Ultrasound goo, the inside of my boobs, and one too many unwanted hugs.
I'm a hypochondriac. It runs in my family and is very difficult to shake, especially when you've grown up around older Italian women incessantly talking about death and the terrible sfortuna that has riddled our lives.
But this last medical freakout was warranted. I had found a lump in my breast which left me paralyzed with fear and made me spiral into a headspace of catastrophic thoughts. So I did the reasonable thing one should do once the life re-entered my pale, freaked out body. I went to the doctor's and forced her to touch it. She assured me it was most likely a cyst and nothing to worry about. But the words "most likely" didn't reaaaallly wash away my worries. Like hi, that is vague. That is not certain. Do your fingers have x-ray vision that know?!?
Didn't think so.
Eventually I changed doctors and this one wanted me to get an ultrasound to see what was going on in there. So last Thursday I went. I wasn't nervous leading up to the appointment which is highly unlike me but that unnatural calm made me feel like I was in control and could do this.
The technician was the sweetest woman. She told me she liked my eyes and called me her "scared baby" as she squeezed cold goo all over my chest. It was basically romantic. I even held her arm at one point.....because I was FREAKING LE FOOK OUT.
If you've never seen the inside of your body on screen, I'd like to tell you that you are blessed. It's fascinating and terrifying all at once if you have no medical background because "normal" images can be alarming if you don't know what's supposed to be in there and what isn't.
She told me that the entire exam would take about a half-hour. For someone who has a difficult time sitting still for more than 5 minutes, lying there exposed for 30 minutes while looking at the inside of my boobs absolutely triggered a panic attack that I thought I kept under-wraps until she told me she could feel my heart racing through the ultrasound handle. Dear people who are chill, how do you do it?
What they do in this kind of exam is ultrasound each breast in a clockwise motion. Then, after every "hour" section is examined, they snap a picture and jot down the "time" stamp so that if there were an issue, the next doctor can focus on that spot. So we're going along, looking through the gross sea of my breast tissue and I see this tiny black dot that clearly doesn't belong. And then, as she continues, we find another one. They looked HUGE on screen but she assured me they were teeny tiny and that I should be proud of my "sensitive fingers" for feeling them. I think she found about 5 or 6 of those ominous looking black holes. And at the end of it all, I was so dizzy I could barely get up. Panic will do that to you.
I pretty much forced her to give me any indication of what those black dots meant. Though she said they were all "friendly images", I didn't want to accept her word over the radiologists who would later look over the captures. And because of that, I lived with horrifying anxiety for the next two days jumping to the worst conclusions.
It's scary sitting with the unknown. Terrifying, actually. But in those 48 hours until I got the results, I realized that (barf alert for the cliche statement coming up) life is exactly this -- it is unknown and unexpected. And that if I spent so much time jumping to conclusions in my head instead of living in the now, and then eventually facing facts (not the "alternative" ones), I would be wasting my entire life and giving it up to fear. That, as a concept, blows.
After work I got the call that my results were in and that the doctor wanted to follow up with me. The life left my bone once again, which quite honestly is a lot for one week. I asked the receptionist about 4 times if it was urgent and she assured me it wasn't, and the next day that was confirmed. Those scary black holes all up in my breasts? They are tiny cysts -- something that runs in my family.
When my doctor told me this, I grabbed his arm too. Beware, if you are any kind of medical professional, I will probably be snatching your arm, it's clearly a new thing I'm doing. But anyway, he gave me a hug and told me not to be so worried. I'm still unsure whether or not he hated the hug and I feel like it's not in his job description buuuut it helped calm me. After that, we prop'sed (sp?), I left, and took a good 4 hours to cool my jets and my adrenaline levels. Later that night, I went out to celebrate being alive and healthy and my sweet friend Jordan's birthday.
I wanted to share this story so that anyone going through a similar time of uncertainty and anxiety can rest assured that you don't have to have it all together. That you are allowed to freak out and lean on others for support...even if that means grabbing your technicians hand (thanks for not being weird about it, girl). The fact of the matter is that things like this are unnerving and stressful and that even if you're an adult, you can be scared. At the same time, what will be will be and as frightening as that may be, it can also bring you a sense of peace if you think about it a little differently. Say you get your results in a few days. That means that things may or may not change five days from now and that the time between now and then is your time, it's the now, and it's time that shouldn't be wasted. So surround yourself with people who support you and calm you and know that it's ok to laugh and have fun. It's not going to jinx what lies ahead. This time is yours, every moment of every day, and I hate that it often takes me a big scary moment to remember how truly short life is.
I hope today you won't forget.
PS. Self-check ladies and gents!!!