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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Day the Water Broke - Part 1

I honestly don't know what it was about Thursday (July 14th), perhaps it was that things were 'getting real' when appointments started, but I was not the verge of tears... a lot.

It may seem like my appointments encompass the whole day, but ironically they're an hour or two here and there. What makes them seem long is that every day is the same. Home with the kids, home with the kids, Ryan studies, Ryan studies, I got the doctor, I go to another doctor. With so much unknown still, each day is a new experience with another poke here and another prod there. Luuuccckily, the only bad experience (fingers crossed) was with that one radiologist.

Ironically, Thursday started out with having to stop by his office to get a disk of the ultrasound. Apparently the hospital called for it multiple times and they said they didn't have one. Finally they spoke with someone else and burned me a disk.

When I stopped by to pick it up on the way to my mammogram appointment, I was lucky enough to catch a quick glimpse and smile from my friend Jenn as she pulled into the same parking lot for work, then as quickly as the smile began, we both drove off in opposite directions.

After I dropped Ryan off at BYU to study, I headed to the hospital and because of some construction ended up walking in the main entrance.

At that moment I finally understood why most people don't like hospitals. The thought entered my mind, "So this is how most people feel about hospitals." For me hospitals have always been a place of safety, calm, healing. Maybe that was me just being naive.

As I approached the desk, my emotions gave way and I started tearing up and choking out words to the receptionist. It actually caught me a little off guard and I laughed nervously (something I find myself doing a lot of recently).

The hardest part is seeing the realization on people's faces when they are checking me in, look at my chart and realize ohhhhhhhhh, you have breast cancer.

Then they don't know exactly what to say.

Especially when they're young. My age.

The girl at the desk was friendly though and we tried to make light of the situation.

Then I sat down.

I oh so badly wanted to post about my feelings to Instagram, but just took a photo instead.

This was when I think it all started to hit me. I only say started because I don't know if this will ever hit me. Surgery day? Chemo day? Hair-loss day?

Maybe never.

Throughout it all I am receiving many, many comforting miracles and recognize that this challenge is an opportunity from Heavenly Father to testify of the Gospel, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the fact that this mortal life is a gift in which we are given challenges to learn empathy and other things, grow closer to our Savior, and really grow... that thought often comes.

I can't remember which day it was, but I had the fleeting thought of "why me" and my spirit immediately responded with "why not me?"

I know the Savior will continue to buoy me throughout this experience, and I am witnessing that every day.


When the tech said my name, I froze.


She called me.

She called me?

I'm having a mammogram?

How did this happen?

I got up slowly and made my way towards her.

She smiled and motioned me back through the door.

I took a dozen steps or so, felt a tightness in my chest and as tears came to my eyes again, I became paralyzed and unable to walk.

At that point the tech had already walked about ten steps ahead and rounded the corner. She must have realized I was not walking directly behind her, because she rounded the corner again, saw me, placed her hand on my back and said, "It's okay, it's going to be fine."

That's when I started to cry.

I'm young! I exercise! I don't smoke! I don't drink! I don't even drink soda!

Those were the thoughts as I babbled out, "I have breast cancer."

Jackie was her name. She was kind. She said it was going to be alright and I believed her.

After talking to her a little bit, laughing, crying, etc. and about what they were going to do, she had me get changed.

The emotions often take me by surprise. I see something or hear something and I come face to face again with my new reality.

It happened again in the dressing room.

That part of the brain that is having a hard time believing this is always the one that puts up the red flags and I imagine the one that is the culprit of the emotions.

I'm too young for a mammogram, right?!

I shouldn't be exposed to this radiation at my age, right?!

After getting changed, Jackie did the mammogram and honestly it was no. big. deal.

Geez louise why do people make such a big deal about them? But... maybe Jackie was just that good or that nice or I'm young... but seriously people, be your own advocate! If you are uncomfortable or it hurts say something!?

After the mammogram, I had to wait a little while for the radiologist. Because it was a diagnostic mammogram, I would get the results that day in person rather than a couple weeks later.

I asked if I could grab my phone and I could...

I documented my incredible style as well as the "Okay, I'm fine. It's fine. Brain work! I'm fine."

After grabbing my phone, I sat down to wait again.

It was at this point that my logical brain started to work a little harder and notice how comfortable Intermountain Healthcare makes patients. (Side note, last summer 2015 I did an internship with Intermountain's Corporate Communication office in Salt Lake, but at that point I hadn't really been a patient with them. After having Ellis at IMC and this, I've started to look at things differently.)

The waiting room had a built-in water cooler. It was tapped to the wall. That took foresight. How pleasant.

As I waited, my family practice called. They were checking in to see how I was doing and were reporting back that my routine, yearly-physical blood work had come back.

I. am. in. great. shape.

Oh, except for the my-body-is-trying-to-kill-me part.

They wanted to know how I was doing and told me "we're praying for you."

How often does your doctor tell you that?

Another tender mercy.

When the nurse finally came to get me for the clip placement, I was in a good place. We chatted and I expressed my frustration that the first radiologist had not place a clip during the biopsy -- something that apparently is standard practice. 

Go figure.

Oh well, I won't name names, but over the past two weeks, I've heard, "Ohhh, he used to work here ..." and, "He's an expert, but has no bedside manner."

Looking back, I was happy he didn't place the clip because the radiologist at the hospital was an expert in breast care and mammography and was the. nicest. man.

He talked to me about the mammogram and said that because it was mostly dense tissue (because I'm young) it's very difficult to read, but it's a baseline, so that's good.

They placed a clip (have I mentioned that I positively loooooovvvve lidocaine?) to mark where the tumor is (because Dr. Tittensor foresees that when we go in to remove it after Chemo that it will most likely be gone based on the fact that chemo works very effectively on grade-3, fast-growing tumors) and even though I wasn't supposed to... they let me snap a shot of the ultrasound with the clip placement. Apparently without the collagen that surrounds the clip (that will ultimately dissolve over time), one wouldn't even be able to see the clip on ultrasound.

We did one last mammogram image of the side with the tumor for a baseline, an that was that.

But before leaving, I broke down once more to the nurse.

My baby.

My baby that needs me and has only nursed for seven months has to bottle feed cold turkey. He won't take it.

In desperation and for advice had looked for people like me. Women with breast cancer who had had to emergency wean. I couldn't find them.

She looked so sad for me and said "Oh. I wish I could give you her name."

It gave me hope! And I said, "maybe I'll find her."

It gave me the boost that I needed that maybe, just maybe I should go to that support-group meeting scheduled later that night.

After the appointment, I made my way to where my mother-in-law had the kids at the park. 

It was peaceful. 

It was slow and calm. 

Ellis refused the bottle, but at least he was happy. 


Erin said...

Hi, love! Try the como tomo bottles. The only place I can find them is buy buy baby or Amazon but Ellie took to them right away when I had to dump the breastfeeding quickly.

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