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So after my first mammogram I was called and informed that I was going to need an ultrasound follow-up and potential diagnostic mammogram. I knew that it was normal for a call back especially after your very first mammogram. Because there is nothing for them to compare (once they have a base mammogram they can compare future mammograms to current ones to see what is normal), so they error on the side of caution. I did let them know that I was ok with scheduling the ultrasound. If they decided they needed to do a diagnostic mammogram I wanted to wait a week so that my breasts had a chance to heal more. If something was found then there was the potential for a breast biopsy which scared me but I would take it one step at a time.
Day of the Ultrasound
So I now had an ultrasound scheduled for 1 week after my first mammogram. On the day of my ultrasound I got to the imaging center and was directed to the 2nd floor again. I was called back to the ultrasound room and given a cape to change into. Once on the ultrasound table they slipped a wedge under my right side to elevate me. The tech then scanned my breast and took the images they needed.
One thing I regret is that I did not ask more questions about what she was looking at and looking for. I could see her screen but not sure exactly what they were looking for. Again don’t be scared to ASK QUESTIONS, if you are not sure what they are doing ASK, if you want to know what they are looking at and for … ASK. I can not stress enough to advocate for yourself and make sure you are asking questions to find out what is being done to YOUR body.
If you have never had an ultrasound they put a gel on you where they want to scan. They then use a wand to take images and observe blood flow and stuff. The nice thing is that they don’t hurt 🙂 Once they get the scans they show them to the radiologist. The radiologist then looks and determines the next step. They can either send you off for a diagnostic mammogram or as in my case let you know you need to schedule a breast biopsy.
My lucky straw draw
I pulled the lucky straw of now I have to have a breast biopsy done. I was already tearing up when we went to schedule it. Logically I know that with most of these the biopsy findings are benign. Emotionally that does not matter. I know my chances are higher that it could be something because of my family history. Also I am anxious about the biopsy itself. I scheduled the biopsy for the following week on Wednesday when I could have my husband come with me. We would have my mom watch munchkin while at the appointment. I don’t like needles and stuff like that. It was a little hard for me to drive home because I kept tearing up.
I sat in the car and texted my mom to make arraignments to watch munchkin and text work so they could start finding someone to cover my shift that day. I also texted my best friend to let her know what happened. After I calmed down enough to drive I headed home to tell my husband. He asked if it was cancer and I let him know that is what they were checking on. The chances of it being cancer are slim but higher with mom’s history.
The imaging center I am going to does 3 types of biopsies depending on where it is. I had an ultrasound biopsy done. For the most part I was ok the week leading up to the biopsy. Now when Monday and Tuesday rolled around I started to get nervous again. Through research I know that they will numb me so I should not feel anything. I think I was more nervous about the pain after the numbing agent wore off. I am a wimp and fully acknowledge it, I don’t deal with pain all that well.
Day of biopsy
The night before I took a nice hot bath knowing that I would not be able to for a bit. The insomnia was strong the night before. So not only was I a bit anxious but I could not sleep. Then to add to that the toddler woke up early and would not go back to sleep. My husband was kind enough to go grab me a hot chocolate and doughnut for breakfast. My mom came over to watch the munchkin while my husband went with me. We arrived for my appointment and were directed to what I now think of as the “breast floor”. It was hard waiting there today. Just thinking about what was coming was getting to me.
What to expect
So we were called back to one of the ultrasound rooms. I had 2 techs in there with me, one was newer and still learning the ropes. They explained what was going to happen. First they would find the area and make a mark so it would be easier for the doctor to find. Once they were sure they had the location they would go get the doctor. He would clean the area, use the ultrasound to confirm the area. Then he would numb up my breast so I would not feel anything.
Create a small nick in the skin and then insert the needle. Take a few samples then insert a small marker so that it is easy to locate the site later. They would then hold pressure on the area for about 5 min before putting steri-strips on that spot. Then I would go get a much nicer mammogram to confirm the maker is in the right place.
Actual procedure time
Once in the room they had me change into the cape. Laid me on the ultrasound table and placed a wedge under my right side so I was elevated. They offered and I accepted a couple of warm blankets for the rest of me. Had me raise my arm over my head so they could find the spot and mark it for the doctor. I am not sure what they used to make the mark but it pinched a little, they did that twice. Then they did consent for treatment and possible side effects. Once signed they went to get the doctor and had me lay back down. They got me a pillow to rest my arm on to make it a little more comfortable.
The Breast Care Coordinator stopped in to say hi, sounds like she just wants to introduce herself to anyone having a breast biopsy done. She did stay through my whole procedure, not sure if it was because of my previous issue or something else. They made sure I had enough tissues for my crying. Even though nothing had been started I started crying from the anxiety. They were very understanding and compassionate. The coordinator sat with me and then I had my husband by my feet so I could squeeze a hand. The doctor came in and introduced himself. He figured out which side he wanted to work from and got started.
Time for the biopsy
Using the marks the tech placed on me he found the lump himself so he could figure the best way to take the sample. He cleaned the area which was kind of cold. Then came the lidocaine, if you have never had lidocaine before it does burn a bit as it is going in. My poor husband’s hand got quite the squeeze at this point. Honestly after all was said and done getting the lidocaine was the worst part. They did 2 shots one after the first one had kind of kicked in to make sure I was numb.
Then the doctor made his incision and took samples. The needle they use to take the core samples makes a clicking sound when they take the sample. They warned me about this so I would not be scared when I heard it. The doctor took 4 samples and then we were done. I did not feel anything even pressure while they were taking samples so that was nice. Then they placed the internal marker and I was all done.
After the doctor was done they held pressure on the site for like 5 minutes. Now this was a bit uncomfortable because they want to make sure to use enough pressure. Once that was done they put steri-strips on to help keep the small incision closed. Then they went to check and see if mammography was ready for me. They had my husband wait in the waiting area while I had the mammogram done. While still uncomfortable it was better than my first one and not as much pressure. This mammogram is just to check that the marker was in the right place.
After care instructions
Once the doctor oked the mammogram images they came in to give me instructions and goodies. One of the goodies is they provided a compression bra. This bra was designed to be tighter than most and has a pocket in the cup to place ice packs. They helped me put it on and slipped the first ice pack in. Then I got dressed and got the rest of my instructions. Some of the instructions were keeping ice on it (off and on) for about 6 hours, using pain reliever like Tylenol – NO ASPRIN – if needed for discomfort. Have to sleep in the bra overnight, no heavy lifting (like over 8 lbs, or a gallon of milk) for 2-3 days, and to not shower till the next day.
They also gave me a goody bag with some chocolate, an extra cold pack, couple of nail files and a clip magnet. Honestly I had built up this procedure to be worse than it was. I was still a bit scared about any potential pain after the lidocaine wore off but we would see. I went home while my husband ran to get us lunch. After I ate I went to take a nap … easiest way to not worry about lifting anything. When I woke up I was surprised that I was not hurting. Really the build up in my head was so much worse than the actual experience.
Struggles & Waiting
Now I do have the struggle of remembering not to use my right arm to pick things up. Also trying to get the toddler to be careful since she can not see the owie. I showed her a picture of the bandaged up owie but since it is not visible I know she does not remember it. She wants to play and everything and of course she is active. For the most part she has been ok but constant reminders to be gentle around me right now. Now the cats are harder, they keep wanting to walk or lay right on the biopsy site.
Now I have to wait till like Monday to find out the results, it is funny cause I am not as anxious about those as I was about the actual biopsy. This has definitely been an experience I do not want to repeat but was not as bad as I thought. The staff at the imaging center were great and did not make me feel bad for crying or being scared. They helped explain what would happen and were great about it. Having someone to talk to like my best friend was great. If you have something like this talk to someone. Don’t hide it or try to be strong, it is scary thinking you might have cancer. Do some research on which procedure you will be having done and if you want to know why are you having one over another … ASK.
What I learned through this experience
The biggest thing I learned through out this whole experience is to speak up. Ask questions and be your own advocate. Just because you don’t know what is normal, don’t let that hold you back from asking questions. If they tell you it is normal great, if not then you know and maybe it is something they should know. If you are scared that is ok hopefully they will take that into consideration and treat you accordingly. No matter what I can not stress enough, BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE, ASK QUESTIONS, SPEAK UP!
UPDATE: My doctor called me with the results and it was benign, so I get to end my week with great news.