Friday, December 7, 2012

Good Enough, I Guess (and Hope)

So mammograms don't work for me, that's old news. The new news is that instead of follow-up MRIs, I am now getting ultrasounds.

It's not by choice, though I will admit I'm not too sad about the change. This all came about after technicians and nurses (many of them, oh so many) couldn't find a vein to use for the MRI contrast.

After eight painful attempts by four different people the first time, my doctor said we could try placing a central line for the test and then remove it after.

That's like the port I had for chemo. I didn't have to think too long to decide that was way too intense for one medical test.

So I said let's try it again, and I talked with everyone all along the scheduling route and my doctor to make sure the medical folks were ready for me this time with hot packs, warm towels, good needles and the best blood drawer they have. I complied by drinking hundreds of gallons of water so I would be well hydrated.

They asked me to come in an hour early for the appointment so they wouldn't have to rush. Except they wasted all but five minutes of that head start by making me wait out front and then in the MRI holding area.

They weren't ready for me back in the procedure room, either. I let them have one shot at me and told the nurse to get out of there when she started digging.

So I threw in the towel and asked my doctor to order an ultrasound instead. I also called the "Customer Care" line to complain about what I consider an entire waste of my time and the fact that their breast care center is ill-equipped to deal with an issue that is to be expected to a higher degree among their patients.

Lymph node dissections limit many of us to only one--or no--arms that can take a needle poke. Prolonged treatment and several surgeries have damaged the veins we do have, and I swear my veins have learned to dive when they sense people want at them.

So anyway, I finally had the follow-up test I've been trying to get for months. And I'm glad I didn't have to get the MRI contrast, or hang upside down or hear the machine's loud banging noises.

The ultrasound took longer and was messier with all the gel goop, but overall, it's an easier test. It's not the preferred method though; an MRI is more sensitive and the best test for dense breasts. But an ultrasound did catch my two tumors that were missed by mammogram. So I'm willing to believe an ultrasound is a good enough test for me, and right now, it's the only one I can have.

I'm still wondering how they are going to do my twice yearly bloodwork and any other test or procedure that I might need.

I don't know if the much drier climate out here contributes to what has always been an issue for me or if I just need to find an entire new medical center with people who can find my veins. It's probably a little of both.

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