Squished Breasts, Technology, and Other Medical Mysteries

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small ...

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small cancerous lesion. A lesion is an area of abnormal tissue change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just returned from my yearly moments of torture, that  I refer to as getting my boobs squished, but more academically minded folk would call a mammogram.

Boy was it fun.

Actually, though, while not the most comfortable experience of my life,  I have to say that the worst part has nothing to do with getting your flesh and muscles smooshed between two plates while you stand in a contorted position and try to fantasize that you are taking beauty shots. No, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part comes from the fact that I moved last summer.

What? Confused readers everywhere (well the few of you who are reading).

As you know, when you move, especially from one state to another you must find new medical care. First, however, you have to wait the endless amounts of time before your full medical benefits kick in (if you even have medical insurance) then you have to go through the torture of finding a doctor when you have no clue. I kept putting it off for a couple of reasons, one laziness, and the other that I’ve had to leave two wonderful doctors in the past two years and I just didn’t want to go through it again. To be fair, the first one that I left passed away just before we moved from Colorado, which meant I would have had to choose a new one anyway. The second fabulous doctor quit the practice just after I moved from Kansas, which means the same thing. Maybe I’m bad luck on doctors.

Anyway, I finally realized that preventive medicine was the better way to go, and got myself together to get a doctor. Of course, there was only one accepting patients in my area. One, not so exciting, kind of personality-less doctor. I’m giving her a chance. Maybe she will warm up, but meanwhile that’s what I got.

In preparation for my first visit I had contacted the prior medical group hoping to be able to walk in carrying my complete medical history and hand it over.

“Can I please have my medical records sent to me?”

“No, we can only send them to your doctor after they have you sign a release.”

WHAT?!  THESE ARE MY RECORDS, WHY CAN’T I HAVE ACCESS TO THEM?!!

I didn’t feel like fighting that battle, so I gave in and waited until my first appointment and sent away for records. That made for an exciting appointment with Dr. Personable.

“I don’t have any records of you.”

“No, I have to have them sent.”

“Well, what medications were you on?”

“I can tell you a few.”

“Why were you on those ones? They don’t help cholesterol or blood pressure?”

“Um, because that’s what my doctor told me to take.”

“Well, what do you want to do now?”

Ugh! This is part of my problem with this particular doctor. If I knew how to treat myself, I would, but she’s supposed to be the expert. In my opinion, she should lay out my options and then help me make decisions, not ask me to tell her what to do. I’ve seen her twice now . . . we shall see if we go past a third visit.

On the second visit, she had my records, but not all of them. No sign of my immunization record. Luckily I have that (current as far as I know) and will bring it to them eventually, or send it. But seriously, where the hell are they? Supposedly Kansas didn’t have them either. So then why didn’t Colorado send them? When all medical records have been put into a computer, why are mine so incomplete?

Ok, next visit involved getting my vision checked. True, I didn’t have those records sent (different doctor, and in Colorado) but I wasn’t concerned. I didn’t think there were any major things that they couldn’t discover simply by doing the exam.

Oh how wrong I was.

See I have a Nevus inside my eye. What’s a Nevus? According to Wordnik it’s :

“n. A congenital growth or mark on the skin, such as a mole or birthmark.”

Translation, I have freckle like birthmark inside my eye. Sarah has a freckle that you can see on her eye.

It’s a freckle.

Anyway, in Colorado, my fabulous eye doctor had the technology to take pictures of the inside of my eyes to look at the size and the shape of the nevus, as well as my general eye health. For that reason, I haven’t had to have my eyes dilated in years.  When I went to get my eyes checked, I assumed that would be the case here, but of course I was wrong.  And, not being a medical professional, I didn’t know to mention the nevus early in the appointment. After a severe scolding from Dr. Lackofpersonality #2, I was informed that I have to come back (with an expensive copay this time) and be dilated because “now that he knows, he has to check it.”

That fun happens tomorrow.

Next, of course, was the fun female examination I discussed in “Things I Don’t Understand”. At least there I connected with a fabulous Nurse Practitioner, and solved the mystery of my past history by simply choosing (under her guidance) to move on and let it go.

Ah the relief.

Back to today’s misadventures in Medical history. I walked in thinking there should be no problem, they sent my records. Well, yes, they sent my records. They sent the analysis of the records. They DID NOT send the films. No pictures. Nada.

“Do you have them?”

“No, they wouldn’t give them to me.”

“They might not look at the new pictures without them. We’ll have to send for them again.”

Aaaauuuuuggggghhhhh!

One of the worst things is waiting for the results of a mammogram. Even though there’s no family history of breast cancer, it looms as a possibility in every women’s mind. But, because of the incompetence of medical records and a confusing inability for one system to talk to another, I have to wait longer than the average time to find out my results.

There are a couple of good things about this now. I finally have access to my own medical records, via technology. So if we find ourselves moving again it shouldn’t be so hard. I also have finally caught up to myself in terms of proactive medical treatment.

Except for the dentist.

Bleah!

Seeking the Truth Inside Yourself

“She is without any need to please, any need to act, or look, or be a certain way. It’s as if she’s done with that, and rests now in the solid center of herself, having arrived at her own condensed truth. She is herself. And that is all.” (Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Kidd Traveling with Pomegranates)

“As far as I’m concerned, people who think they fear failure have got it wrong. They really fear success. If you truly feared failure, you’d be very successful.” (Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was.)

The journey I began when I first started writing this blog has taken me in surprising directions, and I am still travelling.  I’m not just talking about the physical realities of my journey, with moves from Colorado to Kansas to Massachusetts including stops and pauses along the way: Okoboji, IA; Seattle, WA; Lexington, KY; Slovakia. These, of course, are part of my journey, but my inner journey has traversed millions and millions of miles and I am only beginning to discover what it all means.

Yesterday, as I was spending a relaxing day hanging out with Sarah in a bookstore, I found myself journaling in response to a prompt in Barbara Sher’s book. While I haven’t done all the activities she suggests, I have been reading a lot of books like her in the hopes that I could clarify for myself what goals and dreams I truly want to embrace. As I wrote in my journal yesterday, I came one step closer to my truth, even though I can’t label it with a traditional sounding career name.

Actually, I’m not even sure I’m ready to put this into words. So instead I will fill today’s post with a few images that, added all together, somehow represent the me that I am on my way to becoming.

Black Virgin of Rocamadour

Goddess Grants the Rebirth of Japan

The journey has just begun, where will it lead?

From Floods to Fairies and Future Possibilities

Thursday dawned with good intentions. I was going to explore the area a little more in search of a coffee shop/book store that looked ideal for my needs. I was going to do a little job searching and take advantage of that coffee shop internet. At home, I was going to work on strengthening my resumes and perhaps unpacking some more or painting Sarah’s room.

Then came the deluge.

It had been raining much of the night, but it seemed to come down harder in the early morning hours. Just before Sarah set off for school, I suggested to Nathan that we might want to check the basement for water since our landlords had warned us of the possibility of minor flooding.

After soggy Sarah climbed onto the bus, Nathan went down to check.  “Oh, I see a little water,” he called up. “I’m going to vacuum it up!”

A few minutes pass. “CALL THE LANDLORDS! I CAN’T STOP IT!”

I call the landlords, and as I do, I glance out the back door toward the deck, to see water pouring downhill toward us in three glorious (though small) cascades.

Our personal waterfalls

Then I headed downstairs to find water spread across the entire lower level, reaching up to my ankles. Nathan was desperately moving boxes onto plastic tubs to protect them. The garage that contained most of the boxes still waiting for unpacking, although not completely covered had several large puddles. You could see where the water was pouring in through various cracks and it was incredible.

We managed to get all the boxes up. Most of them contain the books that I can’t unpack without more shelves. Thank goodness we brought extra plastic tubs.

Then we began using a wet vac to suck the water out. The vacuum held 9 gallons at a time, and before our landlords got there with a sump pump I’m sure we had sucked out well over 100 gallons, with little to show for it. Sump pump in, we kept sucking, and the landlords went and bought a second sump pump. Eventually Nathan had to get to work, but we kept plugging. The rain stop and the sun made an effort to come out. Finally, about 4 hours later, we left the dehumidifier to battle whatever moisture remained on the floor and called it good.

After that adventure I lost any enthusiasm, ability, or even focus to allow me to concentrate on achieving the goals I had set out. I wasn’t going to look for the coffee shop with road had puddles up to the bottom of my car. The boxes looked overwhelming, and my resumes are intimidating. So what did I do?

I painted.

Before we left Colorado I had a sudden urge to oil paint. I’ve never oil painted in my life, and never had any training with oils. I painted two pictures, well one and a half. The first I call “The Dream Home”, and while I don’t love how the tree came out in it, I think it was a pretty good first shot.

I’ll have to add a picture of it later as I forgot to take one and load it onto my computer.

The half painting was something I was calling “Fairy Home” and I had only gotten so far before I got intimidated and stopped. When we unpacked art, we found this painting, and Sarah said, “I like that Mommy. When it is done can I hang it in my room?”

So I decided to finish it. Please be kind:

Finally I closed Thursday down to crawl into bed exhausted and unsure after what seems like another in a series of chaotic events in my life.

But Friday began a new day, with a dry basement, internet access at a good coffee shop, and plans to go to a huge antique sale for the afternoon. Of course, first we had to deal with the bureaucracy of registering our car and getting our driver’s licenses. I won’t dwell on that, however, as I am sure we have all had our horror stories–and this one was comparatively benign although annoying at the time.

As I waded through 130+ e-mails and realized I could not catch up on all the blogging friends and other business, I found a miracle. A potential job teaching kids acting classes on Saturday mornings at a professional theater in Boston area. I jumped on it, quickly wrote a cover letter and sent off my resume. Who knows what will happen, but it was a positive step. Then I embarrassed myself by e-mailing something to a fellow blogger that was purely the fiction of my own mind, but I won’t go into that either.

Today I registered Sarah for dance class and was talking to the owner of the studio. As I did, I decided to take a leap, and told her about myself to see if she might be interested in using me in some capacity. Another miracle, she said “Yes!” It is all tentative and talk right now, but at least I put myself out there.

So, through floods and fairies I finally feel like I may be moving forward.

Care to join me in a ROAR of VICTORY?!

A World Sliding Backwards

I had a little wrangle with bureaucracy today and gave up in a fit of frustration (or maybe a temper tantrum).

I simply wanted to accept my current reality and change my driver’s license from Colorado to Kansas. I admit, I clung to the Colorado license for a couple of reasons. Ostensibly, I held onto it because we owned the house in Durango, and I thought it would be good for one of us to still be considered a resident. In reality, though, I did not want to say good bye to Durango, and even more I didn’t want to embrace my existence in Kansas. There was also the fact that they took a really cute license photo last time, and I didn’t want to let it go.

But, we officially closed on the house and it looks like I’m stuck living here for a while longer, so I figured it was time to give in and get a new driver’s license.

“Do you have your birth certificate and marriage license?”

“Well, no.”

“A current passport will do. We need you to prove your married name.”

“But I didn’t change my name when I got married. I’ve had this name on every license since I was 16.”

“We need your passport or your birth certificate and marriage license. Oh, and proof of address.”

“Well, I’m moving into a new rental in a few weeks. I was hoping I could put that address on.”

“Not without proof.”

Needless to say, I still have my Colorado license for a while. I have my passport, but I could not deal with the bureaucracy anymore today. Besides, I feel like the passport isn’t going to be enough, because I kept my name when I got married. Its like I did something wrong, daring to maintain my identity and keep my last name.

Don’t get me wrong. I see nothing wrong with taking your husband’s name when you get married. But for me, it didn’t feel right for a number of reasons. I reserve the name change for my future (imaginary) career as a radio talk show host a la Dr. Ruth–then I will become Dr. Lisa Lee the Love Dr.

We could be twins. 😉

What really bothers me about all this was the implication about my name. I suddenly recognized that marriage, in the eyes of some laws, means that I am the property of my husband, or at the very least his legal responsibility. I mean, nobody asked him for his marriage license when he changed to the Kansas license last year. Why should I have to provide mine?

I am the property of nobody. I am responsible for myself.

Is that craziness, or just Kansas?

Well, after I finally finished jumping through bureaucratic hoops (I also had to pay for my tags today–a nice chunk of change) Sarah and I got lunch at the only coffee shop in town. I read the Tulsa paper as I was waiting only to be repulsed by the fact that Kansas is trying to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, while also forcing them and two other agencies that provide abortions to go through some inspections to grant them the right to perform abortions–inspections which might inevitably fail in pulling those rights (they’ve already yanked it from one of the three). That would make Kansas the only state to not provide any resources for this as well as the first state to pull all funding from a State Arts Council.

So basically, I believe I am now living in a state that wants me barefoot, pregnant, and the property of my husband without the ability to support myself by doing the work I do the best which involves Arts Education.

You know what scares me the most? The potential that our country could easily continue to slide in this horrific direction–backwards to a world where equality exists only in the mouths of men.

 

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