Friday, March 8, 2013

It's What Makes You Special, Mom!

I will share a not-so-well kept secret. I have been under a great deal of stress lately.

Well, truth be told, I live in a perpetual state-of-stress. Okay, truth be truly told, I am a type AAA+++ personality. But, shhhh, that's a secret.

My stress levels fluctuate, however. I can go from mundane-daily-stress levels, to spiking to over-the-top-my-head-is-going-to-explode levels of stress (and back down again) within a matter of hours. It all depends on what goes into the hopper: a client in a gotta-save-me-now mode; battling within a judicial system that has forgotten that what's right and what's legal should not be polarizing concepts; a progeny who is having the worst day/hour/moment ever; a life/business partner fretting or sustaining yet another injury; or being stalked by a hospice director.

My stress over-flowed this morning. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say that I surpassed the brim of my personal carafe and ranted a bit, both internally and externally.

Included in the in-my-head rant was the following litany:

DMSO is supposed to exude a wonky smell for 24 hours and dissipate....WHY then, when I had a DMSO infusion I did not start to emit eau de sushi until 18 hours after, and still am 48 hours later?!

Why, when I am a functioning person working through and living with METS do I have a hospice worker stalking me?!

How is it that my oncologist gets testy when I push to have (what I think) a legitimate dichotomy addressed?! (I.e., summer 2011 pet scan identifies a reactive tumor, which is then biopsied and determined to be malignant; fall 2011 pet scan clears me of said reactive tumor ... saying that it appears I am responding to treatment; and early fall 2012 pet scan identifies same reactive tumor, and now says..."since tumor has not changed in size since summer 2011 must not be malignant." But, it was biopsied, and was gone, and then came back (and not biopsied)?)

Why can I not find an oncologist who will personally review my scans and form an independent opinion? (R.O. is my third onc.)

And then there is always the "David Byrne" question: "How did I get here?"

One of my progeny, who had a front-row seat to my over-flowing carafe, and with whom I shared that I am so tired of not being "normal," just patted me on my leg, sighed, then giggled and said, sagely..."but mommy, that is what makes you so special."

I laughed out loud. My carafe, again, was tolerable.


Friday, March 1, 2013

"The Break Up" ?

Did you hear the one about the woman LIVING and WORKING with METS?

This Woman walks into her cardiologist's office...and they "break-up" with her? 

So...this Woman wanted to see the cardiologist, but he was otherwise occupied. So Woman's appointment is punted to the cardiologist's #1 PA.

Because Woman had a particularly rough weekend, health-wise, an EKG is done with a tech before said #1 PA comes in.

PA walks in, sad and compassionate look on her face.

Prior, Woman had removed herself from the exam table and is sitting, like a real "equal" person, on one of the room's chairs.

PA sits herself, with her sad and compassionate look, on the step-up to the exam table.

"Hi...I'm Brenda PA".

Hi, Brenda PA. I am Woman.

"What brings you in today?

Um, scheduled follow up; bad weekend; hoping that the EKG proves husband wrong - that I did not experience a heart attack.

"Yes, I know. Are you still not willing to pursue a treatment protocol of chemo?"

That has been declined, several times; and off-the-table, since September, 2011. Moot topic. Did I have a heart attack?

"Do you have children? How many? What are their ages?"

Yes, three. Did I have a heart attack?

How are they handling your disease? Are they in counseling?"

Living their lives. No, why? Did I have a heart attack?

"Do you have a DNR or DNI prepared?"

Yes, DNR. Don't know what a DNI is. Did I have a heart attack?

"Good. Good. No, you didn't not have a heart attack. I have reviewed and discussed your situation, including what you experienced on Saturday, with Dr. Cardio. He wanted me to talk with you about the "H-word".

The "H-word"?

"He thinks that this should be discussed."

Excuse me, what is the "H-word"?

"It is really a good idea."

E-x-c-u-s-e ... me, WHAT is the "H-word?"


W-T-H - ????? WHY ????

"The pericarditis is just going to worsen because of your advanced cancer".

Yes, and so....................

"Well, we have to face the fact that your prognosis is not good, not good at all".

Oh, something to do with having metastatic cancer?

"(Small laugh)...pericarditis with advanced cancer...well, the prognosis is not good, the symptoms are going to get worse. We think that a referral to hospice would be smart."


By this time I have my little friends sitting on opposing shoulders. My little "angel" and my not-so-little "devil".  "Devil" is urging me to rip Brenda-PA a new one. "Angel" is cautioning me to just smile & nod and see where Brenda-PA is going to end up with this dialogue. "After all, this could be really good fodder for bitching blogging!" Ah, yes. You are right, "angel"...who's the devil now?
I  am not feeling so smart. I don't have time for hospice. It won't fit in my schedule.

"What do you mean? What are you doing?" (You mean, besides LIVING?)

Everything that I have been doing for the last 18 years.

How are you still working?

How could I not be?

"Really? Wow! How are you able to continue? (Because the alternative is...?) You are so calm. Are you afraid of dying ... Are you ready to die?" (Oh my!)

Brenda-PA, I am not afraid of dying. It is an unavoidable consequence of living. But no, I am not ready to die. I am not planning to do so anytime soon. So, I think I will take a pass on "ready-ing" myself to at the moment, at least this week.

"(Another small laugh) Are you so calm because you are in the 'acceptance' phase?" (Obviously not, as I am NOT READY to engage hospice services this week, or next, or the ones thereafter!)

I don't think so. I am just  too busy...LIVING.

"May I give you the hospice information? They are a wonderful entity. They are not all about grim-reaper stuff (did she just say that?). If I did not work with Dr. Cardio, I would work with them in a heartbeat (oh Brenda-PA is puny). I will give you the card of the intake director and make the referral."

. . .

. . . Brenda-PA plucks herself off her lower perch and leaves the exam room to retrieve the information. She re-enters exam room and meaningfully squeezes Woman's arm while she hands over the card and information sheet. Brenda-PA walks Woman to the front desk and hands the charting information to the clerk. Clerk looks at the paper and looks at Woman and Brenda-PA and asks: "Are we scheduling a follow up visit?"

. . . Brenda-PA, not missing a beat says (with the sad and compassionate look plastered to her punim) "Oh no, there will be no need."  .... Badadum!

I walk out the door wondering, and wonder still, did that REALLY just happen? WHAT just happened? Did my cardiologist just "break-up" with me? Was Brenda-PA a REAL person? I have had heart-wrenching (pun intended) relationship break-ups that made more sense. Talk about turning the classic break-up scenario on its head!
This time it was definitely "more about me" than it was about "them"! And where this relationship was going...well, let's just say I was not thrilled with the punch line!

Post Script:  In less than 5 minutes after posting the above, the hospice intake social worker called me on my personal cell phone. I repeat, with more vehemence...W-T-H???? "I would like to schedule a time for one of our hospice nurses to come out and do an intake. Would you like to set that up?"  No, I would not, but thank you very much! ~~Click~~