I was 30 days delayed by COVID-19 restrictions in getting my annual mammogram. Going into the hospital (even though there hasn’t been a significant number of COVID cases reported in the Comox Valley) illustrates a “new normal” that I have no doubt will remain for a significant period of time.
As I said earlier, I do still consider myself immune-compromised, so I am grateful that as an RN, I understand the proper way to distance, hand wash, wear a face mask/shield, and the difference between cleaned/disinfected and sterilized. I was rather impressed with the semi-well-oiled precision of designation for people movement into and out of the hospital.
As always, the radiology technicians are kind and professional. Mammogram completed on May 26th.
As is my perverse, prying manner, I had to sneak a peek at the images on the monitor as I dressed. As the technician said, “Well I don’t see anything worrisome here”, I noticed a rather light coloured/irregular circle on the edge of one of the images.
I pointed it out to the technician with a knot in my stomach. I knew I hadn’t seen this white blotch on my previous scan, so of course, I immediately began to hear distant machinery groaning and grinding as the Tit-O-Whirl ride begins to power up.
“Oh“, she said, “It’s just an enlarged lymph node. Nothing to worry about I wouldn’t think, but the radiologist will have the final say. You should hear from your doctor in 2-3 days”.
I had my first diagnosis in 2016. This is 2020. My mind jumped to the “5-YEAR survival rates charts”. (I did warn you earlier of my potty mouth, right?) Shit. Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck.
Two days later (28th) my family doctor called to inform me that the radiologist wanted me to return for an ultrasound of an “irregular shaped and enlarged lymph node in the LEFT breast.” (You’ll recall that my original cancer was in my RIGHT breast), but as docs so often do, he added that it was “likely nothing to worry about and they are just being cautious, considering your history“. Now make no mistake. I adore /admire/respect my family doc. But THAT sentence is just about the biggest waste of air and words that can be strung together and delivered to anyone who has been on the Tit-O-Whirl. Which is now humming loudly as I am approaching the ticket window.
As usual, now the wait begins to be called by x-ray for an ultrasound. I asked them to call me on my cellphone (as I am living with my 98 year old Mom during COVID restrictions) and made sure they had the number. I turned up the ring tone. I set it to vibrate. I carried it with me to the toilet and to bed. I didn’t work with ANY loud machinery like lawn mowers, hedge trimmers or leaf blowers.
Then at 4:30 in the afternoon, three days later, my husband says a message has been left on the house phone from x-ray bookings. (!!!!!) When I tried to reach them, the message machine informed me they were closed for the day and would re-open on Monday. Please return and read the last sentence three paragraphs back. (Never mind, I’ll save you the trouble. Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck. )
They called me early on Monday morning as a result of the message I had left on their machine Friday afternoon. I had my ultrasound two days later at 11 AM. Ok. I may have left four messages.
My doc called me 4 hours after my ultrasound (!) to tell me the ultrasound report had just come through and he happened to be at his computer. (I am going to imagine him sitting there waiting for it. HAHA!) He quickly reported that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. The irregular shaped /enlarged node had now become “A small, and insignificantly enlarged axillary lymph node that does not even require follow-up and that all mammogram breast tissue was clear.”
I took a deep breath and mentally ripped up the “worry” ticket. The mechanical noise of the ride was silenced.
Then my doctor shared with me a gem that I will try to hang onto for quite a while. He said he had been reading Mark Twain and was struck by one of his quotes.
“I have been through some terrible things in my life, most of which never happened.”
I laughed and agreed but afterwards all I could think was 1) Wait! My doctor reads Mark Twain!?? (Guess it helps him pass the time while he is waiting for my test results to come up on the computer…)
And 2) While I admit he had a great way with words, I bet Mr. Twain never really knew a woman with breast cancer.