As faithful readers know, I had my first mammogram two weeks ago. It was really no big deal, and after I was sufficiently poked and prodded, the technician told me should couldn't tell me any results (she sounded like she gets asked this question 800 times per day), but I would get a letter if everything looked fine. If there was anything suspect, I would get a phone call. "I'm rooting for the letter," I joked.
Well guess what. I got a phone call. The Phone Call. The "your recent mammography shows a finding that needs further evaluation" Phone Call. The "we've detected an asymmetry in your right breast and want to do more poking and prodding" Phone Call. Basically the Oh Shit Phone Call.
I played it off well, I think. "Is this normal?" I asked. The nurse gave me a seemingly scripted answer. "Well, with first mammograms we don't have a baseline. Many times we have women come back in for an additional look. And we did see an asymmetry."
Asymmetry. As in "One of these things is not like the other".
I got this call on Monday. They could not get me in for an additional look until Thursday. Much worrying ensued. Of course the inevitable thoughts creeped in. "What if I have cancer? What if I lose one breast? How do you buy clothes with only one breast? What about chemo? Would that be an option? Would they catch it in time? Would I die?"
So yeah, I went overboard with the worry thing, then decided I couldn't do anything until Thursday. Poking my right breast did not unearth any offending lumps, so I waited. And waited. And waited.
And Thursday finally came. And I was ready to face the mammogram again. I felt brave. I shed my clothes and donned the tiny baby blue Batman cape that serves as your coverall during the ordeal. The same technician was there, and she met me with the same jovial demeanor as before. She took some views. Only the right breast this time, and quite a bit more smooshing (probably not the technical term) this time. Okay, folks, this kind of mammogram does hurt, although not as bad as getting a cavity filled or anything.
Then I waited. Then they wanted to do a sonogram. Had they not seen what they expected? Was this good or bad? I started getting nervous now. I hate hospitals, and even though this was the outpatient territory, deep down I knew it was still the hospital, and that didn't help my nerves.
The sonogram was easy. Lay down. Try to stop racing heart. Get squirted with gel (actually warm gel...they have a warmer for the stuff!) and wait as the friendly technician glided the sonogram paddle thing (there I go again with the technical terms) in eighteen directions over me.
"You've got cysts," she said. My heart stopped.
I must have looked shocked because she continued.
"They're benign and very normal. See?" She pointed out several dark shadows in the maze of wavy lines on the screen.
"What causes them?" I blurted out.*
"Well, I've had that question so many times, that I've researched it. It could be blocked glands, you know, like a clogged drain gets backed up and it causes a lump. It's also thought to be hereditary," she said, "They could go away or they could just stay there. Either way they are normal and always benign."
I really liked her use of "always" here!
I couldn't think of any other questions, so she left to let me dress and get the hell out of there. It was strange having been there so long and then after this quick n' painless procedure, they just let me loose. I wasn't going to let them have second thoughts.
But as I waited, I thought of one more answer I needed to know. I don't know why, I just needed to know.
"How many are there?" I asked, as she came back in to see me off.
"Four" was the answer.
Well, there you go. A nice, even, symmetrical number.
*In hindsight, this is weird. My first thought should have been thankfullness, instead of curiousity. But my brain works like that sometimes...