Whole New World, Part Six

When last seen in this space, I was waiting for appointments with Specialists.  On Monday, I had an appointment with my surgeon — healing nicely, says the surgeon, we’ll touch base again in two months — and with Oncologist the First, she who determines when chemo will do the patient any good.

In order to determine this, she has to have the results of a DNAish test, possibly called an oncotype.  She ordered that test on Monday and expects results in two weeks.  No, I don’t know why the test wasn’t ordered when it was discovered that the lymph nodes were involved; and no, I also don’t know why they’ve kept my tumor hanging around for weeks.  I hope at least its had books to read.

Anyway, we’re waiting for the results of that test so that we can figure out what’s to do, going forward.

In the meantime, the hospital is trying to limit the number of visitors to it, so my next meeting, this with the Ray Gun Specialist, will be via telehealth, which is a fancy way of saying, “The doctor will meet with you via Zoom conference.”  And that’s what we’ll be doing next Thursday.

Before someone leaps up to Explain how REALLY SCARY AND EVIL Zoom is — this is the doctor’s choice of communication tool; it is far, far better than making a 100+ mile round trip to the hospital, exposing myself to a lot of immunodepressed persons, and exposing them to me, while Steve is excluded from entering at all.  The Zoom conference will allow Steve to attend the meeting fully, and the cats, too; and lowers the risk of infection considerably.  Also, the laptop runs Linux, so considerably less danger than were it running Windows.

So, basically, we’re in Hurry Up and Wait Mode.

The news from my surgeon is that, in the Current Climate, the hospital is reassessing its risk management guidelines, meaning that some procedures which would have been on the front burner, in Olden Times, are now being kicked down the road by two to six months.

In the meantime, I’m working — slowly — on Splinter Universe Presents! and not writing at all.  I’m not particularly happy about that, but it is what it is.

Steve and I have been pretty much staying in, except for visits to the hospital, which — except for visits to the hospital — is pretty much our normal.  The next-door neighbors are looking out for us, and we’ve been using InstaCart for grocery shopping, which has been working out surprisingly well, despite shortages in the store itself.

A kind friend gave us gallons of frozen blueberries, so we’re wealthy in antioxidants.  Today, I made blueberry muffins, and Steve is figuring to make blueberry pancakes over the weekend, which still leaves plenty left over for smoothies, and putting over ice cream, and, and, and…

The cats have been working hard to give equal coverage — right now, Trooper is in my Command Chair, while Sprite and Belle cover Steve in his office.

And that?  Is all the news.

Everybody stay safe.


12 thoughts on “Whole New World, Part Six”

  1. I am so sorry that you are having to go through so much uncertainty and worry during this time. I am happy to see that you are keeping yourself sane and occupied, but that will not completely cover the worry. Please know how much we are all rooting for you.

  2. Usually they don’t want to start chemo or radiation until surgical site is totally healed. Which may account for the delay.

  3. Don’t know what I’d do without my cats during this time. I’m fortunate to have two to look after me!

    May I pass on a heads up based on my experience with oncotype. It is probably still astronomically expensive, right? But—at least 5 years ago—the lab/company that was performing this test was doing so through a program that promised to chalk up the expense to their own R&D budget or something. All I know is I was told that I would not be billed for their fee. So you can imagine my panic when I received their bill for over $25,000! I think I had to force myself to breathe! They provided a number to call if I needed to discuss a payment plan. My insurance had already rejected the claim, but when I called the number on the bill, I was told that they had some kind of program that would allow me to pay only $500 and they would write off the rest. Honestly, if my income were what it is now, 5 years later, I might have settled for this, but at the time $500 was almost as much out of reach as the $25,000. So, I went back to my own “Oncologist the First” and asked her to tell me again why we had had to do this test. When I mentioned the prohibitive cost, she said “But they are currently doing this testing with no cost to the patient.” Ha! So I explained that I had received the bill, and she told me who I needed to talk to about it. It took many phone calls to follow it all through, but in the end, I was told by the surgeon’s nurse (who was the point of contact with the testing company) that I could confidently ignore any more demands for payment.

    I include this long-winded story, like last time, just to give you some background if you need it. Depending on the DNA typing, your doctor might decide to skip chemo—mine did. I had radiation only and took aromatase inhibitors for 5 years and have now been declared “cured,” a word I never thought I’d hear associated with cancer.

  4. The Lafayette Cancer Center in Brewer is formally associated with Dahl-Chase, which gives the Cancer Center access to new and innovative treatments, at no cost to the patient. I’m thinking that this is the entity that will be performing the oncotyping.

    Re: “cured” — Oncologist the First told a story on herself, in which she used the word “remission” several times, and then paused and said, “I never use the word ‘cured’ regarding cancer. Once, a long time ago, I told a patient she was ‘cured’ and I very soon regretted it. So that is a word you will never hear from me.”

  5. A year ago I held onto “This too will pass ” when pain got to the edge of unbearable. And after surgery I could go out for a walk again. Today I went for my walk and fell on the pavement. Some bleeding and scrapes and a few gouges in the skin. And I laughed because it was nothing. All relative. And it will pass.

  6. blueberries, blueberry muffins?

    Has Bob shown you how he makes GRILLED blueberry muffins? (those sound yummy!)

  7. Nothing to it: Take a blueberry muffin, cut it in half, throw it cut-side-down on a hot buttered grill. Grill. When the cut-side is crispy, plate it and eat it. They are yummy and it amazes me how many people are baffled by the Whole Idea.

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