This is not good: mammogram followed by biopsy
I had the mammogram today at Hendricks Women’s Center. Started out pretty good. The best waiting room I’ve ever been in! They had free bottled water, snacks and a selection of gourmet teas and coffees made with a special machine. There was a gorgeous fish tank to calm you while you wait and the room overlooked a green courtyard.
The mammogram went along at a pretty easy pace for several minutes. The tech, of course, really knew her stuff and easily guided me through several mildly contorted positions. It wasn’t bad. All of that worry for nothing.
Then, the mood shifted. The tech never said a thing, but I could tell we suddenly moved into “this isn’t normal” mode. She said she needed some different types of scans, reconfigured the machine and got me into some new poses. I was scheduled for a sonogram of the suspicious area as well, so I was ushered directly across the hall to that room. The tech there was all weather and kids talk, which made me suspect something more. She did a sonogram, then we waited for the doctor for 10 minutes or so.
The doctor came in, quickly introduced himself and said, “I’ve looked at your films and there is an area we need to be concerned about.” Ok. I had figured this much out already.
He said it needed to be biopsied, which could be done then and there with a needle biopsy, or I could be scheduled for what amounted to minor surgery with anesthesia and all that at a later date. He recommended the needle biopsy, which was done with a local. He said most people found it pretty easy, might be sore afterwards, but pretty much not a big deal. I told him I was alone and asked if it was ok to drive home afterwards. “Oh, no problem,” he said, with that “this is really not a big deal” look on his face.
After the wasted worry over the mammogram, I was ready to do this thing here and now. I said, “let’s do it,” and they jumped into action.
It was a sonogram-guided needle biopsy. The pinch of the anesthetic shot was not fun, but after that it was pretty easy. The tech held the sonogram wand, while the doctor used a very barbaric gun type of thing to insert into the area. It took several minutes and the gun made very loud clicking sounds each time it took a sample of tissue.
The problems started toward the end of the biopsy. I forgot to tell the doctor that anesthesia wears off in my body very fast. Every procedure I’ve ever had with a local (and an epidural) was interrupted with the anesthesia wearing off. (I woke up once in the middle of a colonoscopy.) Needle biopsies are apparently no different. On the sixth or seventh push of the gun into my breast, I felt it. It didn’t hurt, it just felt gross. I immediately said something. The doctor says, “feels like a meat cleaver?” Yep. That’s a pretty good and disgusting description of what I felt.
On the last click of the gun, I jumped a little. The doctor said, “sorry,” which made me think he did something wrong. Troy suggested that maybe it was when he put the marker in. They insert a tiny titanium marker in the biopsy area, so if anything happens in the future, they know where the biopsy was removed from. Troy said maybe that part hurt a bit more than the rest and the doctor knew it, so he was apologizing.
I think laid for five long minutes on the table with the tech applying full pressure to the biopsy area. It was extremely uncomfortable, but I kept thinking I needed to stay perfectly still so the biopsy wouldn’t bleed. It’s just a tiny little hole, no stitches or anything.
They took me back across the hall for a follow up mammogram of the biopsy site. I was starting to get nervous, as the sensation was rapidly coming back in my breast and it didn’t feel good. Getting squished in that machine might be a problem. I set my mind on happy thoughts.
I think we did three positions on the machine. It was the last one that did me in. As the machine lifted off my, the release of the compression sent shockwaves of pain through me. Imagine your finger caught in a door for more than a few seconds — the real pain hits when you get the finger OUT of the door. This is what happened in my breast. I stumbled backwards and felt blackness in my eyes, as if I was about to faint. All hell broke loose. Two techs were present and they grabbed a chair and set me down in it. I started to cry — it was totally uncontrollable. One ran out the room and came back carrying a wet washcloth for me. Then, another one started asking me what I needed for pain control. All I could think was “this can’t last long enough for me to take something. It has to be over now.” She came back in a few minutes later with a prescription for Vicodin.
I got myself together. They told me this does not normally happen because most women have the anesthesia wear off hours later when they are at home resting.
I dealt with spasms of pain as I got dressed and left, forgot my coat and had to go back. I drove straight to the closest pharmacy (about 1/2 mile). I had no intention of filling the Vicodin because I’m so sensitive to painkillers. I just wanted Tylenol NOW and I wasn’t sure we had it at home. I bought a bottle of extra strength, an orange juice and a candy bar and tried not to groan in the cashier face as a pain hit again. I got the bottle of Tylenol open before I was in my car seat, scarfed down four and drank half the orange juice.
I drove home and it was the longest 10 minutes of my life. I realized 1/2 way that I should not be driving. The pain was phenomenal and spasmic — in between the spasms I was basically fine, but when they hit, I felt like dying. I followed a state trooper part of the way home and tried to act cool. It was hard.
I came home, went straight to the couch and started crying. Troy was working from home, so he came to see how I was. I told him about it and how painful it was. I was also very convinced this biopsy was a really bad sign.
After two more hours of crying, Troy convinced me to take a Vicodin. I had some leftover from a previous minor surgery, but I never remembered it helping me all that much. But the Tylenol certainly wasn’t doing the trick. I took one. An hour later I took another. Three more hours and I took another. The pain hasn’t stopped, but the Vicodin has given me waves of nausea. I’m a mess.