This post is all about me.
On Monday afternoon I had a regular pregnancy doctor’s appointment at the hospital. Since the ultrasound a few weeks back I have been feeling very chilled out and calm about the pregnancy and was expecting the appointment to be pretty uneventful (the only real question I had for her was if I could use ear drops to clear out my waxy ears ),
But half way through a routine breast check, she said (with rather poor bedside manner I might add), “there’s definitely a lump there”.
It’s not the first time that same part of my left breast has been cause for concern. Twelve months ago, my regular GP noted that it was a particularly ‘dense’ area of breast and I had an ultrasound which gave me the all clear. I followed up once with a breast care doctor (not sure what their official title is???) but canceled a later appointment because I figured all was OK.
The memory of that cancelled appointment was haunting me as I wandered around to the medical imaging department at the hospital after my appointment. I was doing my best to stay calm, but only a few weeks back I’d read this article about breast cancer during pregnancy, and well, I wasn’t doing so well at staying calm.
The next available appointment for a breast ultrasound at the hospital was October 1. Too far away.
I got home and rang around a few other places nearby that do ultrasounds. I knew this meant I would have to pay (at least half) the cost of the scan, but I couldn’t have cared less.
I cope OK when someone around me is unwell or has a health scare, but when it’s me, I am a wreck.
I was able to schedule an ultrasound for Wednesday afternoon (today) at a nearby clinic.
But Monday night, I couldn’t eat my dinner and I barely slept. It bothered me enormously that I couldn’t feel this lump (even after the dr showed me). I regularly check my breasts, but if I couldn’t even feel the lump after being shown where it was, how long might it have been there? Was it something missed a year ago? What would happen if it was cancer?
I wish I was like my husband. He’s one of the calmest people I know. He takes life as it comes and never does the ‘what if’ stress thing. I remember when BC was 2 days old and we were still playing a terrifying waiting game, I asked the doctors lots and lots of questions. My husband made me stop. ‘They don’t know yet’. He said. ‘They’ve already told you that. Just relax’. His whole life is based around the principle that ‘There’s no point worrying about what you don’t know and what might not happen’.
His calmness is amazing. I wish I shared it.
Unfortunately, I go the other way. I tend to imagine every possible terrible outcome and have it play over and over in my head and end up exhausted by anxiety and convinced of the worst. It’s not fun and I really wish I had strategies around it.
So, after my sleepless, fretful night first thing yesterday morning I rang the clinic to see if there had been any cancellations so I could have the ultrasound yesterday. And to my relief, they were able to fit me in at 2pm yesterday afternoon.
I had one of ‘those’ sonographers in the ultrasound who just won’t give anything away. She confirmed that there were 2 lumps (oh my God, not one but 2!!!!) but wouldn’t give me any further information.
She told me the results would be sent to the doctor in 2 days.
2 days sounded like a lifetime to me. The unknown is just so scary. I was already imagining some doctor looking at my scan (looking very much like a handsome doctor in a TV medical soap opera) shaking his head and saying ‘oh, what a shame’. I imagined myself having to make decisions about treatment that may/may not harm my unborn baby and wondered if you could breastfeed if you had one breast removed.
And that was just on the two minute journey back home from the clinic.
Really, I don’t cope with this sort of thing at all.
However, one thing I have learnt very well to cope with is working the system. So the moment I got home, I rang the clinic, spoke to the receptionist and asked if there were any way the results could be fast tracked. I was pretty sure she’d tell me there was a procedure in place, it was impossible to do anything faster etc etc. I had a whole speech prepared and was even ready to shed a few tears for my cause.
But I didn’t need any of that. Straight away, she said ‘sure. We can fax the preliminary report to your GP within the next 2 hours’.
So at 4pm, BC and I headed off to the doctor for my appointment. I’d invited him along for moral support. He’s very, very in tune with sensing when mum has lost the plot, and gave me lots of cuddles and 4 year old words of reassurance (eg ‘let’s have ice-cream tonight’).
As it was a last minute appointment, I’d just taken whichever doctor was available and I was relieved that she turned out to be very sweet and softly spoken and was patient enough to track down the fax that had somehow gone into the wrong pigeon hole and to talk me through the report.
The report states that there are 2 lumps but ‘they have a benign ultrasound appearance and most likely represent two small fibroadenomas’ – which I know now are the ‘good’ lumps and are sometimes known as ‘breast mice’ because they are smooth and move easily around the breast tissue.
She did say that there are rare cases of misdiagnosis and some doctors choose to order a biopsy to confirm, but reading the rest of the report she didn’t think that seemed necessary.
She gave me a referral to see the same breast specialist I mentioned earlier and I will hopefully go in to see him within the next few weeks to confirm whether he agrees with this or suggests the biopsy.
I am currently resisting all urges to consult doctor Google, as I know the web will be full mostly of stories of misdiagnosis and bad news. That doctor Google is one hell of a pessimist.
Instead, I am focusing on feeling incredibly relieved. It all looks good. Phew.
After the appointment, my appetite miraculously returned as I realised I had barely eaten in over 24 hours (poor little Ogol!).
BC and I stopped at the supermarket on the way home and I told him we could buy whatever he wanted. We left with a chocolate cake, a pack of neenish tarts (his favourite), 3 different boxes of ice-creams, 3 different kinds of yoghurt (the sort that I don’t usually buy because they are full of sugar) and quite a few other treats. It’s a rare occasion he gets a free run in the supermarket, so he was making the most of it .
I feel so relieved today, but what I mostly feel is that I need to have better strategies for dealing with extreme stress. It’s a terrible, terrible feeling to be out of control of your emotions and to not be able to think at all clearly.
So, my newest goal is to find some strategies. Work on ways of dealing with those days when something really scary MIGHT happen and I MIGHT need to be super strong. How do you learn to not run through every dire possibility on the planet and instead focus on the positives?
It’s a beautiful sunny day out today and I know what I will be doing is enjoying the sunshine, enjoying my boys, enjoying the kicks from inside my tummy and remembering that life is a very, very precious gift indeed.