Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The attack of the 'OMAs!

It’s the attack of the ‘OMAs!!  Ahhhh….they’re coming, lock your windows and doors!

Since the biopsy last week of my angry lymph node on my neck, I’ve been trying not to worry about it because, as I’ve said before:  Worrying will never change the outcome.  The first couple of days were pretty bad.  I wasn’t sleeping, I was terribly worried about it being Melanoma, blah blah blah.  Wednesday and Thursday were just plain crappy on the crap-o-meter.

Then on Friday, I decided to do some research based on Dr. Surgeon‘s suggestion that it ‘might be Lymphoma‘.  Yes, I am a bit of a detective - I may have been one in a past life.  I find that there are two main branches of Lymphoma: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Under the Non-Hodgkin's branch there are a ton of different types.  I’ve read on some websites that there may be as many as 50!  That is not a typo - 50!  Makes me want to kick my leg up like Molly Shannon’s SNL character “Sally O’Malley”.  I’m FIFTY!

Anyways.  During my research I learned that there are quite a few of Non-Hodgkin’s that can involve the skin and have a RASH that looks damn similar to what I have.  People also experience easy bruising, fatigue, fever, more than normal hair loss, itchy skin, headaches and of course a swollen lymph node(s) (among other symptoms).   As of late I am waking pretty much every morning to a new bruise with  no idea where the heck it came from, I’m always tired and almost sore, I always have a low grade fever typically around 99.3 - 99.7, I shed hair like a sick dog and we can’t forget the whole headache debacle.

You’d think that it would have freaked me out, but it didn‘t.  It was almost an ‘ah-ha’ moment.  Ah-ha…that’s what it is!  A weight was lifted.  It was as if I could finally exhale.  I don’t need to search for ‘what-it-is’ anymore.

Need not worry, yesterday I got the call from UCI and spoke to nurse G.  She told me that both tests came back negative for malignancy in Melanoma AND Lymphoma.  Phew!!  It IS great news and I was stoked!  It was a huge relief, but not the one that I am looking for.

The majority of you will not understand this: I feel like something is wrong.  I feel like something is medically wrong and the doctors have missed it.  I’ve felt this way since April and I've never felt like this prior to then.  I’m searching for the reason of why I am feeling this way.  It’s not fun living like this.  Not at all, it sucks, it's incredibly frustrating.  I know what you’re thinking: Just snap the hell out of it!  You’re ’cancer-free’; move on with your life! Yeah, yeah, yeah - it’s a lot easier said than done.  I told the hubs last night that "NO" is not the answer I am looking for.  I am looking for "YES" - 'Yes, this is what is wrong with you' - 'here is the name of the reason you’ve been feeling like an insane person for the last 4 months'.

I know, it sounds crazy, I know.  I can hear myself when I am crying and trying to explain this unusual creepy feeling.   I don’t want cancer and I definitely don't want another type.  I wish that I was never diagnosed with Melanoma because I wouldn’t have all of this crap that has so annoyingly invited itself along for the joyride.  I wouldn’t feel like a mental patient.  But I do have Melanoma…and I sound crazy...and I need to learn how to deal with it.

So, how does said crazy person deal with being…well, crazy?  You cry when you feel like it.  You get stuff off your chest by writing them down if it’s easier than talking.  You try to get out of your head for a mini anti-anxiety vacation - whether it be a bike ride or cooking something yummy.  You sign up with support group(s) online and in person.  I’ve already registered to chat forums online, but I felt like I would still be sort of hiding behind the security of a computer and possibly wouldn‘t open up completely.

With that said, I just registered for my first ‘live’ support group and it’s tomorrow at noon!!  I am really, really excited!  I am really excited in the possibility of finding out that I may not be as crazy as I feel, and that my friends, would feel really freaking amazing.  We'll see how it goes; I think the groups in the evening may be a better play since there might be more people there.  I'm still researching options in the area but at least I took one HUGE step in the right direction :)
I've got to keep this one...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fine Needle Aspiration

I saw Dr. Surgeon this morning, luckily they were able to squeeze me instead of me waiting until my next follow up appointment the end of October.  Whoah, if they would have made me wait until then, I would have freaked myself out for sure.

He said that he was glad that I came in because Melanoma is nothing to play with, which I obviously know.  He thinks that it's weird that I have this lymph node on the back of my neck and if it were Melanoma then it would have typically gone to my left pitter.  As he felt it more he said that he was pretty confident that it wasn't Melanoma but that he'd need to do a biopsy to confirm.  I totally wasn't expecting that.  I was expecting full removal, as in surgery, to make sure that the entire node is checked out.  I guess it's a good thing that I didn't need surgery; I just don't want anything missed.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNABFNA or NAB), or fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), is a diagnostic procedure used to investigate superficial (just under the skin) lumps or masses.

Basically what happens is they take a needle/syringe, stick it into the lymph node itself and then move it quickly in and out and side to side while pulling back on the syringe to suck some of the tissue into the needle.  JOY!  It was just as fun as it sounds!  He did this twice...  All jokes aside - it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't anywhere near being comfortable.  It sort of stung.  I should get used to this because I've got freaking infant veins and whenever I am getting blood work done the nurses dig around in my arms trying to find a blood line.

The reason for the double biopsy is to get tissue samples to test for Melanoma and then also Lymphoma.  He said that in some cases peeps with Melanoma do get Lymphoma, but to try not to worry about it.  I think it's somewhat normal for anyone with any type of cancer to get other kinds.  It could just be an angry lymph node and it may stay that way for the rest of my life if it's benign.  What I do know is that it's angry right now, the biopsy left it not feeling so great.  It's bruising up a bit, too.

Picture of bruising (this is taken in reflection of mirror - the node is on left side of neck)
A shot of where the lymph node is.  It actually isn't swollen from the biopsy, this is the size that it has been this whole time.

It takes around three days to get the results; hopefully by Friday I should know whats up. I'm actually not worried about it.  In a strange way this is all very interesting to me.  At this point, there's nothing that I can do to change this.  If it's the worst case scenario, then it is what it is.  At least I'll be able to get all of the scans that I've wanted to get :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

NOT a Lovely Lady Lump

It's hard to talk about yourself, at least for me.  It's especially hard to talk to someone that is a difficult listener, at least to me.  It becomes harder to talk when you're scared.  You don't want to sound scared, which is exactly what I am.  You don't want to sound weird, which of course I totally am...but I like to think in a good way.

I've had this enlarged lymph node on the left side of the base of my head now for almost three weeks.  Normal people probably wouldn't notice this, but for someone like me - someone now hyper-aware of her body - it's terrifying.  It's even more terrifying when you feel like you can't mention anything about it.  So what do I do?  I turn to writing.  I get this shit off of my chest.  It's needed and I do it.  Here it is:

I was scratching my head one day at work, it actually was the day before I was let go.  I scratch my head a lot.  It's itchy.  It's annoying.  It's annoyingly itchy.  It was a Thursday afternoon and I feel this lump.  It's not like a 'Black Eyed Peas' lump; definitely NOT a "lovely lady lump".  It's a hard, creepy lump.  A lump that I've never felt before.

Along with this strange rash that I have on my abdomen, now I have this weird lump.  Awesome!

When the rash wasn't going away or really seemingly getting any better in a few days, the hubs told me to make an appointment with Dr. Dermatologist; so I did.

I had my appointment and I made mention of  the lymph node to which Dr. Dermatologist responded immediately with "When are you seeing Dr. Surgeon again?"  Dr. Surgeon is the Melanoma dude.  That didn't make me feel any better...  He wrote me a Rx for some antibiotics in hopes it would shrink my node and we scheduled an appointment for two weeks. Well, I've finished the antibiotics and it's still there.  Still there; still the same size.  I may be paranoid but I've felt another one right next to it.

Also another possible paranoia is the fact that my neck has been sore.  Of course, it's more than likely psychosomatic.  Or more like PSYCHO!  But really, it's probs' stress.  I don't have a job.  I have a hard time talking.  I'm freaking out about g-damn, stupid ass "skin" cancer - aka MELAFUCKINNOMA and I have a shit load of bills.  Rent: super.  Hospital bills:  awesome.  COBRA: even more super awesome.  Not to mention the rest of the shit that we pay for.  Oh, and it's been ah-maze-ing on me & the hub's relationship.  He's basically downright sick of my shit.  Just lovely...
So, anyways...here it is...me venting.  I've got an angry lymph node, an angry husband and I am seeing Dr. Dermatologist again next Tuesday - I hope I can get re-enrolled by then.  I was really expecting  an unemployment check before I enrolled but it looks like that's not going to happen.  My 'slogan': "Everything happens for a reason": It's getting a little hard to appreciate as of late.