It’s Been A Year

I went to the yearly ob/gyn check up.  I posted about last year’s auspicious visit here. Same guy, different year.

Sometimes, the doctor’s waiting room is a hard place.  This place was hard.  The oncologist’s is hard, too.  (The plastic surgeon’s (in spite of the television) was never hard, because I love him.)

This doctor, the ob/gyn (but I am so past the ob part!) is the one who found the cancer about a year ago.

So I waited and waited.  Finally the nurse (one I had never seen before) called my name, “Patricia?” She led me through the door and gathered my information – weight, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen level. Then she said,

“Ok, let me update your file.  Have you had any surgeries since you were here last September?”

“Yeah.  Like 8………..Starting with the mastectomy on October 17.”

She seemed a little taken aback.  I was kind of surprised there was no record of  breast cancer in my file.  So I went through every surgery, one by one, not so sure of the dates or official titles.

“The latest one was the nipple reconstruction and a boob lift on the healthy boob.  I’m not sure what a boob lift is called, it starts with an m.”

I am still learning about living through trauma; a very striking aspect of it is that I could lose my composure at any time.  Often, I have to coach myself, keep it together, keep it together, keep it together…and I was ok here until the nurse said,

“Now I’ll do the finger prick to check your blood sugar.” I gave her my hand, but the rest of me turned away, eyes shut tight.  The tears started to trickle from the outside corners of my tightly shut eyes. I did not want her to touch me.

“It’s over, you did great!”  (Why do medical professionals compliment me when I am doing nothing but passively submitting?) Then she noticed my ridiculous tears.  “I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” And she directed me to go pee in a cup.

It was in the restroom where I started weeping, and by weeping I mean my eyes are leaking and I’m sniffing, but I’m not actively crying.  During treatment, I have spent entire days doing this.

Now I’m being led to the exam room and instructed to disrobe and put on the paper gown. Still weeping, making the nurse more and more uncomfortable.  When she left me alone, I thought I could gather my wits. But no.

The doctor does his best to comfort me.  “Sure we found the cancer, but we had to get it out of your body.  That’s a good thing.”

“That’s not why I’m crying.”

“Well, fewer women who get diagnosed are actually dying from breast cancer.  You’re not going to die from breast cancer.”

“That’s not why I’m crying either, I’m reflecting on the year I’ve just lived through.  This is a milestone event for me.”

“Fair enough.  Let’s start the exam.  Put your hands behind your head…” He opened the gown and reached out to feel my boobs, and then he dropped his hands.  “Oh my goodness, Patricia, they’re beautiful! Who is your surgeon?”

“Dr. Curtis.”

“He’s very good.”  He continued the breast exam, even on the reconstructed one, which I don’t think is really necessary.

He directed me to lie back and continued the exam, all the while trying to be encouraging, gentle, and clinical. “They really are beautiful.  He did a phenomenal job.  It’s a new beginning for you, a new start.”

This entry was posted in breast cancer, thank you dr. curtis, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to It’s Been A Year

  1. annie says:

    This is so poignantly written, Patti.

    I don’t think too many people understand how hard that reflecting on the year you’ve just lived through is. I’m coming up on a year and I find myself reliving many things–and my eyes are leaking, I am weeping more than usual (my old self would have bit the inside of my mouth very hard to stop those leaking eyes!–I am trying to allow those room for those weepy feelings).

    I am SO glad for your new beginning, your new start!

  2. Martha says:

    Oh, Patti. You are beautiful (aside from the boobs, too).

  3. I think I would cry much sooner: right when she asked about surgeries in the past year. Not sure how I’d feel about the GYN complimenting my new boobs. I do know that you are an amazing woman who has been through one heck of a year! And I’m glad you are here.

  4. Thrilling news, Sunshine!

  5. Beth Stewart says:

    Bless you.
    So glad you got in touch with me.

  6. Creepy doctor words aside (I mean, we all pretend that when we’re getting touched there’s no aesthetic judgement involved), what wonderful news. To get through that year took much bravery; I admire you.

  7. That was an incredibly moving post. You are an amazing person.

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