Monday, September 19, 2011

MUGA (It's the name of the test, not me losing my mind and ability to make words)

Today I went for the heart test. Still no pathology report but since they tried to bill Paul for all the tests they ran on Ethel after her removal we are pretty sure we will be getting the results tomorrow. The internet tells me that often women find this to be the most stressful time. But it also seems like I already know a lot more than most women do about their cancer. I already know (with 95% certainty, I guess the rapid lab tests they do during surgery so the doc knows when to stop cutting can be wrong some of the time) that Ethel is gone and she didn't go to my nodes. I also know she is roughly 1 cm. Once she was out they were going to measure her more precisely but it seems unlikely she will be much more than that. I saw her mapped on one ultrasound at 1.1 cms. They measure her at the widest point and this helps to determine staging.

Anyway, what that long rant was supposed to tell you is this: I'm worried-ish about the pathology report but not nearly as worried as I was before the biopsy results. Like, not even on the same scale of worry. This is like a "oh well" kind of worry and that was like a "THERE IS A TSUNAMI COMING AND IT IS RADIOACTIVE AND ALIENS ARE THE ONES MAKING IT AND THEY WANT TO MAKE US ALL INTO SLAVES a la PLANET OF THE APES!" level of worry. In truth, even if a newsperson said that for real on the real news I might be less freaked out then I was. Though the alien invasion scenario is a hard scenario to imagine so maybe that is why I can't get too worked up about it. Either way, you get the picture.

Today I got two more injections; one that was downright unpleasant and one that was fine. After, I sat around for a bit and then they hooked up some electrodes to me and put me under another large machine. Again, the internet tells me that what they did was shoot me up with radioactive isotopes that will bond to red blood cells. By tracking how those red blood cells move through the heart they can determine how much blood my heart is emptying from a ventricle with each pump. If the ventricle is emptying between 60% and 80% of the blood in there, I am in the normal range and deemed worthy of receiving chemo, which once inside me will then (maybe) attack my heart. It is one of the nastier side effects of one of the chemo drugs that is regularly used to fight breast cancer but it is also one of the rarer side effects. However, telling me something is unlikely these days doesn't mean much cause guess what - getting breast cancer at 30 is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY UNLIKELY! I should probably add another "really" or two but I think I have made my point.

The award for "stupidest thing you can do while near a person getting a MUGA" goes to my lovely translator volunteer. I would have thought this went without saying but during the test he took it upon himself to enlighten me as to what was going on. "How did he do this?" you ask. Well, he didn't describe it! No, he took a picture of the monitor with his phone and then he shoved his phone in my face. Did I mention I was in a machine at this point? Did he put his hand and phone into the field of the test? You betcha! I figured this would have been covered in "Volunteering 101: Places you Should Not Put Your Phone (or Hand)" but apparently, not so much. I didn't want to be rude (maybe I need to get over that?) but all I could think was DON'T PUT THAT IN HERE. On his second approach with the phone (WTF) I did tell him it probably wasn't a good idea to do that and that made him profusely sorry. I mean, the poor kid meant well but honestly, I was worried he would ruin the test results and I would have to do this all over again. He also kept talking to me and I wasn't sure I was allowed to talk. Finally I asked him to talk to the tech when he came back in the room and make sure I could actually talk. I'm pretty sure while asking whether speaking was okay he also mentioned the phone incident. I'm not positive as this discussion was all in Korean but he was gesturing with his phone and at me. The tech didn't seem worried about the phone and said I could talk so crisis averted? We'll see!

Either way, I'm pretty sure I'll eventually have to do that damn test again but not until I'm well into chemo and that is at least a month or two out so I'm not thinking about that now. I'm doing this a day or two at a time. I worry about the impending appointment or test and not much beyond that. So far, this policy has served me well. It has also made time slow down. Want to make sure your life doesn't flash before your eyes? Obsess about things in 1 or 2 day increments - it helps!

And with that sage advise, I will bid you adieu. I have to go pack since I am getting on a plane tomorrow and flying to Canada for my sister's wedding. Hurrah!

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