When Looking for Kittens, Beware of Snakes in The Grass

And He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.

-Bungle in The Jungle, Jethro Tull, lyrics by Ian Anderson

Grass photo: jparadisi

Dammit, I almost passed “Go” with a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Leave it to a competent surgeon to say, “Hold on thar pardner, not so fast…”

I had a surgical consult last week. Yes, she’ll replace the implants, but first she wants to make sure I have a clean bill of health. There are more tests needed before I have this procedure. So off I go to the oncologist’s office.
I have a good medical team. All the same, I can’t stand being a patient. First, there’s all this “hurry up and wait.” If you are a hospital nurse and never had a chronic or life changing health problem managed in an outpatient setting, you have no idea how slowly that system works. You think things are slow inside the hospital, but tests, labs, and consults happen at lightning fast speed in a hospital compared to the ambulatory setting. Calling your physician’s office and “nudging” things along like you do for your patients annoys the office staff. If you talk to them the way nurses talk to each other and to ancillary staff, you will alienate the people you need for help. I have no idea how people manage it without a medical background. In my opinion, if the physician’s staff is regularly disorganized or difficult, I shop elsewhere. The best doctor in the world can’t help you if he or she is unreachable through their office.
Another thing: I’m a pretty good nurse, but I don’t know much about breast implant replacement. The last thing I want is an unnecessary surgery. Despite the MRI results indicating bilateral ruptures, my surgeon says ruptures are unlikely. She says there may be leakage through the scar capsule. She won’t know until she cuts. The terminology is confusing. This FDA website uses the terms rupture and leakage interchangeably. Many breast cancer websites provide information about breast reconstruction after mastectomy, but nothing about what happens years later.

Years later“…brings back to mind the bigger issue: All of this dredges up the memories, concerns, and fears from my first diagnosis. I know it’s smart to get the medical work up, but when you go looking in the grass, you don’t know if you’re going to find kittens or snakes. When I received the “all clear” to leave Cancer Land, I ran fast and didn’t look back. Like many cancer survivors, I left on a visa, and my green card can get pulled at any moment. I don’t think it will, but that’s believism. The only way of knowing is to run the tests. If my intuition is correct, the results will be negative. I will still need the procedure, but that’s a kitten compared to the snake of cancer.

This blog describes my personal experiences and is not medical advice. If you have similar symptoms, questions or concerns, consult your licensed medical provider.