Yesterday I had my check-up with Dr Birhiray. The worst part of that these days is the blood draw. Lymph node removal on the mastectomy/reconstruction side dictates that blood pressure cuffs & needles are forbidden on that side forever. For-ev-er. The reason being that any sort of infection in that arm could lead to lymphedema, a condition in which the lymphatic fluid doesn’t drain out of the arm like it should, and causes the arm to swell. Permanently, in some cases. This always makes me think of the fiddler crabs we saw a few years ago on Little Tybee Island, and while I thought they were neat, I really don’t have any desire to sport the fiddler crab look. So, I try to avoid punctures and other arm trauma at the doctor’s office, although I only sometimes successfully manage to avoid such things in the kitchen. So far so good, though. No crab arm yet.
Anywho, the end result is that any time blood needs to be drawn, it has to come out of the right side. And these days the right side is putting it’s foot down and refusing to give the requisite blood. You can only poke the same place so many times before it forms a shield of scar tissue not unlike the armor plating on the Batmobile, or at least as tough as that really sorry excuse for Indian flatbread I made the other night. (No wonder that cookbook was on the clearance rack at Half Price Books.) Yesterday was the second time in the last three visits that I’ve had to have my blood drawn via the little butterfly needle in the hand that is normally used to administer chemo. More than once I’ve suggested that they stick my foot. The foot has nice, plump veins that look up at me and laugh as I’m sitting there for 5 minutes waiting for an adequate amount of blood to be drained from my hand. But, for whatever reason, they never take me up on that.
After my blood was drawn, I could have gone back out to the waiting area like a normal person. But I like to visit my chemo nurses. Maybe because we bonded during chemo, or maybe because they always tell me how great I look. Okay, probably the latter. So, I went back to the chemo area to say hi to Leslie and Karen, and I told them that I started chemo on May 8th, so it’s been almost exactly 2 years. As usual, they commented on how much my hair has grown, and then they said, “Come out here and meet some of these ladies. They’re just getting started, and they’d probably be encouraged to see you.” As is often the case when I’m visiting back there, I’m like their poster girl for good attitude and good health.
So, I got to meet some of the ladies on the chemo floor. Nurse Leslie pointed out to one group of ladies that I’ve “been through everything you guys are going through and look how great she looks.” I then explained to them that I’d been through chemo, radiation, and 6 surgeries, so indeed, I had done it all within the last couple of years. They asked me questions like “Did your hair come back the same color?” and “How soon did you hair start growing again?” Hair, as you can see, is a hot topic with chemo girls.
Soon, though, another nurse came and fetched me. For once, Dr Birhiray was only half an hour behind, and my exam room was waiting for me. But, I’m so glad I got to spend some time talking to those ladies—even if Hubster did wonder what had happened to me. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to encourage folks by sharing my experiences. I enjoy doing that in person, as well as here on the blog, so please don’t ever hesitate to ask questions.
While I was there, I showed Dr B his fan club page on Facebook. Not being on Facebook himself, at first he was a little confused—he thought I’d moved my blog or something. But I soon had him straightened out, and he read the messages and got a big kick out of the whole thing. So thanks to those of you who joined the club and left him a little note.