“NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL!!! I’ll bring you a hard copy of the report so you have it for your surgeon when you make your choice.”
This was the text I received today from my friend and, more importantly, my OB/GYN regarding the test results sent to her this morning.
I can’t hide my smile but I’m not going to lie. The first thing I did was cry. I had decided that everything was fine, would be fine, would always be fine … and I believed it. Still, there was this crappy little nagging feeling in the back of my mind that was nervous as hell.
I knew my mom was nervous as the subject came up a lot. She’s had a few of her own scares so she was a good resource to have around and also, you know, my mom. I knew my husband was scared as he’d become a prolific texter … warning me not to overgoogle anything … and then yet somehow quoting statistics and percentages that he could only have discovered through his own excessive online research.
But let’s go back in time a little. When I first heard the news on Tuesday, I knew that my aggressive nature had to kick in and I needed to nip this concern in the bud as soon as possible. Which is why I texted my OB/GYN as I was leaving the doctor’s office. Poor thing does have a life of her own and was probably trying to deliver someone else’s baby as I called both her office phone and her cell phone. And then I texted her.
I managed to reach her quickly and we discussed two places where I could have the tests done. The first place was very highly regarded and would be able to give me my results instantly. Instantly after the first available appointment on September 29, eight days away. I would have no hair or fingernails by then.
My doctor knew that … which is why she called the second place, a reputable one located closer to home for me and already in possession of the results of my last mammogram. Comparing these test results is one of the best ways the technicians can detect changes and, sometimes, problems in their patients. They could see me late the very next day. That was yesterday.
I’m sure you can guess which option we chose.
So, I left my house for my mammogram at the same time I’d normally be picking up my kids. My doctor (remember also a neighbor and good friend) even offered to get my children for me and have them start their homework alongside hers. Sooo sweet, but my husband was able to make himself available to me and the kids for the afternoon. Which I really appreciate.
I walked into the imaging center and signed in. Then, I found a decent magazine. Then, I was called up to go through all of the insurance and registration rigmorale. Then, back to my People magazine. (Did you know that Kim Kardashian wore three different gowns on her wedding day?) Then, they called my name.
As instructed, I went to the back area, women only, and changed into my stylish pink paper vest, which I nearly ripped in half exiting the ‘dressing booth.’ I made a nervous joke about it to the lady sitting in the same small waiting area as me. She just stared at me with a blank look. I thought a nasty thing or two about her in my head … then felt like a jerk when a translator finally came over and gave her the same instructions I received. In Spanish. Well, at least she didn’t hear what I said in my head. Which was in English anyway.
Armed with my now crappy Karma, I was escorted down the hall, first into the room where the mammograms are done. The technician there was very nice and patient with my nervous shell of a self. She maneuvered and manipulated my body to take the images she needed. This was my third mammogram. I had my first at age 35 and my second less than a year ago. And, for whatever reason, this one hurt the worst. Some of my friends hypothesized that they need to be that much more thorough when a problem is suspected. Who knows?
While there … and thinking so much about breasts and lumps and implants lately, I asked the technician her thoughts on the impact that implants can have on the accuracy and efficacy of a mammogram. And then I explained how my lump had been detected and why I wanted to know. She said that, while there are arguments stating that under-the-muscle placement does decrease the odds of an implant causing a visual obstruction in a mammogram, there are still no guarantees that a problem couldn’t form behind that implant and thereby be invisible to the technicians. Cancer cells, tumors and other problems can occur anywhere in the breast tissue so no placement is one hundred percent foolproof. Then, we finished up the procedure and our informal teaching session and I was returned to the internal, ladies-only waiting area … until I was called again for my ultrasound.
Apparently (and this is not hypothecized), when there is a suspected problem, an ultrasound is also ordered to accompany the mammogram to rule out any issues. I haven’t had an ultrasound in years. Do you know they actually warm up the ultrasound conductive gel these days? It was a welcome change from the frozen system-shock of years ago.
The ultrasound technician was just as lovely and soft-spoken a person as the mammogram tech. The lighting was dimmed, decor nice and new age music was on. I honestly felt a little like I was going to a spa for a massage. And then, of course, I remembered that I wasn’t. Still, I lay on the table and tried to relax completely, appreciative that there was no pain or discomfort associated with this test. The tech commented on the fibercystic tissue in my breast, inherited from my mother. Then, she moved the wand around over my left breast in search of any problems. I tried to read her face for any signs of concern. Just a poker face with a positive demeanor. I didn’t really know what to make of any of it. She took a few pictures and said she wanted to run them by another tech elsewhere in the facility so she left me in the room, alone with my stupid thoughts, for a few minutes.
I lay there on the table while she was gone and thought about everything I’d learned during the last day as well as during the last month (ODNT is one month old today) … and thought about all the amazing people I’d heard from in the last 24 hours. I had literally gotten inspirational messages from friends from grade school, high school and college, friends from former jobs, parents of my children’s friends, new friends and even people I’ve never even met. Incredible. I felt completely and suddenly very moved ….and then a little panicked.
I hadn’t really thought this plan through. I had brought a buddy with me to every consultation appointment so far which, with one small exception, provided only general information to me and never any kinds of bad news. And yet this time, partly due to the last minute nature of everything, I’d chosen to come alone. What if she came back into the room with bad news? How was I going to drive myself home? My imagination ran a little wild for a few minutes until she came back into the room.
No bad news. No real news other than that there was no bad news. She couldn’t comment too specifically on anything and said they’d send everything over to my doctor who would then be contacting me. And, unfortunately, it was past closing time now.
Still, I left that office feeling pretty good. For whatever reason, I knew this wasn’t going to be an issue. I have no idea why and I won’t deny that I was still a little nervous up until the point when my personal doctor contacted me with the good news today. Maybe it was all the prayers, good vibes, rain dances and other positive energy the universe sent my way yesterday.
Thanks, everyone. I feel loved.