Wednesday, March 25, 2009

C-A-T, Yeah, you know me...

I had the first of what will become many surveillance CAT scans this past Tuesday. I'll go over the results with the oncologist on Monday.

For anyone who hasn't had one, CAT scans are not so bad, I suppose. You have to pick up a small jug of barium contrast the day before your scan. Some people don't mind the taste, some people can't choke it down. I think it tastes like a combination of orange push-up, suntan lotion, and iron filings. But I still drink it down. 'Cause that's me. You have one glass between 8-10 pm. Then you can't have anything to eat or drink after midnight. You drink another glass an hour before your scan, and then you have the last cup right before they put you on the machine.

The machine looks like a stargate about the size of a manhole cover. There is a long bed that moves back and forth through the hole. It has a bunch of numbers on the top and two cartoon faces, one that's holding its breath, and one that grinning rather sardonically. This is because, you guessed it, you'll be holding your breath as you're passed through the stargate.

One they've taken a couple of scans, they'll put an IV in your arm and inject you with another dye, and let me tell you, this stuff is weird. It heats you up in the strangest places...your sinuses, the heels of your feet, and your groin, so that it feels like you've wet yourself. Very disconcerting the first time you experience it, but then you kinda look forward to it. After they take a scan, they wait 6-15 minutes to scan you again. This time, they're making sure that the dye has made it into your bladder. It shows up as a metal blob. And they your sent on your way with the instructions to drink a lot of water, because you need to flush that dye out of your system, or else you can develop kidney problems (I literally drank a gallon of water that day...and I don't really drink a lot of water.)

So, this time around, I was really nervous. It's been too quiet around the household. It seems we were dealing with so much at once, I almost expect to have a crisis now. What if they find cancer in the lymph nodes? (that's the whole reason for the scan, by the way) That's a major surgery that takes months to recover from and has many complications. Or even if it has shown up in the other testicle? That's a whole other issue.

I think that I haven't dealt with the cancer thing really completely, as far as my emotions about the whole thing go. I've been busy with school, family, and everything else. Maybe I'm avoiding it? Afraid of what I'll find? Perhaps I haven't grieved. It wouldn't be the first time I've had issues with that. Am I angry at myself? This is the point...I'm not sure I've resolved and reconciled what being a cancer survivor means to me. I know I'm gun-shy about the doctor now. It's sort of like the dog that's been kicked...I'm not sure if the next time I come when I'm called, I'll get a boot in the ribs (or a knive in the gut). Maybe I should look into a cancer survivors network in my area. Chat room forums are nice, but some face time with people might be helpful.

So those are my thoughts for this evening. Now it's off to read what other people have written about theatre, and to write about what they wrote about...crazy. No wonder I'm always tired.

1 comment:

Opus said...

Michael - I think that sometimes the idea of what a cancer survivor is "supposed" to feel gets in the way of how we really feel.

I, too, am a cancer survivor. All I had was surgery. I will always have a visible, major scar and I have to be checked for recurrence every six months. That's it. I know people who've had surgery and chemo and/or radiation. Sometimes I feel like, compared to them, I didn't "really" have cancer.

The emotional reactions, and ongoing feelings, about having cancer are highly individual. Ultimately, I feel like I had surgery and I have this great scar to show for it. (I know I'm a girl, but I'm darn proud of my scars!) I'll talk about it to anyone who asks. I don't hide from it, but I don't advertise it either.