Thursday, December 21, 2017

My first biopsy and shout-out to the medical community

Wednesday, December 20 2017

I confess I am nervous. Despite having lived a full and very physical life and having had my share of bumps, bruises, sprains, strains, gashes and falls...I have never had surgery of any kind. Still have my tonsils and appendix, even my wisdom teeth. I have scars alright, a bad one on my elbow from a bicycle fall, one from a kayak scraping my leg as it fell from the roof of a houseboat en route to the water, a nasty one from the rope of said kayak wrapping around my arm on the way down. Others, but those are the most exciting. But no surgeries.
Certainly I have never had a needle perforate my skin and take a piece out, which is exactly what I'm about to allow...reluctantly, nervously. Perfectly calm on the outside though.

Impressive building, I arrive early, too early as usual which means I have to wait longer. Sign in, wait, check in, wait. Among the chatting patients, the inane day television shows, and the yelling of names, I sit and am able to meditate myself into a nice walk on the beach. I can hear the waves, smell the salt...

MARIAAAA!
Oh that's me and apparently two other women, but the last name (mispronounced again) confirms it's my turn.

I meet my wonderful, polite and very capable tech, and I mean that. Undress please, from waist up, robe opens to front, your locker, bring the key, follow me...

I am "prepped" and made comfortable and I can see the inside of my breast on the monitor in front of me, now THAT is cool! Few minutes, doc pops in, explains the procedure as she works. Bit of a sting when lidocaine is injected, a bit like at the dentist. Then I curiously watch as a needle penetrates my breast mass, then my lymph node, something clicks every time the biopsy needle closes around a tiny bit of "me" and pulls it out. The needle leaves a track like a ski on the fresh snow.
Now I'm skiing down the dry Utah snow leaving tracks...CLICK! Back to the monitor, almost done.

Those tiny bits of me go into a bottle for the lab to examine. I look at them, tiny pieces of pink, like little worms floating in lab-friendly goop.
Some bruising to be expected, instructions to ice the area all day. I dutifully spend the day freezing my side every 40 minutes, blanket and knit hat and all.
Close your eyes if you're squeamish, here is a photo of my axilla (underarm) lymph-node pokes. Why show it? Because despite not feeling too much pain or discomfort during and after the test, my body knows it has been poked. I can explain it all away, then I see the bruises in the mirror.

ICE! please

They leave a titanium chip inside me, where the mass is located, as a marker for future biopsies or surgeries. Wow! I'm chipped! just like my dog. Bee-line to the mammogram, just a gentle two-side view to confirm placement of my brand new titanium chip. Yep, I can see it on that monitor.
And that's it, now to wait the results, they will call, 2-5 business days. Dawns on me Christmas is next Monday, just a random thought.

Thank you everyone!

You hear a lot of bad things about the medical community so I want to thank everyone so far for being perfectly professional, eager to help, comforting, gentle, caring and generally making this harrowing day-to-day fright so bearable.
You would think that they would be callous, mechanical in handling their daily conveyor belt of sick people. But they aren't. And at least I am treated like I am their only patient, right this minute. Kudos to all of you. Merry Christmas to all of you, peace and love.

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