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Thursday, August 27, 2009

All stretched out...

Ah, the joys of being female...

After forgetting about it for far too long, I finally booked my first mammogram to follow up on the lump I'd found in my left breast. It was pretty much gone the next day, when I booked an appointment with my doctor.

When I saw him, I could still find something, though I had to dig around for it. During the exam, I told him about my surgery, and how they'd found benign cysts in the tissues removed - lots of them - and that I normally had rather lumpy breasts. Part way through the exam, he paused with a, "... you really do have lumpy breasts!" *L* He agreed with me, though, that it was most likely a cyst, as the lump he did find was quite soft. Just to be sure, though, he wrote me up for a mammogram and gave me the paperwork. I had a choice of 5 different facilities around the city to go to, with one central number to book it.

Then I kept forgetting to call. :-P

I finally made the call in the middle of last week and my appointment was yesterday. (Or should I say, the day before yesterday, considering it's now past midnight as I write this.)

Although I knew where the building was located, I couldn't remember what parking was like around there; just that there wasn't a lot around, and most of it meter parking. So I left very early to give myself time to get lost (I only missed one turn), find a parking spot (I ended up several blocks away, but it was also free), and get turned around finding the office (it turned out to be more labyrinth than maze; lots of twists and turns, but only one way to go). Even with all that, I got there almost an hour early. What can I say. I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late! *L* I'm kinda obsessive like that. ;-)

I came prepared, though, and brought along an afghan I'm crocheting for Eldest. I made plenty of progress while waiting, that's for sure! The radiologists were all on lunch, so the office was pretty dead. Just the two receptionists, with one of them making calls.

Even though people weren't going to be back from lunch until the time of my appointment, I got called in 10 minutes early, along with another woman who had arrived by then. We got sent to change rooms to strip from the waist up and put on these super sexy (*snort*) gowns that opened in the front. I'm not sure I ever did figure out how the friggin' ties were supposed to be fastened, as it kept trying to gape on me. Mind you, it could also have been because these are one size fits all, and I'm not a one size sort of person. ;-)

Then it was another row and a half or so of crochet while waiting in another room until someone came and got me. By then, another woman had joined us, and yet another had been led to a change room. It turns out there were 7 radiologists available at once, so they could take quite a few people at pretty much the same time.

The tech that did my mammogram had an interesting time with me. I may be a large woman, but thanks to the marvels of breast reduction, I'm only a B cup. The first two images were horizontal. She kept having to yank me a bit here, pull me a bit there, adjust my arm, roll my shoulder, turn my hips, push me forward, pull me back, turn my head, yank some more... Not the most pleasant of things. While one breast was being done, she had to lift the other one partly onto the surface. Which meant it was resting right on the corner, leaving me with that digging into me as well. Having the plastic piece brought down to compress the tissues was actually the least bothersome part of the whole thing! *L*

After she'd done the two horizontal images, she got me to sit for a bit while she checked the images to make sure they were clear before sending them on. I was able to come and take a look. They were really quite neat, with all sorts of interesting swirls in the images. I could see a significant difference between the left and right images, though. The left had what looked like a burst of white on the one side, right where I'd found the lump.

Once those were sent off, she set me up for the next image; this one at a 35 degree angle. This time, I got to have the corner digging in my arm pit as she positioned me. More yanking and tugging ensued, as she tried to line me up in the machine while making sure my nipple wasn't turned under. She was having some troubles with that, so she got out a couple of stickers to put on them - these would ensure that my my nipples wouldn't get mistaken for a lump, which can happen if they aren't pointing straight out.

So there I was, hugging a machine, breast mashed in a vice, with sticker pasties on my nipples. Such fun!

She got her shot, let me loose, then suddenly exclaimed "oh, no!" with a look of horror and despair on her face.

Now, I knew there was no way she'd be reacting this way to anything she saw in the image. She was just there to take the images, not examine them. Which meant only one thing.

Technical difficulties.

Sure enough, instead of an image, she got an error message. And then... poof!

...the system rebooted.

The computer shut itself down, then the machine shut down.

I sat down and got comfortable. *L*

As we waiting and chatted for a bit, she mentioned that this machine had been doing this for a while. It had been fully serviced, but no one could find the problem. I'm not too surprised. The greater the technology, the easier it is for it to fail. It could be the tiniest of bugs in the code.

Everything eventually turned back on, but that was about it. It still wasn't functional. After a while, she simply took me to a different room. Though it otherwise looked almost exactly the same, I think the machine was a bit older. She actually had to insert and remove a plate from the base to take the images. Things worked fine, though, and after being yanked and pulled to fit onto the image surface again, I was quickly done.

The images were immediately sent to one of the radiologists while I got to put my gown back on and return to the waiting area. I barely got more than a row on the afghan done before the tech came back more me. Because my doctor had written that he could actually feel a lump, they decided to give me an ultrasound, too, which could be done right then and there.

Off I was lead to another room and a different tech. As she instructed me on how to lie on the bed, she helped me open the front of my gown so that the one side would be exposed.

Which is when she noticed the sticker pasties I still had on. Not knowing I would be going for an ultrasound, I wasn't going to bother taking them off until I was getting dressed again.

"Oh, you don't need these anymore," she said as she grabs both of them at once and YANKS them off.


No, it didn't really hurt much, but I wasn't expecting it at all. What could I do but gasp and laugh? Oops!!

The tech then gets me set up on the bed, lying half on my back with a pyramid shaped pillow behind my shoulder and my arm over my head. She goes to put the gel on me, which is in a squeeze bottle. Which promptly "burps," sending wayward bits of gel all over - including my nose. That stuff is cold! *L*

The beauty of the set up, though, was that I was facing the monitor, so I could see everything she could while she did the ultrasound. I think she was amused by my geeking out over the equipment. ;-) During the ultrasound, there were a couple of images where she stopped and marked things around a dark mass; the area of suspicion that showed up as a burst of white on the mammogram. Once she was done, the images were again sent immediately to the radiologist to look at. I got to stay on the bed and relax until the radiologist came. It was quite comfortable, actually.

I didn't have long to wait. The tech came back and waited with me for a while until the dr. could join us. The doctor asked me a few questions about my surgery and what the lump was like then I first noticed it. Then she told me that it appeared to be an "oil filled cyst" (blech). That side has more scarring from my surgery than the other, and the cyst seems to be exacerbated by the that. Just to keep an eye on it, they want me back in 6 months for another ultrasound - but not a mammogram, thank goodness!

So the lump turned out to be exactly what I thought it was - just a cyst. Nothing that needs a biopsy or to be removed. It's just there, and may or may not get irritated again.

After that, the tech cleaned off the ultrasound gel and I was done. Other than my breasts feeling like they'd been pulled out by the roots, it wasn't that bad of an experience. ;-)

My doctor will get the results in within 5 business days, so I expect to get a call for an appointment to go over them fairly soon.

All is well.

1 comment:

  1. So glad it turned out well! I have cyst too and started going yearly at 28. I usually forget about the little stickers on my nipples until I am home :)


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