It is amazing what being treated by professionals who know what they are doing does to change your peace of mind. I understand that's a convoluted sentence. I'll explain.
This last Friday, husband and I drove in the early morning hours to "the city" so I could have more tests done at a centre which is "all breasts, all day" as it was put to me. Apart from a slightly brusk (is that correct?) receptionist, everything was done at a much higher degree of skill, detail, and care.
For those who want to know / care / don't get weirded out, my procedures were, in order, a contrast mammogram on both sides (I, at this point, was told I had cancer in my left breast), another very thorough ultrasound on the left side, and a stereotactic biopsy (one using mammogram to guide it) on the right side. Throughout all of these procedures, I was given explanation and detail and felt like I knew what was happening at every stage. I was treated with kindness and was provided with water, juice, and a warmed blanket. Every attempt was made to make the procedures as pain free as possible. I was given information that I didn't even know to ask about. There were even huge apologies provided because the biopsy was being delayed by an hour. I was told they were very thorough there, making sure that they knew exactly what was going on with my body. I was initially seen by a nurse navigator (there's that word again) who went over the day's proceedings with me, provided me with a very informative booklet, and gave me three phone numbers of navigators that I could call if I had any questions, concerns, or worries at all.
Probably the biggest difference for me was the aftermath of the biopsy. My first biopsy was, of course, my first biopsy. I didn't know what was "normal", what to expect, how it should feel, etc. The bruising, pain, difficulty sleeping in a comfortable position, did I mention bruising? (think eggplant) took about a month to finally dissipate.
This time, pressure was applied, a compression bandage was used, an ice pack was provided for the drive home, and a very detailed information sheet was given to me and explained. This was a much more "robust" biopsy and the difference in pain, bruising, swelling is mind blowing. I couldn't get over how little bruising and pain there is by comparison.
I now wait until results are sent to the nurse practitioner who is overseeing things, and then an appointment will be set up with a surgeon at the same "big city" place who will determine the course of action. Yes, I know the wait will be weeks, but I feel confident now that these people know what they are doing. I feel that I will be given good, consistent, knowledgeable and skilled care.
Yes, I still have breast cancer, but I now also have some peace of mind. I am now able to relax, focus on reading a book and having some of the words sink in (impossible a while ago). Yes, I still don't have a family doctor (and likely won't), but I feel taken care of by the professionals at this place and am so grateful that I made that choice for my next steps in care. I don't feel like I'm in this vacuum of lack of knowledge, although I still don't know everything.
I am able to enjoy my time, laugh, notice the little things, proceed on a quest to find the dastardly tomato horn worms (shudder!!), think about getting a hair cut, binge watch the entire new season of Indian Matchmaker on Netflix, and freeze my peas from the garden to enjoy this winter. The other part of me is so angry about the lack of care that I have received at my little town hospital where this all first happened, and so angry at health care in general here in Ontario (or anywhere in Canada for that matter), but I'm pleased to say that the peace of mind trumps the anger right now.