I went for my check up today - one year after my last ultrasound revealed a lump in my breast.
It was terrible.
I wasn't too worried beforehand; even though I do worry about the Cancer coming back, I didn't think they'd find anything quite so soon after finishing chemo and radiotherapy. But once I was sitting outside the radiology changing room cabins, waiting my turn, it brought back a wave of memories and emotions that I wasn't expecting. I had forgotten how awful it was going through test after test, watching time seep away as we waited endlessly in hospital corridors, getting results that were not good and feeling utterly powerless.
Just a check up, I told myself.
Eventually it was my turn to strip in the cabin and troop self consciously through to the mammogram machine where I remembered what torture this procedure is (perhaps it is because I have such a tiny breast that they have to squeeze it to death to get it to stay put? At least I only have one to squish flat now...)
Then back to the cabin to wait for the ultrasound. Twenty minutes later, I was called back for another mammo image and alarm bells started to ring.
Just so we can get a larger image, she reassured me.
A larger image? Why? Was there something in the smaller image that they needed to check out in more detail??
So I was feeling pretty stressed by the time I got in for the ultrasound. The doctor took a long time examining my breast and finally said...it's fine. Phew. Then he checked my chest and lymph nodes on the mastectomy side and I held my breath every time he paused to get a better look.
Then he said, "It's fine but I need to show my supervisor. "
What? Show his supervisor? Serious alarm bells were ringing now. He said it was fine but, hey, let's face it, I've heard that before. Don't worry, we're sure it's just cysts but let's take a biopsy just in case. Yeah, right. So I waited for him to come back and the longer I waited the more scared I got.
I thought, fuck, fuck, fuck, they've found something. You don't check with your supervisor for no reason. What will it be next? A biopsy of the lymph nodes? I know THAT will hurt. And what will they find then?
By the time he finally came back I had worked out what I needed to do to cancel our holiday so I could have more tests, I had my husband's telephone number on speed dial and a packet of tissues at the ready.
"Everything's fine," he said cheerfully.
I'm sorry? All fine? Really? Really truly?
I was back in the changing cabin before I could really take it in and then I sat on the bench and sobbed. And sobbed.
When I had gathered myself together, I left the hospital with my head ducked so that no-one could see my red eyes and went straight to the shopping centre. I went to the same shop that I visited this time last year, but then I was buying button-up shirts to wear after my mastectomy when I knew I wouldn't be able to lift my arm.
This time I went straight to the pretty summer dresses and bought three.
Because it looks like I'm going on holiday after all.
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