I’m writing this blog, assuming you’ve read the previous one. If not, I’m sure you won’t be entirely lost.
Having seen a surgeon who was as eager as I was to diagnose this breast lump was a good thing. As soon as I left his rooms, we sped to the xray and pathology labs. Here, without appointments but because of the referring doctors influence, I am able to have a CT scan and x-rays done as well as bloods taken. I’m happy this could be done so quick as it would eliminate me coming to sit in a queue the next day.
In fact, the next day has its own challenges. Upon the surgeon’s recommendation, I planned to gate-crash the radiology rooms for a mammogram, sonar, FNA test and biopsy. These tests are usually done by appointment but if I had showed-up at the radiologist’s rooms by 07h30 and as a male request a mammogram (with referral) the reception staff would squeeze me in.
Little did I know my early arrival happened to be perfectly timed as my “squeezing in” would be before any of the scheduled patients arrived.
I had no cooking clue how these tests were going to be conducted.
Needles and I are not friends; we’ve never been. I therefore preferred to remain ignorant pertaining the detail of the tests because sometimes knowing little about a matter is better. After all, given the little I knew about a mammogram, how on earth was I to grow a breast overnight!?
The tests turned out to be an interesting experience.
For the mammogram to be done, I had to stand infront of the mammogram machine (or whatever it’s called) and lean forward slightly. Then I had to make my body ‘pap slap’ so that the technician could move me as she wills, pull/stretch the little breast I have and place that between two plastic squeezing stuff (very much like a snackwich toaster, less the heat). Then I had to remain still in that position, long enough for her to run and take the x-ray. For the men reading this, especially the skinny guys, grab your boob with one hand (yes, the little boob you have) and hold that grab tight for 10 seconds…. that’s what a mammogram feels like. But imagine a total stranger doing it to you 🙂
The mammo was followed by the FNA. Vader van genade! For this part I closed my eyes because even though my breast area and armput was numb (because of local anaesthetic) a needle was to be used to extract fluid from a lymph node in my armput. In order to know the exact location of the node, a sonar is used and the doctor watches on a screen as she navigates the needle to the correct node. I’d be lying if I said I did not feel the needle prick, but once the needle was in, I was fine.
Then came the nasty one, the biopsy. The radiologist had to zap a piece of the tumour tissue which is to be sent to the lab for microscopic testing. In order to do this, she inserted some or other zapping device through an incision made next to my nipple. I recall seeing a long, niddle-like thing in the corner of my eye. I preferred not seeing anything and therefore shut my eyes. The radiologist is once again guided by the sonar to ensure she gets to the correct tissue. Then, suddenly, without warning, I hear the sound of a big stapler which cuts a piece of the tumour. OMW! The stapler sound coupled with the zap is something I won’t forget. I was extremely grateful to the radiologist for not explaining this process in detail (as I just did) because if she had, I’d probably run away.
Once this was over, I was offered a seat in a recovery area coupled with tea and a snack. It was at this point where my eyes fell on the basket beside me containing knitting. This basket brought so much fond memories, I could not resist demonstrating my knitting skills to Ronwyn and in this moment, managed to forget about my recent trauma.
These tests, coupled with the ones done the day before, would be the specimens the various doctors would use to confirm my diagnosis.
*C50.9 is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code for unspecified malignant neoplasm of the breast.