Wednesday, August 21, 2019

And Sometimes Love Looks Like a Harry and Megan Mug

Sh*t got real today.
My cancer class was this morning.
7:45 - noon, they said. Pay for 4 hours parking, they said.

I arrived at 7:45
Paid for parking.
And waited in 3C, the Pre-Admissions corner of the building.

At 8 am, two nurses came and got me.
We walked down to the Ground Floor, to the education end of the surgical centre and entered the large, bright, windowed, classroom. There was room for 12 of us at the table. (6 cancer people and our 6 'care people'.)

I was the only one in attendance.
No other patients could make it.
And I didn't know who to bring as a support person.

Eventually I had 4 professionals provide me with a very personal, very focused, very quick overview of All The Things That Could Go Wrong, How To Look After The Drainage Tube, How To Prepare for Surgery, What Services Are Available If You Have No Support People.

I was given some complimentary pillows, a million booklets and a number of forms. My hands and arms were measured, in great detail, because Lymphomeda is dangerous and a real threat, but I'm not to worry, as 95% of patients don't get it. And she checked my range of motion.

Remember, back in May? When there was a crunching sound in the shoulder? And I dropped/broke my camera? (May was also the month I felt the lump, so THAT was my medical priority...) Wellll, when she asked me to raise both arms straight up, over my head? Only one arm could do that. The other one didn't even come close. It pointed out. Not up.  Like, towards 9 on a clock. And that's the same arm that'll have lymphnodes taken from it's armpit. That's the arm that'll need physio. SOooo, SILVER LINING. By the end of this, my shoulder will end up getting the attention it's needed.

By 9 am I was done.
Everyone had downloaded all their info into my brain.

And none of that info was fun.
(Plus I'd clearly paid too much for parking.)

I went back to my mom's to process. To read the material. And try not to freak out. 
I went back to bed.
My way of handling things I can't handle?
Take a nap.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to. I'd just been given a crap load of gross intel.
But I did.
Sleep that is.
And dreamt about folding lawn chairs and their webbing and how it breaks down.

I woke up at 11.
And decided to get a practical bra before my 5 pm appointment with the intake nurse.

I drove to Langley, to the Mastectomy Shop, and walked in.
It's a retail/medical store. Not a fashion/lingerie store.
Everything screamed CANCER in there. It was quiet and it's entry way was at the back of the building and the products all were on display in a logical way, not as a pretty display. Nothing enticed you to say, "Ahhh, I love this! Hope they have it in my size..."

Her, with a compassionate face and soft eyes: Hi, can I help you?

Me, with every ounce of bravery in me: Yeah. I'm having a partial mastectomy in a couple weeks and (tears start flowing) my coworkers raised some money for me to get a bra....

Her, with her compassionate face and soft eyes and gentle voice: How very kind of them. Are you OK? May I hug you?

Me, embarrassed by my tear ducts: Thanks, I'll be OK. Uh, I wasn't expecting to cry. Sorry.

Her, with her compassionate face and soft eyes and gentle voice and knowing smile: Oh, we're very used to that in here. Come. Here. Tell me your story. When is your surgery? What is your diagnosis?

Turns out it was too soon for me to be shopping for a boob holder. She said to wait til 6 weeks after surgery to see how much of my breast is removed. Could be that I'll need to get a knitted knocker to fill in the gap left by them 'cleaning out the margins'.

It was the first time I came to terms with the idea that they might be scooping out more than a teaspoon of tissue. And the scar is going to be significant. I mean, I kinda knew it in my head. But my heart got on board while I standing in that Store for Imperfect Boobs and it was sad for me.

I left there and drove over to work, where I was told a pink gift had been left for me at reception.

That pink bag was CRAMMED full of snacks from Britain.
Including tea and a Harry and Megan mug to drink it in.
So fun!
So thoughtful!
So perfect!

Julie T and I went to the same church for 10 minutes back in the early 2000's.
(This was the first church that closed down on me.)
(Well, not just on me. It closed on everyone. I happened to take it personally.)
Her parents are from Manchester and at some point in my life I'm just going to sit in her kitchen and listen to them chat when they come to visit. #bestaccentever

Thanks, Julie for the unexpected, totally delightful surprise on a crappy 'cancer' day.

My (ex) brother-in-law had sent me a message, suggesting a Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage. His friend was a RMT and she did this type if treatment for many cancer patients.
(I am a cancer patient. That's a title. Along with mom, sister, divorcee and project manager.)
So I called her to see if she could fit me in.
She couldn't.
So I dropped in to the brandnew therapy clinic in my neighbourhood to see if they had a RMT who could do MLDs. They didn't.
So I called Fluid, who has a RMT and they're located right next to my work. But no one answered their phone.
Three strikes. I'm out. I guess it wasn't meant to happen.

Thus far this hasn't been my favorite day.

At 5 I had my phone meeting/interview with the intake nurse.
She asked a million questions as she filled out forms. These forms are the exact same ones I've already filled out. Twice. We really need some sort of central computing system so that all levels of medical care don't have to maintain their own data bases. My two cents.

She gave me very specific showering and sleeping and fasting instructions.
And I really have lost all interest in this project.
I'd like it all to just go away.
I don't want to read the millions of brochure pages. I don't want to check out websites. I don't want to go back to that specialty bra store.

Waaaay too many hours of talking to myself/whining to God about this period of preparing for the next procedure.

And then I drove down to White Rock to meet Shelly who'd planned a picnic for us.

(Chicken Enchiladas with mango salsa, sour cream and refried beans. Lemon Tiramisu for dessert.)

We talked, cried, prayed and sat at that table til the sun set, the twinkle lights came on and the moon rose. It was a little bit magical.

A gentle way to end the day.

I am so very lucky.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Surprises in pink bags
2. Friends who do picnics
3. Kind, compassionate, caring strangers who sell bras for wonky boobs
4. Non-rainy evenings
5. Back-to-work days. I'll probably need to take another day off next week for procedure-related appointments, but other than that? I'm hoping life will feel normal again til Sept 3.
6. A theme verse: Isaiah 43:1 (It was given to me AGAIN tonight from a former co-worker from years ago. The first person to pass it along to me was my brother.) Since Aug 1, it keeps coming at me. Feels like a holy echo:

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