Posts Tagged ‘medical’

Please remember to do regular breast self-exams

I’d like to ask you a question. When was the last time you did a breast self-exam? I do them pretty frequently because the natural topography of my bosums includes some denser tissue which can feel, well, lumpy.

In early February, I found a lump.  Now, this did not particularly alarm me because I’ve had a cyst before and there’s no history of breast cancer in my family. Still, it was something I needed to get checked out. Because of some unexpected travel, I had to wait till I got back to Portland to schedule a visit to the doctor which meant waiting a month and a half.

Monday, the doctor checked it and informed me that I was correct that there was a lump. But it wasn’t a cyst.

Which meant a mammogram and probably an ultrasound were in order. The imaging center could get me in on Wednesday, which was great but left me with a day and a half for my brain to eat itself. I found myself wishing I was still in Iceland where these things are dealt with much faster.

I’ve been so certain that it was nothing that I was completely thrown by the fact that it might be something.  Now, there was still a fair chance that it would turn out to be just a fibroid or some other benign thing. And yet… the not knowing was crazy-making.

This morning I hopped on my bike and headed down to EPIC Imaging (Yes really  figuring that the endorphins of the ride would help. The folks there were incredibly nice and took me back pretty fast. We did the first set.

Now… the technician told me that the mammogram shouldn’t hurt anymore than sleeping on my stomach. I am dubious about this.  In fairness, the fact that my bosom is being flattened between two plates isn’t the uncomfortable bit. It’s the pinching and stretching of the skin around it. She was very efficient and made it as painless as possible.

Back out to the waiting room while she had the doctor look at them.

Then back in for more images focusing on the area with the lump. The whole time she was reassuring me that more images doesn’t mean anything and then said, “Now, the small paddle. That will be uncomfortable.”

Oof. She was right. Again, though, very kind and took good care of me.

Back out to the waiting room while she had the doctor look at them.

Then I was taken back to have an ultrasound. As the technician was working on me, she said, “I think you’ve got a lymph node there.” Before my brain could try to parse that, she explained that it was a normal thing and not cancerous but that she’d have to have the doctor confirm it.

By the time I was dressed we had the confirmation that the lump is just a lymph node and that it isn’t at all unusual for them to become more apparent as a woman ages. It also becomes firmer during the course of my cycle. Now I know it is there and can safely add it to the internal topography when I do my self-exams.

So, I’m fine.

It was really like someone reached into my head and flicked a switch from “Fret” to “Happy!”

Now… my request to you is: Please do breast self-exams regularly.

Marlowe’s continuing adventures with string

Here’s where we stand with Marlowe. I took him back in for another x-ray at 4:00 and Dr. Sutton said that she thought there was still foreign matter in there. He also had some gas in intestines that he didn’t have before which could just be gas or could be trouble. Faced with a choice of admitting him right away or bringing him home until we heard from the radiologist, I opted to bring him home.

When Dr. Sutton called later it was to say that the radiologist definitely thought there was a linear obstruction and swelling in the small intestine. Surgery is now back on the list of possibilities.

Meanwhile, Marlowe seems totally fine. He’s eating well, drinking water, wearing his helmet of invisibility, and otherwise behaving as if he doesn’t have two feet of string inside him.

The plan now is for him to stay home with us until nine or ten tonight and then go to the vets for overnight observation. If it’s warranted they’ll do another x-ray to see where things stand. And then, if we need to, surgery.

He’d be in for couple of days and on pain meds when we brought him him. Probably with a cone. I am devoutly hoping he’ll just pass the darn thing.

Marlowe’s adventure eating string

String has long been one of Marlowe’s favorite things to chase. When Harriet came into our lives, we introduced her to string as well, which she thought was the best thing ever.  Now, Harriet has this funny habit of picking her toys up and walking around the apartment with them.  With the string, she’d trail this long end of it, which Marlowe would chase.

Hillarious and adorable.  Sometimes they would play tug-of-war.

But because I know the dangers of cats eating string, I always put it away when they weren’t supervised.  Until last night.

The cats were happily playing. I was helping Rob in the kitchen with dishes and Harriet walked in to complain, without her string.  So far, this has mean, “The string is inanimate again! Make it move!”

So I went into the living room. No string.  Marlowe was curled up on the couch looking innocent.  I wandered through the rest of the apartment. No string. I said, “You’d better not have eaten that.”

But I wasn’t really worried because neither cat had shown any interest in gnoshing on it and they lose toys all the time. I mean I was worried enough that I repeated to Rob, “I hope one of the cats didn’t eat it.”

So this morning, we got up, fed the kitties and about fifteen minutes later Marlowe vomited explosively. Oh look. There’s the string. Or… about half of it.  So I called the vet and we trotted off to the SE Portland Animal Hospital, which saw us right way.  The whole time, I was thinking of Cherie Priest’s cat, Spain, who had an episode with a hair tie and wound up needing surgery.  Much, much cursing was going on inside my head, because I know better than to let a cat have string. I know what it can do to their insides.

They’ve done x-rays of him, which I get to show you, and everything looks fine.

They’ve hydrated him and we’ve got him on a stool softener, hoping that he’ll pass the rest of the string with no problems. Apparently inducing vomiting in cats is not as safe as it is for dogs. We had the choice of hospitalizing him or bringing him home and since he seems fine at the moment, we’ve brought him home.

The really amazing thing? When we got Harriet, she came with pet health insurance. After her first vet visit, in which she had a couple of minor issues, I decided to extend the insurance and to add Marlowe. So this whole vet trip? Covered under “ingested foreign object.”

Ironic, eh? The cats have insurance, but the people don’t. Of course, we don’t eat string.

Edited to add: The vet just called and after the radiologist reviewed the x-rays they think there might be an obstruction in the small intestine. We are taking Marlowe back in for a review at 4:00.

Rob’s hands: Operation date!

Yes. It’s true. Rob finally has a date for the operation.  March 30th, they’ll tackle the carpal tunnel in his right wrist.

Of course, first, he has to have a pre-op physical.  I don’t have any understanding of why he has to have this second physical when he just had one with the same doctor.  We are both hoping that they will be able to schedule this physical rather faster than they did the other one, otherwise they’ll have to push the operation date back.  Mind you, when the problem was first diagnosed in October, the surgeon had wanted to get Rob in that week for surgery.  Clearly, he is dealing with relatavistic time of some sort.

Yet another curse-producing update on Rob’s hands

Rob finally had his physical while I was away. In fact, that’s why he didn’t go with me to the birthday retreat, because the only date he could get was smack in the middle of it.  While I was in Chattanooga, I told one of my cousins, who’s a surgeon, about the physical.

He looked baffled and said, “It’s a six-minute procedure done under, at most, a shoulder block.  Why do they need a physical?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. Insurance, I guess.”

He shook his head. “Fly him down here. It’ll be less of a hassle.”

We both laughed.

So, today, Rob finds out that yes, of course, there’s another hoop he has to jump through. The nerve-conductivity test he had back in Portland shows that his hands are normal.  This means two things 1) they have to do another one. 2) It’s not a pre-existing condition, which throws the status of the insurance (worker’s comp or our insurance) back up in the air again.

I’m beginning to think that I should just put him on a plane to Chattanooga.

The latest cranky-making update on Rob’s hands

Yesterday Rob managed to contact the physician and the insurance company. THIS time he was told that, yes, of course the physician’s office will contact the insurance company (as if they hadn’t told him that he needed to do that) but they need a copy of the worker’s comp rejection letter first. Okay… Sure would have been nice to know that earlier. So Rob faxes that over and calls back to make the appointment.

Now the lady says that he can’t schedule the appointment until he’s had a complete physical, which he needs to schedule at least two weeks prior to the surgery.

My reaction was a resounding WTF? [1. WTF, but not in acronym form.]

I mean, he could totally have had the physical anytime in the past couple of months if they’d just said that was a prerequisite. So Rob is calling around today, trying to find a primary care physician — because we don’t have one — so that he can get the physical before we leave for the holidays. And then AFTER he has the physical he can call back to schedule the appointment.

Mind you, this is for surgery that the physician wanted Rob to have right away in October

Both of us are so frustrated because of how many hoops we have to jump through just to get on the schedule. Since we’re both free-lancers we usually just pay out of pocket; write the check and you’re done. As Rob says, “It takes nine people just to make an appointment, no wonder insurance is so expensive.”

Update on Rob’s hands

Here’s the latest on Rob’s hands. Last week the insurance finally approved his claim and said that he could have the surgery. Yay! I waited to post until we had a surgery date, which… we still don’t have.

Why? Because the doctor’s office said that they needed written authorization. It took a couple of days for Rob to reach the insurance company, which he did today, only to be told that they need the doctor’s office to make the request for the written authorization. Needless to say, when Rob called the doctor’s office to tell them that, the person who handles scheduling was gone. Maybe tomorrow he’ll get on the schedule. More likely, he’ll just have to jump through another hoop.