Thursday morning, I have my morning appointment with Dr. Lin because Dr. Freedman is out of town. She’s backed up, so it’s half an hour of waiting on top of the hour I already spent waiting after my weekly blood draw.
I don’t mind because I read my book and get caught up on Codex threads, but sitting in the waiting room makes me tired. Nobody thought of human beings when they made waiting chairs. It’s a cliche joke because it’s true. Why? Why did someone decide chairs were going to be made the way they are? What person decided they wouldn’t accommodate the human frame, and then what long line of humans said, “Hey, that’s awesome. Let’s make this standard”?
Dr. Lin is a unsmiling Asian woman. She comes in and directs her eye contact at me. I feel scrutinized. It is disconcerting. She doesn’t smile the entire time, and I realize that it is a problem that we as a society expect women to smile.
She’s an oncologist talking to a cancer patient. Why would she smile?
Her bedside manner is a little off-putting, but she knows her shit. She asks me a couple questions, but it’s clear she’s familiar with me, even if I’m only seeing her for one appointment.
“I’ll get the results of my CT scan next Thursday?” I ask.
“Yes, but if anything is emergent, we’ll call you.”
We go home. Grandma and Grandpa are taking their day of rest, so they leave for Port Perry. The girls are being a little bit fussy, but I need to lie down from my big morning of sitting.
An organization called Nanny Angels provides nanny care to mothers who are going through cancer treatment. It’s four hours a week, and I scheduled our nanny to come for the afternoon starting at 1:45. Paris arrives when the babies are asleep, and Kevin and I leave for the hospital.
He drops me off and I go to Diagnostic Imaging. I’m familiar with it because I’ve been here about a billion times for ultrasounds of the babies. It’s a lot less exciting to be here today. The first CT scan was at the Princess Margaret-affiliated hospital, so this one isn’t as stressful, at least, since it’s familiar.
I fill out some paperwork, using much less care to describe my medications because of how they ignored what I wrote on my paper when I got my port put in. Name only, not dosage.
Nobody asks about them.
The technician calls me. She brings me into an intake room that has the comfy chemo chair. I’m excited because I figure they’ll have those in the CT waiting room, too.
She goes over my paper, and I tell her I have a port. She looks at it dubiously. I don’t appreciate that much. She says, “Um, let me have someone else look at it.”
The someone else is doing work on the computer. Technician hovers around her. She has to ask a second time for the woman to come look at it. “It’s new,” says Technician. “I don’t know if we can use it.”
New Woman looks at my incision. “When did you get your port installed?”
“Beginning of December.”
New Woman gives Technician a sidelong long that clearly said, What the fuck? That’s not new. “That’s fine. Your incision is just still healing, right?” She grabs onto the port. “It’s good. It’s not floating around. It’s solidly in place. You’re fine.”
Technician seems nervous about this.
I want to roll my eyes.
After finishing up my intake, Technician takes me into the waiting room. There they are: shitty waiting room chairs again.
She gives me a giant cup with a straw. “You have an hour to drink this. Even if you get done in ten minutes, we still have to wait an hour!”
“Okay, thanks.” I go sit down, take a couple sips, get out my computer, start working on edits to Warring Angel.
Five minutes later, Technician is back. “Are you done yet?”
She disappears for a while, and I start drinking a little faster. Last time, I didn’t get through it in time. Previously, it tasted chalky, but this time, it’s just like dirty tap water (as a friend described on Facebook). I peer inside, wondering if she even gave me anything or accidentally gave me… dirty tap water. It’s clear and looks just like water.
I work on my edits, I drink my water, and I post a picture on Instagram.
My acne is so horrible. Ugh. I hate it and it hurts and it’s ugly. I just feel so gross right now, even when I put on my Lipsense and leggings. And I have a bad habit of picking at the acne on my sort-of, almost bald scalp.
When it’s time to put the port apparatus in, I get into a hospital gown. Technician takes me around the corner and puts me in a chemo chair.
“Do you mind if I do training on inserting a port?” She tells me the girl’s name, and it completely goes in one ear and out the other, “needs to see how it’s done.”
“Sure.” I’m thinking, Are you the right person for this job?
But she gets it in no problem.
As she’s finishing up, I ask, “Do you do a lot of these?” I hope the question sounds innocent. I don’t mean to be rude. Then again, why am I so worried about being rude? I almost yelled at an old person the other day for being a dick, but that’s another story.
She says, “I see about two a week, so not a lot.”
How long have you been here?
“I’ll be back in a few minutes, and I’ll take you to do the test.” She walks off.
As I’m sitting in the chemo chair, waiting quietly, screaming comes from down the hall. Like, horrible, blood-curdling screaming. “Owwww, it hurts, nooooo, please, noooooooo.”
I try not to hear it, but I can’t not hear it.
Activity increases. A couple people walk past me. A woman in scrubs addresses another woman in scrubs. “She has nerve cancer in her arm. It’s hard to hold still. But her daughter said she’s on Ativan, and she’s not reacting well, and they think that’s the problem.”
The screaming is going on and on.
Technician comes back. She smiles at me. “Come with me.”
I’m still trying not to hear the screaming.
Thankfully, she takes me across the hall, where it is silent. A big machine waits.
She explains everything. They’ll be injecting the dye into my port. I’ll feel the warmth in my body and the sensation of peeing. Yeah, yeah. Old news.
I’m much calmer than I was the first time. It all seems routine, and I’m not worried. I want my results, I’m anxious for my results, but I’m not worried. I’m confident everything will turn out all right.
She has me lie down. “Your shoulders need to be below this line.”
There’s a wedge for my head, and she puts one under my knees. I’m comfortable, and she has me put my arms above my head.
“Follow the breathing instructions.”
The CT scan is quiet, much better than an MRI. A pleasant woman’s voice says, “Take a deep breath and hold it.” I comply. The machine whirls; the table moves. I keep my eyes closed. “You can breathe now.”
Technician says, “The dye is going in now.”
I feel it in my body again. The warmth sensation of not-really-but-almost-peeing. It makes my mouth feel strange. My jaw tumor kind of feels funny. The scan whirs.
When it’s finished, I sit up. My mouth is… itchy?
“I feel weird,” I say. They’ve warned us over and over about a possible allergic reaction.
Technician asks questions, trying to ascertain if it’s anaphylaxis, but I can’t help her there. My mouth is itchy, I don’t know if my throat is swelling. Yes, I can still breathe.
“Is it getting better?” she asks anxiously thirty seconds later.
“I… don’t know.” Fuck, the last thing I need is to be allergic to CT dye.
No, no, that’s not the last thing I need. But it would be complicated and a pain in the ass, and what do they do if you’re allergic to CT dye?
She deposits me in the waiting room and tells me I can get dressed. The screaming has stopped. She says, “I’ll be back in five minutes. I’ll be just around the corner if it gets worse.”
The itching dies down, but my tumor is still hurting. It almost feels swollen, like the dye made it bigger. My anxiety heightens. It’s going to be fine, I tell myself. It’s just the dye reacting to the tumor, for whatever reason.
I google it. A bunch of pages I don’t want to read pop up.
Did you know that CT scans can cause cancer?
Fucking internet. I told myself not to google shit. This is why. Well, lesson learned for another couple months, I guess.
Technician comes back after five minutes. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ll keep you for another ten minutes, and then you can go if everything is all right.”
The time runs out, I leave, and Kevin is waiting for me outside the hospital.
The rest of the evening is… tiresome. Morrigan plays with Paris until her time is up at 6. Paris leaves, and Morrigan throws an epic fit for me after dinner. She doesn’t want me to clean her up. She wants Daddy to do it.
Except Daddy has two fussy babies sitting on him on the couch.
Phoenix has started doing this thing where she screeches instead of crying, whimpering, or whining. Like, screeching at the top of her lungs. And she refused her third nap, so she’s all tired.
The kids spend three hours exhausting us. My jaw tumor hurts–I think maybe the dye made it swell. I’m glad when the girls are in bed. Grandma and Grandpa get home, and we dump the story on them practically as soon as they walk in the door.
Poor Grandma and Grandpa.
Kevin sends me a text while I’m in chemo on Friday: “The people that did the CT scan fucked up and didn’t do your head”
Me: “What the actual fuck.”
I have a feeling this is Technician’s fault.
I call Kevin. They wanted to schedule me two weeks out. “No,” he told them, “she’s supposed to have the third week of chemo off, and if you don’t do the scan for two weeks, she won’t be able to do that.”
I now get to go through the entire thing again on Sunday morning at 9:30.