So before I started chemo my awesome physical therapist took a three week vacation. Normally I am a huge supporter of taking long vacations, when I’m using you to heal, not as much. I ended up needing an appointment while she was out because I’m not where I should be in recovery in a few areas (of course, right?). So I got an appointment with one of her colleagues.
The day I went in for PT was a little bit of a shit show. I had been told I had an appointment earlier that week and learned at the PT office that it hadn’t actually been scheduled so I had to go back to DHMC on Friday, the day that we were also going to Montreal for the weekend. DHMC is in the opposite direction of Montreal from my house so this was pretty annoying. We were going to Montreal to belatedly celebrate our wedding anniversary and also take a trip before chemo started since I didn’t know how that would go for me (poorly).
As soon as we got in the room with this new physical therapist things were weird. First she had me sit in the chair next to her desk, she sat at the desk, and then she told A. to sit on the physical therapy table directly behind her and faced away from him. This was weird because there was a stool he could have sat on near me that would have put him in the conversation rather than directly behind her back, but whatever, her show.
A. was working to pull up directions on his phone while I filled her in on my diagnosis, surgeries, etc so that we’d be ready to go once we left. Then things got passive aggressively aggressive. She turns to him after a bit and says “I don’t put up with it when my sons are on their devices when I’m talking to them so I need you to put that away.” Seriously. I think my jaw hit the floor. Here are the reasons why this was not ok (I realize some of these overlap):
1. She had put him outside the conversation, turning her back completely to him.
2. He knows my diagnosis, he didn’t need to participate. She was talking to me.
3. He’s an adult.
4. Do not ever compare your patient or their spouse to your children, we’re dealing with breast cancer, we are adults.
5. If you want someone to stop doing something, ask them. Don’t try to shame them by comparing them to your rude kids.
So that obviously set a really good tone for physical therapy. She also made a couple of snide comments about him doing some of the exercises with me (like he wouldn’t) and also at one point said “Well I’m ok with you being in the room” in a tone of voice like that’s an option. Hi. I’m the patient and if I want my husband who has been amazing support through this to be at my physical therapy, he’s going to be there. It’s not your call or an option. Thanks.
I feel like part of her attitude comes from a New Englander stereotype (or maybe I’m stereotyping her, the other part came from her being a passive aggressive bitch). One of the ways that I think about people from New England is that they will absolutely help their neighbors, but they don’t want a lot of fuss or thanks or hugs or emotions. People are quieter up here and a lot less outgoing emotionally. Guys aren’t exactly encouraged in our society anywhere to be super emotional, so this quieter/private emotional environment can cause challenges with husbands/partners not knowing how to support emotionally through this. It’s hard as it is. I think there’s a lot of them that end up waiting in the waiting rooms rather than sitting in the actual appointments. A. is in every appointment with me that I go to because it helps for us both to be able to hear and ask questions and plus with the medications I’ve been on, it’s good to have someone sober to remember things! She assumed that my husband wouldn’t be helping me recover for some reason which is insane, because why else would he be in the room? Anyways, I won’t be seeing her again and saw my regular physical therapist this week and it was a breath of fresh air. Ironically, A. wasn’t at the appointment with me, but I know he would have been welcome.
So after that rather shocking appointment we left for Montreal, or what I like to affectionately refer to as “our worst vacation ever”. To be fair, this is only our worst vacation ever because every other vacation I can remember was really awesome that we’ve taken together. This was more of a comedy of errors.
We got up to Montreal and immediately went to Mount Royal which gives you a view of the city. Really pretty and you can drive most of the way so it was perfect for handicap (but no sticker) me. We then went to the botanical gardens because there was a chinese and japanese lantern display going on that sounded pretty. There were also a lot of flowers still in bloom which was nice. I got overwhelmed by the walking so we didn’t see much of the Japanese lights, but the Chinese ones were very cool. One of our favorite things we saw at the gardens were the bonsai trees, Karate Kid 4 life!
Next, A. dropped me off at the hotel and went to go park the car somewhere that it wouldn’t be $20 a night. The hotel room was the first error. On the surface it looked nice and was huge. However there was a pretty intense chemical cleaning smell that never went away for me and both taps in the bathroom put out hot water. Try brushing your teeth.
Then we walked a couple of blocks away for some chinese food. We were stoked. Living in Vermont has been a little tough on ethnic food options and we were both excited to break out. So the place we ended up eating at was a dumping house. As in they only make dumplings. We had no idea. I also couldn’t eat that much because of my abdominal surgery so dumpling house it was (no room for another stop) and goodbye all those dreams of sesame chicken.
Saturday I woke up and had a sharp pain in my side and freaked out. I had way over-walked the night before at the gardens and had a major meltdown because I was afraid I’d damaged something. Basically dull/achy pain is good, that’s healing pain/not serious pain, sharp pain is scary. This was the first sharp pain I’d had since surgery. Luckily it ended up being ok. I rested for a while and took some pain meds and we took it easy walking the rest of the day and it was ok, but it was really overwhelming and scary to start with.
Next we went to Old Montreal and Notre Dam. Someone was getting married so Notre Dam was closed. Jerks. This was my one big thing in Montreal I like to see and no dice. My third time ever in Montreal and it was closed. So we wandered around Old Montreal a bit and then went back to rest again. Then something super stressful happened and I learned about cancer perspective. This big stressful thing occurred and A. was really stressed and it took a few hours to resolve. I got really stressed for about a minute and then thought to myself “this is really not the worst thing I’ve had to deal with recently” and stopped being stressed. It was kind of amazing. Basically getting diagnosed with breast cancer has set the bar so high for stressful things that I think I could shrug just about anything off at this point as long as it’s not about my diagnosis. I think I’m going to be killer at my job when I eventually get back to it.
We survived the stressful thing and went out for some really good middle eastern food that night. Then I was a really nice wife and went to a completely empty/giant sports bar and sat with A. while he watched the LSU game. We went back to our chemical smelling hotel room and I told him this was probably our worst vacation ever. Hah.
The next morning we went to the Atwater Market. Why don’t we have these markets in the US? They’re all over Europe and apparently Montreal is on it too. Tons of food vendors with delicious produce, meat, baked goods, etc all in one big area. We bought some baked goods for breakfast and spent our last .75 on a mini pumpkin. It was a solid end to the worst vacation ever.