Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Part 13: Crimson Tears

She felt like a product on an assembly line. One by one the clinical assistants in radiology brought the patients into the dressing rooms, spouted off a memorized set of instructions, and handed them unflattering blue smocks to cover themselves. After changing, the woman went out to sit in the secondary waiting room, where she fit right in with the rest of the like-dressed patients. Shortly thereafter, she was escorted to a room to receive her ultrasound.

“I’m so sorry,” the woman apologized to the technologist, embarrassed by something she couldn’t control. It had been about an hour since she left the house for the clinic. The double-layer protection she thought would last a few hours had already lived its course and she was on the next round thanks to her husband who had packed extra pads against her wishes.

She lay on the exam table worried about how much blood she’d find underneath her afterward, while the technician maneuvered the ultrasound wand and diligently reviewed the images on the screen.

“Are you going to tell me what you see when you’re finished?” the woman casually asked.

“No. You’ll have to wait to discuss the findings with your doctor,” the technician succinctly replied.

Goodness. These technologists in radiology are way stricter than those in OB. Guess it won’t be the first time I’ve waited for answers.

The technician finished the scans and gave permission for the woman to leave. She met up with her husband and they walked over to the doctor’s office.

“The HCG results have come back and they have gone up again since your last draw five days ago,” the doctor began. “After reviewing the ultrasound, there seems to be re-growth of tissue in your uterus. We located a mass inside measuring about 3.5 to 4.0 centimeters and it seems to have grown into the uterine wall.”

A mass inside? the woman thought, shocked.

The doctor continued, “I took a look at your pathology results from the D&C and the cells did not have the appearance of choriocarcinoma, which is good. However, they have definitely started to invade into the uterine wall, which is a concern. We don’t want to do another D&C at this time because of the risk of possibly puncturing the uterus, which could cause uncontrollable bleeding and lead to hysterectomy.”

The word “hysterectomy” made the woman shutter.

“We want to preserve your fertility as best we can. The next step will be to get a CT scan to verify the cells have not spread to other parts of your body. We want to keep you overnight in the hospital to monitor your bleeding and make sure that goes down. And then we will also start you on chemotherapy treatments today.”

The woman felt like she was listening to the text book treatments she read on the internet and in online medical journals. The information was very familiar, but it wasn’t supposed to be her story. It was supposed to be some impersonal nice-to-know information that she didn’t have to worry about. But it was her story now, and somehow she would have to deal with it. All the times she had been given less than good news, she had been able to keep her composure, but this time was different. Though she didn’t know where else the crazy cells in her body may have gone, they had finally managed to get to her psyche and through her tears, she released the emotions that had been building inside her all day.

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