Friday, August 12, 2016

My darling Jane M. writes: 
Damn them for putting you through this. I don't understand the delay and anxiety.. that is just not acceptable.

Early Saturday, there was an auto-generated message from my Primary Care. It was the first report from the mammo and it appeared that everything seemed cool-ish enough where a person could ya know, continue to breathe. And stuff. 


INDICATION: 53 year-old female with personal history of thyroid and 
colon cancer presents for screening mammography. No family history of 
breast cancer indicated.  

TECHNIQUE: Full field craniocaudal and mediolateral oblique images 
of both breasts were obtained using digital technique and also 
analyzed with computer-aided detection software.

COMPARISON: 10/7/2014 and prior imaging dating back to 11/4/2002

BREAST COMPOSITION: There are scattered areas of fibroglandular 

Nodular asymmetry in the inferior left breast at anterior to middle 
depth seen on the mediolateral oblique image only may represent 
overlapping normal fibroglandular tissue but requires further 

No significant masses, suspicious calcifications or other findings 
suggestive of malignancy are identified in the right breast.  

IMPRESSION: Left breast finding requires further evaluation.

RECOMMENDATION: Additional imaging evaluation required. The
will be contacted to return for additional imaging and a supplemental 
report will follow.

BI-RADS 0: Incomplete - Need Additional Imaging Evaluation and/or 
Prior Mammograms For Comparison  

So, okay, right? 
I toss this out to my Primary Care:
Hey Hi-
Had a mammogram. Began experiencing some run-a-round while everyone goes on vacation. I got the automatically generated results on Saturday AM from you. It looks as if I need further imaging? Aside from the general cancer freak out, I'm trying to get the hernia done before my current insurance melts at the end of Sept* 

Do I have to wait for this Dr. Name Retracted to return from vacation? 

This is feeling very not cool. 


Later that evening, Primary Care sent along a note that said(I could just copy and paste but that seems wrong) he looked over my chart. Seems as if they hadn't read the previous mammograms yet, and that would probably happen this week. Everything looks benign but they just want to check the old ones against the new one.
He also said if I had questions or concerns to call or e. 

So I was breathing. 
I got a call from the Patient Advocate. If you remember, I filled out one of their 'Contact Us' forms on their website. It was a woman and I called her back. 

I do not know if you've been professionally apologized to, but hoo-boy, it's really irksome. She "investigated with department heads" and there were two droplings of the ball-if you will. One-apparently they had trouble downloading the outside files they'd insisted I bring along-and how that turned into 'you'll have to bring us your old mammograms' I will never know but that was Thing One.

Thing Two was that the unfortunate Tech that called me-she didn't read the entire report and so, some information did not get relayed to me properly. I think that's what The Patient Advocate said. 

She said, that my feedback was going to change procedure for ALL WOMEN!!!! And if you think I bought into that nonsense, I'm going to have to assume we've never met. And as for professional apologies, they are as useless as the tin can in which they are delivered. Really. I have exactly no time for that noise.

I must have pushed her to the edge of exasperation saying things like, 'if this is a sample of the way your breast cancer program works, as a patient I would be backing out the door'-and she did the whole: 'You are free to go to any hospital. It is your decision' nonsensical bullshititude because she pulled out the 'If only I had a time machine...' and I was like, oh you don't have a time machine? Then why are we even speaking? 

And that-as they say-was that. 

Wednesday, got a call from Women's Health Imaging. How soon can I come for additional imaging and a possible ultrasound? 

Back to scared. Again. 
Thursday, at 1:20, P and I are parked in the waiting area like two orphaned puppy dogs. At the start of the week, I said, hey. This is going to be a hard week. I'm gonna need you. And he scrambled around his entire existence and he was there. 

I had stopped and picked him up at home after work. We rode to the hospital. Out of his bag, he pulled a bottle of cold water and two ice cold nectarines. This, I was thinking to myself as I took a gigantic bite, is what's important. The taste of a roadside stand nectarine. Focus on that. 

I left him reading the Tribune in the waiting area when I got called in. Changed into the magenta robe. Shoved my stuff in a locker.(It's a sort of a funny thing that I've had to make my days clothing decisions based on the manner in which I'm going to be disrobed and/or examined that day. You can wear jeans to a mammogram.)

A nice enough woman called me in-somehow I understood this to be a radiologist directed mammo-I thought maybe she was a radiologist or was somebody else going to come in the room or what. I didn't know. 

The deal was, she was following the instructions of some radiologist. Oh. She said a lot of dumbass jokey stuff. She was disappointed that Mike and Molly was cancelled because Molly lost too much weight. Uh-huh. The one thing I remember was something about making me 'more perky'. And I think, in her unfortunate way, what she was trying to tell me, was that she was going to do everything in her power to smash the crap of out of my left bosom. 

I learned the bottom part of the machine is called 'The Plate' and the other thing is called 'The Paddle' and she was going to use the smaller paddle to make sure this was a mammogram I could not possible forget. 

I've been trying to think about how to describe the experience and all I can come up with is, say someone is packing your (live) body into a suitcase. One arm is over here. Your hand is on the bar across the top. Your hip is over there. And you seem to be doing reasonably okay, until they notice that your left breast hasn't made it into the suitcase and so, if somebody just momentarily sits on top of the suitcase until you make a sound previously unheard by man and oh yeah-hold your breath and don't move. 

Kinda like that.

I was sent back to the waiting area with a copy of an old Elle Magazine. The comedy issue. I'm flipping through and what do I see?

This. And I thought oh mah god, an omen. And not a good one. And you know what I did? On behalf of all women? I tore that stupid page out. 

Next episode: It gets better. Well. Some of it.

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