Like I said previously, there are so many appointments that are made and so much information to take in from each one of them. A lot of times the doctors speak in medical terms and then you have to go home and do your own research on what those terms mean in average day talking terms so you will understand what the heck is about to happen to you.
Over the next week and a half I had three different scans/tests ran to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread into any other areas of my body. Thankfully it hadn’t. It was all contained to one breast and armpit.
The first scan was the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It uses radio waves and magnets to take detailed pictures of inside the breasts. It’s used to measure the size of the cancer and to see if there is any other tumors inside the breast. I had to lay face down on a table like structure with one of those lovely long gowns on with my breasts open to the world and then the machine slid me into this large circular tube. I had to lay there for about 20 minutes with a continuous fan sound that actually keeps the room and MRI machine cool due to the magnets inside that would be taking photos of my breast. Good thing, I sleep with a fan on during the night. That made it rather relaxing. However, the beeping sounds of the machine taking photos was a bit annoying. I must admit that I drifted off into a light sleep and I attribute that to warm blankets the sweet lady placed on me. Key to all of these visits… WARM BLANKETS! And awesome nurses that keep those warm blankets in mind!! Be sure to ask for warm blankets!! You deserve them.
Next was a CT (computed tomography) Scan. It’s used to check the chest wall and bone structure to be sure the cancer hasn’t spread into those places. No warm blankets this night. Yes, I said night. I had to get this test done at 7:00pm. When I arrived I had to drink this lemonade/Mt. Dew tasting mixture and then wait 45 minutes so it had time to run through my body. When I entered the CT room it was cool and somewhat dark. The table I had to lay on was pretty low to the ground. Good news… I was able to stay in MY clothes and MY breasts were not broadcasted to an audience. The bad news… no warm blanket. It didn’t take very long though. About 5-10 minutes. Once that was over I headed on home.
Lastly, I had to have an Echocardiogram to test my heart to be sure it could undergo the chemotherapy. The test measures the blood flow to and from your heart and the four chambers your heart has. They had to insert yet another IV in my arm to run dye through my body. That’s the picture you see below. For this scan I had to lay on my left side so they could take the Ultrasound wand and run it over my heart taking measurements and videos of it working. It was actually really cool seeing all the red (blood flowing in) and blue (blood flowing out) colors on the screen. Seeing my heart pump blood to the rest of my body was pretty cool. It was another dark, cool room. I had to remain topless for the world to see my breasts once again. So so lovely… NOT!
And last before all the chemo could begin, I had my chemo port insert procedure to receive the chemotherapy. A chemo port is a small, implantable reservoir with a thin silicone tube that attaches to a vein. They insert a port so that each time you receive chemo they plug into that verses finding a vein and giving you an IV each time. It minimizes the pricking and pocking to many areas to just one area. Standard procedure is to place it on the right side of your chest away from your heart. They also recommend placing lidocaine cream on the area about a hour before each infusion to numb it so you don’t feel the needle stick. They can prescribe it or you can just find it at the store. I did the latter. It helps but if you don’t do it, you’ll be just fine after about 15 seconds. Ha.
On the day of the port surgery they gave me these bright yellow socks. Why yellow? I have no idea. Maybe they needed to identify me as a patient or maybe it was to bring some brightness to life considering the circumstances. The gowns they give you are a bit nicer than the ones you have at your annual GYNO appointment. They are actually long cloth ones. They keep a bit more of the heat in. I have sometimes wondered who the designer is of these oh so lovely hospital gowns. Like who strives to be a hospital gown designer. And what designs do you put on the gowns? Shapes and wiggly lines? Maybe something more appropriate like ‘this shit sucks’ or ‘kick this sicknesses ass’ or maybe something like ‘make a run for it’. I will say the best part is still the warm blankets they give you! Now those are nice… about the only nice thing about it.
When it was about time to go into the OR they gave me anesthesia through the IV they had placed in my arm. I remember rolling out of the room in my bed, down the hall and into the OR. They helped me onto another bed where the port insert procedure would take place and I was done. Out cold. I didn’t dream. I didn’t see anything but darkness and there was no noise. When I woke up I was a bit groggy but was able to walk myself to the truck and my husband and I headed home and I rested the rest of the day. A couple of days passed and I took the bandages off. That’s what you see below. It gets sensitive on occasion if my sports bra rubs it to long or my children want to use me as a jungle gym. 🙂
Now I had six days to rest until chemo treatment #1 began.