Friday, November 6, 2015

Beautiful Day for a Biopsy

Well, it was a beautiful day, anyway.  We've had a gorgeous week here, all in the upper-sixties/low-seventies.  I would have loved to have gone biking along the lake, or even spent a nice hour sitting outside, but I've had to be content with simply having my front door to the store open while I admire the sunshine from my workbench.  Quinn and I took a walk the other evening to pick up things at Target and marveled the whole way that we didn't need jackets.  I love a warm day in fall.
Anyway, I decided I really didn't have much choice other than to just do the next biopsy.  It makes sense to rule out cancer, and the whole thing has been going on too long not to try to find an explanation.  But I dreaded it.

It hurt.  I cried during the procedure because of the pain.  I cried at the mammogram afterward because... I'm not sure why.  I was feeling emotional I suppose.  I hate crying in public, but once you start it's hard to stop.

The system set up for calling and scheduling anything at this medical facility is a disaster, but I have no complaints about the actual people I dealt with once I was there.  They were all women, and everyone I met in the past remembered me.  They were all able to be friendly while understanding nobody wants to be there, which can't be easy.  Everyone was open to engaging me on whatever level I was comfortable.  They understood if I didn't want to talk and knew not to take it personally.  They anticipated certain needs and offered to assist when they could without making assumptions.  For instance, I had to hold my arm awkwardly over my head for a long time, and a nurse appeared with a rolled up blanket to prop under it which she asked first if I wanted.  Another nurse stood close enough to pat my hand and dab the tears off my face.

I did manage to make them laugh at one point when I told them my grandmother's story of surviving a tonsillectomy without anesthesia--that she called it the worst pain of her life but she got through it--so I really shouldn't complain because this was nothing by comparison.  The doctor said, "Well that's setting the bar very low!" and suggested their new hospital slogan could be "Better than a tonsillectomy without anesthetic!"

The irony is that injecting the numbing agent is what hurt so much.  There were a couple of core samples that ended up outside of the numbed area, and they hurt, but not as much as the anesthetic injections did.  The doctor explained that the whole area has been inflamed for so long and was so large that it was going to be tender no matter what.  I was supposed to keep ice in my bra on and off all day, but that got annoying so I threw out the first ice pack when it warmed up and was done with that.  Tylenol doesn't help me ever, and that was the only thing I was allowed to take, so I just spent the day being sore.

I treated myself to a really good sandwich on my way back to work.  After taking Quinn to Latin lessons after school we stopped at a grocery store and picked up the good chocolate chips because I wanted a cookie.  When I got home Ian was busy with a conference call and Aden and I walked the dog together.  Mona and Quinn started the cookie dough.

Then I just wanted to sit for a minute.  It was so nice outside.  I sat on the steps at the end of the front walk.  I thought about all the kids who had come by for Trick-or-Treat and asked if our headstone was real, tapping it in astonishment.  I thought about all the trips I'd taken back and forth across that street when we moved from the other house.  I tried to clear my mind and think about nothing, but that's hard to do.

Eventually Mona appeared, followed closely by Quinn to tell me the cookie dough was ready to bake.  My kids were all smiles, happy to have found me after searching the house without success.  Mona snuggled close on one side of me, Quinn on the other, arms all around me.  I told them that moment was the happiest I'd been all day.  I love my kids so much there aren't good enough words for it.

They sat with me until I was ready to come in.  We each made one big gooey cookie (pecans added to mine and Quinn's, none for Mona or allergic Aden) and put the rest of the dough to chill in the fridge.  We curled up in the family room and watched a couple more episodes of Gravity Falls which the kids have been carefully leading me through so I can be caught up to where they are.  There's nothing better than being cuddled up with my kids and laughing together.

Today I got the call from the hospital that it's not cancer.  I have "chronic granulomatous mastitis" and they haven't figured out yet what I should do about it.  They'll get back to me.  I'll be here all lumpy and sore when they do.

There are times when the right diagnosis from a doctor can seem like a miracle.  The moment medication kicks in and you start to feel better after suffering inside your own body for any extended period of time is like magic.  I'm glad certain things can be cured or alleviated thanks to other people's knowledge.

But as I've gotten older and dealt with hospitals from different vantage points, I'm also amazed by how often your health comes down to your own body knowing how to heal itself.  I'm glad to know I don't have cancer.  I didn't think I did, but it's still a relief to hear it.  But how much of what I have is something that has maybe been exacerbated by all of this invasive monitoring?  In the end if what I need to do is simply wait it out, was it worth all the time and expense and discomfort and pain?  I have no idea.

All I can do is be glad I'm as well as I am, hug my kids some more, and maybe have another cookie.


  1. I'm glad it's not cancer and that you have that peace of mind! And I'm glad you got some beautiful days... We went from 60/70s (and a few in the 80s) to 30s and lower in about two weeks!! I haven't adjusted yet!

    I tend to err on the side of "medical work up is the best course" when it comes to making decisions for myself / family, but a big part of that comes from understanding the system and being comfortable refusing things too. Should I encounter a medical situation I am not as familiar with, I'd struggle a lot more!!

    That being said I have been more into natural remedies lately... And I hope there's something easy / noninvasive that can relieve your discomfort! Boob soreness is the worst!!

    1. Sore boob sucks. And there is no way to Google "breast" and "lump" together and get information that isn't terrifying. My kids were so good to me tonight, though, and that helps everything. I didn't feel up to making dinner, and they were fine scrounging for themselves. They made me popcorn and we snuggled up for hours and watched various things for movie night. Just the right kind of distraction.

  2. Glad it ended up a good day. Or at least a crummy day with attendant good news. Meant to comment after last post. Hang in there. Looking forward to the new violin, but can wait. Claire's still in a half size. Would be fun to have your family deliver it! Learning Bach Double with Claire for the second time, this time she's violin 1. We could play for you and visit some sights around DC. Kids and I went to Mount Vernon this week, was very cool! I think Smithsonian has strads, too.

    1. What a cool concert that will be! No, you're the most patient commission ever and I know I'm the one creating the pressure. But there are three instruments on my bench in process and one of them is for the competition in Ohio next fall, and it's just frustrating to not be working on any of it most days when it's what I'm most interested in doing.

      The Smithsonian does indeed have Strads, including (I believe) the Ole Bull, which is amazing, but I don't think on view. Maybe I can talk my way past the curator?

  3. Also glad it isn't cancer! Sore boobs are incredibly painful, especially if you aren't small enough to have the luxury of going bra-less. Enjoy the rest of your fall!

    1. Size 38 DDD isn't easy to live with even when they aren't sore. Bleah. I hope you enjoy the rest of your fall, too!

  4. I too am very relieved to hear it's not cancer, and I hope you have less soreness soon. Also hoping your other frustrations clear soon, it's no fun to feel down even if we do know that really everything is OK.

    1. Still sore, still a bit stuck, but I get lots of good hugs and today I got a short nap. Naps are the best.