Thursday, April 6, 2017

An Ounce of Prevention

NOTE:  I am inspired to republish this entry after seeing Bob Harper, Biggest Loser trainer, on the Today show on Tuesday.  In February, Bob had a nearly fatal heart attack. According to his interview, he ignored some early warning signs of dizziness. Even if you are considered the epitome of health, like Bob, you can't know what you look like inside on your own. 


The Husband and I enjoyed a great week of vacation on the North Fork of Long Island after the triathlon in July.  Long island Lolita was kind enough to open her home to us and allow us to bring the smelly beast. The smelly beast is not welcome everywhere. There was resting, there was wine, there was lobster, and even a little stand up paddle board.

Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Upon returning home on Sunday, I found not one, but two letters in the mail from the radiologist office where I had had a mammography two weeks before the triathlon. The letter simply states: “pleasecontact our office to schedule another appointment, additional imaging is needed"  

WTF?! What does that mean? Additional imaging! Squeezing the shit out of my boobs and making them pancakes the first time wasn't enough? There were two letters. yes, count them TWO! Of course, I am freaked out and there is nothing I can do about it until Monday.  They never ask for additional images when everything is normal.  Clearly, something is wrong.

In hindsight, I do not believe the doctor's office should be allowed to send out letters.  You cannot talk to a letter.  If you need more pictures of my boobs, you should call me so I can ask questions. Your imagination is your worst enemy. 

Monday morning meant back to work straight away at 5:00am. Being up at 4am really lends itself to a different perspective of the world. To be at work at 5 really puts your mind in a different universe thawhen you get up at say 7 to be at work by 9.  When I finish my morning sessions at 7:30 AM, I expect the whole world to be up and running. Now, I would like to be productive but my hands are still tied. Most doctor’s offices don't open until 9:00 AM at the earliest (please correct me if I am wrong). I have been awake and working for hours! So 9:00AM!? 

The series of events that follow only add to the stress of the letters. I called and left a message for the scheduling coordinatoras instructed, crickets.    I call again on Tuesday, once in the morning and once again in the afternoon.  Finally, I get the chance to speak with the coordinator.  I explained to her that,after I received two letters and two phone calls (did I not mention the phone calls) from her office asking me to come back in, I felt a bit of urgency to speak with someone. Not returning my calls for a few days was additionally upsetting. Not to mention that I received two letters and two phone calls in a three-week period. 

The woman explained to me that there was something on the film that they were not sure about and that I should get my old films and get them over to her. She continued to explain, since this was my first visit to this office, the Dr. can look at them to compare to the latest. She insisted that I make an appointment "just in case" and if the doctor compared the films and saw no change, we could cancel the appointment.

I am not taking any chances. I hand delivered the films myself 10 days before my appointmentI figured this would give them enough time to read them. 

My just-in-case appointment was scheduled for Thursday.  I called the Monday before my appointment to find out if it was needed.  Apparently, the doctor had not read the films yet and they would call me back in 45 min.  Two hours later, I called back.  I was told the doctor had not read them yet but they would call me back once she was done seeing patients for the day.  I was not happy but I understood.  

Tuesday morning, I called the office and left a message.  I was told once again that doctor had not had the chance to review the films and that they would call once she did.  In addition to wanting to know if I had to keep my Thursday appointment, Long Island Lolita was coming to visit on Thursday and I need to tell her where to meet me, if at all.  I waited all day Tuesday to hear back. I don’t know if I have words to describe how angry and frustrated that I was at that time.

Wednesday rolls around, you guessed it, I called the office first thing in the morning. I was told once again that the doctor has not read the films yet.  (NSFW expletive inserted here.) Why did I bother to bring the films 10 days ahead of time? I know doctors are busy but you can't take 10 minutes at the end of every day to review films and assuage someone's fears? I can promise you I was not a pleasant person to be around that Monday Tuesday Wednesday.

Finally, at 4:30 on Wednesday I got a call from the doctor office. I was told I needed to keep my appointment. I texted The Husband right away and simultaneously broke down in tears.  He had a dinner scheduled that night but volunteered to cancel it. I told him "no" go to the dinner.  There is nothing he can do.  

I spent my evening with Olivia Pope, Cabernet Sauvignon and Kleenex.  

The fear of the unknown is devastating.  The imagination is so powerful.   I cried my way up the entire evening for not knowing what this all meant. It's a lump. It's unusual. Would I live with only one breast? 
Could my husband still love me? Would I be able to look at myself?  What would be like to live with a piece of me gone?  Of course, after bouts of feeling sorry for myself, I would have bouts of if his is cancer I am totally going to kick its ass! And then I would think what if it is cancer? The cycle continues until bedtime.  When The Husband arrived home, I couldn't even face him because I was so scared. I didn't want to scare  him (he is such a delicate flower). 

Morning of the appointment, I arrived at the radiology center. I was surprised how quickly they took me in since the waiting room was full.  I was given my instructions to undress and wait. Again, surprised again how quickly they took me.   Once in the room, the offending boob was once again smashed. But this time, more so than the first time. As the tech was squashing boob to look like a pancake, I would see the mass in my breast that everyone was so concerned about.  My stress levels became even higher.   Pictureget taken and I am instructed not to get dressed just yet. The doctor needs to read my film and compare.  Our history being what it is, I figured I would be there for at least 10 days.  

It was not quite 10 days but I did have to hang around half naked for 45 minutes waiting for what I don’t know because nobody explained the process to me.  Not being one who sits for long, I began pacing the hallways, disruptiintrusting pretty much everyone.  

Around the 1 hour mark, I am called into yet another exam room.  Apparently, the boob squashing was inconclusive and they needed to do an ultrasound.  If I were not so scared, I wouldhave been equally angry.   This is scary stuff and I am alone here. The Husband is at work, Lolita is on her way but would not be there for at least another 30 minutes and I couldn't burden another friend. What if were nothing? 

They at least get me started immediately with the ultra sound.  The technician immediately checks the results and withinseconds tell me " it's just a cyst". A cyst? That's it? Are you sure? She assures me she is sure.  A CYST! YAY!  I have never been so happy to just have a cyst. Phew.  I immediately text The Husband and Lolita and swear heard them both exhale through text. 

I am lucky it was nothing and I am smart to get my mammogram every year. My personal doctor recommends a mammography every year. Some recommend every other year. The point in telling my story was to emphasize the importance of prevention.  Many conditions, if caught early can be treated.  Women, get your mammography every year (whatever your physician suggests). Get a physical annually.  It is so important to know your numbers. You should know your cholesterol bloodpressure, blood sugar, your vitamin D levels, your BMI and body fat %.  Based on your family history and your physician’s advice, don’t forget the colonoscopy.  

Knowing these will let you know what you look like on the inside, we already know what you look like on the outside.