Biopsy Day

I’m back at the women’s imaging center at Magee for the second time – last time for the mammogram, this time for the biopsy.  Like last time, the woman who brought me back to get changed was civil, but not warm.  She told me to get undressed from the waist up, put on the gown open in the front, lock my belongings in the locker, take a left down the hall, and then wait in the room on the right.  It probably doesn’t’ sound like much to remember, but for some reason it is very hard to hear all of those instructions and put them into action.  This time, the gown is much nicer – they must have been out of these nice ones the last time I was here.  It’s thick and warm, long and pink with long sleeves, so I’m also not freezing, which is nice.  Like last time, I came out of the dressing room and really didn’t know which way to go.  I did find the waiting room, eventually.  My mom is here with me.  She has a zillion vacation/sick days, so I’ve asked her to come with me so that my husband can save his vacation time.  And she’s also been here a hundred times for her own doctors, so she knows what’s what.

Ok, so I wrote the above while I was in the waiting room.  Here’s what happened when I was computer-less.  The nurse came to get me, brought me back into another hallway waiting room (mom was allowed to come).  After a few minutes, she called me into a room.  She took my bp and temp.  Then she verified my identity and began to ask me family history questions.  I can’t tell you how sick I am of relaying my family history.  So I just said, “Everyone on my father’s side.”  She said, “Everyone?”  And I said, “Yeah, just write ‘everyone.'”  At this point, I can’t see why accuracy with that matters so much.  Back out into the hallway.

Then the doctor came to get me.  He said he’s going to explain the procedure.  I said he didn’t have to – I really didn’t want to know what was going to happen.  He said he’d be vague, then proceeded to tell me exactly how many needles (two – one for lidacain, one for the biopsy) and how many times they’d stick me (a few times for the lidacain, then one for the biopsy – but they will move the biopsy needle around in a clockwise fashion and take 12 samples of tissue).  This was his idea of vague?  I really didn’t need to know all of this.  At the end, he says they will put a titanium tag in the spot so they know where it is in the future.  I said, “Well, it doesn’t really matter, I’m having a mastectomy anyway.”  He was completely confused.  When I asked why, he said, “Then why are you having this biopsy?”  My thoughts exactly.  But, I explained that my doctor doesn’t want any surprises, and that knowing the results will determine when I have the mastectomy – now, or in a few months from now.  He said they’d call with results on Thursday or Friday.  Back into the hallway.

The nurse comes to get me.  She does a quick mammogram – just two poses.  Then she helps me get on the biopsy table.  I lay down on my stomach, drop my right breast through the hole (which is big enough for my head), and try to get comfortable.  Can I have a cushion for my ribs, which are digging into the table, I ask?  No – she explains it could affect the positioning.  I put my headphones in.  I have my head turned toward the wall, so all I can see is the clock, and all I can hear is Adele.  I did realize though that not hearing anything was stressing me out, so I turned the volume down.  That way I had some soothing music but I was still aware of what was going on.  They said they were going to start positioning me and I’d feel pressure.  A nurse put her hand on my back and applied gentle pressure – thank god for her – her hand on my back got me through the whole thing.  Here’s how it went, or how it seemed like it went.

Positioning: five minutes
Stick of lidacain – much less painful than I thought it would be.
Lots of pressure, pulling, weird feelings inside breast: five minutes
Loud noises and more pressure: a few minutes
The doctor says, “I’m going to count to three and you’re going to hear a loud bang” – ok, one, two three, bang – seems like a staple went into my breast.  It didn’t hurt, but it was definitely a bang.
A few more minutes of tugging and pulling – I’m thinking, “this isn’t that bad; I’m getting through this!”
And then, then, after all that time, the doctor says, “Ok, we’re going to start the procedure now.”
Are you kidding?  What the hell have you been doing all this time?

Really, the rest of it went rather quickly and didn’t feel any different.  When it was done, I was able to lie on my side while the nurse applied pressure to the wound.  There was blood, but not so much that I saw.  She put small steri-strips on it and then I was taken back to the mammography room for two more poses.  Then back into the hallway to wait for the real bandaging.

My mom was relieved to see me.  We sat for about ten more minutes, while she told me about the tape they used to bandage her breast when she had a biopsy last year.  She said it tore the skin right off and she had a painful open wound for a week.  I have the driest skin on earth, so I knew this would happen to me too.  The nurse eventually called me in, and when she asked me if I had sensitive skin, I said YES.  Please use tape that will be easy to get off.  She did the bandage, gave me an ice pack, some directions (basically, don’t get it wet or lift anything heavy for 24 hours), and then I was sent to get dressed.

At home, I really was in no pain.  I iced on and off, took some tylenol, and that’s all.

Expenses for today: $5 parking paid by my mom (thanks mom)

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