Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just Add Valium

Today began the journey, officially.  First I had an appointment with the lovely Joy at the Breast Center to talk about genetics.  I find the whole thing completely fascinating I must tell you.  She input all the info about my family into a computer program that assesses your risk for having certain gene mutations.  I'm a MUTANT!  I KNEW IT!  Finally confirmation!  Anyway, I gave her all the info on my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and brothers.  There has been NO cancer in my family EVER!  This, of course, makes me extremely interesting. I like to be interesting, it happens so rarely.

On my Dad's side, he and all of 5 of his siblings are deceased.  I had 4 aunts and the only one who had cancer was my aunt who had leukemia at age 91 and died.  But, if you are going to live that long, something is going to get you - so it's really not a factor.  On my mother's side, it's just her - an only child.  If I do have the BRCA gene (which is the gene mutation that can cause breast and ovarian cancer), it would have likely come from my Mom's side.  As my friend Viki said, "If it's not one thing, it's your MOTHER!"  Oh how true.  Haha - Sorry Mom!  See, a woman can have the gene and pass it on without ever having had cancer herself - but that's rare.  However, the fact that both my mother AND her mother both had hysterectomies due to fibroid tumors is veeeeeeerrrrrrrrrry interesting they say.  Having a hysterectomy decreases your chance of getting breast cancer by 50% - and since they lost their ovaries as well, there would be no chance of ovarian cancer. So, it's possible, that both of them were able to side-step cancer by having this done.  Interesting.  If it turns out that I do have this gene, they'll recommend a double mastectomy as well as a hysterectomy.  Wow.  I can not wrap my mind around that!  Losing ALL my lady parts in one swoop?!  Eek!  I'd have to have a shirt made that says, "I'm a WOMAN - REALLY!"

If I don't have this BRCA gene - then I'll be seeing a genetic specialist to see what IS going on.  Because it's just not "normal" to have renal cancer and then TWO breast cancers within 5 months - something is "wrong."  And they need to find out what so we know what to look for.  What other cancers am I at high risk for getting?  I see a lot of poking, prodding and tests in my future.

For the genetic testing, you can have a blood test done - but we all know that I'll do anything to avoid a needle.  So, I opted for the spit test.  You have to take a little shot glass full of Scope and drink it, hold it in your mouth and swish "vigorously" and then spit it into a tube after 30 seconds.  Okay, first of all, it's really hard to keep the Scope in your mouth that long because it burns!  Then, the tube that you spit into, well, it's narrow - you can probably see where I'm going with this...  I'll preface this by saying that I'm a drooler anyway and spitting in a controlled fashion is not one of my many skills.  So, I had the Scope in my mouth, I swished vigorously and then I went to spit and, well, SOME ended up in the little tube!  Yah Me!  However, a lot ended up on my pants, the floor, my hand and the table.  It was a disaster.  Thankfully, you have to do the whole process twice so I was given more time to hone my skills.  The second time I did much better.  Plus, they gave me the rest of the Scope for free!  Woot!  See, breast cancer does get you free stuff!

After the uncontrolled spitting episode, I, for the first time in my life, took Valium.  See, my next appointment was a MRI - and I don't do well with MRIs.  I had one, once, and I didn't make it through.  It was about 9 years ago (after a car accident I think) and, though I'm not claustrophobic, putting me in a tube totally confined where I can't move caused a bad scene.  I thought I'd be okay.  The guy laid me on the table, moved me into the tube thingie (that's the technical term) and the music came on (loudly) and the machine started making loud noises and thumps.  I couldn't move!  I started getting more and more panicked.  The guy told me if I needed him to just talk and he'd hear me.  So, I said, "I don't think I can do this..."  No response. "I think I need to get out..."  No response.  And then I'm yelling, "TAKE ME OUT!  I CAN'T DO IT!  HELP!!!"  And the next thing I remember he was pulling me out of the machine and I was screaming.  I had blacked out and apparently started screaming.  And where was HE?  He had gone to get coffee!  And LEFT me there!  To. Get. Coffee.  To say the least, I was finished and there was no way I was going back in that thing EVER!  He felt terrible and I think he was pretty freaked out that I was going to report him - but I didn't, I hope he learned his lesson...

So, when the mere mention of MRI came up last week, I said "Nu Uh, No Way, No How!"  But, since I have TWO breast cancers, really, it needs to be done to make sure there isn't anything else that is being missed.  Then they said, "We'll give you Valium."  I've never had Valium before and, really, I haven't been in any hurry to try it.  But, if it had to be done, give me the drugs and I'll give it a go.

So, I took one.  I instantly felt calm and happy.  I'm kidding - nothing happened.  I did feel a little giggly going up the escalator but that's about it.  I signed in for the MRI and it was a short wait.  A very nice nurse came to get me and gave me lovely hospital approved wear.  Once changed, I had to go to the bathroom and I stalled in there a little bit putting off the inevitable.  Because I maybe felt a bit calmer, but nothing cool was happening yet.  I was waiting for psychedelic colors or dancing pigs or something.

When I could stall no more without them calling 911 on me, I emerged and was led into the MRI room.  First, the test involved me laying on my back and would take about 6 minutes.  They put a washcloth over my face and said that would help.  It did help, but it didn't matter because I couldn't have reached it anyway if I wanted it off.  They gave me headphones to listen to country music (none of which I'd ever heard before - I should have chosen rock!).  I also had a bulb to squeeze if I couldn't make it anymore.  I'm proud to announce that I DID make it - but I was a basket-case by the time they took me out.  I was hyperventilating and sobbing.  But, I MADE IT!  I did it!  The whole 6 minutes!

I was able to calm myself down just in time for them to start an IV in my arm.  Oh goodie.  It took two tries - because someone that hates needles always gets to have MORE of them, or so I'm convinced.  Then, I got up and they set up the table for me to lay on my stomach.  And this is where it got hilarious.  See, they put down a bunch of pillows but then they put down a contraption with two big holes and, well, I think we can guess what goes in those holes!  Your ELBOWS!  I'm kidding - the BOOBS!  I thought that was a pretty funny sight and I joked like I was going to put my elbows in there instead - and really, these medical people have no sense of humor whatsoever - either that or they thought I was a complete idiot.

Anyway, you position yourself with the boobs in the holes and you have your head in a padded contraption and your hands above your head.   There is a mirror and you can see your hands and your hair (I found more gray hairs - thanks a lot).  This part where you are on your stomach takes about 16 minutes.  I think the Valium did actually kick in by this point because that part was really easy and I would have fallen asleep if the damn machine hadn't been so darn loud!  I mean, geez, can't they keep it down while I'm trying to NAP?!

After I was dressed and located my husband, I told him I NEEDED a McDonalds cheeseburger!  Had to have it!  I'm not a big fast food person - but I had to have one so bad!  My husband replied, "Oh great, here come the Valium munchies!"  After my cheeseburger that I totally scarfed down like I hadn't eaten in a week, I came home and slept for 3 hours.

So, I did it!  And I lived to tell about it.  Now I've also taken Valium and I didn't end up any goofier than I already am.  That's a success in itself.  However, next time I'm definitely taking two!  I want to see something cool happen!  Otherwise what good are cool drugs?!

People Outside My Family Who've Seen My Boob: 11
Boob Count: 26 (only 2 today, I'm slacking)


  1. OH EM GEE....you mentioned MEMEMEMEMEME! I feel like such a celebrity in the life of Laura and her breastesess!

    I'm not sure the Valium wore off at the writing of this post....this is pretty damn hilarious! Only you could find THIS much humor in THIS much turmoil! See...I told you there was method to all of this madness!

    Although it sucks big time that you are even going on this journey...I'm glad that I get to go on it with you via this blog.

    Hang in there my friend....I'm still praying!


  2. You are my hero Laura.

    I had my first 2 fillings (not really fillings, more like just "fillers" for deep grooves in my back molars) a few years ago and had to have valium for THAT.

    Yup. I'm a big chicken. Big one.

  3. Elbows where the boobs go! I love it, I would have laughed...hard. I love the humor you have while dealing with this.

    Just think, if you get them chopped off, and lost the other girlie parts, how much happier could you be? No bras, no periods, no hotflashes and weight loss in an instant! I know I know. It's difficult to think about, but a good fresh set of falsies that are perky like a teens sounds rather exciting right?