Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lupus presents a surprise

 My PCP was doing my yearly checkup when she paused and said, "You have a lump in your breast." She turned to enter that information into my chart. 
My heart skipped a beat. WHAT? A lump in my breast? 
She said it was here...and she led my hand to the spot and sure enough, there was a rock-hard ball of something in my left breast. 
"It's probably nothing, but you need to go have it checked out." 
So she made the appointment to have an aspiration done at the Breast Center in the hospital downtown. 
I tried not to fret, but I was understandably worried. The appointment was in a couple of days, and I tried not to think that was because my case was "urgent"....which was probably not true, at all. 
I liked my doctor, a woman, and she explained everything before we proceeded.  I got to watch the monitor as she did it.  Like the time I had arthroscopic knee surgery, I watched on the monitor, and since I told them that I was in Risk Management at this very hospital, they proceeded very carefully, explaining things as they went along. I even corrected the tech who was putting the mercurochrome (?) on my leg and said, "it's your left knee, right?" And I said, "It's my left knee, CORRECT."
First thing she said was that she thought it looked like it was a fluid-filled cyst, and when she inserted the needle and began pulling it out, I could see the fluid being drawn out and the little pin hole closing up.  TA DAH! All done. 
Or so we thought.
"Well, we have some blood in the syringe, and some debris, so I'll have to send it off to pathology."
Okay, no TA DAH. I thought. First, I asked, "Why is there blood in there?" We don't know yet.
Second, "What is debris?" Well, it's non-specific junk the body produces, like when you leave a glass of water out on the table for a day or so, it collects minute particles from nowhere....that's what debris is.
"So what happens now? Will it come back?"
There's a 50-50 chance of it coming back, sometimes in a day or two, next month or next year or never. We'll just have to wait and see.
"Well, I'm not willing to do this again and again.  Can we have a lumpectomy?"
There's no lump right now. You'll have to talk to Dr. So and So....
 So, I'll hear either by Friday or Monday -- seems that a blood workup takes longer than a core biopsy for some reason. And when they call me, they will tell me what comes next, according to the results.
I can tell you one thing:  I know where my insurance money is going.  The Center for Breast Care (I think that's the full name) is located in the new building attached to the Downtown hospital.  (Names are being withheld) It is some kind of swanky spa atmosphere.
Marble topped tables with huge vases of artificial floral designs in them, lots of tapestry straight-back chairs, oriental rugs on wood floors, classical music on the overhead intercom.  When I got called to the back of the Inner Sanctum, I was given a "cape" (not one of those tacky hospital gowns, but a purple cape with velcro, so I felt like The Caped Avenger or something) and escorted to the dressing rooms area.
Again, all carpeted, marble topped table in the center of the room, with tastefully arranged dressing rooms at the sides, with a key to lock your valuables inside and wear the key on your wrist via a cord. Then you wait again in another area and somebody comes with more paperwork, more explanations of what will follow, and then you are called into the treatment room.
After I was all through, I went back to the dressing room, relinquished my Caped Avenger outfit, resumed my ordinary disguise, paid my copay and left. The bill was well over $1,000, which I hope to hell Medicare pays in full. 
I'm a little sore, but they told me I would be, and it's not all the time. Just occasionally I know I've had some work done there. 
Not to worry. The tests came back negative. 
Marilyn 1, Lupus 0. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I've been AWOL

I've been fairly lax in posting here on my Lady with Lupus blog. Mainly because, thank God, Lupus has not bitten me lately...(Knock on wood) and I've been busy doing things I can't do when I'm in the midst of a flare. You all know about that, don't you?
Sjogren's Syndrome kicked me in the butt last November. My teeth suffered so badly from the dry mouth SJ produces that I had to make a decision: Either keep letting my teeth fall out or get dentures.
 Dentures are expensive. However, my health care is expensive, too, since I realized my teeth were sending poisons into my already burdened body and making my overall health suffer.
 I went for an evaluation to a place a friend had recommended. They explained everything in detail, how this is a process and not an event, and --ahem-- the total cost, to be paid up front.

My dear daughter in CA agreed to pay for it, bless her heart. So, we began the process.
The initial pulling, grinding and sewing took a couple of hours. I was of course, given numbing shots, you know the kind, where your face and lips swell up to the size of a football and when you drink water, it dribbles out of one of your mouths. Plural. I was told "there will be blood" and they weren't kidding. I coped with that during my waking hours, but when I was asleep, I colored my pillowcases red.
Took the stitches out a few days later; they were already coming out, anyway. The dentist said he had never seen anybody heal as rapidly as I have. Huh. And I have lupus and diabetes. How can that be? But it is true; he's amazed. Of course, I wanted my dentures yesterday, not now. But the assistant placed about a Cadillac-sized dentures in my mouth with instructions to learn how to take them out and re-insert them. I had no problem with taking them out. I couldn't eat or talk with the darned things.
But, ever mindful this is a process, not an event I plodded along. We passed the six month mark Tuesday, with me becoming quite proficient in insertion and removal of my new pearly-whites. I experimented with different brands of denture adhesive, but none of them kept the bottom plate from sliding around.
What to do? Heh. Well, we had talked about implants....they could insert posts into the gum line and kind of "hook" the lower plate on the post.
Tuesday was the day. The day the dentist planted two metal posts to have the bone grow around and make stable. Then, in six months, we can put the posts on for the denture to fit into.
Today is Thursday. I look like I've been in a bar fight, with bruises around my mouth and chin. I feel like I've been in a bar fight, too, since the pain killer prescribed for me right after the surgery, proved to be one that I have adverse reactions to. I began shaking all over. It wouldn't stop. My muscles twitched and jumped and I found it hard to walk. Son had to help me into the bathroom. Into the kitchen, where I insisted I could make my own soup. I tried to sleep, but didn't get a wink of sleep all night. But I made up for it on Wednesday, taking one nap after another.
Today, I'm finally not shaking. Being a diabetic, ever mindful of how my body reacts to low sugar levels, it was hard for me to determine whether or not I was having a blood sugar dive in the middle of the night. I had to get up, shaking as I was, and take my glucose reading.
Ha. Not low blood sugar; it's still the blankety-blank pain killers. I went back to bed. So yesterday was a blur. I must say, too, that my brain was in a fog. Similar to one of those Lupie fogs we all get from time to time. I was under stress; my body had been assaulted; and I shouldn't even try to make sense to anybody, when I couldn't even form a complete thought.
So today, so far, is going better.
I have to admit, though, I'm getting tired of all this dental stuff. I want my dentures to fit YESTERDAY. And without denture adhesive, which leaves a tacky residue in my mouth and I have to get rid of by drinking warm liquids.
I go back on next Thursday to have the stitches taken out. Looking at my former experience with taking sutures out, there won't be a whole lot of "taking out," since they had fallen out, anyway, or at least part of them were gone. I hope this takes the same path.
Okay, in six months, I go back to have this process finished: they will put the metal posts inside the pocket they've already made, and then my lower plate will be stabilized.
Six months! I will have to cope with this for another six months. And the dentist warned me about using too much dental adhesive, but how else can I keep the lower denture from moving? Heh. Bring on the Poli-grip. Industrial Sized.
Well, they told me at the beginning this was going to be a Process, not an Event. Don't you just hate it when somebody tells you something like that, and they're right?
Six more months.
Sigh. I just hope this doesn't bring on a big ol' flare.

PS: I also blog at another site, mostly on writing issues, but I invite you to put it on your list to check out, because every once in a while I also whine on that blog...but not as much as here.