Monday, August 2, 2010

1 vein, 2 vein, 3 vein, 4

Whew, another day of being a pin cushion behind me. Because I had the lymph nodes on my right side removed I can't have any injections, pokes, or pressure. That leaves my poor left arm to provide veins--apparently not an easy task. I had my blood drawn when I first got to the hospital (vein #1), I then went for my MUGA and had a radioactive marker injected (vein #2), then after a half hour had an injection of a radioactive substance (vein #3). When I arrived at day surgery for my port insert I was sure to remind them (kindly but firmly) that you can't poke or take my blood pressure on my right arm--and veins are hard to come by on the left. As a result vein #4 was poked (after 15 minutes of having the elastic on my arm and the nurse saying "really hard to find anything here, hope I don't poke a tendon") and I had an IV inserted--after blood squirted everywhere and pooled next to my ass on the gurney.

Conscious sedation doesn't work when you have the adrenaline of a race horse. I was anxious because I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since the night before and it was already 3:30pm. I thought I was going to be mostly asleep, so when conscious was mentioned my anxiety spiked, and never went down. I was given "a lot" (according to the nurse) of medication but was still awake, crying, and talking throughout the port insert. Everyone was extremely nice and supportive, except the nurse who put some sort of metal instrument on my face over the sterile drape without acknowledging it happening or that I was terrified. It is crazy how disengaged people become once the "patients" face is covered.......

Here are some of the quotes from medical personnel:
"Oh does a nice 26 year old have cancer?"
"So how did you find out? I mean I am terrified to even think of it."
"I always freak out if I feel something different, I would just hate having breast cancer."
"Just breathe through this, the port is the easy part--remember you have to do chemo, that should invoke anxiety"
"26.......huh, does it run in your family? (no) WHAT?! That really is too bad."

Dear medical professionals--please shut up, stop tilting your head feeling sorry for me, stop patronizing me because of my age, stop projecting your personal concerns onto me when/because I am already vulnerable, embrace that I can make my own decisions, and don't give me unsolicited personal advice, or tell me how you would be dealing with it.

I find myself tearing up when professionals treat me as me--not as breast cancer. The doctors support staff that were there for the port placement did as such. They know I have cancer, they know I am getting a port for chemo. No one asks "why/how/what are you?" in a way that makes me upset. They look past the cancer and look into my eyes, take me seriously, and are supportive without being offensive. After recovery I had a nurse who was spectacular. I wasn't drugged up (see above paragraph regarding adrenaline), he asked how I found out that I had cancer (his aunt was diagnosed recently) and said he was encouraged by my strength. He said bad things happen to sweet people, and that the way I am handling it seems extraordinary. I told him it was because this stupid port was the last medical thing I had to do before chemo, so I was relieved that procedures were done.

Now I am home, swollen neck, more pain meds, and a port owners manual....


  1. I must say that's an adorable picture! I know what you mean about how insensitive people can be. Yeah, I have people ask me how Lindsay got brain cancer...Really?!?

    I so wanted to stop by St. Francis on our way to UW but we ran out of time. Can't wait to see you on Saturday and party with you a bit!

  2. "I would just hate having breast cancer." Wow.

  3. I love you and I must share an insensitive quote thrown at me today. So I inform Charlie's teacher that if she needs anything just call me, not John. John is flying out for a funeral today. Teacher's response, "Wow. A lot of people are leaving town lately. A lot of vacations." WTF, dude?

  4. A difficult day for sure, but one day closer to being cancer free. This is my vision for you,

  5. I love the photo. :) The shit that comes out of people's mouths astounds me.

  6. just a quick note to say i have been following along since patti shared your story with me. and even though we do not know each other, i just want to know i hear you and am sending light and love and hope as you walk this journey.

    (and i am putting another reminder out into the universe that medical "professionals" stop with the pity/platitude crap. goodness me. as though those of us dealing with big time medical things don't have enough to deal with. sigh.)