All the Appointments

It’s amazing to think of all the appointments I’ve had since my last update on 8/19. Good thing I have my calendar to remember them all. First appointment was my post-op on 8/23. This appointment was made with Dr. Knapp, the resident doctor that helped Dr. Kwong with my surgery. It was made two weeks ago. The purpose was to see how my surgery was healing up. I also needed to meet with the oncologist. In true VA fashion, general surgery only sees patients on Mondays and Wednesdays and oncology on Thursdays. So, I got to stay another night in Portland for my two 1 hour appointments.

I get to my post op and meet with a very nice PA who looks at me kind of funny when I walk in the room. “What are you doing here?” she says. Then she laughed stating that I was too healthy and she would need to look at my file to figure out what in the world I was doing sitting in front of her. Once she read up on me, she knew why but still determined I was way too healthy to be there. Then she told me that Dr. Knapp wasn’t working that day. Ok, then why was an appointment made with him? Sigh…long story short, she got in touch with Dr. Kwong who was there but couldn’t see me that day. She knew I would be around all evening and into the next day so if she wanted to, I was in Portland. She never did. The PA checked out the surgical sites and was thrilled with their healing. I was cleared to go to oncology. Yay!

I was also cleared to go spend the rest of the day hiking since I couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm and it was only 11am. At first they had me scheduled to stay in-house, which I determined was a double hospital room. Thank goodness another veteran had a hotel room booked and she wanted to stay in-house. We traded. I also learned that I need to have a “support person” or even a “support animal” come up with me and I can always stay in the hotel. I believe Rock counts.

I found a beautiful resource in Lake Oswego, Tryon Creek State Park and was guided to a series of trails that made a 7 mile loop. It was a gorgeous day AND the crisis phone didn’t ring once. It was so nice of people to not have kid crises while I was wandering around the woods. Not that I wouldn’t have been able to step off the path, help with intervention and then get back on my way. I’ve done that numerous times. I finished my hike right about 230pm which was perfect for heading over to the hotel.

Yes, I did go to Bannings and get treats again. I got another piece of Marionberry Poppyseed cake and a Raspberry Lemon cake. Both were delicious. For those who wonder, I had salad for dinner and don’t forget the 7 mile hike.

Next day, I headed back to the VA for my oncology appointment. Met Dr. Kittai, a 2nd year resident. Heidi, my nurse advocate went with me to be a second set of ears. Dr. Kittai was delightful as he explained all the options in my future. I wanted facts and number and research and asked a million and one questions. Several he would have to consult with the others to find the answers to. I do believe I thought of just about everything someone could ask no matter how random. He was very patient. Then on to the exam.

I don’t have a problem whipping my shirt and bra off anymore, in front of anyone, anywhere. Cancer has stripped me of any modesty I might have had. I didn’t have much to begin with. So, I got on the crinkle paper table and went to pull my shirt off. “Not yet,” he said visibly reddening. I’ll remember to wait until I’m told to take my clothes off next time.

After my exam, we talked next steps. I would be referred to radiation (which was already in the works but referred to OHSU which is not going to happen. I AM NOT driving to Portland 5 days a week for a 15 minute treatment). Several messages were in to refer me down to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Eugene. I particularly like the one my PA left stating, “She is a single mother of two boys living near Eugene and working two jobs. This is an incredibly appropriate referral.” It made me laugh that it’s considered a “lifestyle” referral. Working is a lifestyle lol. Dr. Kittai also scheduled an onco dx test which will test the tumor for certain elements. These elements help determine treatment steps after radiation, for example chemotherapy and hormone therapy or just hormone therapy. It will be about 30 days before the results are back. He talked a lot about side effects, long term issues, things to watch out for like bone pain (breast cancer likes to spread to the bones) and medications. It was a lot to take in. I kept smiling.

When we were finished, I got in my car and began the long drive home. It was in this silence that I began to fall apart for the first time. I had too much going on in my head. I was trying to come up with too many answers. I was trying to get control of things that were uncontrollable. I felt completely overwhelmed. I had to go into work and I was super grateful for the distraction. I just needed to not think about cancer just for a little while.

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