Aside from the fact that I've been feeling crappy for about 2 weeks with this ridiculous cough/congestion/mucus, etc. I thought things were finally under control in my life. My hair is growing in nicely, I can do more than 1 errand at a time, my "chemo weight" is disappearing...then I realize that - yes - I am still sick. Not cough/cold sick, but cancer sick.
I'm not in denial of my illness by any means, I just focus on the positive and get through each day/week/month the best I can. I believe that the breast cancer is gone from my body and it will never return, but that does not mean I am 100% out of the woods. I am still feeling the repercussions of chemo and my ongoing IV treatment, in so many different ways.
Here's a little recap of this week...
Tuesday- 5:30pm - follow up echo cardiogram. I had an echo before I started chemo to make sure my heart and everything was able to withstand the treatment. I was very surprised when my report came back last September that I was in EXCELLENT heart health. Mostly because I've had mitro valve prolapse for almost my entire life....and now it's gone. So I (honesty) lallygagged about making my follow up appointment to make sure my heart was still standing strong from the Herceptin treatment. In my defense- I did get my echo done in the time frame my doctor required. With the Herceptin there is a risk for heart damage, and about 28% of women experience this. The damage can be reversed with treatment so it is considered to be an acceptable risk. So every 3-4 months while on Herceptin, you get echo or mugga scans to check things out. The echo takes about 30 minutes total and it's easy, painless and just a little messy from the conduit gel. After the echo, my Cardiologist reads the scan and sends the report to my Oncologist.
Thursday 10:30am - routine blood work. While on chemo I had my blood work done every 2 weeks. It wasn't so bad because I was going to Main Line Health and having the lab at my doctors office draw the blood. They are FABULOUS!!!! The entire staff is great. Then I started getting these bills in the mail for $87, $64, $27????? I called my insurance company and they said that the lab was billing everything improperly and it was considered out of network so we'd be responsible for payment. It turns out whoever was doing the billing, was billing me as herself and not the lab, so of course mrs. random-so-and-so employee is not in the medical database as a provider! IDIOTS!!!! My next call was to Main Line Health and I got the billing clerk on the phone (in all her gum smacking glory) and explained to her that I was not paying these bills and Aetna requested they be rebilled properly for payment. She said that she'd take care of it. I still have no idea it it's been taken care of....
Aetna asked for me to use Quest for my labs as they are their primary diagnostics provider. I was not too keen on that idea considering the LAST time I went to Quest, the tech got blood all over my coat when she went to switch tubes....not a good memory.... So I figured, I'm only going every 6 weeks now...how bad could it be. No more billing issues- I'll see how it goes.
So the first time I went for my 6 week blood sample, the tech (who is really nice, but not exactly the most skilled) blew through my vein on the first try, but got it on the second try. Ok...I can live with that. I had to go back for my 6 week tests again and I was pretty much prepared to get poked at least twice. Oh -how I wish I was that lucky!
FOUR- YES - F O U R - attempts to draw my blood, and they were barely able to get enough for my CBC. Twice in the arm, once in the hand, once in the wrist. Two techs, pediatric butterfly needles and tubes and a heat pack couldn't get that needle to go in my vein. So I had enough (and I had to get Lilly from preschool) so I decided that I'd drink lots of water and go back the next day.
Thursday 6:00pm - mysterious answering machine message. Lilly and I walked in the door from ballet class and there was a message on the answering machine not from MY Oncologist, but from the other Oncologist in the practice (who I have never even spoken to). Basically she said they received a call about me today and it's nothing "alarming" but she needs to talk to me about something. Of course it's too late to call the office, and it's not an emergency, so there's no sense in using the on-call service so I'll have to wait until the morning. I'm secretly hoping she wants to carry the chemo caps I make in the office, but then I strike that from a possibility. Maybe they got my blood results and saw that 1/2 of it was missing...no, the nurse would have called me about that....oh yes- my ECHO. HOLY F*ING CRAPBALLS! I know that whatever it is, it might not be life threatening, but it's serious enough for the Dr. (and not even my regular doctor) to call ME. So I do what I can- make a yummy mixed drink of Malibu Rum and Mango Juice.
Friday 9:00am - waiting..... I called my Oncologists office and they have to call me back. Big surprise there. I know it's about my Echo by playing "20 questions" with the staff. I love them. I know they can't tell me anything specifically, but I tried to get a glimmer of a hint...
Friday 9:30am - the call back. The Oncologist (not mine, for he's on vacation) called back and said the Cardiologist noted that everything is good from the chemo/herceptin. HOWEVER- there was a "fuzzy" area on my atrium valve that could be concerning. It could be nothing, but they need to check it out in depth to rule out (or find) a blood clot or tumor or possible endocarditis. I can't get a break! So on Monday, after my Herceptin IV treatment I am going to the Cardiologist to have my TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram) consult. The TEE basically is like a colonoscopy but in the other end. (joke). I need to get the details but from my understanding, it's a procedure where you are sedated and then have to swallow tubing so the camera can get in your esophagus and see the heart from a better angle. Yum.
Friday 11:00am - back for more blood. I told the Quest people that I REALLY, REALLY needed this blood drawing to go well today. And it did....first try, we're in....lots of blood flowing into tubes...all's good.