Lain's Log

I did it!!

April 26/11

The dreaded radioactive-dye-in-the-boob injections - now a thing of the past! I survived, and will admit, thankfully, it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. That's NOT to say it didn't hurt, because it did, but nothing like the nightmare I'd imagined.

My cousin, Marilyn, kindly drove me to the hospital (after I took a
Tylenol 3 and a 5 mg. Valium). No way I was doing it drug-free! On the way, she taught me an Indian mantra which was used in the book Eat, Pray, Love (Marilyn is a huge fan of the book). She says the mantra has helped her thru many painful procedures and began to teach me how to do it, with deep breathing, in and blowing out and saying OM NAMAH SHIVAYA, (which translates to I honour the divinity that resides within me). We repeated it over and over on the way to Mt. Sinai.

Upon arrival at the 6th floor Nuclear Medicine department, the receptionist (who remembered me from my panic attack the week before), kindly told me she had everything ready to go for me because she knew how anxious I was and wanted to speed things along!

She asked if I had gotten the answer I was looking for last week. I told her I DID get the answer, but NOT the one I was looking for! The message I received was - No Lidocaine!

Got called to change into gowns and went into a big exam room with a huge machine (turned out to be for a Gamma probe test). A nice young woman asked if I had any questions. I had several. Then, she had me lie down with my right arm way over my head. I told her about my meeting with Barry, head of the department a few days before, how I'd asked him if women have ever left screaming from the table and he said no. Then I asked if Barry was here, but she said he was in a meeting. I told her, "He probably found out I was coming and ran for the hills!" Hee hee. My many questions tend to scare people I think.

The young woman explained the test and said, "I will give you two injections." TWO? TWO?? Everyone had told me it would be FOUR! (at this point, I thought, no WAY I'm going to suggest, 'Wasn't it supposed to be FOUR??" - Fuhgeddaboudit!

She cautioned me, it does hurt, but only for a short while. I was working away on the deep breathing, repeating Om Namah Shivaya, over and over, as she gave me the first one. It felt like any old needle I've ever had in my life, but the radioactive dye crap they shoot into you REALLY stings a LOT. THEY compare it to a bee sting, which I guess, it kinda was, but it doesn't just sting for ten seconds, but for a number of minutes. Then, the second injection - same thing.

I still believe the study I read about, where Lidocaine was mixed in WITH the dye, would make things much more tolerable. It seemed I could feel the dye in other areas, like my hands, which had weird little zings in them.

At this point, the woman who did the injections told me her shift was over and another woman would be coming in to finish the test. She came in and told me I would need to go inside this big machine and have pictures taken. (I didn't remember reading about this part of the test). It was kind of like an MRI machine. I had to keep my right hand way up for a long time, then stay still for five straight minutes while they used this machine to take photos. Then more pictures, each taking about two or three minutes.

I had read in my books that the doctor usually massages the breast after the dye injection to get the dye moving into the lymph nodes, but
this woman told me she would leave the room and asked ME to massage the breast with my other hand, in a circular motion for three minutes.

After about 60 seconds, I thought well this is stupid. I should be massaging it left to right, trying to PUSH the dye towards the under arm/nodes. So I did that, really hard, since I'd been told that sometimes it doesn't work and the dye won't "light up" the area they want to see. When the woman returned, she looked at the screen and said, "Oh my! You did an EXCELLENT job! I can see the nodes PERFECTLY!" Winning!

Then she took more pictures and sent me on my merry way with a copy of the results of their findings, (sealed, so I couldn't look at them), to give to Dr. McCready on Wednesday morning. They also marked a big X on a certain area of the breast in indelible ink, to show the doctors exactly where the node is (I think). Or maybe she was just starting off a game of tic-tac-toe!

As I was about to leave, the receptionist joked, "You made it! - And you didn't jump off the table and out of the room!" I told her no, it wasn't as bad as I thought, but that it was painful. All of a sudden, Barry walked towards me. I couldn't help myself and shouted out, "BARRY!" (had to laugh. He probably wonders why I am on a "first-name basis" with him, but what the hell!) He actually APOLOGIZED for not having been able to get an OK to use Lidocaine. He told me he even contacted another authority on the matter, but couldn't get the go-ahead. I thanked him for trying.

When I left, I said to Barry, "Well, I hope I don't have to come back here again, - but nice meeting you!" And we waved goodbye.

I called "Serenity Sis", Carrie and she was just pulling up onto Murray Street below. I told her to stay there as I was on my way down, and she wouldn't have to go into a lot and pay for parking. She drove me home, heard all about it and then came in for tea, etc, and drove home.

The teaching class in the morning was pretty intense too. Will write about that another time. I met some wonderful women, all going through different stages of breast cancer. It helped me considerably, just to meet and talk with them.

Last, but not least, guess I should mention my "photo shoot" of a DIFFERENT nature! I'd been wanting to have my daughter take a few semi-nude shots of me, so I could always remember what my breasts looked like before part of one is taken. (I've heard, pretty much every woman faced with losing a breast, or part of one, thinks of doing this!) Problem was, I didn't get around to it and my daughter was out. I knew I'd be coming home that afternoon with big markings on the breast, so when my cousin, Marilyn offered to pick me up today, I surprised her by asking her in and telling her I have one more job for her.

She glanced around and saw a big pink feather boa on the chair. I told her we have five minutes for you to shoot some pictures of me "in the raw," (well, from the waist up, anyway!) Grabbed the boa, ran to the sunny kitchen, did a bit of flirting, tossing the boa around and hoped for the best. Marilyn is a fantastic TV and movie art director and also an excellent photographer, so she didn't seem to mind being assigned the role of "nude photog" to this day's busy schedule! The only working camera we had in the house was my little digital one, so we did our best. She was shouting, "Beautiful!" And I was yelling, "Work with me Baby!" It was a riot. Then rushed to get dressed, into the car and raced off to the hospital, peeling into the parking lot five minutes before my appointment. Whew. - (Oh, and, don't be lookin' for these shots on the blog! Not gonna happen. I'm not that brave!! - Just ask The Cowardly Lion!)

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