Saturday, March 25, 2006

Busy Boobs

Partly Cloudy - Hi 85 Lo 62 for Baghdad, Iraq
Mostly Cloudy - Hi 45 Lo 29 for Northern KY, USA

Song of the week: When September Comes, Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash has a new album called Black Cadillac. The Sunday song is not on the album, but I bring this album to your attention because it is an amazing collection. From 2003 to 2005, she lost her stepmother, father, stepsister, and mother.

"The songs on this record were written in a two year period from Spring 2003 to Spring 2005, a span of time bracketed by the loss of two mothers: my stepmother June Carter Cash in May, 2003 and my mother Vivian Liberto Cash Distin in May 2005. In between their deaths, I lost my father, Johnny Cash in September 2003.

[...]Some of these songs were written with a foreboding, some as an attempt to heal, some in anger, some in grief, some in defiance of the public appropriation of grief, some in gratitude for a shared experience and some in denial, some in complete loss of faith, and some in renewal of faith, some in confusion and sadness and some in peace. All helped me to live with the questions and to bow down to those things in my heart which I can never fully understand.

Loss is cumulative.

But so is poetry, and art, and faith, and love.
I know now that what survives of my parents, what is truly mine are their best qualities, which I am free to adopt and the accumulation of their millions of acts of service to me.

Loss was a door to appreciation, and to a new sense of my own ancestry. I also came to understand relationships founded on love do not end when one person leaves the planet."

Rosanne Cash
October 2005


For the past month, I have been dealing off and on with my boobs.... [deep sigh]. I had a mammogram done back in February. Now if you aren't familiar with what this is... a sadistic technician takes the breast which is then placed on a firm flat x-ray surface and a gentle, but firm pressure is applied to the breast using a mammogram compression device. This compression can cause a degree of discomfort in some women, but it is usually a painless procedure. Yah!! Translation: your boob is wrestled onto a freezing cold surface, and then smashed horizontally and then vertically by a vice grip.... then the patient has to be really still while the x-ray is taken... painless my butt.... ok. so that happened in February...

So, about a week later, I get a phone call, "Yes, Cathy there were some issues with the prints that were taken on the mobile unit. You will need to come to the hospital to have them taken again.... You see, Cathy, when the prints were developed, for whatever reason there were streaks on the prints and we don't have real clear pictures of your breasts. Unfortunately, there were several women that will have to have films taken again. I apologize for this inconvenience."

"WHAAAAATTTTT?????!!!!!!!! Good freaking grief...."

OK... so I made another appointment but then a few day later, my doctor calls me. "Hi Cath, well, I know you are aware of the results from your mammogram, but there is no need for alarm at this point in time. Have you scheduled another appointment?"

"Wait... back up doc, whaddya mean, no need for alarm?"

"Well, the shadow behind your right nipple. We just need to have that checked out."

"WHAAAATTTTT SHADOW???!!!! Nah nah nah... I think something is screwy here... Dr. I received a call from the hospital explaining that my x-rays were streaked and needed to be retaken. Nothing was said about a FREAKING SHADOW!! What does that mean??"

My doctor explained that there is a shadow that was not on my baseline mammogram taken a few years prior. So after I peeled myself off the ceiling, I went back to my normal routine, complaining and whining about work... you know... stuff... I had other stuff to do...

So, on Tuesday, I went to St. Elizabeth's Women's Wellness Center. Wow... was I impressed... It was like walking into a spa...It was absolutely beautiful. It was warm and welcoming with gorgeous comfortable furniture and decor. I was greeted and helped immediately. I was thinking to myself.... Well good, I'll have my boobs smashed again and get a manicure at the same time...

So, I'm taken back to a changing room (just like Mitchells!) There were 4 changing rooms to every waiting room. The changing rooms and the waiting room were brightly lit and again, pretty decor. Reading material and a plasma screen television showing how to do self exams.... Side note for any pervs... they would love this... because the video is real women with naked bosoms checking for abnormalities... real women... young, old, thin, big... all there... I was kind of stunned... OK... anyway, I was shown where to put my clothing and given a top to wear.

I was then whisked away to one of the x-ray rooms where the technician said we were just doing reprints... I told her about the conversation I had with my doctor along with a postcard I had received in the mail just that morning. She looked baffled... but she took it in stride and countered with "Well, we'll just start with the reprints and see where this takes us."

"Great... let the boob smashing commence."

OK. Great, so she takes the pictures, 2 of each (remember, horizontally and vertically). She runs off to look at them and tells me she'll be right back. And she does come right back with more good news. She needs to take 2 more pics of my right boob because there is a shadow behind my right nipple... Greaattttt...that has "officially" been established. So, she prepares the x-ray machine, only this time, the platform and smashing device are smaller... so, "It's going to hurt a little more."

Even better! Yah baby! Wooo! OK, so same thing happens... she takes 2 more pics of my right girl and then runs off and says she'll be right back, and yes it was uncomfortable and yes, damnit, it did hurt. She ran off again and once again said she'd be right back. And she did come back with even more fun news... "We, need to take a couple more pictures."

What is it? Is it cancer? Am I going to die???? What the hell?
This time the pictures are taken at an angle... basically this is the angle of the 2 new pics: X marks the spot...

I kid you not... this time she said, "You will need to tell me when to stop compressing your breast. You will need to tell me when you can not stand the pain."

OH - MY - GOD! Needless to say, I took as much as I could and when tears started streaming down my face, I knew that was my "pain threshold". "OKAY!!!!!! STOP NOW PLEASE!!"
My technician apologized through the whole thing. Once the pictures were taken, she ran off one more time and said she'd be right back... and she did come right back... with the doctor. The doctor was an attractive 40 something. She had great clothes and great accessories and a great "bedside" manner. "Cathy, I've reviewed your prints, and there is a shadow that we need to look at a little more closely. Typically, we would have the ultrasound done right away, but our technicians have gone for the day. So, we need you to come in tomorrow."

"Do I need to be worried, Doctor?

"No. Let's get the ultrasound done and then we'll know what to do". Total time at the hospital--- 30 minutes... amazing... I was expecting to be there at minimum 1 hour.

I went back to the hospital on Wednesday and had the ultrasound done... I arrived and the 2nd day was no different than the 1st day. Same feel... Spa... I'm at a spa... They get my information and get me back in a changing room and I'm immediately taken back to another room to have the ultrasound completed. As the ultrasound is being completed I get to watch and I ask questions. Now typically, I have found technicians will not speak to you. The response is usually, "we need to leave that for the doctor to review..." In today's world, fear of lawsuits is the driving factor... There are a 2 shadows. One right behind my nipple and one close to the muscle. My technician points them out to me. "See those white areas... that is what we are looking at." I asked her, what she thought it might be. She stopped and looked me in the eyes and said, "I know that this one is a cyst. NOTHING to be worried about. I'm going to leave this other one one for the doctor to look at, I think it is a cyst based on all the others I have seen, but I'm not the doctor and she really needs to make that call." At that point she finished taking screen prints and said she'd be right back with the doctor to go over them, because the doctor may want to see live shots as well. In five minutes the technician and the same doctor I spoke to the previous day came back to the room. The doctor took a look at the shadows and announced that they were cysts, that there was nothing to do and that I had a lot of "activity" going on with my breast... that they were "busy". This comment for whatever reason made me laugh.... Here I am on a table with my right boob hanging out and the doctor refers to them as being busy... She and the technician started to laugh too, and the doctor felt compelled to offer more of an explanation... there is a lot going on with your breast... a lot of fibrous tissue... a lot to look at... nothing needs to be done about the cysts, but we will need to see you in 6 months just to see how they look. She apologized profusely about the mix up and the problems with the mobile unit. She explained that it was just a comedy of errors and she wanted to thank me for my patience and sense of humor about the situation. She is saying this and my only response is, "I have busy boobs... my husband will have to call 'the girls' to schedule an appointment, after all they are busy..." Total time at the hospital: 20 minutes...

My point in sharing this stupid little story, is that in the great scheme of things... We have come a long way. I went and had this same process done with a similar result a couple of years ago, but it took 90 minutes for the first day and another hour for the follow up. It was in a cold dark medicinal room with chrome and ugly lighting. I was so worked up after the follow up visit I fell completely apart and broke down into tears when the doctor said there was nothing to worry about. Part of the anxiety of dealing with this is the emotional stress we put on ourselves. St. Elizabeth and countless other hospitals are finding that creating an inviting atmosphere and taking care of the patient quickly and efficiently minimizes the anxiety. Yes, the actual procedure was painful, but I've dealt with worse. Besides it was only temporary...I now have peace of mind and in hindsight it was good for a chuckle.

Now, for the public service announcement:

So, ladies... if you are 35, get your baseline mammogram. If you are between 35 and 50 you should be going every other year and after 50 you should be going every year. If you are worried, go with a friend or relative, just go and get it done...

Blogs and Links to Check Out This Week:

Awful Plastic Surgery - Here is a train wreck of a blog...

Joe, That 1 Guy from Drunken Wisdom has sent me a meme that requires my participation. This will mean lots of thought on my part, so it will be up later this week.

Green Marines - For Marines By Marines. These are Marines... not Saints... keep that in mind when perusing this site and remember you were warned. *Half of all proceeds from this site are donated to the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund. Please visit their sponsors

Have a great week everyone!


Jedi Master Rob said...

A great post - so important. I'm so grateful that your o-kay.

That 1 Guy said...

Very glad to hear you're okay...

And thanks for doing the meme... it ends up being kinda fun.

Laura said...

Wow, you've been through a lot! I was called back for a recheck after my very first mammogram and I was *so* "freaked out" -- when they said all was fine after the second appointment I got in the car and cried! So I can relate a teeny bit to what you went through, but you certainly had an extended ordeal. I'm glad all turned out to be well! Best wishes, Laura

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

I too am very glad all is well. :)

Cathy said...

Rob: Your prayers were very much appreciated.

Joe: Thank you too. I'm working on the meme!! I think you'll like what I plan to do.

Laura: I think your situation is not uncommon. That happened to me on the first go around a couple of years ago. We as women work ourselves up over these things so when the news is actually good, we cry to release all the unnecessary anxiety we put ourselves through... I completely relate to your situation. It's our responsibility to share our "experiences" to ease the minds of others that haven't been through it. The discomfort of the actual procedure is nominal. I'm glad more and more hospitals understand that going through the actual process quickly and efficiently puts less stress on us. Thanks for sharing your experience.

JimmyB: Thank you for stopping by and your words of support. Just for that you may be rewarded with a meme!

You too Laura!

Sal said...

So glad that everything worked out as it did for you, I have a daughter who has had similar, though not as amusing, experiences with cysts and mamograms. The post on Roseanne Cash was thought provoking - thanks for posting it - and belatedly Thanks for listing me as a link to check out last week. Have a great week!

Cathy said...

I'm glad you saw the humor in my situation. I was hoping someone else besides me would. Oh yah, it's funny now!!

I never cared for Rosanne Cash when she was trying to be a country singer, but I think she has found her niche.