Healthcare

♪ But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more

I did not intend to leave you hanging on the cliff this long. Time passes by so quickly some days and others a single minute feels like several days.

The previous post was fairly short and this one will more than make up for that…

So I’d just been told that they thought I had cancer. Some of the labs took more than a week to come back. It felt like an eternity to wait, but one by one the results trickled in. Each negative result was a collective sigh by family and friends, but I was still in full “flip out mode.” When they all came back negative, then I finally was able to breathe again.

We still had a mystery on our hands though. Endocrinology continued to run more and more tests. As a nurse, I was looking up each one and finally saw that we basically had exhausted all tests within their specialty. Our first specialist left a little to be desired; later on we ended up requesting records to go to a larger regional facility and I read the progress note, which stated he thought that this was all anxiety…more on this later! We requested a second opinion at another facility in the same town just to get a fresh set of eyes on the case. However the other facility was considered out-of-network with our HMO insurance provider. In return that meant that we had to have a second in-network opinion before we could literally drive 10 minutes across town for another opinion. Yes…insurance, that was something that also was going to be a continuous hurdle along this journey. My second opinion (in-network) yielded a thyroid evaluation because we already knew that I had a nodule from previously. It had changed slightly so we decided to do a biopsy, which came back questionable. When we finally got our “across town” consult approved, they reviewed the biopsy slides and determined that there wasn’t enough of a sample to even give an accurate result. So I got to have a second biopsy done in less than a two week period. This time is came back as suspicious and at that facility it runs a 30% chance of being cancerous. I decided to have the left half of my thyroid removed to rule out any thyroid cancer that could have a similar presentation. My symptoms improved for a whopping three weeks and then returned.

Keep in mind it was May already. This was 5 months into a deep, dark hole with no end in sight. We still couldn’t control my blood pressure or heart rates very well. My flushing was at a point that I was laying on the linoleum floor in our bathroom to try and cool down. I didn’t know where to turn, what to say, or even how to breathe. I just kept hoping and praying that I would wake up one morning and it would all be a thing of the past. All I wanted to do was go back to work and be a nurse instead of the patient.

I was so angry. Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? I wanted my life back…the one that didn’t involve pills, blood draws, ER visits, and constant trips to specialists. I wanted the life that was working at the hospital and in people’s homes. Helping families and patients through grieving, pain, and also moments of overflowing joy.

The new “normal” was playing out in front of my eyes and I either had to accept it and adapt, or sit back and disappear into the background. So I chose the new normal and put one foot in front of the other. That was my choice; the only one in my eyes…

This thing called life is a funny thing. It can be full of joy and it can be full of pain. It’s our choice whether we allow good or bad to continue to exist day after day. I had so many people cheering me on and I needed that support. I needed to be lifted up.

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Healthcare

What did you just tell me?

It turns out that life handing me lemons was going to be just the beginning of my problems. I was going to have to learn to like lemonade A LOT, really fast!

My “influenza” turned into an endocrine evaluation nightmare. I had been fast-tracked into a specialist because they thought that based on my symptoms, that I had a rare cancer syndrome. So we were doing tests before we even saw the specialist. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Anytime you hear “cancer,” your heart drops to the floor. 

I went in for the battery of tests after the “we think you have cancer” phone call. That was officially one of the most emotional days that I have had on this journey. Tears rolled down my face on the drive in. It didn’t matter how hard I was trying to hold them back and be courageous. When I got to the hospital the tears let loose. It was good that I already knew all the staff because they hugged me and held me like I was their family. All I could think was, “what did you just tell me?”

After the tests, I went up to the hospice office…tears and all, and collapsed onto the floor. They surrounded me and told me that no matter what happened, I had a lot of people who were going to be by my side. They told me that I couldn’t be alone that day and made sure my hubby was headed home before they let me leave.. 

Up until then, I thought I was invincible and could handle anything. But I wasn’t. It turned out that I was human just like everyone else and I also had emotions that had to be let out. Coping was a skill that was going to turn into my survival mechanism.