sarahsbeingfrank

Month: July, 2014

Home

Nancy delivered me safe and sound around 5 pm on Wednesday after making a stop at the DMV to get me a temporary handicap parking tag.  I was fairly stoned from the pain meds I took in anticipation of a painful ride home.  She got me settled, as comfortable as I could get and headed for home.  Cindy showed up shortly after and we chatted and she got me something to eat.  Nurse Jill (I have a lot of Jills in my life) swooped in around 7 to take me home with her.  I was in no place to disagree.  

Jill immediately took charge and started treating me like a patient in her home.  She charted my meds, amongst other things, anticipated my needs and got me as comfortable as I could get.  The next day was more of the same with the exception of when she had to leave, she put my crutches out of reach.  She knows her patient well.  

I don’t ever remember being cared for or catered to in this type of fashion.  It feels like I’m in some sort of bizarro world.  I’ve either never allowed people to or been in relationships that they just didn’t do that.  I cared for them.  When I was very young, maybe three at the most, I remember falling down an embankment into a gravel driveway.  I was skinned up and in the most pain I’d ever experienced to that point.  My leg was crimson red with blood and burned like it was on fire.  The way I remember it, my parents and their friends laughed at me and THEN tried to come over and console me.  I. Was. Pissed.  No way was I letting them get close to me after they laughed at me.  I don’t remember every letting my mother console me ever again although I don’t remember many situations over the course of my life that I wanted or expected to be consoled or more likely, that I would even give her the opportunity to do it.  Consolation was never big in my family, anyway.  You just sucked it up and carried on.

I spent Thursday and Thursday night at Nurse Jill’s.  She got me washed up, fed and took care of things I didn’t even know needed taken care of.  All of this while caring for her family, their activities, meals, etc.  Impressive, really.  But no big deal for her.  I tried to sneak to the bathroom in the middle of the night but she ALWAYS heard my crutches and met me at the bathroom door.  That woman is lightening fast and with better hearing than any dog.  I pity her sons if they ever try to sneak out.  Skill Level – Ninja.

Friday morning Sarah (I have a few Sarahs in my life, too) picked me up and shuttled me back home.  We spent the day at my house.  She was a little nervous to follow Nurse Jill’s performance but she was fantastic.  I promised that I would not tell her husband what a great caretaker she is.  She doesn’t want to raise that bar.

I’m starting to feel incrementally better and I’m learning how to navigate my world with one good leg and crutches.  My world has become very small, and very slow, for the time being.  I can’t drive.  I can’t hobble very far.  That’s OK.  It comes with the territory and that will be my life for a few weeks.  I have people who are helping me through it.  Sarah and I were discussing that.  There are always upsides to any situation…..gifts if we’re willing to receive them.  I’ve been able to spend some great time with several people I love and enjoy but haven’t seen much of in recent years.  Less-than-optimal circumstances and I can’t change those but I can thoroughly enjoy and laugh with those that are showing up to help me navigate this in so many varied ways, some behind the scenes and some front and center.  From mowing my yard to picking up mail, bringing me garden-fresh veggies, providing incredible meals, prepping my town home for sale, making my bed, taking orders, throwing me a kick-ass party, sending messages of support, dropping off small batch gin and tonic for the nights and fresh roasted coffee beans for the mornings, offering rides to and from Mayo, being available on-demand, making me a cane I could beat someone to death with in only two blows, or just spending easy time with me; fun, honest time.  And all the while, not seeming to mind that I have perpetual bed head and that I have adopted the funky, cheap rubber smell from my crutches.  Regardless, all efforts are important and appreciated.  If I haven’t given you a proper thank you for anything you’ve done, please forgive me and I will now blame my inexcusable behavior on the narcotics.  Now, who’s going to help me shave my legs?

Sarah took off after we had sushi and Nurse Jill showed up about an hour later to spend the night with me at my house.  I kind of like this.  I may need help for a very long while…  She got my dressings changed and the incisions looked good.  Two of them look precise and uniform but the top one, the one they did the most work through, looks like a shark bit me and they cobbled it together like a piece of hamburger.  After reading the operative report, I’m not surprised.  Jeepers, they did a lot of work through that hole.  She got me cleaned up again, comfortable in bed and told me a story.    

I talked with my mom today as I have every day this week, usually my dad, too.  She feels incredible guilt that they aren’t helping me more but I’m trying to convince her that I need to let everyone help me in their individual strong suits and that I will need them, my parents, down the line.  She did seem relieved that Nurse Jill and Sarah had been caring for me since she knows them and can appreciate their talents.  My mom is very concerned about the practical things and was blown away by the meal train.  She’d never heard of such a thing and I think was surprised that I had people that liked me enough to sign up to bring me food, really good food.  She understands that Troy, Kev and others are taking good care of my lawn.  She thinks that all of this is her and my dad’s responsibility but even if it was, they just aren’t in a position to help me in the way that they want to.  They are in their 70s and 80s, live out of town and if nothing else, my brother’s needs takes up much of their time on a daily basis.  It’s a continual struggle to convince her that my friends’ help is a huge blessing and that they, my parents, are not “worthless”.  

Jill took off in the morning to care for her family and warned/promised to come back to spend the night.  I enticed Jana to come over to adult-sit with promises of sucky pay and liberal swearing.  She made me breakfast and listened to me talk of the details of the last week.  We both had a short snooze and she took off to tend to the rest of her life.  I’m currently alone for about 4 hours which is the longest span of time I’ve had to myself in a week.  It’s been the extremely rare occasion that I’ve had people with me for that span of time over the course of my life.  I’m adapting.  I haven’t stabbed anyone and no one has stabbed me so I’d call that successful.   Carry on.  

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Slightly Swollen, Slightly Graphic

Three surgeons came in at 6:30 this morning to change my dressings.  I snapped a couple of photos, mainly because I hadn’t seen what was going on underneath all of the “stuff”.  I’ve chosen the least graphic one to share.  For some, you’ve been warned and for others, you’re welcome.

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Break a Leg!

Nancy picked me up Sunday and we chattered all the way to Rochester.  It was great to have dedicated time with her.  We had a wonderful meal at the hotel on the patio and a peaceful evening.  I got some texts and phone calls.  One asked if i was nervous.  No.  I just want it done.  I knew I was in good hands and the rate of deterioration of my leg was concerning.  It needed to be addressed now.

We got to the hospital around 8:15 am and went to pre-pre-op.  They put me on a bed and wheeled me over for more X-rays.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that….gotten wheeled around.  It was kind of spooky and I felt the gravity of the situation.  I couldn’t see the person pushing me.  It felt like I was just floating around hallways with no control over where I went or the rate of speed.

I ended up in pre-pre-op until 12:30.  It was going to be a long day.  I hoped the surgeons and their team were not tuckered out.  I was their second surgery of the day.  When they wheeled me out of pre-pre-op, Nancy said “break a leg!” and then laughed her wicked laugh and I cracked up, too.  I was in pre-op until 1:41 and then moved to a room to receive a nerve block.  Then, on to the operating room.  It was surprisingly big with very high ceilings.  No gallery as some of my friends had wondered.  Probably 8-10 people in there hustling around when they wheeled me in.  They had me climb onto the table.  Deep breaths. My procedure started at 2:46.

I woke up, kind of, in recovery and have a very foggy memory of the surgeon telling me things went well.  I got to my room sometime between 7 and 8 pm.  I had a great nurse who kept things quiet and didn’t mind that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  He checked on me every hour for a few hours and then every two.  I was a complacent patient.

I woke up for good around 3 am.  I felt quite alert.  No pain but I wasn’t moving.  The nerve block was doing it’s job.

Three surgical residents paid me a visit around 7 to check in on me although they wouldn’t give me any information.  They said Dr. Sim likes to do that.  No one gets to steal his thunder.

Dr. Sim and three of his surgeons came in around 8:30, all dressed in very sharp suits, to go over the surgery with me.  It went as expected although they were ready with a backup plan and a shiny new hip ready to put in.  They cleaned out the cancerous lytic lesion as well as possible, insertion of rod through the femur, insertion of cross rod into the ball of the hip and two cross pins just above my knee and then filled with bone cement.  He gave me pictures of them.  Then they were gone.

At some point I realized I had a catheter in.  Surprise!  I was happy not to have to get up, though.  I wasn’t in pain but knew it was going to be very different when I attempted to get out of bed.  I also have the nerve block in my back, an IV in my hand and a pulse ox taped to my finger.  I have never had so many things attached to and coming out of me.  All of this is quite foreign to me.  I’ve never spent the night in a hospital.  I’m very healthy….with the exception of a nasty case of the cancer.

Marty, the physical therapist, came to work with me late morning.  Let’s just say we both got a surprise.  The rest of that story is a whole other post.

Dr. Loprinzi, the medical oncologist, paid me a visit to discuss systemic treatment.  He presented my information to Mayo’s Tumor Board the week before and got some interesting feedback.  We discussed my options and are going to start with two hormone receptor drugs, a follow up PET scan in two months to see how they’re working and go from there.  If the cancer is shrinking, we’ll continue.  If not, we’ll start adding in chemotherapy, probably from the taxane family.  I like this approach.  One thing at a time.  See what works instead of dumping everything into me and not knowing what kind of effect each drug/chemo is having.  I also expect to continue with radiation on my thoracic spine and eventually my leg after it’s healed from the surgery.

PT Marty came back that afternoon and we had a nice, slow walk to the nurses station and back, me with a walker.  I can put full pressure on my leg since it’s as reinforced as it will get but the cut muscles and bones hurt when I try to use them.  I have a long way to go.

One of the surgeons came in after dinner and we talked about me going home on Wednesday.  Unless I completely screw something up, that looks likely.  Riding in a car is going to be interesting.  I’ll be keeping the pain meds close.  I still have to get through PT in the morning and graduate to crutches and prove I can do stairs.  Getting in and out of bed is probably the most painful thing I now do.  I rode my bike 50 miles on Saturday.

This is what my life has become for the time being.

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With the exception of the Activity of the Day:  Dangle!

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Backwards 7 And Bone Cement, Coming Right Up

Sunday I headed to Mayo.  I met Monica at Boondocks (fitting) off the interstate and she shuttled me up, around on Monday and back down, catering to my every whim.  Pity Monica.  

Two weeks before, I talked with Drennan who recommended her medical oncologist at Mayo.  She put in a call to him and he called me back that evening.  In addition to seeing him, I also requested an orthopedic surgical oncologist consult.  

I arrived shortly before 7 and unloaded and registered all of my scans and reports with Admissions.  Moving on to Labs…the line to get poked was impressively long and I got to see an interesting array of people, none there for happy reasons.  I looked like I was in better health than 90% of them but I’m guessing many of them do not have terminal conditions.  You just never know, do ya.  Next up, mug shot.  We squeezed in a cup of coffee and then back for my first doctor appointment.  

I liked Dr. Loprinzi from the start; a straight-shooter that also has a sense of humor.  He was thorough and meticulous.  I spent about 90 minutes in his office (the first time) and we covered a lot of ground.  He expects to present my case to the Tumor Board next week.  Until he finishes his deliberations, I’m going ahead with radiation on the large lesion on my spine this week in Des Moines.  It’s causing me pain and I think the pain is spreading.  A chemo regimen for 3-4 months in conjunction with anti hormone receptor drugs (indefinitely) is likely. But first, I need to get the bionic leg.  

Dr. Sim and his team also impressed me with their approach, absorption of information and then return of recommendation.  I spent a couple of hours with him, various members of his team, some visiting doctors and Dr. Loprinzi again.  It was quite the party.  Not the same as Saturday.  I love picking their brains and discussing the medical aspects but not so fun when I think about why.  After getting more X-rays of my hips and evaluating the damage, he suggested cleaning out the cancerous lytic lesion as well as possible, reaming my femur down to my knee and then inserting a rod from my knee up into the ball of the hip, affectionately known as the Backwards 7 when it’s done in the right hip, and then filling the void with bone cement.  It will immediately set and be as strong as it’s going to be assuming it doesn’t shatter during insertion.  If things go well, the only rehab I should have is to make sure I can get around with crutches (that could be a problem) and that I’m mobile in general.  Pain management will be the main concern.  The caveat is that things could be different than expected when they crack me open.  If so, it could be a more invasive and extensive surgery and possibly a partial hip replacement or whatever they deem necessary.  Whee.  

Dr. Loprinzi is optimistic this could be a years instead of months or weeks situation.  There are no promises as we haven’t seen how the cancer, or the rest of me, will respond to treatment but it was good to hear him say that.  Quality of life, side effects of treatment, length of life….all of that is speculative.  Except for the chemo.  I know that will suck.   

Drennan also recommended I meet with Linda Miller who is her breast cancer mentor. She’s a sweet, spunky woman who has enough spirit to light up any room she enters.  We talked of a few women she knew that were a couple of years into a metastatic breast cancer recurrence and what their lives are like.  Some of it was hopeful, some was daunting.  Maybe that’s just life in general if you think about it too hard.     

We were able to accomplish everything that I and the doctors wanted to in a day so Monica and I got to head home that night.  I was exhausted, completely spent.  I’ll go back for the surgery next week.  In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare for surgery, prepare for coming home from surgery, settle logistics to and from surgery, get in for radiation, work, ride my bike, keep myself fed, watered and rested.  I have my hands full. 

Thanks for reading.  ~Sarah

PS~This was on one of the drawers in the exam room.  I have a lot to learn about medicine.

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When the Keldermans throw a party….

Jill approached me a few months ago about having a little something to celebrate me being ten years cancer-free.  Her brother Clint and his wife Rachel are members at Wakonda Country Club and offered to have it there and so it was.  Two weeks before the party, I was given the news of incurable cancer.  What to do, what to do.  I wasn’t sure what my mindset would be, if I’d already be undergoing treatment and feeling poorly or if people would be able to enjoy themselves.  The circumstances changed but the party was the same.  Carry on.  

We were picked up by the Keldermans in Shaq to escort me to the party.  If you don’t know what Shaq is, I don’t even try to explain it.  It’s best just to see it.  Thanks for the photo bomb, Jeff. 

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Gary, aka GK, “made me a little something”.  A piece of metal on it’s way to being a truck axle was machined into a cane (pimp stick) and painted pink.  Wow.  I’m a bit of a hazard just by myself but that thing makes me deadly.  I dig it.

People were asked to bring a picture of me that would make me smile if they had one.  I have yet to look at any of them nor looked at what was written in the guestbook.  I haven’t had a chance and I don’t want to rush through it.  The thought of it is daunting and I know it will be hard for me.  It will be beautiful and exhausting.  

At the party, my worlds collided.  I’ve mostly compartmentalized my friends for years.  Seeing so many loved ones from different facets of my life in one room, playing well together and having fun was a really cool scene to witness.  I knew they were all there for me and I felt it.  They mingled and made friends and figured out their commonalities which at a base level is their genuineness and ability to have fun.  I’m starting to find that a high percentage of them are also quite stubborn and increasingly bossy (!!!) but that’s another story. 

I don’t think I could’ve had a better time.  I sensed nothing but laughter and love in the room.  No pity.  The look of pity in your eyes will evoke an immediate and violent reaction from me.  No violent reactions, only laughter, absurdity, honesty, sharing of stories (and WOW were there a lot to be told, I have some very colorful friends), hugs, good eats and cold drinks with a beautiful backdrop.  Twas perfect.  

After we closed down Wakonda, we loaded into Shaq and rolled out to meet those who weren’t ready to call it a night at Star Bar.  Someone’s decision making skills must’ve eroded in an inverse correlation with the amount of alcohol they had because we later ended up at the Park Avenue Pub.  Not a bad place but I’m pretty sure they were trying to extinguish all of us with their drinks.

Thanks to all of the people that shared the evening with me and special thanks to Jill and her extended clan for making such a wonderful night happen for me.  As I said then, the only solace I have is the people in my life and because of them, I am fortunate.   

 

Musings….I’ve been deliberate about the friends I collect.  Nothing was more apparent to me than how good of a job I’ve done over the years of pulling amazing people close to me.  All are unique, clever, there-in-a-crisis and I know they’ll be with me for the long haul, however that plays out.  I know I can’t do it without them.    

Afterward:   The next morning Dave, Farner and I went for breakfast and all three of us were hobbling.  Me and my cancer-corroded femur, Dave twisted his knee getting out of Shaq and Farner….well, no one is sure what Farner did but his left foot was twice as big a his right and he had a big puncture wound right in the top of it, dead center.  He accused me of trying to infect him with “the cancer” but I’m guessing he got in a fight with the skeleton.

 

Girls Gone Fast

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Brains And Hearts and M5s, Oh My!

My life continues to be a whirlwind and I have lots of things coming at me non-stop; some good, some that aren’t my idea of fun.  My schedule is hectic and ever-changing for the time being.

Tuesday, Jones, Gene and Trish paid me a fun visit over lunch and Kim and Kev showed up to take care of my lawn. I took an easy bike ride after work and then dinner on a patio with Jana. Riding is much easier for me than walking at this point.  I’m noticing continued loss of power in my right leg but otherwise riding feels good and is a great release for me.  My hobble gets worse as the day goes on and the more I walk.  My leg is getting tweakier, too.  Certain movements will almost take me down.

Wednesday morning brought a brain MRI to see if the cancer had invaded my noggin.  I think I now have more pictures of the inside of me than the outside.  Later that day brought a visit from Jill Kelderman, aka Wifey or Dr. K.  I think her family recognizes my shared appreciation and affinity of high performance, well-engineered machines and her brother Jeff sent her off in his BMW M5 to see me.  Just hearing the low rumble coming down the street and around the corner brought a big grin to my face.  We had a full evening of heartfelt, spirited and absurd conversations interspersed with sushi, speed and a welcome home gathering for Sean and Matt, recently back from racing the Tour Divide.  Did I mention speed?  And corners?  My kind of therapy.

Thursday brought an echocardiogram in anticipation of ingesting some very toxic drugs that will damage my heart.  This is a baseline to see how the damage progresses.  No needle pokes, just lots of rubbing on my chest in a dimly lit room while I laid still.  I can’t wait for the next one!  Tina dropped off a cornucopia of vegetables straight from the garden and eggs straight from the hens and I’m excited to dig into them.  Another easy bike ride and dinner on a patio to fully enjoy the beautiful day rounded out my evening.  I slept well.

I received the results of the brain MRI and was told I have a normal brain.  That was a first.  No mass effect or ischemia which is great news.  I was also told it was quite sexy so that made me feel better after being told it was normal.  I now have proof of a brain AND a heart.  Maybe I’ll start carrying copies of my scans around with me.  It would’ve saved more than a few disagreements over the years with boyfriends and parents.

In addition to my treatment option research, I also read through my entire oncology file going back to 2004.  Most of it I’ve either seen or have copies of but a few things were new.  One report stated that I have almost a complete disintegration of my first left rib due to the cancer.  I found that to be kind of a bummer.  Things need to happen quickly and I anticipate they will after I have all of my consults with Mayo next week.

How am I doing?  OK.  Pretty good, considering.  I’m tired.  I’m appreciative of the people in my life.  I’m grateful the weather has been good and enabled me to spend time outside and on the bike.  I’ve had lots of friends around and that’s been great but I’m also trying to balance that out with my loner tendencies. I’ve never been comfortable accepting help but I’m trying to come to terms with it.  It’s an adjustment, for certain.  Besides work, research, loved ones and sleep attempts, throw in a car that has decided to have issues and a phone that had a failed attempt at suicide, but left with a shattered screen, to keep things interesting.

I have some fun planned this weekend and I hope you do, too.  Thanks for checking in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Positive….Triple Positive, To Be Exact

I had a great weekend.  Friday I went for a 50 mile bike ride with Jana and Jill.  Being on the High Trestle Trail with hundreds of other people may have not been prudent but as I’m want to say, I’m free to make my own bad decisions.  It was like being in a parade where everyone else was drunk and on bikes which may not be the best place for someone with a compromised femur.  We stopped to assist a woman who was face down and unconscious by the side of the trail.  Jill provided emergency care, Jana got the ambulance to the right spot and I barked orders….imagine that.  I think she’ll be just fine.  Other than Jill smacking me in my biopsy site, all fun and no pain for me.  That evening brought an impromptu grill out at my place and enough fireworks to ensure my neighbors hate me for a very long time.  Saturday was connecting with a few folks one-on-one and letting them make me incredible food.  I’m definitely not going to waste away anytime soon.

Sunday I talked with my parents about what had transpired in the last week or so but left out the word incurable.  I cannot do that to them yet.  They have been through so much in their lifetime.  When I dealt with cancer 10 years ago, my father had just finished treatment for it three months prior.  He was diagnosed this March with lung cancer (lifetime non-smoker) at age 83 and had half a lung removed at the end of April.  He’s recovering well but it’s been a lot for them/us to manage and the surgery itself is quite traumatic for someone his age.  *Public Service Announcement – get your house checked for radon.*  My mom’s only sibling, her brother, died from colon cancer at the beginning of June.  This doesn’t even touch the daily struggles of assisting their handicapped, adult son, my brother.  So, I told them of my scans and that I had cancer in my bones and that surgery on my femur was imminent.  They’d been concerned about my yard getting mowed since it was causing me pain to do it.  They were trying to figure out how they were going to get here to do it for me.  They were incredibly relieved to hear how my friends had rallied and stepped in to help me and that I have a network of people to assist in whatever I need.   But, it did not stop their eyes from getting watery, some tears being shed and the look of grimness on both of their faces as our family deals with the current blow.  They are tough, they’ve had to be, but to say it pains me to know they have to be tough because of me is a gross understatement.  The thought of them witnessing my demise is the hardest part of this whole situation for me.

After I made sure they were in decent spirits, considering, I hung with a large portion of the Kelderman clan.  If you know them you know that it was an entertaining, exhausting and very real time.  Jill and her family had flown in so the timing of her visit was good considering the circumstances.  She and I think quite similarly so it was nice to be able to laugh at the morbidity of this with her in addition to reminiscing about our long, and um, colorful history as friends.  Even though she’s a neuropsychologist, it was not the kind of therapy you get in an office.

Monday brought results from the bone biopsy…confirmation of breast cancer and markers of ER+, PR+ and Her2+.  This is good news.  There are treatment options for all of those.  None will cure me but they have the potential to buy me time if the cancer is willing to respond to them.  I’m familiar with several of the options and a few are new to me.  Digging into the research and understanding the drugs as best I can, deciding which ones are a good fit and that I’m willing to endure now starts in earnest.  I’ve already taken one of the chemo drugs before, taxotere, and the mention of it’s name gives me a dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It was probably the toughest part of my treatment last time.  Some of the other drugs are not typical chemo and don’t have the standard side effects…not that they don’t have their own kind of fun that comes with them but they won’t render me bald and scorched on the inside like taxotere.  I had a preliminary discussion with my oncologist about all of this yesterday and now we’ll see what Mayo says.

What’s next?  One more scan, a brain MRI, rounding up all scans and correlating reports and taking them to Mayo where I’ll see a medical oncologist and an orthopedic surgical oncologist.  I don’t have bone cancer but I want a consult with someone who performs surgeries on cancerous bones on a regular basis.  Once I discuss with them, I’ll determine a plan of action and it will start quickly whether it’s at Mayo or in Des Moines.  My concern for my leg is growing and it needs to be addressed, tout suite.  It probably didn’t help that a bar stool collapsed underneath me on Sunday and further tweaked my leg but luckily didn’t snap it.  Note to those buying new chairs: you may want to ensure all of the screws are in before you have a person with a leg bone ready to break in half sit on it.

How am I doing?  That’s the most common question right now.  I’m OK.  I’m as good as I can be. I have people to laugh with and lean on.  I’d be a lot better if I didn’t have incurable cancer eating away at my bones and looking for vacation spots in my lungs but I can’t change that.  As my dad says, do the best you can and let the rest go.  Easier said than done but I have access to great doctors, brilliant minds, options for treatment and friends that have made all the difference in how I deal with and manage this so I know I’m fortunate.  Many do not.  I have to adjust expectations….for everything.  My life, especially in the short term, is going to have a shift in focus.  Beyond that, I don’t know.  I think the odds of me dying in a fiery, sudden deceleration are still neck and neck with dying a slow, painful death from cancer.  Anyone who’s experienced my driving of a car or motorcycle might put their money on the fiery crash beating cancer to the punch.  In the meantime, I need to study for my advanced degree in cancer while balancing that out with work, loved ones, attempts at sleep and an ever-growing to-do list.  Thanks for checking in.

Gloom has paid me a visit…and it made me laugh.

This showed up in my backyard.  Fitting.

Bone Biopsies Are Not As Fun As They Sound

Since I was up at 4 I needn’t have worried about setting the alarm.  I pulled into the parking garage and took one of the first spots since they’re allocated to cancer patients.  I can look forward to that for the rest of my life.

I got to keep most of my clothes on which was a switch.  The nurse started an IV and I asked her what she intended to put in it and she listed sedatives and painkillers.  I told her I didn’t want them and she recoiled slightly.  We chatted about why they give them and why I didn’t want them.  She left the IV in but no drugs.

Cindy showed up and hung with me until they took me back.  Once in the imaging room, I had another conversation with the techs about the fact that I wasn’t having the typical IV cocktail, only a local on the skin. They were a bit concerned since they were the ones that would have to deal with me if things went bad.  I got the impression things could go bad.  I crawled on the CT machine and they pulled my pants partway down and doused me with antiseptic.  She showed me a marker and said she was going to mark a spot where he was going to dig.  She then drew a line about 6 inches across the top of my glutes which prompted me to ask “what the hell is he planning to do to me?”  Guess he’d changed his mind about going in from the bottom, too, so-to-speak.  Probably for the best.

The doc came in and he was a big, friendly guy.  He asked me about my weekend and what I had planned.  When I answered, he realized I didn’t have any drugs in me.  He looked a little surprised and eyeballed the techs but didn’t say anything further.

I was on my stomach and looking to my left.  I could see the doc, all the techs who were watching us and the lady waiting for the sample.  He lined me up in the machine so he could see the particular cancer spot he was looking for on the screen and grabbed a tool that looked like it came out of Home Depot.  Large bore needle?  Looked like a nine inch nail with a handle on top to me.  He drove it into my left ilium and it felt like someone was jabbing me with a nail and then grinding it into the bone.  Oh right, he was.  He looked me in the eyes and said if I could handle that, I’d be OK for the rest of it.  I took that to mean the worst was over.  I was wrong.  He did the same thing three more times and then shifted his weight, got up on his toes and drove into my bone with even more force.  I could feel all of the grinding.  I could hear all of the grinding.  I could see faces as they watched me.  The lady came over for the sample and smiled at me and I politely smiled back as he was grinding away at one of my many cancerous bones.  He pulled the “needle” out of me and smeared the sample into the paper in her hands.

I had a continual blood pressure monitor on and I asked the tech if it went up as he dug.  She said it went down and that it ended with 97/48.  The nurse escorted me back to where I started. Troy had shown up, too, so he sat with me and we got caught up until they cut me loose.  We all decided we needed to have lunch on a patio to enjoy the beautiful day and the Fullers joined us. I kept an ice pack on my new orifice.  Instead of a limp, I now have a temporary wobble.

I expect the next three days to be void of doctors, tests, needles, scans, reports and hospitals and replaced with friends, family, bikes, fire pits, fireworks, laughter and maybe even some sleep.  Bring it on.