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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The First Consultation

I laid in bed this morning, finally in a deep sleep, entangled in sheets I muttered out a "Don't F#%$*@! Touch Me!" My sister Nat was gently rubbing my arm to wake me. It was only 7am, but I had insisted the night before that we WILL be the first in the office this morning. I am not a morning person and so I was instantly regretting that decision. Clearly my parentals were on to something when they said 9am but I wasn't having that at the time.

We met up with my dad and made it to the hospital. Conveniently I remembered exactly where his office was in the metropolis of office buildings within Lankenau hospital. Some days I can't remember what color my underwear is, but show me to somewhere I've been before, even if it was years ago... and I'll figure it out, I'm very visual.

While exiting the car, my back gave out. Its a crippling pain that shoots right at the base of my spine where it connects to my pelvis. It happens randomly, like one time at work, that was pleasant. I dropped my longchamp and curdled over. I'm not one to cry, contrary to my first post, so I walked it off, or tried too, but the pain was unbearable. This was the first omen that this day was real and the pain was just the beginning.

We got into the office and I was ushered right in. I brought my mom in with me and felt bad leaving my sister and dad in the waiting room, but this was a girls moment. It was a pelvic exam and I figured I would spare my dad. Told to undress and put my feet up in oven mitts,
"The only time I want to be in a position like this is if I'm reenacting a scene from 50 shades."
The nurse laughed. Dr.D came in and started the examination. He had a teaching student with him and in true Courtney fashion I said just to eliminate the silence
"You might as well get right up in there and learn something."
It was the most uncomfortable exam thus far. Its not like leukemia, because you have a doctor all up in your nether regions. When I say nether regions... I mean legit, ALL. UP. IN. THERE... ALL of it. (I'll leave out the details, I'm sure you get the point.) We were then told to meet him in his office.

After he walked out the door, I looked at my mum and said "I was just anally assaulted."

I brought my mum and dad and we sat.

"So I'm going to confirm what the biopsy already said, that I do believe this is cervical cancer. I am inclined to think that this is localized but we need to do a P.E.T. scan to make sure the cancer has not spread. We will follow that up with another consultation and then get into the O.R. as soon as possible. With anesthesia, we can look deeper and make sure there is nothing else we are missing. Once that is finished we can conduct a plan of action to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments."
Granted this is paraphrased but this is also all I really remember. So what I'm hearing, I thought to myself, is that I have to have a scan thing, a surgery, and then radiation and chemo. Ok, well... I've done this before. Not the radiation but how bad can it be, as I felt my stomach knotting. Dr. D also talked about getting someone to talk too. With all I've been through he said he had no doubt that I was strong but that it would be in my best interest to just have someone there to talk too. This was the moment I knew he was the perfect doctor for me. He was not just concerned about my case, but he was concerned about me as a person. That's what I have always said differentiates the good doctors from the great ones; realizing the patient is a person. Yes! I do believe I'm an expert on that.

"Will I lose my hair? ::Question number one, I just blurted it out:: "I have a job interview on Wednesday for what is potentially the first step on the ladder to my dream career, so do I need to withdraw my application?" ::The questions just began pouring out of me:: "How long will I be here?"
As I was sitting in the office, and my parents were asking questions it was like a scene from the movie "A Beautiful Mind". The words were just floating in the air like letters in alphabet soup across the room. The sentences just kept flowing from their mouths but I was fixated on, "Wow, this IS really happening again."

We walked out of the room and my sister was waiting ready to go with hysterical remarks. Of course if you can picture it, we were in an Ob/GYN office with four other patients waiting for their turn. All over the age of 65. This actually relaxed me, "Well at least Dr. D gets a break with my pooter compared to the majority of his other patients." Definitely one of my classier moments. ::not ashamed, ok a little but it made me feel better::

My sister naturally began to ask questions and my language was .... how I would describe as less than lady like. Then of course I looked to my right and noticed that one of the ladies was a nun. As if I wasn't being punished already, a little old nun, who was checking the phillies scores was being forced to hear my vulgar language. I can just picture God or some deity shaking his head, but lets be honest hopefully laughing. "OMG I didn't know nuns liked baseball!" Natalie was choking back laughs.
"Well nat, it is America's favorite past time."

While all of this was taking place my mum and dad were booking the scan for the following day. The doctor ordered sedatives for the scan, because anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I can't sit still. I would bounce off walls if I could. He also ordered some percs for my back. (Yup I'm continuing to write on pain meds. I said unedited... anything could happen.) My dad was highly against this idea, because ... well I'm getting there. Something about the way my sister was making me giggle, the helpless feelings that have engulfed me lately, and having my parents book doctors appointments for me, made me feel like a little girl again. For a moment I felt safe.

We were finally on our way out and my sister started to describe her favorite story of me while on pain meds during my last transplant.

"So I was sitting down stairs and all I heard was a Thud duh dunmp up stairs. I walk up to find Courtney staggering like a weeble wobble down the hall- "I'm Ok". She was clearly not ok, She was like Courtney Love on one of her good days, which really isn't saying much. I think that may have been the night she also thought it was a good idea to tattoo herself. She wrote all over herself in pen. It was like Kat Von D had a seizure while tattooing her. She managed to give herself a temporary tramp stamp. I'm not even mad, I'm impressed. Long story short, Court's hilarious all hopped up."
Well thanks for that vote of confidence Natter. We got in the car and my dad drove with Natalie navigating. I crawled in the back and laid out with my head on my mums lap. My brain had no more energy left to even laugh at my dad and sisters jokes which included something about kids on a leash. Who doesn't laugh at kids on a leash? Finally, I faded out.

We went for lunch and then off to repeat the misplaced blood work to test to make sure my leukemia hasn't returned. Nothing like waiting for those results as well. Dr. D said he believes these are unrelated and this is an isolated cancer and not a byproduct of my APML. That was very reassuring. So now we wait.

My P.E.T. scan is booked for tomorrow. Vicodin is ready to go, its a few hours for the scan. Bachelorette finale was tonight and it was everything I wanted! TEAM CHRIS! Still not real to me yet, but we're getting there.


  1. Hey Courtney! I am happy someone linked your blog on Facebook. You're a very strong individual and you are braver than anyone I have ever met. It takes courage to share your experiences with others on the internet and I really admire that.

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