Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Mrs. Selchow, there's something on the CT Scan." Part 1

Part 1

Last year about this time, I started having some health concerns. I had a nagging headache, I felt a tightness in my chest, and I started having shooting pains in my left arm. I blamed the headache on my sinuses and allergies. The tightess in my chest I blamed on stress. But when the pains started in my left arm, I took notice and I really started to worry. I bit the bullet and called my doctor and made a well needed doctor's appointment.

I am ashamed to admit that it had been some time since I had had a physical. I saw the doctor twice a year for my sinus infections, but other than that, I had avoided the yearly exam that NO woman joyfully says, "It's time and I am soooo very happy!" In fact, it had been about ten years since I had had an extensive physical. Don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful doctor. He is very supportive and great! I go every year for my mammograms and faithfully have the results sent to Dr. Wu's office, but that was about it.

The appointment went well. Dr. Wu, or Alfred as we call him, assured me that he would run some tests, but it could possibly be "hormonal." He even said he would schedule a CT Scan on my head for the headaches, just to rule out any brain tumors or bleeds. Aren't doctors funny? He said it so nonchallantly, like we'll rule out a hang-nail. I left feeling better for having had the physical, but with no answers to the symptoms. I went right over to the hemo-lab and gave up some blood for the cause and went home.

The next week was fall break and the CT Scan was scheduled for Wednesday. Meg was flying in the following day so we could wedding plan and I was pleased that the Scan would not take any valuable time away from the time I would spend with her. Bosco asked me if I wanted him to go with me and I almost told him, "No." So, at 10:00 we showed-up at Southeast Arizona Medical Center and I went through the process. Bosco was able to watch from the booth since the tech was our former student. Laying on the narrow table while it moved me into to scanner and listening to the clicks, I prayed a little that there would be no tumors or brain bleeds. It was over very quickly and while we were getting ready to leave, Roman asked me to wait a few minutes for the radiologist to read the films. He seemed so relaxed that we took a seat and waited. About 20 minutes later, Roman asked me to wait a few minutes longer while an ER doctor looked at the films. Okay... I was starting to worry. I looked hard at this young man whom I taught for three years in middle school and asked, "Roman, do you see something on the film?" He said yes and showed me a white dot on the film. About 10 minutes later, Roman handed me a disc, a copy of the radiology report and told me to go to lunch, then go back to Dr. Wu's office. He wanted to meet with me as soon as possible. Bosco and I just stood there looking blankly at each other, took each other's hand and walked quietly out of the hospital to our car.

Lunch was supposed to be at El Chef, home of my favorite burrito, but we picked up some McDonalds and headed for home and our computers. Bosco went to his lap top and I went to mine. Googling "Multiple Myeloma and skull lesions" probably wasn't the best idea, but we both wanted to know what the problem was. Holy Moly! I was NOT prepared for what I read. Terminal cancer. Pain. Disability. As I read the overt symptoms, this did not describe me. I was active, semi-strong, and aside from the headaches, tightening in my chest, I felt FINE!!! I finished my lunch as Bosco and I tried hard not to make too much eye contact and I picked up my purse and my phone and got ready to go to Alfred's office. Bosco's golf team had a home match and he looked so torn about having to go. I assured him I would tell him everything and besides, this was all a HUGE MISTAKE!!

What happened next was probably the scariest of all. You know how you always have to sign in at a doctor's office and wait until they call you in? Well, Susana, the doctor's receptionist, smiled at me sadly, told me to come right in and took me back to Alfred's personal office. No examing room. No scale/thermometer/blood pressure cuff. No wait. I really thought I would vomit on the floor at this point.

Alfred breezed into the room with a faxed copy of the report. I confessed and told him I had read it and Googled the information. My usually laid back, friendly, sweet friend was now serious, concerned, and was pouring over my file. He looked at my lab reports, which were normal except for a high calcium level. He told me that high levels of calcium were indicitive of either cancer or para-thyroid problems. I excitedly told him that my mother had had a tumor removed from her para-thyroid several years ago. He gave me a very serious look (no smile) and told me, "You can be only cautiously optimistic." Iasked him about Multiple Myeloma and what he told me was very serious and very sad. It's usually found in Stage 4 cancer and treatment is very severe. To be honest, it was like this was happening to someone else. It couldn't be happening to me. Then, he left to call an oncologist in Sierra Vista to discuss the report. When I left, it was back to the hemo-lab and I had a skeletal survey scheduled for the following day at the hospital.

Meg was coming home the following afternoon. Whatever would Bosco and I tell her and Jordan or the rest of our families? I drove out to the golf course, climbed in Bosco's cart, and tried very hard to hold it together while I watched my husband wipe tears off his face.

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