Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Doctor

Naturally, I left my carte vitale at home. As I do. It's a green, chipped, credit-card sized register of your insurance and entitlements for billing and such. And -- wait for it -- the woman at registration said it didn't matter. She said she'd figure out the information another way. And she kept smiling. Evidently, she missed out on Doctor's Receptionist School.

Next I registered with the doctor's receptionist and went to the waiting room. There was a short wait before a young woman called my name. I thought, "Now we take the history." To give me credit where credit is due me, I instantly said to myself, "Or that could be the doctor." It was.

Woohoo! You should see my doctor. At least, Brother Dave should see my doctor. I bought a camera yesterday. I'll take her picture when I see her, again. She's almost model thin, not so model tall, and beee-you-ti-full. Young. Corkscrew curl hairdo and gold high-heeled sandals. Form-fitting jeans, cool T-shirt and doctor jacket.

She's also very nice and explained everything to me clearly. When she finished I only had a couple of questions from my list for her, both meaningless in France, as it turns out.

I asked what type of ovarian cancer I have and she said they don't classify in France. You've got cancer; you've got cancer. I asked what stage I'm in. They don't do that, either. So I asked what my chances are. She said it depends on my reaction to the therapy.

Actually, she was very reassuring. When, in response to something that I don't remember, I said to Nick, "No more marathons, then," she said, "Why not"?

She even explained about the costs. (Apologies to American readers for this paragraph.) Rather than our insurance dealing with it, the government pays everything directly. But, she said, it was best to keep our insurance, because there were a couple of somethings not covered (senior moment, but it sounded minor). I just tell everyone I have a (supply 3 initials; senior moments are getting more numerous) and we never have to put out any cash. For the best medical care in the world.

So, here's the program. Next week I meet the nurse who is in charge of me (or whose job it is to take care of incoming patients). That's about a 45-minutes session to go over everything, again, I guess.

I start chemo on September 9th. The delay, if one thinks of that way, is for me to heal up after the surgery. Once you're in chemo, you don't heal.

I'm scheduled for one session every three weeks, six sessions in all, After 3 sessions, they'll do another scan to see how I'm progressing. If all is well, they'll continue the therapy. If I'm not responding well enough, they'll change the drugs. After 6 sessions, another scan and, hopefully, surgery.

I shouldn't be sick. At worst, I'll feel ill for maybe 3 or 4 days after a session. After that I might be tired, but not sick. But my immune system will be suppressed, so I have to be careful. I'll need to take my temperature regularly and if it goes over 38°C, I'll need to call the doctor.

They do a blood panel 24 to 48 hours before each session. The village nurse will come to the house for that.

I assume that I'm going to be getting heavy doses of drugs, a) because I've got an implant in my chest for the needles, rather than them sticking a needle in me each time and b) because Dr. Litor said I'd lose my hair immediately, after the first or second session.

I have a prescription for a wig. What do you think? Grey or white, for continuity? Blonde, so I can check if it is more flattering than grey and I should start colouring my hair, again? Sigh. I'm so lazy. Or blonde with a couple of pink strands, very fetching on Martine who owns the hotel/restaurant in the village? All votes count.

At any rate, I'll be ambulatory, during the treatment. My brother-in-law, John, who has just finished he treatment for cancer of the spleen said the worst part of the therapy was having to stay still for 4 hours at a time. Dr. Litor said I could do what I like. I forgot to ask if I could bring my computer. Next time.

One benefit of only being tired and not sick would be that maybe I can help with the house, after all. John, who is restoring an old Spanish farmhouse, continued to work.

What else? My stitches and staples came out two days ago. The bandages came off today. First shower in over 2 weeks. Ooooooooh, clean!

In other news, our social life is booming since we're in the village. The neighbourhood lunch in our old neighbourhood (La Combe) was a grand success on Saturday. There were about 40 of us and we had a great time Ate well and drunk well. A given.

Tomorrow night we are invited to a post Democratic Convention party to celebrate Obama's nomination. I shall meet some Americans. Feel free to express your political opinions. I'm now moderating comments. Bwahahaha!

And, if you're interested in more detail, cancer.net is an excellent site. I got there from Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation site. I got to Livestrong because I live in France and, by default, am a Tour de France fan.

15 comments:

  1. Instead of a wig get your head tattooed. When the tattoos disappear it'll be just like footsteps in the sand all metaphorical like.

    If I must cast a vote for a wig. Pink streaks!

    Olga

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  2. Of course today's doctors are young, hip and bee-you-tee-full. Who knew? Dave don't need no pictures, description is enough.

    Oncology staff are trained in customer service, basically to keep *you* smiling, too, a good thang.

    C says pink on the wig coloUr. You'll look like a mermaid - her new passion.

    Yes! Help w / the house! Yay that you are going ahead with it! Too many exclamations there but I'm excited! Stay active - like you've told moi.

    I don't care how sick and tired you are, Barry is the wrong choice. More on this later.

    Curious, were you offered a Rx for fatigue? Definitely ask about it.

    Doobie and C

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  3. love ya Margot. Praying for ya all the way! I say go for hats and not wigs. Hair is over-rated :) Ok, if you want hair - definitely some pink. Dont Barack the Boat.

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  4. I'm voting for pink! Why not be bold? Keeping my fingers crossed that you don't feel sick, the chest implant doesn't sound so hot though. Can you self medicate with whatever you like? :-)

    I'm thinking marathons may have to wait a bit, hmm, maybe weight lifting would be better?

    Get better soon, I'm rooting for you!

    Kim

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  5. Blond with pink strands. Why not have some fun :)

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  6. I'm with Joleen, not a fan of wigs. Head gear: scarves, hats, beanies and the like. Another tip... may work for you may not - take it or leave it. Shave your head before you lose your hair. My girlfriend did this to keep some sort of control in her life when everything seemed to be out of control. It's the little things.

    Good luck with the treatments, watch that PICC line in your chest (for infection), and peace be with you.

    Laura

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  7. I think I can handle losing my hair; I'm not sure I can shave it. Funny, huh?
    I have a PICC line? In French, I have an implanted chamber with some other piece that seems to be attached. Tell me about PICC lines.

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  8. Wigs can get very hot underneath as well as itchy. How about an Obama yarmulke?

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  9. Well my suggestion was for an Annie Lennox style short spiky blonde wig. I can't see Margot with long or curly hair. Shot through with pink or green would be fun too.
    Or an assortment of fabulous hats.
    We'll be thinking of you on September 9 and hoping you don't feel too wiped out afterwards. Hugs.

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  10. Wig color: Do you want to hide it or flaunt it? If everyone in town already knows, give them something to talk with you about besides your condition. Go crazy.

    You can always dress down with no wig and a hat when you want to look serious/professional for a day.

    I'm guessing the prescription gives you a medical discount? You can always look at the price and see if you can swing an extra to swap out. Pink one day, purple another...

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  11. joleen cook-carpei diem30 August 2008 at 15:16:00 CEST

    oh, yeah. when you are so bald that your hats slip off, you can put one of those "no slip" things in your hat to keep it on. A dear friend who just went through chemo shared that with me.

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  12. Not sure anyone wears a wig all the time when outside. Get a nice wig and try how it feels. If you forget it is there, wear it and if you get the "Can't stand this thing another second," feeling, take it off.

    I'm hoping Barack wins. It will be very good for this country to have a person of color as the president. Then too, I want Rowe vs Wade to stay in place. Judges serve for life. If the Republicans get in again, Rowe vs Wade doesn't stand a chance.

    I really am hoping that tiredness is the worst of it and that the Chemo works big time and that you have years and years and years to go on being Margot. Margaret

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  13. Shaving your hair would be fun, and daring too! What about the bandana look? That's what I'd do I think. You can change up the colours depending on your mood.

    Stay strong and keep smiling!

    Kim

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  14. PICC line is a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. If you have "tap" in your chest where they can access you vascularly for your chemo treatments that would be, could be, a PICC line which is usually, at least here in the states, the most common form of vascular access ports people get. There are others out there, you could have something different this was my assumption. Here's a link to explain it:
    http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Treatments/Chemotherapy/Linesports/PICCline

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  15. I vote pink, but apparently I'm too late. Sigh.
    There are 2 main central accesses. A PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) is in your arm, travels up to the vena cava. You'll have that in for the duration.
    A PAC (portacath) is a rubbery thing in your chest. When you're getting treatment they will access it with a needle, and tubing hangs off of that. Then the IV tubing attaches to that.
    When your chemo is done, they can deaccess it (take the needle out) and the rubbery thing is still underneath.
    Karen

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