was escorted into a holding room, changed into a gown and climbed aboard the gurney. An IV was started and a bag of Normal Saline was started at KVO (keep vein open rate).

The Klonapin I had taken earlier was doing what it does. My blood pressure reading on the monitor was the best I had seen in a long while. O2 sats were at 100 percent, pulse rate in the 60's. I could have been resting on a beach in the Bahamas. Maybe I should just live on this gurney. I'm so healthy here.

In a few minutes, I was wheeled into the treatment room. A full wall of windows afforded a view of the early morning sky, a few tree tops and the top floors of an adjoining building.

To the right the camera stuff and tubing hung for the doctor's access. I have no other clinical term to use for the equipment he uses. I have never worked Endoscopy.

The petite brunette, hugely pregnant was the nurse anesthetist; she  charted vitals and prepared to do her thing when the doctor arrived. Profernal (sp)  (the Michael Jackson sedation) was the sedative that would be administered. I asked cause I like to know these things. Again my nursing background demands I question anything medical.

The doctor arrives and we chat for a bit. He steps back out of the room and I turn my attention back to the anesthetist.
I watch as she pushes the plunger on the syringe and the milky sedative creeps down the IV line.

I open my eyes to a tall, blond female that wasn't pregnant. "Are we starting soon?" I asked. She smiled and said "You're in recovery."

That quick and it was over. No discomfort in the bowels. Air that was pumped in was being expelled. Within a few more minutes I was helped to a sitting position. When I could stand, the nurse helped me dress and the husband was bought back to collect me. We were guided into a small windowless room. A desk and two chairs left little room to walk around.

"The doctor will be in to talk to you soon." and that nurse left the room.

The wait wasn't long. It's a busy day in Endoscopy. He seated himself and looked across that desk at both of us and said "She has a large tumor and it looks like cancer. We haven't received the tissue reports back yet, but my experience leads me to believe it's malignant."

I was still feeling the effects of the sedative. No emotion from me. That would come later.

My husband said "What do we do now."  I don't remember any of this conversation.  The husband had to tell me later.

The doctor's reply was "Take her home and give her something to eat. I'm sure she is hungry." A nurse will be in with the discharge papers." The husband was shocked and numb.

Another nurse escorted me to the exit, holding firmly onto my elbow. I was still wobbly. The husband had gone ahead to bring the truck to the door.

I'm not going into more detail on the emotional roller coaster both of us were on again. When it hit,it was bad. I posted what I could on this blog. I was unable to even call the daughter.

All I could think of was the primary had finally been discovered. It had metzed to the breast and everything in between was infected too. I was overwhelmed with fear and anger. Why didn't the PET scan show this. Why didn't the CT show this? Why did we do all these tests.

You must remember I'm thinking metz. I don't care how many survivors anyone knows. If it has metzed from the bowel to the breast, everything between those two areas was affected.

The phone rang. It had to be a doctor. The number wasn't a number listed in my contacts. I answered it and it was the Nurse Practitioner from the surgeon's office. "Ms. Charlotte?"

"Yes?" I answered. I heard her say something about moving the mediport placement up a day. I was sobbing. She stopped and said "What's wrong?"

I told her about the colonoscopy results. She became quiet for a few beats and said "I'm sorry. We hadn't got the results from the doctor that did the test. We can fix this. You are going to be fine."

This wasn't what I needed to hear. I wanted the truth.

She asked if I wanted to talk to the doctor. I said "yes" and she asked if I wanted to wait till I felt better.

"No. I don't want to wait!"

"Come in at 345PM."

She got off the phone and went directly to the doctor (the surgeon). He called the Endoscopy lab and talked to that doctor then called in his son, an associate and the wheels started spinning.

Meanwhile the only person I could talk to was Louise. She understands my fear of metastasis. She came right over. We sat in the sunshine on the front porch and I wailed my misery and anger and fear of the organs that had to be involved. She listened as I vented about why the tests didn't show involvement. What good were they? Why would the doctors promise me I would not die from this breast cancer?

To cut this short, talking to Louise got me calmed down a bit because she UNDERSTOOD why I was so frightened. Metastasis is an ugly word in our world. I just needed someone that understood this.

We loaded up and made the appointment. Jill the Nurse Practitioner walked into the room, climbed up on the examming table and faced me.

I hit her with all these questions. She was very kind and patient and she said "The tests were correct. The PET shows the breast involvement and a thickening in the colon. The only test that will diagnose the colon is the colonoscopy. That's why we ordered it".

I was still focusing on metastasis (metz). When she realized why I was so frightened she looked at me and said "You don't have metastasis. You have TWO primaries".

Two primaries?  What's the chances? I know that a second diagnosis of cancer might seem devastating to some but to me it was a relief. The breast was a primary and the colon was another primary. No metastasis.

I'm scheduled for a colon resect next Thursday. The breast will be dealt with later.

The surgeon appeared and reaffirmed what Jill had told us. He said he suspected colon but didn't want to add to the breast diagnosis until the colonoscopy was done. Both are fixable he says. He also says this year will not be an easy one for me. You will have a lot to face but we are going to be here for you.

That's my story. I'm exhausted. I feel as those I've been run over by a bus. The husband, daughter and Louise have shed our share of tears for this week. I'm so thankful for my few friends and family here that are quick to be there for me.

It's Ambien time.


  1. Wishing the best for you my friend.

  2. Tears soothes the soul. Use them.

  3. Oh Charlotte my dear friend. I've been holding my breath all through this post, with my heart beating, and tears rolling. What an awful day. But reaching the end of the post, I'm letting out a huge sigh of relief. They have told you it can be fixed, and that is great news.

    Of course it's going to be a bloody awful year for you, and I wish I could be there to hold your hand sometimes. Thank goodness for Louise, April and your husband.

    You can beat this....much love xxx

  4. Thanks Dave. I'm actually on a calm path now.

  5. Ayak: As bad as it has been, I was relieved on the news of TWO primaries..not metastasis. One thing at a time..just an "extra" thing to attend to now. I wish you could be here too..but I wanna be all fixed up so we can go sight seeing!

  6. Buffalo, it's good to know you are there. Hang around..I like knowing you are there.

  7. Char know that I Am thinking of You So much i just am at a loss of words.

  8. I am so glad that is was not metastasis too. You have a right to cry and yell and complain and then just do what you have to do and get better. Here is a virtual hug!

  9. Only a few people call me Char. This has to be Ellen, Kathy or Karen. Don't worry about words. Clinically I know I'm going through the stages of grief; This blog is where I come to chart my life. It won't always be this depressing...there will be laughter and light and sometimes my silly patter. I log everything. So, thank you for taking the time to stop by. Could ya leave your name next time? lol

  10. Thank you are my very favortie person in Utah! are the only person I know there too! lol


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