(lengthy and descriptive.  you've been cautioned)

i went in for my annual mammogram screening on wednesday.  i always like to look at the pictures, because quite frankly, it's as close to being a porn star as i'd like to get.

the tech was explaining density, et cetera, when i pointed to something and asked, "what's that?"  she said "i don't know - i'm just a tech."

i was "just a tech" once, remember?  when i saw d-cels on a monitor, or hear the heart rate of the baby drop when mama was laboring, i was asked the same question - what's that??  i would respond in kind, "i don't know, i'm just a tech"

she told me to sit in the waiting area while the radiologist read my report -- not the dressing room, where i am usually sent -- the waiting area.  these little nuances are not lost on me.

she came back about 10 minutes later and said "they'd like to do an ultrasound of your left breast."  i replied "ok," and sat and looked at my Real Simple magazine and thought "this is so not that simple," and waited for the ultrasound tech to come and fetch me up.

it took about an hour - i have multiple cysts (fibrocystic) and the tech lost count after five.  she questioned my other situation - i am "leaking" - and stopped in the middle of the exam and took her glasses off to look at me.

"how long has that been going on?"
"about 2 years."
"have you SEEN ANYBODY FOR IT??"
"uh, no..." was my feeble reply.

this gave her fodder for a 10-minute lecture, which i had to endure because i was held captive by the ultrasound probe.  nice.

after she was finished up, i was told the radiologist was convinced they were just cysts and i could come back next year for my next mammogram.  i was almost out the door when she said, "but you need to seek out a breast specialist for your other issue," and gave me the card of the doctor she recommended.

i called on my way back to work, explained to the receptionist what my issue was and after putting me on hold for close to an eternity (five minutes), she came back on - "dr. brown can see you tomorrow at 1:30."  i said "can we make it next week?  i am running late getting back to work, and --"  she cut me off.  "you need to keep this appointment."

i countered with "but my referrals take 48 hours --" cut me off again.  "i'll make a phone call to your primary care doctor, that won't be a problem.  we'll see you at 1:30 tomorrow."

head spinning just a tad, i told my boss what was going on when i finally got to the office at 11 a.m. (my appt. was 8:30 a.m.)  he was great and supportive and basically told me to do what ever was necessary.

i arrived for my appointment, my husband nervously waiting in the lobby area, and after filling out forms, was taken back to meet my new doctor, who i liked immediately.  she was warm and professional, and after one of the most thorough breast exams i have ever encountered since my first (albeity fumbly) one shortly after puberty hit, she did another ultrasound.  she explained my cystic condition - you have MANY and not simply in your left breast - but also talked to me frankly about certain breast cancers not showing up on mammos or ultrasounds, primarily in the lobes or the ducts.  since i've had this 16 years post-breastfeeding issue for some time, she said that causes her great concern and after biopsying one of my cysts (as i watched on ultrasound), she went on to explain that i needed to have two separate procedures, one breast at a time.  we talked a bit about ductal carcinoma and i told her i would like to discuss it more fully if the cart is after the horse, and she agreed.

"it's a duct excision," and she went on to explain the procedure in great detail...where she is cutting, how long it takes, stitches, biopsy of tissue and duct, sedation, out-patient surgery, ice packs, support bra...and i said "how soon?"  "as soon as they can get you in."

my left excision is scheduled for november 16th and right, november 23rd.  i am unable to lift anything over 5 pounds for one week, which doesn't bode well for me making Thanksgiving dinner.  we will go over the results of both procedures the following week when i revisit her office, and we will discuss treatment and options, if necessary, at that time.

she is taking it very seriously and while i can say i feel as though my bell has been rung at times, i know that God's got this, no matter what the outcome.

it is amazing to me how the tools of my AA program have stepped up to bat immediately - called and spoke with my sponsor, have been in regular touch with other people of the program, am able to recognize where my fear is coming from (afraid of losing something that i've quite attached to the *girls*...) and i ask myself, "am i trusting God"?  yes.  "am i doing the 'next right thing'?"  yes.  am i "not following direction?" no, i am following direction and being proactive in my care. my checklist is in good standing, thus far.

i am a bit afraid, nonetheless, because of the uncertainty of the outcome, and the procedure is 10 days away.  however, i know God will help me use this time wisely and by the 16th, i'll have my game face on and be ready for what God has in store.

(that certainly doesn't mean i don't need my friends to pray for me, however - i am not so arrogant to think i do not.  i need all the help i can get!)

O God, come to my assistance

(O Lord, make haste to help me)

ladies:  if you haven't had a mammogram or can't remember the last time you did, you are well overdue.  monthly breast exams in the shower are necessary and your annual visit to the "cookie doctor" (my friend joan's phrase, you gotta love her!) is also a very needful thing.  please do this for yourself, your family, and your loved ones.