Friday, December 10, 2010

I Have Doctor Fatigue, If That's A Thing

The last couple of weeks I have been running around having follow-up check ins with the people who took care of me during my breast cancer treatment.

First I went to see the radiation oncologist.  It was strange driving back down there for a quick one-off, weeks after I'd gone there every single day for 28 visits.  Oh my Lord, did I really do that? Typing it makes me tired.  So that was a quick stop, she just took a peek at where I'd had the radiation and pronounced it great-looking.  My rectangular boob tan has mostly faded.  She said to keep doing whatever skin care regimen we were doing and I said we would.  That regimen was:  Pure aloe (not the weird hybrid aloe lotions that contain alcohol), massaged in nightly by Matt, and almost never wearing a bra.

I've kind of gone back to the bra.

Then I went to see the oncologic surgeon who did my mastectomy.  I had never noticed, back in the bad old days of going to see her for those first times, that her office has an amazing view of Atlanta.  I just never saw it.  But this time I sat in the waiting room and admired it fully.  This doc is super competent and talks about a hundred miles an hour, and she awakens my congenital need to appear to be the bright student.  So she had her turn at admiring my rack.  Then she started making plans for the future, namely, that she wants to see me again in March and then yearly for MRI's, mammograms, and ultrasounds.  Here you should picture the balloon that is my mood slowly leaking air in a sad, spluttering way and coming to rest on the floor.

She is all diligence and caution, wanting to follow me and maintain proper surveillance.  She talked about that.  And it's like, there is no way to tell her that I hate the sound of this and that I never want to see her again.  I could feel the pain of my cognitive framework being hammered into a new shape.  Here I am thinking of myself as cured and moving on, someone who won't have to deal with this again, but she thinks of me as high risk and someone to keep a close eye on.  And I want her to do that, I want her to do her job.  I just don't want to be anywhere nearby, you know?

I am thinking of myself as cured and I would like it if everyone would get on board with that.

Then, early this week, I went to see Dr. Hottie McTrottie the plastic surgeon, so she could check how I'm doing post-radiation.  In this office, the whole narrative they're dedicated to is that of restoring looks and function, of making you over after all the bad stuff has happened, so they don't tend to be such downers.  Also, as I've mentioned, their robes are nice, thick terry-cloth, way nicer than at the other docs'.  I mentioned this to the radiation tech one day--that the robes were nicer at the plastic surgeon's--and she looked at me and said, "This ain't the plastic surgeon's."  Yep, got it.

So Dr. Hottie was all, hey! Lookin' good!  Let's finish the reconstruction in April!  Keep on keepin' on!  And they took more pictures of me--bad, bad lighting--and then I bought some Latisse.  You see, my eyebrows and eyelashes have never totally bounced back from chemo and they're pretty sparse.  So this will be a fun experiment.

Next week I'm going back in to see my medical oncologist.  I guess she's the quarterback of this crew.  At that visit I suppose I will get a feel for what the follow-up will be like for the next few years.  They do bloodwork at each visit, and maybe I'm due for another scan? I don't know.

I'm feeling a lot of anxiety around all of this.

Then late next week I'll go see my gynecologist, the one who went to our college and is kind of cute.  Really cute, actually.  It's normal for a gynecological patient to bring the doctor lunch, right?  And maybe a mix tape? I mean, I don't want to seem weird.

That's what's going on with me.  Because we need to talk about me some more and the adventure of my sensibilities.  Thank you for being a listening ear, friends. It means a lot to me. xo-B

25 comments:

aimeewrites said...

Doctor Fatigue is TOTALLY a thing. My mom has had it for years. I don't think she's ever used that term, but it applies.

You're being quite nice, actually. Mom's descriptions of seeing so many docs are decidedly less polite. ;)

Dancer said...

Thanks for posting. I was wondering about the surveillance part, and whether you were going to write about it or try to silence it into never happening.

I totally get you wanting them to keep tabs on you, but not wanting to be anywhere near when it happens.

mmeperpetua said...

Doctor Fatigue is definitely a thing. There should be special pills for it, or anti-fatigue cakes.

I've only ever seen one friend go through this, so I am out of my league in commenting, I guess, but in her case, it did get a little easier as time went on. You never get rid of the anxiety completely, but it does become more routine--not as easy as the dentist, more like the gynecologist.

Unfortunately, to get to the "routine" point you have to see yourself as a person who is both cured and under surveillance, and that just totally blows. I'm sorry.

jo said...

Came to read your blog via your sister & glad I did - great writing. I was enthralled with the whole tale from diagnosis to now & as a oncology nurse in Melb, Australia its funny, not ha ha funny, but enlightening to hear your side of what we educate patients on every day. Glad to see you are doing well this far down the track.

Michele said...

I'm pretty sure that "Doctor fatigue" is slang for some crazy Latin word that is 80 miles long and contains mostly consonants.

System maintenance is always good but never sexy. I only liked going to my cardiologist because he was a half-my-age-handsome-Italian. Now, that I've had to change, meh, not so much.

Amy said...

I wonder if it feels a little like, "But I've done so well! I've been a good patient! Why can't I get an A in this class and graduate?" Can you even believe all this has happened in the last, like, 9 months? I can't.

Your descriptions of this whole process and how you're feeling are so fascinating, though. That said, I wish it was totally over too. Xoxo

Star said...

Thank you, again, so much for sharing your experiences from the heart. I've had some Serious Curve Balls From Life, lately, myself, too, and your blog and a couple of others really help. It also helps me, like you did in your Atlanta doctor's office, to notice and appreciate "little things," which become restful blessings. Serendipity because I wrote about this today, in my blog, "My Milan (Italy)," too. May I share the link? (http://mymilanitaly.blogspot.com/2010/12/photoless-friday-07.html#0). Thank you so much, and when you go to those doctors' exams, just think about how much happiness your smile brings them (and us).

Sjn said...

expanding on what Amy said, they want you to get straight A's for 5 years before they'll let you "graduate". And then they still want you as an active alumni.
You've been through so much.
Unfortunately, once you join the club you're in it. The trick is to learn to forget all about it in between "meetings" and be normal. That's how I handle it. I usually have 3 months to live my normal life, before I have to think about it again. I hoping this year to push the meetings to 6 months apart, and then a year. That's my goal.

Star said...

Let me try that link, again: http://www.mymilanitaly.blogspot.com

Megan said...

Ditto what everyone else has said. Thank you so much for sharing this whole experience with such honesty and humor. ((hugs))

Veronica said...

Aw, Beck, I so wish that this was totally all over for you, and you could just get your gold star and be done. But, at the same time, I'm glad that they want to take such good, careful care of you.

I totally understand your "doctor fatigue," and your wish to not be under further surveillance--so not to minimize that at all, but here's my idea: what if you schedule some "fun maintenance" alongside your oncology maintenance? Like, every time you have to have an MRI, you and Matt have to go have dinner & drinks at a place you've never been before? And every time you make an appointment to get a mammogram, you also make an appointment to get something professionally groomed? Just to ease the "ugh" a little bit.

Jane said...

That does sound utterly exhausting. I'm sorry you can't just be done with it, but glad that your dove are being so careful.

Jenni said...

That is a lot, Becky. Good job hanging in there with all this.

Here's what I think. Whenever you have to go for your annually scans and blood draws and mammograms you should get yourself a huge reward. Like some super cute boots, new bedding, some new artwork. That way you'll have something to look forward to.

xo

Steve said...

Robust laughter immediately followed the "mix tape" comment. Thank you!

Camp Papa said...

Hey! You've got people. You can do this.

Maggie said...

I agree with Camp Papa and want to add that you can do this with the amazing grace in which you have done the last year. Can I be on Team Becky?

Ginny Marie said...

I've definitely had doctor fatigue, but it goes away! My surgeon told me I could stop seeing him after about six years of visits, but I still see my oncologist every year. I don't think he'll ever tell me I can stop seeing him. Such is life!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Oh, how nice a virtual check-up would be. Just hook up the webcam and sign on. I guess there can't be virtual lab work, though . . .

Maggie said...

*I* have doctor fatigue just from reading all that! Glad to hear you're doing well.....I really hope it continues that way!

Jen said...

Funny, I keep thinking the same thing...had the surgery, should be cured now, right (since I'm in between stuff)...then I feel weird doing normal stuff...try not even to think about future drs appts.

Thinking of you!!

Elle said...

Doctors only want to talk about how sick you are, and that is a drag that can make you sick, don't they know? You could try hypnosis or subliminality to wipe away messaging you accidentally pick up there. Also, yr Cosmetic Emporium sounds better than mine (cold rooms! paper towels?). And, duh, of course, you have a medical reason for Latisse. Sorry. The world still awaits you, though. xox

Michelle said...

Oh yes, Doctor Fatigue is totally a thing. When I got sick this year, I saw more doctors in the month of February than I had since I graduated high school. And the numbers have only gone up as the year's gone on. Ugh.

I'm pretty sure there is also Patient Fatigue, and that my cardiologist has a rough case of it right now!

When I go in to my cardiologist's, he's very no nonsense, so at the end of my visit I tell him, "Now, say something positive to keep me motivated, like how awesome I am." Yeah, he thinks I'm a nut, but sometimes you need a pep talk!

Thanks so much for detailing your journey this year with the boob situation. Insightful and well-written, like all your posts! I love visiting your blog :-)

Keely said...

I think of you as cured, too, if that makes a difference.

I don't think the mix tape is a weird gift to someone you're paying to look at your girl bits. Not at all.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry to hear of your doctor fatigue. I suppose it's a step better than doctor-hatred which is pretty much what I battle. In fact, I've just decided to begin working as a neurologist -- you can check out my advertisement on my blog.

Sorry for the weird comment -- I'm hoping you'll get through this next stage with flying colors and never have to visit again.

patty said...

you are running in a race with many others, some I know who are well behind you and only a few are at your spot in line running, yea, hope you continue to be the hero of the day and that this whole boob thing will be a distant memory of the past very soon, hugs to you,,,,,aint Patty