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.