Callback mammogram

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marguerite, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I usually avoid mammograms. Here in Australia they are free every 2 years if you are over 50; also free if you are younger but at risk. I've been getting my free mammograms since I was 45 (I think they were free from 45 yo when I started) but after the first few I felt they weren't worth it. Part of my medical condition means my lymphatic tissue is almost permanently inflamed and I was finding that as those plates slid together, not only did I get the pinch effect and the Chinese burn on the skin (feeling like the skin was being ripped off my boobs) but the sharp corner of the plates was digging nastily into my sore armpits. Plus I had to stand at such an awkward angle, I would partly lose my balance which would mean I would literally be dangling by my sandwiched boob.

    But I kept getting my reminders, and I've decided, after a break of four years I think it was, to go back for another mammogram. I was making the usual jokes - "when the guy who invented this agrees to sandwich his gonads between two compressing plates, I'll be back. To watch."

    But imagine my surprise - far less painful! It was a breeze. of course it's a bit uncomfortable, but no Chinese burn, no digging into the armpit. There's no need for such firm compression any more. I sailed in and sailed out in a few minutes, confident and feeling community-minded and responsible. And virtuous. Insufferably smug.

    Then I got a letter - there were a few irregularities, they need to repeat the mammogram. probably nothing to worry about.

    I rang this morning to check how much wiggle room I have for the appointment time. This time I have to go to a major hospital to have it done; the usual Breastscreen clinics aren't where they send the 'repeat offenders". The woman I spoke to was reassuring - there might have been a fold of skin or something. The newer machines are very sensitive and can pick up artefacts. No biggie. But it MUST be done.

    My GP rang this afternoon. "Did you get your letter about the mammogram callback? Come and see us after the test."

    Crikey, I'm being nagged! I've told you lot about our health care system before; there is a lot of cross-communication, so I can barely sneeze without my GP knowing about it. OK, I signed the papers saying it was OK to feed info back to the GP (I'd have been mad not to) but it really brings home just how much everything we do is known.

    I'm not too worried. The only people in the family with breast cancer, are one niece (who got an aggressive cancer very young, I think there is cancer on her father's side and it is her mother who is my sister, I'm not related to her dad) and my great-aunt, who noticed a lump in her breast when she was 80 and chose to not tell the doctor. Finally the cancer perforated and she had to have her breast removed - at 99! It was the first time she had ever been in hospital overnight. Pioneer stock, well and truly. She was back home in three days, strolling in like she'd been on her usual afternoon walk.

    So I'm not too worried. it's possibly due to my residual lactation. Yes, I know I'm menopausal, but I've had traces of breast milk since before I was married & had kids. This is my first post-menopause mammogram, it could be something in the hormonal changes.

    The hospital I have to go to would normally be a hassle to get there (parking is shocking there too) but tomorrow morning husband & I have to see our pain specialist, and his small private hospital (hospice) is just down the road. Then I drive husband to the railway station to catch the train to work. To do this I drive right past the big public teaching hospital where I have to go.

    I've had a day today with a lot of driving and trying to get places in a hurry. I'm really tired but I have to go out tonight (choir practice). We have to head out again tomorrow morning early, hopefully the pain specialist won't be running late so I can go from one to the other without having to feel so rushed.

    Wish me luck. The residual breast milk thing could get embarrassing, if they decide I'm an oddity. That's the problem with teaching hospitals - they have a lot of medical students who like to watch... and public patients tend to be fair game. I can refuse but feel like a louse if I do, because kids gotta learn somehow.

    Here's hoping that is all it is. This time tomorrow, I should know. After all, I did have a job once that had me guddling around in a lot of carcinogenic chemicals, so I shouldn't get too complacent.

    I'll fill you in when I get home tomorrow.

  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Keeping a good thought and saying a prayer all comes back normal!
  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marg, saying a prayer and sending positive thoughts your way for tomorrow's test. I am glad that you decided to go and get the test...the best defense is a good offense!

  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Marg! I'll be thinking about you and saying some prayers. How lucky you are that everything will be (pardon the pun) squished into one run to the hospital, pain doctor, etc.!

  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good luck today. I am sure it will also be less painful in the teaching hospital.
    I have the dense tissue as well and I have to have ultrasounds as well as a mammo every time I go. They just have to double check every time.

    Good thing is you now know that it is not painful anymore and you will get your regular check ups. No more skipping!

    Keeping fingers crossed for you!
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Sending in more supportive (snicker) thoughts for you. I hope all goes well, sounds like it will. I also have dense tissue and had to go back for a second screening - the second time was with an ultrasound, not the vice, so it was way more comfortable. I hope that's the case for you today.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm sending support (sheesh, JoG, I was fine with-that until I read your "snicker"), ;), and hopes, judging from your comment, that you're just hard to "read" because of your other issues.
    I LOVE your 99-yr-old grandmother story!
    Interesting that you call it "Chinese burn." We call it "Indian burn."
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Thinking about you today!
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Me, too. DDD
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I'm sorry you have a call back. I'm praying it is nothing serious and just a shadow. My sister is a radiologist that specializes in women's breast issues. I had surgery already to remove suspected ductile carcinoma about 10 years ago. Spiffy job super glued and taped my bits back on. Wasn't cancer after all, it was pooled blood from where my x had beaten me so badly. It's still there, both breasts. Doctors say there is nothing to worry about, nothing to be done about it either. I'm full of it. (literally and figuratively huh?) haha.

    No worries are going to be fine. Power of the board's positive thinking is behind you!

    Hugs & Love
  11. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Sending supportive thoughts....
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Hope it all goes well, Marg. Keep us up to date!
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Sending you good thoughts, Marg. I'm another with dense tissue and nodules from nursing difficult child. Please keep us updated....
  14. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I know you are never one to worry much, but anyone would be even a tiny bit worried about getting a call-back like that. Know that we can do the worry job for you so you don't have to -- and will be praying for good news on the recheck!
  15. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    Marg, I hope everything goes OK. I'm thinking about you. Please let us know as soon as you know results.

    Love, Esther
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, I'm back home. it's been a long day.

    difficult child 3 managed OK with the delivery of mother in law's elevating recliner, although he didn't get them to move the old chair out of the way. Oh well, at least he got it in the right room. We'll manage the rest. difficult child 3 didn't get as much schoolwork done today as I'd hoped, however. Still, he might get more done tonight. He's disgusted with himself, which is really good. I didn't have to nag at all.

    I thought I was just going for a repeat ultrasound, but I had triggered what I'm calling Phase 2, which is directly linked to an increasing number of Phases. This wasn't just "Let's have a repeat mammogram," this was, "we found something and we're going to make darned sure we check it out far more thoroughly."

    The mammogram I had two weeks ago was routine, mass-production. Walk into the room, whip off your top and bra, flop the boob onto the tray, get the clamp thing happening, do it a couple of times for each boob then get dressed and rack off. Ten minutes, tops.

    This time - I arrived, got taken immediately to an interview room. "You're here for a callback, which means we found something that needs to be checked out. It's probably nothing to be concerned about, but we have to do our jobs properly and make sure. If it IS something, then our screening program means we've almost certainly caught it early."
    I had to sign waivers and was told that I would be getting another mammogram and after that there could well be more. Each stage would continue until they got enough answers to satisfy them. Mammogram certainly, ultrasound probably. Then after that, maybe biopsy.
    Then I was shown to a change room and told to remove my bra but leave my top on. From there I had to wait in a room with a handful of other women in similar saggy states. I felt they needed a sign on the door, "For the Fallen".
    Tea and coffee facilities there. Good. They had decaf coffee there as well as "full-leaded". Also good. Lots of women's magazines and in the corner a basket of knitting - squares for blankets for the needy. So I got knitting. And it seemed that each time I had just begun a row, someone would call for me.
    First the mammogram - it was similar to the one two weeks ago - again, much more pleasant than they used to be. Maybe they clamped the thing down a bit more firmly, but it still didn't dig into my armpits like it used to, or feel like it was ripping off my skin.

    Then back to the room.

    Within minutes (another half row of knitting) I got called out - time to change. Yes, it was now Phase 3 - getting ready for ultrasound. I had to put a gown on. Not a disposable one, they had lovely cloth gowns, quite pretty. Each one different, hand-made. Nice soft comfortable fabric in floral pastel shades. This place had just about everything. Since it is attached to a major teaching hospital, I suppose it DOES have everything. One stop shop chop lop...

    Another half row and it was time for the ultrasound. Not done by a sonographer, either, but a doctor. Radiologist specialising in breast tissue. This place means business. She showed me my pictures (including my ultrasound pictures from five years ago, for comparison - they had all my files even though I've never been to this unit before) and pointed out the cavity which they think is a cyst. Right on the back wall. She said that the other doctors would examine the pictures too, but she felt that a biopsy was needed. I asked when it could be organised, she said, "Oh, after I've done the other ladies' ultrasounds. About half an hour."
    I didn't think they would be THAT quick!

    Back to wait.

    Another couple of rows of knitting and I got called on again. Definitely biopsy. Fine needle. Phase 4 and probably 5. I had to sign more waivers and was told that if the fine needle didn't produce anything, they would need a more detailed biopsy, like a punch biopsy. It sounded to me like the liver biopsy I had a year ago, on a smaller scale.

    So there I was, getting my boob prepped and jabbed. The fine needle didn't aspirate much and it was a big effort for the doctor, so she got out the bigger biopsy needle and went after a chunk of tissue instead. Wasn't happy with the size of the chunk, went after another bit then gave up. Said she felt she'd got enough, and the lump IS small, she said. Probably not much of it left to get a second go at it.

    Back to wait again, this time clutching a small disposable cold pack to the boob.

    Lunch arrived. Sandwich and orange juice. Bad for my diet, but by this stage I was feeling a bit shocky. I made another cup of coffee but my hands were very shaky indeed. I was being closely watched by the two other women in the room also slated for biopsy. Other women who had been there, had been dismissed as testing out OK.

    Ate lunch. After forty minutes I gave up on the ice pack and got back to knitting. It's a flamin' good idea, I reckon, putting that knitting there. It calms you down, and also serves a useful purpose. The "wrapped with love" program provides knitted blankets overseas too.

    I next had to see another doctor who gave me a thorough breast examination. And lymph glands in the armpits. At all stages I was asked about family history, other health history. Finally I was told I was finished for the day. Pathology will have the results back by 1 pm tomorrow. I'm supposed to go back there for the results, but the place is shocking to get to, parking is difficult and it's a long way from home. So they're faxing it all to my GP, they made sure I had an appointment lined up. If I hadn't already made the appointment, they would have done it.

    So that's about it. I had to wait again for them to package up the pictures, letters, reports etc for my GP. More knitting. I almost finished a square, but finally had to leave it for the next anonymous person to have a go.

    Tomorrow I'll know for sure what it is. Meanwhile, don't get it wet. And it's hot today, I had been hoping for a swim. But driving home, I could see the anvil-shaped thunderhead building in the southern sky, with its powerhouse of cumulonimbus wrapped around it. The sky is now overcast here and threatening. Not sure if there's be much rain landing from it, but we could be in for quite a light show.

    Meanwhile, mother in law was having her heart kick-started in a different hospital. husband was staying in touch with her, he rang her after the procedure but she was still very groggy (it's done under general anaesthetic). I had planned on dropping in to see her, but considering how I was feeling (still a bit shaky, mostly from adrenalin - it's a small procedure but it does involve someone jabbing something into you and chopping out a piece, it's a body insult) and that mother in law was probably too sleepy for much of a visit, I just came home.

    I'm tired, hot (although I'm drinking iced water and the fan is blowing) and not wanting to do much.

    I don't have to rush tomorrow, although I won't be back from the GP in time to take difficult child 3 to tennis. He either has to skip it, or take himself.

    So once I know the result, I'll let you know. But I'm betting, it's just a cyst.

    I was very impressed at the screening process, though. Good handover with continuity at each stage, plus follow-up with surgeon tomorrow either talking to me, or talking to my GP. If there's a problem and I need surgery, I am told things will happen very fast. Certainly a lot more happened today than I expected.

    Thanks for caring, guys.

    I'll let you know the rest of the info tomorrow arvo, my time.

  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow! What a whirlwind of a day. I admire your strength and courage!

    I was called back after a mammo on two different occasions, two different years (because insurance wouldn't pay for two boobs to be re-checked at the same time- geez..). Both times it took weeks to get the second appointment scheduled but they did an ultrasound right away and had a radiologist check them, who decided it was nodules and fatty tissue. Each time, even that much took me 1 1/2 - 2 hours there, sweating bullets from fear and worry about difficult child if this did turn out to be cancerous.

    I'm sure you have/are feeling some of that too, if not much more than I did. From that standpoint, I'm glad they are going through this process as quickly as possible so you aren't left with not knowing for weeks. And of course, it sounds like if it did turn out to be something serious they have caught it early on and moving things so quickly that it will not have time to spread.

    Hopefully, the biopsy will reveal nothing to be concerned about. I amazed that they can get all that done so quickly. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers......
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the thorough update, Marge. Hope Marge's Man isn't too shell-schocked?

    I love the idea of the knitting squares! I know that everyone knits differently so I have a picture in my head of squares full of tight rows and loose rows, and rows by S-A women like me who would do a few alternating purls and knits just to put my mark on it. ;)
  19. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    :holymoly: Whirlwind is right! You are SUCH a trooper, girl! I hope you're not in too much discomfort tonight... did the extraction require a suture?

    I hope the cyst is benign and that you can rest easy knowing you won't have to go through anything close to today's procedure ever again!
  20. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member


    Sending good thoughts your way. thanks for the update. Its all of our nightmares, to go thorugh what you are going through.