Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Relieved! And Back On Track

To me, the offending blob looks just like the rest of the blobs!
I'm awake... I'm up from a deep sleep induced by my earlier ingestion of an anti-anxiety medicaition given to me to make it possible for me to go willingly to an appointment I had this morning.

It all started when I dutifully presented myself for my yearly mammogram... Dup de-du, no biggie.  I have no family history and no breasts to speak of anyway... how could I have a problem?

But wait... the nurse tells me there was an abnormality.  What?  I'm sent to the radiology place to have a second mammogram and possibly an ultrasound.  At this point, I'm still not frightened.  I hear all the time that the incidence of false positives is high... so the place just wants to generate some income to pay for that nice facility they have over there...  I'm not happy but OK...

I arrive to the facility on the day of my workup mammo and guess what?  They DO want to do the ultrasound.  I guessed that one... So I submit to the ultrasound, which was totally not painful, just weird... My mind flits from the indignity of it all, to wondering why the tech is making so many clicking sounds over on the machine, to just wanting to spring off the table and bolt for the door.  The tech finishes and I am asked to wait in my private cubicle while she shows the results to the radiologist.
Tick Tock, finally she comes back and says I'm free to go, but that she thinks they're going to want to re-do the test in 3 to 6 months.

Ok, so I'm not dying now...but in six months it could be a different story!?  Whoa there!  We have plans!  We are sailing off into the sunrise in four months.  I can't be having this!  I convince myself that its just another of those many false positives and I'm quite able to sleep at night with that!

The next week I have my scheduled visit with my Gyn.  She reviews the results but feels nothing in the exam.  I have no symptoms no pain, nothing!  I'm thinking I'm going to get away...  But she tells me that SINCE I'm leaving soon and will have no coverage for this type of thing... she wants me to get a second opinion.  She sends me to the surgeon who did my recent appendectomy.  I'm comfortable with him so I submit.

Another week goes by and my mind is working on me some... but I'm good at convincing myself that it's going to go my way... this is just a formality, an inconvenience to be endured...  I hear about a patient at work who gets scheduled for a needle biopsy but when she shows up and they do the ultrasound, there's no nodule so she goes free!  This will happen to me!

The surgeon does his exam and looks the films over... he says "we need to get something under a microscope" SCREEEECH  Stop!  There is NO NODULE!  Just a smudge!  I tell him the story about the case at work.  He tells me... "if they have measured it, they can biopsy it".  I have to be a big girl and swallow my needle phobia.  OK, I'll do it.  I guess I DO want to know if it IS nothing before we leave...

Another five horrible days go by... my mind is doing bad things to me.  I'm tense and snappy and closed off.  I'm like the lion with the thorn in it's paw.  I get through the weekend and make it through Monday with the help of a Xanax.  The call from the technician to give me my prep instructions throws me over the edge.  I'm a nutcase.  If it weren't for Xanax I don't know how I would have made it.

Morning dawns and I am quiet and sullen.  I'm not happy about this.  I pop a pill and begin showering and dressing to leave.  Bruce takes me to the facility where I present myself at the desk.  I'm mellow so no drama...  I'm soon called in and Bruce trails behind me.  He has instructions not to let me see any needles and to scratch my forehead while they're doing the extraction... you know, like we do to the cats at the vet to keep them from realizing that there's a thermometer in their booty?  Oh, yes and he's forbidden to make any "gasping" noises...

I undress and don the robe.  The girl tells me that the radiologist has reviewed the films and doesn't think he can do the biopsy because there is NO NODULE!!!!!!   What?  Did I hear her right.  Those bastards!

Into the room I go and stretch out on the exam table.  She does another ultrasound...  click click click.  She takes those out and returns with the radiologist.  He's very nice and puts his hand on my shin... it's warm and I feel a soothing influence wash over me.  He watches the technician do a few more views and he says "there's nothing there".  Nothing to biopsy.  It's NORMAL!  I can't stop the grin and they don't have to ask me twice to get out of there!

In the car, I start to shake and tears well up in my eyes, threatening to spill over.  I'm dressed like a bum and drugged up woozy but I call my assistant to tell her what is happening.  I'm a MESS!  She tells me to go home and sleep it off... so I do.  Days of tension left me drained and I slept all afternoon.

Now that my head is clearing... I'm struggling not to be mad that I've gone through all of this for nothing.  I'm grateful that it was nothing... but I can't help think of the expense and the worry for a mere "maybe".  I'm mad that with all the modern miracles at our disposal, patients are drug through all of this on the off chance that something might be wrong.

Maybe I shouldn't examine the reasons for this too closely... greed?  Surely.  Fear of malpractice suits?  Surely.  These things are driving the cost of medical care to dizzying heights.  If it weren't for the fact that I might sue someone if they don't find my problem and fix it... maybe I could have waited. Maybe medical care wouldn't be so expensive as to make it necessary for me to do this now because I won't be able to afford it later.

Yes, I'm glad it turned out alright and I feel much better knowing.  But, wouldn't it have been nice to have skipped about half of this little exercise and be in the same spot?  So now, I'm back to planning our escape!  With NO WORRIES!


  1. What an ordeal. Serious bummer - but with a happy ending. Has made me think: I need some Xanax for our medical kit....

    1. Yes Jane, luckily I work for my Gyn and had some left over from when we got our electronic records system. Maybe I should get a refill... but wait! I was thinking I wouldn't need Xanax when I quit working! Are you telling me that there will be Xanax moments while Cruising?