Miscellaneous Mum - Trying to find the objective correlative, everyday
Reading. Writing. Parenting. Creativity.
No matter how attractively you try to tie that paper gown around your waist it still looks hideous. For a second I thought I had it looking okay, the crossover came down over my cleavage at a nice angle – until I turned sideways in the mirror and saw that by pulling the fabric taught I had exposed a lot of side boob. That never looks fabulous.
And I’d already shown a lot of boob that afternoon.
Without much else to do, I sat back down again in my closet-sized waiting room and picked up a Better Homes and Garden from 2006. It came down to either that or a wine magazine from Europe dated 2010. I didn’t want to read, but this was taking a while. The sign on the door read ‘If you’ve been waiting over twenty minutes, please alert a member of staff’, and the time was getting very close. The sign above that depicted a foetus with crossed hands and cartoonish exaggeration entreating the mother-to-be to please tell the technician about its presence. Sobering.
I ended up fiddling with my phone, despite the request it be turned off, because I was getting worried. The technician appeared – I quickly hid the phone – and made the request I was half-expecting.
“Karen, we’re going to need more pictures. We need to get a better look at something.”
As I was led back to the mammogram room I walked past an examination room where a woman in another paper gown was lying on a table, waiting. I wondered what for. As for me, there were more shots, another near-comical ‘where do my arms go, how to arrange my breast on the flat plate?’ act and we were done. It wasn’t nearly as painful as the last time I had a mammogram. An infection of some sort had resulted in an (unusually early) testing at seventeen years of age. Back then, when I was whimpering, the nurse, or whatever she’d been, clucked in sympathy.
“You’re so young, your tissue is dense. Wait until you’re older, it will be better.”
And seventeen years later, at thirty-four, she was proven right. It was better; uncomfortable, but better.
I was then led back to my closet, whereupon I adjusted my gown again, to wait until they were ready to take me upstairs where a sonographer and his wand were ready to ultrasound my breasts. By now, the left side – the tender, lumpy one that had brought me here in the first place – was sore.
The technician asked, “Do you want to get changed before you walk up?”
I shook my head. Well, at least my attention to detail would serve some purpose, I thought, as I shuffled past the people in the waiting room. No side boob for them.
Upstairs, another closet; or more like a cell. I was fidgety, hungry and light-headed. I cracked open a coconut water I’d hidden in my bag ‘just in case’ and gulped it down in case the consumption of drinks was also forbidden. Eventually I was led into a darkened room, with strategic down-lighting, a place of quiet and decorum. Once my chest was wetted, and my breasts exposed to the ultrasound’s probing, I turned to the monitor. This guy knew where he was going, and there, on the screen, was a black broad-bean shaped… mass? Lump? Cyst?
Screenshot after screenshot, clicking and dragging of the mouse to determine size, over and over, both sides and then, finally, we were done.
He stood up. “I need to go look at these. Just wait here,” he said, before leaving the room.
As I lay there, covered in muck, I realised how worried I’d been progressively getting. I was thinking about my children, just then leaving school for the day. This appointment had gone radically over time, I was supposed to be there, but I got my husband to go do pick up instead. What if this was only the beginning of similar tolerances that were going to need to be made? What if it was the ‘C’ word? Could I endure that?
The sonographer reappeared. Poking his head around the corner he said chirpily, “All done. You can get dressed now.”
I didn’t have a towel, so it was with some satisfaction that I got to use the gown as a stand-in. As it was smeared with the excess I was taken back to the moments after birth, the dutiful cleaning, cleansing. As soon as I walked outside I felt better, braver to tackle whatever the results returned. I was told to wait two working days until checking to see if they were back. I made it end to the first day before calling my GP’s office.
The receptionist read out the notes: “There is no cancer, but Karen needs to come back so we can discuss the cysts.”
The relief of the first half of the sentence over shadowed any curiosity I felt about the second and it wasn’t until I found myself back in the patient’s chair that I found out the full report: I have five cysts of varying sizes in my left breast. Lots of women do, and having cysts does not mean a woman is more predisposed to cancer. It is better that I know, though, and I have to go back in a few months to check if they grow at all in that time, although the chances of this happening are slight.
All in all, it’s been an eye-opening few weeks. It has shown me the benefits of addressing any potential health issue as soon as possible, no matter what age we may be. The breast in question has always been temperamental. When breastfeeding, it was the side that would always get mastitis. So I’ve been wary.
I am thirty-five years old today, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that sharing these experiences is important, whether it be by television personalities like Lisa Wilkinson sharing her story, or a friend on Facebook theirs, or an article like this. Be aware. Breast health matters.
Me, dressed up for the Kidspot bloggers awards last week
Karen Andrews is the creator of Miscellaneous Mum. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).
So glad it was good news. I hope the cysts behave themselves and go away as they’re not wanted. I keep putting off my mammogram, which at my age I am entitled to (god, I’m ancient!) ’cause I don’t like pain, but I guess I can’t put it off for ever.
They won’t go away, they’ll always be there. But yes, they’d better behave. And please get your mammogram! x
Happy birthday! I am so so glad you don’t have cancer. xxxx
The exact same thing happened to me a couple of months ago. Cysts and no cancer. It’s a relief isn’t it? And even though mammograms are uncomfortable, and I wasn’t keen on the ultrasound either, I’d rather know. Ditto, the bi-annual smear test.
Jen recently posted..Busy bee
Thanks for the story, I am glad the news was good
Me too. I am also happy for you, that it wasn’t cancer..
Happy bday, belated
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