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Yes I have cancer. really.

I vent a bit today about the medical system and the indignities that we suffer as a result of its lack of technology. Yesterday was not a fun day. It was awesome. And by that I mean the total opposite of awesome. I had both chemo and an MRI. Both of which are particularly tiring, and in combination made me a shade of loopy I haven’t seen since staying up all night for a case competition in the MBA program.

The MRI was particularly difficult because you are stripped – literally and figuratively – of all that you hold. First, because there is no set protocol for the “during cancer” MRI – you have to answer questions. A lot of questions. On the phone, do you have a history of cancer? No, I’m doing this just for fun. In the paperwork – five pages of what other tests have you had? Have you had chemo? Yes. Do you have cancer? Yes ( I already answered that three times before). Do you have any metal in your body (yes, the markers they put on the tumor).

Then, the male nurse – so you have cancer? Yes. (the fourth time now). And where is it? Look at the order. From my oncologist to image my breasts. What do you think?

The MRI is a claustrophobic inducing tube not much larger than and air duct. When you have a breast imaged you get to lie down in a superwoman pose with your breasts hanging down into a special “cavity”. You get an IV in your arm to inject the contrast die. And you can’t move for thirty minutes after they put you in the tube. Oh and the noise. I brought my own earplugs but the machine is so loud that it sounds like someone is blasting sound and air at you and top volume – randomly. At one point I was sure it was saying “Black light” over and over again so loudly that my body shook.

And, of course, being on taxol, everything falls asleep. My weight was balanced on my stomach toes and wrists and pretty soon the ends of superwoman were totally and indignantly asleep. To the point that they were shaking of their own accord.

The only thing I can say is that I am now an expert at counting to 300 by 3s although I was so tired and addled it took me most of the procedure to do it.

How is it that our advanced technology and information gathering systems cannot talk in the medical profession enough to allow me to no longer fill out forms that I have seen three times before? Why do I have to tell three different people about my cancer, about my tumor, about my treatment when it’s all in some record. Someone out there create a smart card that can store all that info on it so that we don’t have to squint at lines of text to see what we need to inform this new facility (yes, I have cancer, yes, I’m on chemo) …

Indignities abound in this journey. Why add more?

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