Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Spin Cycle

I am tired tonight.  Faith is energizing, fear is exhausting.  Fear kept me awake last night.

What is “odd” to me is it seems the things I would think I SHOULD be most fearful of, are the things I am actually the least fearful of.  This five-week “journey” started with a simple mammogram. (Not scary. I’ve had them every year for the last seven years)  Next, the ultrasound--EASY! The core biopsy was next. (Not so easy, and pretty painful.) The outpatient sentinel node biopsy surgery followed the core biopsy. The radioactive injection prior to the node surgery was painful, but  I felt no pain while I slept through the surgery.  I had surgery on Thursday and was back to work on Monday. Next, a PET scan. The injection was a bit painful, but the scan a piece of cake. And finally, the MRI. Again, painful injection--easy scan.  And this was the first scan of many that I actually got to listen to music!  (I had to wonder if insurance would cover the music--oh well!)  I am now waiting for an appointment for hopefully my final biopsy, a needle biopsy to my acetabulum (hip/pelvic area/bone).  No lie--I don’t know a lot about this procedure yet…but this one sounds painful and probably does not include music.

The past five weeks of needles, IV’s, radioactive injections, blood draws, surgery and scans have been difficult.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  For lack of a better expression, these weeks of procedures have “sucked.”  Waiting for results from biopsies and scans has been difficult.  The upcoming needle biopsy sounds “exceptionally uncomfortable” to me (understatement). 

It would be a flat-out lie to say I haven’t been afraid during these procedures and scans.  I have been afraid.  But there have been only two nights so far, when my mind would just not “shut down”.  It’s as if my mind is just stuck in the spin cycle of the washing machine.  So many thoughts, feelings, questions, endlessly swirling around in my mind.  Wishing I could just “pull a plug” and put my mind to rest.   Last night was one of the nights I was stuck in the spin cycle. The other night was December 23rd.  They were the nights before my appointments with the oncologist.

The  fear factors:  needles, injections, biopsies, surgery, waiting for results.  That stuff just sounds scary.  Meeting with the oncologist to “talk”?  Why would that keep me awake at night, stuck in a spin cycle?

Fear of the unknown keeps me awake. Procedures have parameters.  The needle will be so-and-so size.  I will be injected with (fill in the blank). The incision will be “this big”. The imaging will take “X” minutes.  And, hey, guess what? You get music included with this scan!  I KNOW what to expect with the procedures. I KNOW they will only last for a certain amount of time.  I KNOW I will manage to get through them.  The more I KNOW, the less I fear.

The oncology appointments, however, I fear.  There are way too many UNKNOWNS.  On my first appointment, I thought I’d walk out with a complete diagnosis and a treatment plan.  Nope.  Nada.  Not enough information to do so.  More testing, the PET scan and MRI.  Ah! What more could be needed?  In five weeks, pretty much every part of my body has been poked, cut and scanned.  Surely now the oncologist would have all of the information he would need to diagnose me and create a treatment plan!  Right?

Wrong.  Today I found out about the plan for the needle biopsy.  The results from this, hopefully final, test will allow him to conclusively stage the cancer and make the treatment plan. 

Enter the fear factor again--the UNKNOWN.  Stage 3 or 4? Big difference.  What will come first? Surgery, radiation or chemo?  Anna wants to know if she could “get this.”  Luke wants to know if I lose my hair, if it will EVER grow back.  Jesse just wants “it” to go away. (Yea--ME, TOO!)  How well will I tolerate treatment?  How long will each treatment last?  How big will all of these  medical bills be?  When will I be back at work?  How will my LOVED ONES get through all of this? And finally, is insurance actually going to pay for the music with each MRI scan--or will that be billed separately?

Tonight, I am left with the fear of the unknown.  I’m not sure when my next truly sleepless night will be.  I don’t have another oncology appointment scheduled yet.  I am tired tonight. No, that again, is an understatement.  I am exhausted.  My “spin cycle” hasn’t quite stopped yet.  There are still way too may unknowns.

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