I am not getting on my soap box in this column: I am furious and need to vent!
During these last two months, I’ve been going for all kinds of tests associated with my assorted medical issues: Afib, increased number of red blood cells (had a second phlebotomy), high calcium levels and pulmonary arterial hypertension. They ran a Doppler test on my legs to rule out blood clots (none); breathing tests (normal); and during the first week of February, I’ll do a home sleep study. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do, so I’m moving ahead, right?
Last week, I went for a lung CT scan with contrast. It was fast and not uncomfortable; the technician walked me back to the reception area and advised that the doctor would be in touch with the results of the scan. She called me the very next day. There were no abnormalities in the lungs, some tiny nodules, no clots—but still no explanation for the shortness of breath I’ve been experiencing. However, she did notice a “thickening” or “shading” in my left breast. Uh huh, I had a lumpectomy in April 2014. You remember it well, don’t you? That’s when Ruthie’s Brigade was born. Now what?
Then the one-two punch: the doctor strongly advised getting a mammogram as soon as possible and a heart catheterization with one of the leading cardiologists at the Westchester Medical Center. I was dazed and numb as I hung up the phone. Then, the anger and frustration set in. I’ve always considered myself calm, strong and pretty much in control during stressful situations. This time, I just let it go.
I didn’t want to deal with cancer again. How dare it come back! Is it trying to test my strength? I don’t think I can go through those horrendous tests again: I had now made this personal. And this catheterization is not a stroll in the park; it is serious stuff. Then, I cried, thought about making a few phone calls (didn’t) and then went out on my deck for a breath of fresh, cool air. No magic solutions; I don’t know what the catheterization procedure is, so I’ll ask questions. I am all too familiar with mammography; maybe the “thickening/shading” is from the radiation in 2014.
So, folks, what am I going to do? I’m gonna put on my big-girl pants, take a couple of deep breaths (I can still do that) and go for all the tests that I need and make decisions just like I always have. I will say this: it was energizing and cleansing to yell, rant and rave and finally have a good cry.
Now that the air is clear, I’m ready to do battle (it’s in my DNA). Are you ready, Ruthie’s Brigade? Let’s go!
Ruthann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.