Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's Nothing Really!

Part I:

In October of this past year Tom, who works for the federal government, finds out he's going to be working in Kansas City, MO. We've been living in Topeka for 6 years and pretty much have developed a strong dislike for the entire city. Yay! We're leaving Topeka! I have a history of some pretty nasty medical problems, so in every way the move to the big city is a great idea. Better doctors and hospitals.

Priorities being what they are, I need to find new doctors as quickly as possible. My first stop shopping was with a specialty doctor who decided to do an over-all blood work test thing-a-do. He called me back in to let me know that he found a problem with my thyroid and while he could handle it, he didn't wanna. He recommended his own personal family doctor. So, cool, I figure he must be ok. I made the appointment, but as you know with any new doctor when you are a new patient it takes awhile before you're able to get in. I wasn't worried, not like a malfunctioning thyroid was going to kill me.

December 18, 2008. That's the day everything began to unravel. I went to see my new doctor, (who, by the way, was WONDERFUL) and there was a problem with the original thyroid test not being sent over. Should I wait? Should I just get new ones? It was decided that since there was an ice storm rolling in that afternoon, I should just go across the hall and have the blood work redone. But hey! While I was there and he had no charts to look at, he might as well give me a full physical. He found a tiny spot of skin cancer on my arm and got out what I think was a blow torch of dry ice to spray on it. Thanks! That was painful.

Then he did my breast exam. I remember he checked my right one first, I only remember this because he spent twice as long feeling up my left one. For all I knew, he was just enjoying the moment. Can you blame him? I'm a lovely woman. He left the room and as soon as I was redressed he returned with two sheets of paper. One for my blood work and the other he told me to take to the breast center right across the street, or he said, I could call, but do it as soon as possible. That's pretty much all he said. He said nothing about how he might have felt something in my breast. I was just told it was time I got my first mammogram.

What the heck, it's a crappy day and I have nothing else to do, I'll run over across the street to set up the appointment. Nice place. Nice people. Full waiting room. I explain to the lovely woman behind the desk that my doctor just gave me this paper and told me to set up an appointment. She asked my age and when I told her 39, she explained that women don't typically get their first mammogram until they are 40. Fine by me! I handed her the sheet anyway. Lovely lady looked at my paper, looked back up and at me and said she could get me in right now.

Now wait! I had a thyroid problem and a couple hours later I'm getting my boobies squished in some machines? What the heck? The woman who gave me my mammogram was very nice. She talked about her grand babies. A lot. SERIOUSLY. A lot. Anyhooo, she told me all that is done is they take two shots of each breast, send you home and you should expect a letter in the mail telling you everything is just fine. Unless it's not. Then they'll call you in a couple days. Of course she did nothing to calm my nerves when she decided my left breast needed more than two shots. Whatever! I went home to wait for my letter.

December 19, 2008: 8:00am. Phone ringing. "Mrs. Strickland, this is the breast center and the radiologist needs you to come in for further scans. What time today can you be here?"

"Are you even kidding me???"

Ok, I shower and off I go, in the snow, all alone, back to the breast center. It's nothing, I'm sure it's nothing. Women are always talking about how they have little lumps removed from their breast and it's always nothing. It's nothing. It's nothing. I know it's nothing.

I walk in and am ushered back into the little patient only waiting area. I'm stripped from the waist up, put on my little hospital gown AND fluffy white robe (which I was allergic to, so that sucked) and waited. They apologize repeatedly for making me wait, but they didn't have any appointments available and were squeezing (hee!) me in first chance they got. It's ok, I thought, because it's nothing. I hope. Please God let it be nothing.

Finally! Into the mammogram room where I get three more shots of my left boob. The nice lady explained that this time, it's going to hurt. They have to really squish down hard, because they are hoping it's just a shadow or crossed veins. By squishing it, they might be able to make the veins move or the shadow disappear. It didn't work. Mr English Radiologist Dude (Merd for short) comes in to examine the x-rays and tells her to take another from a different angle. Three times he came back and did this. Merd clearly had no idea that this was painful for me and the dang spot, shadow, blip or whatever wasn't going away! He orders a sonogram. Oh goody, she has to squeeze (hee!) me in today. They're so sorry about making me wait. No problem! I'm kinda sorta sure it's nothing. Maybe.

Finally times two! It's sonogram time! Woo! She was nice, too. I was watching the screen and I was able to focus in on what I was sure was the giant tumorous growth. I didn't notice that she was zooming in, over and over and over. By the time Merd came in, I was sure I had bowling ball sized tumor in my left breast. And THAT was something!

Here's what I kinda remember hearing: "we found something" "cancer", then that was followed by high pitched squeaking and what was surely words that sounded Latin. I couldn't take anymore. I had been there for hours and I was done. My emotions were shot. I remember starting to cry, standing up, getting dressed, and running out of the office. I had no idea if there was more I was supposed to do. If there were papers for me to sign. Appointments for me to schedule. I fell apart.

Part II tomorrow...

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