Monday, October 23, 2006

Birad 3 

Okay, let's start this out by going right to the bottom line - I'm probably fine. What's that you say? That's not much of an assurance? Yeah, that's how I feel.

I had a routine screening mammogram earlier this month. They said if there were any questions or issues, they'd call me by the end of that week. Otherwise I'd get a letter in the mail. The end of that week and the next week went by, so I thought, "Great - see you next year."

Last Tuesday morning, however, I got a call from a cheery appointment scheduler who informed me that they need me to come back in "for a few more views," and who then asked if I could come in that afternoon. I looked at my schedule and saw that we had a company-wide monthly meeting scheduled at that time, so I asked when else I could come in. The following Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after hanging up, I realized that there was no way in hell that I wanted to wait a week before going back, so I told my boss the situation and that I'd rather get it done that day. His response: "You think?" He then told me not to even think about the corporate meeting and to call and get that day's appointment.

So off I go that afternoon. They redo the basic poses and contortions of the screening session, but just on the left side. Wait in the waiting room, still adorned in my lovely hospital gown over jeans, while the radiologist looks at the new films (these are all digital, so the radiologist can view them right away). Back in - they need some more views, smaller paddles, more contorted positions, more discomfort. Wait in the waiting room, still adorned in my lovely hospital gown over jeans. Now my mind is starting to wander, making what if plans.

Whoops - here comes someone else. She explains that there was a small something one view from my screening mammo, but that it didn't show on the first repeat set. However, a different small something showed on one of the first views of that day, which is why the additional contortions on the second set that day. The second something didn't show up on the second set that day, so now I had to follow her over to the Ultrasound waiting room, adorned in my lovely hospital gown over jeans.

Sitting in the Ultrasound waiting room, I'm making more detailed what if plans in my head. Each time during my visit that someone came over to me and didn't tell me everything was fine I was moving closer to freaking out.

Finally the ultrasonographer escorts me into the room and onto the table. I got placed on my back but with a cushion propping up my left side so that I was leaning towards the equipment, with my left arm behind my head the whole time. And it was quite a while. She moved that wand all over the place, at different angles, with different pressures - you get the picture. She finally explained that I have lots of densities going on, which is why they needed to get the ultrasound view. After a while she finally stopped and said she would go chat with the radiologist and see if he needed to come take a look himself.

I'm still on the exam table, with a towel draped over my chest, and with my mind now going into overdrive on such topics as who will help us move, when are exams over, can this (whatever it is) wait until the semester's done, what about next semester- will that be impacted, what's the short term disability at my office, it's fine, it's fine...

In comes the radiologist, who repeats the whole ultrasound exam himself. Finally he tells me that I have "busy breasts," - yes, that's the exact phrase he used - which makes it hard to get a clear picture on the mammogram sometimes. He then explained about the original 4mm vague opacity on the screening mammo, and the subsequent 3mm vague opacity on the first set of follow ups, and the lack of either on the second set. He's categorizing me as a birad 3, which means it's probably benign but I should come back in 6 months for another mammo on the left side only.

So, I'm probably fine. But I made my 6 month appointment (to the day) before I left the building.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:20 PM