Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'Fun' at the dentist

Yesterday started beautifully with a yoga class in which the teacher placed a big emphasis on breathing. Breathing was a good thing to remember as I went through the day.

Having skipped breakfast because I was having a fasting cholesterol test, I was getting kind of hungry when I checked in for my appointment at Dana-Farber. Accustomed to long waits in the old building, I was surprised when I was called right in to my appointment in the infusion room in the goregous new building.

One of my old nurses set me up in a corner chair with a view of the Boston skyline, a welcome change from the windowless infusion room in the old place. She quickly put in an IV and drew my blood, then said I could go to the cafeteria to get some (Starbucks!) coffee. Diane had packed a blueberry muffin and a yogurt, and when I returned to my seat I happily settled in.

I got premedication – two Tylenol and a Benadryl – the platelets started infusing, and the nurse zapped my coffee for me a couple of times. Unused to Benadryl, I got pleasantly drowsy. The dentist had said I could take two Ativan in advance of the extraction (scheduled for 1), so around noon, I downed them. I probably could have gotten away with one.

Melissa met me in the infusion room and said my counts are good, about the same as last time. My liver is stable, but she said to stay on the same prednisone dose – 10 mg. – until next time and then hopefully decrease. My potassium, sodium and cholesterol are normal.

Diane came and walked me to the surgeon's office. He gave me enough Novocaine so that I didn't feel much except for a few twinges. In contrast to the first surgeon back home who chipped away at the teeth until there was nothing much left, this doctor actually pulled them right out. A resident, he was eventually joined by his supervisor, and it seemed to me that they took a while twisting, turning and pulling.

I say "seemed," because I was falling asleep, and they had to keep reminding me to open my mouth.

Just so life should not get too boring, the resident noticed a small spot under my tongue and said he was going to biopsy it for tongue cancer.


He said that it was small, and if the biopsy came back positive, he would simply go back in and remove the rest. The results are due back in about a week. He also said to make an follow-up appointment in a week. I had no memory of doing that, and Diane later told me she made it for next Wednesday.

With that, she wheeled me out of there back to the car, where my mind drifted to the only case of tongue cancer that I had ever known, that of a friend's sister (a smoker) who died of it.

I didn't have much time to fret, because as soon as we got back to the house, I passed out in my coat on the couch. I wandered into the kitchen long enough to eat an omelet that Diane made, tried to read but couldn't because my eyes wouldn't focus, and then went to bed.

This morning we went to see Dr. Linn, the dermatologist. When I showed her the yukky spot on my forehead, she proclaimed it beautiful and said that's what it's supposed to look like. I have a few lingering spots – precancerous – and she said to apply that same strong cream (flourouracil) )to them so they too would get really red and gross and then fall off. Definitely something to look forward to.

I asked about the tongue cancer biopsy, and she and her resident looked it up on the computer and said that it was, indeed, very small and manageable if the biopsy was positive. The resident also pointed that out that with a history like mine, they have to follow up on every polyp like this, meaning that it could be nothing at all.

I double-checked with Melissa and told her that my mind had drifted off towards the one fatal case I knew, and she said they were too different kinds and not to worry about. "So I shouldn't write myself off?" I asked. "No, definitely not," she said.

OK then.

I had thought of maybe driving home today, but I didn't feel 100 percent, so I decided to stay one more day at Diane and David's. It was a good decision, because after lunch, I crashed on the couch for some three hours.

Revived, I took my book (Isabelle Allende's "Island Beneath the Sea") and walked to the nearest Starbucks, about 20 minutes away. On the way, I stopped in a jewelry store to buy a watch band and walked out with a bracelet I did not need.

But it was a perfect antidote to yesterday's events, and I have no regrets.

About a year ago, I lost a David-Yurman look-a-like bracelet that I wore all the time. It just slipped off my wrist, never to be found again. While the woman in the jewelry store put the watch band on for me, I noticed a bracelet that reminded me of the one I lost. It had the same silver cable but also had two blue topaz end-caps where my old one had plain silver. Plus, it matched a pair of earrings and a necklace that I had bought at different times, also in Newton.

It called out to me, and it wasn't that expensive.

If I start to fret about the biopsy, I am going to look at those beautiful stones.


Elayne said...

Praying for your biopsy results Ronni.Try not to worry, I know it is next to impossible, but I like your idea of looking at your bracelet if you begin to fret.
Hope you are resting and feeling better :)

PJ said...

Keep on ticking!

Julie Goodale said...

Sending good, healthy thoughts your way. Love the bracelet idea!

Ann said...

No worries, Ronni. Hope your mouth feels better.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

I pray that your imagination stays reined in and that you can take comfort in the uncertainty, i.e., that you may not have a problem (and if it is a problem, that it may be an easily fixed problem).

Your retail therapy was surely a lot less expensive than a session or two with a psychologist or social worker, and a whole lot more fun. You can take as many booster "doses" of jewelry-pleasure as you like, too.

With a gift certificate I won at a lymphoma fundraiser, I bought the pendant that matches your new braclet!

We're here if you want or need us.
With hope, Wendy

Nelle said...

I remember when I went to my periodontist (a Hodgkins survivor) for him to repair some radiation damage where roots of teeth decayed under the gum. I was really nervous about him cutting a flap to fix the decayed roots when he found a tumor under my tongue. I didn't even know it was there. He removed it and I waited on pins and needles until ten days later it was benign. He was so wonderful that I continued to go to him for over twenty years. He took his son on as his partner and when he passed away a few years ago I stayed on with his son. The doctor lived a long life and died of a heart attack in his 70s. Sorry about your tooth problems and am sending positive thoughts that your biopsy will be okay. Either way, it sounds like they will deal with it with a good outcome.