Okay: Here’s the full disclosure. This is not about rheumatoid arthritis. It contains way TMI about a personal subject. This is me whining. This is your chance to tune out now ….
If you’ve been paying attention (always a dangerous assumption), you’ve no doubt guessed that I went in for my annual mammogram this morning. My usual routine is breeze in, breeze out, get the “no-problem” results in the mail in about a week.
Got there. Got checked in. Got changed into the cute little pink gown. Settled in with the six-month-old magazines. Slightly past the appointment time, a nice technician called me back and we went through all the standard questions. As we got ready to get down to business, I opened my mouth. (When am I going to learn to stop doing that?)
I have a history of fibrocystic disease. It’s a fairly common, benign condition and mine seems to come and go depending on how much caffeine I’ve had in my life. Since my caffeine consumption had crept up (I now have time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning), I wasn’t surprised to find a swath of ropy feeling tissue on the left side where I’ve had fibrocystic lumps in the past. I had found it in the interval between the day I had made the appointment and the actual appointment time. I mentioned this development and my fibrocystic history to the technician, pointing to the area and told her we just needed to be sure we got that area well covered in the images.
Her eyes went wide. Her hands flew to her cheeks. She starts shaking her head. (I’m not kidding.) What I thought was a total overreaction.
She says to me, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do your screening mammogram. At the moment you tell me you have found something suspicious, we have to go to a diagnostic exam and we have to have an order from your doctor.”
I protest. Can’t we just do the screening exam and see what shows up and then if it’s warranted, go to the next steps?
So I’ve already been there about 45 minutes and I’ve got a lunch date, and I am so completely not worried about this situation, that I push a little harder. She presses on (my tender) breast and says she can feel the lump. Fine. So then I asked if we could call the doctor’s office and see if they would send over an order while I was still there and not have to come back another time. (Did I mention that I have wonderful doctors?)
And that’s what happened.
I’m not going to describe the process. If you’re a woman, you already know and if you’re a guy, you really don’t want to know. Let’s just say that they added an extra, really ouchie part at the end.
Afterward she left me in the exam room to go talk to the radiologist. She said if he saw anything, they would need to do a sonogram. A (very short) few minutes later, she’s back asking me to go with her. As we’re walking, she tells me that she’s taking me to see Vicky who will do my sonogram.
So I tell Vicky “yadda-yadda fibrocystic disease … yadda-yadda no big deal … etc.” She agrees it’s probably nothing based on my history and we both politely agree better safe than sorry. Then she starts working her sonogram magic and pointing to the screen showing me what she’s seeing in the area in question. You know those satellite pictures they show of hurricanes where’s all this swirly stuff with a big dark hole in the middle? That’s what it looked like. The big dark hole is what she’s seeing that she says looks “a bit unusual”.
So she captures a series of images and then says to me, “I’m going to go speak to the radiologist and see what he says. Just so you know, he’s very conservative and he may want to do a needle aspiration on this just to be on the safe side. I’m not saying he will, but just so you know that he might.”
I’ve been around enough medical techs who know what they’re doing that when they warn you that something MIGHT happen, you can bet money and take it to the bank. And this lady had been doing breast sonography for almost 20 years.
So sure enough she comes back in trailing the radiologist with her. Love the radiologist. He is reassuring. He is funny. He discusses what he’s seeing. Apparently “simple cysts” are fluid-filled and look solid black and are no issue. Mine, not so much. It has a cloudy center. (I accuse my breast of not trying hard enough …) He wants to do an aspiration — which is where they draw fluid out with a needle to see if they can reduce the cyst in size. If they can’t, they will do a needle biopsy to check for cancerous cells.
I get dressed, meet with the scheduling nurse and schedule the aspiration for a week from today. I have to be off some of my meds for at least five days before they can do it. It’s not a big deal. No prep. I can have breakfast. I can drive myself to and from the procedure. I do have to be careful lifting things for a few days afterward, so my husband has to do the laundry next weekend. It’s almost worth it just for that.
The problem I have at the moment is that I simply CANNOT remember whether he said what he suspects I have is probably a “complicated cyst” or a “complex cyst”. I didn’t know enough to pay that much attention. But when I got home and start asking Dr. Internet, I find that complicated cysts aren’t that big of a deal whereas complex cysts have a much, much higher malignancy rate. I’m almost 100% certain he said “complicated” but now I have that nagging doubt in the back of my mind.
So that’s my (mis)adventures for today. I’m still pretty convinced that it’s nothing and I have no problem with being safe (rather than sorry). It just wasn’t how I expected my day to turn out.
I hope that however your day turns out, it’s neither complicated or complex. Thanks for checking in and listening to me whine.