Friday, 3 December 2010

The lump... results of the tests...

The scan report said:

There is a 2.1mm x 1.1mm well defined hypoechoic mobile soft tissue mass seen in the subcutaneous region. 

The mass is mobile from side to side, but not superiorly or inferiorly and the appearances and characteristics are suggestive of a benign lesion, probably a neurofibroma or a schwannoma.

As it is very small with no worrisome features, I have asked her to contact you if the is any change in size of if it becomes symptomatic. We will then consider any alternative imaging, as with its current size and other imaging would not be any more useful.
However, I went back to my GP and asked him to remove the lump as it kept drawing my attention and that started me of wondering "Does it feel bigger?" "Is my hand touching it because it is itching?" and other questions.

The GP declined, citing reasons like "Sometimes when we tinker with these things it can trigger it to turn cancerous" and "sometimes it can spark off more to grow if we interfere with them"

He was very nice about it, even admitted that he would get paid quite a bit more by the NHS if he were to remove it, but at present it wouldn't be in my best interest to do it.

And when I googled images of a neurofibroma or a schwannoma, it scared me in to agreeing with him, I don’t really want to interfere with it and spark it in to producing more of them!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Saturday Morning 2nd October

Letter from NHS Booking service saying they've been asked to contact me to make an appointment for Ultrasound: Thorax & Pleural Cavity. It seems that "as soon as you receive this letter" ring the booking clerk, except the booking clerk's only open Mon - Fri 9-12 & 2-4pm  (Why can't I have a 2hr lunch?) and if the line's engaged, keep trying, and if you don't get through before 10 days of receiving the letter - Oh, so today's the second of October, so before the 12th...but they sent it on 30th Sept, and 1st Class post should arrive next day, so maybe they think I'll have got it on 1st, so before 11th... or is it 10 working days? (making it 2 weeks?)

Oh, what the heck, I'm intending to call on Monday straight after the morning school run, and right before calling the staff emergency line to see if we're open again...

And. I must remember to do under my arms before the scan... don't want another stressor like I had when I saw the GP... for some reason, I thought the doc would just look at the lump, so chose a jumper that was appropriate with a wide neck... didn't occur to me that a full breast exam would be needed, or I'd have... umm... prepared better!  (Ask if you want more specific detail!)

So, woke up at 11am - Tesco arrived at 11:57am (A whole 3 minutes early!) - Hubby's in the kitchen now rearranging the tin cupboard. It seems that we're having a tea-time babysitter to cover the time between me setting off to college and Hubby arriving home from Overtime... 4:30pm to 6:45pm.  So, hoping that she'll feed the kids, especially if I say she's welcome to do something for herself too, I've bought LOADS of easy foods that just need tipping in to a jug and shoving in a microwave at most. (Heinz Spag Bol, Heinz Ravioli, Heinz Sommat & Meatballs, Not Poodles) - these are also the sorts of foods that DS1 can manage to do himself when college send him home unexpectedly... anyway - there's the intention, for lovely babysitter to feed obnoxious sons otherwise they have to wait until hubby returns and can sort something out.

Anyway - off to measure DS2's mattress - He has an Argos shortie high sleeper which is a non-standard size, and the mattress in it is rubbish - we've had to wrap it in an old thick blanket so he doesn't feel the springs poking him from inside it when he lies down!!! And we've (and by that I mean "I've") found a bed manufacturer in Burnley area who I can ask if they would make a non-standard size mattress for him - hope its not expensive!
And then to do all the other stuff that I can hear my phone singing to itself about - I left it in bed when I woke up... fatal flaw in the Organisation Plan- if the phone's out of earshot, everything gets missed!

Friday 1st October

A week's gone by and I've heard nothing. Should I have heard something yet? How soon should an ultrasound be?

Today was a good day though... a fire in an electricity sub station somewhere took out all the power to my office so we didn't have to go in!
People were sent home 1st thing in the morning with instructions to call our department's national emergency line at 10am. At 10am the voicemail said call at noon. At noon it said call at 2pm and at 2pm it said the office was closed for the day, and for tomorrow, but people working Sunday should check the messages on Saturday... and then we hung up.
A while later, someone suggested that if we'd listened to the rest of the message, we've even been asked to call before leaving home on Monday morning! Whoo hoo - fingers crossed there'll be some major electricity problem meaning the office can't be reconnected for a week perhaps...

DS1's taxi was absolutely fine on Thursday afternoon and Friday. Maybe I should have made a formal complaint at the very 1st instance of anything going wrong? But I don't like to do that. If I have a problem with someone, I prefer to give them personally a chance to put it right before going above their head. And I gave them several "chances" and explained to them calmly why what they'd done had caused problems, but it didn't help.

It's been a manic week - I've included a very blurry picture of my Outlook calendar. Each of those coloured blocks represent an appointment, or meeting, or something out of the normal routine that needed doing... and see how there's now load over at the right hand side? That because I've been putting a lot of stuff off til weekend when I was hoping I'd feel a bit less stressed & weary... hmm... doubtful.

Sorry it's blurry, but I didn't want every Tom, Dick & Harriet to know exactly what and where, and who with... kids' privacy and all that.

Those orange blocks across every day.. that's a reminder for me to take my meds... right at the bottom is the 10pm reminder for DS1 to take a shower.. and for me or hubby to put the milk bottles out.. and check DS1's communication book (Where college tell me what DS1's been doing, and what he needs for class, and when there are changes to his schedule)

That's Monday in the 1st column, so if you count across, you'll see that a reminder went off today for me to decide which Christmas cards I want to send this year... yes, already!!! We've got reminders to send payments off for various bills as its the beginning of the month, and there was even one to remind me to take DS2 for a haircut straight after school today since it was about 10 weeks ago since he last had one.

Each of the colours signify something, like who the reminder concerns, and what its about, how urgent it is etc.

Sad huh? But without it, I'd be even more of a complete mess! Without it I would forget my blood pressure meds, my antibiotics, and my B-complex (which is supposed to give energy) and various other stuff. Without it I seriously think I would forget what day it was during the school holidays!

And it's all there on my laptop... and appointments that are during the work day get emailed in to my Outlook at work, so I can be reminded there too. And then I connect my phone to the laptop and sync all of them in to my mobile (cell) phone... a 2006 Windows Mobile version... like a brick now, but until I'm in a position to be able to afford a phone that does and equivalent thing, I can't change it!

I used to have a reminder to go to bed. It didn't work. I just snoozed it (Or BF'd it, to use a work term) for half an hour, or another half hour, and then another... and it'd be 5am again, as normal.

So, what's on Tomorrow? A new door-key to be cut, and a metal chain to attach it to... for inside DS1's gym bag so grandma can collect him from the gym.... get rubber soles put on my new boots because I'm sliding all over the place in them, and its not even icy yet!...Reminder to install iTunes on DS2's computer... to file away some paperwork... that Tesco is going to deliver groceries between noon and 2pm...and more! So I'd better get to bed!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Wednesday 28th September

Had an early (for me) night on Tuesday. Was in bed at 1:30am, but slept poorly and had weird, outrageous dreams when I did sleep.

Didn't want to get up when the alarms went off this morning, but managed it. DS2 got himself up and dressed & announced since he was ready for school he was going to play on his computer until it was time to go. DS1's taxi should have been here at 8:15am for his 9am start at college, so I began watching through the window at about 8:13am and when it still wasn't here at 8:30am I rang the taxi company. They told me that he was on his way, but had called them to say the traffic was bad.

At about 8:35ish it arrived. Bundled DS1 in to it, and handed the driver another card with the changes on it... he's now staying in college on Wednesday afternoons to do homework in the college library with a support assistant. (He has this autistic "home is home and college is college and they can't mix" issue which means he can't do home work - he's been like that all through school, which was lots of fun at High School - but I always did the work for him through his primary school!) - His college are fantastic with things like that - which is why it's so annoying that everything to do with his college doesn't go as smoothly! 

Anyway - I'd been filling the time waiting for the taxi by writing an email of complaint to Lancs County Council, who pay for the taxi, so that they know that they're being unreliable and asked if there was anything that could be done about it. Let's see if a more formal complaint helps at all.

So, then I took DS2 to school, came home and had a shower - I hate my hair - well, I love my hair... I always wanted long hair, but this is getting soooo knotted and its taking about 20 minutes of  conditioner covered combing out the normal knots that get in there from just sleeping, and that's 20 minutes I don't have to spare. And I arrived at work completely stressed and angry and on the edge of tears... too much going on that's out of my control.

Had a chat with the Union Rep today - I'd been told on 4th September unofficially in a casual chat that senior management were clamping down on part-year employees (I have 12 weeks off, unpaid, each year - and work short days, school-hours, meaning that I'm there only 57% of a full time employee - so I get 57% of my full wage, and 57% of my 30day holiday entitlement, and so on... meaning that I work the equivalent of an average of 21.2hours a week, but an actual 27½ hours a week when I'm in) And they said that when my annual review comes up, I won't be allowed to stay on 12weeks off, but would have to drop to 6 weeks off... which would mean finding childcare for DS2 for 6weeks a year, but also finding a carer for DS1, which would cost hundreds a week considering minimum wage is soon to be £5.93 an hour, and they'd need to be here before I go to work, and stay til after I get home... 6hrs a day x 5 days = 30 x £5.93 = £177.90 a week and my net wage is only £173 a week... would be crazy for me to even consider it! (Yes I know that my net wage would be slightly higher because I'd be working more weeks, but don't forget that it'd be over £100 a week for DS2's childcare too) - Anyway, union guy said not to worry - its a long time til my review & a lot could have changed by then.  Hubby says that if they change it back now, knowing my personal circumstances they're effectively doing the constructive dismissal thing. Besides, I'm currently finding that I'm at work when I'm needed at home with hubby's parents, and DS1's problems and both kids' medical appointments etc, so if anything, I'd rather reduce my hours, maybe to 25 a week when I'm there, and 13weeks unpaid so that it covers all the school hols, so I don't have to take a week of my own leave for some...

OK - whittered on for long enough... brief summary - had hair cut, but not very short, but about 5inches off the length - and did DS2's Dodgeball t-shirt transfers - decided to "don't sweat the unimportant stuff" and so deleted a couple of reminder that I'd been rescheduling for the following day for the past 3 weeks! (Just hope they don't come back to bite me!)

And here we are, 2:30am Thursday morning... chatting with GC on MSN... I've not been on MSN in months, and was glad he was here - I miss him - I liked being Grace to his Will. "Jersey Girl" is on the telly, looks like an ok sort of movie, but I missed the beginning - BBC1 had been left on, and it had reverted to the BBC News channel, which was showing ABC News - and had a report about how women from 40 should have two-yearly mammograms - hmmmm!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sunday 26th & Monday 27th September

Sunday - slept late, til about noon - which was OK because the kids didn't wake up til then either. 
Lazed around a while then had a panic that DS1 has his "NHS Prescription Exercise" on Tuesday morning and he's put so much weight on that none of the gym gear he has will still fit, and DS2 needs some ink-jet t-shirt transfers for his dodgeball t-shirt before Thursday.

Ended up at Blackburn Matalan where I got him 2 x joggy pants & 2 x hoodies to wear with the long sleeved t-shirts of dad's that he's going to use. And next door at Staples for the ink-jet transfers.

Had done practically nothing but shattered. Came home and dozed in lounge chair.

Monday - couldn't wake up this morning - then had a manic 1st few hours resulting in arriving at work an hour later than normal.  
Explained to my boss that normally, DS1's taxi arrives at just after 8am & then once he's gone I go in the shower... when it hadn't turned up by 8:30am I rang the company who said they had no-one available until 10am, so I decided to drive him in to college, leaving DS2 with my mum to take in to school. Got home from driving DS1 and jumped in to the shower, and as soon as I got out, DS1 arrived back in a taxi that college had called because his tutor was off sick today... so then I had to arrange that mum could sort out DS1 for the day.  - It's not as much work as it seems. She just needed to check on him every couple of hours, sort him out with some lunch, and make sure he's ready in time for his driving lesson.
Collected DS2 from school at normal time then went to Factory Shop to get a gym bag for DS1 for tomorrow's 1st gym session.
Home & sort out something for tea - so weary I could barely keep my eyes open.

Hubby arrived home at 5:15pm - cheated for tea - DS2 had cottage pie leftovers from yesterday, DS1 had some Aldi meatball soup, hubby had a tin of Heinz Spag Bol with half a bag of rice added in, and I had Heinz Ravioli with the other half of the rice.

I don't remember finishing eating it, but I must have done, and at 6pm hubby went off with DS1 to Beavers. (Hubby's a Beaver/Cub/Scout Leader and DS1 is technically an Explorer/Young Leader) DS2 occupied himself on his computer. And the next thing I knew they woke me up returning home at 6:20pm because hubby had forgotten there was no Beavers this evening because the school hall is being used for something else.

Alarms/Reminders going off on my phone: 
To sort out replying to Council Tax Benefit that whilst they have the correct overall result that for 6 weeks we had nothing to pay, their calculations are wrong as they've included benefits that hubby hasn't had in over a year!
To fill in my PTG1 for applying for bursary for year 3 of my Uni course.
To find the paperwork that they gave DS1 on Wednesday for his Gym Induction tomorrow.
To put the milk bottles outside
Shopping needed
Apply for DS2's High School before October Half Term Hols
Send a jacket back that I'd ordered & doesn't hang right
Write to Tax Credits and tell them I think they're wrong... long story
Go to the Opticians and ask how come DS2 says his specs "hurt" his eyes
Decide on a Project Topic for my degree

(explanation - I'm soooo scatterbrained that EVERYTHING I need to do goes in to the computer & then gets downloaded to my phone so that reminders pop up to do the stuff - if I don't do this, I forget things, I miss appointments, turn up to the dentists a week early, leave stuff at home that the kids needed for school, etc
I have an ongoing shopping & to do list and other stuff goes on there too, like making DS1 have a shower at least every other day)

Too worn out to do any of them, but some are urgent & required for tomorrow - like DS1's Gym Induction paperwork & Leisure Pass etc. So all the rest get put off to remind again on Wednesday at 3pm, and I start looking for the paperwork.

I look everywhere - absolutely everywhere - in all the rooms - and I can't find it. Whilst I'm looking I find other paperwork for stuff that needs reminders setting (Like a school trip for DS2 in June 2011!) and throw away some junk that should never have been kept.

Can't find it anywhere - I distinctly remember coming home after work and putting the little membership cards inside the leaflets and booklets and putting them on hubby's laptop or chair so he could see them, and then I don't know what happened to them.

I've trashed the lounge now by getting absolutely everything out to search, and in tears of desperation decide to tidy up a little bit. I take the bin in to the kitchen to sort the trash in to plastic recycling (jelly containers!), waste paper recycling and regular junk... 

As I get right to the bottom of the bin, I find DS1's documentation that I've spent the past 6 hours looking for! Right underneath receipts from some of the stuff we bought at weekend, so I know they've been in the bin for days.  How the hell did they get in the bin?  Did I do it? Am I losing my mind? Is the stress of everything getting to me?

Pah! Who cares - found them now. Now I have to sort out DS1's gym bag ready for tomorrow morning.... and complete my PTG1 so I can hand it in at Student Services tomorrow night... and its only 3am now!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Saturday Night

Dad's birthday party... good evening - managed to get my brother on one side, out of earshot of the kids and tell him.

Home about 10pm - Poppy's litter tray stinks BAD - I missed the 10 days alarm, and it really can't go 2 weeks without being gross!

Emptied the crystals in to a bin-bag & went to wash out the tray under the shower. Whilst I was in there hubby came in. And FINALLY! He asked me about it. I think my mum said something to him at the party about it which reminded him.  

He felt it again and decided that yep, it was still there, but he didn't answer when I asked him if he thought it was any bigger or smaller than it had been. Instead he made me feel some lumps he's had on his ribs for years, which he'd told me years ago were from when he broke them - think he said he'd done it falling off a motorbike. 

What is this? My several rib lumps are better than your one chest lump?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saturday Morning

He woke up & went off to work, leaving us all sleeping. Don't get me wrong - this is good. He wasn't so selfish as to bang about waking us all up, and he's working at the weekend because he knows we're broke.

I woke up a while later and decided to listen to an audio book in bed whilst everything was still quiet. The kids woke up, sorted themselves out and began playing on their computers. After checking there was nothing they needed, I returned to the audio book.

12:40pm he came home. Sorted out DS2's tomato plants that had suffered from the first overnight frost the night before and then started to take the swimming pool down for the winter.

1pm he came in to the bedroom and heard me listening to the book. "Coffee?" he asked "Yes please!" I replied. Suppose its time I should be out of the bedroom and doing stuff.

Moved in to the lounge... "Well? How is it? Is it OK?" he asked.
I was stunned! He was FINALLY asking how I'd gone on at the doc's yesterday! "Ummm... What?" I said, more out of shock than anything else.
"The book. It's Stephen Fry's new autobiography, isn't it? How is it?"
My heart sank. "Yeah, its OK" I replied.

Friday 24th September 2010

About 6 weeks ago (early in the schools' 6 weeks summer holidays) I found a lump, kind of on my chest, just under my collar bone, but not on my boob.

Since I found it in the school holidays, I decided to ignore it for a few weeks just to see if it’s a spot or a boil or a bite etc that was just about to erupt through the skin, and I made a mental note that if it was still there on my dad’s birthday, I'd decide to get it looked at… besides, I didn't want to see the doc about something like that when the boys were with me.
Hubby looked at it & felt it as well, and agreed that there was definitely something there, & it wasn’t just my imagination.

Well, my dad was 74 on Thursday 23rd September, so I called from work that day for a GP appointment.

They squeezed me in with the trainee GP this morning as the receptionist decided that it was urgent. I sent hubby a text to say that I was seeing someone the next day about the lump, and he replied “What lump?” – he’d forgotten all about it. I reminded him, he was in Wolverhampton. Expected home later that night. He texted a reply that he'd forgotten, he should have asked about it, and he was hoping to be home in time to look round DS2's prospective High School that evening (6pm Open Evening)


All yesterday evening and this morning before he went to work he didn’t mention it at all.

The Trainee GP saw me this morning at 10am…

She had a long list of questions, a poke & a prod, then a full breast exam, then more pokes & prods, "Lean forward" "with your arm up/down/relaxed" "Lie down" "with your arm up/down/relaxed" more questions, seemed especially interested that I had been on the pill for a total of about 15yrs on and off since I was 15, and then went to fetch the "proper" GP.

He had a poke & prod, more questions.

They discussed it further and then he asked her what she thought she should do... Ultrasound... he agreed. So they're sending me for more investigations, starting with Ultrasound. Have to wait & radiology will contact me.

I was in the doc’s about an hour.

They told me that they were trying to decide whether the lump was within my breast tissue or not. I knew that breast tissue extended in to the arm-pit as when they teach how to examine your breasts, they show you to feel in to the armpit, but no-one’s ever told me before that the breast tissue can actually go up all the way to the shoulder too. Anyway, they couldn’t decide so they’re having to treat it as though it’s a potential breast lump; referred it on a breast lump referral form etc.

I left the doc's office kinda numb. For the past 6 weeks it hadn't been real - since I wasn't doing anything about it, I had been able to pretend that it wasn't really happening.

Now though, its all very real, and all very scary.

I decided yesterday to be open & frank with my colleagues at work - if I needed time off to have things looked at, treated, removed etc, I didn't want gossipy chat about where I was, or speculation about what was wrong. But I didn't tell anyone (other than hubby) anything until yesterday, Dad's birthday, they didn't need to know until I was ready to do anything about it.

So there I was... alone in my car and not crying, honest. Someone walking past the car glared at me, and I decided not to sit there any longer in case someone I knew was next round the corner.

I wasn't ready to go in to work just yet. I needed to be able to talk about this without tears. I decided I'd try it out on my parents. After all, I might need someone to sort the boys out for me whenever the Ultrasound appointment is, and if I hadn't told them until then, they'd think that maybe I was only telling them because I needed their help - I popped round.

We chatted a while, then dad asked why I wasn't in work. I told them. He swore. I explained that I didn't want the boys to know - needless worrying and all that... and we changed the subject.

I popped home to get milk for my coffee and change out of my Nikes then drove in to work. Couldn't concentrate on anything at work - It was all too fresh. I picked up a Death Certificate (I record & process customer deaths for my employer) and they died from cancer... I left the office at the normal time.

No text from hubby all day asking how it went or whether everything’s OK or anything. And then nothing since we all got home from work either. Everything so far was just like every other Friday... collect youngest son (DS2 = Darling Son 2) from school at 3:15pm & come home. Hubby arrived home at about 3:40pm

Then I realised that it was 3:50pm - time that eldest son would be on his way home in the taxi - and after the problems he'd had the day before, when no taxi turned up to collect him, & he'd been abandoned outside college alone, in the rain for 2 hours, I decided to send him a text to ask if he was on his way.
He replied that he wasn't, not yet. I realised I was an hour early. In my tired/confused/emotional state I was mixing his finish times for Thursday(3:30pm) with Friday(4:30pm).
I sent another text... he replied... I sent another... he replied. Turns out that college had finished early - but no-one had called his taxi. He'd got confused and thought that they taxi would just "be there" - it seems that he'd forgotten to tell me yesterday that he was finishing early, but the autism meant that he was assuming the Borg/hive mentality, and because HE knew he was scheduled to finish early, he assumed everyone knew! (We're used to this concept now, we know he doesn't do it on purpose, but it still causes problems!)

Hubby rang the taxi company to ask if someone could get him - they couldn't - its Friday, Mosque Day - and all their drivers were in the Mosque - he explained that it was only (by now) 30mins earlier than they'd been planning to collect him, how come no-one was available to go just a bit sooner? I couldn't hear the reply - I was off out of the door going for him. I told hubby to text son, tell him that I'm on my way now, but if taxi arrives, get in it and send us a text to let us know and I'll turn round and come home again.

I went shooting over to college to collect him whilst hubby made tea.

20 minutes and 4 miles in rush hour later it was by now 4:25 and DS1 (Darling Son 1) was safe and in my car. We waited in the college car park so that we could tell his taxi that it wasn't required for this journey today, and waited, and waited - and at 4:40pm decided to sod 'em and came home.

Tea eaten - DS2 & hubby off to Cubs/Scouts (Hubby is a Leader) whilst DS1 came with me to Preston to collect some crockery for my mum - got home again at 8:30pm.

Nothing... DS1 in his room on his computer, DS2 in the dining room on his computer. Hubby dozing in his chair in the lounge. Me in my chair in the lounge... 10pm (its not a school night) DS2 goes to bed... I doze a while in chair (not slept well for a few days, and I'm always tired these days)

Midnight - hubby goes to bed. He's not asked how I went on at the Doc's. He's not mentioned the lump verbally since he felt at it all those weeks ago & only by text yesterday when he'd admitted he'd forgotten all about it.

"I won't cry" I tell myself, fighting the tears back and wiping them off my cheeks....
I put the Sky+ on and watch Coronation Street from earlier in the evening - feeling very alone.