Today I had my heart measured with an echo cardiogram to be sure that it is strong enough for chemo and to take pictures, video and audio of it to serve as a baseline reference during my upcoming treatment. The tech, Tracy, lubed up my chest with luke-warm gooiness, saying that the first patient of the day (me) is the lucky one who gets the not-so-warm goo on the probe (or whatever the technical term is for the roller-ball-type wand that she was pressing into and around my chest). It was warm enough for me.
I got to watch my heart up on the echo cardiogram screen. I imagine that this is what it's like to see a baby growing in your belly and to hear its heart beat in a sonogram. However, my heartbeat sounded like crashing waves in an ocean. She would zoom in on each particular valve she had to examine and the sound of the blood rushing through reminded me of the washing machine on spin cycle. Each valve had a different pitch, quite orchestral really. It was fascinating---and a little creepy---to watch my heart thump large and small with its little valve wings flapping in the breeze of my chest. She pointed out the four chambers of my heart. Remember these from school? "Uh huh," I said. "Not a clue," I thought. I was never good at those body diagraming tests in biology.
De-gooed I walked to my office. It'll be convenient having most of my test appointments at my workplace. Today was the first time that I've been back to the office in over a week. When I arrived everyone was upstairs at our monthly staff meeting. It was over half-way through and I debated (a lot) whether I should go in or not or if it would be too much to handle everyone looking at me at once. Not that I look any different, but everyone knows that I'm no longer just Karin. I'm Karin with Cancer. After some deep breaths and an internal pep talk I walked in. I got lots of smiles, gave a quick update on how I was feeling, "okay, just real tired," and the meeting continued like normal. "Perfect," I thought. I love how this group is so laid back and knows how to make me feel not the least bit awkward. I had lots of easy and honest conversations with my co-workers afterward which also made me feel so comfortable and at home there.
The day went well until I hit the huge brick wall called 2 p.m. My body let me know very quickly that it needed to be horizontal pronto. I had gotten through my e-mails, had a very touching and productive conversation with my director about what my work schedule will be like, and finished one e-newsletter so felt a little accomplished. It felt good to be a bit productive.
On the drive home I was how do you say? A mess. I had a Whitman's sampler of chocolates from a very wise co-worker open for the picking on the passenger seat, listened to a very touching voicemail from a good friend, then blared Kanye West's "Th-th-th-that that don't kill me, will only make me stronger" blubbering like a baby as I merged onto the I-91 on ramp.
Thank God for chocolate whip, chocolate-covered almonds and toffee chip delights.