Tag Archive | check up

Check and Double Check

The trip to Philadelphia was for my 6-month check up. I had four appointments in all: 2 ultrasounds, 2 doctors. I’m grateful for my hubby, who sat in the lobby watching Star Wars movies on his iPad, since he was not allowed in with me to any appointments. He refuses to let me go alone, and he insists on doing all the driving.

My first appointment was for a repeat thyroid ultrasound. This is the third one I had. The first two were done locally but the PennMed docs reviewing those reports and films did not think they were done well, and there was no recommendation action in the report. Since I will be going to Penn every six months anyway, it made sense to just have them re-do it. It was certainly a much more thorough ultrasound, but my developed test anxiety had me nervous. The amount of time the doctor spent doing the test made me start to panic a bit, since my default assumption is always that something is wrong. I waited the longest (about a week) for these results. Everything was stable, but they did want me to start seeing an endocrinologist. I have an TeleMed appointment with a Penn doctor at the end of March. Part of me just wanted to find a local doctor for ease of visits, but the quality of care at Penn can’t be beat, so… Penn it is. For those of you wondering why thyroid… This was an “incidental finding” from a prior CT scan that they are required to follow up on.

Appointment number two was a chest ultrasound to continue monitoring the “lump” that we all believe to be a “surgical remnant” but want to monitor to be safe. Everything was stable/same, so that’s good.

Before my doctors’ appointments, I had my vitals taken and my meds/history reviewed. Apparently, my heart rate was higher than normal. I didn’t realize this until I got into my third appointment was with my oncologist. She said, “oh, I see you were tachycardic…” Really? Heart rate was 103. I have to believe it was an error or typo or something. I didn’t feel like my heart was racing or anything like that, so I’m not really worried. But hearing the word “tachycardic” was surprising.

Everything went well. She was happy with how I was doing, that I’m continuing to exercise, that I got my first covid shot (at her recommendation), and that my side effects from the meds were all manageable.

My last appointment was with my surgeon, who I haven’t seen in a year, due to the pandemic. She finally got to check out said “lump” and her thoughts are that it’s a suture. It isn’t the size, shape, etc. of a surgical clip, per her assessment, and it’s just something we’ll watch to be on the safe side.

I love all of my Penn doctors. They always spend a good amount of time with me, and they seem interested in me as a person. Am I still exercising every day? Am I still writing? How is that grandson of yours? I think it’s important to feel a connection with your physicians and I feel so comfortable and confident every time I go there. I could conceivably stop seeing them and stay local only, but I just feel so much better going there (in addition to my local doctors). I am getting checked and double checked.

I will return in August for a repeat of all the same appointments.

IMDb: Check and Double Check (1930)

Are You Listening?

Another frustrating six-month check up at the oncologist… She’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I can never quite guess which will show up with each visit.  I should have know which would arrive today, when she showed up at 8:55 for a 7:50 appointment. I mean, who is that far off schedule at that time of the day? So, of course, she’s rushed and I have to wonder how well she is listening to me.  I hate that everyone in this office faces the computer and types while trying to ask you questions. Can you possibly be listening to me when you are typing a hundred words a minute?  I tend to go to silence to make them turn around once in a while.

When she asks how I’m feeling, I launch into a story about how I’ve been sick with this sinus thing for about 5 days, but am starting to feel better.  I tell her how my husband has been sick for two weeks and he even took an antibiotic. “No antibiotic for me”, I brag, explaining how I’ve been trying to fight it off with natural remedies. But the sinus thing seems to have messed up my lymphatic system so I do have a flare up of my lymphodema.

She turns around and says “I think you should do a week of antibiotics.”  No joke.

Blank stare.

I couldn’t even bring myself to ask if she listened to a word I just said. I mean, she was busy typing and all. So I just continued to look at her quizzically.

Finally, she got the hint and came up with a plan I liked better.  Continue the lymphatic massage (which was helping) and if my lymphodema condition worsens (fever, redness, area warm to the touch), then I can call for an antibiotic.  I’ll take what’s behind curtain number two, doc. (I’ve also been applying lemon essential oils, but I didn’t tell her that.  It’s not like she would listen or understand.)

The only other suggestion from her was to ask my GYN to have my hormone levels checked because I’m using the Estriol cream. First, you think she would have mentioned that last time we talked about this. Second, I do get my hormone levels checked… by my naturalist.  I didn’t think she’d listen to that, so I didn’t tell her. But seriously, she fried my ovaries… I don’t think getting too much Estriol is going to be a problem when taking the prescribed dosage.

An hour and a half after arrival, I learned all is well.  Blood work is good and blood pressure cruising at  104/52. I’m grateful, as always, for the good news. I do realize I sounded a little “Mr. Hyde” myself, but is it too much to ask that our doctors listen to us?

IMDb: Are You Listening? (1932)

Free From

“Free from disease.”  No matter how many times I hear it, it will always be music to my ears.

During the year, I will have a series of appointments with a slew of doctors. Today was my annual appointment with my surgeon, just one of many physicians on my “team”, as he called it. The core team? Surgeon, oncologist, radiation oncologist, urologist, and gynecologist. (I don’t include my primary doctor here since he doesn’t really do anything for me!) The way it works out, every month or so, I am seeing one of those five special people in my life.

Dr. Surgeon did a physical exam, declared me “free from disease” (I totally understand that he meant there was no evidence of disease… it could certainly “be” there, but not visible) and made my day. He explained that, while (almost) 3 years out from my surgery may not seem like a major milestone, it actually is.  He indicated that within the first 2 years is your greatest chance for a local recurrence, so he seemed pretty pleased that we made it (almost) 3 years. And if he’s happy, I’m happy.

He asked me about reconstruction, which he promised he would ask me every year. “Have you thought about doing reconstruction?”  “Nope.”  I explained my rationale as part of our now-annual ritual — why put myself through an unnecessary surgery for no good medical reason? If I did it, it would solely be for the purpose of fitting some societal expectation. Fake breasts certainly aren’t medically necessary, and I don’t feel I need them to feel “whole”. I do not derive my self-worth from my breasts (or lack thereof).

He smiled and nodded… “The safest surgery is the one you didn’t have.”  He was in total agreement with my decision. And yet, he promised to ask me again next year — and for all eternity.  Sounds like he plans to see me beyond the usual 5 years. He explained that he will “gently encourage” annual visits for a longer time period because I am not able to have mammograms, and so physical exam is the best way to monitor. And I’m kinda ok with that.

I ended my day with a DEXA scan that my oncologist ordered back in January. They just scheduled it about a month ago. I had actually forgotten all about it until I got a letter in the mail. I was thinking I didn’t really need it, since I believe it’s for women who are taking those God-forsaken drugs that destroy all your hormones, thus putting you at higher risk for osteoporosis. But I didn’t put up a fight on this one and figured it wouldn’t hurt to have it checked. Dr. Surgeon said he thought it was a good idea because I am post-menopausal and that put me at risk.  I think I’ll be just fine, since I get loads of calcium in my plant-based diet!  🙂

*****

I tried udon noodles for the first time tonight.  Ingredients? Organic Wheat Flour and Sea Salt!  Last time I tried a different kind of noodle, it got all mushy.  These came out pretty good.  I made an Asian soup to pour over the top: Lemon Miso Soup with Udon Noodles.  I’ve been checking out more of the recipes on Klunker’s Kitchen, where this recipe is from.  The boys enjoyed it and it was easy to make.  I did, of course, eliminate the tofu.

IMDb: Free From (2014)

Check and Double Check

Today I had a six month check up with my radiologist. Everything was great — physical exam, vitals, etc. But my doc spent a lot of time talking about why we do these exams.

As he noted, I had an “aggressive” form of breast cancer and, if it were to return, it would most likely occur in the infamous first five years. It doesn’t mean it can’t recur later than that, but the likelihood is higher early on and so they like to monitor periodically.  I do see my radiologist twice a year, my oncologist twice a year, and my surgeon annually. Check, check, and check again.

You might wonder why they are all needed.  I certainly wondered if I needed to do them all. But both my surgeon and radiologist believe that the more people that can see me and check things out, the safer I am. The appointments are spread out throughout the year, so every few months I get someone to ask me questions, do a physical exam and give me peace of mind. While it’s sometimes a pain to get to all these appointments (throw in the gynecologist, the dentist, the eye doctor, and the urologist…), it’s totally worth it. I wouldn’t give up this particular trio for anything; if something were to happen, I am confident they would find it early.

Physical exam, blood work, tumor markers, and normal vitals all tell a part of the story and are very important.  Just as important, my doc explained to me, is the dialogue.  My answers to his questions help him to identify potential issues.

Today, I passed with flying colors, and I can breathe for a while.

As an aside, I actually always love going to my radiologist’s office. They are the absolute nicest people and my favorite doctor’s office. Everyone is super nice, you never wait, and they actually care about you as a person. It’s the only place I go where the nurses and techs actually hug me! Such a warm feeling. All doctors’ offices should model whatever these guys are doing!!  (FYI – It’s NROC in Dunmore for the local peeps.)

*****

As a follow up to my recent blog on stress management, I am currently trying the Stress Away essential oil from Young Living. See my friend’s blog for more information!

*****

IMDb: Check and Double Check (1930)

Six Months Later

My six month check up with my radiologist was this afternoon, and all went well.  He was extremely pleased with how well I am doing and we spent about 30 minutes talking about food. He was excited to see me so he could “learn something new today”, so I filled him in on my trip to the McDougall Advanced Study weekend and the latest books I’ve read.  I told him to read “The Starch Solution”, so we’ll have something to talk about in six months.

My blood pressure was 92/60, and upon examination, he said that my chest wall was “perfectly normal”. Hmmm. Perfectly normal except for the missing breasts, I suppose! We did have a lovely conversation, however, although he dared to ask the dreaded question: “Where do you get your protein?” My response:  “You did not just say that!!”

It was great to get a good report… and he said that he thought my risk of recurrence was low. Woo hoo! Let’s hope he’s right!

I meant to ask him about the cataract / radiation correlation but forgot with all our other chatter. I guess I’ll put it on the list for next time.

*****

IMDb Six Months Later (2005)

 

The Check Up

At work today I attended another outstanding diversity event.  Scott Chesney, a motivational speaker who happens to be a paraplegic, spoke.   As was Stephanie Janelle a few weeks ago, Scott was very inspiring.  A few things really struck me.

First, he said he never has a bad day.  He may have challenging moments, but never a bad day.   When he feels himself slipping into “bad day” mode, he reflects on his many blessings and that grateful spirit wins over.  It gives him the strength to get through that challenging moment.  I really loved that; gratitude can do wonders!  The second thing that stuck with me was this:  “Pain is inevitable; suffering is not”.  It’s up to you either quit or figure out how to get through it.  Powerful messages.

*****

Today was my quarterly check up at the oncologist.  I feel bad saying this, but it was a bit of a waste of time.  They did draw 4 vials of blood, but I only got the CBC back.  The chemistries weren’t back yet because the PA, surprisingly, was on time and the rest of the labs weren’t done yet.  Also my tumor marker was taken but that won’t be ready until tomorrow.  So my BP was great (114/70), my counts were normal, and that was about it. We talked briefly about the Femara; I didn’t bother to tell her that I don’t take it every day.  She offered to leave the doctor a note about it, but I said not to bother.  She was pretty adamant last time I brought it up (I used the word “dictatorial” with the PA but she didn’t laugh).  I filled the PA in on my lymphedema story, and that was about it.  I guess all I really care about it getting that tumor marker number tomorrow.

*****

An update on this week’s recipes:  The Southwest Calzone was good but not worth the work, in my opinion.  For once, David and Ethan loved them, and I was the one not as impressed.  Since it took time for the dough to rise, and work to roll the dough out, I’m not sure I would make these again.  I’m looking for simple.

As for the Coconut and Red Lentil Soup, that was excellent.  I would definitely make that one again.  The only problem I had is that the recipe calls for cumin seeds and coriander seeds.   You roast those in the pan before adding the ingredients, but the coriander seeds are big and I didn’t like the texture in the soup.  Felt like little pebbles.  I would just use regular coriander next time.  This was pretty easy to make and had a nice lemony tang.

*****

The Check Up (2005) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458341/