Monday, May 25, 2015

Get a Second Opinion

I have heard and read many places that when you get a big diagnosis you should get a second opinion.  I didn't do that.  I look at it this way, I had no fewer than 4 different doctors come into the room I was in down in the emergency dept of Resurrection Hospital tell me I had cancer before they had scanned me for the second time in a week.  Heck, one made Doogie Houser look old.  I was counting each one as a separate opinion.

My GP had given me her suspicions along with paperwork when I left her office on 1.16.15 and promised to put me in touch with an oncologist "that I would love".  Well, Doc, I've gone through 47 years of my life without an oncologist...I am not sure I really need one...can't I just get a shot or some stitches and call it a day?

Don't get me wrong, everyone was super nice to me while in the emergency room and while I had the CT with contrast and up on the cancer ward but I didn't belong there, I wasn't sick.  Actually I was.  I was very sick but we'll get to that later.

I spent the night of 1.16.15 in the hospital.  I am honestly not sure how people get well in the hospital.  I was placed in inflatable leg wraps to guard against blood clots...blot clots?!?!?  Why is this an issue?  When I got to the hospital, I didn't have cancer, high blood pressure and blood clots!!!  OK, I had cancer, but I most certainly DID NOT have high blood pressure and  blood clots.  OK, the cancer diagnosis probably brought on the high blood pressure.  See, you spend time in the hospital and your good health goes right out the window.

Have you ever experienced something scary and your mind races...I felt like my brain was qualifying for the Daytona 500...throttle wide open.  Funny, I could barely create a coherent thought, everything was just flying around in my brain aimlessly.

I was hooked to a BP monitor that took my BP every 15 minutes.  My leg wraps inflated and deflated every 5 minutes.  Nurses came in periodically...telling me to rest.  REST?!?!?  It was like a three ring circus in my room!!  I had sent my husband home to get some clothes, electronic devices, comforts from home and FOOD.  After several hours on Zofran, I felt like trying some food again.  While he was gone, several nurses and nurse's assistants came in...introducing themselves, trying to make me comfortable, and monitoring my every move.  I am not used to having so much scrutiny...more than one nurse asked if I was able to walk to the restroom.  Hello!!! I had driven myself to the ER!!!  When I think back to that night, I shake my head now and I can laugh about it.  Truthfully, I have never been so scared.

Saturday morning dawned...after I had gotten about 3 hours of sleep.  I asked my nurse if I could put on regular gowns are not my favorite.  She reluctantly OK'd my request.  I ordered breakfast...still felt like food.  After breakfast, I asked if I could get up and roam nurse again reluctantly agreed.  I started walking laps on the floor.  After the first lap, I realized I was the youngest person on the ward (by 20 years) and I was the healthiest person on the ward as well.  Maybe, everyone was reading the scans wrong and I really didn't belong there.  I was on my third or fourth lap when I saw my nurse looking around the ward...turns out she was looking for me.  I needed to go for a biopsy...back into the hospital gown, onto a gurney and off on a ride through the hospital.

Several people had been called into the hospital on this Saturday to do my biopsy; one to take the tissue and one to do a preliminary read.  I will never be able to say enough about the people I have dealt with at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago.  Every step of the process was explained to me as we went along.  No one pulled punches, if it was going to hurt, I was warned.  I think the one doctor sensed how scared I was and really took time explaining what he was doing.  It helped a ton.  The worst part of the biopsy process was laying on the hard table with the back pain I had.  Thankfully, about the time it became unbearable, we were done.

Back on the gurney and back up to my room.

By this time, Mom, my sister and my hubby had arrived.  My nurse was practically gleeful at the fact that I needed to spend a couple of hours in bed to make sure the puncture wound in my back from the biopsy stopped bleeding.  I had ordered a grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch and ate it while we visited.

Shortly after finishing lunch my attending physician came in to check on me and asked if I had seen Dr. Karides yet.  I hadn't and she left to track him down.  A few minutes later, he walked into my room and said ,"I hear you have cancer.".  I responded with , "And apparently high blood pressure as well".  Dr. Karides was the ONLY doctor who acknowledged the fact that perhaps the diagnosis had brought on the high BP!!!  Yes, he and I were going to get along just fine.  He handed me his card which had an appointment date and time on it.  He said he would see me on Tues and we would get going on my treatment.  By then he would have my biopsy and would be preparing my course of treatment.  I asked him if I was going to die and he told me eventually but not any time soon.  I asked if I could go home.  He saw no reason why I needed to stay in the hospital...he knew I wasn't getting any rest there so he got my attending back, and I got release papers and some meds...I got my very own supply of Zofran along with some ridiculously strong pain killers which I have never taken...I complain a lot here about the back pain and while at times it was unbearable, it always responded to regular OTC meds your garden variety Advil or Tylenol.  Oh yeah and high blood pressure meds. *sigh*

 As you read my story, you will discover, if you haven't already, I am a type A control freak.  When your BP is ALWAYS 118/76 you take offense at being told you have high blood pressure and having to take meds for it.  I can tell you that I have gotten over it and continue to take the meds.  I learned very early in this journey that I am the novice here.  This was new to me only.  The doctors, nurses, and techs...hell even the receptionists knew more about what was going on with me and what my future was going to hold than I did.  The last thing that Dr. Karides said to me in my hospital room was that attitude was more than half my battle.  I was going to beat this so I was going to follow instructions to the letter..,I was going to fight with everything I had...failure was not an option.

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