Yesterday I received a phone call – no writers, it wasn’t that call – this one was even better! This phone call helped my breathing and made me feel a zillion pounds lighter! Omg – I still think I will take off floating any minute now, I feel so light.
A month ago – I had my first mammogram. Obviously, I was told to go at age 40, but pushed it off. But my 44th birthday is approaching, so I decided I need to subject myself to the squeeze.
I’ve heard horror stories about mammograms (seems like the women that told nasty childbirth stories have now moved to mammo stories) It isn’t as painful as I thought it might be. It’s cold and uncomfortable – some pain, but nothing that kills.
Before I leave, the nurse says, “You are young (aw, thanks) so your tissue is more dense (ah, is that a compliment or insult?) and since this is your first mammogram, we might have to call you back in for more images, so don’t worry if you get a phone call.”
I leave there, happy to be done and not worried that I will get a call. There is no breast cancer in my family and I hardly give it another thought.
Two days later, I get a phone call saying, “Don’t panic, they don’t think it’s any big deal, but you need to come back so they can take more images.”
“Are you serious?”
“They want to take some enlarged digital images. Can you come in tomorrow?” she says.
“Tomorrow, so soon?” I’m not liking the sound of this.
My denial instincts kick in and I want to hang up the phone and pretend I never got this call. Let’s go back and redo this moment – without this phone call!
But she’s still on the phone, asking me questions about when I can come in. She wants me to come in the next day, which is Friday. I have plans for Friday and I don’t feel like messing with them, so I ask if it can wait until Monday. She says that would be fine – Monday 8AM it is.
Now this I give more thought to – all weekend long! It’s all I can think of. And I think about it alone, because I haven’t told anyone about the call. Not even Jerry. I don’t feel like talking about it because that will make it seem too real. (can you say denial!) Plus, I know my emotions will be on a rough roller coaster ride and I don’t feel like having company. I figure when I get the results from the second images, when they tell me all is fine (optimist!) then I will tell Jerry.
Monday 8AM – This photo shoot is slightly more painful, because there’s more pressure applied to get a better image – but at least it only has to be done on one side. The nurse takes two shots, studies her screen, leaves the room, comes back in and takes another shot. As she escorts me back to the changing room, she says, “When you are done, the doctor will see you in his office.”
“The Doctor? See me now?” I manage to squawk. “Here? I didn’t know I will see a doctor.”
“Yes,” she softly says, avoiding my eyes. “Open the door when you are dressed.”
I numbly proceed. I stare at my face in the mirror and realize that my life might never be the same again. Part of me never wants to leave that little room, because of the dark unknown that lies beyond it and part of me wants to find that doctor and force him to give me good news.
Ah – yes, that’s it, I think, he’s just wants to tell me that everything is fine. The images look great!
No wait, why won’t the nurse just tell me that? Doctors don’t see you when all is well, they see you to say “all is not well.”
I open the door a crack and try to breathe. The nurse soon arrives and escorts me into a small office with a desk and two chairs. I hate the room immediately. It’s too small, too drab, too cold and WHY THE HECK AM I HERE??
The nurse leaves and comes back with a doctor. He is kind and gentle and explains everything thoroughly. Calcification found. Looks like it will be benign, but need a biopsy to know for sure.
DARN!! Is this really me having this conversation? My mind has a hard time catching up to the fact that I’m sitting here, hearing words coming from this man’s mouth that I don’t like. They are changing my day, my world, maybe even my life!
I leave there planning to call Jerry, then I remember I saw his phone on the table after he left for work. Oh, what a great day to forget his phone!
I see a surgeon that afternoon and he repeats the same words. My optimistic brain had almost talked me into believing that he will say that nothing has to be done after all.
But no – he says a biopsy is needed to determine what the cluster of calcification is. The good news is that he thinks there’s a 90% chance that it is benign. I like the sound of 90!
That evening, I tell Jerry that I’ve been sneaking around on him, going to see other men. He says, “What are you talking about?”
I tell him what I’m talking about.
He is surprised – surprised at the news and surprised that I’ve been dealing with this solo. He thanks me for saving him from some of the ride, then quickly adds, “but you could have told me earlier, I would have been okay with it.”
Sept 28, Monday 8AM – Now it’s my turn to tell nasty personal stories. No, I won’t give too many details other than to say – IT HURT LIKE HELL! (sorry mom)
Stereo-tactic biopsy is the official term for what I had done. But “car repair” is what kept going through my mind.
I lie on my stomach on a table, correctly positioned over a hole.
They tell me no moving at all – “lie still and don’t talk.”
The table is raised a few feet into the air.
The doctor and tech wheel around on stools – from under the table to their monitors and back again.
There are machines that blow air, provide pressure, cut slits, whirl, probe and sound like a sewing machine.
Supposedly a local anesthetic is used, but I think half of it didn’t show up for work this Monday morning, because it hurts!
When the probing succeeds in capturing the needed cells, the nurse helps me turn around on the table, so I’m laying on my back. As the doctor glues the probe site, he asks if it hurt.
Excuse me? Yes, it hurt! That’s a dumb question!
“No, it shouldn’t hurt,” the nurse joins in. “You should have told us and we could have given you more anesthetic.”
“Told you? How was I to tell you when you told me not to talk.”
They both say that if I was having pain, I should have said “ouch” and they would have taken care of it. They repeat, “Biopsies shouldn’t hurt you.”
Well, that’s great to know now!
When finished, the nurse escorts me back to the waiting room where Jerry is. One look at my face and he knows it was not a pleasant experience.
The nurse gives me a small firm pink pillow to prop under my arm on the ride home, along with a list of instructions – take 2 pain killers when you get home and take it easy today. No exercise for 48 hours. “We’ll call you in 24 to 48 hours with the results.”
I go home – glad that’s over, but anger at how much it hurt. I spend most of Monday and Tuesday on my recliner with my pink pillow positioned properly. I’m really annoyed at this pink pillow – no offense to all you pink lovers out there, but I don’t like pink, never really have. Now I really don’t like it because I’m also concerned that “breast cancer pink” will now be a part of my life.
The nurse calls on Tuesday – I hold my breath. “No report yet.” she says, “Just calling to see how you are doing.”
“Much better today than yesterday,” I say. “I have some tenderness and soreness, but it feels better.”
My emotions are fairly level on Tuesday – thanks to the peace of God keeping me steady.
Though as I see the doctor’s number on the phone Wednesday morning, I hold my breath again. This is it, Janet. This is it. Are you ready? God, help me!
“Hi, Janet. This is Kathy. We have your report and all is good.”
Thank God, she spoke everything fast and clear, so my hyper heart could beat normally again.
“Good?” I ask. “As in good-good? Nothing there? Not even pre-cancerous cells?”
“Nothing there,” she repeats. “It’s all good!”
Yes, it is good – it is good!
I can breathe again. Praise God! I hadn’t realized how heavy I felt until I heard the words – IT’S ALL GOOD!