Just a Quick Medical Update Before We Get On To More Pleasant Matters

Just a quick status update about the last hoop I had to jump through before my surgery–and before I get out of town for a blessed week of not thinking about anything related to medical procedures, needle sticks, expensive high-tech imaging equipment, or insurance benefit notices.

Yesterday I got the call from my doctor's office that my bone scan was clear. I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. Not that I'd expected anything otherwise, but twice in the past three weeks, I've had routine pre-op medical tests come back with completely out-of-left field results. I'd be expecting ABC and they counter with, "hey look, we found XY and Z!"

So, as you can imagine, I wasn't exactly footloose and fancy free as I stepped into Nuclear Medicine to have my bones scanned from head to toe on Monday. Again, not that we expected to find anything. This was merely a precaution, to make "110% sure that the cancer hasn't spread before operating."

As the test progressed (a relatively easy one, all things considered–I just had to lie there while a 2'x2' panel traveled the length of my body) I actually found it quite interesting. There was a screen over my head that I could watch the scanner outline my skeleton in ever-changing dots that looked like a galaxy of stars against a black background. It took all of twenty minutes. After a couple of standard single shots of the pelvis and chest area, the tech stepped out to confer with the radiologist to make sure the images were good.

She came back a few minutes later and said I was good to go and as I gathered up my stuff to leave, the other tech came back and said Dr. Kim wanted another view. Hmmm, okay. So I lie back down and try not to imagine the worst as they have me raise my hands over my head to separate my sternum for the extra images. I asked if this was in response to something the doctor saw, and they assured me no, this was fairly routine.

So when an elderly man in doctor's scrubs who looked a lot like he'd fit the bill as Dr. Kim came into the room and sat in front of the computer on the side counter and began to study the screen VERY INTENTLY, a little freak-out began to simmer in the pit of my stomach. What is he looking at? Are those glowing orange, green, and red orbs on the screen even me? Why are they conferring in hushed tones? Hello! I'M RIGHT HERE!

No one said anything to me. It was almost like I wasn't even in the room. And as I got up to leave, I asked the tech, within earshot of the doctor, in my calmest voice, "Is everything okay?" Of course he said yes, and sent me on my way.

Let me say at this juncture, that up to this point, every single interaction I've had at the hospital and the associated medical offices, from scheduling, to reception, to techs and doctors, has been outstanding. They all get high marks for "bedside manner." And it's not that the folks doing the scan were necessarily unfriendly; they just didn't take into account that the woman on the table, having her umpteenth medical procedure because of a breast cancer diagnosis, might be silently screaming when a doctor comes in for an up close and personal scrutiny of who knows what!

Long story too long already, a good talking off the mini-ledge by my personal medical advocate convinced me that radiologists are used to dealing with images and not so much with the people behind them. Good to know. She also reminded me that, should my cancer indeed have spread, it would have hit the lungs first and the bones last. My chest x-ray (taken what seems at this point like six months ago) was clear, so there was comfort in that thought and I returned to my usual modus operandi of not worrying about something until I have something to worry about.

Even so, the word yesterday that the bone scan was A-OK was very welcome news. At last, two days before leaving on vacation, I felt like I could let all this cancer crap go and truly look forward to getting away.

Now, somebody pass me the sunscreen.

7 thoughts on “Just a Quick Medical Update Before We Get On To More Pleasant Matters

  1. Glad to hear you have some good news before you go off on your trip.
    I can’t guarantee they would be receptive, but once you are back, you may want to contact the Quality Improvement staff at the hospital and give them some areas that they are doing well on and those you think need improvement. This isn’t something that is easy to fix, but they can’t do something about it if they don’t know.
    A lot of hospitals have started programs to make sure that even in the operating room, when patients are under anesthesia, the staff act respectfully, say positive things, etc. because of the effect it could have. If that is important for patients who “are under”, it should be even more important for those who are awake.
    Bon voyage. Be safe.

  2. That’s an excellent thought Alan. It hadn’t even occurred to me that you could give “customer feedback” to a hospital but it makes good sense.

  3. Hey Kathryn – I’m so sorry to hear/read the news about your cancer. But I’m so glad to hear the happy news that it’s been caught very early, hasn’t spread, you won’t need chemo/radiation, and that you get to enjoy your BVI vacation as planned.
    Thank goodness you have Jenny and her experience to help you through this whole process. Best, best wishes for no complications during the surgery and a speedy recovery! Remember, the more pictures you take on your vacation, the more you’ll have to keep you occupied over the next few months.
    Have a great trip!

  4. Thanks Ruthe and Alex. As anyone who knows me knows, I don’t need much encouragement to take lots of photos. But if I did, this vacation would certainly be it!

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