Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is the Day

The women on my mom's side of the family have a history of cancer; My Aunt Dene and Aunt Iva died from breast cancer; my Aunt Lee has Leukemia, and my mom has had a mastectomy. I think every family has its own physical challenges; this day carries with it all those memories as well as the very present fear of pain.

I guess I have a low pain threshold. I'm not a wuss, honestly; I'm tough as an ol' pine knot about most things. I identified strongly with Steel Magnolias. Some women say mammograms are no big deal and very little pain, if any. I sometimes leave the hospital in tears, and once they burst my breast; I'm serious, about a half inch tear in the side. When the vice comes together, and I'm standing on tip-toe, trying not to breathe, thinking, "I can deal with this! I can deal with this! and the technician who must be sooo bored with seeing boobs all day everyday says, "It's not hurting, is it?" I go through what usually proves to be the worst pain within every 365 day span of time. Maybe smaller busted women have a harder time. I don't know. If it were just that few minutes and it was over for a year, I probably wouldn't harbor such fear, but more often than not, I get the call to come back in for another set of x-rays, and of course, I begin mentally rewriting my will, thinking of how I'll miss the sunrise and wondering if it will miss me at all.

Last year, I got the call to go back in, and they always read the second set of x-rays while I'm there, and everything's okay, and I go home, but not this time. There was a definite mass, and they wanted to suck it out with a needle (aspirate it). Would it be anesthetized? Yes. Would there be pain? No. Okay, let's do this, and I didn't even have them call Jim in from the waiting room.

Long story short, the pain was excruciating as the doctor, or orderly, or janitor or whoever he was, tried repeatedly to guide the 3 foot needle by watching it on the monitor and just couldn't reach the mass! Maybe they anesthetized the surface, but that needle went far, far beyond the surface. I hissed at him, "What in God's name do you do when you get a big breasted woman in here??" I was crying like a baby, couldn't help it; it seemed to go on for hours, but it couldn't have been more than 15-20 minutes. Finally, he reached the mass, extracted it, and pronounced everything was fine. Come back in one year. Well, I was teary eyed and shaken when I rejoined Jim in the waiting room. I knew everything actually would be fine once his arms were around me, and we even stopped for lunch at Jason's.

Within an hour after getting home, though, I got so nauseated and dizzy I literally couldn't stand up, was throwing up again and again, and Jim began calling the breast care center. He was beside himself with worry. Another long story short, 2 days later, the nausea subsided. The doctor thought that the Vagus nerve had been traumatized, which is very rare. Wouldn't you just know it.

So, here it is a year later. I'm not in a good mood, and Jim is lying low; even Marley is being still. I'm pretty sure that if men had to go through this once a year, there would be a less intrusive, more streamlined way of getting the job done. I support Susan G. Komen every chance I get (hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed her logo); it's on my license plate, for goodness sake, and I know mammograms save countless lives; I just don't have to like getting one!

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