People often ask me what my day was like, and I usually say something like, “Had an appointment, eating dinner now” because it can be tiring to actually go over all the details of each day, with each person. But I know some people are genuinely curious as to what happens when I go to all these exciting appointments. So here was my day today:
I drank a huge, disgusting cup of barium sulfate. This was in preparation for a CT scan later in the day. It was orange flavoured, the type of flavour that tastes nothing like an actual orange, but you know that that is what it’s trying to be. Not very pleasant.
My brother shows up. Then my mom shows up, not knowing my brother is over, and I make him jump out of the shadows and scare her. She screams a good horror movie scream. This was by far the highlight of the day, although I’m really hopeful no permanent damage to my mother was done.
Off to the hospital where I take a number to do some blood work. Then over to put my name on a waiting list for an ECG so I can wait for that at the same time I wait for the blood work, because I’m sneaky like that. A nurse in the ECG area tells me she can just do my blood right there. I say OK, although I feel a bit uneasy about this weird change of events. Should I trust her to take my blood, even though she’s not from the blood lab? Is this against protocol? Will the blood lab people come yell at me for letting her do it, like a child taking candy from a stranger?
She takes my blood. She pokes around a bit and has some trouble and makes comments about the small size of my veins. She pokes some more and takes her sweet time and keeps commenting about the difficulties she is having. After she finally finishes, she asks me if they know what’s wrong with me. Yes, breast cancer. She shakes her head and looks sad and mentions how young I am. She means well, but I don’t appreciate those types of reactions. I move on to the ECG.
I lay down and get a bunch of electrodes attached to my skin. I feel like I am in some sci-fi movie, although I can’t remember which one. The technician does something and prints out a piece of paper and it’s done. No pain involved, which makes me very happy. We chat for a bit, and he is nice. I can tell he feels bad for me, but it doesn’t bother me as much. Probably because he didn’t prick me a bunch of times with a sharp needle.
I wander around with my mom for a bit. We go meet my study nurse and I fill out some forms about how much pain I’ve been having, what kind of pain, and many other questions of the sort. I realize I have been feeling pretty good. I also feel a bit sad over the realization that my answers will likely be a bit different the next time I answer those exact same questions.
I check in for my CT scan and drink the second half of the pasty liquid. I change into a hospital gown. I loathe hospital gowns because I instantly feel like just another sick person when I put one on. I go into the room for the scan, and the technician tells me I will need an injection. More pokes. I tell him it has to be in the same side I just gave blood from, as I have had lymph nodes removed on my other side, and therefore should avoid any injury to that arm. He tries to insert the needle in a new spot. He fiddles around for awhile, and I think the injection is over. That was easy, I think. Wrong! He missed the vein. Poked the wrong spot. It hasn’t even happened. I am getting tired. And a bit frustrated. And my arm is starting to swell.
He eventually gets it right and I do the scans. The injection puts a metallic taste in my mouth. I hear a calming robot woman’s voice: Hold breath. Breathe normally. Hold breath. Breathe normally. I wonder if I will receive some sort of award for my excellent ability to hold my breath, and then breathe normally.
I don’t receive any such award. Instead I bring my arms back down, and see blood all over. Is that normal? I ask. I’m pretty sure that is not normal. I’m pretty sure I will try to get a different technician the next time around.
I meet my mom in the waiting room, and we are both unhappy to see the blue bruising beginning on my arm. It hurts, a lot. I go home and hold some frozen carrots on it to ease the swelling. These carrots have been sitting in my freezer for ages. I have no idea where the frozen carrots came from or how they got there, but today they finally seemed to serve a purpose.
And there you have it! Always exciting, never dull. The life of a cancer patient.