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Sunday, February 15, 2009

25 Things

On Facebook there is a survey going around called "25 Things". If you are tagged, you are supposed to list 25 things about yourself that not many people know. These are mine.

1. I love men's hands. So much so, that I have a top 10 list that includes my husband's hands, my dads, and Ben Afflecks.

2. One of the things on my "To Do Before I Die" list is to sing the national anthem at a professional sporting event. Until now, I've only ever told one person that because, with my family, I was worried they'd actually find a way to make it happen.

3. In my high school psych class, for fun, they gave us a Mensa exam and I passed. It was a goal of mine to take the real test and try to pass before I was 35. I used to study for it, but then I got pregnant and in a phenomena I don't understand, half of my brain did an intelligence dump.

4. I want to tour every state in the US, except Arizona and New Mexico. I have a thing against visiting places where death lurks around every corner. (OCD Alert!)

5. Galveston was one of my favorite cities. I cried when they showed the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

6. I hate going to big events where other people I know are going to be (like sporting events, or community functions)-- because I can't see them. My eyes are so bad that unless you are standing right in front of me, I won't recognize you. You are a blur. I always worry that I slighted someone on accident.

7. I don't mind being OCD, but I sincerely wish I could control what I was obsessed with! Imagine the places I could go if I could just obsess on writing for a year or two instead of being plagued with OTHER things I MUST do! Or run. I could be a little energy ball if I could just obsess on running for awhile.

8. My daughter gets big birthday parties mainly because of the movie "Ya Ya Sisterhood". There's a line in there that Sandra Bullock says about how her mom may have been really screwed up, but she knew how to do birthdays really well. I figure I'm gonna screw up a lot, so I can give good birthday parties.

9. Waterproof mascara makes my eyelashes fall out.

10. I am a huge fan of the Oregon Ducks, only because one day my sister December and I were riding in the car and talking football. We decided it was too much work to root for two Oregon teams and needed to make one ours. We decided on U of O because we liked the color green more than orange.

11. One of the best movies I've ever seen is "Life As a House", but I never list it in my favorites because no one else seems to have heard of it.

12. I hate unloading the dishwasher. It is Mike's job. If he hasn't done it, and I need to do dishes, I will hand wash them before emptying the thing.

13. I answer to, and currently use, no less that five different names.

14. If my house is messy, I can't think. Literally, my brain will mimic the mess- makes me unbearable to live with because I need a clean brain. You know what I mean.

15. I know the hiding places of nearly all of my friends "unmentionables", along with strict instructions about what to do with them should they die unexpectedly. And, even though they've also told me where the keys to their house are hidden, I never know if they are serious or not about infiltrating their homes and scurrying out that which they do not want found.

16. I sometimes say things simply for the shock value of it, or because I want to see what the person does with the information.

17. The most fun I've ever had playing the game Hide and Seek was when I was a senior in high school and we cordoned off the area in Newberg that is Bi-Mart, McDonald's, State Farm Insurance... and used it as our hiding grounds.

18. If I'm really, really angry, the only way to calm down quickly is to get in my car, pop in a Metallica CD and drive 80+ mph around a winding road. Requires full concentration and I can't stay mad while trying to stay alive.

19. I'm not a big fan of cake. I eat it because I feel bad if I don't (like at a birthday party or something), but I really don't like the stuff.

20. The first thing I ever looked up on the internet was William Cane and The Art of Kissing. It was at December's house.

21. I secretly collect snow globes. I say secretly because I'm scared the word will get out and in a well-meaning gesture, my mother-in-law will buy everyone she sees... and I will be stuck with a bunch of snow globes I don't like for the rest of my life, unwilling to get rid of them because they were a gift.

22. Someday, when I have time and money, I would like to volunteer as much as possible at ChildHelp (their shelters). It would probably tear me up inside, but I think it is important.

22b. I am seriously running out of things to write about myself that anyone would find remotely interesting.

23. I've been serenaded by two cover models. Ranks up there in the "Most Embarrassing" moments of my life. Trying to smile the whole while some cute guy is singing to you and 50 other people are watching. NEVER want it to happen again.

24. One of my favorite moments as a mom was when Judith McNaught told me that if her children didn't have children pretty soon she was going to steal my daughter. LOL

25. I am a dork. I swear my picture is in Wikipedia. Someday, I am going to organize a dork convention so that I can hear about how others are dorks and not feel like I own the show.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Biopsy

(Originally written February 4, 2009)

I slept fairly well, except for Megan's cold and a 3am nose bleed. Hers not mine. Mike woke me up at 8:15 and we began the process of getting ready.

I am a huge needle-phobe, so in preparation for the procedure, I took another Ativan. I feel like I should put a disclaimer here that the past 3 days is more of this drug than I've taken in four months. I've always been too afraid of getting addicted to actually take any! Now, I can't stop-- but high-anxiety is why I have it, I suppose.

We made our way to the hospital, checked in, and then waited. The first thing that happened was that they told me Mike would have to wait in the waiting room. I think my stricken expression changed their mind very quickly, because they let him come back with me and stay to listen to what was going to happen. I can be brave, but I am more so when he is there, so the idea of him leaving me to face a series of needles by myself made me want to turn around and run. I didn't, and we were led into the dressing room.

I changed and walked into the room, asking if it would be possible to take photos of the room and biopsy thing-a-ma-jig for my journal. I think the question surprised the tech, but she agreed that I could take a picture of the tray since everything had to be sterile. She left the room to go and get a consent form I needed to sign and I took my pictures.

While she was gone, Mike and I talked. Funny conversations about how I was going to require a full five minute breast exam prior to each sexual interlude we had. He joked that if he wasn't careful, I'd probably have him purchasing his own ultrasound machine and administering sonograms. I told him that we should write Tom Cruise to see if he was done with his. We were laughing pretty hard when the nurse came back in.

The type of biopsy I was having is called a Core Biopsy. It is ultrasound guided and done with two needles. One, is larger needle that is pushed into the lump, then a second needle goes down the middle of the first and extracts long cylinders of cells to be tested. The string of cells shows how deep the cancer is, if there is any, and the condition of the tissue. The condition of the tissue is important in when cancer is present in order to tell whether it is new or progressed. If the cells are all normal, the tumor is benign, if cancer is present the cells will range from looking slightly abnormal to something akin to dead flesh. In the photo, the most forward object that looks like a candle lighter is the biopsy needle.

The technician had me lay on the bed while she got the ultrasound machine ready and did a few preliminary finds of the lump. She talked to me about how I'd already been told that it was probably just a fibro(somethingorother) lump and probably benign, but the only way to be 100% sure was to take a biopsy. Since I HADN'T been told that until the day prior, I was much more relieved to hear it again from her. She also talked about how some women voted to have them removed and some simply let them be. I told her that I'd obviously need to wait for the actual results, but that my gut feeling was to have it taken out. For one thing, if another lump did form, as big as this one is, I'd never feel it underneath. Plus, I'd be afraid of it changing from benign to malignant. So, there might still be a lumpectomy in my near future.

Ironically, I was more afraid of the first needle poke into my breast than I was of the procedure itself. I mean, there is always fear of the unknown, but I can't feel the unknown. I may know that there is a needle in me, but if I can't see it, or feel it, I'm able to ignore it. The first needle jab, to numb me, was my greatest fear-- and there was the small matter of the fact that the needle was going in MY BOOB!


After the Radiologist arrived, they lay me on my side on the bed and did a series of ultrasound images to ascertain where the core samples, five in all, would be taken from. Then, they cleaned me up, draped me, and set about numbing me up. Luckily, they let Mike stay in the room, so I had that bit of moral support, but they made him sit down because they were worried he'd pass out when if he saw the biopsy needle (which is very long and thick like a meat thermometer) go into my breast.

Being numbed was the worst part of the procedure. He stuck the needle in and pushed in the lidocain into the most upper part of my breast. Once that area was numb, they went deeper with the numbing agent. While I couldn't feel the needle, the amount of pressure was incredibly uncomfortable. It hurt like someone was pressing HARD on my breast. Needless to say, once that was done, I was relieved.

With the ultrasound occurring at the same time, it is hard to tell the difference between the pressure of the machine and the needle going in, so all I felt was pressure most of the time. The Radiologist would tell me to not breathe and stay still and then he'd take the core sample. The suction needle makes a loud "FWAMPT" sound when it is extracting and although he sounded it for me prior to the procedure, there was no way to stop myself from jumping each time it went off. Luckily, by then, the sample had already been extracted.

Five "FWAMPTs" later, we were finished and I was bandaged, given and ice pack, and we went home.

The results won't be here until Friday or Monday, but the relief I feel at having spoken to my doctor, the words from the radiologist tech, and having finally gotten something proactive done, are seeping in. I was finally able to sleep and took a two hour nap.

My boob really hurts right now, though. I suppose that's too be expected after having someone drill holes into it =(

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Talk With the Doctor

(Originally written 12:00am, February 4, 2009)

After Monday night, I had to call in sick for part of Tuesday. I was emotionally wrung out and still terrified. Although, when I woke up, I felt completely at peace, which was a nice feeling.

Plus, Megan was sick and I couldn't think well enough to figure out what to do about that.

At 9am, I was finally able to drag myself out of bed and start moving. The first thing I did was call my Doctor's office. Up until now, I hadn't been able to talk to her-- and I really needed too. I wanted her to give me something that would calm me down. I wanted hope.

Barely functioning, I somehow managed to oversee Meg getting dressed, find a place for her to go for the afternoon since school was out of the question, and get myself dressed. As I write this, I have no idea if we ate anything, though I have a vague recollection of a box of Mac n' Cheese crackers and Capt'n Crunch somewhere in the equation.

Then, at 1pm, my Doctor called. I don't remember much of the call, just that I was basically incoherent in my explanation of how well I wasn't coping; and, how badly I needed another explanation for why there was a huge lump in my breast.

She stated that it could be... a big word I can't remember... and that the mass wasn't connected to anything like muscle or nodes (a plus in that most invasive cancers are connected to something that carries the cancer cells to other parts of the body). She also said that it was movable, which is a good thing., and, that if it was cancer, we'd get through it.

She also made me promise that I would not get on the internet again. I bargained for my facebook page, and we had a deal.

Hope feels so good. The wait for results does not, and I won't have them until Friday.

I went into work, numb but needing to get things done. Grateful that friends were offering to pray for me. No longer hiding my terror. Happy that my boss understood. I got there at 1:30pm and worked until 8pm-- a little short on the hours, but productive none-the-less.

As I write this, it is 12am Wednesday morning and my biopsy is in 10 hours. I'm still scared, but it isn't the mind blowing terror of the night before. I'm not even sure I have the energy for that again. Surely, it would be more devastating than anything else could be since I was literally making myself sick.

I'm going to take another Ativan and go to sleep, and pray that this trial is soon to be over. Or, at the very least, it has direction and an end that ensures a future.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Rollercoaster Ride

(Originally written Tuesday morning, February 3, 2009)

I woke up Sunday feeling a lot better. The journaling of Saturday night seemed to help, or at least have a bit of a therapeutic reaction. For most of the day, I was able to ignore the terror creeping in around my being.

I got the grocery shopping done, menus posted, and caught up on some of the television shows I had recorded to the DVR. But every so often, it became impossible to push the fear away.

I kept going to the internet to attempt to find something hopeful. Something that would convince me that what was in my breast wasn't cancer. I kept coming up empty. Everything I found seemed to point to a worse and worse direction that all depended upon size. The mass inside my breast is 7cm. Anything over 5cms is considered Type III cancer, whether it is invasive or not.

Having no other information to go on, other than size, conclusions in my head were being drawn rapid fire. Too scared to say anything to LJS about any of this, I alternated between crying in his arms and putting on a brave face. "Hon, don't worry until you know there's something to worry about." He would say, while still holding me. "Think how silly you are going to feel when it is nothing. It's going to be nothing."

I asked him how he knew that and he said, "I'm never wrong", which wrung a teary chuckle out of me.

When Monday came, I was relieved because I'd have something else to think about-- work. I had a lot to do, and desperately needed to get it done, but inside I was an emotional mess. I had such a hard time giving full concentration to anything, I'm surprised I made it through the day. Phone calls would come in and I'd have to roll the questions people had around in my head before full focus and the answer would come.

To top it off, I still needed to ask for Wednesday off.

I pulled out the time off request and stared at it. How, exactly, was I going to stress to my boss the importance of an affirmative reply? Should I just write that I was having a biopsy done on the paper? Considering that I didn't really want that many, if anyone, to know about the drama unfolding inside of me, I didn't want to just write it on a paper that everyone could see. In the end, I filled it out and carried it back to him. I handed the paper to him, put on a brave face and point blank told him that I was having a biopsy done, but didn't want to write that on the paper since I wanted it kept mostly confidential. He signed it and I walked back to my office. I went back to work and then a few minutes later left for lunch.

I'd gotten an email that morning from the director of the erotic fiction contest I was entered in letting me know that semi-finals had begun. Since I had misread their latest blog and thought that they were still a week out, I had something else to do at lunch-- send emails begging my family and friends to vote for me. The mundane process of typing email after email filled my lunch and calmed me. I was filled with humor over the ying/yang juxtaposition my life was suddenly taking on with my dream of being published running beside my nightmare of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

By the time I got back to work, I felt better, having something else to concentrate on-- having a few other things to concentrate on since I'd gotten an email earlier that had sent my thoughts into the gutter and left them there for awhile. Plus, I was contemplating my not so healthy lifestyle and the steps I would need to take to right the wrong I had done to my body, quickly concluding that dying from a heart-attack or stroke while running was far more likely than drying from cancer. Or, at least, far more immediate.

For the rest of the day, I was able to ignore the fear. I was even able to finish the few last grocery items needing purchase, cook dinner, and start a new book (reading, not writing).

And then, I blew it.

I went once again searching for hope and came face to face with a nightmare that totally made me undone. I looked up survival rates for breast cancer.

Type III has a 57% 5-year expectancy.

I lost it.

For eight years I had managed to avoid or deter any type of a panic attack, but found myself spiraling into one that I couldn't escape. I went to bed, curled up with LJS, and despite the distraction of sex (which has helped stave off the terror in the past) I spent the next five hours shaking and crying, to scared to breathe, nearly too scared to move, definitely too scared to think. After two hours, LJS convinced me to take an Ativan and drug myself to sleep.

I got out of bed, went into the office and got my computer, and then took the Ativan waiting for it to kick in, hoping someone was online to talk with and get my mind off of the fear at hand. I hadn't wanted to talk to anyone about what was going on, for fear of needlessly worrying people, but I will forever be thankful for Bonnie's willingness to listen and pray. I think I kept her online for an hour, virtually crying on her shoulder :)


When I was a teenager, I used to go through bouts of utter confusion. Coming from a Christian family, attending church 3+ times a week, I could never reconcile that I could be forgiven for the rebellious (and worse) person I had become. Although I had never committed a murder, robbery, or other felony, my upbringing taught me that a sin was a sin was a sin.

One day when I was feeling particularly hopeless, I remembered a lesson I had learned about Gideon, a man who tested God. I remembered that I had been told if I tested God with my whole heart, he would answer me. He would respond. So, I did. I asked him to give me a sign that he knew what was in my heart and understood me, even if I didn't understand myself. I remember it was a beautiful, sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky. I asked him for lightening.

Hours went by, I started to feel better, and forgot the test. I had to go to work that night. At the time, I babysat for a church. There was usually only one or two kids in there, and I'd play with them while their parents attended bible study. This night, there was only one little boy.

At 7pm, while it was still sunny outside, he started talking gibberish (he was 2) and pointing out the window. I walked over to see what he was looking at and the moment I looked out the window, a brilliant streak of lightening flashed across the sky. I immediately thought I was seeing things. That, in my desire to see a sign of proof, I had made it up.

Until it happened a second time.

In my life, there have been times of trials, but God has always been there when I reached for him, answering my prayers. It has always been such a powerful thing, that I get to the point where I rarely ask for something because I've always known that he knows my heart. He knows me. My prayers always start with thank you and end the same way. Such a powerful thing that the last time I begged for his help, after a series of panic attacks and nightmares that had me afraid to go to sleep for nearly a week, they ended immediately. Save the one I had last night, it had been 8 years.

Last night, for the first time in my life, I understood the poem "Footsteps". I understood the man's question about how he reached out for God and couldn't find him, because in my fear there was a wall there so strong that I couldn't see the other side. I reached out to grasp him and ask him to hold me, only to feel as though he was not there.

It was such a comfort-- it IS such a comfort-- knowing that there are people praying for me, when I cannot seem to do so myself.

On television, I turned on the only ministry program I could find (I think it was in Arabic) and let the Ativan work its magic and dozed. Believing, even when I couldn't feel it, that I was being held.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lists, Lists, Lists

As a defense mechanism to try and regain control, I keep making lists in my head. Lists of things I will need to do and want to do in the event of a worst-case scenario-- insulin pump, meal planning, taking Meg to Disneyland while I still have energy. Doctors I'll want to see-- hypnotist, Chinese doctor, acupuncturist. (You know I'm worried if I'm willing to put aside my extreme fear of needles to seek alternative medicine.) Things to buy-- a Nintendo DS to have in the waiting room or during treatments (I can dream, though it wouldn't be a necessity), warm socks and new baggy sweatshirts.

There's a blog/note going around about 25 things. The object is to name 25 things about yourself that others may not know. I'd already done 16, so for the 25 I figured I'd put a twist on it and see if I could come up with 25 fun scrapbook pages about myself to create. In light of the mind games, that quickly changed to 25 things I'd want Meg to know about me.

What's my legacy?

I look around my office at the books, the scrapbooking supplies, the pictures and keepsakes, and they are all blurred into meaningless frosting. The sentimentality has been erased as I try to define who I am and what I'd want passed on.

Will anyone tell her about my top 10 list of men's hands, or about the shoes I wore until they were cracked in half because I didn't want to buy another? How will she know that she comes from a long line of people that are great with their hands, or that she will probably not be happy unless she always has a creative outlet in her life? What will she remember about me? She's only 4, will she remember how I used to give her millions of kisses when I tucked her in bed at night, until she begged me to stop? Or, how many different kisses we invented together? How many questions she'd ask me over and over and over about why God invented trees and cars and Kleenex and bowls and dogs and whatever else she could think of, until the bounds of my knowledge and creativity were exhausted?

Would she remember my favorite color or perfume?

Would she remember me?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mind Games

I called Mike and told him that I was going to need him to take Wednesday off and let him know that whatever the lump was, it wasn't a cyst. He agreed and I hung up to drive home.

Time alone is never good when you have worst-case scenarios going through your head. Things started coming at me at full force, how everyone had started calling me "Honey" or "Sweetie" once they realized I was being tested for cancer. How quickly everything happened-- the radiologist coming in, the scheduling, my doctor being PAGED and talked to within minutes of the discovery and then calling me moments later.

I started thinking about my horoscope. How it had said that Mike and I were going to come into a lot of money later in the year, and I started wondering if that was going to be my life insurance policy being cashed. How I was diabetic and a diagnosis of cancer would surely be akin to a death sentence. Megan and the fact that she wasn't even as old as the number of years we had tried to conceive her.

Over and over things rolled through my head.

Using the only information I had, that it was a solid mass and 7cm, I went online and searched for other possible causes for a lump, coming up with nothing that sounded like what was there. I searched cures for breast cancer, only to find that it isn't anywhere in the comforting level to know the survival rate.

I walked back into the living room and gave way to the hysteria, crying until my throat was raw and the world had taken on a numb reality.

I had to go pick Megan up from the sitter, so pulling myself together became tantamount to the duty at hand, and things started to get better. Mike came home and I gladly took the comfort he offered, glad that he always seems to know, in the height of bad moments, exactly what to do. And I spent a few hours just... being. Doing things so that my head would not spin wildly, wondering if I should go to the basketball game just to have something ELSE to do.

At 8pm, Kim called and I left to meet her.

Newberg is in first place in district for basketball. For the first time since I've been in Newberg (20+ years), the gym was full of people. There were so many bodies there that people had taken up residence on the floor. It was like a bad dream, I was watching a game, thinking about the possibility of my death, and still cheering for the players.

After the game, Kim and I sat and talked, waiting for the crush of people to leave. I told her how scared I was and how my mind was in overdrive. She told me that I needed to embrace courage instead and let God know that I was not ready to leave, that I still had work to do, and that NO! I wasn't ready. She told me it was probably nothing. I told her about my fear over the life insurance policy.

And she said, "Well, good God, I sure hope you increased the amount then!"

Which is why, in the middle of a high school gymnasium, with tears streaking my cheeks, I was laughing my ass off.

I love people that can always make you laugh when you least expect it.

My husband is really, really upset he didn't come up with that one on his own, but thought it equally funny.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Cute Ones Aren't Supposed to Call You Hon'

I discovered the lump on a Monday morning. I had gotten out of bed and groggily dragged myself to the bathroom, noticing on the way that the V between my breast and armpit was sore. Thinking that maybe I pulled a muscle or had done some lifting the day before that I couldn't remember in my sleepy state, I reached out to rub it, pushing down on the muscle. Underneath my fingertips, at the top of my breast was a lump, hard, firm, and immovable.

I'd given myself breast exams in the past, wondering what a lump would feel like, and now I knew. Panic welled inside of me and adrenaline started pumping at a fast pace, jolting me awake. I reached for my phone, knowing that there was no way that the doctor's office would be open that early, but calling anyway. I left a message and continued to get ready for work, waiting for them to call me back.

At 9:00am, they did.

Most of the day was spent working at a furious pace, trying hard to ignore the pain in my upper breast and what it might mean. Fears of needing a biopsy went through my head and I told my boss that I may not be back that day if things went badly. At 1pm, I went to the appointment where the Nurse Practitioner gave me the exam, told me that it was more than likely a cyst and not to worry since the bad stuff never hurt. She gave me a paper to call the hospital and schedule a precautionary mammogram with an ultrasound to follow and I left, much relieved.

Since I was days away from starting my period, and my breasts were sore, she had stated that I could wait a week to go in, but I kept forgetting to call. For two weeks, I let it go, until Mike started threatening to evict me unless I went in. So, I called and scheduled the appointment for Friday, January 30th.

Over the years, I'd heard many, many horror stories about getting a mammogram, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I went in. My mind, however, was working overtime. From what I'd heard, the procedure had to do with taking your breasts and smashing them against your chest as painfully as possible-- didn't sound fun.

I checked into radiology and was taken back into a separated section of the department, away from the hustle and bustle of broken legs and other diagnostics, where a technician asked me questions about my date of birth, whether I'd ever been pregnant, and what year the live birth took place. I was then told to take off my top and get dressed in the piece of fabric she handed me, then come into the room across the hall. After unfolding it, and turning it around a few times, I realized that it was a cape.

The room was huge in perspective to the amount of stuff in it. The wall to the right of the door was devoid of anything, there was a singular chair to my left, the mammogram machine angled in the corner, and the prerequisite cabinets with sink along the far wall. The mammogram machine was nothing like I imagined, and nothing like I'd ever seen before. There was a flat panel that looked metal with a baking dish looking thing right above that. I stared at it wondering where, exactly, my breasts were going to go.

To clear up rumors, they don't pancake your breasts against your chest to do a mammogram. In actuality, they pancake the breast itself. The mammographer pulls all the flesh of your breast and sets it on the metal plate and then brings the plastic baking dish thing down to squish it. It was an interesting experience, but not painful, and the only discomfort happened when she had to manually tighten down the top plate-- but that was something I brought on myself by telling her to stop only when I couldn't stand the pressure anymore. Since a better image is going to appear the more flush the flesh is, I let it get a little tighter than... well, than I normally would, if say, it were my husband doing the... squeezing.

I also came to realize that there might be distinct benefits in being large chested with saggy boobs.

It took about 15-20 minutes for all the x-rays to be done, most of that manipulating flesh, and then I was sent back to wait while the mammographer checked with the radiologist to make sure all the pictures where as they should be. They weren't, and I was taken back in for three more. One, to get a better view of the lump, and two more because they thought they spotted another one deeper in.

Once that was done, another nurse appeared to take me to the ultrasound room for a sonogram of my breast. Having had many, many ultrasounds during my pregnancy, I was comfortable with the procedure. I knew that the ultrasound was to follow-up and make sure that the lump was a cyst and I started intently on the screen. You could see the lump very clearly as a dark void on the screen. This procedure only took about 10 minutes and then the technician went to take the results to the radiologist before letting me get dressed.

The room was cold. I'd been shivering for days from the cold weather and wanted to be warm. That was all I was thinking about as I waited-- how to get warm when one is only wearing jeans and a washcloth-- when the door opened and the radiologist walked in. Since the technician had told me that the radiologist would be able to tell me something, if he could make a determination, that day, I was expecting him. Especially since it was just a cyst. Simple, we checked, you're done.

He was cute. Young. Big brown eyes with laugh lines around the corners. He wore glasses and a nice smile, khakis and a button up shirt with a lab coat over the top. As always happens, my brain went into "cute guy alert" despite the fact that my main fashion accessory as a top was a white terry cloth washcloth. So, when he told me that it wasn't a cyst, but a solid mass of something instead, it didn't really phase me.

He started talking about a biopsy and not taking any blood thinning medications for three days before the procedure. He went through the process and noted that I also couldn't take a drug that sounded something like cardamon. I noted that the word sounded like a spice and how was I going to resist chili, which made him laugh- he had a nice gusty laugh- like he wasn't sure I was joking about the cumin. I was, and thought it lovely that he had a sense of humor. He talked to me about calling my doctor and letting her know what was going on, so that she could talk to me about stopping medications, and then left me to get dressed.

I was taken to the schedulers so that they could get me in for the biopsy as soon as possible, which was determined to be Wednesday. While I was talking to the scheduler, my phone rang. I ignored it thinking it was Mike and made a mental note to berate him for pestering me for a status update. There were things to talk about when it came to scheduling, like that they put a "marker" into the breast to mark the spot if future tests were needed, and my allergies to metal and latex. Whether I should go ahead and have my labs taken then, in order to save time prior to the biopsy. It was decided to go ahead with the labs and I was sent back to the waiting room, with the prerequisite, "Don't worry, they are usually nothing." Up until then, it still hadn't phased me that I SHOULD be worried, or what it meant if it wasn't "nothing". But now, it started sinking in.

While in the waiting room, I picked up my phone and called my voice mail, surprised that my doctor and not Mike had been the phone call. My doctor. A phone call. I'd only just left the radiologist five minutes before she called. I sat there, staring, wondering if it was really that urgent that I call her back, wondering what she would say. The numbing effect of the last few minutes started wearing off and I started thinking about the biopsy procedure-- or more, the four needles needed to perform it.

Picking up the phone, I called the doctor's answering service and explained that Nan (my dr.) had asked me to have her paged. One minute later, the phone was ringing.

"How are you doing, Sweetie?" She asked.

"I'm kinda freaking out right now." I answered.

"You're going to need a biopsy."

"I know. I want to knock myself out for this." Needle phobe that I am, there was no way I would survive a biopsy needle. I'd be headed for padded-cell-olvaynia.

"Okay, what would you like." She asked. There was part of me that was disconnected enough from the moment to recognize the humor in a doctor offering whatever kind of drug you wanted to knock yourself out with, but I answered that I already had Ativan and Xanax and then rambled on a bit about those, surprised at how unclear I was thinking.

"Well, you can take 1 mg of either the Ativan or the Xanax, but you can't take them together-- because you'd be drooling and then you'd be dead and we'd find out it was nothing and that wouldn't be good!"

Great Doctors can always make you laugh.

"I'm going to want you to schedule the biopsy for Tuesday, so you need to stop taking the aspirin today, okay?" She sounded concerned. Things were really starting to sink in and I was struggling to hold back tears.

"We went ahead and scheduled it for Wednesday. They had me do that. I'm waiting for labs now."

We had a short discussion about lab work and who had ordered it and I explained that I didn't know if it was actually ordered, since it was more of a suggestion from the scheduling person who had gone to get the Radiologist to sign the order. She noted that I'd also need labs taken prior to the exam to see if there were any changes in some level that started with a T and then let me know if I needed anything that I could have her paged at the same number all weekend. I thanked her and we hung up.

When I got off the phone, I stood staring at a bookshelf with games and other things meant to ease the pain of waiting. None of the titles of the books sank in. The games, just a blur of color and letter. A minute later, a young man dressed in blue hospital scrubs came out to talk to me. His hand on my shoulder, he let me know that I didn't need to wait for labs after all and that I could go home. He had to repeat it twice before it sunk in.

On my way out of the hospital, tears flooding my eyes held back only by force of will at the thought of having to tell my husband, two things hit me...

The word biopsy is a whole lot scarier when said after the mammogram and ultrasound; and,
good-looking guys are not supposed to call over-weight, old women, "Hon'"

The world looked surreal.