I kept hitting the snooze button on my alarm this morning for like, thirty minutes. It’s entirely possible I thought perhaps I’d just “accidentally” sleep through my alarm and then, oops, I wouldn’t have to go to my appointments today. I was sort of awake when my phone rang. It startled me because I switched my ringer to Carol of the Bells by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, so it was super loud. When I saw that it was my mom calling, I figured she was on her way to work and making sure she wished me well before my appointments. That’s not why she was calling. “Don’t leave without me!” She had called into work and was already on the freeway making the trek up to Renton from Tacoma on the 167. If you know the area, you probably know that 7:00 a.m. traffic on the 167 going towards Seattle is about as fun as a pelvic exam. My mom was really sick with bronchitis and missed a week of work, so I told her it was no big deal if she didn’t come to my appointments today. And really, I was okay with it but when she called to tell me she was on her way I was invigorated and jumped out of bed to get ready. Having my mom and Mitch with me today was crucial. I didn’t know how crucial until we were sitting in the genetic counselors office.
Appointment #1: Bob Resta – Genetic Counselor
What a rad dude! The four of us sat in his office discussing the many variables of risk factors for positive results and what it means if my testing turns out positive or negative. Surgery vs. no surgery. Medication vs. no medication. Do nothing now vs. do nothing ever. We discussed the probability of this, that and the other and at what age range I could possibly expect to see a cancer diagnosis take place, if positive. I was both completely overwhelmed by all of the information and numbers and risks and what if’s and different methods and approaches and insurance and timelines and, and, and…but I was also reassured that I was in the perfect place. I felt comfortable with his knowledgeable and capable hands, and I knew that he wouldn’t let anything slip through the cracks. The guy was thorough!
Not that definite decisions are made yet, but when I walked in there I was pretty sure I had decided that if found positive that I would go for a full hysterectomy and keep my breasts. Come to find out, if you have a full hysterectomy at such a young age not only does it send you into early menopause (which, I knew and accepted) but it increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Uh, no thanks. So now, I’m thinking that if positive we’ll go with removal of the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. If positive, my breasts would be under “high risk monitoring” so I’d have a mammogram every six months and a breast MRI every six months starting immediately.
I think I can spout off all of these things very matter of fact right now, but when it comes time to actually make the decision, if I need to make the decision, it’ll be much harder. It’s hard now, but I think it could be tougher later on. Will the reality of things sink in? What will that feel like? How will I deal with that? These are questions that I shouldn’t be driving myself crazy with right now, but it’s kind of hard to turn my brain off. I’m usually the type to deal with a problem once it presents itself. It’s silly and a waste of time to think about this so much right now, correct? My results aren’t back yet, so I have nothing to be worried about right now, right? Yeah, okay. I wish that were true.
We wrapped up our talk and he asked me if I wanted the testing done today. Whoa. Wait, what? TODAY? Oh my God! I’m not ready for this TODAY! I’m not mentally prepared. Did I wear clean underwear? Oh, wait that doesn’t matter. Well, it does, but not as it pertains to this. AUBREY, FOCUS! Without even giving it a second thought, I blurted out, “Yes, I’d like to do this today.” Ah, man! Frig! I had the option of doing the testing with saliva (ewwa!) or with a blood draw. He assured me that both would return the same results with the same accuracy within the same amount of time. So rather than spit in a little tube, I went down to the second floor to get poked with a needle by a nice man that wanted to talk to me about how wonderful South Carolina is. Mental note: plan trip to Hilton Head and Savannah ASAP!
Before we could get the testing underway, I had to sign a few papers authorizing blah blah blah. Here’s the weird part; it took me 10 minutes to get up the nerve to sign the paperwork. I looked out of the corner of my eye at Mitch. My face was hot; my eyes filled with tears and he kept giving me reassuring nods. Okay, so it wasn’t 10 minutes. It was probably 10 seconds, but why was this so hard? This is what I wanted, isn’t it? Just put the pen to the frickin paper and get it over with. I was confused by my reluctance. Do I really want this? What will I do when I find out? Will the results make me feel better/worse? What does this mean for my future? All of those thoughts and many more came in like a wreeeeeeeeeeeckiiiiing baaaaall. You see what I did there? Laugh. It made me smile to type that.
Finally, I just stopped listening to my fears, and I signed the dang paper. He’ll call me with the results. I’ll know by Christmas whether I’m positive or not. If I am positive, I’m fearful of the damper it’ll put on Christmas. That’s the last thing I want, but I don’t want to wait to find out. Here goes nothing. It’s time. Right? Keep reading if you’d like, but appointment #2 isn’t as juicy. 😉
Appointment #2: Rachel Beda, MD
Okay. Soooo, she ROCKS! I saw Dr. Beda today for the first time. This was my first visit to Wise Patient Internal Medicine. Dr. Sam Warren will be my primary doctor, but Dr. Beda was filling in for him today. I knew this ahead of time, so it didn’t make the Earth tilt for me which was nice. I discussed my two primary concerns; getting back on Metformin to help stabilize my PCOS and possibly getting something for anxiety. After a great deal of thorough discussion, we determined that I’d be a good candidate for Celexa, and she granted my request for Metformin. Yippeee! I have a follow up appointment in a month to see how all the new meds are working out for me.
In all of the things that are floating around in my head I need to put myself in check and remember that I’m not the only person dealing with this. My mom and Mitch are, too. I put myself in their shoes and imagine what it’s like for them to hear the things I’m hearing. I’m sure they have questions in their minds or feel a certain way about things too. I couldn’t do this without them. If I had to go to all of these appointments by myself – well I wouldn’t go at all. And not to get all dark and depressing here, but the biggest reason I’m doing all of this is so I can know/lower my risk so something bad doesn’t happen to me in the future. Because if something bad happens to me I know that something bad also happens to them, and I don’t want that. It goes for my brother too. I know that he’d probably be very upset if I told him I had cancer. I’m his sister and he already went through this with his mom so it would probably be very difficult for him to hear.
But that’s not going to happen, right? 🙂 My BRCA results are going to be negative!
Sometimes I type these sentences and think, “I really shouldn’t be sharing this” or “Does anyone really want to read this?” Your support over the last couple of blog posts has been very encouraging. I thank you for that. Writing always helps me feel better but I’m still nervous about being so open. The reason I keep doing it is because I’ve already been told that what I’m putting here is helping other people. Even if whatever I’m helping them with is unrelated to what I’m going through, they somehow felt empowered to make decisions or be open with their loved ones about their concerns. That’s a nice compliment. I’ll take it!
So thanks for reading again. I’m sure I’ll update in a few days after I’ve had some time to digest my thoughts on today’s appointments. I appreciate your support. Thanks for being here!