Life of Joy

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Getting "The Call" and the Aftermath

It happened on the afternoon of Thursday, July 5 on a day I just happened to have off from work. All of a sudden I was talking to Sherri Stone, the nurse practitioner who had run some tests on me the previous Friday when I has seen for some abdominal complaints etc. She conducted a pelvic exam, smear, took some blood, and a urine speciman. "The CAll" revealed that the markers in my blood indicated some type of ovarian abnormality, possibly cancer. Understandably, I have not felt the same since and the last couple of days have been a blur. Fortunately, I did not have to work on Friday, as a 7 AM CT scan was scheduled. A couple of hours later, the test completed, I learned from the tech that the results should be available by the end of the day for my Dr. In turn, she could share the info with me. The tech was very compassionate and understanding. Not so, with Dr. Kahn's nurse, Shelly. She was short and harried with my request, implying that in the big scheme of things my situation did not rate very highly, and the Dr.'s return from vacation would almost assuredly prevent any attention being paid to me. Shelly called me at 2 to say they had not received the results so just come Tuesday and don't expect any further follow up. I did ask if they were quitting for the day, she indicated that they were not done for the day, but "done" with me so to speak. I called radiology at 3 and they said their transcript was completed and they would fax it over to Dr. Kahn's office immediately. I called the office 15 minutes later and asked the front office to make sure the fax made it to Dr. Kahn and did not get routed to Dr. Shires as his name was errantly listed as my Dr. somewhere in the paperwork. They could not confirm that fax had been received but would alert the folks working in the back (Shelly and Dr. Kahn) that it had arrived and I would like to be called on my cell. No call. I held my cell phone in my hand as I drove to Ames for a scrap get together with the Ames women. No attempt, no call.

On Saturday AM while I was out, I received a call from Sophia in Dr. Kahn's office that the fax had been received. She wanted to confirm the fax is to go to Dr. Kahn. Then explained again why I was so anxious to hear something. She indicated she would see that Dr. Kahn gets the report and be alerted to what I feel is some urgency on my part to know the results of the test. Again, I waited. John and I went out to eat with Julie, Patrick, and Ruth. I held my phone in my hand waiting for that call that never came. My phone rang twice, but it was Derek just checking on some parent stuff which was fine.

I became very anxious today after talking to Sophia and potentially hearing for the first time what is wrong with me. Questions racing through my mind are, is my prognosis so bad that everyone is afraid to talk to me over the phone? I guess that is where I landed. I did some research on the WEB when we returned from lunch. Although I had looked at information on ovarian cancer on Thursday, today I looked closely at the different stages. Given my symptoms, I think I'm likely not Stage 1, but hope that I am Stage 2, not a guaranteed survival rate but better than Stages 3 and 4. I want to go to the Scrapbook Convention in Minneapolis with friends next week end. But obviously if I have surgery in the near future, that trip may not happen, nor the trip to Chicago to see Crossroads 2 with the family at the end of the month. I'm getting together with my high school buddies in Ames in early August. All of these gatherings are very important to me, but my treatment plan will have to trump all else this July.

Thoughts that ran through my mind as I photographed one of my beautiful lilies the other days centered around my mortality. Why do I feel so good when I have a potentially life threatening condition? Understanding that there can be false positives should give me hope, but I do feel that I have some symptoms that are abnormal for me that can be explained by a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. So there you have it, the expectation that something is wrong. The hope that it is treatable. The desire to see my children graduate from high school, the desire to reach retirement age and see a country or two, the desire to wake up each morning feeling at the top of my game, confident and looking forward to each day. So much uncertainty, so many unknowns. How will I be feeling next July 7th? Ironic that I started my blog in late June before "The Call" and that my blog is entitled "Life of Joy". I would not have it any other way. If indeed my life expectancy is compromised at this point, how much I have thankful for in the life I have lived.

I feel fairly well versed at this point with the different stages of ovarian cancer and the statistical outlook for favorable outcomes with each stage. I cannot continue processing this information until the tests are complete and I have the needed information. Just the facts, maam, forget the gobbledygook or double talk, just the facts are what I need at this point.

Who have I told?

Initially, I leaned toward not telling anyone, not John or anyone, thinking I would wait until I knew all there was to know on Tuesday, then I would let people know. I realized that was one way to go, but felt like talking about it to the degree that I'm able really would help me.

So my Mom just happened to call right after I got "The Call". I initially told her everything was fine, but ended up telling her about my test and follow up tests. She understands the seriousness. I was not emotional so my Mom was not emotional. I guess it still doesn't seem real so conversing on an intellectual level is my coping mechanism at this point.

John was late coming home from work. I finally called and asked when he was going to be home. Then, told him in the back yard with Layla. Again, I was not emotional, which I think helps those that I reveal my condition to. I told him there was no point in his accompanying me to either the CT scan or ultrasound because they won't share any information. He will go with me to my appt. with Dr. Kahn on Tuesday. I'm kind of fumbling around in my own little world right now. Watched "Derailed" and "My Best Friend's Wedding" the other day--good distractions.

I started to tell Karrah, but thought it was best to just say I was going through some important tests right now, I may be a little off the next few days. Karrah rarely shows a lot of emotion and this was no exception. what she is feeling and this was no exception.

I explained to Derek there was a suspicion that I may have cancer but we are in the process of doing some tests to know for sure. I said I would keep him posted. He looked at me attentively, but didn't say what he was thinking or ask questions.

It was a relief to get it over with to my immediate family---now it is wait and see.

I sent an e-mail to my high school buddies---Linda, Dot, and Janie. They all wrote back with their hopeful wishes and support. I can't wait to see them in early August.

I also called Ann Williams at work because I realized I would need to leave our alignment meeting early on Monday to have my ultrasound. Ann and I had had an in depth discussion of my symptoms before I saw Sherry, the nurse practitioner, the previous Friday. She herself had been seen for the same symptoms at one point so it was a comforting conversation to have. Also, she is on my alignment team so I felt like I could let her know about my need to leave early. I'm not really ready to have people at work know what I'm going through because I'm not ready to talk about it at work. After Tuesday, depending on the treatment, there will have to be a public reveal at some point, but I'm dreading that. Feeling like I'm a functioning contributing member of society is incredibly important to who I think I am and I dread having a lot of conversation about my ill health.

I had some work-related stresses going on this past Spring that occupied most of my time (several weeks my work day began at 7 AM and ended at 11 PM). Then in May and June I took the lead in the interview process, both devoting much of my time to the actual interview, but also taking a lead in the prep of getting rooms arranged for interviews and arranging for the video viewing prior to the interview. Having so much to focus on at work, and having such long days in March and April left me exhausted and without the energy I needed to focus on my physical self.

Well, life goes on. Time to water those lovelies, if the flowers live, so shall I.

1 comment:

splat said...

Your story is similar to mine. Quite a shock, isn't it. I could have just cut and pasted portions of your blog onto mine - especially the questions of who to tell, when, your desires to live a long life, see the world, etc.
My first inkling of a problem was in April, when I had a sharp pain that I thought was my appendix. Subsequent testing (each one making me more nervous) led to surgery in July.
I hope that the further investigation of your test found it was nothing!
Good luck!