No, the lump did not turn malignant. No, the lump did not grow any bigger or start hurting again. But apparently it so vexed my primary care physician that he ordered me a biopsy–which I fully intended to ignore, as I HAD ALREADY BEEN TOLD THE LUMP WAS BENIGN. Yeah…guess whose office assistant/secretary/nurse/whatever felt compelled to call me and ask WHY I hadn’t gone in…and further urge me to go? I’m thinking if several doctors over the 28 year lifespan of this thing have told me it’s nothing to worry about, WHY IN THE HAMFAT would I voluntarily go into to the hospital to get a big needle shoved into my breast?!?
Now don’t get me wrong–breast exams are important and should be taken very seriously, and if a malignancy is found, then swift action should definitely be taken immediately. But was it really necessary to order a procedure that at best, only reduces a single cup size and at worst, reduces the size of my bank account? Not to mention the permanent bruise that WASN’T there before, despite the booby ice pack they sent me home with.
(Please understand–I am not lax about keeping up with my health, nor am I lessening the importance of keeping up with these things and being as proactive as possible. I simply feel the need to rant because I AM on top of all of this and I AM following the advice of my OB/GYN, who has been keeping a close eye on my feminine and reproductive health for at least a decade now….and HE felt the procedure was unnecessary. Ladies, PLEASE continue to be vigilant about your health and do what it necessary to prolong and improve your quality of life.)
I was told to have someone drive me to and from the hospital (in case of residual drugs and to keep from doing any undue heavy labor or lifting), so I had my Mom pick me up. Checked in and got vitals tested and was talked through the procedure I was about to undergo. In the course of this the nurse asks if I’m wearing a bra. Uhhhh…no–was I supposed to? I figured I was going to be undressed from the waist up for most of the morning, so bring/wear as little clothing as possible. The nurse informs me that I’ll need the bra post-surgery for support of the surgical area…and, as I would later learn, the booby ice pack.
So I get wheeled down to a room where I’m told to lay face down in the now infamous flasher gown on this metal platform that looks like a topless tanning bed. And then the REAL fun begins. I get hoisted about a foot into the air and a section of the platform opens up, into which I am instructed to hang my breast down into. Did I mention that this “hole” looked like a cross between a car cup holder and a guillotine? I do as I’m told and proceed to have my breast clamped in a vise and one of the FOUR nurses (yeah, my little old Asian tormentor needed FOUR extra sets of hands to ruin my day) gets her doodle on making Sharpie marks on my boob. I’m told that this is so they can properly line up my breast and the biopsy needle so that once they press the magic button it can go in at the correct angle and start vacuuming Old Lumpy out of its comfortable home. I’m also told I have to lie completely and utterly still—as in no moving, no shifting, no turning, almost hold your breath still. I’m guessing I must have moved a few centimeters in the wrong direction because after having been prepped by the nurses and my little Asian torturer come in to start the procedure, I’m told the Sharpie marks aren’t lining up properly…so I get to be the Sistine Chapel ceiling AGAIN and get new Sharpie marks drawn on me. The biopsy needle was pretty big, about blood donating big (a size that made my senior year of high school the first and last time giving blood), but they also showed me a thinner, longer needle with the numbing agent in it. I do not like needles at all, but am masochistically calmed by being able to see it go in. However, since I was facedown hoisted in the air with my breast in a vice, I would not be able to see it coming—which freaked me out even more. Plus they felt the need to mention that “this is going to sting a little.” And did I mention they expected me to STAY STILL? I’m telling you, if I wasn’t already hoisted in the air too far to jump without injury, I’d have done my best Bugs Bunny impression through every wall in that hospital. I stressed to everyone in the room that I was going to need sufficient warning before I got stuck with that needle or else the breast was coming out of that vice and fists were going to be swinging. That still did not prepare me for the 12 second ordeal that was the numbing agent. It did not sting A LITTLE. It stung A LOT. A WHOLE LOT. It felt like flaming Everclear was being shot into my body. They give the anesthetic a few minutes to circulate and then I feel the dead weight of my breast getting jiggled to make sure everything is ready for the biopsy needle to do its turn. From what I understand the computer is programmed to insert the needle underneath the breast fold and go in and out of the lump at several angles, spinning and vacuuming until the whole thing was removed, which confused me a little because I thought a biopsy meant removing a section to test for malignancy, not removing the whole thing…which since I already knew it was benign I WAS NOT OK WITH.
At least 15 to 20 minutes of this lying flat on my stomach on a hard surface has gone by, and my troubled lower back is letting me know about it. Loudly. So I attempt to subtly shift my knees to the side a little—just enough to get the pressure off—and get fussed at again by five people to not move. I’m sorry, do YOU have to attempt to walk out of here bent over like Quasimodo because YOUR back is on fire? From a procedure you didn’t even want? No, y’all have chairs and comfortable shoes and oh yeah—GET TO MOVE. I’m not even perfectly flat—I’m in this flat-ish position with my knees digging into the metal platform and my ass tooted in the air. All I needed was my hands tied to my ankles and a ball gag; I felt like a trussed-up turkey in a fetish chamber, and my dominatrix wasn’t even cute. After a few more minutes it’s finally over and I get to move, but by now I’m already near tears because my back has locked up in protest and the simple act of moving from the platform back to my wheelchair is excruciating. But I’m shown the various pieces of what used to be my lumpy companion and brought into the next room where that accursed mammogram machine was—because I simply had not been subjected to quite enough pain and manipulation for the day. I suffer through yet another mammogram then get wheeled back upstairs to get back into my clothes, which now includes the bra my mother ran down the street to Kmart to buy for me so I could support the post-op chesticles and have someplace to stuff the ice pack. I’m instructed not to raise my arms over my head or lift anything heavy within the next 24 hours—which meant my mom took it upon herself to carry my purse for the duration and make sure I got safely up the stairs and into my apartment, sufficiently drugged up and fed and laid up somewhere until my husband got home to take care of me. For the record, my breast hurt a long time afterward, my breast size did not significantly change, the so-called “small, unnoticeable” bruise is still visible all these months later, and it forever for all of that Sharpie ink to wash off.
By the way, I DID request jewelry and a car this time. The nurses laughed at me and referred me to hospital management. (Judging from the nearly 2 grand on top of my insurance they keep asking me for, I gather THAT’S not gonna happen.)