Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen"

I repeat this Memorare to remind myself as we approach Mother's Day, that Our Holy Mother is always there with open arms, ready to listen and help. Well, I have an earful.

Today marked the Last of the Tests - which I passed with flying colors, as I had hoped. The previous MRI was a trip, "Just imagine you're in a spa," advised my friend, Ann. Okay, a bizarre medieval spa where you lie down on your stomach, breasts dangling from circular cutouts, with your head in a toilet seat while hooked up to a intravenous tube pumping dye in your bloodstream. It was VERY LOUD - I had been warned, but was still surprised at the racket. My previous spa experiences didn't include jackhammers at my head, nor dentist's drills, or the annoying honk honk honk of the kiddie ride horns.

"Now hold COMPLETELY STILL," the distended voice of the radiologist said, as a series of hammers started pounding.

I held my breath and nearly passed out.

"Can I breathe?" I gasped, when the noise stopped.

"Yes, just breathe normally, but don't take deep breaths," the voice said.

How do I breathe normally? It was if I'd never done it before. Forty-five minutes later, the noise stopped and it was time for a chest x-ray.

"Do you smoke?" No. "Do you have allegies?" No. "Do you take any medications?" No. "Do you have an insulin pump?" No. (I'm thinking I'm too healthy for all this nonsense.)

"Take off your shirt and put on a hospital gown with ties facing backwards, and another with ties facing the front," says the x-ray technician.

What can you do, but follow their orders. I complied, held my breath as they shot their radiation my way, and got dressed.

The next day I got news that there was a "shadow" in the chest x-ray. Come back next week for a cat scan. I heard, "Go away, and come back tomorrow." Will I never get to see the Wizard?

Today, a week later, I had a CAT scan. More paperwork, more questions, more blood. CAT scans are interesting. As opposed to my MRI which was in a tube, this looked more like a big, thick metal ring where I was wheeled in on a cart. I got to keep my clothes on, but still had a needle in my arm pumping in a solution that made me warm all over, to the point of feeling like I wet my pants. Very odd. Like the sensation one feels the first time they sit on a heated car seat.

I looked up at the rotating gear mechanism, which sounded like a dull roar of an airplane engine, and saw a sticker that read, "Laser Radiation. Do Not Stare at the Beam." What the? I could just imagine the doctor saying, "Your chest is clear, but you burned holes in your retina."

After some much needed retail therapy with Ann and Joanne at the Dress Barn, we headed back to the doctor's office. Dr. Schmidt was charming and personable, and most of all reassuring. "I've got great news for you - nothing to worry about," he said as popped his head into the room.

When he returned, he explained the imminent procedures: pre- and post-surgery, radiation, and the DRAIN. This is really going to happen. Next week, no less. This is the best possible set up I could have. Snip snip here, snip snip there, a couple of laser rays, that's how we treat the cancer cells so they shrivel and go away. I was really hoping for a miracle to dodge this bullet. I would be happy to give Blessed Pope John Paul all credit. It's a win-win situation! But no.

My friends have been wonderful - helping me through each step. Like Mary, they offer comfort and support when needed, peppered with laughs and love.

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