Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The process of cancer treatment; Part II –cancer assessment at the hospital

8:45 a.m.

We got up early. Fueled with coffee. Left the house at 8:45 for an 11:00 appointment. It was an hour and a
half drive. Getting topsy turned around in the parking lot, I remembered my friend's words. Most of the women she knew were more upset at having to drive, something they did not normally do, especially in the city. It is enough stress, without navigating a big hospital. Arriving in good time, I grabbed the parking ticket, remembering that we had to use a machine in the hospital, pay it, in order to get out of the parking lot. No humans were involved in this process. We also clutched all the paperwork we had to bring. A back pack would have been a good idea!

10:15 a.m.

We reported to the Cancer Centre, to register and get a hospital green card. They ask for this and your OHIP card at every new desk. Green card in hand, and delightful volunteer took us to find the Cancer Assessment offices, located on the 7th floor, we toddled off.

10:45 a.m.

Once there, having presented both cards, there was a clipboard of papers to fill in. Three separate information sheets. One was 8 pages long! All good information relating to us, the
cancer, our families and how much support we wanted. There are many places for family to get support, especially the Cancer Society. One of the sets included the ESAS, an important pain assessment tool.
There was room on the Ottawa Hospital form for a PPS score. The Palliative Performance Scale. This is helpful for those in later stages of cancer. You can find more tools here.

Fortunately, we'd filled in the first sheet -the Self-reporting History form (PDF), having printed it off of the web, and that saved us time.

Note to self: When they tell you to get there for 11:00, and you arrive early, go grab a coffee, have a cookie and relax until your time is closer. You'll find out why later.

10:45 a.m. 

Forms filled in, we waited. Now, we were told to be there for 11:00 to fill in forms, but our appointment with the surgeon was for 11:30. Wisely, we'd brought water and snacks. Check here for the list of things you should take with you! Happily, we had things to read, a newspaper, I brought women's magazines, some puzzles.

11:30 a.m.

The nurse called us in. Entering a small room, we sat at a round table, the sun and clouds wafting by the window. The predicted rain did not happen. It was a lovely blue sky. We went over the forms with her. Offering more literature, we accepted. She took the forms away, and assured us that the surgeon would be in to see us soon. She advised us that the surgeon had an intern with him. Fine by us! She closed the door firmly behind her, leaving us in privacy.
By 12:00 I suggested we nibble on our snacks. Who knows how long we'd be. I could hear the doctor in the room next door. Soon, I figured I had better visit the loo before it was too late.


12:35 p.m.

The surgeon and his intern entered, iPad in hand. After an exam, he explained our options. He explained the next steps. It all hinges on a blood test, CT Scan, an MRI, a bone test, and then we're back to the surgeon.
On his iPad he showed us exactly where the cancer was, what he would do, and what was next. He was energetic, engaging, and enthused about his robotic surgery tools.
The tests should all be done within two or three weeks. Surgery, if it is called for, near or just after Christmas.

here we are: 12:17

1:10 p.m.

Our nurse returned, bringing some promised reading material. There were a couple of forms we could fill in now, such as providing tissue samples for a cancer sample bank. We were happy to do this. She outlined the binder that provides us with places to write down the names of all our specialists, the dates of appointments, she had written in the test results on our file from our precious specialist. She also gave us a form for the blood test to do today.

 Off we went, back downstairs. We needed to find the patient registration desk, 2nd floor, and then we'd be put in the cue for the blood test.

2:00 p.m.

Now, there were quite a few people. We expected a bit of a wait. But by 2 p.m., a 4-hour marathon, finis. Test done, off to try to find a machine where we could pay for parking. Putting the chit in the slot, it told us we owed $13.50. It spit our $20 back out. I shoved it back in, insisting that it had to take it, and our change appeared in the slot below. Then, back to find another washroom for a pitt stop.

3 happy cats
We were free, once we found the car!

3:00 p.m.

At the restaurant for lunch, and to deliver Slim to the kids' house. Good thing we had snacks.

5:00  p.m.

We arrived home safely. The cats were happy to get outdoors after being cooped up all day.

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