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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Hamster Wheel of Fear

I wanted to thank those who sent their good vibes, prayers, and messages yesterday.  I am always so thankful to know you're on my side.  I'm starting this an hour before we're going to leave and need to keep my mind occupied so bear with me.

It was a beautiful day outside


I couldn't help wondering if yesterday was going be the "before."  I remember at my last call back, to waste time we went to this vintage toy store and took pics in a photo booth.  As I look over at it on the armoire now, I'm reminded of the thought I had then looking at our smiling faces..."I wonder if this is the last picture before my life changes."

I was surprised how much less stressed I was as the night went on from two years ago when I got my first call back.  Then you start thinking "wait, should I be more stressed?  Am I going to get a karma switch flipped for not worrying enough because God thinks I'm cocky and need to be knocked down a peg?"  Ahh, there's the anxiety I know and loathe.  I did do some research because I'm not one to go in blind to these things.  So I start putting in things like "mammogram asymmetry result" and stuff like that to see what pops up.  Of course it says it's relatively common and if it does find a reason for the asymmetry then it's likely a hormonal issue where your fat is moving around, a skin fold that wasn't smoothed out (I ruled that out because that woman had me holding arm fat and did everything short of ironing my boob) or possibly a fluid-filled benign cyst.  Or you know, it could be cancer, and some studies have shown that women with X amount of asymmetry may have a higher breast cancer risk.  Oh well, thanks.  One piece of info I absorbed was to ask for the BIRAD score which you want 0-2 for completely clear, and anything above that starts to go into small and medium suspicion of malignancy, and if you're at like 5-6, you might want to sit.  I kept telling myself not to forget to ask because they can still give you a clean bill of health but you could be a 1 or 2, and at that point, I'd have questions.

I did a pretty good job keeping my mind immersed in work during the morning hours.  I ate breakfast as soon as I got up so I could eat lunch sooner since I tend to eat later on a normal day.  Around noon, I decided I should go ahead and get my shower.  I made sure to soap up the pits nice and frothy since you can't wear deodorant.  As I was showering, the thought slid in "will this be the last "normal" shower you take?"  As I looked down at the girls, I bent over trying to see how noticeable this asymmetry was.  I felt like I might be able to see where one part was slightly fuller than the other.  I felt around to see if I could feel any kind of cyst or mass and didn't feel anything different to me.
"You behave missy," I said.

As I dried off and went into the bedroom, I needed to pick out an outfit I wouldn't mind burning if I got bad news.  Seriously, I always remember what I was wearing when something bad happened, and I didn't want to burn a new favorite shirt or jeans, so I dug deep in the closet to the section of "still fits but you forgot you had it" and pulled out a black loose fitting shirt.  I'd planned on wearing my yoga pants in case the shine from a jeans button would somehow reflect off a wall and into the machine, but they were black too and if I walked in like a was already in mourning, was I willing a bad outcome?  I grabbed a pair of jeans that are so so, but I wouldn't be sad if I had to throw them in a burn barrel.  I went down and ironed them and decided to make lunch.  I started getting really weak and shaky.  I didn't have "pit hunger" which can make me feel that way on a normal day, so I knew nerves were really setting in.  I just did some deep breathing as I made lunch and unloaded the dishwasher.  As I carried my plate out to the table, my bowl of fruit was shaking on the plate.  "Calm down, asshat!"  It's like I felt calm inside, but my body was telling me otherwise which is a bizarre feeling.  I decided since the tech was fidgeting with my hair so much the first time, I was just going to chuck it back into a ponytail.  The wind was blowing really hard anyway.  Was that an omen?  Is a metaphor for a storm coming into my life?  Stop it!!  I had to keep my body relaxed because I was still recovering from the leg stuff and I could feel my body tensing in the spots I needed to improve.  That brings us to now.  The rest is written afterward.

I went back after they got some insurance info adjusted and got into my snazzy shawl.  The tech was the same woman who took the pics the other day, and while I felt she was super thorough the first time, a part of me was like "um yeah, she wasn't a good photographer the first time, can we bring in  the second shooter please?"  So they want it squished from every angle.  The first is the side squash, then the re-shoots of the ones we did before but with 32 lbs of pressure which you can imagine felt lovely.  She had me sit in between because of the type of settings they wanted.  I had to look over at the image on the screen.  It looked fine to me, but I'm no doctor.  Then I did see a small spot and started to freak out.  "Is that something?  Is it the start?  They would've seen that before wouldn't they?  That's not an asymmetry problem.  Stop looking over there."  The final one she smooshed parts I didn't know could fit under there and it didn't hurt per se, but it wasn't kickin' back by the campfire either.   I told her I was hoping it was a case of "vacation boobs" since I was back from recent food tour of the Windy City and hadn't yet gotten the weight off...she didn't get my humor.  Have you not heard of defense mechanisms woman??  LAUGH wench!  "Why isn't she laughing?  Is it because she lacks a humor gene or she sees something and is thinking "sorry sister, it's not vacation boobs for you.""  She drapes me back up and takes me to the radiologist waiting room.  I've been here before.  This is where the Mr and I waited for the news on my baseline, and they had me get dressed that time.  Why isn't she having me get dressed?  Because you need an ultrasound.  They saw something, that's why she retook that last one, you're screwed.

As I looked around the cold, impersonal waiting area, my checklist began to tick off.  "Okay, you need to get the Mr the schedule of all of the bills and show him how to pay them.  Some come in automatically, but others don't.  Film all of the rest of his favorite recipes so he'll have your voice and instructions on how to make them when you're gone.  You should probably think about cleaning out the entire house, so he doesn't have that much to go through while you're still able.  Stop it!  You're dusting up The Secret kind of sh*t and negativity is going to come back to you if you keep this up!  Annnd you're talking to yourself.  Yep.  Talking to yourself because it's taking so long for them to review things."  I heard a noise and footsteps.  "Life about to change in 3...2..." 

"Follow me please," my tech said.  "Yep, here it comes, you're going in for the ultrasound."  She led me back to the screening room and closed the door with a paper in her hand.  It was the x-ray image:


"It was vacation boobs*!"

Okay, she didn't say that, and while I assume, that's what my actual boob looks like inside right now. This is what she really said when she shut the door. 

"Good news" she smiled.   I burst into tears, and she said this is always the good part of the job and hugged me.  I said, "this SUCKS!"  She said she knows and then gave a long-winded explanation of why they had to do it, and I told her I forgot to tell her that at the last callback they said to let the tech know to smash those puppies.  So you can bet I'm considering a tattoo in between them that says "mammogram tech: Smash these effers like pancakes or until they pop!"  She said she didn't want to bring the Mr back for that news so she'd let me tell him.  Did I ask for the BIRAD score?  No.  Totally forgot.  *rolling eyes*  I told him all was good and he was relieved.  He said he was worried but didn't want to let on.  I had to laugh a little because ever since the call Monday morning, any time he'd look at me it was always with this pained look on his face like "you poor thing."

We left and decided to go to a nearby park to talk and walk around the lake for our exercise.  I couldn't help but notice how turbulent the waters looked on our way back.


I wondered what my thoughts would've been had the outcome been different.  Would we have stopped there or gone home to start research and making plans?  Would the water have looked as blue to me with eyes that had just seen an uncertain future?  Would I look at them as a storm that's coming instead of potential one weathered?  I'm grateful I didn't have to answer those questions but know others are not that lucky.  For all of the stress and racing thoughts and honestly, just plain being pissed that it's happening again, I'll take cautious and catching something early than ignoring what needs to be done and finding it too late. 

Thanks to my rocks both IRL and here.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  You have no idea what it means that you all pull for me in times of trouble just as I hope you know, I pull for you as well.  Thank you for letting me rant about the hamster wheel of fear that goes off in my brain when that phone rings.

It's a scary thing to have that doubt, but I know it's nothing compared to what those who get the news that they have a new challenge to face for the fight of their lives.  If you or someone you know is newly diagnosed, and you're looking for a place to start your/their fight, consider these resources for some of the most up to date information:

CancerCare.org
Susan G. Komen Foundation
Patient Advocate.org


*- in no way am I using the x-ray image to make light of the potential seriousness of the situation.  I am a big believer in using humor to relieve anxiety and fear.  I hope that anyone who may be dealing with cancer takes it in the spirit in which it was intended.

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7 comments:

  1. It is such a relief of course and I'm proud of the way you handled your fear. The technicians that do this every day are saints and I have much respect for them, even if they don't get your jokes :-)

    I'm glad we took that walk, on so many levels. But mostly it was a sign of moving on, again, from a point in time that could have gone either way. Thank God it went the way we wanted. But I do feel for those out there in which it did not.

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  2. The one day I don't check your blog. I'm sorry you had to deal with all of this again. I've been there. The first time in my 20s, the dr. found a lump and sent me for an ultrasound. Then again a few years ago a different dr. found a different lump (or maybe the same one? Maybe I have bumpy boobs?) and send me for a diagnostic mammogram. That ended up being a regular mammogram, followed by a second one on a different machine, and ending with an ultrasound. They had a biopsy scheduled for my right after "just in case". Fortunately I got the all clear.

    I'm so relieved that you got in right away for the follow up and didn't have to wait to get cleared.

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  3. Great news! It was deja vu reading your post - I felt the exact same way when I got "the call" the day after Christmas 2016. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

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  4. I'm so happy you had good news! No this is never easy on anyone. I've been doing this for awhile now myself (why I'm mia around everywhere) and while my news wasn't 'you're dying right now' it still was 'this will kill you some day'. For at least two months I stayed the upbeat hopeful no matter what this is I'll beat it person and my family was making funeral arrangements. But once the freaking out part was over and the biopsy was back I went into comfort food mode...it's so hard not to when I feel like 'thanks world I did all the pain and suffering to lose weight and you're going to kill me anyway?'. And I'm still working through that. One day at a time. It's all we all can do. Hang in there, girlie. I'm here reading even when I don't comment!

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  5. PTL!!!! Phew! I am so glad all went well and you got excellent results and got them quickly! It's so scary how the mind just 'goes there' on such little information, but I have yet to meet a person that doesn't happen to. When I had mine a couple weeks ago, I walked out and joked, "Well, I better not buy any green bananas" because I feel certain something's wrong every time because of my family history. I'm a BIRAD-2 and pray to God it stays that way. So glad you went for a walk and relaxed in nature to decompress. You did AWESOME!!

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