Empress of the Universe

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's Always Something

I spent the day today in a series of doctor's appointments. I attended the first appointment this morning with my sister, Christine. We are initiating genetic testing for the breast cancer gene in our family. Before having a routine blood test, we had to meet with a genetic counsellor. My genes are feeling much better now, thank you.

After reviewing our family tree, the counsellor deemed that my father's side of the family was "suspicious." Chris and I started laughing hysterically. Maybe it's those dark, shifty eyes, or perhaps his swarthy complexion. This explains why he always liked Pink Panther movies and Tom Clancy thriller novels.

It turns out today's Toronto Star story was prophetic:

Breast cancer gene often passed down 'silently'
Jun 19, 2007 04:07 PM
Carla K. Johnson
Associated Press

CHICAGO – A deadly gene's path can hide in a family tree when a woman has few aunts and older sisters, making it appear that her breast cancer struck out of nowhere when it really came from Dad."
Click here to read the full story.

After our appointment in Mississauga, I went to the local hospital to see my specialist. It has been four weeks since I was discharged from the hospital and sent home with the Freedom Vac. For the past 28 days twenty-four hours a day, I have carted this wonder machine with me everywhere. It was like having a long umbilical cord that caught on EVERYTHING: kitchen cupboards, door knobs, lawn furniture, the bottom of the bathroom door (almost fainted from the pain). I was extremely grateful to have the machine and was very proud of my cleverness in rigging it up as a fanny pack so that I had much more mobility.

The good news is that my doctor today ordered the vacuum removed. The wound has healed enough to now be managed the good, old-fashioned way. Nurses will still come to the house every second day to dress the wound and ensure that it continues healing.

The bad news? I was shocked to be treated as if I had the plague. The attending nurse came in practically wearing body armour, equipped with a pile of tools for collecting samples. She ordered the doctor to put on gloves if he was treating me. He looked alarmed. "She's been tagged VSE," the nurse barked. They started medical speak about VSE. "Excuse me, isn't VSE an antibiotic resistant bacteria?" I asked.

After much yelling by the attending nurse, my surgeon and his head of nursing, combined with a number of phone calls to the infectious disease control (IDC) department, I learned that a patient in the room with me during my hospital stay was VSE positive. That means that I could be exposed and a carrier, too.

I lifted my head off the hospital bed and looked at my doctor. "So, what you're telling me is that I have cooties?" I asked. It helped diffuse some of the stress.

Why wasn't I notified? According to the very busy administrator in IDC, they're too busy. "Do you know how many faxes we receive every day?" she snarled at the second nurse.

If I am a carrier, I've infected hundreds of people in the past four weeks, including 32 people in the outpatient lab services at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga today alone. Then there's the risk to my sister Christine, who already has a compromised immune system and is recovering from her own surgery last week. (Please read about Christine's adventures here.) My own wound is at great risk, too.

I have to wait ten days for the test results. From the research I did on-line, it appears that honey is an effective antidote to VSE infections. Let's hope I don't need to know that.

Today I've thought frequently about Rosanna Rosannadanna, aka Gilda Radner. Gilda, who died of ovarian cancer far too early, entitled her autobiography, It's Always Something, which is exactly what her character always told Jane Curtin on the original Saturday Night Live.

It's Always Something.

On the other hand, my sister Roni recently told me "90% of Everything Turns Out to Be Nothing."

I have a feeling both are true.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew there was something up because he always wore dark shades all the time. And that strut-well so it doesn't surprise me that he might have something to hide.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Honey! Of course! Mama always said you get better results with sweetness over vinegar.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen - I know his side of the family. They are DEFINITELY SUSPICIOUS. A little paranoid too.

3:33 PM  

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