Friday, April 24, 2009

Visit with the oncologist

I had my yearly cancer check up yesterday. At this point, a decade after diagnosis, these visits feel mainly like social occasions, although I am being followed for late effects from the chemo, so there is a medical component. I've been seeing this doctor since I moved to NYC just after I went into remission, and I love him.

One of the reasons I'm so fond of him is that he always remembers the details about my life - even now that he only sees me once a year (back at the beginning, he used to see me every couple of months). He's very friendly, very bright. And he's one of those doctors who obviously loves people - he truly wants to know what you're up to, how you are, what you're thinking about, etc. All of which astound me, because I know he is insanely busy.

Unfortunately, yesterday my oncologist's elephantine memory resulted in a painful and awkward exchange.

He came bursting into the exam room (did I mention he's pretty enthusiastic too?), exclaiming, "How's the baby?"

I felt like I'd been punched.

I had been pregnant the last time I saw him, and of course, he remembered. Eyes downcast, lump in throat, I said, "There's no baby."

"But you were pretty pregnant the last time I saw you! Weren't you? What happened?" (Ok, so his memory isn't perfect. I wasn't that pregnant.)

Through tears, I explained that I lost that baby (m/c #2) and the baby after that (m/c #3). And that since then, despite multiple IVFs, I haven't gotten pregnant again.

He asked what the doctors are thinking, and I told him what we've heard. And he shared that he is aware that there is a higher risk for spontaneous abortion (i.e., miscarriage) in women treated with ABVD, my chemo regimen. I hadn't known that. But I'm living it.

We went on to have a fine visit, where he was his usual excellent clinical self. But it was a rocky beginning.

I would have said that I'm "over" the miscarriages, but all it took was a simple question to knock the wind out of me and leave me in tears.

I wonder, will it always be like that?


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  1. I don't have any personal experience with m/c having never gotten that far, but I know that "socked in the gut" feeling as it relates to IF in general. It's seems impossible (to me anyway) to predict when and where and what announcement/question/comment will spark that feeling. I'm just sorry that it ever has to happen.
    Thinking of you.

  2. arg! sorry about this. sounds like he recovered. :(

    ...and i'm not sure you ever really get "over" it. for me the pain just becomes a little more distant and you have to work a little harder to bring it to the surface!


  3. I don't know if it will always be like that ...but I think it will certainly depend on how things turn out in the end. I went to the golden child's first track meet this year and almost couldn't breathe when I walked up to the track because the last time I was there, I felt the first gush of what would be the third m/c. Until then, I thought this pregnancy was doing a pretty good job at cleaning up the old wounds. We'll see. Lots of hugs ...I'm sorry for the extra dose of pain.

  4. Oh honey. I am so sorry you had to relive that. I know it is hard. I hope you feel better soon.


  5. I hate that feeling - when you can't catch your breath. So horrible. I once thought it was a form of an anxiety attack and I could try to do something about it - but I think its just the way my life is now. Periodically getting punched in the gut. I'm sorry you had that yesterday.

  6. Oh, no. Oh, man. Great. I'm so'd think he'd know better than to charge in like that. Betcha he won't do it again for a long time. I hear you about getting blindsided - it stinks. And I desperately hope it's not like this forever, for both of us.

    Thinking of you.

  7. I'm so sorry. I had a co-worker do the same thing to me recently ("are you having any morning sickness yet?") and I felt both kicked in the gut and bad for her as I knew she had no idea and it was going to be awkward. She teared up when I told her I lost the pregnancy.

    Hugs to you.

  8. I hate that feeling too. I'm sorry you had that happen. I feel like it happens to me every time a friend announces a pregnancy.


  9. I dont think that we ever get over those losses. they remain with us, part of who we are.

  10. Oh god, I'm so sorry.

    About ten years ago I was the one who inadvertantly asked a similar question in a similar situation. Ever since, I have been oh-so-careful to not ask about a baby unless the baby is actually in sight.

    It's not much comfort, but I'll bet he never makes that mistake again. For your sake, though, oh I wish he'd learned it sooner!

    Take care sweetheart, and be easy on yourself. I'm so very sorry.

  11. That definitely would have let like a major punch to the gut. I too don't think you ever really get over it you just learn how to deal with it better but every once in a while someone can throw you off which is perfectly understandable. He does sound like a good dr though.

  12. So sorry about the hard reminders. Maybe over time the impact lessens, but the grief will always be there.

    Was your doc able to give you any useful information about how to prevent these miscarriages? HUGS!

  13. Phoebe,

    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, no. The damage that has been done by the chemo is done. And all my losses are chromosomal. So it's just a matter of hitting on a normal egg - if there's one in there...

  14. I hope someday you will be busy mothering a child and the losses won't be as painful.

    But I know what you mean. I cried at the dentist's office once when he asked me what medications I was on. (I had just had a cancelled cycle). I was totally expecting NOT to be crying in front of my dentist. I think he was a little shocked too.

  15. Oh what a punch. :-( I'm so sorry you had another painful reminder today...

  16. I am so sorry. It happens. We think we've healed from a m/c and then it is like the wound is torn open fresh. When people ask me if this is my first baby I can't even help myself. I would feel like I was lying so I say this is the first that has made it this far. It makes strangers really uncomfortable but what can I do. I just can't pretend like the other ones didn't exist at all. It just hurts when that question is asked.

  17. Damn! So sorry. That totally and completely sucks. Wish I could think of something to say to make it better. There just isn't anything.

  18. I know what you mean. I feel okay with mine too, and yet if someone asked in that way about a baby, I know I would cry too. It's sad. It's deeply sad in a way that I think we will probably never fully get over, even if those feelings are way down deep and only surface on rare occasions. I'm sorry today was one of them for you -- I wish there were something I could say to take it away from you.

  19. thanks for the link on the endometrial function testing - very interesting. I am interested in seeing what happens with my next cycle - I will be back on PIO for it...

    I think of you often Mo - big hugs tonight

  20. So Sorry your appt started off so painful...
    and I don't know that you ever get over the loss. Does the punch start to pack "less" of a wallop?? Maybe. Only time will let us know that--cliche, I know and for that I'm sorry again.
    Sorry seems so inadequate but cyberworld wise, it is said with much empathy.

  21. Sorry Mo. It is always amazing to me how I think I'm over something, and one little phrase or scene and just reduce me to tears. Maybe it's Pavlovian response (trying to be humorous here).

    Glad you have such a wonderful doctor, and he didn't cave under pressure and move on without finding out what happened. He sounds just great, and I'm so glad that in other ways you are getting a clean bill of health.

  22. I can relate to that punched-in-the-gut feeling. And also to the onc visits - however, even though my doctor is great, I still sort of resent each visit!

  23. I would have reacted the same way. It's hard for me to know yet if I'll ever get over that feeling either but time heals (or buffers anyway) all wounds.

    Sorry that you had to go through that uncomfortable situation but glad you had an otherwise good meeting.


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