Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 8 of 21. Echo. Echo.Echo.

I am due for scans. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. The scanxiety starts. I mean- rationally I KNOW that the scans are just giving us the information we need to guide treatment. I know that having the scan doesn't change the outcome- if there is progression- there is progression. My best bet is to catch it early and switch up treatment to keep the cancer at bay. BUUUUUT it doesn't feel like that. It feels like a great big thunder cloud waiting to rain on my carefully planned picnic. It feels like a vice around my heart- squeezing until I can't breathe. What if? Well we deal, IF. This is the dance. I haven't even scheduled the scans yet- my onc will put the orders in next chemo at our appointment. But the scanxiety is there.

Monday was my ECHO. echocardiogram. Many chemos are cardiotoxic. This means they affect the muscle of the heart, weakening it. So every 3 months I have an ECHO to monitor my heart. ECHOs are about as easy as it gets. It's an ultrasound of the heart. Non invasive, not painful- mildly strange to  lay there topless while a man rubs a wand around my breast- but I'll take it over a colonoscopy or a dental cleaning any day.

There are 2 ECHO techs. Both male. I've had probably 8 or 9 ECHOs. I've been with Lily for at least that many. I know a thing or two about how they are done. ECHOs should not hurt. There is no reason for them to hurt. The toughest thing you have to do is hold your breath for a few images and lay there half naked. After a couple of ECHOs, there was a new cardiologist and a new protocol. Different docs like different images- I'm cool with that. Although I think 90 images every 3 months when I have absolutely NO flags or issues might be overkill- but I am not a cardiologist and the exam is relatively easy so I keep my trap shut. Well each time the tech goes through his schpiel about why we are doing it, how it is done and that it can be uncomfortable and if it gets too uncomfortable to let him know and we can take a break. I always kind of laugh because it's an ECHO. I've have tons of ultrasounds- through 4 pregnancies and well been cut open many time and had a breast chopped off- you don't scare me with your wand and cold jelly. Although I am offended that we have had several meetings and he still feels the need to go over the whole shebang.

And then one time over a year and a half ago, he bruised me. And I didn't say anything. Because I was in chemo and just attributed it to chemo effects and being sensitive- hell bushing my hair and teeth hurt too at times. I asked a nurse friend if this happens sometimes and she said absolutely not. So next time I was a little stressed- I didn't like confrontation and this guy literally rubbed me the wrong way. Well I lucked out and had the other tech. He was fabulous- talked to me the whole time- was quick and explained everything but not in a condescending way. He said things like- you have these all the times you know that this and such and such- and this shows this and that shows that. I would have been ok with silence too- but it was nice to be in on the whole thing.

So next time Phil goes with me and its bad tech again. And Phil can tell I'm uncomfortable and he points it out. We take breaks but I can tell he jabbing harder than necessary. The next time my neighbor Monica goes with me- I'm in chemo and tired. I don't want everything to be a battle so good friends go and battle for you. So after have 2 extra sets of eyes see what an ass he was - I finally felt comfortable refusing to see him. So each time I schedule, I request not him. It's an issue. But until they fix his malfunction- I'm not gonna be the end of his control issue. But it is a simple thing that creates extra stress that shouldn't be there. That's what it's like with chronic health care issues.

So yesterday- the good tech walks by the waiting room and does a double take. If he's not available- they've actually had cardiologists or residents do the ECHO for me- it's been interesting- but guess what- none of them hurt. I'm worried about timing a little- since I had a little bleeding yesterday. It's been probably a year since I've seen the good tech- he is impressed with my hair.  We catch up, he shows me all the new angles the machine can measure my heart. The 3D version is pretty cool. He does a quicker protocol since I'm there every 3 months and to date have had zero concerns. My ejection fraction is 60% which is slightly less than it used to be(65%) but not concerning. And different techs mean different techniques so it could just be artifact too. Ejection fraction is the measurement of how much blood is being pumped out of the heart chambers. It's how they measure the effectiveness of those muscles. Generally they look at the left ventricle ejection fraction. It's supposed to be 55-70%. So I'm right in there. All is well.

I wipe all the jelly off my chest and it's time to go get the girls from school. 

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)