Well howdy do everybody. It's been a little bit since I've posted. Hope everybody is happy and healthy and doing fine :) If you've wondered where I've been and what I've been up to, well, I'll tell you about it.
Actually I wasn't going to talk about it at all. It feels like it's kind of private. But then it dawned on me that perhaps my little tale could be of use to someone else and so I changed my mind. And here we go, down the rabbit hole.
The image at the top of the page is probably recognizable to all of you. If not, it's the Caduceus, the symbol of Physicians. Actually it began as a symbol of alchemy and and pharmacy (such as it was) in Medieval Europe and was adapted to represent Medicine in, roughly, the 1600's. And it seemed an appropriate picture for this post because my absence here has been sort of a medical leave.
Perhaps because most of my working history has been in and around at least peripherally medical arenas, I have always been a very compliant patient. If I'm told to do - or not do - something specifically that is precisely what I do - or don't do. For instance, when the antibiotic instructions are to take all of the medication as ordered until finished even if I feel better first, then that is exactly what I do. I understand WHY that instruction is given. I know that it's in my best interest to do what my doctor has told me. They aren't making this stuff up.
I go to the dentist twice a year for check ups & cleanings and all annual medical appointments are attended, annually. 99.9 % of the time I leave those appointments with a clean bill of health and the comfortable knowledge that I'm good for another year. Of course, the older we get, the more annual appointments there seem to be. And as an added attraction, many of these appointments come with add-ons; blood work and various scans that also must be done. None of them are fun, but none of them are horrible either. And I am well aware that the doctor ordered it for a dang good reason. So I do it and it's done and then I move on.
Which is the way I showed up for my annual Mammogram this year. January 5th, starting the year off right, I went to my local radiology office for my scheduled mammogram. I've been doing this for a long time, once every year like clockwork, so I know the drill. I show up, I get squished in the big machines and then, eventually, later I get a call or a note saying that I'm good to go until next year. I had no reason to believe that this year would be any different. Until it was.
The very next day I got a call from the radiologist telling me that my mammogram was not normal and that I needed to discuss it with my GYN. They strongly recommended that I return for something called a Diagnostic Mammogram. Ok that's different. Before I could call my lovely GYN, her office called me. They had also received the report and completely agreed. She wrote the order and the following week I showed up at the same radiology office for a second go-round. It was different. It was interesting. Most interesting was that as soon as the new scan was done, instead of me leaving immediately afterward, they had me wait while the radiologist on staff checked the result. His suggestion was that I consult with a breast surgeon. He had seen something on the scan that was "concerning'.
I called my GYN once again and was given the names of several surgeons that they recommended. Because I trust my doctor, I immediately called both surgeons. One returned my call very quickly. I made an appointment and was instructed to bring a CD of the results. Not just a written report. Ok I can do that. Back to the radiologist I went to make that request. They produced it for me within about 15 minutes. Coolio. With CD and written report in hand, off I went a few weeks later to meet my new surgeon, Dr. Kennar.
Obviously, I read written report and saw the words: "suspicious calcifications". I didn't care for either of those words quite honestly, but I didn't want to get too wound up. So I did what I always do, I did some research. And frankly, it's quite fascinating. I can get kind of nerdy -geeky academic about stuff and this was one of those times. I was interested to hear what my new surgeon had to say.
I liked her immediately. And one of the things I really liked was that she showed me the scans. The area in question looked like a constellation. Seriously, that is exactly what it appeared to be on the screen. A collection of stars against a night sky. It was honestly, kind of pretty. Except that it shouldn't be there at all. So in discussion with Dr. K the decision was made to just remove the entirety of the constellation. It doesn't belong there. Shouldn't be there. Don't need it. Don't want it. Get it the heck out. So I was scheduled for surgery. Fine.
Do you know how much other crap you have to go through to have a surgery? It's insane. I had to make an appointment with my GP for a Medical Clearance, get a chest x-ray (never had one of those before), a bunch of blood tests and an EKG (also a new experience). Dang! More appointments. So I spent a lot of time on the phone setting these things up and the more time actually having these things done and then March 8th, bright and early, Tim and I showed up at Doctor's Hospital (and I cannot say enough good things about everyone there) for what I was told was an Excision Biopsy.
It was done just as a Day Surgery so while we showed up at 8:45 as instructed, we were back home by 3:00. At least I think so, I was pretty foggy so I'm not absolutely certain of the time. I can honestly say that while I was uncomfortable, I was certainly not in tremendous pain. Two days later at my post op appointment with the surgeon Dr. K declared that everything looked good but the biopsy result report had not yet arrived. So we returned 3 days later to get what turned out to be a partial report. The biopsy revealed, and I'm quoting this directly, "ductal Carcinoma in situ, high nuclear grade."
Well the word carcinoma is never a word you want to hear but if you have to hear it, better to hear it about something that is no longer inside your body, right? My surgeon recommended yet more testing to be sure there is no more icky stuff lurking quietly anywhere inside me and I agreed with that whole heartedly.
And that brings you up to date. I'm slowly healing and waiting on my appointments for each of the additional tests the surgeon recommended and (mostly) doing what I'm told to do and (mostly) not doing what I'm told to not do. It's possible that more surgery or more treatment may be necessary . It's equally possible that there are no other problems and nothing more needs to be done. Whatever the results reveal and Dr. K suggests, I will, more than likely, agree with.
The point here is simple. Do your annual testing. Make your annual appointments. Take proper care of yourself. No more magical thinking. I'm sure all of you do as you should, but there are some people who just don't bother. Their thought is either "If something was wrong I'd know it" (not at all true - I didn't have a clue) or "If something is wrong, I don't want to know about it" (which doesn't change the fact that something is wrong) or - my personal favourite - "I was fine until I went to the doctor, it's his (or her) fault" (what??????)
Get tested. Do it. Make the appointments right now.
Hugs all 'round.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.