Thursday, April 1, 2010

A “2 P Day”

Don’t tell anyone, but it’s 10:02 am and I’m still in my pajamas. I didn’t even really wake up until 9 am which is pretty late for me since I usually get up around six o’clock every day.

However, after three days in a row of doctor appointments and the stress that comes with dealing with this sort of new diagnosis, I think I deserve at least a Partial Pajama Day. (Also known as a “2 P Day.”)

And Snowy’s not complaining. He’s tucked right in the chair beside me, sound asleep and not at all concerned as to whether the leg he is snuggled up against is pajama clad or jean clad. That’s what I love about dogs. They don’t worry about a whole lot of nothin’!

I’m also recovering from the non-fun MRI I had yesterday.

I’ve had three MRI’s in my life: two of them were breast MRI’s and one of them was a heart MRI. The heart MRI was completely non stressful. I was on my back, in a comfortable position and didn’t feel at all bothered by the noise, the confinement, nothing. I could have stayed in there for hours and hours with nary a worry.

But the other two MRI’s? Not so much.

Two years ago when I had the Big Cancer Scare (90 to 95% chance of having cancer in one or both breasts) I had an MRI done and came out crying. I just figured that it was a fluke and that for any future MRI’s, I would be fine. Not to mention dandy.


After having my IV started yesterday, I was rolled into the big MRI tube on my stomach with my right arm (the one with the IV) down at my side and the left arm crossed up and over my head. And that position was comfortable for, well, about two minutes. And then it was comfortable no more. My rib cage started aching almost immediately, being smushed up as it was against the hard table.

And the noise. Hoo boy. My family will very quickly tell you that I am hyper sensitive to noise. I will jump at the slightest sound and I can’t sleep unless my white noise machine is turned on to block out other sounds. Well, the MRI is incredibly loud by itself, but they also clamped a pair of headphones on me which was playing oldies music at a pretty loud volume. (In order to block out the MRI sounds, I guess.) I felt like my whole pitiful psyche was being assaulted by those decibels roaring through my brain.

And then I tried to move my right arm a teensy bit in an attempt to get more comfortable. When it ran right into the wall of the machine, the thought suddenly crashed into my brain, “It’s really tight in here. I can’t move. At all. I’m trapped!" (And I’ve never been claustrophobic before.)

Of course, the underlying stress, in addition to everything else, was the knowledge of what was actually being tested. The scan was examining me for cancer. Doctors were going to use that test to decide whether or not I do, indeed, have a contained cancer that can be successfully treated or whether there are other spots anywhere that could be more serious, more life threatening, more difficult to treat. So those thoughts were all scrolling determinedly through my beleaguered brain.

Then suddenly my whole body was as hot as fire; I felt sweat start to trickle down my face and panic start to trickle through my brain. And I thought, “I can’t do this. I can’t make it through this.”

In between the VERY LOUD scans, the tech asked, “Are you doing okay?”

Um. That would be a big negatory.

I replied, “If I come out for a minute, do we have to start the whole thing again?”

She said, “You can come out; you just can’t move.”

I said, “Well, I’m started to feel a bit stressed. (Understatement of the year.) Please bring me out.”

The table rolled on out and I lifted my head a tad (I was allowed to do at least that much) and gulped in some cooler air. The tech patted my back and said I was doing great.

Truth is, I wasn’t doing so great. I was quite convinced that I couldn’t go back in there for another minute, let alone twenty more minutes.

But I did.

Ten minutes later, my torso ached even worse, my back started to hurt, my sacroiliac nerve began to ache, sweat trickled down my face and I felt the beginnings of panic niggling around at the edge of my brain.

I was thinking, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this!”

At my anxious request, the very patient tech brought me back out and calmed me down a little, patting my back, letting me get some deep breaths. And once again, I was put back into the tube to face the battering noise, the panicked feeling of confinement, the minutes that had turned into hours, and the seconds that had become eternities.

When she finally brought me out for the last time, I was sweating, on the verge of tears and felt like every muscle in my body was screwed up into a tight ball. My face was flushed and sweaty, my hair was smushed flat in some areas and sticking straight up in others. I was not a very inspiring sight, on the inside OR the outside. (And yes, I probably WILL take some Xanax for any future MRI’s.)

When I finally got back into the privacy of the dressing room, I let the tears come--partly from the stress of the experience, partly because of the relief that it was over, partly because I was still getting used to the idea that I have breast cancer. That knowledge seems to come and go in unpredictable waves of emotion and denial and fresh realization.

I must say that this is quite a road to walk. I was pondering it all on the drive home yesterday and I think that part of the challenge for me right now is that I’m not in a town where I have lived for ten years and have lots and lots of people that I know well. I’m dealing with entirely new doctors in every category—pulmologist, family doctor, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon. There are no kindly, familiar faces in the medical field that I have any history with; I just sort of feel flung to the wind, in many senses.

And that is not to say that our new church family hasn’t been wonderful and supportive. They have. Different church friends have picked up Sarah from school, taken her to school in the mornings, walked the dog when we were at an appointment, brought plants and chocolate, called us, cried with us, hugged us and prayed for us.

So we’re in very good hands here, without a doubt.

It’s just that I was still just getting used to my new church, my new town, and my new community when this hit and so that’s why I feel a little more “at sea” than I might have otherwise, being in a more familiar place at diagnosis.

But that’s okay.

I think that this cancer diagnosis will speed up the “getting to know everybody” process in a good way; crises have a way of weaving peoples’ hearts together in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years. And that’s a very good thing.

I’ve actually got another story to tell from yesterday about a Peach Clad, African American, Angel Fella who came to my assistance when I needed it. But truthfully, all I can think of to do right now is to climb back into bed, put the covers over my head, and maybe cry a little, read a little, rest a little, and cry a little more.

This “2 P Day” has the makings of turning into a Whole Pajama Day.

And I think I’m good with that.

19 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

You not only SHOULD take a WPD (whole pajama day), you deserve it! Nap, watch "The Blind Side", eat chocolate, nap, pet Snowy, pop some corn, and then nap.

That's my Rx. Go ahead now...(giving you a virtual push).

xo L in AK

Lisa said...


(that was a BIG one!)


Anonymous said...

Absolutely a Whole Pajama Day! With the works! Chocolate, sleep, chocolate, Snowy fix, chocolate....get the theme? Recent headline online said chocolate good for your health! Praying.


MaryH said...

Stay in those jammies as long as you want or need to. Snuggle with Snowy and Sarah as many times as you want to or need to. Cry as many tears as it takes to wash away some of the raw hurt and fear this new situation has enveloped you in. Get as many hugs from Steve and Sarah and Nathan as it takes to feel that circle of love. Let yourself feel it all and react they way your heart and mind and soul lead you. I have had a continuous thought the last several days since you told us of your diagnosis. You were led to these specific physicans, church, town and location because of what you are facing right now - cancer. Why was this not the situation a couple years ago when you were in a place and time that was so familiar and comfortable? There is a reason, it is in God's plans and He will reveal the reason in His time. Also, Becky, your Dad is moving mountains in Heaven to make this all okay. Talk to him loudly and often. He will hear you, he will take action, he will present your petitions in person. Prayers.

Melanie said...

I am hyper sensitive to noise too.
I'll be the one covering my ears during fireworks, and don't even get me started on indoor balloon games!! I'm like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Is it possible for you to get an open MRI to help with the "closed in" feeling?

I'm so glad your new church family is taking such good care of you. My husband is an A/G pastor too. :)

Still praying for you all. :)

Pam D said...

Wow. Ugh. I haven't had much time to visit blogs, leave comments, etc. lately, and I am SO sorry.. I feel like I'm not carrying my share of the load. But from a prayer standpoint, you truly rarely leave my mind, and I know it's that way with a lot of people. I remember how awful that other MRI was, especially with the breathing issues. Perhaps that's why it's so stressful in that position; you're cramping your lung space and that brings on the claustrophobia, amongst other things. I am praying that, when they come back with results, they will have had a hard time finding ANY cancer (still holding out for none, actually). And I have to admit that I am baffled by the path God has taken you on in the past several years, but I know He has a purpose. I heard a line in a song today that made me practically slam on my brakes (not safe for me to listen to Christian music while driving, needless to say). "Life is not a snapshot". Think about that for a while, Becky. The entire montage... the full-length film.... so much more than the snapshot that you see in any given day, week, month. In the end, those of us who love the Lord are guaranteed a happy ending, and THAT is a huge plus for me!
Love you, my friend.... you just go ahead and snuggle with Snowy all day long!

Anonymous said...

Many hugs and thoughts coming your way.

Anonymous said...

I vote for the Whole PJ Day!!!! and a lot of chocolate.
Hugs and prayers,
Karen B

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Becky. Your post brought back some not-so-pleasant memories for me. Because of my family history (breast cancer in my mom, sister, and three aunts), I have to have a breast MRI every year. I had my first one last year. At first, I was feeling rather smug that I got out of having a mammogram! Ha! I'd rather have a mammogram every month than a MRI every year. That was one of the worst experiences of my life. I really thought I was going to lose my sanity. It was SOOO uncomfortable. I had to keep repeating to myself, "I can make it, I can make it..." when I really thought I couldn't. I'm already thinking of my strategy to talk my doctor OUT of my having to have another one this summer. I'd rather go to the dentist and gynecologist on the same day!!!

I hope you get really good news next week.

Laura in York, SC

Anonymous said...

Becky thats lots better than I did They started to put me in and I started hyperventalating and yelled get me out NOW (dont think my whole body was in yet.) they gave me a tranquilzer for the next day and used what they call an open MRI. See if next time you cant use one of them,. its still tight over you but not beside you.. you deserve a lot of 2pdays

Anonymous said...

I think you will feel much better if all of us in a show of support, similar to community fasting, has a
WPD with you.

Hugs to you on this day without Dr. appointments...healing thoughts jetting to you across the country.....

xoxo Lynie

LizW said...

How about two WPD's! I can so much relate to what it is like to have an MRI. After the first one, which lasted more than an hour with a "man in the iron mask" like thing over my face, I swore I would never do that again. The banging, jackhammer sound is awful. I can highly recommend asking to have them give you Ativan about 45 minutes before the procedure. Makes a huge difference. I still don't like having them, but at least you don't feel the need to hit the panic button (literally). Hopefully, you won't need another MRI again in your very long life!
You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Ann Martin said...

You can stay in your pjs as long as you want. You deserve it. I am sure it will take time to come to terms with the cancer issue. Enjoy chocolate and try to relax. God bless.

Ellen Robertson said...

Becky, you're incredibly brave for sharing your journey. I am at high risk for breast cancer and God forbid it ever happens to me, your blog will be the first place I come to! I will probably call you too!! Thank you!!!

So Who Is The Crayon Wrangler? said...

Thank you for sharing your story in such an honest way, it helps me to be able to pray for you more specifically.
Will continue to follow and pray!

Jane Snell Copes said...

Oh Becky, I wish I could have been there so you didn't have to be alone. Thinking of you! You are brave and strong and well within.

Anonymous said...

Becky I have never met anyone who thought MRI's were easy. Definitely me included. I avoid them more than the plague! I highly recommend that the next time you need to have one you strongly talk to your doctor about sedation. I am sure Sarah has had them in the past and been sedated for them. Why only pediatrics? I have never understood that when it comes to issues of pain and comfort control. Why is it always given to peds with no questions asked and very little pleading needed while adults have to spend so much time begging for it. There are many areas where peds and adults are not the same. This is not one of them. And of course it goes without saying that a big dose of chocolate should follow. Perhaps you and Steve should invest in Hersheys. I liked the size of the diet chocolate you were holding in the one picture :o) Many prayers for you and every member of your family, immediate, extended, and not blood related as you walk this scary road that induces questions of and for God.

Danette Baker
Spokane Washington

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