Saturday, September 29, 2012

At last: out-angsted

I have been horribly anxious. In fact, developed flu as a result (or so my GP said, when I visited him in a panic on Thursday about whether or not I would be able to have an anaesthetic).
Luckily, now just a mild sinus problem and the GP said I am fine for an anaesthetic.
As reported before, I am on tamoxifen which can make you prone, although the probability is low, to endometrial cancer. Every six months I have this excruciating test in the gynaecologist's rooms, and this latest one came back with "atypical cells". And on Monday I am having a fractional D&C to determine if those cells are pre-cancerous, cancerous, or ok (for now?).
I just did a last - I hope - reading of all the dramas about it all, and now it's up to God/fate/whoever/whatever.
I pray I am ok. That it isn't cancerous or even pre-cancerous. My gynae said that if the D&C shows cancer, I will need a hysterectomy within a week. If it is pre-cancerous, within three weeks. Maybe not needed at all.
"The probability (of cancer) is not great," he said.
I sat there glumly.
"The probability of getting even to this stage was small. Don't talk to me about 'probabalities'," I said.
"You are being so negative," he said. And I was shocked at that. Because during all this cancer shit and trauma in my life, I haven't been at all negative but really, I was told "Oh if it (tamoxifen) does cause anything it is very slow-growing and we will just cut it out" - neglecting to mention "and half your insides too!"
Anyway, I now have to stay calm.
It will take until about Wednesday (so I am expecting it by Thursday) to get the results.
Then I will know.
I cannot worry any more. Hope I stay this calm.
Earlier today thought: Shit, might as well just take up smoking again (haven't smoked for just over a decade but really miss, although not constantly), and gonna just take drugs and give up.......
But now. Now I feel ok. I hope I am ok. Hope. But been reading on The American Cancer Association website and atypical cells can mean it's ok. I hope and pray. Now all know that worst case scenario isn't only a hysterectomy, but also radiation, removal of lymph glands in the pelvic area and so lymphedema is my legs.
Cannot go there. Haven't done lymph massage on my arm for a week, since I got sick, and although am better now, not doing it in case I am still underlyingly ill and it brings it to the fore. Can just wait till after the operation. Then I will deal with that again.
Actually, am smiling now. It is the end of the month and I was getting hassled because two bills which should have been emailed had not arrived. Duh. Checked tonight. Not only had the bills arrived, but I had paid them both. That shows how hassled I have been. Haven't felt the same since the doctor phoned me to say the test results were not good. Now have to wait a few more days to see if I can relax and be happy again. But I have to be happy. Have to relax. If not, I will just ruin my own life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Questions for my gynae tomorrow

Was demented yesterday. Tried to get appointment with my gynaecologist to discuss the impending D&C I am having. I have questions. I have been anxious.
Then today phoned again to ask if the low-level abdominal pain I have been having since my Z-sampler endometrial biopsy was to be expected. The receptionist then said he would be phoning me later.
He phoned. On my work phone. In an open-plan office. Like I can ask him questions in that environment. He said he would see me tomorrow. That is what he had phoned about. Clearly I had got such a fright that I hadn't understood what he had told me, he said. Mmm. I heard the test had shown it was pre-cancerous. That it was ok to wait a few weeks for the D&C. Am not convinced. Need to know more. So although the intensity of my panic disappeared when the oncologist's rooms phoned this morning to say I was to stay on tamoxifen and have the D&C - I love that oncologist and that put my mind at rest - I am relieved to be seeing the gynaecologist tomorrow.

These are my questions:

1) Since the Z-sampler test a week ago, have experienced low-level abdominal pain, rather like very mild period pain. It comes and goes. Is this to be expected or is it a sign of something wrong?

2) The test results say "atypical cells". Are these caused from the tamoxifen? If so, why has The Tango Man told me to stay on the pills?

3) What is the purpose of the D&C: to scrape or to biopsy (is that a verb?)?

4) Could the atypical cells be shown to be cancerous? Or likely to become cancerous?

5) What would be seen under the D&C that would make it necessary for me to have an hysterectomy (he had said it was the worst case scenario).

Oh well, now to pack clothes to change into after gym tomorrow which, with Joburg's insanely variable weather, is very perplexing: how do I choose clothes and shoes to take me from work to the theatre when there is such a drop in temperature from day to night? Oh well.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My not-so-great news

Ever since my gynae called me on Thursday night, I have been toying with what to call this post. Been delaying writing it in fact.
Look, I am still alive. But shocked. Upset. Not charmed. Learning to be strong again.
On Monday I had a Z-sampler or endometrial biopsy because I am on tamoxifen and it can cause endometrial cancer. So every six months I subject myself to this excruciatingly sore test. Wrote about it in my last posting. I was very upset after it all on Monday as it was sore and cost so much and I bled so much afterwards and I just had a feel-sorry-for-myself few hours (which I think is pretty unusual for me).
Then I got on with things. Was a little shaken, but fine.
Phoned on Wednesday for the results. Not there yet. Was told that could happen. Phoned on Thursday again - then the receptionists leave a message for the gynaecologist and he phones back later. Forgot about it until I got a call late on Thursday.
"Irregular cells," he said. "I need to do a D&C".... me, the great professional question-asker (journalist) went dumb, numb, whatever. "What is the worst case scenario?" I asked. "Hysterectomy," he said. "Will I need chemo again?" "No," said he but not sure I believe him.
He sort of arranged a date for the D&C, he told me to be there at 6am, could leave at 1pm/lunchtime and I must speak to his receptionist for codes (for the medical aid authorisation). I said I wasn't at my desk, was walking and was five minutes from the office but he said they were closing up for the day (was almost 5.30pm) and I must phone the next day after 9am.
When I did, the receptionist said she was rushing to theatre with something (his rooms are in a large private clinic - "private" versus "state" being essential for top healthcare here in South Africa). I waited for her to call me back - was having an insane day at work - and when I phoned after 1pm, his rooms were closed for the day.
So I don't really know what is going on. Oh, he did say it was pre-cancerous. But doing a little reading, and I need to know how bad it is. I am freaked out. I did ask: "If I refuse to have a hysterectomy...?" and he responded with "then you will live with a pre-cancerous spot".
Tomorrow I will get a copy of the test results (even if I have to drive to his rooms and demand them from that silly receptionist whom I have had a tiff with in the past), see that my oncologist has a copy of it (when I phoned on Friday they said he was about to go on leave till October but did have a locum - and he has a partner I have seen once before - but they needed to see the report before they could schedule an appointment); and make an appointment to see the gynae so I can arrive with notebook and pen in journalist mode and ask him millions of questions.
When I went on tamoxifen, I was told, "don't worry, endometrial cancer is slow-growing and we can cut it out...." - ja, with half my insides too?
I feel devastated. I cannot believe that my arm hassles (borderline lymphedema and doing 1hr of lymph massage a day, split into about 45 minutes in the morning and 10 or so min at night) and now this, on my way to endometrial cancer and more than likely having an operation that is going to bring my life to a temporary stop (you cannot drive for about 2 months and won't be able to exercise and....)is all from the preventative treatment for the cancer I had. I remember my brother-in-law saying when I was diagnosed: "You're fine now but when they start the treatment...". I cannot believe that the slim chance of the tamoxifen effect has happened to me. Don't know why I thought I was immune but...
Ironically, saw my thyroid doctor on Friday and when I said: "So, I am quite healthy then?" he said: "You are VERY HEALTHY - from the belly button up!" One has to laugh........

Monday, September 3, 2012

Deranged day

Oh dear. Just saw my last post was entitled traumatic day or something like that. Suffice to say, between the two postings have been ok. Today was plain kak.
Well, not all of it. Somehow January/February and September are my big test months and it is now clear to me that I don't cope with trauma, tension and pain of tests.
Today was the painful one.
Had three medical appointments today. Started off seeing The Lymph Lady and my arm was ok-ish - up 0.5cm in two places if I remember correctly. She said as long as it doesn't creep up continually, I am fine. Haven't had to wear the compression sleeve for about a year, since I last went overseas and did a long-haul flight, so generally it's been much better.
Then went straight to the opthamologist (across the road in fact but such a busy one, that I spent five minutes driving there instead!). 
Have a stigmatism in one eye, and had HUGE problems when I had thyroid problems as had thryoid eye disease too and ended up having an op to remove excess skin but even today my own eye protrudes and I don't look anything like I used to look, but got over that long ago.
Anyway, I wear glasses for driving at night and increasingly for movies, theatre, all shows... after much much deliberation today with different lenses, it was decided to keep my glasses as they are. And don't need for reading.
All well and good.
Then had to go for Z-sampler test. This, along with an MRI scan, is my worst. It is a scraping of the endometrial lining to check for endometrial cancer, which the Tamoxifen anti-breast cancer pills can cause. For some people it is excruciating. I am one of them. Now I use a Voltaren suppository beforehand but when phoned today to check how long before the appointment was told 30 minutes. I took it 45 minutes in advance but when I asked the gyncaecologist today when is the right time to take it, he said 90 minutes to two hours....
It was so sore that I think I kinda pulled his hand as I told him to stop it. Was less sore afterwards - that was the Voltaren working, he said - but bled so much - this is expected and they give you a panty-liner - that had to get a pad. Haven't checked since to see if I am ok.
Look, I am grateful - said between clenched teeth - to have access to top medical care and to be able to have such a test regularly. But it did cost me R1700 which is a f..fortune and the medical aid hasn't been paying for it (had discussion with doctor's receptionists this time and gonna fight it big time when it happens again now) but I felt so sorry for myself afterwards to have to endure such agony and spend so much money that I have been eating non-stop ever since (a few hours now) and spent just a little more than that on two pairs of exorbitant but fab shoes.
I know I will be fine tomorrow but sometimes it is all a little bit too much to bear.