Friday, September 16, 2022

When You Feel Yourself Faltering

 “You can’t have the HIDA scan done,” the woman said, obviously worried about delivering the news.

“But I’ve been fasting,” I said. “I did everything the ER doctor told me to.”

“But you’ve taken pain medicine.”

Tears welled in my eyes. “He said I could. I have stage four melanoma, excruciating pain. I can’t lie flat on a table for almost two hours without pain medicine. My nerves just….” I’m so desensitized to this situation that I don’t cry much—not anymore—but today I really broke down. “Excuse me. I have to sit.” I shook as I slumped into a chair outside of the imaging room. “You deal with other cancer patients, right?”

She nodded.

“I’m in a vicious spiral. Cancer treatments have ruined my gallbladder. But I’ve had pulmonary embolisms. And now I’m on a blood thinner. The surgeon won’t remove my gallbladder until I’ve had this test because I’m so high risk. I haven’t slept in almost three days. I NEED this scan, but without medicine, my right leg feels like someone is holding it against a scalding glass fireplace. No one can hold still like that. No one.”

And then I cried. And cried. And cried. The tech left, and when she came back, she’d confirmed that they could make an exception because I’m a cancer patient.

Although she’d been nice before, she spoke extra kindly to me after that. I know she was just doing her job before, but today has been so hard. 

She injected medication into my arm that reproduces the strange gallbladder pains I’ve had for nearly two months. The upper right portion of my abdomen throbbed with discomfort, then my back and leg suddenly turned to fire. Nausea increased from my cancer treatments yesterday, and I instantly started feeling feverish from last night’s bone infusion.

“Okay, this will take about an hour and a half,” the woman said. “Are you okay?” 

I’m never okay, I thought. Not anymore. I’m broken from all of this. But I didn’t say anything. Instead I tried to smile.

The table slid under a massive 3-by-5-foot metal plate that hung too closely to my face. My eyes widened as I realized that I couldn’t wriggle out from under it if I tried, and I couldn’t even push it off of me. “I’m not okay. No! No.” I sobbed, feeling weaker than I have in months. “I’m just so tired of all of this. For two seconds, I can’t be strong.” I looked to the side, and tears seeped into the fabric my head rested on. “Please let me out of here.”

That sweet tech swiftly moved me from under the intimidating plate, brought me a warm blanket, and let me sit up.

She studied me, and after a moment said, “You’re the girl I saw on TV, aren’t you?” she asked after a moment. “I recognize your eyes. You wrote that book everyone’s been talking about. The one about your journey with cancer.”

I wiped my tears away and nodded. “I guess that’s me…. I can’t believe you saw that—and you remembered me. That…means so much.”

“Well, you’re awfully inspiring,” she said. “Of course I remembered.” She studied my breathing. “How’s your book doing?” she asked.

“I don’t know if it’ll sell, but it’s in stores nation-wide now.” I sniffled so hard. ”Okay,” I said, so grateful to her. “Because of you, I think I can do this.”

And so I went under the claustrophobia-inducing metal plate where my own shallow breaths ricocheted back into my face, and I stayed nauseous and in severe nerve, back, and abdominal pain for over an hour and a half, unable to move.

While I stayed under there, I thanked God for that sweet tech and the fact that she remembered me from the segment on TV earlier this year. I bit my lip to feel the taste of blood and take away the nausea because I needed to get this done and not throw up all over the equipment and myself. 

Then, when the pain from the back and gallbladder set in, and the claustrophobia seemed worse than hell, I told myself to quit feeling sorry for myself—and to quit thinking how easy it would be to stop fighting. 

I want to make Mike, our kids, and our families proud. I’m not done battling yet—and I might not make a good Amazon woman after all—but I can still strive to live through this for my kids. Plus, this wimpy surgery seems to be nothing after everything else I’ve been through. Of all the organs for cancer treatments to kill, I never liked my gallbladder. It’s just a bile pouch anyway!

The results already came back from my scan today and confirmed that I must indeed get my gallbladder out (shocking); we just need to take precautions with all of the other crap I have going on. I’m not upset that I need another surgery (my eighth surgery in seven years). Like the saying goes: God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, so He must think I’m a badass. 

I’m done crying. I’m done being a baby (for today anyway). I just never knew how many crazy things go along with having cancer. Complications from cancer treatments almost killed me two times last year. That’s almost hard to fathom. I thought I understood cancer before my diagnosis. I had no idea.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry you have to have another surgery. I hope my email wasn't too weird. I haven't been my normal cheerful self lately. I cry a lot, something I never usually do. Not because anything hurts, not because of fear of what lies ahead, I just cry. I guess it makes me feel better. I hope you feel at least a little bit better after you cry. I hate that you hurt, that you have to have surgery, and all the rest that your cancer has brought you. As a person, a human being, you bring so much love, care, fun and so much more to the rest of us humans. It all seems so wrong. Like a fault in our stars, as that book/film was called.