Monday, January 26, 2009

The lump that glowed in the dark

I go in for a diagnostic mammogram. These days, they don't use film. An image appears on a computer screen. The image appears slowly, moving from left to right. There it is. It's glowing bright as day. I'm sure this has something to do with how the image is made but none the less it is striking. What is it's source of power?

My doctor calls the next day. She reassures me again that most lumps are benign. And this one is very small. But I should go for a diagnostic ultrasound. Ok....... Google here I come. I go in for the procedure. I meet the radiologist. She has her left hand in a cast. Part of the procedure involves inserting a needle with some dye. I ask her if she is right handed. Yes. I ask her if she can do this procedure with one hand. Yes. So off we go. The room has three people in it.

I can tell from the grim look on their faces and how they avoid me that this is not good. The screen shows swirls of color around the lump. I had already read that this means the lump has blood flowing to it. Which means it can grow. A senior radiologist comes in and says "I'm just going to talk as if you are going to have this done. We need to remove part of the lump and do a biopsy." They describe in great detail the procedure and the appointment is scheduled.

At this point I begin to wonder how many steps are in this process. We are at appointment #4 coming up. The time between appointments is only a few days. But each minute is a year while I wait.

The day of the ultrasound biopsy comes. Lots of local anesthesia, a machine to suck up liquid (kind of like those ones they put in your mouth at the dentist) and the same wounded radiologist. She's very nice. I'm in one of those lovely hospital gowns. Who designs the patterns on those anyway? Or the style for that matter? I think they are specifically designed this way so no one would dream of stealing one. But they do cover me with blankets that they keep in a warming oven. This part I like.

There are residents watching. I get the feeling everybody knows the answer before the biopsy. I should point out this is Feb. 18th and I have already informed the staff that my husband and I have airplane tickets for California on Feb. 21st. The radiologist slips and says "Hmm. Well, you could still go. We couldn't arrange anything else inside that week." Anything else? Like what?

I ask how soon the results will be in. She says Feb.20th, call my doctor first thing in the morning.
Two days. More waiting.

Believe it or not, the next post will be curiously humorous.

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