Caution-contains photo of wound

This is a page that examines my continuing saga of getting an abnormal mammogram reading from Oct. 25th 2007 and on. I hope this helps other women in the same predicament.

<—be sure to help someone get a free mammogram or a cup of food by clicking on the links there.

10/25- the day after Sean’s 21st birthday. I went in for my 9th mammogram in so many years. I had two on each side and the tech said ‘see you next year’.

10/31- Bri asks me if I have heard the message from the radiology dept at the hospital. I can’t believe my ears! I try to get back to them, but am not successful until the next day. I schedule an appointment for additional x-rays on the 7th which I hope would be my lucky day.

11-7- I had to check-in at the hospital for my appointment. While sitting there, we see a teen girl from our church and her mom leaving with the girl’s new daughter. We don’t know if they know us, but we know them. The building was added in 1986, the year Sean was born. I am into detail and how things tie together. : )

I go into a small room with the tech and she flips up my mammogram films on the light board with the ‘circled’ area. She is cheery and up at first and tells me that every woman will get calcifications sometime during her life. She then takes 3 x-rays, and had to redo one which make 4. Then the radiologist asks for another which make 5. I should be glowing by now as I’ve had 9 x-rays in the last 2 weeks. She doesn’t tell me how slow the machine is and I couldn’t hold my breath for one-blurry. I notice smelling salts taped on the machine and the light switch. She is more quiet now which sends my stomach flip flopping a bit. The radiologist comes in and starts talking rapidly and I was half getting what he was saying. He says ‘however’ and mentions about getting a biopsy on the spots he sees which he is calling micro calcifications. They are somewhat in a group of about 5 or so, which they don’t like. They are the size of pinpoints. They call a ‘breast care’ specialist nurse down and she makes an appointment with a surgeon for Nov.12th. I need to come pick up the x-rays. I ask if I come to the hospital for them and she says ‘yes’.
Scary letter

11-12- My appointment with Dr. Rhodes is at 11 and I head in for the x-rays about 10:15. The lady on the phone won’t acknowledge me so I stand there for at least 10 minutes to be told that I have to go to a building across the road (by another lady). It took us a few minutes to find the other place and I go in and get snapped at by nurse for not calling ahead. By now my fuse is short and I tell her no one even told me the correct place to go in the first place. We then have to go to yet another office and it’s not clear where that is. We finally find it around the dot of 11. I have to fill out about 4 papers. I thought just one, but the receptionist pointed out that I forgot the other 3. It takes me a good 15 minutes to fill them out. A few other women around my age come in. I wonder if they have the same problem as me as I hear ‘mammogram’ or ‘ultrasound’. I go in the exam room and take off my upper clothes and put on a paper gown. Dr. Rhoades comes in with her intern (I think) and she checks out my breasts, first the ‘good’ one and then the questionable one. She talks as fast as the radiologist. She asks me if anyone in my family has/had cancer and I forget to mention my uncle who had prostate cancer. I mention taking Loestrin for 4 months this past summer. She says it could stimulate breast cell growth. So I agree to get my spots checked out by a needle localization. The first part is numbing my breast, sticking my breast in the mammogram machine and then they insert a wire in the hot spots. I appear to not only have the calcifications but another cloudy looking area. This exam takes about 10 minutes. I notice the doctor, in her late 30s-early 40s had hangnails like me. Probably from washing her hands too much.

I set up to have the biopsy on my brother’s 47th birthday, Nov. 28th. Deep down I’m hoping he’ll call me or something as we haven’t spoken for almost a year. I can’t take a number of medications and some herbs (I take Vitamin E every other day) a week before the procedure. I can’t eat, drink or even chew gum after midnight. I can brush my teeth, but can’t swallow anything. I will probably be in the outpatient area for 4-5 hours. I will be under general anesthesia and will take about 1 hour to come out of it all the way. And I need to get tested before the operation.

I am trying to stay optimistic. I did see something I didn’t like on the radiologist’s paperwork which included the word -intermediate chance of ….you can fill in the blank, I don’t want to. I am still hoping they are benign. I will go back a week later and hear the results of the biopsy and we’ll go from there.

11-13- Not a restful night. I was reading too much I guess. The link way above always makes me feel better. I was looking at all the celebrities who had BC (a lot of them!). Of course we don’t know the ones who had calcification’s and then biopsies though Sheryl Crow did last year (in both breasts). She’s well enough this year that she adopted a little boy.

I’m sad I haven’t heard from at least 2 of my 3 brothers just to say ‘we care’. It would mean the world to me. My uncle is a prostate cancer survivor of about 10 yrs so far. He’s had side effects from the radiation that effected his bladder, but he’s over 84 now.

11-15- I just wrote an email to thank the editor Pam for the above article about calcifications at About.com. She really made me feel more optimistic about things. I did ask her a few questions, so I’ll see what she says. I am doing better, slept well the night before. I was terribly achy in my left shoulder, arm and my breast, but not in the problem area. Back at the beginning of October, 3 weeks before my mammogram, I had moved over 150 books, back and forth to fix the shelves in my bookcase and I know I pulled muscles. I now wish Bri had helped me with this! I’m still questioning about this being associated with the calcifications.

I wrote the above around midnight. Since then my mom talked to my older brother and then I called him. He said his wife had had a few biopsies and they even put tiny metal tags in so they knew where the trouble spots were. He wasn’t sure if they were calcifications or cysts. I may call her to ask later. It seems that almost everyone knows someone who has been through the testing. I guess that eases my mind a bit too.

11-19-My birthday. Got two phone calls. One to schedule the pre-admissions testing for next Tuesday at 8:45. I don’t have to fast which is fine with me. I meet the anesthesiologist.

My gyn office calls and the nurse says that my doctor just got ‘the report’ (he’s in another hospital) and recommends the biopsy too.

I go to the dentist to get bonding repaired on a bottom tooth. The receptionist had told me on the phone (after I told her what I was having done) that’s she’s had a few biopsies and to ‘keep an open mind’. Oh I am! I had a dream that they went to look for the calcifications and they were gone! Wouldn’t that be a miracle!

11-27-Pre-admissions today. We left at 8 am and ran into an accident and a bit of traffic but got there at the appt time. I had to sign some papers, get bloodwork and talk to someone with a bad bed side manner from the anesthesiologist’s dept. She said if ‘something is found’ that’s just the way it is and you have to deal with it. Nice. Plus she strapped the blood pressure cuff on me and starting asking me questions! You aren’t suppose to talk plus it was one of the worst machines and almost squeezed my arm in half. I really tensed up and it was 170/90! I never, ever have readings that high! The lady at the desk was nice and said my doctor was really good. So I have to call between 1:30-3:00 today to see when I am to come in there. My main concern is being really dry when I wake up as I have a congestion problem and breath through my mouth a lot. I can use a mouth rinse I have-whew! I will be so glad when tomorrow is over.

11-28-I woke up really early thinking ‘this is the day’ and I hope it’s over quickly. I did have a congestion problem, but a new product called ‘Oasis’ for dry mouths helped a little. I was coughing a lot, so I think I had postnasal drip.

We got to the hospital at the scheduled time, I signed in and got my wristband. I then had to get in my hospital gown robe and booties-get my blood pressure done (the same horrible machine), temp and weight. Then I had the IV put in my right hand as the work was being done on the left.

Around 10:30 or so, I was taken up to radiology for the needle localization. The same lady who did my follow-up mammogram helped me with that. The radiologist (a different man) numbed me (didn’t even feel that) and put in the needle marker, checked the x-ray and moved it a bit so they wouldn’t have to take more breast tissue than they had too. He was really nice and quick and gave me promise saying ‘I don’t think you’ll have a problem’ which I hoped he meant the findings. Then the waiting began as the doctor was 1.5 hours behind schedule. The lady with the notebook kept coming in and telling us that. My procedure was suppose to be at 1:15 and I didn’t have it until close to 3:30! The lady who came to get me was very uppity-she looked like the lady in the Bunches of Honey Oats commercial. Then when we got to the surgery, Bri touched my hand, which I was glad of, as if he had kissed me, I would have lost it. I kept thinking about the little children who I send cards to who go through surgeries and they are so little and scared. It was really cold inside the surgeries. A nurse gave me a heated blanket before the anesthesiologist came and asked me questions-he even made me open my mouth! Dr. R. came along and I didn’t recognize her in her scrubs. She asked what I could take for pain and said I could try extra strength Tylenol, but she gave me something stronger in prescription form. They wheeled me in the operating room, helped me on the table-started to unbutton my gown and that’s the last I remember until I woke up weepy 45-50 minutes later. I was given a few doses of painkiller and had to be watched longer. I then started to talk the nurse’s ear off and she took me down to the other recovery area where I had my first drink in 18 hours. That coke tasted like nectar from the heavens! I got the I V out and we left around 6 and got home at 6:45. Bri helped me get some soup. He did get the oxycontin which I decided not to take as it had codeine in it-not good for me! I had trouble getting to sleep that night, but the spot that was really stuffed with gauze and had two ace bandages over it, wasn’t hurting too bad. I had about an 1.5″ bloody looking line under clear plastic bandages. I had the Ace bandage on until Friday morning. I’m still a bit light-headed and want to take a shower! My follow-up appointment is on December 7th. Hopefully that will be it!

The boo-boo area-high up on my left side. I’m not sure what’s going on under that clear bandage-will find out!

Wound from procedure

12-1-Last night my left shoulder started to burn. Bri thinks it’s the nerves on the worked on side. I only started to wear a bra yesterday, but it only hurts there. I have had issues with soreness and stuff after I moved the books and maybe the nerves are inflamed again. Feels like a mild sunburn. I am sleeping better though. ~To update this~my friend’s wife is a nurse and she said they blow air in there for the biopsy, so that’ s why I had the burning in my shoulder.

12-4-I called the doctor’s office to see if I could remove the wound’s bandage and she said yes. It wasn’t a nice sight, all red and oozing. Just after a little over an hour, it looks somewhat better. I washed it with soap and water and patted it dry (as was told to do) and have a piece of gauze over it. I wish I didn’t have to wait so long to see the doctor. At least I won’t have to cringe if she was to remove the bandage. I did see the ‘tails’ of stitches, like thin fishing line.

Do you think I’m being emotional because of hormones or the upcoming doctor visit or a combo? I seem to have been ‘set off’ by seeing a photo of my estranged brother holding my son as an infant. I went out and just felt blah in the hour I was gone. I was overdressed for one thing. It is the middle of the cycle and my hormones must be raging. The holidays looming is making me that way too.

12-7-The longest week of my life is over with good news-my calcifications were BENIGN!!!! Deep down I thought they were, but I know they needed to be checked. I woke up today about 5:30 and couldn’t really get back to sleep again. We arrived at the doctor’s office at the scheduled time of 10:30 to a very full waiting room. Now to me, this was kinda of a good sign and in the back of my mind I thought, oh quick checks-healthy patients. Some of them looked so gloomy. But as they went in and came out, they didn’t look sad or worried. I even saw the lady who was in the bed next to me in the waiting area and she looked fine!

Bri and I went in to see the doctor about 11:45 and the nurse removed one stitch. A few minutes later, Dr. Rhoades came in and said I was okay. She said that 85% of what she takes out is benign and she basically only does breast biopsies anymore. I have about an 1″ by so much piece taken out. I have to go back in 4 months for a follow-up mammogram. I did cry and hug the doctor, all my emotions just poured out. Bri looked so relieved as well.

So this chapter in my life is hopefully closed. I want to say the waiting part was the longest and most stressful. I learned that doctors write down and say the worst case scenario because they have their careers on the line. I learned to get things over with quickly and to try and face my fears and think positive. I learned that talking with other people, especially ladies was the best thing I could have done. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and comments.

Update-January 2008

My wound is still healing. The major ‘hole’ area has scabbed over several times. I have snipped off a few stitches (after a month) and after I did that it seemed to heal better It’s still red and I look like I have a healing vampire bite-funny place too!

Our bill for payment came in from the hospital-about $830. The surgeon’s was for almost $400. So altogether, we figure we are paying $1,300 out of pocket. I need to make arrangements with the hospital for the payment. I have paid the surgeon half of the $400. They are usually understanding about this as I’ve done it before.

Real stuff that happened to me:

Age 16-depression. I missed 60 days of school that year. In one month I went from 128 pounds to 110 pounds. I got over that and thank goodness I never went through it again.

Age 21-head on collision as a passenger in a VW bug. I got knocked out, but also hit the windshield and fractured my nose and had glass in my mouth which misformed my upper lip a bit. Missed about 2 weeks of college, but still got 3.0+

Age 25-miscarried at 7 weeks gestation.

Age 27-18 hours of labor and a c-section.

Age 27-major gallbladder attack when I was by myself with Sean (9 mo). At first they didn’t do anything in the hospital until I started getting jaundiced and then I had surgery. Gallstones were in my duodenum.

Age 37-Contracted Lyme Disease that lead to me getting aches and pains and elevated liver enzymes.
Bull's eye marker from tick bite

I was told I should have a liver biopsy, but I got a second opinion. The third doctor actually said I may need a biopsy sometime down the road. Also at this time, I was having anxiety over bloodwork that said I had Hepatitis C, which another test revealed I didn’t. I went to a psychologist and through her paperwork or something, I had to retake my driver’s test (PENNDOT sent me a paper that said I had neurological problems(!) ) I passed the driver’s test better at this age then I did at 18!

Age 47-Abnormal mammogram. Biopsy done-benign cells.

March 2010-had elective surgery to scrap uterus lining by gyn. It was outpatient and one of the worst experiences I had because of the anesthesia making me hyper for 3 hours. I found out almost a year later that I still had fibroids (from the surgeon who took out my appendix).

Jan. 18, 2011-Woke up with stomach pain that felt like a gnawing ulcer. I went to our GP and he didn’t like that my discomfort went down to the right. After a pelvic, CAT scan and ultrasound, turns out my appendix was inflamed and it needed to come out. Also had fluid in the bottom of my left lung which was pnuemonia. I was in the hospital for 3 nights; an extra night because of the pneumonia. I have hardly any discomfort from the laproscopic surgery. The antibiotics are making my mouth and tongue red.
Jan. 31, 2011- Had my follow-up with the surgeon. She said a benign polyp was found on my appendix and suggested since I’m over 50 I need to get a colonoscopy. I scheduled one for March 4th-my first one ever. I am fatigued by the pneumonia and still have some coughing spells. I know it takes a while to get your strength back too. I think if I could walk around outside, it would lift my spirits.

March 16, 2011-Had my first ever colonoscopy and also an endoscopy. The prep solution made me violently ill after the last dose. I didn’t have polyps!

I started to take high blood pressure medicine in Nov. 2010 as my bp was high at a gyn visit the month before. I took the same medication until April, 2011 and the doctor changed me to another because I had a tickle and cough. Of course the new medicine has nasal side effects, etc. Also have pre-diabetes. Trying to watch my diet and will get myself moving more.

By the way, my breast biopsy scar finally flattened out after 3 years! Now I have three little scars new tummy scars-one in my belly button and two lower down from the laproscopic surgery.

April 2010 to Sept. 2012-I still take 5 mg of the calcium blocker for high blood pressure. My weight continues to be more than I like despite almost weekly hikes because of my new geocaching hobby. I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and my blood pressure there was 132/82! That’s the lowest it had been when a medical professional has taken it in two years! It has to be the exercise.

I am also going through menopause. This was the summer of hot flashes. As the summer has cooled, I have a bit also. But I feel out of whack.

June 2012-June 2013- Since the beginning of menopause, I have been to a orthopedics office, a chiropractor and a rheumatologist. From x-rays, I have arthritis in my back, hips and right knee. I tried physical therapy for my back for one session and it hurt the right side of my back so bad I went to Urgent care for pain medicine. I tried a chiropractor. The treatment felt nice, but I couldn’t afford it and they wouldn’t break the bill up in several payments. The rheumatologist got the benefit from me bringing her all the x-rays and blood work. She charged me over $400 as it was the first visit. She gave me Gabapentin and I took it for 2 months and it made me feel strange and sad. I then told her the pain med from the Urgent care worked pretty good, so she gave me a prescription for that.

August 2013-broke my left pinkie toe after running into the vacuum. It was a few weeks before a Maroon 5/Kelly Clarkson concert in Camden, NJ. I limped all over Camden that night.

I went back to my GP in May as my insurance wasn’t ‘pre-existing’ anymore. My blood work said my blood sugar was 115, my triglycerides were 250 and my liver enzymes were elevated and they had been normal in November 2012. She had me get more blood work and my sugar dropped (non fasting), but she wants me to see a GI specialist for the liver enzymes. I have been to GI docs several times concerning them. I believe Tylenol and pain killers are bothering them. I am really trying to lose weight and we bought a recumbent bike in February which will help a bit. I also got a weekly job at a church in child care and even had to miss about 5 days since October because of pain. I  decided to get my knee checked out again and went a few days ago back to the orthopedics office. It has arthritis and I got a cortisone shot which helped. I am seeing one of the main doctors for my back in a few weeks.

I’m also going to a hormone specialist this month to see if the onset of menopause caused my arthritis, is messing with my weight and general well being. I think the doctor is an older man (like in his 80s). It’s bio-identical hormones. Robin McGraw and Oprah bought utilize them.

June- October 2014

I went to the doctor and she did an extensive blood work up. I was seeing a new doctor and went when I was having a terrible toothache. My blood pressure was high from the pain. We didn’t hit it off too well. She ordered an ultrasound of my heart too. I had gone to get my high blood pressure meds renewed as she was new and wanted to meet me first. To make a long story short, I had elevated liver enzymes and a specific test, a marker for Primary Biliary Cirrhosis was positive. I also decided to switch doctors. The new was another fairly new doctor and said some odd things to me about the above test. I think she really wanted me to go to a GI specialist. I found a wonderful doctor who also suggested I needed a liver biopsy. I have put that off for 17 years and decided at almost 55, I would see what was going on. That has on Oct. 2, 2014. The first thing that happened is that two nurses couldn’t find a vein for the intravenous! The one tried my right elbow and hand and the other tried my left hand. I was left with three huge bruises! The male nurse who helped with the procedure had me drop my left arm and he got down on one knee, struggled just a bit, but he got it and I got a tiny bruise. Wow! They gave me sedative to make my eyes heavy. I put my right arm, with the blood pressure cuff, over my head and the doctor came in. He had an instrument like a nail gun or caulk gun and took three samples-it went fast, but it shook me good. Then I had to rest on my right side for 20 minutes and I was taken down in ambulatory care for 3 hours. I was able to get a drink and a sandwich. Brian went to see his dad for a few hours. I mainly played with my phone. The blood pressure went from normal to high. Weird. It might as well pinched my arm off a few times. It may be why I still have a big bruise on the right. I was able to go home after the 3 hours.

Sean took me to a park the next night after I rested all day. I did fine. Then the next afternoon we went to a fair and looked around for some caches. I did well.

I did have my second set of facet joint injections in my back (the first was August 2013). The second time seemed to take a little longer. It was the first time in months that I slept 6 hours straight. That hasn’t happened again. 😦

So today, the 13th, the nurse called me to relay a message from my GI doc. It was a little after 8 am, so I was wondering if it was going to be a call to come in. It was good news. I didn’t have PBC! I had some liver scarring and didn’t have to take medication. I still feel Lyme disease is the culprit for my liver issues. I will work on my diet and weight as much as I can. I see the GI doc at the beginning of November.

I did have a slight lady issue (after exactly a year of not having anything) and called to be seen, but will wait until my yearly gyn checkup.

I also injured my left knee (I had shots in the right last year). I was standing for a few hours at a concert and then we walked around the area near the venue to get a geocache. I leaned on my left knee to get a cache and it started to bother me. I went to Urgent care and they did x-rays a week or so later (this was July) and they said it looked like a sprain. At the beginning of August , we went to a Billy Joel concert down at the baseball stadium. We were in the car a lot and then did a lot of walking. As we crossed the street, my knee popped! It was really painful! I managed to get to our seat (had to climb stairs too). I should have had a wheelchair to get to the seat or at least to the parking lot as I was is tears and had to stop several times to rest. By the time I got home, I was almost screaming in pain. That night I had to slide to and fro. Sean took me to the ER the next day and they said the same thing as the Urgent care. I has in a leg brace with a walker! During this time and since the beginning of the year I was also getting extensive dental work. I had 3 root canals, 2 extractions, an implant and I’m awaiting my 4th crown.

I went to the ortho doc for my knee and he thought I may have a torn meniscus. He ordered an MRI. That showed I had a twisted or pulled ligament. Wow, the pain I had and it wasn’t torn. I was amazed. I got a shot in my knee that slightly helped. If I overdo it walking, it gets really stiff. I am using the recumbent bike to loosen it up.

9 responses »

  1. Hi Dianne, how utterly nervewracking this has got to be. I had a lumpectomy at 19, thankfully mine was okay, but I worried for an entire month. My mother also is a breast cancer survivor. So, I know how you are feeling. I will pray and keep positive thoughts that everything for you will be clear. Hang in there. {{{hugs}}}

  2. Hi Dianne – I popped in for a visit, thanks for your comments on my blog. 🙂 I was browasing through your blog and have been reading about your experiences so far. I just want to send you a virtual hug and let you know I am thinking about you and hoping that everythings turns out ok. I will keep you in my prayers.

  3. Just wanted you to know that I’m still thinking of you and wishing you well. I’m so glad that you’re continuing to write about your experiences. Be sure you know that we’re all here for you.

  4. Hormones, holidays, health worries…It’s a wonder that you’re still standing upright!

    I’m finding that I fare better these days if I just let the feeling happen and then it passes. Maybe that could work for you, too? Recognize it’s happening, don’t judge yourself, and just let it flow and then it dissipates.

    I just know you’re going to come through this ok! So keep writing and letting yourself be yourself.

  5. Hey Diane! What a great blog!! I had no idea you had this out there.

    I’d like to share with you an exciting, risk free opportunity to save and make money (by lowering your electric rate) that I thought would interest you. Let me know how I can contact you to tell you more.

    Mark

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