Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a good test of my endurance

Saw my breast doc today. I have been avoiding her for a few months since I needed a little doc hiatus after my last surgery. My boob has changed a lot since I saw her in january. I still have some hard spots in it and some bruising but happily some of the hardness has gone away, especially under the nipple. I confess I haven't been feeling myself up lately, partly because my hands hurt and partly because I no longer have surgery on the table so I am not panicked that I will never feel them again. So as she is examining my bad boob, I can tell she is lingering longer than usual. I feel like saying, "step away from the boob and stop worrying." She tells me she feels something in there that she doesn't remember feeling before. I wonder how she remembers what my boob feels like. Does she take really detailed notes or is my fabulous boob engraved in her mind? She goes on to say that it could just be that the tissue around that spot may have softened but that spot stayed hard. Or it could be fibrous tissue. It doesn't feel gritty, the skin isn't stuck and it doesn't appear to be rooted. All good signs. Of course, because of brca, she says we have to check out anything unusual. She says that it worries her a little but not a lot because I am due for my mri next month and we can wait until then. Unless I would like to do an ultrasound this month (which isn't as sensitive a test). I just laugh and say that I had hoped to put off my mri for 6 months and get on the rotating mammo/mri schedule instead of doing them so close together.  She wants me to promise her that I'll go and get one this fall. I don't say anything but think to myself, I'm moving at the end of September and then I'll need to find a doc and get a referral and then schedule the mri which could in itself take a couple of months. No way that is going to happen right away. We are moving back to cali. DW will go this weekend and I will follow later. I will probably be off my cobra insurance come september and on new insurance but I won't be able to use that insurance here in utah so any treatment or tests will have to wait until I move. Doc goes on to say that she worries about me. I say, "don't worry about me." I think to myself don't worry about me, I have lived a wonderful life. I never thought I would live this long so I did my bucket list in my 20's and when I kept on living after my 30th birthday my bucket kept flowing. Besides, no one in my family has ever died from breast cancer. We must get the good kind.  She says I know you will be ok and the survival rate is the same without surgery. She mentions an ultrasound again but I say no because I figure that will come back inconclusive like wt's did and then they will want to biopsy me. Forget that, I will wait for the mri which doc says does a much better job. I say if something is wrong then why did I just pass my mammo? She says the mammo can miss about 10% of cancers especially in dense breasts like mine. I don't feel worried though because a mammo caught mine in the first place. We say goodbye and I thank her for all her help over this last year. She tells me that I can always call her from cali with any questions. I love her and I'm going to miss her.

So I am on the surveillance track right now. I have decided not to cut the bitches off, at least for now. I have been known to change my mind! This spot I have to pay attention to will be a good test of how well I can handle the strain of surveillance. It will be interesting to see how I will feel if I do end up needing a biopsy. What will actually push me over the edge and onto the table? It reminds me of some baby swallow we have been watching at the garden. Yesterday, they finally took the plunge out of the nest. One little lonely bird sat at the edge of the nest all day by itself because I guess it was too afraid to take it's first flight. Finally, when someone took a picture of it, it flew off. Perhaps scared more by the camera than by  the thought of falling out of the sky.

I'm feeling stubborn today and got home and was like no way I'm gonna go get that mri soon. But then mutant 1 reminded me that I'm gonna need new drugs pretty soon after I get to cali. And I'll need to get a doc to sign off on my new driver's license most likely. So guess I will see if my old doc there will take me back. Once my new insurance kicks in I guess I will call from utah and set up an appt and maybe see if I can get a referral via phone so I can make the mri appt in advance as well. Mutant 1 saves the day once again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a view to die for

Angel's Landing:we made it over but now we have to cross back
July 31, 2010 did not go the way we had planned. We were supposed to be backpacking in the narrows at zion national park but the weather was calling for a chance of heavy rain and high risk of flash floods. We all agreed that we did not feel comfortable risking our lives in a narrow canyon with walls up to 1000 feet on either side of us. We actually made that decision the night before when the risk was only moderate with a substantial potential of flash floods. We were all a little disappointed because we were really looking forward to it but we knew the weather is tricky at this time of the year. In any case, anything is better than what I did a year ago on the 31st: my lumpectomy reexcision that had me crying on the operating table because they couldn't get the i.v. in me to put me to sleep fast enough.

view of the ridge from scout's landing
dw crosses the ridge
So instead we decided to hike angels landing. This is a hike that I have never wanted to do. In fact, I have stated repeatedly that I would never do this hike. It involves hiking up a steep, mostly paved path until you reach a gnarly, rocky section with chains to assist you along a very narrow path about 1000 feet up from the valley floor. DW insisted that she wanted to do this hike if we were not able to do the narrows. I insisted that she would be doing it without me and that I did not even want to be around to watch her do it because it scared the shit out of me to even think about it. But I knew she had her heart set on it so I looked up some footage on youtube. I found a video of a guy that was wheelchair bound and was just getting well enough to get out on the trails again and did this hike with the help of his family and friends. I was so impressed with his bravery and determination that I decided that I could at least hike up to scout's landing (the part before the really scary part) and turn around if I didn't want to finish it. Once I got up there and looked across the ridge I thought it was crazy to continue. But once you are on the path and don't look down or ahead, and just concentrate on the ground beneath your feet and the chains or rocks in your hands, it was a little less intimidating. Of course that takes some of the joy out of hiking for me, if you can't really appreciate the view because it scares the shit out of you! There was an aussie behind us that was talking with us and trying to convince himself to go to the top. He asked my brother (who had made 2 previous summits) if it was worth it. My brother just said ummm... so the aussie was like well, you just talked me out of it! My brother actually decided not to summit and waited for us instead. So we took off and after a little bit the aussie followed, I guess inspired by us brave chicks. In the beginning, I just kept thinking that any little mistake could kill me. Any slip or stumble could send you over the edge. I quickly flushed those thoughts from my head, thinking duh, of course I would die if I fell but I can't let those thoughts even enter my head. So I concentrated instead on each foothold and handhold. There are chains much of the way in which you can grab if you are feeling vulnerable. I was feeling pretty good until dw said watch out for that rock, it's slippery. She had actually slipped a bit on it but had a good grip with her other foot and both hands. Thank god I didn't know she had slipped until we were done. It may have freaked me out. We made it across the ridge and to the top which was the widest part of the whole trail. Everyone was all smiles and taking photos for each other and congratulating one another. It was a bonding experience and one which required some teamwork. There isn't enough room on the ridge for people to cross paths so one must step aside to let the other through. However, there isn't much room to step aside so you would ask this stranger on the trail if they had a secure hold and if you were ok to go past them. One of my worries was that someone coming down the trail would fall and knock me off the rock. Luckily, we had started early and missed most of the crowds.
first set of chains before the gnarly section


After we had completed the ridge, dw and I discussed whether we would do it again and we both said maybe, if someone we were with really wanted to do it. I even told another hiker that hadn't gone yet that it wasn't so bad. I also felt that my surgeries were scarier than this hike, a hike in which at least 9 people have fallen to their deaths. But after sleeping on it a couple of nights, both dw and I admitted that we were crazy to have done this and would probably never do it again! Frankly, I don't think it's worth the risk and you can get the same view, if not better, from the observation point hike and a lot less chance of death.

Speaking of risks, I will see my breast doc next week to discuss my options on keeping my breasts. I've managed to give her the slip for the last 7 months. Last she knew, I was hell bent for more surgery. But now I would rather keep the boobs and do surveillance. So got a voicemail from her office today asking if I had scheduled my bilateral mastectomy yet and if not, please come in for a followup. Jesus Christ! Yes I have uttered those words before but it was a bit of a shock to hear it on my voicemail. Like getting a message from dw to pick up milk and bread on the way home and might as well get a bilateral mastectomy while I'm at the store!