The evening after hearing I might have multiple myeloma Bosco and I poured ourselves into reseaching everything we could find about lytic lesions, multiple myeloma, and hyperparathyroidism. I called my friend Judy and told her what was going on as well as my brother. My friend, being such a good friend, said all the right things and expressed loving concerns and agreed that it was probably a mistake and all would be good. Talking to my brother was VERY VERY hard. Big brothers have this idea that it is their job to protect their little sisters, even when they are over fifty. Gary listened, didn't say much, and told me he was sure it would all be okay. He was unusually quiet, which if you know my brother, you know this is not normal! I kept my circle very small.
There is a lot on the internet about multiple myeloma, and none of it is inspiring or good. Everything about lytic lesions references multiple myeloma. So, I started looking for sites that connected lytic lesions with hyperparathyroidism. Bingo! At parathyroidism.com there was information that supported the idea that the lesions might be caused by something being wrong with my parathyroid. The website also reported other symptoms I had been experincing. Headaches, chest pains, lethargy,etc... The parathyroid makes too much hormone which causes calcium to leech off the bone, making lesions. When the hormone level is undercontrol, the bone can actually repair itself. It happens to about 2% of people with hyperparathyroidism. At that moment, two percent became a life preserver in a sea of fear. One part of me said, "No way, no how do I have cancer." Another part of me said, "Oh, no. This cannot be happening to me."
My mind was moving so quickly. Between the war of I am a healthy 53 year old woman and someone is telling me I have terminal cancer. Alfred had said the prognosis from the radiologist implied advanced multiple myeloma. Worst case scenario, four months left. That would put me dying before my daughter's wedding. What about Bosco, my frail and elderly parents, and Jordan? What about Jordan? I thought of things I hadn't done in my life. I hadn't gone to Ireland. I hadn't held a grandchild. I wanted to retire and spend time with Bosco. I wanted to see Jordan graduate from college, start teaching, and marry the love of his life. I kept thinking about all the mornings I had gotten dressed to go to work, kissed Bosco goodbye, came home and worked from my laptop. I thought about what I would leave behind and would it be something remembered? I thought about lost moments that I couldn't get back. It was not just scary, it was unsettling. Of course I prayed. But I know God's will is unmoving. So, I had to put it all in his hands. That was easy because I certainly didn't want to do this on my own!
The next day, I went to the hospital and signed in for my skeletal survey. The four foot eight inch receptionist entered all the information into the computer and wouldn't you know it, insurance rejected it. Little tiny Maria the receptionist turned right into viper-woman right in front of our eyes! She politely asked if I would mind going home and she would call me when she had the problem solved. I had heard her ripping on the insurance woman and I was not about to argue with this little powerhouse! But postponing the procedure was a little problem because Meghan was flying into Tucson that afternoon around 3:00, so Bosco and I needed to be on the road to Tucson by 1:00. I went home and on the way, I received a call from Meg telling me that her flight was going to be late. There was a delay and she wouldn't be in until around 6:00. Remember, we hadn't told her what was going on, so I assured her everything was good and Bosco and I would be there to pick her up. At 1:00, my new friend, Maria the Brave, called and told me all systems were GO and come right in for the procedure.
A skeletal survey is not common. It almost seems a little out-of-date considering most procedures involve nuclear medicine. A skeletal survey x-rays every single bone in your body while you lie very still on the table. There is a lot of film changing and checks for clarity. You lay on your back and your side and it takes over an hour to complete. I tried to weasel some info from the tech, but he gave me the "Your doctor will be in touch" line. When I asked him point blank if he saw any lytic lesions besides the ones on my skull, he did confirm he didn't see any. That made me feel good. The internet pictures showed some very advanced damage from lesions and I felt I had dodged that bullet.
Bosco and I drove to Tucson to meet Meg's plane. We talked about superficial things and a little about whether or not to tell Meghan. We decided that she needed to know and how we would tell her. I looked out the window watching for something I had never seen before, trying not to think about what was happening in our life.
It's always great to greet your child at the airport. Everyone is smiling, hugging, and there is a sense of celebration in the air. I wanted to appear calm, relaxed, and "myself" whatever that looks like! We grabbed her bags, loaded up the truck, and headed for Eegees, Meghan's favorite place to grab a sub sandwich.
Driving along the interstate, catching up on how her day had gone, I started telling Meghan about the CT Scan and what had all transpired in the past two days. I did my best to be upbeat, told her that I was SURE it was hyperparathyroid, and everything would be okay. Tra-La-La, tra-la-la. I couldn't tell her that Dad and I were terrified. She didn't say much and she asked a few question. Soon she told us she wanted to sleep a little as we moved on down the road.
We had a great time with Meghan that week. When we went to the wedding planner, on our way to the car, Meg put her arm through mine and said, "Don't make me go through this alone. I need you."