I was thinking this morning while lying in bed listening to the spring thunderstorm how much I have changed in the last year. Well, almost a year. I would say my changes occurred somewhere around the time of my bilateral MRI guided, vacuum assisted breast biopsies last July. To THIS VERY DAY it was the most painful, invasive, and personally degrading experience I have ever had. And trust me, I’ve been around and have experienced lots of crap. But that MRI, as the first humbling experience in a string of misfortunes, did change me. I am not better because of these changes, nor worse. I am not stronger (or weaker), because the strength was already in me. I am not happier (or sadder), because I base my happiness on who I am and how I live my life- and I continue to be proud, and happy about those things. I am not more pessimistic (or optimistic), as I have always considered myself a realist- even though those around me probably consider me an optimist because I realistically look to the positive side of things, even crap. I guess my point in my changing, but really not changing, is because I FEEL different. I think it might have to do with my energy levels. Before cancer, I was the most energetic person you have ever met. I was like the stereotypical perky cheerleader (although never a cheerleader because I played sports) who was always smiling, ready to go, and up for anything. Now a trip to the grocery store requires a two hour nap after it and maybe even some pain meds. Either way, I feel different, even though I am the same core person. It’s humbling.
The bilateral MRI guided, vacuum assisted breast biopsies were horrible because I probably should’ve listened to them and not had them done at the same time. Hindsight. So what it entails, is they lay you down on your stomach, on a MRI table, which is conveniently cut out where your breasts are. They then put this metal clamp on both breasts which I would describe as a grid (maybe 5×5) similar to those old metal ice cube trays. And I had raw bloody squares on both breasts for weeks after, so they are rather tight. Then they take “normal” MRI’s to chart where the nodules are, come in to check on you, insert the contrast dye, take more scans, and then the real fun begins. Oh, but they numbed me, supposedly. Whatever. With a team of three people for each breast (not kidding), plus the doctor, they all come with lots of clipboards to chart and place what they called a “pre-biopsy sterile plastic tube” and I call a straw into each breast. And yes, it is noticeable because even numbed, it’s a STRAW in your breast. Then they leave me to take more scans to make sure the straws are in the right position. Then they all pile back in with their clipboards and ask me again how I’m doing and if I’m ready for the biopsies. Really? I’m on my belly with my breasts dangling under the table, while they have metal ice cube trays clamped on them, and straws hanging out of them. Hurry this crap up. And while I can’t really see, I can a bit. The doc then takes what looks like a kid’s bug vacuum with a long ass needle on it and proceeds to insert it into the straw. Mind you, the straw is heavy enough so that the needle won’t penetrate it, or allow the needle to move it. She painfully vacuums up 4-6 samples from each breast. At this point I’m crying and snotty. I ask the nurse if she can wipe me off, and she says no. So I lay in my snotty tears, with the ice cube tray clamps and straws dangling from my now bloody breasts, not making my life any easier. Then, they all leave the room to take more scans to make sure they took the biopsies from the right spots. OMG. Thinking this is the end, I get happy. Until the doc says that they have to insert the markers for each biopsy site. So now, instead of taking tissue out of the straw, the doc has to insert a “very small, surgical-grade, titanium-based device designed to safely mark the biopsy site.” Whatever, hurry this crap up. I’m drowning in my snot and tears- thankfully not crying anymore, but still feel like an inhuman piece of meat on the table. After that, the doc takes the straw out, each team takes their clamp off, they sit me up, and proceed to apply pressure to each incision site for about 10 minutes. Oh, but they got me some tissues. THEN, I have to go for what they call “gentle mammograms” to make sure the markers are in the right spot. Are you kidding me? There’s nothing “gentle” about mammograms after you’ve had straws in each breast for almost two hours. Either way, I did live through it. But it was horribly painful and inhumane.
On a side note, I did see my oncologist Tuesday and think that I’m going to go with the ovary removal. It just makes sense. She also said that I don’t have to be on the Lovenox because my cancer is not active. So, she’s going to start me on Coumadin when I run out of the shots. To switch between the two, I have to overlap them for about a week and get blood work done bi-weekly until my clotting levels (? no clue what it’s called yet) are stable. But, there’s a kicker, I can’t have an Oophorectomy if I am on Coumadin. They will have to switch me back to the Lovenox about a week before surgery because the way Coumadin stays in your system and they can’t control the bleeding or something. So now, I’m all about not switching back and forth with the two blood thinners and am hoping to schedule my surgery before I stop the shots. That makes sense to me. No clue how far out they schedule the surgeries, but I’m WAY more than ready to get this crap over with so I can start feeling like my energetic self again. Being tired is really tiring.