Tuesday, January 22, 2013

For the Ladies...Part Two

It's just us gals in here, right?  Maybe not.  In that case, I'll just jump right in where I left off.

I found a lump.

Yep, that did it.  The menfolk are gone again.  At least they should be.  Just in case there are any stragglers, let me state clearly here that I'm not going into any detail about how I found the lump.  Sorry, but that's none of your business. What I will talk about is how I reacted to the discovery.

The initial shock morphed, almost immediately, into denial. I don't mean that I pretended that the lump didn't exist.  My imagination isn't quite that good. What I mean is that I quickly convinced myself that it didn't matter. Supper needed to be cooked, bills needed to be paid, the house needed to be cleaned, the children were going to be home from school soon...Who had time for a silly lump?

But it was there anyway, just under the surface - both figuratively and literally.  In everything I did, it was there.

Finally I gave up trying to ignore it and did the next best thing.  I turned to the internet.  The first site I read had a calming tone, probably meant to quell panic. It told me that there was no need to drive straight to the doctor. At least I think that's what it said. Or maybe that's what i wanted it to say. I was certainly in no rush to face my GYN less than a year after throwing a fit over (I mean, politely questioning) too many mammograms, only to admit that there might have been a reason for concern.  I searched further.

Breast cysts tend to be smooth and round.  Check!

Breast cysts are most often found in women who are nearing menopause.  Check again!

Breast cysts are slightly squishy - like a grape or water balloon. Umm...not so much.

Breast cysts can change in size and move around.  So far, my lump seemed to remain consistent and stationary.

Still, it had to be a cyst.  There really was no other option. Anything else might mean thinking about things that I didn't want to think about.   Obviously Google wasn't being helpful.  It was time to make the phone call.  Before dialing, I mentally went over the message that I was going leave for my GYN's nurse.   Shockingly, I didn't get to leave my message because I wasn't sent to voice mail.  The nurse actually answered the phone.  That never happens!!!  After resisting the very strong urge to hang up, I quickly explained the situation.  I assumed that she was going to transfer me to the reception desk so that I could make an appointment for some future date.  Wrong again.   Instead, she told me that since my GYN was booked for the day, I would be seeing the nurse practitioner.  Could I be there by 1:30? 

At the appointment, I carefully disrobed.  Ladies, you know the routine.  First, you take off your top and remove your bra.  Then you carefully fold your bra into your shirt, place the combination carefully on the chair and cover it completely with your coat.  It doesn't matter that you are about to expose your boobs to a stranger.   Heaven forbid that anyone see your BRA!

It disturbed me slightly when the practitioner came in and started examining the wrong side.  Just as I was about to point out her error, her facial expression changed a bit and she asked, while pressing into me, "So is THAT what you found?"   Umm...wait...what?  No, it's on the other side.  After that she was impossible to read.  She found the lump easily and then told me that they were going to set up a couple of appointments for me.  Within the week I was going to have a diagnostic mammogram - on both sides, then an ultrasound.  After that, I would have to see a surgeon.  Was there any particular surgeon I preferred?


I didn't think that I knew any surgeons.  She began rattling off names.  One caught my attention.  I knew that name.  Okay, that was the doctor that I would see.  I was still uncertain about WHY I had to see a surgeon, but I convinced myself that it was probably just standard procedure.  Overall, I left that appointment feeling with more worry on my mind than I did walking into it.

By the morning of the mammogram/ultrasound, I was more than a little nervous.  Then something very cool happened.  Just before my daughter (who was blissfully unaware of any of this) got onto the bus, she picked up a tiny rock and gave it to me, proclaiming it a "lucky pebble."  I don't know how I didn't burst into tears right then and there.  Instead I smiled, thanked her and put the pebble in my coat pocket.  Instantly my mood lightened.

The appointment started off just as expected.  I disrobed, got squished, then pulled the paper cover back over me while I waited for the tech to come back and ask me to get dressed and go to ultrasound...where I got to take off my top again.   With the lucky pebble still in my coat pocket, I sent up a silent prayer as the tech squeezed warm goo onto the side that did NOT have the lump - at least not the lump that I was worried about.  After a few minutes, she turned the monitor toward me and pointed out how differently "regular" breast tissue looked compared to "dense" tissue.  Okay, that's was educational.  Now can we get to the lump please?  Oh...you didn't know that we were supposed to be checking that side too?  Yes, I'll wait while you find out for sure.

Apart from that teeny tiny mix-up, the tech was wonderfully sweet and once she got confirmation, she went right to the troublesome spot, took a couple of measurements and then explained that the black spot on the screen was most likely a fluid filled cyst.

Relief filled me.  Of course, I still had the appointment with the surgeon to get through.  For a fourth time in a two week period, I was in a room where I was expect to take off my top.  Sheesh, at this point, I was starting to expect Mardi Gras beads to be thrown at me!  The "films" from the previous ultrasound were up on a screen...showing the wrong side.  I think that I might have actually groaned out loud at that point.  After a few clicks, the right image came up.  Then the doctor performed his own ultrasound and decided that it would be a good idea to aspirate the cyst.  The nurse handed him the needle and tube that he would use.  He looked at it and requested a longer needle.


Then she asked him if he wanted the lidocaine.  He declined.  Why jab me with a needle before jabbing me with a needle?  Some might have a problem with not being numbed first, but his reasoning made perfect sense to me.  I won't lie and say that I didn't feel a thing, but it wasn't horrible.  To be honest the absolutely worst part was what happened just before that needle went in.

There I was, feeling vulnerable...exposed...and suddenly I blurted out "You look just like your son." I hurriedly corrected that with "I mean he looks just like you." 

Perhaps I shouldn't have picked a surgeon based on the fact that I taught his children.

So there it is ladies.   The Saga of the Lump is complete.  Well, almost.  We're still waiting for lab results of the fluid that the doc removed, but he was pretty confident that it would be just fine.

I think this is where I'm supposed to remind you all to get yourselves checked.  What are you waiting for?   Go get squished!

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