After being diagnosed with breast cancer, all doctor appointments become a big deal especially since the drugs I’ve been on have side effects. It can be terrifying.
Last week, I went to an OB/GYN appointment and a wrist and knee follow-up. I worried they all could go south, like in the Deep South of hell where it is as hot as hell since that’s what it is. After having several surgeries, I want to avoid any more of them at all cost. I scheduled a facial afterward, my first in years, as a reward.
OB?? Yeah. I got my period for the first time in three years on December 29th. My OB/GYN had told me to come right in if I had ANY kind of bleeding after ONE year. Full on sad, depressing PMS for two days should have been my first clue.
I’d been on Tamoxifen which can mess with hormones and is why my period probably stopped in the first place. I switched to Anastrozole this August since my oncologist believed I was post-menopausal and Tamoxifen has some cancer-causing side-affects. It caused night sweats and hot flashes.
After being off Tamoxifen for a week, the pit in my anxiety-filled stomach disappeared along with the other symptoms. To say I was stoked was an understatement. Anastrozole can cause osteoporosis. Not as bad, but still bad. Did you hear I broke my wrist?
The whoosh of bleeding and my “Oh, shit!” moment happened at night while binge-watching Homeland. I wasn’t about to go anywhere. Instead I did what anyone would do to calm her nerves.
I Googled it.
OH, MY GOD. WHAT A MISTAKE! I freaked and thought I would bleed out while sleeping that night. I almost called my family to say my goodbyes, but figured that would be way too dramatic and they would be annoyed if they worried all night and I survived.
When I was still alive the next day, I called my doctor. He and the phone nurse assured me as long as the bleeding wasn’t uncontrollable, I was probably okay.
It turned out to be a period, complete with a trip to the grocery where I was tempted to proudly tell people, “This box of tampons isn’t for my daughter. It’s for me. Haha!”
Yeah, I know the bleeding could indicate a lot of bad things. But I had an endometrial biopsy last September. Don’t worry. It came back negative. Last week’s appointment was scheduled back then. My doctor was taking precautions. According to him, a biopsy is usually good for one year.
Doctors don’t fool around if cancer is on your permanent record. That is a very good thing. I like the pro-active approach.
During my follow up appointment, my doctor said he would be amazed if I started getting regular periods after all I’ve been through. You should have seen his face when I said, “I hope I’m getting my periods again. My wrinkles won’t come in as fast.” I must be in the minority…of one.
Did I mention that he rescued me during last summer’s biopsy?
Last summer I had a routine pap and pelvic. My OB-GYN Physician’s Assistant thought my uterus seemed larger when examining my womanly innard skinnards. She ordered a pelvic ultrasound.
Well, how do I describe this? Hmm. They put a condom on it.
Yep. It was interesting. I cracked jokes with the male nurse the whole time.
Did you know that medical professionals (and probably some horrified amateurs) have found hair and teeth growing in organs? I told him to swear not to tell me if I had anything weird in my uterus. I’d have nightmares that some kind of alien would gnaw through my gut.
I found out later, there was something growing in there. I had to come back in for a biopsy.
My calcified fibroids used walkers and seeing eye dogs and my uterus was three times the normal size. Fibroids are no big deal, but I saw red flags pop out of the physician assistant’s head at the thickened lining. She would perform my first endometrial biopsy. Knowing I have a tipped uterus, she said she’d be careful.
OH, MY GOD! IT HURT LIKE HELL! The PA thought that giving me shots to numb it up would be worse than the biopsy. WHY???? It felt like someone cut my cervix with a hedge trimmer. After squirming and crying while she stabbed me with the straw-like stabber thingy a zillion times, I told her, “I can’t take anymore of this. I’ve had my boobs cut off and some of my knee bone and cartilage amputated and they were less painful. I am out of here!” I shouted.
She begged me to stay and retrieved a doctor and a nurse. At first I thought the nurse came to put me in restraints, but she held my hand. I was surprised they didn’t give me a bullet to bite down on. The doctor shot me with Novocain or whatever miracle drug that numbed it up. I didn’t even feel the shots and didn’t know he had performed the biopsy until it was over.
By that point I was in shock and the terminology jetted its way from some other galaxy. “So I heard I have some asteroids in my universe,” I said, once it was over.
They cracked up laughing. “Yes,” he said, “You have two of them, but we are more concerned with your lining thickness.”
He asked me, “So what happened? Why wasn’t she (the PA) able to do the biopsy?”
“She really sucks at it.” I meant it.
They laughed. Later, I cared about hurting her feelings, but I was really pissed at the time.
After all that, you can imagine how I felt about having another biopsy. C’mon guys. It’s a biopsy, which had all its own connotations. I really just cared about the pain. This time, I booked the doctor with the gentle hands.
While driving to the appointment, I felt like a dog going to the vet. Not my dog. Roxy only remembers the biscuits and can’t wait to go inside for her shots. My legs shook while they were in the stirrups. I broke out in a cold sweat. But just like last time, I didn’t feel a thing.
I’m not really worried about the results. If they come back positive, it is just the start of something since I tested negative a few months ago. I can get rid of my uterus. I don’t need it for anything.
The good news? He said my uterus hadn’t grown and may have shrunk a little and my lining seemed a lot thinner.
“Yeah, because I got my period,” I said in a sassy tone.
He was skeptical, but ordered a menopause test even though my blood chemistry may be screwed up from the anti-cancer drug.
I told my husband, Danny, that if I keep getting my period, I might end up in medical journals. I imagined buying tampons for myself in my nineties and bragging at the check stand.
“They would want to impregnate you, so you can be the oldest woman to give birth,” said Danny. “I would have to reverse my vasectomy.”
I groaned. “I have nightmares all the time about being pregnant. That is never going to happen again.”
My broken wrist and knee follow-up was the next day. Being on a drug that is supposed to mess with my bones made me nervous. My orthopedic surgeon had mentioned the worst-case scenario where the bone floats and doesn’t heal. Danny and many of my friends had wrist surgery. It’s funny how all the horror stories arise when the possibility exists.
During the appointment, the radiologist interrupted and wanted a word outside. *gulp* She was concerned about the “dissolved bone” at the fracture line, but my orthopod assured me it was healing well. Three more weeks and I am free to be WILD. The exact day of wildness? February 17th!
My surgeon gave me a shot of steroids hoping my knee’s tissue would calm down and stop squeaking and grinding. I’m still waiting for it to shut up.
Then I went to my facial at Alchemy Face Bar. After all of the stressing out, I looked forward to regaining the same youthful appearance I had in my twenties.
My new esthetician, Laura, asked if I had any concerns. I told her I had SIS.
She scrutinized my face and asked, “Cysts?”
She looked closer and said, “I don’t see any cysts.”
“SIS,” I said, exaggerating the S’s, hoping I wouldn’t spit on her. “Shitty Irish Skin.”
I couldn’t believe she hadn’t heard that one since she is in the business.
After a very relaxing appointment including a nirvanic facial massage, I held back telling her about the ancient fibroids living inside my youthful uterus or that I was still getting my period and why I want to keep it that way. I didn’t tell her about my squeaky, grinding knee, but I did tell her about the metal plate inside it because she asked.
Laura said my skin was in great shape, so I told her, “Now that I look like I’m in my twenties, I’m heading to downtown Denver to go clubbing.” I danced to my car. Okay. I’m on doctor’s orders to be careful, but I danced in my head.
The weight of hellish worry has lifted. I still haven’t received the results from my tests, but no news is good news. So far, no more surgeries. I survived January with my body and sense of humor in tact. My six-month cancer checkup is coming up in two weeks. Bring it on February.
2016 is looking up!
UPDATE: The biopsy came back negative. YAY! And the drug swap got resulted in a final period. Oh, well. I’m stocked up for everyone else with a younger uterus. HA!
How do you face adversity? Do you hate going to doctor appointments? When was your last facial?