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Squish! Squish! Mammogram time...

Episode III: Alas! This is Not What I Thought, A Mass

I arrived at the Breast Center and filled out my paperwork, which included two child-like drawings of breasts at the bottom of the page. When I returned the paper, I asked if I was suppose to circle where the lump was, but learned that those bad renderings are essentially nothing more than eye-candy...

Soon I was moved to a back waiting area full of women waiting to get squished. I changed into the uniform that was provided to me, two blue hospital gowns. One opened forward and the other regular, for modesty purposes - I suppose. When I got out of the dressing room I took the last open seat that had an empty chair next to it.

When I looked around the room all of us had one empty seat next to us and were all wearing the same gowns. The blue hospital gowns sitting in every other seat was pretty funny. Each lady was different. You had the foot tapper, she was in front of me to the left. And the knee bopper, she was off to the right. The magazine readers, in all directions. Then me, who decided to cut the tension in the room with a joke about how ridiculous and identical we all looked.

Once that occurred, the women began talking. Each one had their own story and each one had their own concerns. One at a time someone would be called back and return, to their same seat. And occasionally, a lady would get to take off the gown and put her bra and shirt back on to leave.

Finally my name was called and I jokingly told the women that when I got back I hoped they would all be gone. We all knew that meant they had clean mammograms and got to go, so it was a positive thing.

I had been told by various people what to expect with the mammogram... it hurts, it will squeeze so hard that your breast will want to pop. That was my first mammogram and I had no idea what I was really in for, but I was ready for some squishing. The technician was a nice lady who obviously manhandles (ladyhandles?) boobs all day. She flipped my breast around and got them scan ready.

Example of Mammogram Machine

I am not sure, but it may be that having larger breasts was a good thing. The plate was big and the squishing was minimal. Honestly, I barely noticed. I have done worse to my boobs when I fling them into a bra or bounce or a whole bunch of other things. It may be the fact they use newer machines now, but honestly the mammogram was fairly easy and painless.

The tech warned me that they may have to do other images because they sometimes have to do ultrasounds and biopsies, but the center can do them all at that location and during one visit. She then took me back to the waiting area where I sat in the same seat and the other ladies were all still there.

I waited. Some women left. I waited. Some women went in for more mammograms. I waited.

My name was called again. A more detailed mammogram of the area with the lump was needed. The tech kept mentioning the other services they provide, like she was preparing me for my results. I looked at the tech and humorously informed her that I was well aware that I had a lump in my breast and that I was ready to do whatever was necessary. We continued to joke and take pictures of my boobs.

Back in the waiting room, my group of women had started to dwindle - which was a good thing. The office didn't leave us remaining alone for long, new women began to be brought back. New people and more stories to be told...

My name was called again. This time I was off to the ultrasound tech... Yay. A new girl to manhandle my boobs. She gelled up my right breast and began searching for the lump. Since it was more noticeable while I was sitting up, the ultrasound was done that way. See I was right!!! I did lay down afterwards for her to scan my nearby nodes, but other than that I knew that the lump was easier to find if I was vertical.

Back in the waiting room, I am the only one left from my original group. I had small talk with the new ladies, but it wasn't quite the same as with the old group. I waited and waited until...

My name was called again. This time the Radiologist wanted to talk to me... not good. They took me back to a room with all my images displayed. She showed me a picture of the "mass" and used big words that I could not remember. It turned out that I had a spiculated mass (which I only remembered the word sounded like spider). I soon found out that this type of mass is not good to have in your body. The ultrasound and mammogram both showed spiky edges on the mass. It was reaching out and trying to grab the surrounding tissue. The Radiologist spoke with my doctor and they agreed that I should do an ultrasound guided core biopsy that day.

Example of Spiculated Mass, mine was very similar

So now I was moved into a new waiting room and it was just me back there. A nurse arrived to take a bunch of information from me about my medications, surgeries, and general medical history. From there I moved to another ultrasound room and began getting prepped.

Prior to the Radiologist entering the room, the ultrasound technician used a marker to draw a couple of lines on the breast to notate were the mass was. I was laying on my left side with my right arm raised above my head and would remain in that position for a while.

The biopsy went as I expected it would. A very large needle was injected into my breast a few times to numb it, a mild ouch. Then the needle was inserted deeper towards the mass, another short ouch. Then after minutes of numbing, I felt nothing. Next a couple of small cuts were made into my breast. These cuts were to help the larger needle needed for the biopsy to more easily invade my body. I felt no pain. After the needle was in, I was warned, that loud clicks would occur as my mass was being cut for the biopsy. While it was not painful, the noise was startling. Of course, multiple biopsies were done, so the pattern repeated itself (minus the numbing).

Afterwards, the nurse I had seen earlier entered the room and began putting major pressure on the breast to help prevent later bleeding issues... Under Pressure, Queen. In other words, she locked her hands and pushed down on my breast where the biopsy had been done. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking a Naproxen that morning for my plantar fasciitis (another issue) which was a blood thinner. So, the nurse was going to have to push longer on my breasts. She pushed and pushed on my boobs for around 15 minutes. That was the most uncomfortable part of the whole day, but necessary.

While the nurse was applying pressure, the Radiologist told me she had already scheduled me an appointment with a Breast Surgeon because the mass had to come out, no matter what the results of all my tests were. She said many words, but essentially she was preparing me for the very real possibility of bad news. Two more nurses wrapped my chest up tight because of the medicine I had taken earlier. Finally I got to put on my bra and shirt. I went back to the initial waiting room which was now totally empty.

I lost count of how many people handled my breasts that day. It was way more manhandling than usual! So, I left the Breast Center wrapped, sore, and ready to get home. Note to self: I wore my sports bra longer than suggested (day & night) and my bruising was minimal because of it.

In my head...

My outlook was, and remains, that I cannot do anything to change the biopsy results or to have prevented the mass, so no matter what is determined from the biopsy, I must deal with the results. The things you cannot control are not worth the worry.

"Once you start down the dark path, 
forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will."
 - Yoda

Episode Reference: Alas! This  Is  Not What I Thought Life Was - Percy Bysshe Shelley


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