Then I head to my brain MRI, what is so funny to me is that every MRI tech never believes that this isn't my first MRI. And in this case it was my 3rd brain MRI. But he's sweet and has a lovely smile. Brain MRI really is easy, your head is immobilized but you don't feel trapped and it's only about 30 min. Plus you're only in to your neck or your chest depending on the machine. Trust me there are WAY worse MRIs out there.
So after a few hours the neurological surgeons come to give me the results. There are three of them, lead by the lovely Dr. Chang. Dr. Chang does all the talking and he sweetly approaches me and asks why I had the brain MRI. So I tell him that the blood thinners I was on made one of the brain mets on the right side of my brain bleed so the MRI was to just confirm that the bleeding was under control. And I see the three surgeons relax and I realize that they weren't sure if they were about to tell me my cancer had spread to my brain so they were bracing themselves for giving me bad news. I find this incredibly endearing, it meant they were concerned and the gentle way they approached me meant they actually cared how they were going to tell me. Of course now that they know I was completely informed they want to talk about treatment. They were happy to tell me that while it wasn't great that I have so many mets (I'm pretty sure I have 7 but I've never asked anyone to confirm, cause quite frankly it's an answer I don't really want to revisit), the mets are tiny and if I have radiation in my future it will work better than if they were larger. They are so positive AND they keep repeating the word tiny, so I love these guys. And when they leave Dr. Chang genuinely wishes me well and touches my shoulder. I don't know why this touched me so much, but it really did.
But we still haven't met with cardiology and no one is giving me the results of this echo. And then this gorgeous young doc walks in, DR. Ahmed, whom I've never met, and tells me that she's covering for Dr. Hildalgo. She starts talking about the clot over and over and we say "well we were told it's not there anymore" and she very arrogantly tells us "oh it's still there and we can't let you go home until you see cardiology because if we release you, you can have a stroke and die tomorrow" and now we are confused. "Why would the technician say it wasn't there" and she says "well the cardiologist reviewed it and he says there's an 'artifact' there and it's pretty safe to assume the artifact is the clot." Everyone is deflated, but I'm furious. And my parents are like, Jaime you need to get angry and truth is I'm beyond mad. I want a cardiologist to explain to me why a technician and a Vascular surgeon could fuck up this much and why cardiology can't be bothered to see me in 4 days. So Dr. Ahmed gets us a copy of the echo and underlines the part about the 'artifact' as if to say "see I told you!" So the nursing administrator, Joan, comes in, now I'm not mad at any of the nurses so I don't want to scream at her, but WTF is going on. So she checks my chart and is shocked to discover cardiology wasn't ordered until about 5 minutes before Dr. Ahmed walked in to see me, she was the first person to think, gee maybe this girl with the cardiac problem should see the cardiac people. So I tell her honestly, I can't take it anymore, Sloan wants to know why I'm still here, vascular tells me it's safer to leave the clot alone and then the attending tells me I can die if I go home. One minute I'm being put at ease the next someone is scaring the shit out of me. And Joan says, "I totally understand" and then she and a young intern named Dr. Kogut work like hell to find me a cardiologist. In fact Dr. Kogut apologizes to me because she's concerned that she gave me the impression that she had called cardiology. I think it's lovely she does this, but I assure her that I was told in ICU days earlier that I was to see cardiology, 2 days before I even met her. But I know she will be a great doctor one day and I adore her. They work like hell and track down a Cardiac Fellow who says he'll come as soon as he can. He shows up about an hour later, lovely, embarrassed about the situation and starts to talk about the clot. Now here's the important thing. My blood clot was at the base of the tube from the mediport that leads into the heart, and it leads into the right chamber. We know this for a fact because I took a Cardiac MRI at Sloan two weeks earlier that showed the exact placement of it. So as we talk to the fellow about the clot we tell him that it's at the base of the tube. And he says, "no the new echo shows it's in the left chamber and the mediport deposits into the right." And I say "oh no, Sloan was very clear, it's at the base of the tube and the heart MRI report is in my file". The cardiac fellow goes running to my chart cause he's confused by what he was told by Dr. Ahmed and what he's hearing from us. While he's reading my chart, Dr. Kogut looks at me and John and says, ok we must be reading our echo wrong and John says, "no I have the new echo with the 'artifact' line so neatly underlined by Dr. Ahmed, says the artifact is in the left chamber" and she grabs the paper and runs. And all of a sudden it becomes clear, the clot is gone, but no one has compared the new echo to my heart MRI from Sloan. Then the cardiologist returns and says, "well normally it takes 4 to 6 weeks to dissolve a clot, you did it in 2!" We are all thrilled and I don't care how long they keep me, my clot is gone! The cardiologist wants to do a couple of more minor cardiac tests because my cholesterol and triglycerides are high. I'm ok with staying another night because I finally got the answers I want and the fellow is great, honest, apologetic even though he did nothing wrong and I appreciate that he wants to check me out. And had I met with him on Tues. like I should have he would have done this then. Plus I'm totally digging the stroke ward, the nurses there rock and I am trying desperately to beat 500 in fruit ninja. Any way to review, you see the blood clot was in the right chamber, so when the technician said it was gone she was right, it was. But the cardiologist who reviewed the report found an "artifact in my left chamber", which he dutifully reported because that's his job. Now turns out Sloan found that left chamber artifact too and both confirmed that the artifact was just a thickened wall in the left ventricle. A fact that I was likely born with but is not anything to worry about. But the clot in the right chamber is officially dissolved. Turns out Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Hildalgo can't tell the difference between left and right OR they never read the MRI from Sloan, not sure which because Dr. Ahmed never showed her face again and Dr. Hildalgo acted like she knew all along the clot was gone, which is apparently why she kept me 2 days longer than I needed to be there. They just read that the echo showed an artifact and assumed it was the clot. Nice. But at the end of the day the mistake only cost me two nights in the hospital longer than I needed to be. I got great care and no actual harm was done. But I was annoyed and most annoyed that it took my husband to figure it out the mistake because two doctors couldn't read. Now to my friends who are doctors listen, I love you guys. You have an incredibly difficult job and you went through an incredible amount of schooling to be who you are. I am envious of all the knowledge you have and you have chosen a profession where you save lives. You rock. Please understand that I'm just bitching about these two doofuses who need to spend less time doing their hair and more time paying attention. They are just two bad apples and all professions have them, so I don't mean to imply anything about all docs. I loved every specialist I met, they were all wonderful, thorough and sweet. I even liked the medical students I met who asked if they could talk to me about the cancer because they wanted to be oncologists and were writing a paper on me. They were kind, considerate and genuinely inquisitive. But they were also upbeat which I liked. They weren't focused on the stage 4 cancer, they were focused on my age and what I was doing to fight. I have high hopes for them. So about the stroke ward, all stroke wards should be this much fun. There were four of us. Me who had a minor cranial bleed but still serious enough that I needed to be monitored but not enough to take up a bed in the ICU. There's a 40 something woman who had a stoke in her mid-20's and is now plagued with cluster headaches so bad that they cause the same stroke symptoms and she loses feeling on one side of her body and can't speak. But she is ok now but her head is killing her. I feel awful for her, but she's coping and very friendly. There's a 70 something gentleman who did have a stroke, his second in 5 years. He has lost some feeling in his face so eating is not 100% and has some minor speech issues, but he's overcome it all before and I just believe he will again. He's got a lovely family and he's all smiles. And then there's Olympia. Olympia is 93 years old. She had to have all the teeth on the bottom left of her mouth removed because of a terrible infection. Because of the pain in her mouth she wasn't eating much and that, combined with her water pill, caused her sodium to drop so low that while she was at her senior citizen center, she lost her ability to speak. Fortunately, she did not have a stroke and her recovery was going well as they hydrated her and replaced her electrolytes. Now Olympia was a fucking riot. She bugged the nurses constantly but always meant well. She wanted to know why our night nurse Angela wasn't married. She's gorgeous, lovely and hard working. Angela explains she doesn't want to be married just yet, she hasn't met the one. So Olympia decides to consult the head of the nurses on the floor, the nurses aids, the transporters, the phlebotinists, as to why Angela is single and does anyone know a nice boy or girl for her. It might sound annoying but it was so much fun and Angela was genuinely laughing. But the best was at night after all of our families were thrown out. The cluster headache lady was transferred out because they need the stroke beds so once you are off monitors, you are transferred. She's lovely and wishes us all well, and we do the same. The older man is sleeping. And I'm on my iPad which infuriates Olympia because as she says "You could talk to us you know!" Which I do eventually but I wasn't being unfriendly I was just obssessed with Fruit Ninja and for the record with a bleed brain I kicked my husband's high score! Well Angela then tells Olmpia as she's giving her her night meds that boys today aren't great to date. And Olympia says "I know, it's not like in my day when boys were looking for a wife, today all boys want is SEX, SEX, SEX!" Well the old man, who we thought was sleeping, loses it and starts laughing out loud!!! And I'm now dying because Angela is now hiding under my bed and the old man is in hysterics. And now that we are all laughing, which delights Olympia, then she suddenly yells out "Now I need the damn bed pan!!!" And this is just part of it, she was hilarious til the moment she left. When she was discharged everyone who had tended to her lined up to say goodbye. And you know why, even though she bordered on the annoying, after everything she had been through, instead of pissing and moaning about it, she just decided to have fun. She laughed constantly and she appreciated everything everyone did for her. She spent the entire time lamenting that she wasn't allowed to have the home addresses of the nurses so she could send them gifts. But she just confirmed for me that you get shit thrown your way, you just gotta laugh about it. I mean you can whine and sometimes you should but after a while you gotta just smile. Just because you need to feel good and what makes you feel better than a good laugh? I love Olympia, and at one point they wanted to transfer her out of my room and I called John to tell him I didn't want her to leave. And the nurses were like, why are we transferring her, she goes home tomorrow and she's our gal!
Well I have now meticulously packed the most perfect hospital bag, so next time I head to the ER, I have everything I need for a week hospital stay. I'm hoping that this will garauntee that I will not need to go back to the ER ever again. Like when I finally bought those snow boots after my old ones, broke. It never snowed again. Here's to hoping it works.
Well thanks for hanging in for another edition. Tomorrow is chemo 4. Bright and early! Love you guys! And thanks again for all of the love, support and prayers. They worked on the clot yo!P.S. amusing highlights 1. I see Dr. Chaloub who I haven't seen since the diagnosis. I am happy to see him but I say "I don't want to miss my chemo apt. tomorrow" and he looks at me like I'm insane. "Um you're brain is bleeding, chemo is kinda on the back burner right now." And even Sloan was like, um hello, we'll push it back a week duh! 2. When we order the TV and Phone two young ladies come in to set it up. One is a tall white blond the other is african-american and my height. They set it up and we pay them for 2 days' rental. 2 hours later one of the admissions girls comes in and says "would you like to pay for the tv and phone" so we tell her we paid already. And she asks, "did you pay a blond girl?" and I said "well there were two young ladies actually" and she says "was one blond and one..." and she leans in and whispers "black?" Now don't get me wrong I know we white people are always freaked out about using the color of someone's skin to identify them. Though right now if you were to describe me to someone you'd say "butch haircut, fat ass, swollen purple face" so being described simply as "white" sounds great to me. But it was the way she whispered it, as though the young lady in question was unaware that she was black. As though she hadn't had that talk with her parents yet and best not to alarm her. Oh white people! ;) Peace yo!