Lain's Log

Just GOTTA know!

April 21/11 (part two!)

While undergoing the ultrasound at Princess Margaret, my brain was haunted by worrisome thoughts about the radioactive dye I’ll need to have injected into the areola next Tuesday in preparation for the sentinel lymph node removal/biopsy. Couldn’t get the horror stories out of my mind, (told by some of the women who had undergone this brutal test WITHOUT a Lidocaine injection).

When a nice lady doctor came in to check my ultrasound results, I asked if she knew anything about these injections and if Princess Margaret Hospital uses Lidocaine to prevent pain during this test. She said it wasn’t her area so she didn’t know. However, she DOES specialize in the wire insertion procedure to be done next Wednesday morning and told me she definitely uses Lidocaine for that! (Hallelujah!) I asked if she could be my personal “wire inserter”, but she couldn’t guarantee that.

As mentioned in the last post, something came over me when I got down to the hospital lobby after the ultrasound. I was shaking, anxious and suddenly, unbelievably angry! I thought, “Stop channelling Charlie Sheen!” But Charlie wouldn’t vacate the premises, so I had to go with it. Seconds later, I finally recognized what this was. The long-forgotten, feisty, often frightening, driven, get-out-of-my-way reporter in me, had bubbled to the surface. Somebody stop me!

Then, I understood what was gnawing at me. I could no longer STAND the not-knowing if Lidocaine would be used for the boob injections! HAD to find out – somehow! There must be SOMEONE in this hospital who can tell me!

Took the elevator back up again to the ultrasound floor and asked a receptionist where I might find the exam rooms for breast dye injections. He didn’t know, but directed me to the office of the infamous Fe, (secretary for my surgeon, Dr. McCready). I was finally going to meet her in person!

Upon finding Fe, she explained the injections are actually done at Mount Sinai - (not here at Princess Margaret). I asked her if they use Lidocaine, but Fe didn’t know either.

Luckily, Mt. Sinai is right next door, so high-tailed it over. Found the Nuclear Medicine Department and went to speak to the receptionist. There were several people in the waiting room and this was kind of embarrassing, so I spoke quietly. Here’s our conversation.

Me: “I’m coming in for an injection appointment next Tuesday afternoon and would like to ask a question about the procedure”.
Her: “They’re all at lunch!”
Me: “Do you know when they’ll be back?”
Her: “They just left. They’ll be back in one hour!”
Me: “Well, perhaps YOU might know the answer.”
Her: “What is it?”
Me: “I’d like to know if they use Lidocaine when they do this procedure.”
Her: “What’s Lidocaine??”
(I kid you not!)
Me: “It’s a drug used so you don’t feel pain during the procedure.”
Her: “I don’t know anything about that. Why don’t you just ask the doctor when you come for the procedure?”
Me: “Because I’m suffering a lot of anxiety and would like to know the answer to this NOW, and not have to wait through the whole long holiday weekend. Could I stay and wait to see someone?”
Her: “Suit yourself.”

After that brief (and useless) encounter, I got an idea. On the way into reception, I noticed a locked office door with a sign saying Nuclear Medicine – staff lunch room, and heard voices inside. Again, slipping into intrepid reporter mode, I thought, ‘What would I have done if I’d wanted to track down a celebrity inside that room?’ – I’d do a stake-out, wait for the door to open and attack!

I camped out front of the lunch room and waited. Minutes later, the door opened and a man stepped out. Was going to nab him, but watched to see if he would go into the reception area and grab him in there. He didn’t. He went to the washroom! So, I waited till he came out and then approached him. (I had NO idea if he even had a connection to this department).

I approached this man and said softly, “Excuse me, could you help me for a moment?” He stopped and said yes. I told him my name and that I would be coming here next Tuesday for the procedure to get four dye injections in the breast in preparation for a sentinel lymph node biopsy. I then asked him if he has anything to do with this procedure. His response was, (drum roll please), “I’m the head of the whole department!” (WHAAAAAAAAATTTTT?) Can you believe this? EPIC WINNING!

At this point, I was losing it. I started to say, “I’m really sorry, but I’m extremely apprehensive about having this procedure done,” – and then, just broke into tears. Nothing I could do to stop them – right in front of this poor guy who has never met me in his life. He was so kind and sympathetic despite my weeping. I told him about all the women’s comments who had so much pain and then finally got to ask my one question to someone directly in-the-know. I said breathlessly, “Do you use Lidocaine when you do this procedure?” He answered, “No.” I was crestfallen.

I asked, “Why not?” He explained several reasons, including that it means one MORE needle when you’re already going to have four. I said, “Yes, that’s true, but that one needle deadens the pain for the others!” I also explained that I’d had Lidocaine for the core needle biopsy and felt NO pain at all. He responded, “But a core needle biopsy really HURTS!” I shot back, “But from what I understand, THIS procedure KILLS!”

When he insisted it’s really not that bad, the needles don’t go in very far, etc., I told him I’d read about women screaming, jumping off the table and even fleeing the room. He said this never happens.

I told him I’d read a great report about a study done in which Lidocaine was mixed in WITH the dye and that the women who were given this mixture felt very little pain. He asked if I could bring the study with me and show him next week. I told him I’d be delighted.

Finally, I asked if he would BE here next Tuesday at 3 when I have my appointment and he said he would. Had one last question for him. “Could you hook me up with the best person for ME, - someone who won’t HURT??” He smiled and said he could try. I thanked him and went back down to the lobby, happy that I had the chance to meet him.

Sometimes, persistence pays off. I didn’t get the answer I WANTED, but at least I KNOW. I completely forgot to ask him about the Emla cream (topical anaesthetic for the skin). Drat.

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At April 29, 2011 at 1:17 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Mt. Sinai, Nuclear Medicine Dept. Receptionist treated me in the same rude, inconsiderate manner. In speaking with other patients, that's the way she is everyday to patients. Many of us have complained, but amazingly she's still there. She sure knows how to turn on the charm for her bosses and the Doctors. I'm going to secretly film her on my phone and show it to H.R. Hopefully then she will get a pink slip.

At May 1, 2011 at 6:57 a.m. , Blogger Elaine Loring said...

Really? I thought it was just a bad day! (or the annoyance of my questions!)

At May 1, 2011 at 10:19 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about that nasty receptionist @ Mt. Sinai's Nuclear Medicine Unit. She had me in tears one day because I stood at the counter, waiting to check in while she was on a personal phone call about what was for dinner that evening. She actually said I was inconsiderate for not taking a seat until she finished her phone call about a personal matter. Could not believe what was happening but was so scared about my procedure, I just cried like a baby and apologised to her. I'm stronger now and look forward to writing her boss a letter detailing how she treated me.This woman should not be working in a hospital environment where sick people need all the compassion they can get.

At May 3, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. , Blogger Elaine Loring said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 3, 2011 at 6:03 p.m. , Blogger Elaine Loring said...

Wow. I was such a nervous wreck the day I stumbled into that Nuclear Medicine area, just desperate to know the answer to ONE question. - DO YOU USE LIDOCAINE FOR THIS INJECTION PROCEDURE? That's ALL I wanted to know. "Springing the question" on poor Barry, (who I kind of "ambushed" in the hallway), was not likely the best or fairest way to do it, in retrospect, but I couldn't think of ANY other way to find out! Thankfully, he was kind, considerate and took time to "give it to me straight!" I think the receptionist was just very busy and had more important things to do, than listen to me whine, but I'm really sorry to hear of these other stories. I don't think people who work there all the time, understand how scary it is to walk INTO that place. All the best to those who have responded to me here!

At May 3, 2011 at 6:06 p.m. , Blogger Elaine Loring said...

P.S. - The post which was removed by me was because I made a mistake in the writing of my comment on May 3rd. (it wasn't a comment from anyone else!) I appreciate ALL comments!


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