Breasts

Last week was a week and next week is going to be a  week as well.  I will be delighted to have this boot off of my foot.  Just delighted.  A month of no real exercise and I’m a bit stir crazy.  I know that some people just go forever without exercise and they’re all good with it.  I so don’t get that.  I just don’t get it.  And the spoiler alert is that everything did turn out fine.  

On Tuesday, I had a mammogram.  And it was the same gal I’ve gotten a mammogram from for the the last three years.  I’m sure she doesn’t recognize me from year to year, I’m just another set of breasts coming through, but she’s always delightful and chatty and she’s the only one doing my breasts, so of course, I remember her.  Perhaps I was imagining her being quiet, I don’t know, but that night I got a call and an email to make a second appointment with the Martinez clinic.  I was told that I had to go to the Martinez campus because they could give me the results of the mammograms while I was there.

Off I went on Thursday, to Martinez, to the Hacienda building.  The appointment was for 11:40.  They had me change into a hospital gown and wait in a room that had a fountain, snacks and a Keurig machine.  I think that they were going for a spa feel: trying to ease the tension for these women who were being tested for cancer.  There were three other women in the, like a spa but not, “Women’s Restorative” room, and they were looking kindof glum.  One of them was an old woman who was very scared.  All that I could get from her mutterings was that a family member had died of cancer and she just didn’t know, just didn’t know what she was going to do if she had cancer.  Fair enough, it’s not the best way to spend time.  

I was called in by a radiologist tech who was lovely.  She had a turban/scarf type of thing with a knot in the front and some lovely tattoos, she was charming.  A bunch of pictures were taken and then back to the “Women’s Restorative” room I went.

It’s 12:30 now.  

I waited and had a snack, lowfat granola bars, and was called back in by another women who took more pictures.  This radiologist was about my age, short red hair and the cut, the cut on that hair was PERFECT.  I haven’t worn my hair that short in a while but it takes a good cutter to get one that PERFECT.  

“Front, left side, right side, lean a bit forward, hold your breath now breathe.  “

Ok, fine and back to the, like a spa, but not, “Women’s Restorative” room I went again. 

1:00

The original appointment was for 11:40 and we’re running past 1:00 now.  I’m getting hungry.

Two radiologists have had their lunch and I’m on my third technician.  The third one speaks English as a Second language.  I can’t tell if her first language is Mexican or Tagalog.  Regardless, she too, has a lovely demeanor and I’m really hoping that this will be the last set.

Lots of pictures being taken and sent to the doctor who is viewing them in another room on a different screen.  At one point the technician, in positioning me, darn near scrapes my sternum up between “the paddles” YIKES!  That’s not part of the breast!  

Extra pictures need to be taken of my right breast and she puts a pink glittery pasty thingamajig on my right nipple and continues to squish and click away.  She’s having me pull my gown back because she thinks that it is causing distortion on the pictures.    

She tells me that something just isn’t quite right,  there’s some sort of shading on the picture, “would you like to take a look?”

“Sure, I’ll see if I can help you out.”

Well, the line, was the shadow being cast between my very squished right breast, and my right shoulder.  Also, the top of my jeans was somehow floating off of the bottom of the xray.

Oh!  and yes, we sure can see the nipple in the picture now, now that it has that pasty on it.  And… keep in mind, I still have the boot on my left foot from the hammertoe surgery from earlier this month.

I was proud of myself for not saying something about how the top of my jeans could not have been distorting the pictures because, after all, the stomach is not anywhere near the breast and has no way of photobombing these photos even if it tried.

I showed the technician how the shadow was on all of the photos (only not as pronounced, as I was not being, uhm, positioned so enthusiastically before)

And, I could only wonder how it would have looked to someone looking in on this.  The patient, pasty clad nipple pronounced, while gown is off of right shoulder, hand on hip, pointing out bits and pieces of my bits and pieces to the technician.

At some point the doctor pokes her head in and thanks me for being a “good sport”.

1:30

I’m allowed to dress and told to go into the “consult” room which is next to the like a spa, but not, “Women’s restorative” room.  The consult room has a lovely couch with throw pillows, a plastic cross section of the breast but no snacks.  I’m really hungry now.

The doctor comes in and tells me that there are calcified cells in both breasts.  One cluster is two centimeters and one is three centimeters.  Because I have fibrous breasts there is not a lot of contrast between the calcified clusters and the rest of the breasts in the photo.  If there were more of my breasts or more fat in my breasts the photos would have been easier to read.  The calcified cells have nothing to do with how much calcium I consume.  When I  tried to make a joke, “so if I had more breast to photograph, if they were bigger had a bit more fat it would have been easier to read the photos?”  The doctor’s response was “no, fat is bad”.  Ok, then.

The doctor asked if I had any experience with lanacane or topical numbing agents and I replied, “like what they use when I get botox and filler?  sure, not an issue”  again, not a smile.

The biopsy technician came in with a basket of snacks, lowfat granola, baked potato chips and bruised fruit.  Yeah!  And tried to give me an overview of what she would be doing, unfortunately all of her pamphlets were in Spanish, but, the gist is, I’ll be lying on a table with a hole in it and they reach under and take a biopsy.  I’ll have this done on both breasts.

This may already be more information than you want, but there’s a wee bit more.  Tom was working from home that day and when I came home he was concerned that it had taken soooooo long.  Fair enough, it had taken long.  His response was that of an engineer, problem solving male.  

“You know what?  that might be good for you!  the no breast thing!  and  I love you!”  he then enveloped me in a  bear hug and then went back to work.

I think I”ll be fine, no cancer in my family history, but next week the schedule goes:

Monday – botox/filler

Tuesday – pins taken out of my foot and boot comes off

Wednesday – lots of bubble baths

Thursday – biopsy (no bubble baths for 3 days)

Friday – hair cut.

I should have the results sometime the following week.

After surgery

Went to the oncologist today.  They really treat you with kid gloves in that department.  It’s as if, as if, they have to give quite a few people really bad news.  The stationary in the the cancer packet they gave me was decorated with confetti, like the invitation to a little kid’s birthday party, but it still, just didn’t get to that party feel.

The doctor came in.  I’m pretty sure she was from China.  She had on some ballet flats with no show socks that showed, alot.  She had a little kid’s barrette in her hair.  She was accompanied by a Physician’s Assistant, who was gorgeous and dressed, well, like a professional.  They both greeted me with the double hand handshake.  You know, the handshake with a comforting hand on top of it?  that one.  The doctor opens up my file on the computer and she squints at the screen and then she looks at me and back to the screen again and says “this is a horrible picture!  I wouldn’t even be able to recognize you from this.  Get another one taken.”  The PA winces and I say, “Ok”.

The doctor then goes through the different proactive medical treatments that I can avail myself of, if I wish.  The mass was benign and no cancer was found but just by virtue of having that mass puts me in a higher risk category for having cancer and there are some, steps that you can take if you want to be more proactive.   The medication she mentioned had some severe side effects and I can’t remember all of the details.  It didn’t seem to me that her heart was really in it for these treatments either but she had to make sure that I knew about them.  She then looks up from my chart and says, “you don’t take much medication.” 

I replied, “no, the bulk of what you’re seeing is wrinkle cream”

She asked “does it work?”

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