I love my OB/GYN.
Last month I felt a lump in my left breast. It was right before my period, and since I have fibrous breasts I thought that maybe I just had hormonal changes in the tissue. It sort of went away for two week, but now it's back.
I became very familiar with how my boobs felt when I was breastfeeding Lily. I was plagued with plugged milk ducts, which is very painful to the mother and frustrating to the baby because they don't get the milk they should when feeding. It took six weeks, lots of Internet research, and multiple visits to the hospital's lactation consultants, but I developed methods to clear the plugs. I started to be able to tell if my duct was plugged deep in the breast or if it was plugged at the nipple, and I had different ways of dealing with each problem. Eventually I was able to tell when a duct was developing a plug and was able to locate and stop it, all just by knowing how my breasts should feel.
Since I know what my boobs should normally feel like, it was easy to feel the lump. I knew I had to get in to see my doc. We work in the same department, so I went into work early today and stopped by his office. He happened to be talking with his brother (also an OB/GYN) when I asked if he had a second. His brother promptly left, and I told him I felt a lump. I didn't have any kind of appointment, and no nurse was there, but he immediately got up, saying "Lets have a look right now."
We went into a room and I showed him where it was. He confirmed that he felt something, but he thought it was a benign cyst. I asked how he knew it was just a cyst, and he said over the last 20 plus years he's done a lot of breast exams, and it feels like a cyst to him. However, he still wanted me to have a mammogram today. since the Breast Center is usually packed with patients, he told me which nurse in our department to contact because she'd be able to get me in. I got an appointment at 10:15.
What I was getting was a diagnostic mammogram, which means the radiologist would be there to read the films and give diagnosis immediately. With a routine mammogram the radiologist reads the films later and you get a letter in the mail. I had only had one mammogram before, and they did the standard four views, plus something called a compression view because my tissue is dense in one area. This compression thing sucks. I'm not saying that having a mammogram is fun, cause we've all seen the jokes about how slamming your boob in a car door might be comparable to a mammogram, but the compression view is worse.
Instead of just smooshing your boob between two plastic plates, the compression is like a little disc that smashes just a little part of your boob against the bottom plate. Since it's just a little part you'd think it wouldn't be that bad, but it's worse because it's just a little area, like as big around as a soda can, and I think they crank it down harder to get a better image. And, lucky me, my fibrous breasts make imagine even more difficult. When I got my first compression view on my first mammogram, I almost passed out. Seriously, I got dizzy and everything got grey and a little sparkly.
I just knew they'd be doing the compression thing, and I told the nurse before she started that I had almost fainted after the last one. She was very nice, and told me that sometimes people feel like they need to hold their breath, like for a regular x-ray, but you don't, so she said please concentrate on breathing the entire time. Before she started she asked me where I felt the lump, and then she put a sticker with a small bead of aluminum in it on the area I was pointing to.
Now I'm a big wuss and a bad patient, but I did my best to keep breathing like she suggested. And amazingly, it worked. I was a little anxious, but otherwise fine with the compression. Not that I liked it, but I was able to make it through without falling on the floor.
After the radiographs were taken they took me to ultrasound. It's standard procedure for them to take all patients who feel lumps to get an ultrasound just as another way of viewing the area. The doc came in and said he didn't see anything on the radiographs. I asked him to explain the ultrasound, since I'm familiar with seeing them (all of our embryo transfers are ultrasound guided so I see uterine ultrasounds every day). He was very nice and explained everything he was seeing. Basically he couldn't see anything. No lump, no cyst, just a mound of fibrous tissue that felt like a lump. He said my tissue is likely to change a lot, especially as my hormones change in my cycle, and that just to keep up with the changes. And to come back in a year for another mammogram.
The whole thing was a little scary, but I was back at my desk in an hour with a clean bill of health for my boobs. I decided to go over and see if I could catch my doc in the hallway and tell him the results. I saw him walking out of his office, and before I could say anything he said "I already saw the results. Fibrous tissue, so it's no big deal. It's great news."
How many doctors can you name that would see a patient before the office opened, help squeeze them in for a same day mammogram (since the first available regular mammograms are usually six weeks out), and then check the results and know the outcome within ten minutes of the patient leaving the other office? That's why I love my OB/GYN.
Oh, and all you ladies out there, get your annual pelvic exams and mammograms if you're over 40. It's important! Don't put it off!
Happy Birthday Mr. Blue
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