Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pitying myself

Since Dylan didn't nap yesterday and was still up before seven I started nap time early today. At 10:30 we both went upstairs into our separate rooms and attempted to sleep. I had an appointment with my endocrinologist at 2:15 and so this early nap time left us with a three-hour window before he needed to be dropped off at my mother's. Fast forward to 12:45 and lots of tears later and my child had finally fallen asleep, leaving him with a forty-five minute nap today.

I was already frazzled before I got to that appointment from the napping struggles alone.

When I dropped a groggy Dylan off at my mother's he cried hysterically. Normally I don't make a big deal out of leaving him because he isn't usually bothered and has forgotten I am gone within a few minutes. Today he shed huge sobbing tears and I could hear him as I walked down the hallway so I turned around and scooped him up in my arms as he cried. You're just tired, buddy, I'm coming right back, I promise.

I handed him to his grandma and walked out feeling utterly defeated for the day. And I was on my way to the place where I was first nonchalantly told I have cancer, to see Dr. Pessimistic who loves to say things like, "We won't have any idea as to how far in your body the cancer has spread for months", who gives me a stone cold grimace when I make jokes about my situation, who has not once washed his hands before examining the scar on my neck. I dare say I hate this place. I'll take it further and say that I disdain my doctor.

And as usual he didn't disappoint.

I know that I should shop around for a doctor I like, I know this, but there is something so fragile and delicate about battling cancer that overpowers my need to "like" my doctor. Above all, I trust him. He has built a repertoire with my surgeon, Dr. Saved My Life, and with my future radiologist. Dr. Pessimistic knows his shit and knows my history. So I stay.

Today Dr. P. told me that he had upped my thyroid medication dose from 125mg to 150mg a few weeks ago because my TSH levels were at 10.3 and he wants them at 0.5. The higher the levels the more apt my cancer is to spread through my throat. My last blood test (from Monday) was much better at 2.75. Dr. P. asked me if I was taking my Synthroid with food or not and I told him that I took it first thing in the morning with some of my other medications but never with food. Apparently, I should only take that pill with water, never milk, and always by itself.

"Maybe you just neglected to read the instructions on the pill bottle." he said.

"It's hard to keep everything straight when you're taking 120 pills a week." I replied.

I sat there in our silence, feeling an inch big as he typed up my appointment summary. I specifically remember asking Dr. P. if I could take this medicine with my other pills.

"Recovering from surgery, scar tender still (not surprising), no obvious neck mass now."

He mentioned that he neglected to request a calcium test with Monday's blood work and told me that since my face was twitching a bit I should go back and get more blood drawn to monitor my hypocalcemia. Hmph.

Okay, so I understand why I need a calcium test drawn, I get it, it's important, but now I have to drive out to the blood drawing facility yet again while my mother babysits a groggy Dylan, now we have to pay for two blood drawing appointments instead of one. If Dr. P. was so on top of the game he would know that his patient with a history of hypocalcemia needs calcium levels checked.

I called my mother who assured me Dylan was doing fine after his twenty minute tantrum and decided to get my blood drawn right away so that I could get it over with.


At the lab, the man behind the desk asked me what I was doing back so soon since I had just been there on Monday. I mumbled something about my doctor forgetting to request a test and he told me to take a seat in the waiting room. And when he called my name he asked for a Visa or Mastercard to charge $30 for the visit. Wait. What? I don't have a copay. I have never had to pay to get my blood work drawn and trust me, I've been here a lot in the last few months. But the man argued with me and said it was necessary and that the lab no longer bills the patient. Your policy has changed since Monday?????? Apparently, he said, they have been billing my insurance company out of CT but they are technically out of MN so apparently now I owe $30, but don't worry, they might not even charge your card, they'll bill your insurance first.

So I have to keep an extra $30 in my bank account for months until this visit is billed? Why can't you just bill me? We pay all of our bills on time.

I told him I didn't understand. He told me I had to pay them.

The man who drew my blood on Monday was standing there and after I paid he walked me into the exam room. He made a joke about how my vein hadn't even healed since my last visit. My mind was still on what had just happened in reception but I appreciated that he was trying to make light of the situation.

"I'm just really confused about what just happened." I told him.
"Didn't he explain it to you?" He asked.
"Yes but I don't understand." I was trying hard to keep it together.
"You know you can say 'no', right? You can always say no." He said as he taped gauze to my arm.
"No, I didn't know I had a choice."

I thanked the man and facetiously told him I hoped we wouldn't see each other for a while after this as I left.

I walked fast to my car and the second I shut my door I began bawling. I ugly cried. I cried so hard that I was unable to drive. I'm sure my hormones are messed up because of the baby and having all of these cancer appointments takes a huge toll on my optimism. Finally alone in my car I let all of my frustrations out and once I started crying I couldn't stop crying.

I called Sean ten minutes later after I felt I had calmed down a bit, and immediately started crying again.

"I just wish people would stop walking all over me!" I sobbed, "I have fucking cancer and that's enough, I don't need these doctors making me feel worse than I already do!"

I'm sure Sean had no clue how to react but he knows that Dr. Pessimistic doesn't sugar coat cancer and he knows how hard it is to maintain dozens of medical bills. He expects me to call him after my endocrine appointments to talk his ear off about what a dick the doctor was today, but he doesn't expect me to call him crying as hard as if I had just lost my best friend.


After picking up some groceries I headed back to my mother's and was greeted by an ecstatic Dylan riding his train towards me down the hallway.

"MAMA!!!!! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH, MAMA! IT'S SO GREAT TO SEE YOU! 'S GREAT TO SEE YOU, MAMA!!!!" Dylan yelled as he jumped in my arms.

Remember how I just cried hysterically in my car? Me neither. I was done feeling sorry for myself the second I saw that little smile run towards me.

"Guess what I bought you, Dylan. Chocolate milk!"

Chocolate milk makes everything better. And knowing that I don't have to see that doctor until the end of March makes me feel better, too.

Tomorrow will be a better day.