Friday, April 8, 2011

Every Stupid Scan

PET/CT scan completed this Monday. When the imaging center called to schedule the week before, they offered that Thursday or Friday. I said that I hated waiting over a weekend for scan results, so I scheduled for Monday.

Today is Friday. I have no results.

I wasn't falling apart about it until last night. I was fine Wednesday, thinking surely they would call that day. Then I remembered that my doctor only has hours at the office where I have been seeing him on Thursdays, so surely I would have a call the next day. No call by bedtime Thursday (last night). I left a message on the answering machine category under "test results" this morning. It is now creeping toward 4 pm.

Falling apart isn't the best description. I am tight. So tight I might burst. A balloon resting in uncomfortable proximity to a needle, waiting for the slightest breeze to blow it to doom. Every stupid scan I tell myself I will not get anxious over it. Every stupid scan I swear I can wait a few days for results. And every stupid scan I end up convincing myself that something has progressed while waiting for the call that says something incredibly underwhelming in comparison to the stress in which I have been wallowing, something completely non-informational, like the famous, "The doctor said your scan looks fine."

I swear that if I have waited this entire week for a nurse to call and tell me that the scan looked "fine", someone is going to be wounded.

By Wednesday I was thinking that something isn't "fine", and I haven't gotten that annoying call because the doctor wants to call me himself. Doctor only calls personally when it is bad news. My phone visits every room in the house that I visit. It rests in anticipation on the vanity during each potty break. Doctor has been known to call very late at night, so I don't give up until bedtime.

I answer calls from numbers I do not recognize early in the morning. So far I have had a wrong number (who at least apologized for waking me), a mis-dial from Life Alert (I hope the person who had fallen and couldn't get up didn't suffer needlessly for that dialing-finger faux-pas), and a "financial institution" to whom I lied that Shelli was not available. (Just leaving a number is NOT leaving a message, and if you can't tell a person what your call is regarding, then why would that person call you back? And seriously, if you can't pronounce my last name correctly, or even close, why shouldn't I deny being that person?) I never answer the phone when I don't recognize the number, but I don't dare not answer when I'm waiting for "SCAN RESULTS".

Friday afternoon, and I am torn between worse case scenario and having fallen through the cracks. Yes, I have the disc of the scan. No, I don't know how to read them. I look at them and bemoan the fact that fat shows on a PET and CT. I found a bright colored spot on what I assumed to be the liver area of my body, and discovered that the SUV is at the side of the screen. This bright spot had a much higher SUV number than the other areas. I whipped out the last CD from October's "fine" scan, and found it there, too; dashing my CT sleuthing moment of smugness. Mostly looking at scans I can't read of bones that all look fine to me just further frustrates, and I shouldn't do it. I didn't do it until yesterday. Had my scan results phone call come in a timely manner, I wouldn't have looked at all.

For the non-medical and non-cancerous among you, the SUV to which I refer is not a Tahoe or an Escalade. The "U" stands for "uptake" and it is the level at which the various parts of your body suck up the radioactive glucose now coursing through your veins, bones and tissue when partaking in nuclear medicine.

I did learn one thing while once again trying to glean anything useful from the Internet, however. There are four areas that suck that stuff right up, and therefore appear dark on scans. Brain, thyroid, heart and bladder. The spot in question is none of those four things. I know enough about anatomy, and not much more, to know that.

Do I call again before 5:00pm? I can't possibly make it through the weekend without popping.  On the side opposite the balloon-threatening needle are a wire dog brush and a broken bottle. My COBRA coverage expires May 1st. A year and a half ago I really did not think I would still be around today to face this insurance crap. I'm staring at applications that should have been completed and faxed this week, but scanxiety is crippling my already crippled ability to cope with such things; with the six month void between COBRA and Medicare. Wouldn't it have been easier, certainly more economical, to have gotten sicker during that first year and a half?

Also, there are more than 4 weeks between the third Wednesday of last month to the third Wednesday of this month. Food is almost gone. Bank account nearly on empty, medicine probably not at a level to make it to that magic Wednesday. I'm not going to count it today, that's for dang sure. On a day like today, I need chocolate milk and carbs. Not being able to run out and get some only adds to the helpless, hopeless, catastrophic feeling of balloon vs needle.

Yes, I am catastrophizing. How can I not? I've cried more this week than I like to cry in six months. I'm really starting to wonder if enduring to the end simply means not offing yourself to get out of it all.

Oh yes, they are in for some babbling at 4:30.



CancerCultureChronicles said...

Shelli - I can't even begin to imagine your stress levels at this point. Your post reminds me of all that is wrong with health care in this country, particularly for someone living with metastatic cancer. I'm pissed off and scared for you. I hope that somewhere amongst this huge pile that you are dealing with, there is a glimmer of goods news or assistance somehow. Meanwhile we keep blogging to get our stories out there and hope someone in power is listening. P.S. Have you heard of The Pink Fund? Can they offer any assistance?

Jenny (jaydub26) said...

I hope you get your scan results soon - I always say its the not knowing that does my head in. I've just joined the dirty pink underbelly world of metastatic cancer after 2 and a half years of treatment to try and keep me at stage 3c - have added you to my google reader. Are you on twitter?

The Dirty Pink Underbelly said...

Anna & Jenny, I just posted the results. I should have done that Saturday, after I posted them on Thank you for reading. I'm not on Twitter, but I'm on, this blog and Facebook.

The Dirty Pink Underbelly said...

Anna, I just checked out the Pink Fund, and it doesn't look like I qualify, since I am on SSDI. Thank you for pointing it out though!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelli
I admire your ability to remain funny in the face of stress....How annoying to get telemarketing calls when you are waiting for a really important call.
I know what you mean about the healing powers of chocolate milk--I always keep Quik powder on hand. Hang in there....

The Cancer Assassin said...

I can completely relate to what you are saying...My scan is tomorrow morning...
I want to turn you onto a thing called "ChipIn". I have used it with great success a few times now. It is a donation account you set up (easy set up even for chemo brain like me) and people donate to it and it goes directly into a PalPal account. You set up how long to run it, how much you want, what you are raising money for etc...Just google "ChipIn" and you will find it. Also I am on SSI as well and I automatically qualify for "food assistance" through my state (OR) and it helps immensely with the groceries. I would call your local DSHS and talk to someone there about it. They lady I spoke with even told me that I wasn't on the great state health plan (oregon state) I had the basic, she automatically upgraded me to the PLUS which covers more (like the naturopath supposedly).....No one ever even told me that there was more than one plan....
I too have those feelings of "it's just too much" and wonder why I continue sometimes.......It is so waaay ok to have your own Pity Party sometimes...We all need it! Especially facing what we are facing ( I do not have breast cancer, I have an "incurable" "inoperable" rare form of liver/bile duct cancer) but I know that it is definitely OK to feel like crap inside and out sometimes...sometimes I think it is the only thing that keeps me sane from time to time. Just remember that you are LOVED and you are not alone as long as I am around :)
Much love, light, joy and health to you!