I felt awful. No energy, short of breath but the worse was intermittently feeling faint – almost like someone was playing with a light switch. On-off, on-off: feeling fine then seconds of not feeling fine, then feeling fine again. It was a four month mystery that after extensive testing culminated in a pacemaker. Once healed, I was back to my normal old self. Of course, define “normal old self”. Normal as in how my body feels as it is in the process of growing older and old as in some days my body mechanics feel much older than its years. But all in all, I was up, running smooth and feeling blessed.
Because of this, I schedule regular checkups with the plethora of doctors that now live on my Smart Phone contact list. I set up my appointments much like someone sets up a “domino effect” hoping they all will align perfectly. Sometimes, I dream of one month where I don’t have any appointments scheduled. I often wonder “do I really need all of this?”
Take for example my routine, diagnostic mammogram, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI. I have now graduated to yearly. I am 20 years status post breast cancer! Twenty years! Hurrah! I see my oncologist every December and she orders the breast MRI to be done in February and my ultrasound and mammogram for August.
Following my December visit this year I began the process of scheduling the tests when I hit a snag. The mammogram and ultrasounds were no problem but the breast MRI could no longer be done at my regular location because I now sport the pacemaker. That would need to be done at a hospital location and not all hospitals do them. Working with an exceptional scheduling person from Florida Cancer Specialists she researched the closest hospital location to me and then stayed on the line after she connected me to their scheduling department. Much paperwork and information and approval about my electronic appliance was needed before this procedure could take place. All of this took about 1.5 hours with a final call from the hospital at a later day to schedule it. Both these schedulers hung in there with me as they worked together to set up the scheduling protocol and process. I was grateful and blessed by them both.
But Sheesh! You fix one thing and then you have another problem.
It was during this time that I wondered – “Do I really need this test right now? It’s really just for routine maintenance, right? I could do the ultrasound and mammogram and if they showed something, I could be scheduled for the MRI at that time.”
Then I thought of my cousin who diligently has a routine mammogram and ultrasound. After 22 years cancer free the tests showed two primary cancer tumors – a different type of cancer in each breast. Due to our strong family history of breast cancer she had a double mastectomy and reconstruction over the Christmas holidays. Not a fun way to celebrate Christmas.
Okay, ignoring the order for an MRI is not an option.
If I am going to be honest, I was also a bit intimidated by the MRI because I didn’t know exactly how they were going to do this. And since I have an overactive imagination, I imagined that they would need to put some sort of a shield over me – but what if it moved or I had a sudden need to sneeze? What if the settings were put in wrong? What if the MRI machine yanked the pacemaker clear out of my chest? And here’s the big fear factor – if it had to be done in a hospital setting, it must be serious, right?
You see how my brain works? Like a runaway freight train fueled by fear.
But God sends us angels. In this case it was in the form of a new couple that recently joined our small bible study group. The wife is a nurse and works in a department of a hospital that does these MRI’s routinely for patients with pacemakers. She explained how the procedure would work – nothing like I thought- and assured me that it is routine. They schedule the MRI so that a technician from the company that makes the pacemaker is present to turn off the unit so that the MRI can be done and then turns it back on once it is completed. WOW! How cool is that? My fears were much abated and while I don’t look forward to going to a new and strange setting, I need to make sure that me and my breast are still healthy as I begin 2023.
I learned several things throughout this experience:
- Never let your guard down or become complacent about maintaining the beautiful (albeit slightly used and worn) body God gave you.
- While solving one medical problem can often have the domino effect of creating a new one; think of the challenges as an opportunity to learn.
- Notice that throughout the journey, God has placed “angels of mercy” along the way to help you in your time of need. In my case, the Florida Cancer Specialist scheduling clerk along with the hospitals scheduling clerk worked as a team to help accomplish what needed to be done. In addition, my fellow sister in Christ was there to assure me that the MRI done in the hospital would not be traumatic.
- Don’t let your fears, frustrations, or energy needed make you ignore what needs to be done to insure a good and long life.
- See the good in having such test available to enhance preventative medicine. Many of my ancestry died in their youth because of the lack of early testing.
- Have a good sense of humor rather than a bad attitude to enable you to not only survive but thrive through any experience.
- Share you knowledge, experience, kindness, and faith so that you can spread God’s love to all those you meet.
- Remember to keep the word of the Lord in your heart. Here are two verses that help me. “So do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has trouble of its own.” – Matt 6:34. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” – John 16:33
My MRI of the breast is scheduled for February. I go into this with the knowledge needed, believing that it will show pendulous, scarred, mismatched and misshapen but nonetheless healthy breasts.
And after it, I have a date with my best friend, lover, part time caregiver, and forever husband, Thad. He likes me just the way I am. God bless him.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.