June 15, 2006

Embarrassed, Glued and Back to Normal

Things that went down over the past couple of weeks:

~ It’s amazing how when you walk through the doors of a hospital for any sort of testing, like magic, any part of your body that used to be “private” instantly becomes a) topic of conversation, b) available for inspection by anyone who happens into an examining room at the time, c) pretty much CO-OWNED by the doctor, surgeon or radiologist during your stay.

~ Doctors tend to leave out minor procedural details even when you’re a person who asks a billion questions beforehand – like “Oh and we’ll be leaving a small stainless steel clip inside your breast to sort of mark the spot where we’ve performed your biopsy.” After a long audible gasp I asked, “Will I now set off metal detectors?” and “What if my body rejects it?” I was told, “You read too much. The first won’t happen and the second is impossible – you’re not getting a new liver.”

~ I used to think the most embarrassing test in the world was the sigmoidoscopy. During this process, you have to lie on your stomach with ass in the air while something equivalent to a fire hose is inserted into a place where it shouldn’t be. Pictures are taken with a tiny camera attachment and then you get to climb off the table, dress and go home just knowing that every person you run into could tell what you’ve just been through. Now? I’m not sure if that’s the worst test on the embarrassing-scale.

For my biopsy, I was escorted into a dimly lit examining room with the air conditioning turned to “Arctic” and was told to climb onto a table that is high up in the air (you need stairs to get on it) and then stick your boob through a hole in the table. You must assume this position while they jack up the table another foot or so, and then lay perfectly still for the next two hours while someone beneath you pushes computer buttons on a machine that inserts a small rod and scoops the bad things out of your embarrassingly dangling appendage. I deserved that run-on sentence; I truly earned it.

~ It was quite weird to have the doctor and her assistants working BENEATH me the entire time; hearing them talk amongst themselves as though they were in a wine cellar.

~ Throughout the process, you are continually receiving local anesthetic because it seems to wear off rather quickly. This feels just like the sting of an angry white-faced hornet – each time! I was asked beforehand if I’d like something to help keep me mellow and I said no. Knowing what I know now, I wish they would have just knocked me out completely.

By the way, if you think the numbing medicine eliminates feeling, you’re wrong. Oh it cancels pain, but I felt as though they were roto-rootering directly through to my back every time the machine clicked on.

~ They now use a substance called “skin glue” in place of sutures (for small incisions). I like this stuff, though I did get a little nervous that it might not hold together too well. I was wrong, and now my little battle wound (scar) will be quite minimal.

~ It’s probably not a good idea to plan a two-plus hour road trip in torrential rain and traffic right after your biopsy. We had to have my daughter to the airport in Queens by six the following morning and we thought it far better to just get a room in the area the night before than to travel on very little sleep in the middle of the night. I was still a bit shell shocked for our drive, but had the wonderful and caring company of Ed and SJ along the way, so all went well.

~ This was to be SJ’s first-ever flight and vacation away from the roost all by herself. She was meeting a friend who attends college in Savannah, GA and the two were driving back up the coast together. Not only did I have enough on my mind without knowing my test results yet, but I also have a “thing” about flying in general and this was the last thing I really wanted to see SJ do that particular weekend; especially for her first time, and especially alone.

~ A dense fog set in overnight and it was so bad that her flight was held up for two hours … the worst bit was that we didn’t get this news till she already got to her gate, so we couldn’t even wait with her. She had to sit there and anticipate amidst a group of strangers. The good news is that she is much like me when it comes to chit-chat. She became friendly with a young couple traveling with their twins. Yay SJ. All went well after take-off, but again, I was a bag of nerves till I heard she had landed in Georgia.

~ Because I knew I was having a bad, bad week already, I had decided I’d try to quit smoking. A week before my biopsy, I kicked off this great crusade and I must admit I surprised even me. I did an excellent job till suppertime, so I allowed myself one reward-cigarette after we ate each evening. I even tested myself a few nights and waited an hour or more before lighting up. This is a pretty good attempt for one who was smoking over a pack a day.

I really thought I had it licked until the drive to Queens that afternoon. When the rain was coming down in buckets and my lidocaine was finally wearing off for good, I caved in. The thing is, I know I will be able to do this once I set my mind to it … but clearly my mind was busy with other things that week. I haven’t tried since but I will.

Ed asked why in the world I would try to quit during such stressful times. I explained my special logic, which is rarely obvious. You see, I figured not knowing whether or not I might have cancer, and not knowing whether or not it might be the last week I spend with my child (yes, I’m THAT dramatic about flying), this was to be the single most stressful week of my life. Since I was already pushing it to the limit … why not get rid of it all at once; look it in the face (the stress) and say “Come on fucker, BRING IT.”

Oh how I wish I could have done a better job of it, but all things considered … I was pretty happy with my attempt. It would have been so cool to be able to say “Yeah man, look at me! I quit smoking during the single most stressful week of my life!” Instead I’ll just blog about how nice it would have been like a wannabe.

~ A very amazing thing happened during the week I had to wait for my results. A mourning dove decided to roost on our air conditioner ledge just outside the bedroom window. It was like National Geographic and Animal Planet every time I looked outside – I swear. What a show. We were able to see her sitting on her eggs, then her babies, then watch them as they ate (ew) and pooped and flew off for their very first time. I have photos and even a video clip which I’ll share in my next post.

The whole bird thing was like a special present just for me because I’d had a rough time of it. When I tell you that it worked on my mind like a tab of vicodin, I mean it. It was truly marvelous!

**I should mention here that the type of biopsy I had is called a stereotactic core needle biopsy. There are other types but they told me this was the best for my case. If anyone ever needs to have this procedure performed and they ask if you'd like to have sedation - say yes.**

"No quote this time ... this post is long enough!" Weary Hag


Blogger Alisa said...

Wow. I never knew exactly how a biopsy was performed (and I'm pretty sure I never want to have one).

I'm glad your SJ made it to her destination safe and sound!

Maybe this coming week will have much less stress in it for you. :) You deserve a good break.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous happy and blue 2 said...

I'm really glad everything went well. Even if it was embarassing and painful.
No pain no gain. Or something like that.

Glad things are getting back to normal for you. Did you do the "If I just get through this I will change my life for the better" stuff. I've always wanted to do that. Darn being healthy. It just makes me so mad..

8:19 PM  
Blogger Spinning Girl said...

For an ordeal, it made a rather lovely tale. The image of you dangling in the air was a humorous visual!

I have had many bird omens in my life. The day I bought my house, I saw a bald eagle in flight (a rare sight in these parts); on the day I finished my Master's degree, I watched a pair of Red Tailed Hawks share a mouse after the female caught it. On the day I had ovarian surgery, I was comforted by a vision of a swirling kettle of hundreds of hawks in the desert, a vision that repeated itself exactly, for real, two weeks later when I traveled to Wyoming. Even down to the detail of the cloud pattern.

So pay attention to those little signs; they're not coincidental. Sounds hokey, I know. But so what. We've only got this one time around, make it as beautiful as you want it to be.

I think that on the day you quit smoking for realz, you will wake up and know that this is the day. That is how it was for me, anyhow, the day I gave up my little alcohol habit -- forever. You will know, and you will simply do it.

As Yoda says:
Do. Or do not. There is no try.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a biopsy on my leg last year that got infected at the time and now I have an ugly scar. =( I'm scared to wear shorts, but glad to be alive.

10:29 PM  
Blogger jon said...

Hello Hag of the weary nature! I envy people who have never started smoking. There they are, just bopping through life without smoking, and not even missing it!

11:27 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I just want to give you a big hug ((())), my goodness, what you've been through these last months, hell, i don't smoke, i reckon if it were me i'd start!!
You really are superwoman, to be able to ride that rollercoaster of emotions and get off the other side....incredible! You're an inspiration :o)

12:27 AM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

you have been through a lot but it looks like you did real good. i will keep you in my prayers and wish you the best. stay strong.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That's sounds like quite the contraption they have you hiked up on during the biopsy procedure doesn't it? I watched a good friend of mine have a breast biopsy a few years ago...the doctor merely pulled her top up, took the needle and started shoving it in and out of her breast! He was literally shoving it...his hand made a fist around the needle. I was cringing the entire time watching, so lord only knows how I'd cope with going through it. Unfortunately, due to that experience, my friend has vowed to NEVER have another one if she has to.

And saying that, I still reckon the worse part of the ordeal is the waiting for results.

You were a trojan at getting through this and still keeping your marbles (despite what you may think)...a lesser individual may have run away to Alaska by now.

I'm VERY impressed with your 'non-smoking' schedule and KNOW that you are more than capable of doing anything you want to...you're a stubborn old Hag aren't ya? lol

Glad to read that SJ arrived safely, and kept herself (and others) entertained with the long wait. She's obviously a chip off the old block, so why wouldn't she??

Take care...lots of hugs xx

1:28 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Oh my! You know, I hate that you had to endure any of this at all and that the stress was high. You deserve happiness and wonderful times. The biopsy sounds awful and I will be hoping that no one has to endure that ever again.

I'm thrilled to hear SJ made it safely and glad that you had her and Ed's company during the most stressful moments.

On a completely side note - I was sitting here, thinking about my stressful last few days and realized that in the grand context of the world, it wasn't that bad. I'm not saying that it is good that you had a stressful week, but thanks for sharing it and making me feel like stress is not something we need to bear alone.

I'm so glad your healthy and it all worked out. I admire you very much.

5:11 AM  
Blogger sidcruise said...

You had to endure quite a LOT..this was one ordeal ;)...

But you are healthy now thats more important ..

Good quote !

5:30 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

For my biopsy I had to sit on a hard wooden stool and have at least 9 mammograms. I hadn't eaten in over 15 hours, so between the pain and the arctic temperature of the room I actually started to pass out...they had to put me on oxygen. For the surgery itself, I was put under, thank goodness. I hate the way medical staff belittle questions that you have, because they DO NOT have all the answers and there ARE exceptions to every rule!! Welcome once again to the healthy side of life.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

Just be thankful the a/c wasn't set to antarctic.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Simply Coll said...

My goodness, that was a very stressful week. I am so happy that all turned out well.

I quite smoking 4 years ago this month. Best and hardest thing I ever did. I could not count the number of attempts I made before I finally quit but I do think I know what made the difference. It was my mind set. I am not sure what triggered it .. but I just knew that no matter what happened in my life I was NEVER going to bring a cigarette to my mouth again. It was not an easy journey.. especially the first month.. but afterwards the feeling of freedom is indescribable.

And the story of the Dove .. how lovely. I am looking forward to reading more about it.

11:39 AM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

Your table experience reminds me of when I worked as a mechanic and we lifted the car up so we could get under it. If someone had stuck their breast through the floorboard we could have done the same proceedure but we would have had to use a Black and Decker drill with an Instamatic Camera. Poor Bastard with Hemroids would have to be lifted up on one of those chamber pot chairs. Only Roto Rooter would handle that one. STRESS? You couldn't handle the STRESS, so "smokeum if you gotem." I am not laughing, really! The visual is killing me though.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Wow Carol, Glued is a good word for this post because I was glued too...to your writing.
What an experience!

The only thing I can relate it to (sorta) was way back 38 years ago when my first child was born. I know you're familiar with child birth so you might be wondering what the big deal was. As it happened, at the ripe old age of 20 I was still very much of a prude due to my Catholic upbringing. Was I ever surprised to discoer that the "nurses" who attended me were corpsmen - cute young men who were not much older than I was. I was modified to be prodded and poked "down there" (as we used to call it) "Dear God," I prayed, "please please please get me out of this! I don't know how you are going to do it, but I know you can. Please please please turn the clocks back nine months." All this because of the corpsmen...and maybe a little nervousness about my soon to be new role. Once things really got rolling though I didn't much care who was in the room. LOL.

As for your daughter's plane trip; I'm glad that all worked out too.
Life is good.

The smoking thing doesn't surprise me. I was 20 years without the things - until the stress of back to back deaths of my brothers, had me back on the butts. Yup, even after all that time "stress" was the reason to pick them up again.

I love the story about the doves. Nature puts everything into proper perspective, eh?.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Ms. Vickie said...

You had me "Glued " to this post I must say. You have a a great way with words and holding ones attention.You described your experience with the procedure very well I say as a Nurse...I enjoyed it and would not describe it much different from you if I were to do so.

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to stop by and wish me the best for my special time at Walker's request. My friends made the day for me. It was the best B-day I have had in a long time. You were a part in it and I hope we will be seeing each other more often.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous 40spoet said...

thanks for stopping by my page. i hope you have a good weekend and all is well. i will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous dulciana said...

Good grief, what an ordeal. I hope that you never have to have another! Did SJ like Savannah? We're kind of proud of our little town. Okay, it's not exactly MY town. I live about 30 minutes outside of it.

10:17 AM  
Blogger tammi said...

I agree w/ Ms.Vickie.I stopped here and got glued to your page.I keep hearing the word biopsy from others,but never knew exactly what it entailed.So now I am informed.Makes my upcoming neck surgery sound like a piece of cake.I hope like h*** it's cheesecake,btw.
Good for you about the smoking issue.Whether it worked or not....your intentions are there,and will linger in your head till you actually do it and get it over with.Or keep on puffin'.lol
Not funny,but I have an aunt that moves her breathing mask to take a big puff of her ciggy and then replaces the mask.She takes about 3-4 steps and has to stop and take a breathe(or try to).My mom has emphazema(sp) and is still smoking like a freight train,and so do I.Sadly enough...I can't imagine why these bouts of pneumonia keep landing me in the hospital.Surely it's not my Marlboro's!!(lol) Sorry bout the giggling.I know it's not supposed to be funny,but what's the point in crying over spilled milk? I could complain about that too,cuz milk is about the same price or more than my cig's!So I guess I'll keep on spilling the milk(or buy a cow) and continue puffing the cig's.
Oh,I almost forgot.I have a friend and her mom that went and got hypnotized at a seminar and her AND her mother quit.Honestly,I can't see the logic in THAT...other than the speaker and crew make a fortune from that...but hey! No matter how convincing my friend sounded,I can't really knock it till I try it.In closing...I guess I WILL give that a try when I see a UFO land,or Clinton admit that he really inhaled!
So....what are the odds on THAT?
(more giggling)

6:05 AM  
Blogger madcapmum said...

Carole, I'm so sorry you had to go through all that stuff. I never realized myself how stressful and traumatic it had been until I was well out the other side. You're right, it's like becoming a hunk of tissue rather than a human being, and the low level of pain-control should be a criminal offense.

My thoughts are with you. Here's to life abundant!

12:34 AM  
Blogger Swathi said...

i luv ur uncanny ability to see humour even in those sullen moments like biopsy but 'am glad u have come thro' shining n unscathed.

5:03 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Wow, that's too much for one person to go throught! Hope you're resting up after. It's good that you got SJ off safety. Awesome on your anti-smoking campaign! Good for you! I'd like to see the photos of those cool birds.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

“Come on fucker, BRING IT.”

See, this is what I love about you. When the going gets tough, you glare at the going and say "is that all ya got?"

Remember the movie "Rambo" where he gets cut and uses a needle and thread to sew himself up? I got a gud laugh out of imagining him using that skin glue. It's just a humorous thought.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous John said...

I identify with the no privacy thing, having been in the hospital a few times myself. Your private parts aren't so private anymore! So glad your doing better Carol. Sorry I don't get around the blogroll much lately!

5:04 PM  
Blogger Juliabohemian said...

Wow, I thought giving birth was degrading. You have been through it.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

some deseases bring a sense of finality with them when it becomes possible that you have it.
That fucken C word just bites an I have to deal with it 3 times in my family and it cost me a grandfather but the rest was great.
Times have changed and we have taken uo the fight with our donaqtion to win.
The eary detection methods are a big factor.
I am happy you got a clean bill of health.

7:56 PM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

I think I saw your twisted sister with a gun and silencer. Check to make sure..

8:35 PM  
Blogger shpprgrl said...

My comment went *poof*

Here goes again: You answered some questions for me, and some I hadn't thought of yet too! Wow, after all that you need a day...or a week at a spa! So happy all is well. Thanks for visiting me back, what nice comments!!

10:40 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Carol, I wish you had opted for sedation! I can't believe you tried to quit smoking that week also. You CAN do it, though, I know it! If I can, anyone can.

Thanks for the visits while I was away on my trip; I'm home and enjoying the computer (I had to go cold turkey while I was away!)

11:36 PM  
Blogger dan said...

You're a strong woman, Carol. stronger than you might feel.

Keep on, keepin' on.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I don't mean to by laughing about such a stressful time in your life, but the wine cellar remark totally broke me up. I think I scared the birds!

I'm so glad everything is a-OK!!

10:16 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

I'm very glad to hear everything is ok, and It's good to see you back! I do have to wonder; two hours on a table with your boobage dangling: what if you have ones that don't dangle? What if you need a wee during the procedure? what if you need a wee during the hose up the butt thing?

I hope you and SJ had a great time together. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

Big Love!

12:58 PM  
Anonymous hellbunny said...

I've had a biopsy done and agree take whatever drugs they offer.Im so glad your alright i was a little worried for a while.God knows how much you and your family were worrying though.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Attila The Mom said...

Good Lord, I'm so glad that's over for you!

When I was having number one son or two (can't remember) someone gave me a book called Mother Murphy's Law (think that's the title).

I snickered when I read the law that stated that "the number of people who stick their hands up your crotch to check your dilation equals the amount of people who walk past your room."

I wasn't snickering a few months later. It was true!

11:24 AM  

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