It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I don’t know about you, but I’m painfully aware of that. It’s hit too close to home too many times for too many people I love.
Also, I fall into what’s called a “high risk” category. So, that’s fun! Instead of regular mammograms, I get fancy 3-D ones and lately, medical professionals have been recommending an MRI, mostly so I’d have a good solid baseline as a person with, ahem, “dense breast tissue.” I — who while in college considered waitressing at Hooters until a friend pointed out I was missing, uh, a couple of important qualifications — find this hilariously ironic. But size has nothing to do with it.
Being someone with DBT* means murky mammograms, which means extra handsy measures should be taken beyond the yearly squeeze-n-shoot to find out what madness could be lurking beneath the surface. This year I decided not to put off that MRI any longer. It also helped that I’d hit my individual deductible and would pay $500 less. Woo hoo! I love a bargain, even when it comes to medical procedures.
So this is going to be a, well, titillating post told in parts, a Tale of Two Titties**, if you will.
The results came in at 4:23 p.m. On a Friday.
Too late to call a medical professional who could explain and answer questions. All I could do at this point — stew. All weekend long. Which I did.
I clicked through the online breast MRI report with a second window open for googling. Why is it so hard for doctors to just speak plain English. A “9mm focus* of enhancement” on the right? What the heck is a focus? A mass? A tumor?! TWO “indeterminate foci” on the other side? Blah blah blah more medical science-y stuff … Then I read: Targeted ultrasound recommended.”
OK, that’s not toooooo bad.
It got worse.
The next word I recognized: BIOPSY.
Yikes. Despite all the medical jargon and weird terms, I could see where this was headed — me playing a human voodoo doll.
I tried to shift into optimistic mode. Probably everything’s fine. No need to worry.
Bwahahahahahahahaha. Riiiight. Famous last words. This is 2020.
If this shitshow of a year has taught me anything, it’s that you should ALWAYS worry because whatever can go wrong, will and in a bigly way.
By the following week, people with actual medical degrees confirmed that yes, I would need to schedule an ultrasound. That part would be a snap.
On the appointed day, the nurse who led me into the darkened room pointed me to the table and had me lie down. Which was almost relaxing. In fact, it would have been if a doctor weren’t going to squeeze blue goo on me and roll a wand across my chest and then likely tell me that the next step was stabbing the girls.
“OK! He’ll be right in.”
Wait what. He?
Of course. If I weren’t already nervous enough, now it was going to be a dude doc in my female business. Great.
Sure enough, the guy was prompt. And British. He sounded like Hugh Grant, which was really the only feature I could make out with all the PPE.
“Alright, let’s have a look then,” Dr. Hugh Grant said.
He was quite chatty, talking the entire time as he rolled the ultrasound wand. He talked about what he was doing and all the stuff he was seeing.
“There’s a cyst. Oh, another cyst. There’s quite a bit of junk in here.”
Nice. I felt like my breasts should hold a yard sale.
“Ah, there’s the bugger!” he said, as he clicked some buttons on the keyboard. “We’ll just put some color on here … and … call … this …”
“Wait!” I butted in, unable to not make a joke. “You’re NAMING it?”
Turns out Dr. Hugh Grant had a sense of humor. He chuckled. “Well, no that’s not what I meant, but I would suggest Derrick.”
Personally, I would have gone with Dylan. Or Clive. Both good, very benign sounding names.
After he saw all he needed to see, Dr. Hugh Grant dropped the biopsy bomb. It needed to be done, he said. Everything, of course, would be fine, he assured me, but it’s important to get that verification without any doubt.
“So, you’ll schedule another visit, and it’ll be easy.”
“Oh, sure, a needle in the boobs sounds nice and easy.”
“It’s not bad,” Dr. Hugh Grant said. “You’ll feel a quick sting, like a bee sting, and that’s it.”
Apparently, a bee had never attacked him in any sensitive areas (maybe British charm repels insects). I took little comfort in his words and instead thought back to a long-ago birthday party for a friend who was in the drug rep business. Legit drugs, that is. He sold birth control pills, and so for many years we had an endless supply of green-lined notepads decorated with a tasteful outline of a uterus. Anyway, there were a fair number of doctors at the shindig and I was making small talk with a pleasant single dad of the OB/GYN persuasion, who told me about the difficulties of being a male in this particular field.
“Patients always want women doctors,” he complained. “They think they can relate better, but I’m so much more gentle.”
Suuuuuuuure ya are, I thought. Thaaaat’s why you’re divorced.
And this was why, despite Dr. Hugh Grant’s charming reassurances, his complete lack of knockers made me less than convinced he knew what he was talking about and that the next visit would probably be torturous.
Maybe I could get an epidural. Or, maybe I’d get really lucky and they’d just knock me out completely.
TO BE CONTINUED.
*DBT is not an official medical term, as far as I know. It sounds more like a preservative you’d put in Chinese food or maybe a pesticide. Either way, I don’t feel like repeatedly typing “dense breast tissue.”
**I got very distracted trying to come up with punny book and movie titles and ultimately nothing sounded that good, but I spent enough time that I feel compelled to share: Madame Boobery, Avengers: Infinititty War, American Boobie, Forrest Lump, What About Boob, The Dark Knockers, A Nipmare on Elm Street, Tit-anic, Pirates of the Cariboobean, Rosemary’s Boobie