Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Which Our Heroine Continues to Tilt At Windmills

So today is the Big Anniversary. Two Big Anniversaries, in fact: two years ago today Hurricane Katrina devastated my beloved state, and one year ago today I received my own devastating diagnosis of lymphoma.

Remember this old post?

This is what a person with Lymphoma looks like:

  • CT SCAN of thorax with contrast: There is a bulky soft tissue mass ("Brenda") present in the anterior mediastinum in the prevascular space. Appearance is that of multiple matted lymph nodes, some with central necrosis.

  • CT SCAN of abdomen and pelvis with contrast:

    1. Enlargement of the uterine cervix; correlation with pelvic exam suggested as cervical cancer not excluded.

    2. Multiple right ovarian cysts ("Curly," " Larry,"& "Moe," et al.)

    3. Enlarged iliac and retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

    4. Liver appears mildly enlarged. No focal abnormalities are seen within the spleen. Pancreas, kidneys, and adrenal glands are normal.

  • FINAL DIAGNOSIS Right supraclavicular mass ("Gladys") biopsy:

    Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, most likely of mediastinal origin.

This is what a cancer survivor looks like:

Yup, that was exactly one year ago today.

Anniversaries of devastations are generally a time for looking back, remembering, and mourning the losses; then looking forward and getting on with the rebuilding. I, of course, jumped the gun and did the looking back and mourning and stuff last week. I finished with that. Now I'm already all about the shutting up and moving on.

So today I began with with the next step of my journey. Which is battling my way through the goddamn indomitable bureaucracy to find out what the hell showed up on Monday's CT scans. This morning I rolled up my sleeves and girded my loins and drove myself down to Our Lady of the Damned, fully prepared to wrassle with The Machine.

First stop was the medical records department. I figured since I still hadn't received an appointment notice in the mail, I might as well just request my records and look at the damn scan results myself. So I stood in line and gave the nice lady all the ID cards in my wallet plus my firstborn child, and waited. Ten minutes later she emerged from the back room and told me my chart was not there.

Oooo-kay. I've been through this before. I've learned the ropes, I knew exactly what to do: instead of emitting a high pitched wail while curling up in fetal position beneath her desk and setting my hair on fire, I simply asked her to tell me which department has my chart.

"QM," she said.

"QM?" I said. "What the fuck is QM?"

"Quality Management," she said, not very helpfully. I still don't know what the hell QM is or why they have my chart, but never mind. It's not time to give up and bring out the matches just yet.

"How long will this QM have my chart?" I asked, quite calmly if I do say so.

The nice lady shrugged. "It could be one day, or it could be three months," she said. "Who knows. You may never ever see your chart again."

Three months? Never, ever??? Gaah!! That did it. I was just reaching for the matches when the faceless bureaucrat at the next desk looked up and said, "They have to return your chart back here every night though. They may come pick it up again first thing the next morning, but they always have to bring it back here at the end of every day."

Ok! This, class, is what's known in the warfare against indomitable bureaucracy as the Extremely Rare Helpful Person. When you come across one of these, I've learned, you must immediately latch on to her for dear life, like a cross between a tenacious pitt bull and the little black leeches in The African Queen, and refuse to ever let go.

Helpless missionary tries vainly to remove tenacious black pitt bull leeches from the body of an ERHP.

Long story short, I milked this ERHP in the medical records department until I had obtained two very useful nuggets of information. One, she gave me a card with her phone number, an actual number that she swears to the heavens will actually be answered by an actual live person before the third ring. By calling first I can allegedly ascertain whether my records are available before I drive all the way back down there. She said I may also be able to request that certain pages from my chart be held for me at the medical records desk, even if QM plans to take the other 499 pounds of pages to do whatever the hell it is they do. I'll believe this when I see it, but hey it's worth a try.

Second, the ERHP told me where to go to find out when my next appointment is scheduled at the oncology clinic. WHY has nobody ever told me this invaluable secret before now? It was so simple! No waiting, no crying, no screaming, no throwing chairs or making out with Johnny Walker for fifteen hours. I just walked straight up to the secret window, handed the nice woman all the ID cards in my wallet plus my firstborn child, and explained what I wanted to know.

And it's a damn good thing I did this, because after futzing with her computer for a few minutes, this nice lady informed me that I don't have ANY appointments scheduled AT ALL, ever again, with the oncology department. Holy fookin Roomba! This is a major screwup, of the first degree. I was just about to start wailing and whip out the matches, when the nice lady said, "Hold on, hold on! I'm going to schedule you an appointment right now." WHOA. She can do that? Just like that? Holy hell, the things nobody ever told me.

So, ok, bad news! good news! bad news! good news! It's beginning to look a lot like Chinatown around here, isn't it? The good news is, she made me an appointment to go find out the results of my CT scans! The bad news is, she made this appointment for September the fucking 20th. That's 3 weeks away! Can we imagine what kind of basket case I'm going to be if I have to spend three very looooong weeks in suspended animation waiting to hear whether I'm going to live or die?

Oh hell no. Nuh-uhn. That's just NOT going to happen, people.

So my proactive quest for the Holy Grail of my CT scan results continues. Starting tomorrow, those unfortunate faceless bureaucrats in the medical records department are going to become very very familiar with the aroma of burning hair. I am going to get my hands on those damn scan results if I have to burn down the whole damn building. Stay tuned.

P.S. While patiently awaiting news of the CT scan results, you may all feast your eyes upon this particular miracle of ultrasound radiology:

No, that little jelly bean nestled in the tunnel isn't a tumor. It's my beautiful, gestating grandchild! Yes! This perfect little person is expected to emerge and join us in this magnificent if occasionally flawed world next February. Seriously, you talk about your stay tuned! Yeeeeeeeee haw! If the creek don't rise and the elusive scan results don't spell D-O-O-M, I'm finally gonna be a real GRANNY!!!


Blogger Corvi said...

Congratulations, Granny! That would be the world's luckiest little jellybean, right there, to have a granny like you.

Power to the Granny! Shall we send matches?

7:36 PM  
Blogger The Pietilas said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!! Best wishes to you, the bebe, the momma-to-be, and the daddy-to-be, too!!! Best news all day!

8:02 PM  
Blogger divrchk said...

Congratulations! I hope that the rest of the news you get tomorrow is as fantastic.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Judy Wise said...

Ohhhh, congratulations! May the good news continue on and on.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Betsey C. said...

I am so goddamned happy for you. A grandma! What could be better.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Squeeeeee!!! A grandbaby! Congratulations!

Hope you get your medical records soon ~ and that the scans are clear. I know that they will be. Just know it. :)

Squeeeeeeee!!!! Again! :D

9:40 PM  
Blogger Ginny Lee said...

Hooray! That is so exciting.... A new little cousin... second cousin? first once removed? What the heck, it's just plain great news! You will be such an awesome granny. I'm so excited for you all. Congrats to the parents to be too.

9:53 PM  
Blogger citygrrrl said...

keep your eyes on that prize.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Coolest grandma EVER.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Grandbaby is way cool, but mostly I'm proud of you for being so incredibly, beautifully assertive. AND hooray for assertiveness paying off for once!

p.s. my favorite line from African Queen is when Kate says (after shooting the rapids with Bogie... quoting from memory) "I had NO IDEA that any mere physical sensation could be so STIMULATING."

10:53 PM  
Blogger Lene Andersen said...


Both on the grandbaby and the progress in naviagting the bowels of OLD. Best wishes for success and a negative scan.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Congrats! The kiddo will be lucky to ahve such a cool grandma!

11:36 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

You are quite the detective - picking up clues and following your leads. Best of luck in getting the info you want asap.

And congratulations on your soon-to-be granny title.

11:49 PM  
Blogger debinca said...

Hooray! Happy Granny hood.

2:16 AM  
Blogger cc said...

I'm happy for you! And full of admiration, as usual.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Congratulations! Wonderful news.

3:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Best of luck with your scans!

And what wonderful news! Congratulations!

4:12 AM  
Blogger Vanda said...

Congratulations! If I had know that being a grandma was so much fun, I would of had them first!

U Go Girl! Get those results and may the bring more happy news to you.

4:54 AM  
Blogger martha145 said...

Hi Liz,

Delurking to say congrats on the happy baby news. That's gonna be one lucky grandkid right there!

As for the scan news, fingers crossed that all is well. I used to play this "waiting game" with my Mom as she waited for the appointment after the scan, and it was just hellish for her. Of course she didn't have the great attitude that you do!

I'll be anxiously checking in to read the good news!

7:22 AM  
Blogger Lin said...

I have to wait a month between MRI scan and results-appointment every single damn year. Meanwhile my trusty tumour just sits there - sometimes it behaves, sometimes it doesn't!

The waiting process never gets any easier, I'm afraid. I bite my nails down to my elbows, and am appalling to live with for those interim weeks :-)

Just remember that you have many hundreds (probably thousands) of devoted bloggie readers rootin' for ya!

And congrats on becoming a real bona-fide Granny!

8:18 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

I am so excited that I am going to be a "Great Aunt"! Is this Finnie's baby? I hope that you can get the good news of your scans soon! Love and hugs!

9:36 AM  
Blogger momo said...

What a lovely little jelly bean!
It is beyond my comprehension how anyone can be kept waiting for these results.

10:55 AM  
Blogger giddlygoop said...

Yay!!! What a wonderful grandmother you'll be! That is such exciting news!
And kudos to you for finding extremely helpful people in Our Lady of the Damned. I hope your new-found knowledge will make things easier.

12:49 PM  
Blogger -L said...

Huzzah!! I wish you the very best with the CT scan results, and I am so happy that you will have someone new to love! My many congrats to your son and his wife.


1:25 PM  
Blogger TWINTALES said...

Congrats Liz and family! Crossing my fingers for your scans to come back clear. Sept 20 is my birthday so that's good luck, right?

1:54 PM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

Granny Liz-it has a nice ring to it. Congrats all over the place!
(Fingers seriously crossed for good scans.)

2:45 PM  
Blogger divrchk said...

Did you watch Crazy Sexy Cancer last night on TLC? It was a great documentary.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jellybean is very lucky to have a granny with a six pack. You had better borrow a baby and start training Superman and the girls to accept such indignities as having their ears chewed and sharing their food. I have many 'hall of shame' babysitting moments. Once I found my niece sucking on the dogs wet nose (ew) while the dog gave me a 'get it off me' look. Also, Jasmine ate catfood right out of the cats bowl. Can't take your eyes off them for a second....

9:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dude, which son is going to be a father? You didn't say!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Liz, been lurking and following your trials and tribulations all along, but had to delurk to say Mazel Tov!!! a Granny!

you go, girl!

1:35 PM  
Blogger KinnicChick said...


4:06 PM  

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