Daily Prompt [Sail]

At times, I wish I could sail off into the sunset.  To leave all my cares and worries behind me:  no more brain scans; no  more breast scans; no more kidney scans; no more colonoscopies and EGD’s; no more stress of worrying about the outcomes of the tests I must endure.  No more Cowden Syndrome and no more Lhermitte-duclos Disease discussion.  Ever.

Alas, life is not like a movie.  I don’t have that luxury around me, and to be honest, I really envy those that do.

But life is life.  And, it’s not a dress rehearsal.  This is my lot in life.  Call it bad or good, it’s mine and I must not ever give up.

 

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Mid-October?

Wow.  I can’t believe this month is already 1/2 over!  That’s so crazy.

I was looking at my calendar this morning and was a bit overwhelmed with all I have going on:

  1. Colonoscopy and EGD
  2. New therapist appointment
  3. Endocrinologist appointment the end of the month
  4. I had 2 different Neurology appointments scheduled, and they both fell through.  (It’s mildly concerning to me since I am living with 2 brain tumors and have had 2 craniotomies.  But, I digress.  For another post.)

I guess my point is that I’ve been forced to learn how to advocate for my health.  And, that’s one of my biggest takeaways since diagnosis of the brain tumors.  I get to share my experiences with you, and hopefully at least 1 thing I’ve experienced these last 5 years may be of some help to you.  To someone.  Somewhere.  That helps me feel that none of my medical experiences have been for naught.

I could tell you horror stories, and rest assured, I will continue to share them.  (Gross negligence of privacy issues to start.)

But, not tonight.  I am still traumatized from the colonoscopy and EGD last week.  I’m still irate for not being able to see a neurologist.  However, the main thing is even though I must endure numerous screenings and procedures (and those aren’t going away any time soon), I will not tolerate unacceptable behavior.  I will not waste my time waiting in exam rooms for doctors who don’t listen to me.  This is my life, this is my health; if you’re not meeting my medical needs, I refuse to endure and I will move on.

I never would have done that in my previous life.  I would have just gone along with things, because I had to.  Well, you know what?  I don’t have to do anything.  I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.  Has the diagnosis of Cowden Syndrome and Lhermitte-duclos Disease made me stronger?

Hmmm….

Betcha’ you can’t spell it backwards!

Sometimes having Cowden Syndrome is a huuuge drag.  I mean, a big freaking drag.  Wrought with doctor appointments and scans a plenty, but that’s the nature of the beast.  To, “make sure I’m watched closely if something arises.”  You know, it’s funny because just last week I was thinking that things had been pretty quiet lately on the medical front.

Dun dun dun…

Oh, and I also want to add:  In case any of you are wondering still if I’m using Cowden Syndrome and Lhermitte-duclos Disease as an excuse to not live life, or why I don’t schedule all my appointments during the summer so I can teach, this is why.  When things come up, they come up.  I can’t say to my oncologist, “Oh sorry.  This isn’t convenient for me.”  I have to make my schedule conform to their schedule, plain and simple.  That’s just how it works when you have a hereditary cancer syndromeDeal. With. It.  (This is mainly for my ex-friend who verbally attacked me a few months ago with all this garbage.)  🙂

I saw my oncologist on Friday…

  • I had a kidney ultrasound on Thursday; the last one I had was April 2014.  That one was unremarkable from what I remember.  This one?  Not so much.  Dr. L said I have a lump/bump on my left kidney.  She didn’t mention the “C” word initially, but when I asked her about it she said she didn’t know.  She named all sorts of things it could be (even technician “technique”) but I find that very interesting when the radiologist named it in her report.  An angiomyolipoma.  I’ve been told by a few people that lipomas are usually benign, and that’s a big sigh of relief.  But, I’m really really really really really trying to not turn myself into a pretzel.  Worst and best case scenarios, right?  I think I was given all of it, but the little inkling in the back of my mind is nervous.  Let’s be honest.  So, my doctor is calling for a repeat kidney scan this coming Thursday.  My heart is beating fast, but I’m remembering to breathe.  Breathing is the only thing I can do right now anyway.
  • Dr. L is sending me to an oncological surgeon because of the EGD I had a few months ago.  I had “multiple polyps” in my esophagus and I guess that raised a bunch of red flags to some people. (Ha.)  I’m not sure what this appointment will entail, but all I know is next week I’m going to be super busy a just a tad nervous.  Overwhelmed?  Well, maybe.  But, I just can remind myself this isn’t brain surgeries and I “got this”.  🙂

The moral to this story is Cowden Syndrome sucks rocks, and it manifests so differently in so many people.  I have LDD, but not everyone I know with CS has LDD.  I may/may not have kidney issues (it is 33% lifetime risk of kidney cancer BTW with CS), so whatever will be will be.  I say that today with all honesty and openness, but I don’t know if I can hold that till Wednesday morning.  We’ll see.  The point is that I can’t give up.  I won’t give up.  I guess someone can be both scared and peaceful at the same time?

Organize thyself

Dear Yetta Francine**:

How are you?  I am sorry it’s taken me so long to write.  I’m not sure what’s going on; as you know, normally I love to write as this is such an outlet.  Nonetheless, I have been blocked in writing.  I know I need to catch you up on so many things, so I am going to do my best here.  Thanks for being patient.  And, above all, thank you for being here for me.  It means more to me that you’ll ever know.

Instagram:  You’ll never guess what happened?  You know how I love Instagram and post pictures about my life with Cowden Syndrome and Lhermitte-duclos Disease? A few months ago someone commented on one of my doctor pictures and she said she has CS too.  After some commenting back and forth, come to find out SHE LIVES 5 TOWNS AWAY FROM ME!  Can you believe that?  If anyone had told me 3 years ago that I would be connecting with ANYONE who has Cowden Syndrome, let alone someone so close, I would have laughed in their face. However, in hindsight, I sure would have appreciated that information back then because it might have done wonders to help ease my anxiety and despair then.  (Granted, the despair has lifted, thankfully.)

Next medical thing:  I am having my next colonoscopy on the 24th.  Did I ever share this with you from a few years ago?  I am glad I wrote that because I will need to check it again before next week.  I can’t believe it’s next week!  I remember the discussion in 2012 about when to have the next one.  That’s the thing about having such a large medical team.  One doctor suggests “X”, while another suggests “Y, Z, and then a.”  Positives and negatives on both.  Anyway, it ended up being 2 years that I needed another one, because while I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer then, I did have 3 polyps, which no one ever wants.  When I saw the GI doctor last month, he didn’t think I needed to have an EGD this time.  That was news to me, as I was expecting to have both procedures just like last time. I told him that I had a polyp in my esophagus (or somewhere, that came up via the EGD) and for my peace of mind I want to know if there are any more this time.  We went round and round, he said he had seen a person with Cowden Syndrome during his residency, blah blah blah, but I didn’t need an EGD.  WHY THE CRAP NOT?!  I started to get angry here.  My voice has value and meaning. When someone doesn’t listen to me, especially when it comes to MY health and MY body, I really get mad.  He wasn’t going to budge so I told him that I would check with Dr. L (oncologist who schedules all my screenings and scans, except for my brain).  I called Dr. L’s office and left a message with one of the assistants and waited for a call back.

Well, that call never came.  Of course.  So, last Monday I called the oncology office.  Spoke with D (I won’t throw her under the bus here) and said why I was calling. Gave her all my info, and was under the impression she would leave a message for the assistant and all was on track.  Right before our call was finished she put me on hold for about 10 seconds, then came back and said, “Oh.  For your this issue you need to talk to your Primary.”

ME:  “Why?”

D:  “Well Dr. L handles your cancer treatments so you need to contact your Primary.”

ME:  “I don’t have cancer.  Dr. L handles all my screenings.  I have a rare disease and Dr. L is very aware of this.”

D:  “Well, I talked to the head nurse and that is what she said.”

ME:   “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.”

D:  “Because you need to talk to your Primary.”

AND SHE REFUSED TO LET ME LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR MY DOCTOR.  The doctor I have seen since 2011.  The oncologist.  I wasn’t able to leave a message for her.  I about lost my marbles.

I called a contact of mine at my Primary’s office and unloaded on her.  I cried and just about lost my noodle.  My friend A is so amazing, so kind, so wonderful (if you read this A – I so appreciate you!) and she said she’d pass the message to my Primary and maybe she and Dr. L would talk (again) and I decided I just need to let this go.  For now.

Tuesday morning my Primary doctor called, she looked in this system and told me that I was scheduled for the EGD.

WHUT?!

My Primary didn’t do anything, she didn’t make any calls, she just read to me what was already in the system.  Urg.  You have GOT to be kidding me.  I know Yetta.  I know this is a big mess and I should have just let it go.  But I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  D and the “Head Nurse” (what a joke) MUST be held accountable for what they did.  Or, at least have me THINK they are being held accountable.  I called the supervisor at the office, and I swear, she sounded about 14 years old.  I told her everything, and she said she’d “Get back to me.”  She did the next day, and said that D was “so sorry that happened and next time I would be allowed to leave a message for the doctor.”  I said, “Well yeah.  I should always have been able to do that.”  And then we went round and round about the “Head Nurse”, C.  She lied to the supervisor, I know flat out she did.  And I told her that.  She wasn’t going to budge either about “procedures or protocol” and she’d have the nurse call me directly to talk about that.  DO YOU KNOW I AM STILL WAITING FOR THAT CALL?!  Then, here’s the kicker: A couple of days later I get a call from a different nurse, the triage nurse. She says she is calling to me to make sure I knew about the EGD and Dr. L wanted to make sure I knew.

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME WITH THIS?

I’m done.  I wish that I could be done with that office, but I cannot.  It is what it is. But this triage nurse was very helpful and I am just going to call her in the future for everything.  So, I am a bit nervous about the procedure.  After all that.  I won’t lie.  And, I suppose that the nervousness (I am only calling it that) won’t ever subside.  It’s just part of my life.

You know Yetta, we are all busy. I am sure you are busy too.  We all have lives.  But, part of why I feel so overwhelmed is that if I drop the ball on something, it’s only me that will be affected and what if it turns to something medically serious?  Does that make sense?  So much responsibility and so much weight on my shoulders, that it’s suffocating.  The physical pain is getting worse too.  Not from the stress, I don’t think, but from the brain tumors affecting my balance.  Have I ever told you about the Spoon Theory?  Please give it a read when you have some time.  It is pretty great and pretty right on.

Juicing:  A friend gave me a juicer a few weeks ago.  I am so thankful and so excited!  I’m sure you have heard of the Gerson Therapy, or Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  A different friend juiced for 40 days and lost 23 pounds!  My goal is to juice 1 meal a day, or at least breakfast when I am home.  Every time I do that I put a sticker on my calendar.  🙂  If you check my Instagram account you’ll see some pictures of my recent drinks.  My favorite juice is with apple, carrot, and celery.  Once I get going on juicing at least one meal daily, then I will probably start to 2 meals, and so on.  My favorite mantra is “Celery All The Things!”  🙂

There’s quite a bit more I want to catch you up on.  I haven’t acclimated very well to “living in the world with Cowden Syndrome and Lhermitte-duclos Disease”, and to the title of this letter (post) I need to make some big organization changes in my personal life.  I’m not sure how to do that so if you have any suggestions, please send them my way.  There’s some more I want to update you on, about my expectations (how I am working on letting those go) and about a comment that someone told me (about 7 years ago) that has triggered some stuff lately.  Also, do you know of a way to manage chronic physical pain?  Anyway, I’ll get to it soon, I promise. It all ties in to chronic diseases and managing them in life.  I suck at it, apparently.

I hope you are doing well.  Please write soon.

Love, Heather

 

 

 

**Yetta Franice was my Cabbage Patch Doll’s name when I was a child.