UPDATE: BREAST NEWS
NOT THE KIND YOU’RE USED TO FROM ME
AMBER LOVE 25-AUG-2017 As always, I like to take the first line to thank the generous supporters at Patreon.com/amberunmasked who provide financial support to my monthly tip jar. Also, big thanks to everyone who has been sharing links to Vodka O’Clock, my books, or the Patreon. That helps too.
I know you’re used to fun topless pictures because natural boobs are fabulous. This is not that kind of post. *sad trombone* [But, this post has an update!]I thought I did great in finishing my second Yoga Immersion on the 12th and going in for my first mammogram on the 14th. First of all, that was a huge step for me, because I didn’t go any other time doctors have given me the prescription for it. Breast diseases like cancer don’t run in my family so I kept self-checking and having my annual done, but didn’t think it was necessary. The stupidity here is that I had a male friend (Jamie D. from the Comic Geek Speak podcast) succumb to breast cancer on top of his already bad diabetes. He died too young, but went with the laugh that he had to be the man with breast cancer. So it’s not like I didn’t know the risks.
The other reason I never went for the mammograms in the past was that I was told they hurt. Pain and I have a difficult relationship.
I went on the 14th to the small radiology office in the same building as my doctor, an off-shoot of the major network they are part of now. Michelle, the RT, was the most awesome person I could have asked for. She was compassionate, funny, sweet, and definitely knew what she was doing. Best part: it didn’t hurt at all. I was done in less than 20 minutes and out the door with a smile, so proud of myself for overcoming the fear and going.
Michelle warned me that as a first mammogram, in 50% of the cases, they ask patients to come back for a closer look because there was no previous baseline to compare. Okay. Not excited about that. Of course, I got the call and the letter. Please come in for a compression spot mammogram because there’s something the doctor wants a better look at. *sigh* Okay. Also, an ultrasound.
I arrived at the breast center before the staff. The door was open but lights were off. I found a lamp and turned it on. They have French provincial chairs to make it look appealing for older ladies, I guess. Eventually staff showed up only to find that their IT was a disaster. Computers and machines had a reboot overnight and weren’t working properly. I kept assuring them, “It’s okay. It happens.” I figured saying it to them would magically convince myself that yes, it would all be okay.
Well, since the ultrasounds I’ve had previously were inside and outside my uterus, I wasn’t sure if this would be some kind of “cut-open-insert-wand” ultrasound or the normal “on the skin” type. Fortunately, it was the on the skin type and it was so easy. Quite honestly, I almost fell asleep at that part.
The spot compression mammo however, not pleasant. Not at all. Not easy and painless like the first time. It did hurt, but the good part was that each time, it was only a matter of seconds. I was able to count to ten and it would release. This was at the hospital so it was a different RT and she tried to get me to breathe deeply. Here’s the thing: when a breast is being compressed in a vice machine, there’s no chance of breathing deeply because the chest and rib cage are not in a neutral position. Shallow breaths, but I didn’t pass out.
The doctor at that appointment looked at the scans right away and came in to check the ultrasound himself. He saw something he couldn’t identify – or at least that’s how he put it. “It doesn’t look like a mass, but it doesn’t look like anything else either.” Maybe I’ve been implanted with an alien egg. At this point, I don’t know. He told me to come back in two days for biopsies and explained all about those.
Oh goodie. More medical stuff! Have you read about how severe my panic attacks have been in medical offices? Last November, one lasted two hours, crying in an exam room.
Thursday comes around and by that point, I was still having nightmares going on a full week. Sleep has sucked. My anxiety was composed on the second visit because the first went so well, but that had worn off. I had felt it welling up inside. Fortunately, the twice daily meds for pain and anxiety have helped a lot, but that doesn’t stop that “feeling” (you know it if you have it). I wasn’t crying, but the way my body ached and the odd vibration of the top half of my head felt like crying was what I needed. I prepared a small sachet (mojo bag) filled with three stones covered in different kinds of essential oils. Packed more medicine to take along (just in case).
Registration was expedient again. The woman told me to go back to the breast center where I was last time. I even repeated it back to her to make sure I understood since my brain was starting to feel like I couldn’t think clearly. I sat there (at least the lights were on this time). It was only a couple minutes when I gave up on smelling the essential oil soaked bag and took half a sedative which I was trying not to do because I drove myself. Then an old woman came in and sat by me.
Eventually a woman in scrubs opened the far door and asked if I was there. She said I was in the wrong place and they had been searching for me for twenty minutes. I’m not sure how many times I apologized and explained that I went where I was told to go, but it was several. This woman Jane was fantastic like Michelle at the other office. Smiling, funny, compassionate. She would pat my hand and make sure I was doing all right. Dr. B was great too.
I was surprised that I didn’t feel any of the 12 needles going into me considering that Lidocaine doesn’t seem to work at the dentist. The only thing uncomfortable at this point was that my left arm and shoulder were hurting a lot from being up. I kept telling myself it’s just like modeling — even when it looks “easy” because you’re reclining, just breathe through the pain.
While working on this “shadow” they saw a second one and decided to pull biopsies from there so that’s why the needles doubled in quantity. Better to address them while I was there and ready (and doped up). No stitches, but had a layer of tape to hold the skin together and then a layer of gauze. I was told not to shower for another day — and boy, did I need a shower.
Jane kept saying how relaxed and great I was. I was like, Hmmm, do I tell her? As she was escorting me to yet another place to sit, I said, “It’s the magic of Klonopin.” She laughed so hard I thought I was at an open mic night. She told me to make sure I tell the next woman. I did, but she wasn’t amused. What can I say? Yoga breathing and essential oils only get me so far.
I thought I’d be fine and able to get on with my daily schedule. I was supposed to podcast with someone at noon. By 11:00, I texted him and said I wasn’t feeling great. By 11:30 I asked to postpone because my body was wiped. I slept until 2:30. See, I knew I shouldn’t have been driving, but it was a straight shot on a fairly slow road.
As the meds wore off, I began feeling the discomfort. They had given me a cute little purple ice pack to put in my bra. The weather was so nice I didn’t want to miss the chance to enjoy giving Gus outside time. I took him out for an hour and 15 minutes. He was so good too. He didn’t make me attempt the worst parts of the hill. We walked the whole time, pacing some spots or doing laps.
Cut to Friday morning. Oh dear gods, I stink! That’s it. I wasn’t going to wait until evening to shower. I took off the gauze layer and since I was told the sticky strips would be in place and fall off on their own in a few days, I thought the shower would be fine.
Of course those things started to peel off. I removed a few and the bleeding started. I resorted to an old First Aid trick I learned on the one and only time I ever went rough camping: menstrual products! I took out a thin pantyliner, cut it in half, and stuck it inside my bra. Did the trick perfectly.
RESULTS ARE IN!
I couldn’t believe it when my phone rang this afternoon with a 484 number. Considering that I don’t even bother to answer my phone anymore and usually leave the ringer off, since these visits, I’ve had to pay attention. I answered and it was the medical person explaining that ALL IS FINE. She told me what it was called but I couldn’t understand the word. I’m sure I’ll see a letter or something. But I do have to go back in six months even with benign results.