I’ve spent the last several weeks making all my rounds for follow-up appointments. January has seemed to be my big month for doctor appointments as I’ve seen my oncologist, radiologist, family doctor, surgeon and even my dentist! Overall it’s been better news than I could have hoped for.
At radiology I experienced a “new” kind of mammogram – it takes a 3D picture. All I can say – you have to hold in that uncomfortable position even longer for the machine to rotate around you. Not so joyous. But it is done for another year 🙂 I found it interesting that I didn’t have a choice in which type of mammogram to have since my insurance does not cover this new type. Their explanation “THIS SERVICE IS A PROGRAM EXCLUSION AND NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PAYMENT.” (Yes, they shout this at you with all caps…) And…before you get all upset about my being charged for it, the hospital must be building a base of patients to have this because they wrote it off after running it through insurance. Believe me, I would have had something to say otherwise 😉
My oncology appointment was with Kelly, the NP. I ended up waiting in the room for a long time after the aide/tech left – I never complain about time spent in the room as it means that another patient is running over…and I will never, ever begrudge a cancer patient getting extra time with a doctor to get more information or even emotional support they need to make good decisions about their course of treatment. I remember all too well my early appointments and coming in with three pages of questions to ask my team. The appointment with her was pretty standard, and we ended up chatting about my running and her pursuits.
Towards the end, she commenting about scheduling my next appointment. I asked her about the timing of appointments – how I know for 2 years I should have them every 3 months (though the doctor has already moved me to 4 months) and then they go to 6 months, etc. She tells me that it is from starting the Tamoxifen. I am sure I got a gleam in my eye as I said “Oh good! That means I’m there in March!” Kelly looked startled for a second, then remembered that I was on Tamoxifen in the period from my first appointment with them to when we found out I needed chemo. She laughed and said in my case it was after chemo. I just will use it as another example of how I am exceptions to so many of their “rules.”
I jokingly moaned about how May is a tough month with kids in schools & athletics – the next 4 month period. She looked at me and says, “You know what? You are doing so well, I think we can push it out to 5 months.” I’m thinking this is pretty awesome. We chat some more, then I mention how I’m supposed to have my next mammogram scheduled as well. She contemplates this and mentions how 5 months doesn’t really work with that schedule.
I then get a short discourse on how the appointment schedule is a protocol that needs to be looked at as people have different needs, etc, etc. She looks me in the eye and says “I know you. You’re the type of person that will call if you have concerns or issues.” I’m laughing in my head because heck yeah I am! She made a decision on the spot to move me to 6 months appointments now, with the approval of the doctor at a meeting the next day. I think I had a short celebration in my head which may have showed on my face. Fewer appointments means fewer drives to Ann Arbor 😀 Oh, and did I say I think Kelly rocks? Because anyone that cuts down on doctor appointments & road time rocks…
Family doctor appointment is quite standard. I do still have to remember to get my bloodwork done – we need to make sure that the cinnamon is still keeping my triglycerides under control, and that my thyroid is functioning normally. I’ll be glad when I get to go off the Tamoxifen to help eliminate some of these side effects!
Last I met with the surgeon. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year this weekend that I had my big surgery. I laughed about this appointment – I drove about 90 minutes to it for it to last MAYBE 10 minutes from when I walked into the waiting room to when I was walking out. Note – that was the WAITING room, not even the examination room. He said how everything was healing fine, then wanted to talk about a follow-up to touch things up. I said maybe eventually , but not a shot while my nerves are still re-knitting in my hand from the Pronator Syndrome. He asked about where it was healing wise, and when I told him where the feeling has returned in my wrist and entire palm, and how the nerves in my fingers are “triggering” on a regular basis he was surprised it has come back as far as it has this soon. We are still holding out for a full recovery, and if I’d work to build strength back up in especially my thumb I may have no remnants or residual effects of this long term.
At the end of the appointment, Dr. Wilkins was ready to sign me off for good, then decided to have me come back in a year. He said he wants to know that my hand is completely back to normal. I told him that maybe then I’d think of his “smorgasbord” (his word) of touch-ups he wants to fix and contemplate if there were any that I really felt needed to be done. I chuckle slightly because I really don’t have a belief that my 40 year old body that has born three children should sport “perfect” breasts. Just not something that is high on my importance list. We will see the next appointment where I fall on it…
Great news in all of this is that I don’t have another appointment until JULY and that will be my only other one this calendar year! I’m celebrating by finally taking that girls vacation to Las Vegas with my sisters & mom – the one we were supposed to take when I instead had my mastectomy two years ago. I’m so looking forward to spending time with them, hiking the Grand Canyon, and seeing a couple shows…Going to be a great weekend to celebrate.