Ok so I went to the breast clinic, all very nice, modern seating, large 3D photographs of sunsets and waterfalls on the walls, morose music playing very low but just loud enough for its sadness to seep into your ears and create an even larger feeling of dread & anxiety than you’re already feeling. All the available reading material, you know, those dogeared magazines on the table, are those horrid gossip magazines full of real life stories, kiss and tells and crosswords, every one had a cancer story on the cover. So they call your name and you have to go through to a cubicle where you have to remove you upper clothing and put on a cape which you choose from a pile thats sat neatly on a bench, next to that is a bin where you deposit your cape post mammogram. I removed my tshirt & bra and left them in a crumple next to the neatly folded cotton capes and went into the X-ray room. I was asked to remove the cape Id just put on and step towards the machine.
There in front of me was a machine that looks like the offspring of a panini press that has mated with a rather large computer server, it is not a friendly looking thing, especially the plastic press bit that had a display above it displaying pounds per inch in cheery green digital numbers. The technician was lovely, she calmed my fears and positioned me into the machines plastic clamps ready for the mammogram, I was OK until she told me she would need to take 4 X-rays, a top to bottom and side to side of each breast. It can’t be much worse than wearing a push up bra 2 sizes too small for maximum lift, which probably caused this mess in the first place, can it? It was, it hurts. Now I have an ample bosom and this clamp bit down on my boob squashing what it had a grip on, which was a lot, with quite a force, your instinct is to pull away, get your boob out of the thing thats got a grip on your appendage ASAP. I didnt look to check the pounds per inch. I wondered how people with lesser breasts actually manage to get anything in there, the technician told me that she has had all shapes and sizes jammed in there and even men once a month. You have to stand with your hand on your stomach with your bum sticking out, straight neck but looking to the side and holding your other breast out of the way whilst trying not to pass out with fear of being in this mechanical grip, the X-ray part of it is quite quick thankfully. The woman in the 3D generated image below is doing it all wrong..
Both sides done I wanted to flee, so went back into the cubicle, dunked my cape in the used bin and got dressed. My boobs hurt. I went back out to the waiting room and sat next to my concerned husband who held my hand tightly, my foot uncontrollably tapping, until my name was called for a second time, this time by a rotund nurse in blue with cheery cherry red lipstick on, to go in to see the Consultant.
I entered the Consultants room, she was a lovely lady, small petite, soft spoken, dark hair, large dark eyes, stripy vest, the chairs were green, there were 3, messy desk, yellow file. I was looking at everything, anything but the 2 large screens at the end of the room which displayed the mammogram pictures in full 54″ HD. She asked a few questions confirming answers Id given on a questionnaire prior to the appointment then asked me to undress & show her where I thought the problem was. All I could do was not look at those images on the screen because I knew what I didn’t want to see & thought if I didn’t look it wouldn’t be real, it wouldn’t be there, if I looked I’d see it the way I saw my sons tiny embryonic penis on the scan moments after being told I wasn’t allowed to be told the sex of the baby because too many people had been aborting after finding out they were having girls. She examined me and asked me to lie on the couch, she was incredible gentle, she examined me again then said she needed to ultrasound me. then she said the words you don’t want to hear when you’re in a breast clinic examination room, “Theres something here, it looks like a cyst but it doesn’t look like the cysts surrounding it” which was when I burst into tears. She then rather cheerily told me that it was wonderful how the “lump’ was in exactly the same position on the mammogram as on the ultrasound & wasn’t that amazing. I was crying too much now & instantly killed myself off so had to take a moment to compose myself to listen to what was being said, at this point I dared to look at the screens and there on both screens tucked away behind my breast tissue was a dark little cluster about the size of a marble, I went numb. The next word I heard was “biopsy” I burst into tears again explaining how I hate needles when really it was the fear of having one jabbed into my breast tissue and taking a chunk out was the thing that I was really scared of. I composed myself again, took off my glasses and buried my eyes in the crook of my arm while Eleri, my lovely nurse, sprayed antic-bac spray on the area the consultant would soon be sticking things, alien things, hurt inducing things. I started playing a tune in my head to try and tune out what was happening, the tune my darling sub conscience chose was Lump by The Presidents of America, how fitting. The consultant after injecting me with local anaesthetic initially tried to pop the lump with a needle but that didn’t work so she said had to do the biopsies, just to be sure. I had my eyes closed & buried away in my arm the whole time so I cannot describe to you the implements or instruments used to do the biopsy, all I know is that it made a popping sound each time it took a little nibble of the offending thing inside me. The consultant was careful to demonstrate the sound it made beforehand so I didn’t jump when I heard it. Everything after that is a bit of a blur, I had a dressing applied, was handed a leaflet on what to do, told to take pain killers, all I wanted to do was get out to my husband who was waiting on tenter hooks in the waiting room, he’s great when theres something wrong with me, he’s great because he has something to focus on, me, because I am the most important thing in his life and if Im in pain he wants to do anything he can so Im not, he’s also not emotional in these kind of situations which calms me. I had to make an appointment at the reception desk for 2 weeks time for the results, I was told this after the lovely nurse Eleri had taken my mobile number and written it on the front of my biopsy sample sticker. The Consultant was lovely, I can’t remember what she said, I can’t remember her name, I wasn’t listening I was in full on panic mode. I walked out of the room up to the reception desk ignored my husbands gaze who knew by now something was up with me as Id been unable to look at him and burst into uncontrollable tears in the face of the receptionist who ushered me around the corner onto a sofa and out of the sight of the other ladies sat on the modern furniture, looking at the 3d photographs of sunsets & waterfalls and pretending that today was just another day.
Its all going to be OK.