A Look Inside My Bones

At my last oncologist visit he told me I needed a bone density scan and that his office would set it up and call me with an appointment. After 10 days and me calling their office 3 times I finally got it set up.

I felt my heart drop when the woman on the phone told me the scan would be at the breast center.

Really? The same building where all my biopsies, surgeries and admonishments by doctors have taken place?

I can appreciate the convenience of one stop healthcare but for me it feels like a déjà vu moment that just won’t quit.

Pulling into the parking lot I can’t help but think I hope the doctor doesn’t find out I am here and try to make me do radiation. I laugh at the idea of trying to sneak in so he doesn’t see me.

I found a parking spot and sat in the car making myself take deep breaths before I headed inside.

My heart races a little bit as I walk by the radiation office on one side and the surgery center on the other to get to the elevator. I see the sign for the practice where my oncologist works…the one that was so adamant that I must do radiation.

I’ve come to this appointment alone. It is just a scan; no one is going to tell me anything.

I can handle this.

A bone density test uses a small amount of x-ray to measure the amount of calcium and minerals in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm. The higher the bone mineral content, the denser the bones are. The denser the bones, the stronger they are.

This scan is to set my baseline.

My bone density is important because of the medication I have been put on to lessen the chances of a recurrence of breast cancer. It can make me more susceptible to bone loss.

Called an aromatase inhibitor, the medication is designed to reduce the amount of estrogen in my body. Bones are living, growing tissue. Estrogen helps build new bone, when levels are low the existing bone breaks down faster than new bone is produced, causing holes in the inside spongy part of the bone. Those holes weaken the bone which can lead to a break.

And it can increase menopause symptoms.

Yeah! Even more hot flashes and bitchy moments.

I felt my body tense up as I opened the door to the breast center office, the overwhelming pink sets me off every time and it seemed even pinker than I remembered. It is mid morning and the waiting room is about half full. I get checked in and take a seat.

While I wait I see a woman leaving who is visibly deep breathing, I recognize that feeling of just let me out of here. A man and woman come out from another door that I know leads to the navigator’s office, their energy was pulled tightly around them and they looked shaken.

I tried to distract myself but not check out so much that I would miss my name being called. Waiting times in the lobby had been very short on my previous visits; I was surprised to see the room so full. I heard the woman at the desk tell a patient that it was breast cancer awareness month so they were busier than normal.

I prefer to focus on October being my husband’s birthday month and Halloween. I already got a head start on breast cancer awareness this year.

After a long wait my name was finally called. I followed the technician through the door to the changing room; it was just as I remembered it. She asked if I had any metal in my clothes or in my body. When I replied that I did not she commended me for being prepared and told me that I didn’t need to change out of my clothes.

I took it as a small victory not to have to wear one of the white robes they provided.

This waiting room was empty as I looked briefly out the window. It was the same window I had looked out of at the beginning of this journey and tried not to cry.

There had been many tears since that day.

But today was not a day for tears. The bone density scan was easy, just lie on the table and put my legs up on a block. My dignity was intact and it only took about 15 minutes.

I wasted no time getting back to my car and off to the rest of my day. As I drove past the building I went right by the windows that I had looked out from just a few minutes earlier.

I stopped the car and looked up at those windows.

I couldn’t help but notice how different the view was from here.

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