Posts Tagged ‘mammogram’


The 12 Days of MIP: 6 & 5…

puzzle hearts

Today we hit the “halfway mark” for the 12 Days of MIP. If you aren’t up on what this series of posts is all about, click here. Once again, these posts are polar opposites! So, without further adieu, here they are:

Number 6: 

Lessons Learned from the “Woman’s” Exam…

Some days the world just seems ridiculously bent on being mean to the female gender. Nowhere is this more obviously displayed than the demeaning annual check-up with our OB/GYN doctors. It’s bad enough that our private parts are exposed to people we don’t know well enough to even send a Christmas card, but then as we age, we get more humiliation–such as getting our boobs squashed by a very mean machine. So, what’s a girl to do? Make fun of it, of course. Click here to see what I mean.

Number 5:

How I Cope with a Heart that’s a Ticking Time Bomb…

After enduring two more heart attacks this summer for no good reason, many people asked how I manage to keep a positive attitude about my health adventures. My standard answer is, “I’m not sure I get a choice, honestly.” But, when I survived my first 2 heart attacks due to Prinzmetal Angina, I realized I did have a choice to make–I could either get busy living or get busy dying. I chose the former and to poke fun at it, whenever possible. You’ll see just how much fun I can have with Prinzmetal Angina when I reveal “Number 2.” But until then, how about reading what I think keeps me going, even in the moments when I find it hard to laugh about it? Click here to do just that.

Monday’s Post: Do you think we could use some suffusion?

You might also like: The 12 Days of MIP: 8 & 7; The 12 Days of MIP 10 & 9; The 12 Days of MIP: 12 & 11, and The Odd Days of December


A Real Scare…


Book Club Readers: The MIP Reading Plan is up for November’s book! Click here to see it!

Warning: Get your favorite beverage first. 

What I’m about to discuss is not even known among a lot of my friends and family. Perhaps I should send them all smelling salts by FedEx first? If I am blessed to call you a friend or a family member, just do me a favor–sit down first, okay? And if you have a heart condition, take your meds first. But, I promise…it’s going to be all right.

In April 2013 I did my annual check-ups. Yes, plural. I have to do one for my heart condition and one for the female stuff. I have been doing the former ever since 1999 when I first discovered I had Prinzmetal Angina. The latter I should have been doing all along, but honestly, like a lot of women, I had lapsed on that exam for several years.

Enter my best buddy, Kim. Kim, like me, grew weary of the annual exams where our doctors usually chew us out for weighing too much, not exercising enough, and not eating right. Thus, when she felt a lump in her breast, she ignored it. If Kim were here, she would tell you that is the stupidest thing she’s ever done and she paid the ultimate price for that neglect: her life.

Thus, I resolved to be a better medical patient and started going to my annual female appointment again. This includes a routine mammogram due to my age. Normally, these come back just fine, despite having the very common, usually “no-big-deal” fibro-cystic disease.

This year, I got a very short report saying that they needed to re-do the test. That was it. I kept reading the report to try and discern whether the “re-do” was because they hadn’t gotten a clear pic of the “girls” or if they suspected a tumor. Even when I called to schedule this new mammogram, the receptionist wouldn’t specify why I was doing the test again. However, the scary part is that the radiologist would give me the results right away–I would not have to wait 10 days to hear whether or not everything was okay. I considered this both good and bad news.

They couldn’t schedule the re-test right away. Not good for a woman who can make mountain ranges out of an anthill. I considered whether I wanted to relay this to my family for prayer requests or whether I just wanted to “go it alone” with my husband and a few close friends who understood all too well the ramifications of what this test might mean for me. I decided on the latter. The friends told me this was very common and that often, women’s breasts calcify as they age and most of the time, these calcifications are not harmful in any way.

Finally the day came for doing the re-test. The technician did finally confirm that my breasts were calcifying and that these calcifications had grown considerably since my last annual exam. Not only did I have to redo the original scans, but now I had to endure even more uncomfortable positions for this test. Basically, they tried to wring out my breasts like a dish rag and since I’m a C cup, this was not exactly my favorite thing to do on a Monday morning. But, I survived, probably because my other health adventures have taught me a lot about surviving stupid medical pain.

As I waited with the lovely enormous pink paper towel (I didn’t know the Jolly Green Giant had breasts.) over the top part of my bod for the technician or the radiologist to return, I was actually calm. All I can say is that faith in God and the prayers of my family and friends intervened there.

The technician came back and said that the questionable spots on the mammogram appeared to be just calcifications and I needed to confirm this again with another mammogram in late October. I scheduled the appointment and returned home.

Being the researcher that I am, I got on WebMD and discovered that 98% of the time the re-mammogram of such calcifications proves to be nothing to worry about. That was even more calming news. I let those who had been praying know that all seemed to be okay for now.

Enter the health adventures of the last 4 months. Let me just add that my annual heart check-up went extremely well, so I was not prepared for my heart to go berzerk in June and then to create a clot in one of my ventricles this past August. As I recuperated from all of that mess, my mind periodically remembered the eventual October appointment. Again, I thought, “Should I tell more of my family and friends?” Most of them were in rather large transitions themselves and it seemed silly to tell them about something that was probably going to be okay. However, I had seemed to be okay heart-wise as well. And look how that turned out! My luck was pretty much non-existent!

I decided to only tell a few more people about the situation and proceeded with last Monday’s test. Again I lived through the “booby-trap” process I had endured in the original re-test. (I’m thinking a vise grip would have been kinder to my poor left side.) And this time the radiologist saw no reason to re-test until my next female exam in 2014. Yay! Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!

In the meantime one reader friend has also had to deal with an actual diagnosis of breast cancer. It is just scary how many women I know who face these rather unnerving, somewhat painful experiences every day and seldom tell a lot of people simply because they just don’t want to worry people unnecessarily.

The good news? Even if diagnosed, your chances of surviving are awesome today, particularly if you are diagnosed at Stage 1 and Stage 2. In fact I just learned that a vaccine is expected for breast cancer in 10 to 15 years. The friend recently diagnosed said that our country is full of great resources and support, often only a phone call or web site away.

So, dear lady readers: Is it time for a check-up? If so, make that appointment today. Don’t let cost deter you. Many places make mammograms and other female appointments free throughout the year. It never hurts to ask! All they can say is no. But, keep asking.

And gentlemen readers: Have you checked on your favorite person of the opposite gender to make sure she is having those appointments regularly? Be a man and stumble through it, if you have to. At least she will know you care. And that may be the very thing that gets her to the enormous, pink paper towel. You may even save her life. And just for the record, men get breast cancer, too. So, make sure you’re going to YOUR appointments, too.

Yes, friends, it’s that important. The life you save may be your own. And I am always here for support any way you need it. Why? Because I made the decision to keep my appointments. 🙂

Friday’s Post: The Patron Saint of Writers…and???

You might also like: Lessons Learned from the 2009 Dallas Breast Cancer 3 DayHow I Cope with a Heart that’s a Ticking Time Bomb, and 8 Women Who Changed My Life


Lessons Learned from the “Woman’s” Exam Day…

Biomedical hazard

Warning: Get 2 of your favorite beverages first.

Remember how I dreaded the annual check-up with my internist and my dental adventure? Well, yesterday was the final “installment” in my exam trilogy: the “woman’s exam.” And while this exam is every woman’s annual nightmare, mine took place on a rare Texas spring day…I think. The weather more accurately represented a spring day in Chicago, with torrential downpours, bone-chilling winds and low temperatures. Here’s the “takeaway”  and plot synopsis from this year’s nightmare:

1. Don’t get dressed in the morning–it saves time when exposing various private parts to complete strangers.

2. If traffic is stopping in odd places while proceeding to the clinic, it may be because one is doing a modern-day rendition of Lady Godiva. See # 1.

3. There are actual decently close parking spaces at the clinic at 8:30 am. Of course, this was probably the one and only time I qualified for parking in the Nudist Colony reserved parking space.

4. Check-in with receptionist # 1. Well, maybe. Her computer is down and has to reboot. This, of course, is the one and only time she’s had to do that and of course, this is the one and only time I am a few minutes late already for appointment # 1.

5. Fill out same questionnaire I fill out every blessed year. How many pregnancies have you had? (Since I went through menopause in my mid-40s, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t be getting preggers any time soon.) How many live births have you had? I prefer to be alive while giving birth. I guess I’m rather rare?

6. Address an envelope to myself for the mammogram results. Since I haven’t moved in over 20 years, would it really be that hard for them to address the envelope based on the voluminous info in my file? Their bills seem to address themselves and make it to my house just fine.

7. Disrobe top half of my body (You didn’t really think I did the Lady Godiva thing, did you?) and clean off deodorant just put on 30 minutes ago. Feel sorry for anyone who has to smell my armpits for the next few hours, except maybe for the technician who’s going to squish my chest soon. Mutter something incomprehensible about not remembering I can’t wear deodorant. And why does wearing deodorant offend mammogram machines??? Hmmm.

8. Try not to freak out when a total stranger moves my boobs all over the place. Thanks to previous such exams, they do move easier this time around. However, since they are smaller due to weight loss, the technician decides they’re not movable enough. *embarrassing sigh*

9. Wonder if I will be performing a belly dance later when she suggests that I stick things to my nipples.

10. Pray to God that she will get these little x-rays on the first “try.”

11. Re-robe for the first time.

12. Exit exam room and prepare to jaunt to the adjacent building for next demeaning exam. (Note: It’s kinda important not to mix up # 11 and # 12.)

13. Mutter something un-Christian when a cold, torrential downpour is between me and the adjacent building. Grr.

14. Run the 50 yard dash in Olympic record time. Drip a waterfall 0n immaculate waiting room floor # 2.

15. Check in with receptionist # 2. Note that she could do stand-up after her day job. Note that you are not amused.

16. Drip all over immaculate waiting room chairs.

17. Pull out next Slow Reader book. Search for one of 3 pairs of reading glasses in the bottomless pit (aka my purse).  Find 1 pair after removing everything in the pit.

18. Reload all of the above because they just called my name.

19. Get weighed. Try not to look at weight since I am still recovering from the 5-star dinner with the hubby the weekend before.

20. Answer the same questions I’ve answered for the last 20 years. Note that this will be a whole lot more fun when I get Alzheimer’s and can just make up the answers, so that they can freak out for once.

21. Disrobe bottom half of my body…Oh, who am I kidding? This is when I really resembled Lady Godiva. Note that all paper gowns are just pieces of shaped paper faking it. Most of my gowns come with buttons or a zipper. They probably paid extra for the fastener-less ones–a cost they’ll surely pass on to my bill, which they didn’t need me to address.

22. Try to fain confidence as I’m chatting with the doctor.

23. Let her feel me up in every conceivable private part and thank the Lord she’s a she.

24. Re-robe again.

25. Do 2nd 50 yard dash back to main clinic building. Get even wetter.

26. Drip all over main clinic’s building somewhat immaculate floor.

27. Return to mammogram locale and try not to have flashbacks.

28. Go to an exam room smaller than my bedroom closet and try to disrobe bottom half of my sopping wet clothing. I think this is how pretzels are made.

29. Lay down on yet another exam table and allow another x-ray machine to scan me, head to toe, for bone mass density. Wonder if amount of radiation I’m enduring today will kill me tomorrow.

30. Re-robe for the 3rd freaking time. Note that I’ve now tracked mud all over exam room floor. Perhaps they could use the time they’re not addressing envelopes to put in actual sidewalks between clinic buildings???

31. Exit x-ray area again. Try not to have 2 flashbacks.

32. Go to Doctor # 2’s area, check in with receptionist # 99 and ask why they aren’t in the other clinic building so I could drip all over them, too.

33. Sign my life away yet again and wait for allergy shot.

34. Repeat process in # 17 and # 18.

35. Disrobe upper half of my body yet again. Get shot with the world’s thickest allergy serum yet again. Wonder if pouring thicker-than-molasses-in-April serum will slow down the varmints in my back yard who like attacking my new lawn chairs. It sure slows me down.

36. Re-robe for the 99th time. Take ticket to receptionist # 100  and pay for the privilege of being naked all morning long.

37. Do the 50 yard dash to my car. Drip all over my car.

38. Come home. Let dog out. Take off all wet items. Re-apply deodorant since I’m now offending myself.

39. Crawl under bed covers. Try to reclaim a semblance of dignity. Fail miserably.

40. Take a nap and hope the nightmare doesn’t return…for at least another year.

Point to Ponder Challenge: Women–When is the last time you had your “woman’s exam”? Is it time to schedule one? Are you apprehensive about it? If so, find a trusted friend to go with you and celebrate overcoming your anxiety afterwards with a nice lunch or shopping trip. Men–Is there a special lady in your life? If so, when was the last time she took care of these exams? If you think it’s been too long, ask her when she last went. Encourage her to get it done if it’s time and tell her you’re only reminding her because you care about her well-being. And…are YOU up-to-date on any pertinent check-ups, scans and tests? If not, be brave and get it done! Why? Because I care about YOU!

Tomorrow’s Post: Cheese, please…