Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Under Pressure

So what ever happened with the mammogram you got Eliza?
Yeah, what happened?
What did they say?

Good Question. Wanna hear about it? Here it goes!

My job was offering mammogram night for employees.  I kept debating whether or not to go.  I'm under 40, I haven't felt any lumps.  I don't have any pain. 


I am 37, and I did lose my mother to breast cancer.  While her testing did not prove to have any genetic component to it, she still got cancer.  It came from somewhere.  And after much battling with the lump in my throat, I decided to bite the bullet and get it done.

My hubs  asked if I wanted him there, and I was so thankful.  Even if he wasn't in the room, it was so nice to have him waiting outside when I was done.  So Kris and my girls went with me to be my cheerleaders.

Except my four year old's cheers sounded more like screaming, with a lot of "I don't love you anymore!" and "Stop looking at me!", at the top of her lungs.  It also included both of my girls eating white cheddar popcorn in the waiting room. If you had seen them, you would have thought they were crocodiles, the way they were rolling around and making a mess with it.  We also wanted to be sure of everyone's safety and set off the emergency exit alarm.  It works. And we are well equipped to toss our popcorn in the air and jet out of there, should the need arise.

After causing all kinds of upheaval in the waiting room they finally called my name.

It wasn't too shabby.  They made me change into this white Hugh Heffner looking gown.  And I had to use this little wipe to remove any deodorant or lotion off of my un-Hugh Heffner worthy breast and armpits.  This immediately reminded me what I forgot to do that morning.  And putting on deodorant wasn't it. I figured this is not the first time they've seen armpit hair, and there weren't any razors in the room, so I had to keep on pushing.

They take me into the next room with the mammography unit.  I wish I could accurately describe what it looks like.  I have a vivid imagination, so I may not be the best for giving a true account of the way it truly looks.  But if you can imagine an ATM machine, a frozen yogurt machine, and a kitchen counter all mixed into one.  Yup.  That's it.

Damn.  Now I want some fro-yo.

Anywho.  The lady there is super duper nice, explains everything boob-by-boob, I mean step-by-step and we're rolling! She basically advances you up to the machine, places the girls in different angles (one by one of course) and had me hold my breath at different times and of course the compression.

Now the compression is not what I was expecting.  I thought I was gonna cry.  I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out.  I also thought I might pee and debated wearing Depends. But guess what?!! I had a coupon for the Depends, so score! And the compression wasn't any of what I thought it would be! I cannot even describe it as painful at all.  I don't think I can even use the term uncomfortable, because it wasn't that either. I've even come up with a list of things that I think are worse than a mammogram.

Things That Are Worse Than A Mammogram
  1. Stubbing my big toe is worse than a mammogram.
  2. Getting a Dorito stuck in my throat is worse than a mammogram.
  3. Getting brainfreeze is worse than a mammogram.
  4. A caffeine headache is worse than a mammogram.
  5. Burpees are worse than a mammogram (for my fitness peeps). 
  6. Skinny jeans are worse than a mammogram.
  7. Hitting my funny bone is worse than a mammogram.
  8. Burning my tongue on cocoa is worse than a mammogram.
  9. Houston summers are worse than a mammogram.
  10. My singing is worse than a mammogram. (No don't count that one. I'm a pretty awesome singer)
So it was pretty good.  No problem.  I was so proud of myself.  And then they sent me a letter.

It said there was a nodule and I would have to come back.

What? A nodule?
What the hell does that mean?

So here we go.  The worrying mode in me goes into full throttle.  Although it's more tame than it normally would have been, because the awesome technologist told me to expect this.  Especially on the first mammogram.

Okay.  Expecting, but still scared shitless.

What happens next is to go and get a follow up mammogram on the affected side and do a greater level of compression.  If that one comes out all good, then I'm good to go.  If not, then I have to go and get an ultrasound.

At this point I'm pretty worried.  My mind is automatically preparing myself for the worst.  This could be something and very possible given my family history. But the worst part about all of this, was the person that I wanted to talk to the most about it, she isn't here.

I'm expecting at the end of the second mammogram to get the green light to go on about with my life.

No such luck.  The technologist nicely tells me that they will see me at my next appointment the following week. At this point I pretty much lose it.  I think no matter how hard I have tried to stay positive, I finally cracked.  I don't know what was worse.  Going through all of this and not knowing, or knowing that my feelings are all of the feelings and emotions that my mother went through as well.  And wondering what her mind must have thought when her appointments went from "Everything looks good!" to "We'll see you next time".  

I'm so super blessed that my family was waiting for me.  I can't lie about my emotions.  It's really hard.  My face will either turn red like a tomato or I'll just cry.  This time, when I saw them, I just cried.  And at this point I just really wanted to know one way or another what I needed to do.

Monday rolls around and my ultrasound is here.  I felt so bad for the technologist because the my wait for her to come into the room was a mere five minutes, but an eternity for my mind to go crazy wondering what the answer would be.  I should have just kept my eyes closed and not looked at the screen. Because when I saw the technologist using the measuring tools with the computer on the nodule, a little piece of me melted away.  As a nurse, I know that even if we know what it is on the screen.  We are not allowed to say.  So I was very eager for the doctor to come in. She came in with a smile and immediately said "Good News!".

Thank you Jesus!

My 'nodule' was a small benign cyst.  Not one to be of concern or need any further biopsy or testing.   Game plan is to be sure I do not have any pain, and to continue with annual mammograms.

My mammogram story ends on a happy note for me.  I had good results.  Maybe not the way I expected to get them, but good none the less.  My mammogram revealed something that was so small that I couldn't feel it or see it, but had this been something of concern, this was probably the only way that I would have known that it was there. And this mammogram would have been my first step in getting early treatment.  I'm thankful I bit the bullet.  I'm thankful I got over my fear of the squish and just went for it. 

Working in oncology I see so many scary things on a regular basis.  Things that I hope many of you never have to see or experience in your lifetime.  So do something for me.  Take care of yourself! Eat right. Exercise. Quit smoking! And know your family history, and know what preventative care you should have.  Check your skin! Check your moles! Do self breast exams! Do self testicular exams! Get your colonoscopy! And get your mammograms!!!

I say do these things for me. But really, do these things for you. Do these things because you love yourself.  I love you! You should too!

Happy Squishing!

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