I broke on Thursday. I don’t break easily but, like a beautiful and delicate wine glass, when I do break, I shatter into a million tiny pieces. (You KNOW I’m going to bring up wine if I can.)
I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. That’s not part of this journey. No guilt, nothing like that. It’s just that I was–and still am–completely overwhelmed by the whole situation. There are So Many Things That Must Be Done by So Very Many People in So Many Locations That Are at Least an Hour from Home.
I have to admit I started in a less-than-stellar place. Work has been very stressful lately. There should be a legal limit on the number of times a person feels compelled to say, “Are you freakin’ KIDDING me???” in a single day. But, alas, there is no limit, so Chuck has heard it at least five or six times a day for the past few months. He also hears the occasional colorful language (as my mother used to call it) and a slam so good I wish I had actually said it to the recipient’s face instead of safely out of earshot. He loves those–I see him laughing from across the room.
During an informal departmental phone call on Thursday, I told the newest member of our team about my diagnosis. No, I don’t talk about The Girls with everyone. Even tipsy I limit it to every second or third person. But I felt like he needed to know why I had so many doctor’s appointments. After the call I was fine. I mentioned to Chuck that I’d told Chris and Chuck didn’t realize I was talking to him. This happens a lot; I talk to myself, sometimes under my breath, and there is no possible way he could have known I was talking to him. When he asked me what I’d said, the waterworks started. I wasn’t upset that he hadn’t heard me; it was more like I’d already reached my quota for the day/week/month on how many times I could talk about The Situation and My Health Issues.
You know that release of pressure when a fire hydrant is opened? That was me. They were getting ready to take my picture to put next to the definition of Hot Mess in the dictionary. It was ugly. And, for the record, it’s damn hard to put on makeup when you are crying. There is not enough foundation in the world to cover the redness and, besides, tears make your mascara run. This is the kind of frustration that makes you cry even more when you are already frustrated because you are crying. Ugh.
So, splotchy face and all, off I went to my noon appointment to get an MRI. Got about halfway to Austin and realized something felt wrong. What was wrong was that my appointment wasn’t until 2:30. It was my Friday appointment with the plastic surgeon that was at noon. Bam! More waterworks. I turned around and drove the 30 minutes home, wasting precious Paid Time Off on absolutely nothing. Abso-freakin-lutely NOTHING. Except an opportunity to cry some more and grab some Kleenex to put into my purse for the next trip.
Needless to say, Chuck went with me on the second trip. Thank heavens, because I obviously am going to have to learn my limitations (which are MUCH more limiting than I’d anticipated) and rely on him for support. I like being able to take care of myself; I don’t want to lean on anyone. I have asked Chuck, though, not to help me, but rather to prop me back up if and when I DO fall. He’s agreed. He’s good at that.
So we get to the place for the MRI….no, scratch that. We get to ANOTHER LOCATION three blocks away from where I need to go to get my MRI and I was already running late (surprise!) and have to get back in the car and find the right place. Crying as we go, of course, because apparently my tear ducts needed a good workout. We get there, get checked in, paperwork incomplete, and start the process.
ARA Diagnostics has hired an angel from above in the form of Kyle. Kyle is a gentle, friendly young man who can stick you (insert an IV or draw blood) with literally no pain. (I am using the correct definition of literally here.) Everybody with medical issues needs a Kyle somewhere in the process. This kid calmed me down in about 20 seconds just by saying it would be all right. He has a gift. I guess you could call him a phlebotomist savant or something. Turns out, though, that he was wrong. Very wrong.
(Disclaimer: My situation as described here is not typical AT ALL so don’t let it scare you if you have a breast MRI scheduled.) A breast MRI is done face down with these two openings for The Girls to hang low and, yes, they wobbled to and fro, but I did not tie them in a knot or a bow. You know you were thinking it. Problem is, the support structure you lay on only comes about halfway up your rib cage–right to your diaphragm. You know what happens when you take all the extra weight I carry and lay it on top of something that’s cutting into your diaphragm? You don’t breathe. I was pretty sure I couldn’t take 13 minutes of holding my breath, let alone the intense discomfort. One of the nurses kept telling me to put my arms out and not prop myself up on my elbows but I was pretty sure I was gonna die if I put my full weight down. So, four tries later, including the wiggling/crawling into place because I was too low on the table, I gave up. It was not going to happen. I so vigorously tried to get where they needed me, I even bent the IV needle. But Kyle’s stick was SO GOOD I didn’t even feel it. I’m telling you, he is awesome.
Thursday started in tears ended in tears. No MRI. They are talking about a sedation MRI and giving me oxygen, but there is not enough Demerol on this green earth to keep me from panicking in that machine. They are going to have to knock me out and roll me onto it and then roll me back off when it’s over. Two days later, and my arms, chest and abs are still sore from trying to lay down and wiggle into place and breathe at the same time. I’m not sure what my breast surgeon is going to say, but I’ve got a call in to her.
At least I’m all cried out. For now.