Friday, September 5, 2008

It Would Be a Dark and Bloody Episode of I Love Lucy

With the course of chemo behind me, I went back to the dermatologist today. I was confident. I felt calm and upbeat about the whole thing. I found a good parking place. I knit on The Kid's sock in the waiting room. Everything was fine until I got back into the exam room and then for the twenty five minutes I sat there, I had a knock down drag out full on heart pounding mind racing cold sweat nearly throwing up hands shaking panic attack. I couldn't stop thinking abut how painful the first biopsy had been and how there was not a whole lot of nose left in that particular spot and how tender and sore it already was from the chemo and every time I thought about anyone cutting out more, I wound up a little bit tighter.

I haven't had a panic attack in about fifteen years. It was ghastly. By the time the doctor came in I was a wreck but trying very hard to appear normal. I answered her questions very slowly and did deep breathing in between each sentence. I was so close to tears, trying so hard not to fall apart all over her, I must have sounded like a robot – a hyperventilating, very frightened robot.

Here's the good news – she says my nose looks great. The term she used was "clean" and I gave her this strange look thinking, well I came here to have you specifically look at my nose, do you think I would not wash my face before I came? But by clean she meant free of those pesky cancer cells. It look like the chemo did a good job. Hooray!

She did another biopsy to be sure and here's where the story takes a macabre, southern gothic, I Love Lucy kind of turn, (if I Love Lucy had been written by a codependent southern woman). The biopsy hurt just as much as I thought it would. (Even the pen she used to mark the spot hurt.) I lay there and thought happy thoughts and tried to take deep breaths and not flinch or scream and get through it with some modicum of (if not grace) decency. But then my nose would not stop bleeding. She sent in the nurse to bandage me up and my nose bled and bled and bled. The nurse kept putting what I assume is magic stop bleeding stuff on it and it kept on bleeding. She was visibly frustrated and whenever she turned around to get clean gauze, blood would run down my face. It just would not stop bleeding and at some point it became almost absurd. I kept apologizing, as if my nose were a naughty child.

The nurse got increasingly frustrated and was huffing and puffing and snatching the gauze and none too gently applying pressure to the wound. I kept saying, I'm so sorry – it's never done this before. At one point she actually asked me, through gritted teeth, to please stop bleeding – as if I were bleeding on purpose just to mess with her Friday mood. The doctor was called in and cauterized the poor thing, my nose – not the nurse, not once but twice, before the bleeding stopped. This, on top of the adrenaline dump from the panic attack, just about did me in. I stumbled out to the car and sobbed and cried and called Lefty and cried some more.

Then I did what we grownups do. I got myself together, blew my nose, drank some water and drove myself home.

I am thrilled that my nose looks "clean" and I hope the biopsy will make it official.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts and have a lovely weekend.


  1. Poor thing. "Please stop bleeding. . ." Indeed.

  2. Now you just need to keep your nose clean.

  3. I'm glad to hear your nose looks good. Honestly, though, what an insensitive woman. Please promise me never to apologize for bleeding again.

    Thinking continued good thoughts.

  4. Oh! Speechless!

    Wait. Deep breath. Okay, here is the visit replayed with me going with you and holding your hand. (Not while you knit, though.) Sticking with you like glue, even in the examining room. Poking my head out the door periodically, then asking a nurse how much longer you will have to wait. Celebrating the "clean" verdict! Witnessing visibly frustrated nurse and letting her know that I was witnessing and documenting her behavior, perhaps jotting notes to relay to her supervisor later, meeting your eyes and rolling mine at her behind her back. Maybe making a face, imitating her, doing a Big Mean Ape dance 'til she turned around and I would be all innocent-like, "What?" Maybe jabbing her with my pen, then demanding that she stop bleeding.

    Then celebrating post-appointment with a glass of cold white wine. Viognier? 'Cause I like to say it! Viognier, Viognier, make this bad day go away!

    Good and speedy healing of that poor, dear nose! xxxooo (Those are in the air, NOT on your nose!)

  5. Thank you, friends for the good wishes. (Are you back, Prof. J?)

    I now realize the absurdity of my apologies but it was the only thing I could think of to do at the time.

    And so funny, Laura, that your reaction was the same as Lefty's who said, you will never go back to that office alone again.

    I had doubts about the nursing staff and the dermatologist in July but I was all "eek" and "cancer!" and too freaked out to find someone new.

    After some wine and reflection, I think it's time to find myself a new dermatologist. I've already asked a few folks for suggestions.

  6. "I now realize the absurdity of my apologies but it was the only thing I could think of to do at the time."

    And you feel so vulnerable in a situation like that! Like, if you are a "good girl", they won't hurt you, they'll be "nice" to you.

    Well, me and Lefty -- we are both lefties -- don't mess with our peeps! But you have the power to fire that doc and her office.

  7. Laura, that sounds absolutely ghastly and yes, indeed, I think a new Dr is in order!

    I hope you're feeling much better now and able to enjoy the weekend.

  8. Thanks. I am having a pretty nice weekend despite my sore and swollen nose.

    Something about the weather here has taken a barely noticeable, subtle turn. It's still hot but it's less oppressive. We sat outside mid-afternoon today and not a soul complained about the heat!

    Enjoy your weekend!

  9. As I read it, I too thought--not alone! Don't go alone!

    But the ghastliness is over--your nose is clean and you need never go back to that particular office. It's good news, Laura (that has kind of gotten hidden)--yaaay!! Your nose is clean!!! FABULOUS!!!