I am ever so slightly stoned as I write this, having just taken a Tylenol 3 (I call this the medium guns, as compared to morphine or the lovely high from oxycontin). I have been trying to manage the pain with plain old extra-strength Tylenol, and usually that's fine, but sometimes I just need a little extra numbness.
I think my doctors actually think I'm pretty stoic.
Speaking of doctors, I saw one of the GPs who works with my oncologist today. Dr. D. doesn't usually back up my oncologist but I gather the place was really hopping today. Dr. D. was also the doctor I saw in the hospital. I referred to her as the warden. And I definitely felt like I was in jail.
A couple of days into my stay, my friend H., who was visiting me when the Dr. made her rounds, made a joke about how I was planning my escape. Dr. D. was most distinctly not amused. It took several minutes of reassurance from me before she stopped radiating disapproval.
Today's appointment went fairly well though. My bone scan showed no evidence of metastasis. This means that, although the cancer, having travelled from my breast, is likely elsewhere in my body, there appears to be no significant presence outside my liver.
I've also been given the green light to start Herceptin and chemo again next Tuesday, pending blood test results (we need to make sure that those infection-fighting white blood cells have rebounded).
My heart has not yet recovered from the stress placed on it by my first six rounds of chemo (Taxotere, Adriamycin and Cytoxan, known as TAC). However, the doctors have decided that given the agressiveness of my cancer and the improvement I experienced after just one treatment, the benefits of Herceptin outweigh the risks (the big one being permanent heart damage). Consequently, though, I have regular echo-cardiograms, possible heart medication and a consultation with a cardiologist in my future.
Just a little over a year ago, I considered myself to be a very healthy person. Other than a brief stay in hospital when my second son was born (for his sake, not mine), I had only ever been hospitalized for a tonsillectomy when I was eight years old.
By the end of my appointment, though, I found that I had warmed to Dr. D. She may not smile much or laugh at my jokes but it's clear that she is a caring doctor, who wants to deliver good news. She did smile when I was finally sprung from hospital and when she delivered the news of my bone scan. She also is willing to take the time to answer questions and explain things, without ever making me feel that she is 'dumbing things down' or patronizing me. What's more she is honest when she does not know the answer to a question but quick to inform herself and get back to me.
I think this makes her a pretty good doctor.
This is life as a cancer patient. Full of surprises. Not all of them bad.