Thursday, May 24, 2012

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

Not anymore....
I know I have complained for YEARS about having fully functioning ovaries, but this past Monday night, the reality that they were going to be chemically turned off hit me like a truck. I cannot begin to explain why I was upset. Having my tits cut off didn't upset me. (Of course, I didn't experience having NOTHING there - my reconstruction was immediate. I went to sleep with one set and woke up with another.) 

So why did this procedure of turning off my ovaries make me so emotional? Because it's the end of a chapter that's been going on for almost 40 years? That by no stretch am I still in my child-bearing years, and that equates, to me, that I've entered into senior citizenship? But I'm still 11 inside!

As if I weren't already emotional enough heading into my oncology appointment on Tuesday, it was also the first anniversary of the tornado. As I drove to the oncologist's office, I had to pass rows of tv station satellite trucks, lined up on the street adjacent to the destroyed St. John's hospital. It brought back all the emotions of a year ago and piled them on top of my already shaky little self.

My actual appointment with Dr. Croy brought the news that he had talked to my ob/gyn, and Dr. Lacey did not want to do anything surgically to me to remove my ovaries. Laproscopic surgery would require that my abdomen be inflated for the procedure, and he didn't want to do that after my tram flap surgery. He didn't feel vaginal removal would work out because of the likelihood of scar tissue from my two previous c-sections. And going in through my old c-section incision would be major abdominal surgery with several weeks of recovery time. That left Zoladex, the pellet inserted under the skin, as the only viable option. But instead of it being done once or twice until the ovaries could be surgically removed, it would now be a monthly procedure and would continue for the duration of my hormone therapy. In other words, for five years. Dr. Croy told me that, once enough of the Zoladex had been absorbed, menopause symptoms would come on "like gangbusters." I asked if that meant TODAY and he said probably not, but this week. The waiting game begins.....

The Zoladex was administered in the infusion center. The infusion center is a place that no one would ever wish to visit. Due to space limitations (thank you, tornado), the room was very crowded. Lined against the walls were hospital-issue recliners with chemotherapy patients sitting in them, iv bags of the necessary poisons hanging next to them. The patients and the staff were all cheerful and chatty with one another, but I thought it was depressing as hell, and I said a prayer of thanks that I had been spared this kind of treatment.

My nurse was Lauren, and she took me back to a little room to give me the implant, since it has to be inserted into my stomach. (This would be a horrible proposition if it weren't for a large section of my stomach being numb.)  She let me pick the spot, and when she washed it off with an alcohol swab, I felt nothing. Same with the shot of Lidocaine that I received to deaden the area (BAHAHAHA!!!) before the implant was inserted. (Lidocaine stings like a sonofabitch ordinarily, and I know this from all the breast biopsies I had.) And I didn't feel the pellet of Zoladex going in, either, which I believe to be a good thing, because it is, indeed, about the size of a Tic Tac. (She became my favorite nurse EVER when she said I was pretty thin and the pellet might show slightly. Who cares if it shows? She said I was pretty thin!)  Lauren put a bandaid on my puncture, then gave me a spare because "they usually bleed a lot." She wasn't kidding! By the time I got to the car, blood had soaked through the first bandaid, and I had to cover it with the spare. 

Next step was a little retail therapy, because I thought it was the LEAST I deserved, followed by a little chocolate therapy (ditto).  

I forgot to pick up my prescription for Arimidex, the aromatase inhibitor, from the pharmacy (I swear it wasn't intentional), so I didn't start it until the next day. That morning, I lined up all my bottles on the counter and nearly cried. Arimidex; Calcium with Vitamin D, because the Arimidex can cause bone loss; additional Vitamin D, because it can help with bone and joint pain associated with the Arimidex; Vitamin E, because it can help with the hot flashes the Zolodex is supposed to cause; Metamucil, to counteract the effects of taking high doses of calcium. NOOOOOOO! I'm going to be just like my parents, who carry a gallon-sized ziplock bag filled with meds with them every time they travel. Next, I'll be using one of those plastic day-of-the-week sorters and counting out my pills every week. If I start wearing Alfred Dunner clothes and sensible shoes, somebody bitch-slap me. Please.

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