You know how you go to a new doctor and you have to fill out those forms? Insurance, emergency contact, family history, do you smoke, primary care physician…well every time I get to the primary doctor question, I leave it blank. I don’t have a doctor for regular things like a sinus infections. I only have doctors that take care of specific parts of my body: medical oncologist, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist, gynecologist, sleep specialist, gastroenterologist, surfologist (I made that last one up, but in my mind, a surfologist would be the kind of doctor that listens to your stress and then prescribes a visit to a specific beach).
Sleep Specialist: When I was first diagnosed, I began having a terrible time staying asleep. My body had no chance due to tumors and lack of shut-eye. Dr. D prescribed something to help me sleep, but a year later, I found myself still taking it, which didn’t seem quite right. So off I went to Dr. O, the sleep specialist. After meeting with him, he determined that I might have sleep apnea due to my super small palate (great, I have a small palate but big thighs? Not cool), and suggested that I come back for an overnight sleep study. So off I went for an overnight visit to my doctor’s office. The room they put me in looked like a hotel room, and the bed was actually comfy. But then they came in with all these wires and other sciency looking things and started taping them to all parts of my body. They even used special glue to attach things to my newly grown hair.
After having electrodes attached to every part of my body and sleeping fitfully in a strange bed, Dr. O let me in on my test results: There is not a damn thing wrong with me sleepwise. He gave me a specific bedtime though, so I now pack it in every night at 8:40.
Gynecologist: I saw Dr. P in the summer, and he suggested that I come back for a different ultrasound of my left ovary. I got busy and just never made it back in. In November, I started feeling some pretty bad pain right in the the left ovary area, which was clearly cancer. I let the pain last for about 5 weeks, and then I went in to have my ovaries reexamined. After a thorough examination (and me releasing my feet from the stirrups), Dr. P stood up, grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “You don’t have ovarian cancer. Your ovaries are fine. But there might be a problem with your colon.”
Gastroenterologist: I walked in the office of Dr. S, and I was immediately struck by the age difference between me and the other patients. They were more AARP and I was more Run DMC (cause that’s how I roll, yo). They took me back to the inner bowels of the office (pun intended) and I spent an hour talking about (ahem) evacuation, eating, and family history. The Physician Assistant was a truly lovely lady, and she made a concerted effort to hug me and squeeze me while telling me that I would have to undergo both colonoscopy and endoscopy. I suggested that these tests were for older people. She said it was normal for cancer people with my family history to have these tests. (I will detail this process when I have it done–we’ll have to see how it all (pause, wink) comes out.)
I write all of this as I prepare for my three month visit to Dr. K, my plastic surgeon, to see if my skin has healed enough to get regular breast reconstruction or if I have to get the dreaded back flap procedure. I’m also headed to Dr. D, my medical oncologist, for a look at my blood, hormone levels, and tumor markers. As a self-proclaimed Grumpy Cat, I am prepared for the worst. Preparing for the worst is really a good idea though: if you prepare for the worst and get the worst news, at least you were prepared. If you prepare for the worst and get great news, then you get to climb the happy meter for an extended time! But none of my my test results will be sent to my primary care doctor, be cause I don’t have one.