Let’s start at the beginning….
Okay maybe not that far back….
I was diagnosed with pneumonia. After walking around for an entire month coughing, I begrudgingly admitted I may need professional medical care. This was only after pulling a muscle from… well… constant coughing. I was put on antibiotics, which I took until the very end of the cycle (I also floss my teeth every day and come to a complete stop at every stop sign….).
The pneumonia came back and brought a friend, pleurisy. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of meeting pleurisy, it is the inside out version of pneumonia, where fluid builds up between the chest wall and the lungs. Pair these guys together and you’ve got yourself quite a party filled with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-killers.
I explain to the doctor that although my house guests left, I still was having a difficult time breathing. Just like George Costanza’s ‘leave behind’, Pneumonia wanted to leave the door open, just a crack, just in case…
September 2013 – September 2014
For the next year, my general practitioner and I became good friends as I visited him often, through various attempts at a diagnosis: anxiety, asthma, stress, allergies, anxiety, pulmonary embolism and anxiety.
I tried to explain:
“Yes, I am anxious and twitchy, I am fully aware of that fact. Nothing new there. No more so than before I couldn’t breathe well.”
“Yes. I do have allergies, like everyone else to dust and hard work but no, it isn’t causing my shortness of breath either.”
“No. I will not step on the scale because really…. What does that have to do with my breathing except to cause me anxiety, which will cause me to have shortness of breath.”
And then the unthinkable happened.
In September 2014
I felt a lump.
I called Annie, the Physician’s Assistant (because anyone who knows the medical community will always go to the nurses and PAs first). I had actually never met her before but was assured that she was very good. From the minute we met, I knew it was a match made in East Coast heaven. She’s someone you want to hate. As in, “Well yea…sure… she’s beautiful but what a bitch.” But noooooooo… On top of being beautiful on the outside, she is even more beautiful on the inside. After getting felt up, she assured me that the lump felt like a fibroadenoma but, for shits and giggles, let’s go ahead and get a mammogram. I thought, “Well sure. Why not? I enjoyed it so much two years ago that I can’t wait to do it again.” Here’s how it went:
After some smashing, tugging and pulling the nice Mammography Technician, who was all of 12 years old, said:
“Okay sit tight. I’m going to show these images to the doctor and see if we’re all set.”
“The doctor wants me to take a few more images on the left side and then I’ll be right back.”
“Thank you for being so patient. Just a few more angles and we should be good to go.”
“Do you mind hanging tight for a bit? We’d like to do a quick ultrasound.”
By this time I knew that something was up. But not in the fun way where you suspect a surprise birthday party is being planned or an engagement ring was on the horizon. After some more smashing but this time with the added fun of really cold, slimy jelly, she smiled and said, “The doctor will be right in to talk with you.” Great. As I wrote in an earlier blog, here was our conversation:
Me: Well Doc… you look like you’ve been in the profession for a while, just sayin’. What do you think?
Doctor: I have been practicing for a few years. I’ve seen this size and shape before. It’s usually not good.
Me: I have a giant in my pocket that I just filled with 100 pennies. How many of those pennies are falling out?
Doctor: I’m guessing you might drop about .65 or .70¢ on the ground. Are you going to be okay?
Me: Why wouldn’t I? I have .35¢. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sew a hole and find some dropped change.
After having core needle biopsy, a teary-eyed Annie (my amazing PA) told me that I had breast cancer. A lot. At this point, if you’ve been following my blog and my affinity for Paul Harvey: