Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mammograms and Snow Days...Just Waiting to Get the All Clear

It is 10:30 at night and I am sitting at my desk. It is quiet. I came up to my room and found Molly asleep in my bed. She will probably stay there since Chris is staying in Georgetown tonight and we have already gotten the call from Wayde letting us know that there is no school tomorrow, and probably none on Friday as well. The snow is falling outside and we are expecting about a foot...or more. This is our 10th snow day this year. We have been keeping track and the kids have only gone to school for one full week since Christmas with no snow days, delayed openings, or holidays. It has become a running joke that Loudoun County kids don't know what it's like to go to school for five straight full days of school. And Monday is President's Day so that will be another shortened week.

Some moms have had it. They are done with the snow days and just want their kids to be back in a regular routine. Most of the ones I know have younger kids, young kids that need to be supervised, that don't just get up on their own and turn on the TV or do something else to entertain themselves, but kids that wake mommy up at the crack of dawn when the alarm doesn't need to be set and there is no place to go and they could be sleeping in but they don't. But my kids are now older. Snow days are so much more fun when they get older. They really appreciate sleeping in, having an unexpected day to themselves as well as enjoying the slow down of everything that comes with not having to go to soccer or basketball or dance or piano lessons or CCD. Even though this is our 10th snow day, I'm going to enjoy the slowdown once again, even more so than usual.

Let me digress and say that my family has been very blessed with good health. Chris and I are fairly healthy except for occasionally throwing out our bad backs that we both seem to have. But when we decided about 17 years ago (Shannon is about to turn 16) to start a family, we had no problems. I had four uneventful pregnancies and never really got morning sickness. I had four uneventful births and I have four very healthy children, no physical ailments, no developmental delays, no allergies that I need to worry I said, I am blessed and I thank God every night as I lay my head on my pillow. That's not to say that we haven't had our fair share of doctor visits. You know you have visited the ER one to many times when the nurse remembers you from the last time you were there. "I know you, aren't you the family that went on the Disney cruise and he had stitches in his leg at the time?" 

Yep, that's us.

You know you visited the ER one too many times when they call the plastic surgeon because a kid needs stitches on his face and the doctor recognizes the name and knows right away that the kid is going to be sedated because he did the stitches the last time.

But other than these "interruptions" in life, my family has been blessed with good health. I am usually pretty good about keeping them up to date on their annual physicals, dentist appointment, orthodontist appointments, and the occasional physical therapy after a kid has injured one of his or her body parts. But I am not always as good as taken care of myself. I am a mom. I never seem to hesitate to make the appointment for the kids and get them written in my book and making sure everyone one stays in good health, but I do have to admit that I'm usually behind when it comes to myself. When the kids started school in September, one of the things on my to-do list was to take care of myself and I did a pretty good job. I went to the eye doctor and got my new contacts. I made my dentist appointment that I was way overdue and I made my appointment for my annual physical. All was good, I could see crystal clear, my teeth were sparkly and I had a mammogram script in hand from my doctor. But now it was the end of October and before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving, and then I blinked and it was Christmas and then January has been full of snow days and we just never got back into a routine and my script was still sitting on the kitchen counter.

Finally, I got on the schedule last week. My appointment was on Wednesday and of course we were under the threat of an ice storm and another snow day so I changed it to Thursday. Finally, it was the day to eat my frog. There is a Mark Twain quote that I always tell my kids, "Eat your frog first thing in the morning and then the rest of the day will be a piece of cake." I don't always follow my own advise. It only took 5 minutes to sit down and make the appointment and I felt so good finally having an appointment scheduled, but somehow we always find all those other things to do except that one thing that really needs to get done.

So anyway, Thursday came and as I was driving in the car, I thought about my mom who was diagnosed with breast cancer 17 years ago. I remember going on a ski weekend at my uncle's house. My mom was there and it was a fun weekend. But it was only a few weeks later that she was diagnosed with cancer. Her doctor had found a lump and it was positive. She is fine today, but ever since I turned 40, I get my mammogram. This appointment was probably the fastest one I ever had. I walked right in, there was no wait, I changed and put my gown on, they called me back to the room, squish, squish, squish, squish, "Okay, Mrs. Nealon, your done, have a great day, we'll call you with the results if we find anything." I was out in 20 minutes. Phew, I had eaten my frog.

But then I got a call the next day, Friday afternoon. I could see from the caller ID it was the radiology place. Crap, they usually only call if they "find" something. 

Mrs. Nealon, we saw something "different" on your mammogram when we compared it to all your previous ones, we would like you come back.

It's Friday afternoon and their first available is 1:15 on Tuesday. Now, thankfully, like I said, we are pretty healthy and I haven't had to deal with doctors except for annual physicals and thing like that, but I think that there should be some kind of guideline as to when you call a patient back with news that says, "We found something 'different' and we want you to come back."

You shouldn't make this call on a Friday afternoon when your next available appointment isn't until Tuesday afternoon and this patient has to sit with this news for four days playing the "what if" game in her head. A Monday morning call would have still accomplished the same result with only one day of worry.

Now, I wouldn't characterize myself as being pessimistic, I do try to look at the positive side of things and give people the benefit of the doubt, but I am also a realist and even though Chris said that everything would be fine and my friend told me that she was called back to have a second screening and everything was good, really, you don't know that everything will be fine until the doctor says it.

So Tuesday finally rolls around. Chris met me at the office. We were in and out in about 45 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. 

1:10 - We arrived at the office, checked-in and sat down.

1:15 - I got called to the back, Chris stayed in the waiting room, I changed, put on a gown with the opening in the front and took a seat. This waiting room is a lot nicer than the first one. There are little dressing rooms and the seats are in a circle, soft music is playing in the background, and if you didn't know better, you would think that when your name was called you were going to get a nice relaxing spa treatment instead of getting your boobs squished like pancakes.

1:20 - My name is called. The girl tells me that she is going to do 3-D pictures instead of the standard ones they took last week. It took less than five minutes and then she told me to keep my gown on, go back to the waiting room and the doctor will look at your films. You will either get the all clear OR we will call you back for an ultrasound.

1:21 - Back in the waiting room, texted Chris in the first waiting room that pictures were done and now I was waiting.

1:23 - Checked emails...reminder of parent meeting for rising 9th graders for next year for Timmy. Email about dance line-up for Molly for upcoming performance. (Life doesn't stop because I'm sitting in a gown waiting for the "all clear.")

1:25 - Check Facebook...someone in the neighborhood posted that they saw multiple cop cars and cops with guns drawn and wondered if anyone knew anything about it. Yikes!

1:26 - Chris wants to know if I want him to come and wait with me. I text back, "No, it's a dressing/waiting room, you need to stay put."

1:33 - Check Twitter account. I follow a lot of teachers and librarians and children authors. One mom was giving away a DVD copy of The Jungle Book. I think it was an anniversary edition and you had to comment under the hashtag #junglebookdiamond. What are your bare necessities for life?

So there I was, waiting and waiting...not very long, but at that moment that I was waiting to get the all clear, I was reading all these hashtag comments of moms about their kids, favorite lines of the movie, "forget about your worries or your strife", and I sat there remembering how when Timmy was about three we would call him Mowgli because he used to run around the house on all fours and was unbelievably fast. He was faster on all fours than he was on two feet, and not on his knees, all fours. When we moved him to his new room in the basement just a few weeks ago, we found his two stuffed animals the tiger and the panther from the movie. #barenecessities...What are your bare necessities? Well, my kids, family, time with chest was about to explode...the stress and the anxiety was building.

1:35 - A tall, skinny, young blond girl with a high, sing songy voice came into the waiting room and called my name. She sounded like Barbie in the Toy Story got her voice inside your head? Okay...

Hi, Mrs. Nealon, I'm Jennifer, please follow me.

Another girl was with her, I don't know where we are going because she didn't tell me. Are we going to see the doctor, do we need more pics, are we doing the ultrasound? I don't know, there is no communication even though this girl keeps talking in her sing songy voice with a smile on her face from ear to ear. Finally I asked her if we were doing an ultrasound?

Oh, yes, Mrs. Nealon, this is the ultrasound room. Have you ever had an ultrasound? It doesn't hurt?

Sh*t...the other girl told me I would get the all clear OR they would do further testing with the ultrasound. And now I am standing at the doorway of the ultrasound room listening to this happy, peppy girl and I really just wanted to slap her. There was nothing to be happy or peppy about at this moment! 

I finally stopped her and looked her and asked her,"WHY are we doing an ultrasound? WHAT did the pictures that we just took show? WHAT are we looking for?" All I kept think is that the first girl said, "Wait here and you will either get the all clear OR we will call you back for an ultrasound."

Finally, perky, peppy Jennifer with her Barbie sounding voice said that the pictures looked good, the doctor saw them, but just wanted to do an ultrasound just as an added precaution.

 REALLY!!!! YOU couldn't have started with THAT!!!! 

She did the ultrasound, the doctor came in after and explained everything to me about dense tissue and how breast tissue ages and how if the angle of one picture is off, it can then look "different."

I walked out of the room and texted Chris, "ALL CLEAR!!!!!" and then got dressed.

Note to self: When in a stressful situation, it is better to communicate effectively than it is to cover it up with a sing songy voice and pretend like we are all going to a party.

It is now Thursday afternoon as I finish writing this...too tired to finish last night. So back to the fact that we are on day 10 for snow days and I'm pretty sure tomorrow will be day 11. We got 14 inches of snow and are waiting for Part II of this storm to give us a few more inches on top of what we already have. I know lots of moms are pulling their hair out, they are ready for their kids to be in school on a normal regular basis, but at THIS moment, I'm okay with the extra time with my kiddos. I'm okay that Miss Molly fell asleep in my bed and kept me company while Chris stayed over in Georgetown. I'm okay that we get extra time together.

Whenever a big storm is on it's way, you get the panic of running to the grocery store for bread, milk and toilet paper. I did my grocery store run on Monday but I also got baking ingredients so we could have some sweet treats. I also went to Home Depot to buy paint so Timmy and I could work together to get his room painted. I also stopped by Joann's and picked up the last Project Life kit so I could work on my family albums. I really want to get them done, now more than ever. I take so many pictures of this wonderful life we have, I hate that they are all locked on the computer, they need to be in albums!

So I know people are done with the cold and the wet and the ice and the snow and the days off...but I'm okay with it, because at this moment, I got the All Clear! 

Now, my cul de sac is another story...still waiting for a plow.

And maybe we'll watch The Jungle Book on this Snow Day!

At least my driveway got the all clear because of a great neighbor even if the cul de sac hasn't seen the plow.


No comments:

Post a Comment