Tuesday, January 22, 2013

For the Ladies...

Seriously...guys, you don't want to waste your time reading this one.  It's about boobs.


That's not really going to stop you from reading this is it?  How about this...it's about mammograms, hospitals, doctors and big ole needles. 

There.  The men are gone.  They are such wimps when it comes to medical stuff.   Now we can talk about boobs - and all that other stuff.

When I was 35, it was recommended that women who are 35 get a baseline mammogram.  So I did.  Naturally I was a bit nervous about the whole process.  Some women claim that mammograms are no big deal, but others say that they are terribly painful.  The idea of having my breasts squished flat as a pancake was kinda scary, but thankfully the machine didn't press me quite that thinly.  I was happy to join the crew of "it's no big deal."  Afterward I put mammograms out of my mind complete.

Until I turned 40.  That's when my GYN informed me that it was time to start getting them annually.   That was fine with me.  My maternal grandmother and maternal aunt are both breast cancer survivors, so I easily accepted that following the official guideline was probably the best course of action.   Of course, there was also this part of me that just KNEW that mammo's were a waste of time for me.  After all, I had read often enough that pregnancy and breastfeeding both reduced the risk of breast cancer.  Since I've been pregnant four time and have a cumulative total of seven YEARS of breastfeeding under my belt, I figured that the odds of staying breast cancer free were in my favor.  Sure enough, my mammo came back "clean" that year.

Then something weird happened the next year.  When the nurse called to give me my results, she told me that I had to go back for a more detailed mammogram.   It had to be a mistake of course, but I followed the advice and went back for another round of squishing.  This time, the tech warned me that the machine would be compressing me more than it did before.  I was supposed to tell her when the pressure became unbearable.  I kept my mouth shut.  Okay, that hurt a bit, but I figure that it was worth the discomfort to get the best shot.   After the machine did it's thing, the tech left for a bit.  When she came back, she informed me that there was an area of concern.  I went straight from mammo to ultrasound.  There it was pronounced that I had "dense tissue."   Whew.  Umm...okay...whatever.

Another year passed, another mammogram was taken and another stress inducing phone call followed.  I went through a repeat of the same steps once again with the same results.  The only change was that I was informed that I was being put on a six months schedule..."just to be sure."

I was quickly moving from the "It's no big deal" to the "I hate mammograms" group.

Six month later, it happened all over again.  And then again six months after that.  And six months after that.  The only thing they ever found was "dense tissue."  I started to wonder if all that radiation wasn't just making things worse.  Google searches both confirmed and refuted that idea.  Then I found out that I was having thyroid issues.  Once again I supplemented the information that I was getting from my doctor with whatever I could find via Google.  The mere suggestion that radiation from mammograms might play a role in thyroid problems was enough to push me over the edge.   I decided to put my foot down at my next GYN visit.   I intended to DEMAND that the nonsense stop.

Well, that's not exactly how it went, but I did bring up my concerns and asked, politely of course, if I could be put back on an annual schedule.   Thankfully, he agreed.

That was less than a year ago.  I wasn't supposed to have another mammogram until March of 2013.

Then fate laughed at me.

I found a lump.

To be continued...

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