Thursday, February 09, 2006

Part 2

So after recovering from my weird brain thing that left me with permanent partial numbness of a thumb my new doctor (yes I dumped the old one) did a full physical. For all the women out there commence the stirrup wince. I passed the PAP but failed the breast exam. I had two lumps that in all honesty I had never noticed.
I do practice self exam and I follow the rules, check in the shower before or after your period and I felt nothing. Once the doctor pointed them out I couldn't understand how I had missed them.
So I needed a mammogram and an ultrasound.
The mammogram was not that bad,for me. I have a fair sized breast..women with small breasts have a much harder time of it.
So, I let the nice woman I had never met before grope my breasts and then flatten them into pancakes. I had four different views....I was a little worried they were going to stay flat after that but I can report they recovered their post breast feeding unperkiness with little effort.
Next was the ultrasound. This was really strange, completely painless but there is a lot of manipulating going on and I didn't know how to behave. It's kinda funny, this stranger groping,pushing, pulling but it's scary too.
The second lump turned out to be nothing..some wayward fat that had settled, nothing new for me. The second was a problem that only a surgeon would be able to fix, I was told.
I went for my needle biopsy completely uneducated and unprepared.
Denial is a powerful thing and I was becoming good at it. I had no idea what was going to happen.Anyone with half a brain would have known needle was a big clue.
The first sign of trouble was the two nurses standing around with nothing to do. Nurses never have nothing to do.
The surgeon came in, was very friendly, told me to put the gown on and lay down.
I did what I was told like a zombie. One nurse went to the left side and took my hand and the other nurse took the right . I look up and the doc has a needle and some gauze with a little betadine. He takes down the gown,exposes the offender,gropes around til he finds the lump and says this may hurt.
This is when the nurses leaned down and grabbed my shoulders and held me to the bed. He then stabbed me in the breast with that damn needle and I said "Holy shit" really loud.
It probably lasted less than five seconds but it was a really long five seconds.
I started to cry and I asked " why the hell did he do that?" He was kind in his explanation; freezing breast tissue will make the lump flatten out and disappear making it impossible to biopsy so the attack the patient with a needle method was how he chose to get around that.
I was furious. I felt stupid, humiliated and very angry.
I left without saying a word because I was afraid to show my anger to the man who may be responsible for removing my breast. I felt like a fucking victim.
The biopsy results came back "ambiguous" just like every other test I had before it. I needed a lumpectomy.
The lumpectomy was a breeze..they knock you out to do it and give you pain meds after. I have a tiny scar and a clean bill of health. All that for a funky little cyst that wasn't bothering anyone, least of all me.

So what did I do wrong this time?
I did everything wrong. I should have got a second opinion on my mammogram and ultrasound. I didn't. I did no research on needle biopsy. I could have had pain medication and sedation, it was never offered and I never asked.
Hell,I was frozen,speechless. I should have got a second opinion on the biopsy or arranged for a second one under sedation for a better sample. I could have avoided surgery.
I did none of these things because once a doctor said you have two lumps in your breast I stopped being a nurse and became a patient. And I am a good little patient, never complain or bother the doctors...I knew better but I was afraid they would label me a "problem" and my care would suffer. I have seen enough of doctors to know they hate being questioned or challenged.
I should have stood up and fought for my right to compassionate, informed care.
Don't let it happen to you. Despite the statistics you hear on TV breast cancer is relatively rare. Almost all lumps in the breast are in fact benign.
If your doc says you have a lump think cyst first, not cancer, don't panic and freeze like I did. If you think" it's a cyst" you will behave like a rational person and get educated and ask questions and get a second opinion.
If you find a lump or your partner does get it checked out immediately, it will take two hours of your life max to get an answer.
If you ignore it and it grows? well, you should have pulled your head out of the sand earlier but it's still not too late..go get it it now.
Breasts do not define who we are, they are nice ornamentation that's all. Don't let a little lump turn you into a deer in the headlights.


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